Watch above or listen to the full episode on youriPhone HERE.
Struggling to get a good nights sleep? Then this podcast is for you! Join us as Stu & Guy delve into the world of sleep and what top tips and hacks you can do today to begin to get the restorative sleep many people crave.
Over the past few years, Stu has been on a mission to get to the bottom of why his sleeping patterns were shot. After much research and N = 1 self experimentation he’s happy to say he’s hacked it. This podcast is about all those discoveries and how you can implement them into your life today.
For more articles on sleep, type in the word ‘sleep’ into the search field at the top right side of the page.
In This Episode:
Understanding what kind of sleeper are you
Why your room could be effecting your sleep patterns
Why you should reduce any blue light from electronic devices in the evening
Guy :Hi. This is Guy Lawrence of 180 Nutrition and welcome to today’s health sessions. Today, I’m joined with Stuart Cooke only. Stu, how are you?
Stu:Good. How are you?
Guy :I’m excellent. All the better for seeing you as always, mate.
Guy :I just put on a podcast a couple of episodes ago that the fact that we do two episodes a month. We interview awesome guests and bring them on so we can share that information with you as we interrogate them. What we’ve been discussing and what we want to do is bring in one more episode a month and discuss a topic that we feel we’ve learned along the way when interviewing all these awesome people and also like a Q and A style as well. If you do have questions for future podcasts, feel free to e-mail us through the website. Still, I’m going to pay you a major compliment now. Milk it. It doesn’t happen too often.
Stu:What do you say it doesn’t happen too often? It doesn’t happen at all. I’m ready. I’m sitting down. I mean that’s all I could do.
Guy :Ultimately, today’s topic is going to be on sleep, on getting a good night’s sleep and I think with all the guests that we have interviewed and everything that we’ve learned over the years, I still think that you’re probably one of the best qualified people to actually speak about this topic on the podcast. Now, think about that for a moment. For me to actually-
Stu:That’s a buildup mate. That is a buildup. Yeah, I hope I don’t disappoint. We’ve learned heaps along the way but, for me, self-experimentation and dabbling in all of these different avenues is the way that I have found that impacts the …
Guy :Exactly. N=1, right? I can vouch because I had to work with you when you weren’t getting much sleep. It was pretty painful but now, you’ve, I think, cracked the code to a degree especially on yourself. Let’s get into it. The first thing I want to …
Stu:I’m going to stop you right there.
Guy :Right. Go on then.
Stu:Before we [00:02:00] start, I’d just like to tell you that it’s a hot day in Sydney and I’m recording this podcast from home. It’s 10:20 in the morning. It’s already 35 degrees and I’m sitting in a sunroom. If I start to sweat, it’s not because of the questions. It’s because I’m very hot and sticky.
Guy :Or if you pass out.
Stu:Or if I pass out, yeah. It’s not because I’m tired. It’s not because I didn’t get a good night’s sleep. It’s because it is hot.
Guy :It is. I’ve just turned the fan off so it’s not going to affect the microphone.
Stu:It was noisy before, yeah. It’s all good.
Guy :I’m in the same boat but that’s okay. All right. First question to raise, mate, is sleep. How important do you think it is in everything else that we discuss on the health spectrum?
Stu:Personally, I would go as far to say that I think it’s the most important facet of our health. When we give our workshops and our clean-eating programs, we talk of health as pillars. You’ve got nutrition, exercise and mindset but sleep is the biggest pillar of all. It holds everything up. Without sleep, it almost doesn’t matter what you’re eating. It doesn’t matter how you’re exercising because you’re not accessing the recovery and restorative processes that happen overnight when we can rest, repair and wake up feeling energized and ready to go. Without sleep, we really, really do start to crumble.
Guy :Yeah, it is vital. The words hormonal and metabolism disruption spring to mind. That is a sentence I’ve pulled out to get ready for today. The other thing I want to mention is, because I’ve been writing a future post and I know this doesn’t apply to you but it will apply to many people especially if they’re just trying to lose a little bit of weight, that lack of sleep is a really good way to inhibit weight loss [00:04:00] essentially.
Guy :The questions we get all the time are, “How come I’m doing everything and I still can’t lose weight?” One thing a lot of people don’t look at is the quality of their sleep.
Stu:That’s right. Overall, from a health perspective, we want to reduce inflammation. I mean that’s the number thing that we want to try and reduce from a health perspective. If you’re not sleeping, you’re not repairing. You are not going to be reducing your inflammation. It’s just not. You’re going to feel crappy. You’re going to feel lethargic. Your mind doesn’t work quickly. You’re memory will go to pot, skin health, everything.
Guy :The next thing I want to raise, mate, which I know you’re big on is the different types of sleepers because there’s different problems with the quality of the sleep that you could have. I think they’re good to highlight first.
Stu:Yeah. We’ll just touch on those workshops again when we’re generally talking to a room of anywhere from 50 to a 100 people and I ask the question, “Who sleeps well?” Very, very few hands go up when I ask that question. Question number two, “Who has a problem getting to sleep?” Half the room. “Okay. Who has problems staying asleep? Who sleeps all the way through the night and wakes up feeling rested?” Again, half of the people. The other half of the people wake up during the night. Everyone seems to have issues. Very few people I know truly out like a light and wake up feeling amazing.
Guy :If I listen to this and you’re going to be in one of those categories, you’re struggling to get to sleep or you do fall asleep and then you just start waking up in the middle of the night for no reason. What would be the best way to hack the tips that you’ve learned over the years? Should we segment them, too, and start with the people or did it cover …
Stu:I think so. Some of them will cross over. I think we’ll just start [00:06:00] with the people that struggle to get to sleep in the first place. [inaudible 00:06:05], there are probably people that struggle to get to sleep and wake up during the night as well.
Guy :You get the shit sandwich.
Stu:Yeah, exactly. Let’s stop there because, I guess, from a sleepy-time perspective, we want to figure out how to get to sleep first.
Guy :All right. You were struggling with sleep big time at one stage and then you started delving into it. You followed the snail trail. It’s quite hilarious because I’ve seen you try pretty much everything.
Stu:I have. I’ve experimented with almost everything under the book. Everything. We’re touching a few things today.
Guy :What was the first thing you started to delve into?
Stu:This is a left field one as well.
Guy :I wouldn’t expect anything else from you, mate.
Guy :What is EMF?
Stu:Electromagnetic field. Essentially, what it is is the magnetic fields that we are surrounded by in a bedroom, for instance. It might be that you’re sleeping next to an alarm clock that’s plugged into a wall. You might have an electric blanket and not that I want to use that right now but that can plugged in. It could be a fan, TVs, wires running under your bed, things like that. All of these electrical devices …
Guy :That are being powered.
Stu:That are powered, plugged in are proven quite rightly so to generate an electric field and that electric field can interfere with our body’s electric field. Some people are much more sensitive to it than others. Some people, it doesn’t affect. This takes us back to when we went to a seminar many years ago and met a lady called Lyn McLean and she was from EMR Australia which I think is electromagnetic [00:08:00] radiation Australia. She’d written a book and I was just intrigued about this facet because everyone talks about food, exercise, mindset and stuff like that. She was the only lady that was actually speaking about something that I hadn’t heard of before and I didn’t know anything about. Anyway, we had her on the podcast. If you want to know a little bit more about her after this, head to the podcast and find out more.
Guy :It’s fascinating.
Stu:Very, very fascinating. After the podcast, we were lucky enough for her to come to my home because I had trouble getting to sleep and also staying asleep as well. She said, “Well, let’s just have a little look about how your home is set up, whether you’ve got any magnetic fields that might be interfering with your body, your sleep patterns and things like that. First off, I thought, “Okay.” You take it with a pinch of salt.
Guy :I remember the day she turned up like a ghostbuster. She had all these tools and instruments.
Stu:She turned up like a ghostbuster and I do have a device. I’ve got props today so it’s kind of cool. For everyone listening or watching on YouTube, I’ve got a few props to show you. She went around the house with a device called a Gauss meter which reads magnetic fields. Essentially, what she was doing was she was putting this Gauss meter. I’m going to show you. This is a Gauss meter right now. I’ll switch it on. It looks like that, 00.1. I’m okay.
Guy :There’s no electricity field coming out of you, mate, basically.
Stu:Not at the moment, just hot air. She wanders around our house like a ghostbuster, literally like a ghostbuster, waiting for this thing to light up and give readings. She went away and we had determined that the magnetic fields in my bedroom were a little higher than normal but nothing to be too alarmed about and essentially [00:10:00] went around the house and showed me that when she turned on the oven, this thing went through the roof. It has this huge magnetic field but we were kind of okay.
I thought, “Well, this is really fascinating.” I bought, I purchased a Gauss meter on Ebay. It cost me like 50 bucks. I was just playing around with it one night and I was just looking at different parts of the room to try and find the lowest readings because I figured, “What if I could move my bed into an area of the bedroom that has super low readings from a magnetic field perspective?” I was moving this thing around. Ideally, you want to try and get something under an 0.2 when we’re talking about magnetic fields. MilliGauss is the term.
It was about 7 o’clock in the evening. It was dark. It was in the winter. It was dark outside. All the lights were on and we live in an apartment lot, first floor. I was moving this device around, put it on my pillow. It was like an 0.1. I move it over to my west pillow, an 0.2. That’s fine. A little bit high. I didn’t tell her. It doesn’t matter. Then, I moved it down the bed, kind of where my abdomen would be and it shot out to 90. I just thought, “What? This is ridiculous.” I moved it to the right, an 0.2, an 0.3. Moved it to the left, got an 0.1. Moved it right into the middle, it’s like 90 and climbing. I just thought, “This is ridiculous.”
Then, I did a little bit of investigation and realized that … I went downstairs and in the foyer of the apartment, there’s this huge ceiling lighting rows with about four or five different lights coming on. At 7 o’clock, it automatically gets turned on, creating a huge magnetic field of 90 plus. Alarming, I guess, so I moved the bed. I moved the bed to the other side of the room, the [00:12:00] really high magnetic field on the floor well away from where I slept. It could be psychological, I don’t know, but I had a better night’s sleep that night and from that point forward, my sleep came up by 10%.
Guy :Yeah, there you go. That’s EMF, right?
Guy :My first question to you before we move on to EMR … I’m thinking, you’re thinking mobile phones, isn’t that right? Just a little [crosstalk 00:12:24].
Stu:Kind of, yeah. I guess touching on EMF, [inaudible 00:12:27] with everything in your room.
Guy :With that story in mind, this gentleman’s, “Shit. I live in an apartment.” What’s a quick fix? How can they test it? What would you recommend them do? Buy a meter?
Stu:First up, you can look at the electrical appliances in your room. If you’ve got a clock radio, a TV or an extension cable running under the bed, things like that, ideally, in an ideal situation, you switch these things off at night and you unplug from the wall. You pull them out so you are minimizing …
Guy :If you then understand, I guess, I’ll expect that this cable’s running down through the wall because that’s a classic behind-the-head probably feeding a light switch or a light outside.
Stu:Yeah, it’s funny you should say that. I remember we were at a workshop somewhere I can’t remember and spoke to a lady. She had seen the podcast of Lyn McLean and she said, “I’m really intrigued about this. We’ve just moved into a new home and my son can’t sleep.” He was 8 years old. He really can’t sleep. I told her the story in depth and said, “Just check his room carefully. Check to see what is on the other side of wall where he sleeps, things like that.” She sent me an e-mail a week later and said, “We realized that the fusebox for our property was directly behind the head of my son on the other side of the wall. We moved his bed, he sleeps again.” Again, some [00:14:00] people are really sensitive to it. Other people are not affected at all but it’s a strategy. If your sleep isn’t optimal, consider it.
Guy :Consider it. Okay. Take the messages, unplug everything, make sure there’s no power sources near you and if you want to go a step further … What’s the meter called again? Can you show them?
Stu:It’s called a Gauss meter. This is a Tenmars. I paid about 50 bucks for it. I got it on Ebay. Yeah, you can play ghostbusters with it.
Guy :Cool and go around the house.
Stu:Have a little look around. Incidentally, if ever I’m out in a hotel, away at the weekend, I’ll unplug the clock radio and I’ll unplug the bedside lights.
Guy :Yeah, I always do that to everything.
Stu:Before I go to sleep, I just do. It’s one of those things.
Guy :Moving on from that then, the other question we always ask when we’re doing a clean-eating workshop is who charges their iPhone at night, uses it as an alarm clock and then have it sleeping by the head? A huge number of people stick their hands up.
Stu:Yeah. There are two things that are happening there. One is EMF. It’s plugged into the wall and it’s charging so it’s creating an electromagnetic field. That’s EMF but EMR, it is also creating electromagnetic radiation because it’s talking to the cellphone tower. It’s just what they do. “I’m here and just checking you’re there.” It’s ready to take calls. That EMR can have impact on our health as well. It can interrupt the sleep. Again, another post on our blog, “Mobile phones making you sick”, things like that. There are strategies that you can do just to [crosstalk 00:15:51]
Guy :With the mobile phone, I do use mine as an alarm clock but what I do is I never charge it at night and I always have it on airplane mode. [00:16:00] Then, I always have it beyond my reach as well. When the alarm goes off in the morning, I physically have to move, get up and actually turn it off.
Stu:That’s right. Airplane mode, far better, super safe. You’ve turned it off. You’re not going to get incoming calls for one like in the middle of the night, disrupt your sleep. You’re not going to get text messages coming in but airplane mode, sure. If you’re going to use it as an alarm clock, do it. Hopefully, when you’ve got all these hacks in place, you won’t need an alarm clock because you’ll go to bed at a similar time, you’ll wake up at the same time. I don’t use an alarm clock and I wake up at the same time everyday.
Guy :Yeah, very late.
Stu:Yeah, 2 AM.
Guy :All right. While we’re on the techno stuff then, let’s just stay tech and we should go into blue light.
Stu:Yeah. Let’s go into sleep hygiene – creating a routine that gets us in the right mindset to sleep.
Guy :Yeah. With your age, too, it gets much easier as you get older because you just …
Stu:I just nod off phone conversations. That’s what happens. It’s one of these things. We live in a society now where we’re wired all the time. We’re constantly answering text messages, checking Facebook and social media. We’ve got e-mails 24/7. We multitask. We’re watching TV and we’re checking the iPhone, see what’s happening. We’re always on. We’re totally on all the time and that makes it really hard then to just switch off when you think, “Right. I’m ready for bed now” because your mind doesn’t switch off that quickly. It’s still racing.
Essentially, what we want to do is get into a sleep routine. Where mobile phone’s a concern, they’re not going away. I love this thing but I also hate what it does at the same time, given the fact that it’s always with us [00:18:00] to a degree, interrupting, messing with our free time, screwing up our sleep. Seven o’clock in the evening, this thing is off. It’s just switched off. Try and call me, forget it. Use the landline if you’ve got my number. That goes off and as much as it’s a kind of blue light, and we’ll get into that in a minute, I’m glaring at this screen and that’s interrupting with stuff and I’ll explain that in a minute, it’s mental stimulation.
Towards the end of the night, we want to decrease mental stimulation which is why people say, “Read a book. Listen to some music. Turn off the TV in good time.” Really, as part of this sleep routine, we’re starting to wind down. We’re starting to turn off all of the bright lights in the house. We certainly don’t want bright lights in the bedroom because we want to promote the sleepy hormone which is melatonin. Ideally, we want nice high levels of melatonin in the evening before we go to sleep because that helps us get to sleep and it’s really, really easy to disrupt melatonin. Blue light is one way of doing it and when we say blue light, it’s part of the spectrum of light. Blue light pours out of our iPhones …
Stu:iPads, our TVs, our laptops, bright lights in our apartment as well.
Guy :Probably the worst thing you can do is watch something while laying in bed, trying to get to sleep because you can’t sleep.
Stu:Even more so on your mobile phone because that thing’s streaming out light. If you cannot separate yourself from your mobile phone, you could do a couple of things. You could turn the brightness all the way down. Around 7 o’clock, if I’m checking a few things, my brightness is at zero. [00:20:00] I can still see everything fine. I just turn it back up in the morning. There is another hack that you can do if you really are attached to these things. We can wear blue light-blocking glasses, another prop.
Guy :You got them. Put them on, man. I brought mine, too.
Stu:You do realize that we look like a couple of geeks. It’s probably ridiculous, something like a Joe 90 or Thunderbirds, [inaudible 00:20:28].
Guy :You look ready for [inaudible 00:20:30].
Stu:It’s the most amazing-
Guy :Everything’s changed, color-wise.
Stu:Everything changes color and in the evening, it stops blue light into our eyes which apparently is the main receptor for melatonin. All we need to do is take a huge hit of blue light and melatonin just slowly decreases and it makes us more alert because we think it’s daytime, that kind of thing. Blue light. If I’m going to watch a movie, I’ll wear my orange glasses. You feel ridiculously calm 5 or 10 minutes after.
Guy :I thought you were going to just say you feel ridiculous, full stop.
Stu:You do feel ridiculous, comma, and really calm.
Guy :All right. There is one other option which if you using your laptop or your iPhone, if you don’t want to wear the glasses.
Stu:You don’t want to wear the glasses and there’s no reason not to apart from vanity. Yes, you can install a plugin and that’s called f.lux, F. L-U-X. It’s not one word. F. L-U-X and what that does is that adjusts the color palette, your screen color values on your monitor or your iPad. I haven’t found an app for the iPhone but I think there’s one on Android that you can do. It makes everything orange much like the blue glasses so you can continue to use it. While that’s a good thing, [00:22:00] that’s also a bad thing because you are still mentality stimulating yourself by using these things.
Guy :Yeah but I guess if you’re watching a brain-dead movie or something …
Guy :If you’re working …
Stu:If you’re working, do that. Wear your glasses. Switch off …
Guy :Sometimes, believe it or not, Stu won’t believe this but I’ll work back until 6 or 7 at night carrying the flag for 180.
Stu:Absolute nonsense. You’re probably some twisted, downward dog maneuvering in your lady’s tights.
Guy :I’ll use f.lux. It automatically adjusts as time gets on which is great. As it’s getting darker outside, it starts removing the blue light from it.
Stu:It does. You set your location. Currently, I live in Sydney, Australia and it knows. “Okay. It’s 7 o’clock at night. It’s going to be getting dark so we’re going to tone down those colors.” That’s a really good strategy.
Guy :It’s awesome. It’s amazing. I recon that’s a biggy. The other thing is if we then take that into where you actually fall asleep in terms of light, the one thing I want is obviously the darker the room, the better because that inhibits your melatonin production, right?
Stu:It does. I don’t want to go too crazy on caveman days but obviously, we’re surrounded by light and noise, interruptions. Even a street light pacing through your curtains onto your face can affect the body’s production of melatonin. Really, as dark as we can is ideal and as quiet as we can. Just talking about that sleep routine with light as well, if you’re a light sleeper and you’re awoken by noise, use earplugs, another prop.
Guy :I tried that and I struggled because it felt like all of a sudden, I was underwater.
Stu:Get used to it. Get used to it. This [00:24:00] would be right up there on the chart of things that have made such a difference to me. They do. I use these ones that are a little bit like Bluetech. They’re very squishy. They’re not like the build-us ones that are foam and you squeeze them. Then, they get fatter again and [inaudible 00:24:18]. I don’t find them to be very useful at all. These ones, I twirl them round and play really long and pointy, shove them as far in my ear as I can, stuff it all in. Yeah, it feels a bit weird. You put your head on the pillow and you can hear your pulse. Your whole body becomes your pulse but you can’t hear anything.
I’m a very light sleeper. I’ve got three young girls and all three, raising them. You’re kind of on tenterhooks. “Do I have to get up?” I’m a light sleeper but this gives me the edge now. I can sleep through stuff that before would’ve woken me up and I’ve had countless times where my wife is like, “God. Did you hear the neighbors? Did you hear the car alarm?” I just smiled and said, “I can’t even hear what you’re saying now. I can’t hear you. I’ve got these in.” It’s a strategy. Try it.
Guy :Do you wear an eye mask?
Stu:I wear an eye mask not during sleep but I have one by the bed. If for any reason I wake up at 5 o’clock, 6 o’clock, it’s that period where we’ve had enough sleep but we don’t want to get up. It’s getting to get light and you can see some light coming in because it’s so sunny out there. I’ll put the eye mask on and it helps. Sometimes, you get to these fancy hotels and for some reason, they don’t have curtains. They have these silly blinds and they don’t really block out very much light. Yeah, in that instance, I might slip an eye mask on. You’ll probably wake up and it’ll be around your neck.
Guy :Yeah, the darker the room, the better. Interestingly enough, I’ll just mention [00:26:00] because I’ve just moved. The new place we’re in has got these fantastic blinds that hug the side of the window, you pull down and it’s really dark. If I wake up in the middle of the night, I’m like, “Where the hell am I?” It’s just like a cave in there and I’d noticed the difference because I used to have that piercing street light creaking through. It makes a difference.
Stu:All of these things, it’s a sleep toolkit. All of these things might give you 5% extra sleep quality but those toolkits are critical and they all add up. When we go back to our point that sleep is the most important pillar for your health, then let’s do everything we can just to increase that sleep quality because you can wake up feeling jetlagged. I had a whole period of that where I was like, “I am so tired. My eye sockets hurt. They are aching I’m so tired.” I struggled to sleep in the days. If I didn’t need to try and catch up on sleep, it just doesn’t happen. You just can’t do it. You cannot do it. Everything you can do, yeah. iPhone, earplugs, [crosstalk 00:27:10].
Guy :So far, we’ve covered then the power points. iPhone by the head, just do not do that. We’ve also then looked up blue light. You’ve got the sunblocker glasses. You’ve got the f.lux. F …
Stu:F. L-U-X. Just Google that term. It’s free.
Guy :You can get the app for your phone, for your iPad, for your laptop, for your desktop, whatever it is. Got that. Then, moving into sleep hygiene. Then of course, blackening the room if you can. Earplugs, eye mask.
Stu:That’s right. Just tackle all the things that you think could be causing you a great … A lot of us in the city live in apartments. Apartments can be noisy and noise is something that could disrupt your sleep. [00:28:00] Just work on these things. If there’s light, noisy and [crosstalk 00:28:03], work to it.
Guy :Don’t worry about what you look like because a quality of sleep is way better than …
Stu:You’re going to look a damn sight worse if you haven’t slept very well. Work to it.
Guy :All right. Moving on, which hack do you want to tackle next?
Stu:Let’s talk about diet.
Guy :Okay. You could be listening to this and eating pretty badly, right?
Stu:You could be. You could be.
Guy :We’d like to think that our listeners wouldn’t be. They’d be dialed in to their nutrition.
Stu:Quite possibly. There are some minerals that can impact our sleep quality. If we’re deficient in things like magnesium and zinc, which we could be if we’re in a processed diet, not getting green leafy veggies, green smoothies and beautiful sources of fish, meat and things like that … You could be deficient in vitamins. One of the first things or supplements that your doctor, nutritionist, naturopath, health professional may suggest that you take is magnesium. It’s, “Well, have you tried magnesium?”
Guy :It is the most required mineral in the body, isn’t it? That’s the mineral we use the most, magnesium.
Stu:I don’t know.
Guy :It is.
Stu:It could be. You know more than me on this. Yeah, I don’t doubt it. With magnesium, like anything, food or supplement-related, there is a huge plethora of options out there. You’ve got citrate, bisglycinate. You’ve got magnesium stearate and a whole range.
Stu:You’ve got so [00:30:00] many of these. Which ones do we try now? Now, look. I’ve tried them all. I always look for fillers in my supplements. I just want to make sure that it’s not filled with all of these chemical nasties.
Guy :Pat it out, yeah.
Guy :Which type of magnesium do you take?
Stu:Magnesium bisglycinate. This is what I take. It’s the cleanest form that I could find. It’s actually really well-priced. No yeast, wheat, gluten, soy, milk, egg, fish, shellfish or tree nut. Those are the things that could just prompt inflammatory response in the body. If you’ve got an allergy to shellfish or wheat and gluten, stuff like that, you just don’t want that stuff happening in your body and I have tried almost every single magnesium supplement out there from the very cheap to the very, very expensive. This was very affordable and I just have a spoonful of that in water at about 8 o’clock or something like that before I go to bed.
Guy :Another thing that I’ve tried that I find effective, I’m sure you’ve tried it, is an Epsom salt bath.
Stu:Yeah, exactly, just not today. It’s too hot.
Guy :You should just brush it all over you right now. Your pores will probably soak it up.
Stu:Yeah, like rouge. [inaudible 00:31:28] just puffing my cheeks. That’s right. Another great way to get magnesium into your body which is really good. From a supplement perspective, I’ve dabbled with zinc, magnesium. This magnesium works really well for me.
Guy :I will add as well. If people are exercising a lot, they put more demands on their body. This is what I’ve come to conclusion with all the [inaudible 00:31:53]. That means they should be even more dialed in with their nutrition which doesn’t always happen [00:32:00] because ultimately, exercise is a form of stress, right?
Guy :I think you can accelerate deficiencies in your body if you’re exercising a lot and not being proactive to making sure you’re having enough magnesium, zinc, all the main minerals, vitamins and nutrients to recover, right?
Stu:All of the [crosstalk 00:32:19] is health recovery.
Stu:[inaudible 00:32:22] podcast with Mark Sisson and he came out with a stellar quote. I think it was along the lines of, “You don’t get …”
Guy :”Fitter and stronger …”
Stu:”Exercising. You get fitter and stronger recovering from exercise.”
Guy :That’s right.
Stu:If you’re not eating well and you’re not taking care of yourself, you’re not sleeping well, you’re recovery is going to be crappy and you’re not going to see the benefits of all this hard work that you’re putting in in the gym or out on the streets.
Guy :Yeah. That would be the main supplementation you’d say, the magnesium, right?
Stu:Look. Again, we’re so unique. If you’re really concerned that you might be deficient in anything, go and get a blood test and get your vitamin panels done. I take zinc as well. I had my last trip about a year ago to see a naturopath. I realized that I was super deficient in zinc. Really, really strange. I eat a mountain-full of sardines and these beautiful little fish that should help me. It’s the way that I am made up. I just supplement with that.
Guy :It’s good just to go and just get a bit of advice and get tested. You only have to do it once and then it could be the simplest thing though just by being deficient in a mineral or a vitamin. By just simply supplementing that, it can make a huge difference.
Stu:Exactly but if you don’t know, you can’t do it. We need a set point to measure everything that we do by. Yes, go and get a blood test. [00:34:00] It costs you next to nothing and you will know. Then, you can work on that and in 6 to 12 months time, get yourself another blood test and see whether what you’re doing is really working for you.
Guy :From that point, should we now move into cortisol, overexercising?
Stu:Let’s just touch on food. One last thing I’d like to say is another little strategy that I work on … Again, going back, everybody’s radically different. We had genetic testing done. Again, on the blog, you can read about it, all the results and what we had done. It was found out that I have something called a whippet gene – super, super fast metabolism and I cannot put on weight for the life of me. It means that I’m always processing, metabolism is always really high. I was waking up in the middle of the night about 3 o’clock quite frequently and almost like, “Bang! I’m switched on.” I’ve got a surge of cortisol, adrenaline’s high. I’m in fight-or-flight mode.
I listened to a great podcast and a couple of guys were discussing that it could just be that your body is running out of fuel. If you’re that type of person, you’re wired, you’re super active, you’re burning a lot of fuel, you might have eaten dinner at 6, 7 o’clock, comes 3 o’clock in the morning, your body might be begging for some more fuel unless you’re fully fat-adapted so you can start to-
Guy :We’ve mentioned many times that you eat like a horse anyway, right?
Stu:Without a shed of a doubt, I’ll eat at least twice what you eat. I cannot put on weight. I weigh 70 kgs, irrespective. I eat good food but lots of it. Before I go to bed, there’ll be a couple of things that I do.
Guy :Which you’ve been implementing more recently, right?
Stu:Yeah, over the last 6 months, again, just to try and get that extra [00:36:00] percent on my sleep quality. Last night, just a slice of smoked salmon and a spoonful of avocado. I’ve got protein and fat in there and that works really well. Alternatively, I actually boil up some quinoa and I mix it with coconut cream, put some cinnamon in there, mix that together and I’ll have a little bit of that before I go to sleep. Yeah, it helps significantly. When I don’t do it, the chances of me waking are much higher. If you’ve trained really hard that day, just think about getting maybe a few more carbohydrates in the evening. A lot of us now fear carbohydrates but that could be playing havoc with the hormones as well. Again, we’re all very different in body type. Some people just don’t need to eat after dinner. I do.
Guy :Yeah but I guess if they generally got a high metabolism and they can start to feel themselves going hungry … Some people don’t want to eat a heavy meal either before they go to bed. You could do a smoothie, I suppose, so it’d be liquid.
Stu:Absolutely. You could have a really beautifully nutritious smoothie. Get some nice fats in there as well. You could eat earlier. Like I said, I have a slither of smoked salmon. I mean that’s not heavy at all and I’ll have that half 9, 10 o’clock. A little bit of avocado and that just keeps me going. Experiment. We’re all different. You know how you feel. That just made perfect sense to me when you wake up and you’re on because your body says, “There’s no fuel. What am I going to do? Quick! Wake up! You’re starving.” Of course, [inaudible 00:37:44] but just something that worked for me. I’ve heard many people talk about it.
Guy :I do wonder as well because I know there’d be a lot of people that exercise quite a lot listening to this especially in the crossfit community. One of the other things we see quite often [00:38:00] is that people go right, “I want to start eating cleanly” and they start cutting out certain foods like grains or processed carbs and all the rest which is great. They contain a lot of energy but then they don’t actually eat enough food through the day to replace the energy that they’ve removed.
Stu:Yeah, so it can play havoc with your hormones especially cortisol. Cortisol is another one which is so critical to get cortisol right from a timing perspective in your body. Cortisol is our stress hormone and ideally, cortisol needs to be nice and high. It’s highest in the morning so we’re up, we’re ready. During the course of the day, it slowly pitches down in a graph, all the way to being at its lowest when we’re ready to go to bed.
There’s a cortisol and melatonin axis where your melatonin needs to be in sync with the way that your cortisol patterns are. Typically, when cortisol is really high, melatonin is really low. If we’ve got really high cortisol in the evening, maybe because we’ve just done a super crazy workout at 8 o’clock in the evening and you haven’t eaten so well during the day, then your melatonin is going to be low. Cortisol is going to be fight-or-flight as well. We’re going to feel wired. It’s going to be really hard for you to get to sleep.
Guy :I raise that as well because I’m going to push our 180 here for a sec, mate. I spoke to a lot of crossfit athletes because we’re just launching into the States and I wanted to get feedback from all the guys using the 180 Superfood Journal Australia. They all said the same thing. The guys that are really on top of their game with their nutrition and training were, “I can’t get enough calories in.” What they would do in [00:40:00] would probably have a smoothie which is easy, it’s liquid, in between the meals that they were eating. That could be two a day. Instantly, their energy rose because they’re now having enough clean nutrients to get them through the day and that’s going to affect the hormonal response, right?
Stu:If you’re actually in the gym, you’ve got to make sure you’re eating. That’s one of these things. People, “I’m going to go on a weight loss regime and I’m going to go so hard out with my high-intensity cardio or whatever I’m doing, pound the streets for hours, hours and hours. I’m going to restrict my food.” Chances are you’re going to affect your hormones in some way, shape or form. Cortisol being a stress hormone is one thing that you want to try and get in balance.
Just to give you an idea, whilst we’re talking about cortisol as well, timing, exercise and things like that, I radically changed the way that I timed my exercise. I’ll show you a little bit of a graph here for everybody that is on YouTube. Tell me whether you can see that.
Guy :Yup. You’ve got a green line going down.
Stu:That is your ideal cortisol profile.
Guy :What? The green?
Stu:The green. In the morning, nice and high. At 10 o’clock in the evening, this should be nice and low. Can you see what’s happening to me?
Guy :Yeah. If your listening to this in iTunes, basically think of just a simple graph and you’ve got a green line that’s gently making it’s way down and then you’ve got a black line that’s going in the completely opposite direction, almost vertical.
Stu:Yeah. I had a cortisol test. It’s a saliva-based test. It’s called wired and tired. I was super, super wired and super tired at night. I couldn’t get to sleep. I was just waking up at midnight and I was switched on. I just [00:42:00] realized for me that I didn’t clear cortisol very well. I was 50 times the limit at midnight than I should’ve been which is an alarm bell for your health. I pulled back on my exercise. I used to exercise 5, 6, 7, 8 o’clock in the evening and I pulled that through to mornings. With diet and a few other strategies, adaptogen herbs as well, things like that, I have addressed this and now feeling so much better.
If you’re training like a gun and you’re having problems getting to sleep, staying to sleep, you might think, “Well, if I’m doing that kind of 7 o’clock, 7 PM class, why don’t I try and do maybe the 7 AM class instead?” Just see whether that works because our cortisol levels typically should be much higher in the morning.
Guy :Another thing that springs to mind and often back is the complete opposite. There’s people that are not being active enough as well.
Guy :You could be one of these people that’s just spending a lot of time sitting down in your chair all day in front of the computer, commuting to work and there’s not a great deal of movement. Sometimes, you’ve got to get the body moving. You were talking about playing with the kids all over the weekend and you were really sore the next day because you were using your body in ways.
Stu:Yeah but I slept well. Again, you’re being mindful of how active you are. When we are active throughout the day, personally, I sleep better. With the smartphones, maybe there’ll be a free pedometer app that you can pull in, plug in. See how many steps your doing. See how much you’re moving. You could purchase one. Again, these things are 5, 10 bucks. Have a reference point. “How am I moving? When am I exercising? What am I eating? How is my sleep?” [00:44:00] All of these things. Do you find that if you do walk from the bus stop to work every morning or use the stairs up and down, is your sleep quality any better? Certainly, try and move because we’re so sedentary right now, sitting down all day. It just isn’t the way we’re supposed to be.
Guy :Okay. Moving on from that, we’re more from food to exercise. What about any herbs? Have you looked at anything like that that have helped [crosstalk 00:44:33]?
Stu:Yeah. Again, there are so many. Valerian root, you’ve got you’re teas, you’re chamomiles. You’ve got things like Ashwagandha, adaptogen herbs, all of these things. These sleepy-time teas, they can help. Caffeine, obviously, switch all that kind of stuff off after 2 PM ideally. If you like hot drink in the evening, I would recommend more of a sleepy-based tea. Chamomile is great. They’ve worked for me. I tried all the herbs under the sun. It’s only really the teas that seem to be that much of an effect. Again, we’re all very unique so you can try. I’ve tried all of these, even crazy herbs out there that you can hunt down the root of some crazy tree in the Amazon that’s supposed to make a wonderful sedative brew. It didn’t work for me. It takes a lot. Yeah, chamomile tea works for me.
Guy :Okay, fantastic. Is there anything else we’ve missed? Vitamin D is the one that I thought about.
Stu:Of course, yeah. Vitamin D is supposedly the master hormone, isn’t it? I mean it’s one of those things that many of us are deficient of right now because we’re [00:46:00] fearful of the sun, first up. Slip, slop, slap. “Get out of the sun. Oh my God! It’s going to burn you”, that kind of stuff. We do need it. I try and get 30 minutes exposure everyday to the sun if I can. I understand not everybody can do that but as long as you get out there and you get some vitamin D. Even around midday, I’ll get 30 minutes and then I will cover up. Just don’t burn yourself. Again, very, very important to get some vitamin D.
Guy :Vitamin D deficiency, it could play a role as well, right? Again, something you go to get tested in.
Stu:Yeah, get tested. See how you feel. It’s part of my strategy for everyday. I do everything I can to sleep well as much as I can. Hydration, I drink as much water as I can. Stay away from the energy drinks and things like that. They will not help you at all. They’re loaded with all these crazy caffeine, taurine and God knows how many teaspoons of sugar, up to 20 plus in some of these cans which are going to send you haywire. They’re going to screw up your hormones and certainly won’t do anything for weight loss. Just hydration, water, herb teas, things like that. People often think a glass of water wine before bed really helps you relax and wind down. Scientifically, it’s not the case.
Guy :Alcohol, I find a stimulant.
Stu:It depends. This glass of red wine before you go to bed, you feel really sleepy but it has been shown to inhibit the quality of sleep. You don’t go into the deeper phases of sleep that we need.
Guy :That’s what I wanted to mention. Now, this is an absolute useless tip because I had no way how to implement it anyway but what I did learn is that the main brain waves, you’ve got beta or high betas like when you’re overanalyzing, you might be worried and so the brain operates that. Then, you’ve got beta which is your awake state. Then, you go closer into alpha, [00:48:00] theta and then the deepest, delta. Do you like that? I’m just rattling this off. It is in front of me but nobody knows that.
Stu:I don’t know whether it’s true but I’m sure it is if you’ve done extensive studies.
Guy :For you to have a really restorative late night’s sleep, you need to do the full cycle right through down to the delta and back up. It happened to me a couple of nights ago because I slept all the way through but I always felt I was never really … Sometimes, I’ll fall asleep and I’ll wake up the next day and go, “Oh my God. Did I actually sleep?” I was out for the count. If you don’t go into the deep restorative sleep, you can actually sleep longer but still feel like crap because you’re not getting into delta which is amazing.
Stu:Yeah, absolutely. All of the things that we’ve spoken about today can affect that, can stop you from reaching that. We’ve got restoration happening in the body, detoxification, all of these pathways, clearance pathways to clear everything out and prepare us for the next day so we wake up with vigor and a spring in our step.
Guy :Exactly. If you want to sleep in all the way through but still feel like you’re not getting rested, it might not because you’re hitting delta.
Stu:That’s right. Sneaking glass of wine or two to calm down after that hectic day will inhibit that in some way.
Guy :There you go. That tip was valid. It wasn’t just good table conversation having dinner wine.
Stu:No, exactly. We’re to discuss it over a glass of wine. I would say there are a whole heap of these things. We’re going to get these transcribed for all of you that want to go through it and not listen to it. You can read it and pick out some tips. Find out what works for you. We’re all radically different but all of these things are part of my toolkit. The best night’s sleep are always my goal state.
Guy :Perfect. [00:50:00] That’s it. Let’s quickly recap for everyone and then we’ll say goodbye. All right. This recall is like the memory game now, isn’t it? It’s EMF, EMR.
Stu:Yeah, sleep routine stuff. EMF, EMR, mobile phones, electricity, stuff like that.
Guy :Unplug it all off, yeah.
Stu:Yeah, going into blue light, devices. Again, switch it off. Try and stop that blue light from interrupting your natural melatonin production.
Guy :Then, you could use the glasses.
Stu:Orange glasses, yeah. Joe 90, Thunderbirds.
Guy :f.lux, the app f.lux.
Stu:Pull f.lux, the plugin. That’s right. Nice and dark in the room.
Guy :Sleep hygiene.
Stu:Sleep hygiene. Again, quiet earplugs, try it. Eye mask, try it if any of those things are bothering you.
Guy :Yeah, clean up your diet.
Stu:Clean up your diet. Make sure that you’re hydrated.
Guy :If you don’t know what that means, there’s about 50 other podcasts you can listen to that’ll help.
Stu:Exactly, yeah. Hit the blog and the podcast. You’re right. You’ll certainly find that.
Guy :The eBook. I don’t know if you’d read that but I like it.
Stu:There is an eBook there. Again, we touched on diet, hydration. Make sure you’re properly hydrated, not through caffeine and energy drinks. Obviously, cup of coffee in the morning, great.
Guy :If you are a freak like Stu in terms of calorie consumption and you struggle to put on weight, then you’re struggling to get asleep, have that extra meal just before you go to bed. That can be, I don’t know, sardines like Stu said. Did you say sardines or was that salmon?
Stu:No, I like sardines for breakfast.
Guy :Yeah, right. Jesus Christ, [crosstalk 00:51:35].
Stu:It’s a twist of routine but I love it. Yeah, just mix it up. Get a little bit of fats, protein, a little bit carbohydrates. Figure out what works for you.
Guy :Exactly. Then, you could be overexercising.
Stu:You could be exercising at the wrong time.
Guy :Yeah. You could be undereating. We suggest like increasing the calories in between the meals and to do it cleanly.
Stu:Support your hormones.
Guy :Yeah. [00:52:00] That can be in the shape of whatever’s the easiest way to do it. We recommend the smoothies but that’s our biased self. Then, there’s underexercising.
Stu:Yes, get mobile. Just make sure that you are actually doing stuff. Then, we’ve got these [crosstalk 00:52:17].
Guy :Yeah, work at the sweat once in a while. Just get into it.
Stu:Yeah. I wrote a blog post about this and I think it was the sleepy-time one. No, it was the 5 unusual things that I do for better health or something on those lines. You’ll find it on the blog where I tell you about my, I think, 6-minute exercise routine. If you have that excuse, “I just don’t have time”, I’ve got a routine for you that will take 6 minutes. Bang! It’s a beautiful routine.
Guy :Revolutionize you.
Stu:Certainly, do something. If you haven’t got time to exercise, then drop us a line because we can tell you about all the things that you can do in under 10 minutes.
Guy :Just to get that response, right?
Guy :Then, there was the glass of wine a night inhibits the depth of the sleep through the brainwave patterns to get the quality of sleep that’s not restorative enough.
Stu:So many people. When I say so many, I’m thinking almost all of the people I know that drink wine have a nice glass of wine in the evening to calm down and get ready for sleep but science does show that it does the opposite. I don’t know how it makes you feel in the morning and whether it dehydrates you during the evening as well or when you’re trying to sleep. Maybe that can have an impact on your bladder and toilet trips during the night.
Guy :Yeah, that doesn’t help either.
Stu:A whole bag of things there. Great stuff to think about. Try them. Write a chart. “I did this. I ate this. My sleep quality was …” From naught to 10, give yourself a number and then at least, you’ve got a reference point [00:54:00] for all of the other things you try because you could delve into all of this stuff, you don’t know what makes the difference.
Guy :Yeah, that’s right.
Stu:One thing at a time, definitely.
Guy :Excellent. Anything else or you’re happy?
Stu:All I would say is please give us feedback. Let us know what works for you. If you’ve got any unusual hacks that do work for you, send it in. I’ll try it.
Guy :Yeah, send us an e-mail. If you’ve got any questions for a future podcast, send it in and we’ll cover them especially if we like the question, of course. If you enjoyed this podcast, leave us a review on iTunes, too. That will be greatly appreciated because we do read them.
Stu:I’m just looking at my face. Thirty-six degrees now.
Stu:Yeah, I’m still sweating.
Guy :Yeah, there you go. Everything would be appreciated. Cool. All right. Thanks for tuning in and thanks, Stu, for your words of wisdom.
Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.
Guy: I’m sure we can all relate to this… You’re starving hungry, you have no food and you’re stuck in an airport or the city and all you have to choose from is the food court! With a few tweaks and a bit of insider knowledge, you’ll be amazed at what meal you can whip up to get you out of trouble. The key is to know what NOT to eat in this situation.
I have to admit, I was SHOCKED to find out what some of the cafe owners get up to in the pursuit of making their food tasty. But with the nuggets of info’ in this weeks 2 minute gem above you can easily avoid the pitfalls of the food courts and make better meal choices…
Today we welcome entrepreneur, health and fitness enthusiast and top bloke Josh Sparks. Josh is the founder of the hugely successful Thr1ve cafe/restaurant chain, which can be found in most CBD food courts. In a nutshell they make real food, real fast, and it is a place I actively seek out to dine at when I’m in the neighbourhood.
Stu and I had a huge amount of fun with this podcast as we tap into Josh’s wealth of experience when it comes to the food industry, his own personal journey and paleo discoveries and how he stays on top of his own health with his very hectic lifestyle!
Trust me, after listening to this podcast you will be inspired to take action on whatever your own goals or endeavours are :)
Full Interview: Life’s Lessons to Look Feel Perform & Thrive
In This Episode:
The biggest lessons he’s learned since cleaning up his diet
How to navigate your way around a food court to make healthy choices
His daily routines and how he stays in great shape!
Why he enjoys being bad at meditation
What stress and your life’s purpose have in common
Guy Lawrence: Hey, this is Guy Lawrence at 180 Nutrition and welcome to today’s Health Sessions. I’ve been very much looking forward to today’s guest, because it’s safe to say he is a entrepreneur, but not only that, a very healthy one.
You know, from myself and Stu’s experience in developing and running 180, it’s all well and good us doing podcasts, creating posts, developing new products and all the rest of it. But it can become very stressful and we have to look after our own health at the same time and it can actually be very challenging sometimes.
So, I was very keen to pick today’s guest’s brains, because he does a very good job of that. His name is Josh Sparks and he is the founder of the THR1VE cafeteria chain here in Australia.
Now, if you’re not aware of the THR1VE cafeteria chain, in a nutshell, they do real food, real fast. And if you’re in most CBDs in Australia you can go into a THR1VE café and actually have a really great meal. It’s one of the places that I will seek out and find when I’m in the city, no matter which one it is here in Australia.
You know, Josh’s background; it’s basically 14 years in high-growth leadership roles as CEO in the fashion industry, mainly, of sass & bide, managing director from Urban Outfitters and CEO of Thom Browne in New York, as well.
Whopping amounts of experience, but then he’s gone and taken that and started to develop his own cafeteria chain, which is what we talked to him about today.
He says now he’s been eating, moves and recovers according to the ancestral health principles now for all the last five years and he’s probably fitter and stronger than he was 20 years ago. More importantly what he does stress as well is that his blood markers of health were improved dramatically as well.
So, Josh was consistently astounded, you could say, by the lack of authentic healthy dinning in top areas within the CBDs. So, he helped and did something about it and has created a very, very successful brand about it.
We get to talk about all them things. His own health journey and even what goes on in the food courts, which there were some things he said in there that is quite shocking what can go on.
So, we delve into all of them things, which is fantastic. So, I’m sure you’re going to enjoy.
Now, last but not least, you may be aware that we are, yes, we are live in the USA. So, for all you guys in America that are listening to this podcast, 180 Super Food, you can get your hands on it. You just need to go to 180nutrition.com.
If you’re unsure what it really is; I always tell people it’s a convenient way to replace bad foods, really quickly. So, I generally have a smoothie; I can mix it with a bit of water or coconut water, if I’ve been training, some berries and I normally put a bit of avocado and I make a smoothie. Especially if I’m out and about, going into meetings in the city or whatever and I know I’m stretched from time I will make a big liter of it and sip on it and it gets me through to my next meal.
So, yeah, you can do that. Go over to 180nutrition.com and check it out.
Anyway, let’s go over to Josh and enjoy today’s show. Thanks.
Guy Lawrence: All right. I always get this little turn every time. Anyway …
Hey, this is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart Cooke. Hey, Stewie!
Stuart Cooke: Hello, buddy.
Guy Lawrence: And our awesome guest today is Josh Sparks. Josh, welcome to the show.
Josh Sparks: Thanks guys. Thanks for having me.
Guy Lawrence: Now, look, very excited, mate. I think today’s topics are going to be great. We’re going to certainly want to cover a few things, especially like bringing Mr. Paleo Primal himself over, Mark Sisson, earlier in the year for the THR1VE symposium; which was awesome, by the way.
Josh Sparks: Oh, great.
Guy Lawrence: And of course the THR1VE brand itself and how you’ve taken the food courts kind of head on with the THR1VE cafeteria chain. So, there’ll be lots to discuss, mate, so, very much looking forward to it.
Josh Sparks: I’m excited to be here.
Guy Lawrence: So, before all that, we get into those subjects, what did you used to do before you got in the health industry?
Josh Sparks: Before I did THR1VE?
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Josh Sparks: So, my journey has been a fairly interesting one. I studied law and I worked very briefly in mergers and acquisitions law and decided, as I think many young lawyers do, that law school is not the same as being a lawyer and got out of that fairly promptly.
And then for the bulk of my career, the last 15 years prior to THR1VE, I was in various fashion businesses. So, all retail, I guess THR1VE is a retail, but fashion and lifestyle focus, never food.
So, I was the first CEO of sass & bide, which is an Australian women’s label that some of your listeners may be familiar with. And then I moved to the U.S. and became the CEO of Thom Browne of New York, which is a men’s line in New York. And then I moved to Philadelphia and ran the ecommerce business at Anthropologie, which is part of the Urban Outfitters group.
So, all fashion; tons of fun. You know, the really interesting thing about fashion and I think how it relates to what you guys are doing, and what I’m doing, what any of us are trying to strike out on our own and create a brand is that within the fashion industry what you’re really doing is storytelling. You’re building brands around what is otherwise largely a commodity product. The $30 jeans use the same denim as the $200 jeans.
So, it’s really about the creativity you can bring to the design and the creativity you can bring to the storytelling to really set it apart. So, I think that that’s what I loved about the fashion industry.
On the flip side my personal passion, really my whole life, has been around health and wellness. Every since I was a high school and college athlete, I’ve always been particularly interested in the intersection of training modalities, training methodologies and nutrition and how to best support each and really ultimately the synergy between the two.
But as I got older, while I was doing all this fashion stuff, I think I experienced what so many of us do and I started to … my body wasn’t responding quite the way I wanted and my thinking that you could steer the ship through exercise started to be challenged by the evidence that confronted me in the mirror every morning and on the scales and in the gym and I just wasn’t performing or looking or feeling quite as I did.
So, I started to explore the nutrition side much more actively. Until then, I think like a lot of guys in their 20s and early 30s, it’s much more about training for a while, or at least it was for me and perhaps my generation.
But as I started to explore nutrition, like you guys and like so many in our community, I discovered ancestral health templates. So the Paleo, the Primal, the Weston A Price and started to experiment with reducing processed foods. I mean, it sounds crazy now that this was an experiment, but reducing processed foods, reducing our processed carbs in particular, amping up the veggies. It’s just so incredibly obvious now, but at the time it was a revelation.
So, as I was professionally developing the skill set around branding and marketing and communications and running businesses here and in the U.S., personally I was having this journey of discovery, this very exciting revelation around what we eat and how profoundly it impacts how we feel and perform, whether it’s physically in the gym or whether it’s mentally and emotionally at work, in our relationships, or whatever.
So, it’s really … I guess I just had this light bulb moment of, “How do I connect the two?” This professional experience that I’ve had, what I’ve loved, around the fashion industry with what is a much deeper personal passion to me than the fashion space and that is health and wellness.
And to cut a very long story short, that’s how I came to develop the idea for THR1VE.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, right. How long ago was that, Josh?
Josh Sparks: So, I moved back from the U.S. in 2011 and I started working on … I came back and I was consulting in the fashion space here in Australia, in Sydney and Melbourne to Just Group and Gisele and M. J. Bale and a bunch of different brands. And I was doing that really to save money to do my own thing, to do my own brand.
So, I started working on business plans for THR1VE. It would be unrecognizable to you, knowing THR1VE today. My first two business plans were terrible and it was going to be a one-off restaurant. Then it was going to be a home delivery meal system. Then it was going to be a supplement line and then it was going to be … and I didn’t know what I was doing and I was so all over the place. And then I really came back to focus on what I know and love best, which is this premium consumer retail, effectively.
Which in Australia, for food, that is either food courts or one-off cafes and restaurants, and I decided I didn’t want to do a one-off for a number of reasons. But probably most importantly, I wanted to reach as many people as possible. And the café and restaurant scene in Australia is pretty good. You can get some really healthy, yummy meals in a whole bunch of cafes and restaurants in Australia. Even in small town Australia now, you can get some pretty good food in cafes and restaurants.
But the food court, whether it’s in a mall or in an airport or strip retail, you know, a cluster of food outlets in strip retail. Pretty average. Predominately processed, 70 to 80 percent carbohydrates. You know, you walk into a food court; it’s just all carbs. All processed carbs. You know, its bread and pasta and sugar and all sorts of stuff that we know we could probably benefit from eating a lot less of.
So, I saw it as the area of greatest opportunity and the area of greatest need and thus THR1VE became, through multiple business plans, a food court focused retail offer.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: How long did that process take, Josh, just thinking from your sketches to the day of opening?
Josh Sparks: Yeah, it took a little while, Stu. So, late 2011 I was really actively working on it. I had registered the name and I had settled on broadly what I wanted to do. But we didn’t open the first store until late 2012. So, it was over a year of very focused work here where I settled on THR1VE. I settled on the fact that it was going to be a retail location and I was out talking to landlords and prior to that … I mean, I started working on a business along these lines probably about seven or eight years ago, when I first read Loren Cordain’s stuff.
But that was when I was still in the U.S., I was in Philly, and at that point I was thinking about doing a sort of gym and café combo, where it was going to be a sort of a high-end personal training only gym with sort of a café/restaurant attached to it. Which sounds great, but I never would have been able to pull it off, because I’m not a PT. It just was doomed to go nowhere.
So, how long did it take to really take shape? It took years and years and years of very focused work around the idea of THR1VE as vaguely recognizable as it is today. I was a good 12 months of just hitting the pavement and talking to landlords and pitching it to staff. I mean, no one wanted to know about it. I had a huge amount of difficulty convincing a landlord to give me a location.
Guy Lawrence: Wow.
Stuart Cooke: Really?
Josh Sparks: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Why do you think that is? Just the whole idea?
Josh Sparks: It’s very easy for us to forget that even in 2011, late 2011 when I first started talking to landlords, no one had heard of paleo or primal. I mean, there wasn’t … it was … the subject; we were so niche. I mean, it was a very small subset of the market and I probably still at that point was being a little bit purest about it as well.
So, when I was talking to landlords, I was probably sounding a little evangelical and a little dogmatic and probably a little bit crazy. And so, I kept having this look, “You know, you seem to have done OK with these fashion brands and you had a bit of success and maybe you should stick to that.”
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Josh Sparks: “And I don’t know if food court really wants healthy food.”
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Josh Sparks: “And we’ve got salads. So, what else do we need?”
Stuart Cooke: Sure.
Josh Sparks: And, “Yeah, we’ve got a Japanese operator. So we’ve got health covered.”
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, right.
Josh Sparks: It was these sorts of conversations. I think it was, even just three or four years ago it was considered a bit ahead of its time and in branding, any sort of branding, whether it’s fashion, whether it’s lifestyle, whether it’s automotive, whether it’s what you guys do. Whatever it is, you want to be ahead enough of the curve to capture some mind shares, some early mind shares. At the same time it’s very easy to go broke if you’re too far ahead of the curve.
And it’s just finding that sweet spot and the feedback I was getting landlords was that I was to far ahead of the curve.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, right.
Josh Sparks: And my sense was not at all. This is; we’re at a the tipping point here. This is going to go mainstream in the next couple of years. And it might not be called paleo and it might not be called primal. It might not be call ancestral health. It might not be called THR1VE. But this way of eating, this awareness of just how profound the impact is on how you look, feel, and perform when you eat differently, that’s right at the tipping point. You know, the obesity levels and the Type 2 diabetes level and the fact that Medicare is publicly funded and it’s just unaffordable for us to continue to pay for bad lifestyle choices. Whether it’s smoking or whether it’s excess sugar. So, I felt that we were just at a bit of a tipping point, but it was very challenging to convince people around me, whether they were landlords or investors or potential employees, that I wasn’t completely crazy.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. I’m curious, right? Just a thought came in, because I’m always fascinated by everyone’s journeys, was it a particular niche; tipping point or something that happened in your own life? Because I know you’re saying that you were starting to put on weight and things like that, but was there an “aha” moment where you’ve got to go, “Right. I’m going to cut out the process foods. I’m going to change my lifestyle.”
Josh Sparks: So, I think, there’s two. For me personally it was recognizing that I just, I wasn’t happy. And it started off for me with a sense of, you know, emotional well-being suffering.
And it wasn’t so much, because I didn’t get huge, I’m naturally pretty skinny and even when I … I sort of the skinny fat guy. If I’m out of shape, I get skinny-fat. Like, I don’t get a huge gut.
I just don’t … I lose tone. I lose strength. I lose all those physical markers of health, the objective physical markers of health.
This was more subjective to answer your question, Guy. I just wasn’t feeling great.
Guy Lawrence: Yup.
Josh Sparks: And so, it led me to an exploration, “Look, am I drinking too much? Is it something I’m allergic to? Is there something in my diet that’s problematic?”
I stopped drinking completely. I cut out sugar. I started cutting out processed foods. That led me on a journey around fat. I started upping my Omega-3 intake.
But all those things really started for me around a sense of emotional health, not being as good as it could be. I wasn’t depressed. It wasn’t that acute. I just didn’t feel great anymore and I was used to feeling so motivated and so energetic. It was really sad to think, “God, is this aging? Is this normal? Am I meant to feel this way?”
Stuart Cooke: It just sounds like you weren’t thriving, Josh.
Josh Sparks: Thank you very much. I’m glad we got that in there. It’s very fine of you.
Guy Lawrence: So, back to THR1VE, right? And I really want to put this question: like, how would compete against now, like the Subways of this world? Because they’ve got “healthy food” marketing, that’s getting bombarded and the food court’s littered with it.
Josh Sparks: Yeah. Look, I think it’s a really great question. So, there’s two things. One: I think the use of the word “health” is becoming as ubiquitous as the use of the word “green” was about 10 years ago. You know, like, Chevron and Shell were running ads about how “green” they were. It’s like, “OK. Where are we on this ‘green’ thing?” And I think we’re in the same place with everyone’s claiming to be “healthy.”
So, first of all I think there is … that that’s going to lead to a certain level of backlash and I think consumers are already starting to become aware that they’re being hoodwinked with marketing. And great marketers are really good at what they are doing.
So, there’s health messages that are overt and there’s a whole bunch that are much more subtle and nuanced, but they’re rife throughout the food industry; whether it’s retail or wholesale or supermarket, wherever.
So, I think there’s going to be a little bit of a backlash and a little bit of growing skepticism, which I’m hoping will lead to my next point, which is: ask the follow-up questions.
So, yeah, I think whether it’s the press or whether it’s us as consumers, we’re terrible at asking the follow-up questions.
“So, great. You’re healthy.” What is healthy? Define healthy to me? You know, what is your paradigm of health? What protocol do you subscribe to? And that can lead to some really interesting conservations, because we see … I used to go … I read this and I must admit that I read this in a Playboy magazine, which I was reading for the articles when I was about 28 or 29 or so …
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Josh Sparks: And it was the first time I’d ever read about Paul Chek. It was actually an interview with Paul Chek in Playboy, of all places. And Paul Chek was talking about the fact that he’d been interviewed on TV and he got into this head-to-head around diet with a, I guess what we’ll call a conventional dietitian or a nutritionist who was stuck on the U.S. food pyramid, which is very similar to our recommendations.
Stuart Cooke: Yup.
Josh Sparks: Anyway, he obviously lost patient with the process at some point and he said, “Listen, do you subscribe to … everything you just espoused, your so-called philosophy of eating, do you subscribe to this a hundred percent in your own life?” And this guy’s, “Yeah. Absolutely.” And he’s like, “Great! Take off your shirt and I’ll take off my shirt.”
And it was just this kind of moment of: OK. So, if this is really working for you, do you look, feel and perform exactly how you want? And if you do, well, let’s see it. Come on. Let’s get this on.
And I thought, OK, it’s a little bit crass. I don’t think it would work on Australian TV. But at the same time I really respected the kind of cut through the B.S.
If you claim to be healthy, give us a sense of what that actually means and hopefully you’ve thought about it enough to have some kind of protocol, some kind of framework that you’re working within. And then is it working for you? And give us some sense of that. You know, “I came from here to here; it’s backed up by bloodwork.” Or, you know, I’ve lost a ton of weight and I know it’s fat, it’s not water or muscle because I did a DEXA scan before and after.
Give us some evidence, you know. Not this kind of fluffy, “healthy” thing.
Guy Lawrence: It’s interesting that you say that, because I worked as a PT for a long time and I would do … I must have … no exaggeration, sat in from the thousand of people, right? Doing consultations and the first thing I would do was ask them, “Do you eat healthy?” I mean, we do that even with our clean eating workshops we’ve been doing with CrossFit, right?
Josh Sparks: Right.
Guy Lawrence: And nine times out of 10 they, go, “Well, yeah. Yeah, I eat pretty healthy.” I go, “Great. Let’s write down what you just ate for the last 48 hours.” Right?
Josh Sparks: Right.
Guy Lawrence: And then once they start doing that there’s two things that generally happen. One: they actually, genuinely think they they’re eating healthy, but I look at it and go, “Oh shit. That’s not healthy.”
Josh Sparks: Yeah. You might have something there.
Guy Lawrence: Or two: they’ve just sort of been in denial. They go, “OK. Maybe I could improve a little bit.” and stuff like that. When you get down to that detail, but we just don’t. It’s human nature.
Josh Sparks: It is human nature. There’s a great stat where I counted it as 92 or 93 percent of male drivers think they’re better than average. So, it’s like, we are great at doing nothing. We are great at deluding ourselves, right?
So, when you have an objective check, someone like you, when you’re sitting in front of them and you’re forcing them to actually go through it, there’s nothing more powerful than documenting a food diary or training log, you know, “Because I’m training hard.” and you kind of look back at what actually you know, “I’m been a complete wuss.”
And it’s the same thing with a food diary. We don’t encourage things like obsessive diarization or cataloging or counting calories or measuring food. We don’t focus on that at all.
But the point that you just made, a point in time gut check, no pun intended, on “How am I eating?” and “Is this truly healthy,” and “Do you even know what healthy is?” And then engaging with the right kind of advices to give you some options and some alternatives.
And so, I think for me, whether you … whatever you call it: paleo, primal, ancestral health, whatever, I’m not really stuck on the labels. In fact, I think the labels can be extremely damaging because we can get a little bit dogmatic around that.
So, setting aside this specific label, what I want to know is whoever is claiming to provide their customers with healthy food and their customers are trusting them. I mean, that’s a relationship of mutual trust and confidence. It’s an important relationship. It should be respected.
Are they lying to them? Or have they actually put some energy into documenting what they believe and have some evidence to back it up? And then have they … again, another follow-up question … have they audited their supply chain? Is there sugar being snuck in the products? Are there bad oils being snuck in the products?
You know if you go around the food court, you would be staggered by … the Japanese operators add processed sugar to the rice. Many of the Mexican operators, not all of them, but many of the Mexican operators add table sugar to their rice.
Now, why do they do that? Because they tested it with customers and surprise, surprise, customers preferred the rice with sugar.
Stuart Cooke: Right. Yeah.
Josh Sparks: So, it’s great that we’re talking about health. I mean, on the one hand, let’s be positive and celebrate the fact that at least it’s a topic of conversation in the food court, which five, 10 years ago, you know, not so much. Certainly 10 years ago.
On the flip side, now that we’re talking about it, let’s have an intelligent conversation about it and let’s ask a couple of follow-up questions. And then we can make an informed decision where your version of health, Mr. Vegan, is right for me or not right for me. And your version, Mr. Salad Man, is right for me or not right for me.
So, that’s what we’re trying to encourage at THR1VE. You take that discussion further.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Awesome.
Stuart Cooke: Fantastic. Well, first up Guy, I think, it’s only right that we perform these podcasts in the future without our tops on. OK? That’s a given. We’re going to do that. It won’t start today.
So, just thinking, Josh, if you can’t access, you know, THR1VE in the food courts around here, how would you navigate the food courts? And I’m just thinking in terms of our customers who might think, “Well, sushi is the best option out there.” When we’re looking at the likes of the Chinese and the kabobs, and the McDonald’s and all the other kind of footlong gluten rolls or whatever they are. What do you do?
Josh Sparks: Footlong gluten roll.
Stuart Cooke: I’ve just sold it. I used to work in marketing don’t you know.
Josh Sparks: That’s a marketing winner, I reckon.
Stuart Cooke: No one’s thought of it.
Josh Sparks: It’s a really good question and I think that, I mean, we’ve got six stores, we’ll have nine or 10 opened in another nine or 12 months. So, we are not everywhere, sadly. In fact, if you go Australia-wide, there’s not enough places where you can find THR1VE or something like THR1VE.
So, to answer your question, I think you’ve got a few options. You’ve got … most salad operators will have a range of salads that don’t include the added pasta and the added grains. And I’m not terribly concerned about gluten-free grains as long as I know that … you know, it’s such a difficult question to answer diplomatically, but I’ll give you a version.
So, most salad places will have something for you. Most of the proteins in the less expensive salad joints are not … they’re reprocessed proteins. So, they’re reconstructed proteins.
So, they’re by no means great and there tends to be sugar and gluten snuck into those products. It gives them better form and it gives them better preservation and what not. But it’s not going to kill you, once in a while.
With respect to the Japanese operators, if you go for sashimi you’re pretty safe. Be conscious with the rice, as I mentioned before. But again, I’m not anti-rice by any stretch, but I don’t want table sugar added to my rice. So, I probably tend to avoid it in most of the Japanese operators. Unless they can tell me, and I believe them, that they’re not adding sugar to their rice. But that’s sticky rice. Traditionally prepared, they don’t use sugar. They use a specific kind of rice. But in most food operators there is sugar added to it.
Mexican operators, if you go without the bread, without the corn chips, without the processed carbs. And again, I’m persuaded that lentils are not the end of the world and beans aren’t the end of the world.
I’ve read a whole bunch of interesting stuff on that recently, particularly after Mark Sisson came out at the THR1VE Me Conference in March and said that he was reading a lot of evidence that legumes in small amounts occasionally can actually be beneficial to gut flora and so on and so forth.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Absolutely.
Josh Sparks: So, Mexican operators, if you go for kind of the beans and the guac and the salsa and the meats, maybe skip the rice if you’re having the beans. You probably don’t need a double hit. But maybe you do, if you just worked out.
So, what I do is I look those operators with brands that I trust. I prefer to feel that there’s some integrity in the supply chain. And to a certain extent I find, and it’s a terrible term, but the idea that it’s reassuringly expensive is not always true, but if you go to some of those really sort of dirty café, you know, greasy spoon type operators and you can get a bacon and egg roll for three bucks. Not that I have the roll anyway. But you can pretty well be sure that that bacon and that egg is not going to live up to your standards. It’s probably not the sort that you would have at home.
So, I prefer probably going to the more premium ends of the operators in the food court. Taking my; you mentioned the kebob operator, so in a pinch you can get on a plate, you can get the meat and you can get the salad and you can ask for extra salad, now I normally put some avocado on it and just skip the bread.
Now, I wouldn’t do that unless there was no alternative. But I think that’s a hell of a lot better than having a burger or a XX 0:26:09.000 dirty pieXX or whatever.
So, I think it’s more about … for me the simple rule is, it’s more about what you take out and if you can remove the processed sugars and the processed carbs as much as possible, then you’re going to be left with something that is relatively benign, if you are indulging in it occasionally.
Stuart Cooke: Yup.
Josh Sparks: If you’re having it every day, then you’ve probably got to take it a little bit further and say, “Well, if this is processed chicken, what did they process it with? If this is reconstructed chicken, what else did they put into it? What oils have they used in this salad dressing? What oils do they cook in?”
But you’re getting down to some lower dimension returns on that stuff. It makes a ton of sense if you’re doing it every day. So, if you’re doing it every meal, but if you’re doing it once every two weeks because you’re stuck in an airport and you’ve got no alternative, I would say don’t sweat it.
Guy Lawrence: A hundred percent. Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Exactly.
Josh Sparks: There’s also all that stuff about hermetic stressors right? Which I’m just fascinated by and the idea that you can go too clean and all the stuff that Robb Wolf has done around Special Forces.
They go back to base. They eat 100 percent strictly extremely clean, because they’re allowed to. And they’re cooking for themselves and they’re eating off-base. They’re not eating in the cafeteria, etc., etc.
They then go on to deployment and they’ve got to eat these MRAs that are just horrendous. Because they’re packaged for stability and shelf life, not for the kind of nutritional profile that we would look for. And these guys are getting really sick for the first two days on deployment. And if you’re sent out on some sort of Special Forces mission, you don’t want to spend two days over the toilet when you just landed in enemy territory or whatever.
So, the idea is to … I think, don’t sweat the occasional indulgence. And don’t sweat the occasional toxin, you know, in strict sort of paleo/primal sense. But eat clean as much as you can. And then don’t worry about it too much. If you find yourself stuck eating a salad that’s probably used vegetable oil and they’ve added sugar to the dressing, I say don’t sweat it too much.
Stuart Cooke: I think so and also you can switch on stress hormones by sweating it too much.
Josh Sparks: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: And seriously that can be just as harmful as the food that you eat.
Josh Sparks: That’s so true.
Guy Lawrence: Do you … you talked about the other cafes and food courts, right? And their owners putting sugar in the rice and they’re using different oils. Do you think they’re even aware that they’re doing things that could be damaging to health? Or do you think it just not even on their radar and it’s just purely business perspective and they just think they’re doing the right thing?
Josh Sparks: Yeah. It’s a really good question. I don’t think … I don’t think … I would love to think that there is no malice involved.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Josh Sparks: You know, I think it is a genuine desire to please customers and maximize sales. And most of these guys, certainly the big brands, have done blind taste testing and they know that customers prefer high sugar.
Now, the customer doesn’t know that rice “A” has no sugar and therefore is going to taste very bland on its own and rice “B” has added sugar. They just know that rice “B” tastes a whole lot better and, “I’m not quite sure why, but it’s great!”
So, I think they’re doing this testing and it’s revealing that there’s a certain level of sugar … these days we’re so detuned; our tastes is so detuned to sugar now, because it’s everywhere, Certain level of sugar is almost necessary, particularly if the food is otherwise rather bland.
And then in terms of oil, I mean, we spend a fortune on oils. Oils for most of our competitors are … it’s a rounding item. They’re getting 20 liters for $8 or less. Fifteen liters for $15 and these are industrial oils that are mass produced and, we know, problematic for a whole bunch reasons.
So, that’s not a taste issue. Because the average consumer, once its mixed up and it’s cooked and it’s got a sauce on it on and a side, you can’t tell whether it’s canola oil or whether its macadamia oil at that point. Most of us can’t, you know. The truth is, we just can’t tell.
However, my competitors have got an extra 4 percent in gross margin, because they spent a lot less on oil.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
So, I think that there’s two decisions being made here. One is around taste and the other one is around the economics.
Australia’s such a high-cost market for what we do and our rents are near world highest. Our food costs a near world highest. And our hourly rates are the highest in the world for causal workers.
So, there’s a real scramble on to work out, well, how do we make this thing profitable? And when you’ve got something like oil costing 10 times as much, it’s an easy decision I think for a lot of operators. But I don’t think it’s malice. I think it’s pleasing customers and survival.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.. I wonder if they’re actually, genuinely aware. It’s the brands I get frustrated with, because obviously, like you said, the paleo movement and primal and health are more on people’s radars now and we’re seeing more health brands coming onto the market. But then I’m looking at what they’re selling and I’m like, “ugh!” They’re just, they know they aren’t doing the right thing right here.
Josh Sparks: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: That’s where it can get frustrating.
Josh Sparks: It is frustrating and I think, you know, on the flip side I guess, Guy, it’s capitalism, right? And that is what a large percentage of the market wants.
It’s like McDonald’s, when they first started doing salads, they don’t sell any salads, it just makes you feel better about walking into McDonald’s. So, you’ll tell your friends that you went to get the salad, but they end up buying a cheeseburger.
So, I think that there is … most people think that they want health, until they’re given the choice at the counter.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Josh Sparks: And so, some of our competitors feel, competitors broadly defined, have a really good salad offer, for example, but they also do sandwiches on this incredibly thick ciabatta bread. It ends up being about 70 percent processed carbohydrates.
And you see it all the time. Like, people get up to the counter and that thing being toasted, that sandwich being toasted that smells amazing or you can have the healthy salad and willpower seems to come off.
So, I think there’s always going to be a percentage of the market that says they want to be healthy but don’t really mean it. But what we’re trying to do is encourage those that say they want to be healthy and actually, genuinely want to be healthy and are prepared to make decisions on that basis. We want to give them something that they trust that there’s been real effort into creating a meal and auditing the supply change around it.
Stuart Cooke: Got it.
Josh Sparks: But it is frustrating for us, because we’re being undercut by … you know, we are not the cheapest source of calories in the food court. We don’t use the processed crappy food that is cheap. Processed carbs are cheap, right?
Guy Lawrence: Oh, yeah.
Josh Sparks: So, it’s frustrating for us when someone slaps a whole bunch of nice images of seasonal food across a poster and splashes: “This season’s local produce. Healthy this. Healthy that.” And we know that 79/80 percent of their salad is processed food.
It is frustrating, but at the same time I think it fires us up. Like it makes us … it puts a bit of fire in our belly, because it means that we’ve got to get smarter about how we’re communicating. That not only are we healthy, but there is a follow-up question and please ask us, because we’d love to tell you. We’re going to get smarter and smarter in that conversation.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Brilliant
Stuart Cooke: Excellent.
Now, when I was younger, much younger than I am now, going through college. I worked in England for a very large supermarket chain. And I used to do the evening shift. So, you know, we’d get rid of the customers and we’d tidy up and we’d attend to waste.
So, food wastage, it was unreal. Now, I’m talking big supermarket chain. So, it was Sainsbury’s. I don’t know whether you’re familiar with that brand.
Josh Sparks: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: So, I worked on the produce, the produce section, and occasionally the bakery. And every night we would just fill up probably three or four of these huge wheely bins of donuts and cakes and pies and pastries and all this kind of wonderful fruit, that just kind of past its cosmetic expiry date.
At the time, being a young guy, we used to eat donuts and you know, “You can eat a couple of donuts, guys, before you throw them.” And that was awesome, at the time. But it did open my eyes to: boy that is huge, huge, huge amounts of waste and on a global scale, as well.
Now, I was listening to a podcast the other day about food wastage with you guys and I thought you had some really neat policies. So, I wondered it you could share that with our audience, please.
Josh Sparks: Why sure. So, thanks for asking and I completely agree with you. It’s just I find it horrendous to think about the amount of waste.
So, what we do is twofold. One: we minimize what; we’re incredibly focused on developing systems and processes to minimize our waste. So, we’ve actually engaged a bunch of consultants and we’ve developed a system in-house that, they call them “build to’s” and this is all new to me, right? Because this is not fashion terminology.
So, there’s sort of “build to’s” each day in terms of the amount of stock that’s being prepared. And it’s based on a history of sales. Like-for-like sales.
So, Thursday’s today. What did we do last Thursday? What did we do Thursday before? It’s summer. It’s winter. It’s sunny. It’s not sunny. There’s a bunch of variables that we look at and really dial in what’s been what’s being prepped.
Typically that means we actually run out towards the end of the lunch rush and we’re normally open for another couple of hours beyond that. So, if that happens and that’s the ideal, after the lunch rush we actually prep to order. So, it means you order what takes takes two and a half to three minutes; that is our objective. It will take four to five minutes, but if you’re happy to wait that, you know, mid-afternoon, then it means that we don’t have any waste in those key products at all.
Now, having said that, we’re very rarely perfect, because the day’s never predictable and it’s extremely rare that we aren’t left with something in some ingredients.
So, we’ve got certain things right. We under cooked, we under cut some and then we did too much of others.
So, then we work with OzHarvest and they’re basically a group that collects food on a day-to-day basis, from a bunch of food operators actually, and provide them to the homeless.
So, our raw ingredients end up going into the raw ingredients for things like soup kitchens, to prepare their own food. And our prepped, ready-to-go food, is literally just given as a meal to the homeless.
You know, I had this very funny interaction not long ago, I guess it was about a year ago, in our store at Martin Place in Sydney, there used to … it’s not anymore, it’s just been refurbished … there used to be a little bench just outside the store.
I used to do all my meetings there, because we still don’t have an office, like I’m doing this from home, you know, we’re a small business. So, I was kind of using this as my desk. And I was meeting with my general manager and this guy came over, he was obviously homeless. I mean, he had an old sleeping bag around him. He had the big beard and the crazy hair. He looked like he was sleeping rough and he was clearly coming to me. Like he was making a beeline for me. Like, “What have I done to you?”
And so I’m sort of looking at him coming over and he goes, “Hey, hey, hey …” and I was wearing this THR1VE t-shirt … “Hey, are you Mr. THR1VE?” And I went, “Ah, I guess.” and he goes … am I allowed to swear on this podcast?
Josh Sparks: He goes, “I fucking love your food. It’s the best food.” Why that’s awesome!
Stuart Cooke: Wow.
Josh Sparks: I said, “I’m glad you enjoy it. Come back anytime.”
And it was just one of those moments. Because what’s happens is he’s getting one of the meals that’s got the THR1VE branding on it, so he knew it was from us. It just made me realize that you kind of set up these relationships, but you’re not always sure that it makes it to the end user exactly how you anticipate it might. But that was just a nice little moment and I think what OzHarvest does is fantastic.
And these days we don’t do as much prepped foods as we used to. We used to do salads that we made just before lunch rush. So if you’re in a hurry, you point at it in the fridge and we’d give it to you and you’d be good to go. But we moved away from that, because we wanted to give customers more choice in terms of how they build up the bowl.
So, we don’t have the level of giveaways we used to. So, OzHarvest, unfortunately are not getting as much from us as they used to. But we still provide them with any waste that we do have at the end of the day.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Sounds fantastic.
Stuart Cooke: It’s still a fantastic initiative. And just so you know, we’ve got quite a large station wagon, so if you need a hand transporting any of that food wastage, we’ll happily fill up our car with that and drive into the sunset with that. Don’t worry about that. Just say the word.
Josh Sparks: I may take you up on that.
Guy Lawrence: Mate, just a quick question. If anyone is listening to this is new to, say, “clean eating” and they walked into your THR1VE café today and go, “Right. I want to order a dish.” What would you recommend them?
Josh Sparks: OK.
Guy Lawrence: Somebody starting out.
Josh Sparks: Great question. Great question. And should we define “clean eating?” Should we define …
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Go, yes.
Josh Sparks: So, for us; again the follow-up question thing; for us “clean eating” is about no processed foods. So, it’s no added sugar. No gluten-containing grains. It’s no chemicals, preservatives, etc., etc.
So, that’s how we define “clean eating.” It’s not strictly paleo. It’s not strictly primal. It’s certainly inspired by those protocols. But “clean eating” for us is about eliminating processed foods, added sugars, bad oils as well, and any gluten-containing grains. So, that’s how we define it.
So, what we typically do with someone who’s brand new to this way of eating or this way of living, we suggest something that is very familiar. And I have actually have this really strict brief that in our environment; a food court it’s not a niche healthy café in Bondi or XX0:40:19.000 Byron Bay or Neustadt, or the Mornington PeninsulaXX.
It is a high-traffic mainstream environment and we have to have food that sounds and looks familiar and comforting. We’ve just taken the effort of pulling out the bad stuff. So, most of our menu, I would say, hopefully would look and feel pretty approachable and unintimidating.
But our bestseller is our Lemon and Herb Pesto Chicken. Which is just a chicken breast that’s been butterflied, grilled. We make our own pesto. So, we use olive oil, we don’t add sugar to it, etc., etc. We do add a little Parmesan, because I’m not anal about dairy. So, it’s a really nice fresh pesto. We use roasted peppers.
And that will all sit on a bed of whatever veggies or gluten-free grains you want. But I’d suggest you do it on our zoodles, which are … literally it’s just a zucchini that’s been spiralized. It’s not cooked, it’s just … it looks like … it sort of looks like pasta, but it’s raw zucchini. It’s awesome.
Guy Lawrence: I love it.
Josh Sparks: And I do it a half zoodles base and then I’m really into a kind of seasonal grains thing at the moment, because like everyone, I feel like I’m not eating enough grains. So, I do half zoodles on the base, half seasonal grains and I do a side of avocado; maybe a side of broccoli. And depending on what you get, that’s going to cost you anything between, sort of, $12 and $16; depending on how hungry you are and how large each portion you want it to be.
So, that’s kind of a really nice, familiar lunch/dinner. It’s the kind of thing you would see on lots of café menus and lots of restaurant menus and lots of people make it at home.
So, I would recommend something pretty simple like that to start off with.
Guy Lawrence: Perfect. You’re making me hungry.
Stuart Cooke: I am very hungry as well. And good tip as well on your zoodle. Because I had always … well when I say “always,” I’ve experimented with zucchini pasta and for me I’ve always boiled ,,, I’ve kind of boiled it too long and always ended up with a really sloppy mess.
Josh Sparks: Right.
Stuart Cooke: And I’ve been really disappointed. I’m not looking forward to the next one. So, you just do that raw, do you?
Josh Sparks: We do it raw. Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Josh Sparks: Because the other, I’m sure you guys read all the same research as well, when I talk about diversity of vegetables, most of us don’t have enough. And then in terms of diversity of preparation, most of us get stuck on a prep step. So, we like steaming or we like roasting or we like frying or whatever. Everything that I read suggests that we should have a mix of a whole huge variety of veggies and a huge variety of prep, including raw. And I realized outside of salad leaves and salad greens I never eat a lot of raw veggies.
So, it’s a way, and I don’t want to say the entire business is built around my selfish desire for raw veggies, but it seems like those zoodles were a good idea and they’re selling very well.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Great. Well, they say variety is the spice of life, mate. That’s for sure.
Josh Sparks: Exactly. Exactly.
Stuart Cooke: That’s beautiful. That’s so deep, Guy. I’m really moved by that.
Guy Lawrence: He’s bagged me twice all ready on this podcast. I’m sure I’ll …
Stuart Cooke: I just can’t help it. Sorry. It’s the beard, the beard. Have you noticed he’s got a beard now?
Josh Sparks: He’s rocking it. It’s very masculine.
Guy Lawrence: It’s very hip, I reckon.
Stuart Cooke: He’s going ancestral.
Josh Sparks: And when he does go shirtless, it’s going to be sort of hipster meets paleo.
Guy Lawrence: Exactly. I’m getting in theme for this podcast. That’s all it was. It was for you, Josh. It was for you.
Stuart Cooke: Thanks a lot.
Josh Sparks: Thank you.
Stuart Cooke: So, I’m going to steal another question, Guy.
Guy Lawrence: Why not, you bagged me twice.
Stuart Cooke: So, paleo, Josh. So, paleo’s all over the media right now. It’s getting some great press. Good. Bad. Indifferent. Has this particular message affected you in any way?
Josh Sparks: Yeah, it has. So, I think that there’s two things I would say. First of all I think … further the point I made earlier, it’s great that paleo is even appearing in the press. Just like it’s great that health is now appearing in the food court and to the extent it’s inspiring a dialogue, and at times a well-researched and intelligent dialogue, then obviously I applaud it. I think that’s a fantastic thing.
Stuart Cooke: Yup.
Josh Sparks: On the flip side, because the media deals primarily in sound bites and research takes time and to give them their credit, they work in very short-form media these days, I mean, everything’s a Tweet, basically, in whatever format it’s coming.
I don’t think we’re getting the benefit of a lot of the nuance around what is paleo, what is primal, what’s ancestral health, and I think it’s as a subset of that, people tend to hang onto certain aspects of it that appear dogmatic or prescriptive and I think most people, me included, don’t like being told what to do.
So, I think the backlash that we’re seeing is a natural human response to the perception, you know, real or imagined, that we as a community are coming out and scolding and lecturing people and telling them how bad they are and how better they could be if only they were as purist as we are.
Now, I don’t work that way. I know you guys don’t work that way. But the perception is that we as a community are inflexible, we’re dogmatic and we’re prescriptive. And I think that’s something we need to be very, very focused on countering. Because the reality is, that as Mark Sisson keeps saying; as Robb Wolf keeps saying, as Chris Kresser keeps saying, there is no one paleolithic diet. It’s a template. It’s a template. And there are paleolithic communities that have nothing but meat, primarily fat and protein, there are paleolithic communities that have 16 to 17 percent from their carbs … 16 to 17 percent of their calories from carbs, now, ancient carbs, but carbs.
So, when we’re coming out and saying, for example, “paleo is low-carb,” not only is that historically completely inaccurate, it also fails to recognize that there’s a huge swath of population that are interested in paleo. And they run from skinny weightlifting boys through to, you know, obese Type 2 diabetes, syndrome “X” men and women in their 40s, people who train intensely with weights, people who like going for a walk; obviously completely different need for carbohydrate.
So, I think that it’s a great thing, but it’s a double-edged sword. I think it’s a great thing, but the over-simplification of it I think personally has definitely led to some rather challenging conversations between me and customers and me and the press.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Josh Sparks: But also our business has taken … it took a knock when it was really intensely fervently being debated. We noticed that certainly salads and certain products came off. Thankfully they’ve gone back up again. But I think it’s a consequence of over-simplification and the perception of dogma, I think.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Josh Sparks: So, this sort of conversation is what I love, because we can put it in its rightful context. Rather than saying, “paleo is this and paleo is that. And you’re not allowed to do this and you’re not allowed to do that.” Which just instantly gets people’s back up. And what you end up doing … I know it’s a long-winded answer … but what you end up doing in that sort of environment is preaching to the converted.
And if we got into this, because I know I did and I know you guys did, because we genuinely want to help other people, I mean, I certainly didn’t get into it for the money. I should have stayed in what I was doing instead. It’s a grand way to not make a lot of money. But we got into it because we genuinely want to help people.
Now, if that’s the belief and there’s real authenticity and integrity around that, we have to reach people that aren’t already converted and that are probably going to be a little bit resistant to the message. And to go back to my fashion days for a second, because it’s a stupid analogy, but I think you’ll understand what I mean.
You know, you have catwalk pieces that are gorgeous and expensive and no one really wears.
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Josh Sparks: They end up on the backs of celebrities and they end up in magazines. But they attract attention and they spark interest. But they’re way too intimidating to the average consumer.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Josh Sparks: So, the average consumer, you’ve got to provide a bridge and that bridge is something like a XX 0:48:22.000 t-shirt brand or a dinner brand or a swimwear brandXX or whatever. They come in; they experience the brand; they get excited about it and hopefully they work their way up the ladder.
Now, that may sound like a stupid analogy, but I think we’ve got to a certain extent a analogous situation here where we bombard people with the pointy end of the stick, you know, the last 5 percent, this is all we want to debate the first 95 percent.
If we had people just decide they wanted to step over that bridge with us and we soften the message just a little bit and say, “Look, if you’re not ready to give up bread and you show no signs whatsoever of gluten intolerance, well then, let’s try to get you on an organic salad XX 0:49:00.000 or oatsXX it’s naturally a lot lower in gluten, and let’s just start by giving up the sugar and giving up these horrible oils that you use for cooking and deep frying.”
And then notice some changes, and this is what Sarah Wilson done so brilliantly.
Guy Lawrence: She’s done brilliantly, yeah.
Josh Sparks: Start the journey with sugar. And that is naturally going to … you’re going to see profound change in how you look, feel and perform. And if you’re a curious person and you’re interested in furthering the journey, then you ask, “Well, what’s next and what’s next?”
The opposite is what I think some in our community are doing, which is coming out and saying, “You either do all of this or you do nothing.”
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Josh Sparks: And if you don’t subscribe hook, line and sinker, to everything in this book or everything on this website or whatever, then you’re not worthy and you’re not truly one of us. And I think that is; that’s great if you’re trying to build a small club. It’s not great if you’re trying to change the world, because we need to bring as many people with us as we possibly can.
And just recognizing that not everyone is as ready for the hardcore message, softening it a little bit, I think you’re going to bring a lot more people with you and that’s going to have a much bigger impact.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, mate. Great answer, man. Absolutely. Couldn’t agree more.
I’m just looking at the time. I’m aware that the time’s getting on, right? So, I want to just touch on a couple of questions and then we do some wrap-up questions to finish …
Josh Sparks: Cool.
Guy Lawrence: … which is always fun.
But, one thing that I was really intrigued to know and I just want to bring on the podcast. I think people listening to this might not appreciate the effort; almost you could say the entrepreneurship of what you do and stress and everything else that’s going on. You’re a busy boy. You’re doing wonderful things. You’re very successful. How do you keep that work/life balance? Any tips? Like, what do you do?
Josh Sparks: That’s a great question and I would say that … well, first of all I live with my Creative Director, so I’m romantically involved with my Creative Director, Steph, so I don’t know whether I’ve pulled off work/life balance rightly there. Truthfully, I mean, taking about THR1VE every night at dinner is not work /life balance.
But you know what we do, what Steph and I do, what we encourage everyone in the business to do, is make time to train. So there’s this … no matter what’s going on, it’s in the diary and I don’t train every day or anything like that. I train every second day. So it’s three or four times a week, depending on the week. That’s always locked in.
I try to get sun every day. Even if it’s a crappy day, I just sit outside for a while. You know, 10, 20 minutes over lunch.
I started meditating, which I am absolutely rubbish at. The whole “still the mind” thing, I don’t know if that’s ever going to be possible, but I kind of love that too, that I’m really rubbish at it and I’m getting better at it so slowly. It’s going to be a lifetime thing for me and I’ll probably still never get there. So, I’m finding that really helpful.
But in terms of … so you know Keegan, right?
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Josh Sparks: Keegan Smith, who we all know and love. I think the guy is genius in many ways. He’s got; he started to focus on one specific area, but I think he’s a very clever guy. And he said to me once; we were talking about stress and he sent me a follow-up note. And he said, “Look, I could tell you were really stressed. I can tell you’re really busy.”
And there was a point earlier on, I mean, not that it’s not stressful now, but it was early on, we were running out of cash. The stores weren’t yet profitable and there was a very real possibility that it just wasn’t going to work. We were selling food and we had a group of customers that loved us, but we just didn’t have enough of them.
And so, I remember meeting him and sort of sharing with him a little bit, “Look, I think someday this is going to be an amazing business, but oh my God it’s incredibly difficult right now.” And he sort of empathized with me.
Anyway, he sent an email later and he said, “Josh, the thing with stress, you’ve got to decide whether the stress relates to your life’s purpose or not. And if it relates to your life’s purpose, then not only do you not resist it, you embrace it. Because that’s exactly what you need to make you harder, stronger, fitter, faster, you know … blah, blah, blah. It’s a hormetic stress. But if it doesn’t relate to your life’s purpose, you have to be ruthless about eliminating it. Just get it out of your life.”
So, a negative person, a negative relationship, some kind of partnership or some sort of hobby or something that isn’t serving you any more, you eliminate it.
Guy Lawrence: Great.
Josh Sparks: And I think that’s … it’s probably not balanced as such, but I’ve really taken his advice to heart and I’ve become a lot less social. Like, if I’m social now, it’s because it’s something I really want to do and it’s people I really care about and they mean a lot to me. I’m not going out through the opening of an envelope or because someone’s throwing a party or whatever.
So, I’m really focused on spending quality time at home with Steph and with the kids. Prioritizing in training. Prioritizing in good eating. Mediation. All that kind of stuff.
But then also recognizing that some days are going to be incredibly stressful, because I’ve chosen to do something that is challenging and I can’t blame anyone else for that. And so, I need to embrace it and work out, “OK, why am I feeling stressed?” Really get underneath the skin of the challenge and how are we going to take this to the next level.
So, I mean, I know I’m skipping ahead to talk about something you often talk about with your guests around favorite books.
Guy Lawrence: Yup.
Josh Sparks: But just on this stress point. A book called “Antifragile.” Have you ever heard of that?
Josh Sparks: So, his surname is: Taleb. And his first name: Nassim. He wrote “The Black Swan.” His background is from … he was a quantitative trader. He made a lot of money out of quant trading on the markets and he’s now basically a fulltime philosopher.
But anyway, the whole “Antifragile” book is written on the idea that systems, be they natural systems; be they the human cellular system; be they economic structures or political structures or whatever. All rely on a certain amount of stress to thrive.
Guy Lawrence: Yup.
Josh Sparks: Got to get the THR1VE word in there again.
Guy Lawrence: Again. We’ve got to make it three by the end of the podcast, mate.
Josh Sparks: Yeah. Yeah.
Not only; there’s a difference between being robust or resilient and being anti-fragile. Robust and resilient means that you absorb the stress and try to maintain stasis. His idea around anti-fragility is that stress makes you stronger.
So, say, for example, you go out and train with weights. All right? And the short term, if we took your blood after doing German volumetric training squats, 10 sets of 10 squats, your bloodwork would be horrendous. And if we showed that do a doctor and didn’t tell them that you’d done 10 rounds of 10 reps on heavy squats, they would probably want to hospitalize you. Your stress markers would be out of control. You’d be showing a whole bunch of damage at the cellular level. Cortisol would be slamming through the roof. Etcetera etcetera.
But next time you come into the gym, provided that you have the right nutrition and adequate amount of rest, you’re going to be stronger.
So, that’s a short-term stress that makes you stronger and more capable of coping with the same stress next time. Everyone understands the weight training analogy, right? But I think Keegan’s point, at least the way I interpret it, is that it’s the same with emotional/intellectual stress as well. If you don’t have at, at least in a way that’s something that you can cope with and doesn’t put you in the ground, and it relates to something that you consider really important, then surely you can overcome it. That stress that seemed completely unmanageable before, we’re good to go and we’re ready to move on to the next level.
So, I know that’s a really long-winded way of answering the question, but…
Guy Lawrence: No, that’s fantastic, and a great analogy. And I know Tony Robbins goes on about exactly the same thing, and he gets you to draw like a stick man on a piece of paper with a circle around it, you know. And that circle is your comfort zone.
And we very rarely go to the edge of that. But he encourages that you go up against it and you push it, but you don’t step outside. So, your stress muscles are being built and then that circle slowly gets bigger and bigger and then as years go by you don’t realize it but you’ve grown tremendously through actual stress. But you only want to take on what you can cope with.
Josh Sparks: Yeah, exactly. You won’t know until you’ve taken it on. And you know that old saying about “bite off more than you can chew and chew like hell.” I think is a part of that with me as well, where I think that, you know, it’s an other terrible cliché but an accurate one. And you guys might relate to this. But if you knew everything about what you were currently doing before you started, you probably wouldn’t have started it, right?
Stuart Cooke: Oh, my God. No way.
Josh Sparks: But you are. And you’re doing really well. You guys are killing it here. You’re moving into the States. And you’ve got a fantastic product. I think you’ve got best-in-class product. And you’re taking it to the world.
So, you know, you wouldn’t have done that if you knew everything. And that’s why sometimes I think it’s better to just leap. You trust your gut. Your intuition says this is gonna work. You know it’s gonna be difficult. But you can probably figure it out along the way. So, just go for it.
Guy Lawrence: I often joke sometimes that being naïve has been my best friend in some respects, because if you have no idea and sometimes you just jump, you just figure it out and then you learn along the way.
Josh Sparks: For sure. And if you don’t; if; the worst-case scenario is that you start again. This is not life-and-death stuff, right? This is about, whether it’s business or a relationship or sport or trying to do a PB in the gym or whatever it is, if you fail, OK. Well, pick yourself up and go give it another shot. I mean, why would you not want to do that?
Stuart Cooke: Exactly right. And life’s lessons, right? You learn from each mistake you make, which makes you stronger or a better person moving forward.
Josh Sparks: I totally agree. It doesn’t make it feel great at the time, always. But it’s the only way to live.
Stuart Cooke: Oh, look, no. I love that. Everything that we do, albeit negative, I want to know: Well, what can I learn from this? What can I do different next time?
Guy Lawrence: And another great tip, I think it was Meredith Loring, when we asked her, she came on the show, and she said, well, the best thing she’s realized is only focus and set goals that are within your control. Like, don’t try and control the uncontrollable and just let it roll and then things will come in time. And she said once she had that shift in the headspace…
Because we think about this with the USA at the moment, it’s probably the biggest decision we’ve ever made to move into an American market. And, you know, I could seriously lose sleep over this if I chose to. But it’s beyond my control, so with Stu and I we just meet up and we just focus on the things that we know we can do, we can control, and the rest is up to fate, to a degree. You do your best and then the rest is just see what happens.
Josh Sparks: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And give yourself the time and the space to figure out along the way. You know, you don’t set yourself crazy goals where you’ve got to conquer the entire market in 12 weeks.
Guy Lawrence: Exactly. Patience has been…
Josh Sparks: Yeah, it’s a tricky one.
Guy Lawrence: It’s massive. It’s everything, almost, to a degree, and then you just, “OK. Let it go.”
But we’ve got a couple of wrap-up questions. I reckon we should just shoot into them. One was the books. So, what books have greatly influenced or make an impact in your life. Are there any others on top of Antifragile?
Josh Sparks: There’s tons.
Guy Lawrence: Give us three.
Josh Sparks: OK. So, OK, this is a little bit off the reservation but Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I read that as a teen and it blew my mind and I think it’s done that generations of guys and gals. And I think probably what I found most entertaining about it was the guy was just such a; there was no rule that he wasn’t comfortable breaking. And of course it’s fictionalized and of course there was an obsessive amount of drug and alcohol abuse going on. So, his particular vehicles for demonstrating his willingness to rebel, we don’t necessarily recommend to all your listeners. But the idea that he was just out to have the adventure of a lifetime and didn’t care what the rules were, I think at a pivotal age to me… Because I was pretty conservative. I was very much; I followed the rules and I was a very good student and all that kind of stuff. And I just did a 180 in my thinking: “Hold on a second. Maybe I don’t have to follow the path that’s been laid out for me. Maybe there’s another way to go about this.”
So, though I hate to recommend it because it’s full of massive powdered drug use, it’s actually a really good book from the perspective of: Let’s think about this differently. Don’t necessarily follow the example, but let’s think differently.
I think the other book that I’d say, apart from all the paleo and primal ones; your audience will be very familiar with those ones. I think Robb’s book; Robb Wolf’s book and Mark Sisson’s book had a huge influence on me.
I think Tim Ferriss is underrated by a lot of people in the paleo and primal community. But I think his work has probably had a greater influence over me in more areas. Because he touches on business and he touches on relationships and he touches on sex and a whole bunch of stuff that the paleo and primal crowd tend to ignore a little bit. And they shouldn’t because they talk about lifestyle but they tend to write primarily about food. So, I found Tim Ferriss’s stuff really good.
The other thing that had a huge impact on me, I went to a Zen school. I lived in London for five years after graduating from uni, and I went to a Zen school very sporadically and it was just, I guess, my first attempt to meditate, really. I heard about this school. And it was in Covent Garden, which you guys obviously know well, and it was this crazy little place where you just sat around and nothing happened. And my first few times, I was like, “What are we going to do? We do we start?” And they were: “It’s done now. You’re finished.”
But there’s a book called “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind” that I read at the time and the idea is that for all of us to try to acquire a beginner’s mind. There’s a quote in there that in the expert’s mind there are very few possibilities. In the beginner’s mind, it’s unlimited, right? So, the smarter we get and the more we know, the more narrow and dogmatic we tend to become. And the whole idea is let go of all that and try to reacquire a beginner’s mind. Come to things fresh with an open mind. And you see things that you otherwise would have missed. So, I thought was a fantastic book.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, that’s an awesome message. Our beliefs shape so many of our judgments moving forward, and you’ve got to avoid that, for sure. Fantastic.
Josh Sparks: You mentioned Tony Robbins before, and I think that Tony Robbins; I went to all his courses. So, when I was living in London, I did the three-day Unleash Your Power. And then I went to Hawaii and did; I can’t remember what it’s called.
Guy Lawerence: Date with Destiny? Did you do that one?
Josh Sparks: Yes. Date with Destiny on the Gold Coast. And one in Hawaii, and I can’t remember, and Financial Mastery I did in Sydney. So, I certainly did them all over the place.
But his stuff is awesome. And it sounds kind of; I don’t know if Hunter S. Thompson and Tony Robbins have ever been mentioned in the same sentence before, from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas to Unleash Your Power. But in their own way, they both challenge us to think differently. To think more creatively and to free your mind.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, “Awaken the Giant Within” had a huge impact on me; that book itself. And I’ve been to a couple of his seminars as well, yeah.
Josh Sparks: He’s here in a few weeks, I think.
Guy Lawrence: We should get him on the podcast, Stu. I’m sure he’ll come on.
Josh Sparks: I think we’re busy, Guy.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, I’m confident of him.
Stuart Cooke: It would be a good get.XX
Guy Lawrence: So, last follow-up question, Josh. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Josh Sparks: Oh, man. I think, wow, you know what? I didn’t expect this one so this is a good surprise wrap-up question.
Guy Lawrence: You’ve had a lot to say up until now and now he’s stumped.
Josh Sparks: Just talk amongst yourselves.
Guy Lawrence: Have you got any fashion tips for Stu?
Stuart Cooke: Don’t hang around with you, mate. Well, maybe that’s the best fashion tip. I just need to hang around with you and suddenly I look hugely fashionable.
Josh Sparks: You guys can keep doing this. This is good.
You know, it’s such a cliché but I think probably my mom. And when I was debating what to do and whether or not I should get out of fashion and do what I really wanted to do, she said, as mothers do, she said: You know your own heart and you’ve got to follow your heart. And it’s so cliché. And I know it’s on a million different Hallmark cards. But when it comes from someone you really respect, who knows you inside-out and backwards and says, “You do know what to do, so just go and do it,” I think that was the best piece of advice I’ve ever had.
Stuart Cooke: Perfect. I thought you were gonna say that your mum told you to eat your greens and that’s how you got where you are today.
Josh Sparks: She did say that as well. That was the second sentence.
Guy Lawrence: So, what’s next for you, mate? You got anything coming up in the pipeline?
Josh Sparks: Yeah, we do. A bit like you guys, we’re looking overseas. But not just yet. We’ve decided after much contemplation, we’ve registered the trademark all over the world, and we bought the trademark in the U.S. But after much thinking about it, we’re going to focus on doing another six to 10 stores in Australia first and just really kind of dial in the model.
So, another six to 10 stores in Australia, we’ve got three lined up in the next 12 months. We might do four; I think probably three. Every four months feels about right. Which feels fast to me, but it’s incredibly slow, as I understand, in our industry. They want you to do 10, 20 a year, franchise, and do all that kind of stuff. And I just want to focus on doing our own stores and getting them right and help seed this conversation that we’ve been talking about: trying to get the follow-up questions asked, trying to get a more nuanced, intelligent conversation around what we do and what you guys do, in our whole community.
So, I think rather than rushing off too soon, because retail takes time to build out, wholesaling, what you are doing, you can grow a little bit faster. I think just focusing on Australia for the next 12 to 24 months. But then I would love to take what we’re doing overseas.
And there’s a raging debate amongst a whole bunch of people who I respect whether that should be U.S. or whether it should be Asia. But some kind of off-shore opportunity. Because the Australian market, ultimately, it’s finite. It’s not huge. And it’s very high-cost for what we do.
So, if we took our exact business model anywhere else in the world, it would instantly be meaningfully profitable because the costs are lower.
Guy Lawrence: Wow.
Josh Sparks: So, I think that’s an exciting opportunity. Because at one point I need to pay everyone back, right?
Guy Lawrence: Just keep borrowing, mate. Just keep borrowing. Just roll with it.
Josh Sparks: The investors want a return at some point. So, I think they have been very supportive of my vision, which is great. But in Australia it’s very difficult to do what we’re doing and make it meaningful for investors.
Australia’s a great place to prove a model and prove a brand. It’s a very difficult place to build a small business. Which is why Australia’s full of these massive XX1:08:14.000 shop places? The cost base is so high.XX
But I love doing it here, and I’d happily do it here forever. But I think to really maximize the impact we want to make, which is the “heart” stuff, and return a meaningful number to my investors who have placed so much faith in what we’re doing, which is sort of the “head” part, going overseas at some point makes sense.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, cool. And, mate, I mean, you have been super successful so far. It’s a fantastic brand and I have no doubt moving forward that you’ll be successful wherever you heart leads you to in those endeavours.
Josh Sparks: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
Guy Lawrence: For anyone listening to this; obviously they might not be near a THR1VE café but they might like to find out more about you and what you do, where’s the best place to send them?
Josh Sparks: Probably the website, which is Thr1ve.me. Thr1ve with a 1, dot me. And Instagram, which is Thr1ve. Our social media, which is done Steph, my partner, obviously I’m a little bit biased. I think she’s brilliant. So, there’s a really good level, I think, of understanding around what we do that is conveyed through social media.
We’re re-launching our blog. We just sort of got to busy doing the store, so we haven’t really spent enough time on the blog. We’re gonna re-launch that in a few weeks. And in the meantime, there’s some good information on the website as well.
But if you can’t get into a store, the best way to get a sense of what we do is to buy 180 products and read the books that we are talking about and get involved in the community. Because what we’re doing is really, or trying to, hopefully, with some degree of success, distilling a message that we’re all sharing and presenting it in our specific environment, which is the food court and fast-casual restaurant environment.
But you guys can sell over the internet. I can’t send a bowl over the web, unfortunately. But you guys can send protein all over the place.
So, you know, get involved with what you’re doing, which obviously they already are, because they’re watching this podcast. But enjoying your products, reading up on the books, getting involved in the community, trying to spread the word like we discussed in a way that really attracts the unconverted and perhaps those who are a little bit intimidated.
And when they do eventually get to a THR1VE, it’s gonna feel like coming home.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, awesome, mate. Awesome. And we’ll link to the show notes. And just before I say goodbye, I’m going to ask you, you can give me a very quick answer, because we didn’t get to talk about it: Is Mark Sisson coming back to Australia?
Josh Sparks: I certainly hope so. We are not doing THR1VE Me in 2016. We’re going to do it every two years. It turned into a; it was such a massive exercise. I mean, you guys were there. It was great, but it was huge.
Guy Lawrence: It was awesome.
Josh Sparks: I’m really looking forward to doing it again, and Mark’s keen to come back. So, I think realistically for us it will be 2017.
Guy Lawrence: Brilliant. And, yeah, we got to spend some time with Mark and he’s a super nice guy, but also exceptionally fit and walks his talk.
Josh Sparks: Exactly. It’s all about authenticity and integrity.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, yeah. And you need to go and see him once. Like, you need to be there. Awesome. Something to look forward to.
Josh Sparks: Yeah, great. Well, I hope you guys are back. We certainly want you there.
Guy Lawrence: Oh, we’ll be there, mate. Definitely.
Awesome, Josh. Look, thank you so much for your time today. I have no doubt everyone’s gonna get a great deal out of this podcast.
Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.
Guy: Make no mistake, the importance of gut health is becoming more paramount than ever and it’s something I believe should not be ignored. So who better to ask than a board-certified neurologist who truly understands the gut, brain and health connection!
Our fantastic guest today is Dr David Perlmutter. He is here to discuss his brand new book ‘Brain Maker’ – The Power Of Microbes to Heal & Protect Your Brain For Life.
The cornerstone of Dr. Perlmutter’s unique approach to neurological disorders is founded in the principles of preventive medicine. He has brought to the public awareness a rich understanding that challenging brain problems including Alzheimer’s disease, other forms of dementia, depression, and ADHD may very well be prevented with lifestyle changes including a gluten free, low carbohydrate, higher fat diet coupled with aerobic exercise.
Full Interview: The Key to a Healthy Gut Microbiome & the ‘Brain Maker’
In This Episode:
Why gut health and microbiome is critical for long lasting health
The quick ‘checklist’ to see if you have a healthy gut
What to eat daily to nurture your gut health
David’s daily routines to stay on top of gut & microbiome health
Guy:Hey, guys. This is Guy Lawrence of 180 Nutrition. Welcome to today’s health sessions. This is a podcast I certainly thoroughly enjoyed recording and it’s one I’m definitely going to listen to again. There’s a lot of information on here that I’ll need to go over, but ultimately, I think it’s a podcast that if you take the time to understand what’s been spoken about and actually apply the things that are said, it can make a dramatic change to one’s health, to your own life and of course your longevity and quality of life moving forward. I think it’s that big a topic. The topic at hand is going to be pretty much with the microbiome, gut health. Our awesome guest today is Dr. David Perlmutter.
If you’re unaware of David, David is a board-certified neurologist and a fellow of the American College of Nutrition. I almost didn’t get my words out there. He’s been interviewed by many national syndicated radios and television programs, including Larry King Live, CNN, Fox News, Fox and Friends, the Today’s Show. He’s been on Oprah, Dr. Oz, the CBS Early Show. He is actually medical advisor to the Dr. Oz Show. Yes, we were very grateful for David to come on and give up an hour of his time and share his absolute wealth of knowledge with us today. He’s written a couple of awesome books in Grain Brain. He’s got a brand-new book out called the Brain Maker which is what we generally talk about today. That’s obviously the brain and gut connection.
The cornerstone of Dr. Perlmutter’s approach to neurological disorders has been founded in the principles of you could say preventative medicine, which is why we’re super excited to have him on. He has brought public awareness now to a rich understanding that challenging brain [00:02:00] problems include Alzheimer’s disease, other forms of dementia, depression, ADHD may very well be prevented … All these things with lifestyle changes. Think about that for a moment, including a gluten-free, low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet, coupled with exercise and aerobic exercise.
Anyway, strap yourself in. This is fantastic. For all you guys listening in the USA, if you haven’t heard, you might have heard me speaking on a couple of podcasts, but 180 Nutrition and now superfoods are now available across America wide which is super exciting for us. If you haven’t heard about it, you can literally just go back to 180nutrition.com and it’s a very simple way of replacing bad meal choices. If you’re stuck and you’re not sure what to do, we encourage a smoothie and a scoop of 180 with other things. It’s the easiest way to get nutrient-dense foods and fiber-rich foods really quickly. All you have to do is go back to 180nutrition.com and check it out. Let’s go over to David Perlmutter. Enjoy.
Hi. This is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined by Stuart Cooke. Hi, Stewie.
Stuart:Hello, Guy. How are you?
Guy:Our fantastic guest today is Dr. David Perlmutter. David, welcome to the show.
David:I’m delighted to be here, gentlemen.
Guy:It’s fantastic. We’ve been following your work for some time now and be able to expose us to the Aussie audience, I’m very excited about. With that mind, would you mind, for our listeners if they haven’t been exposed to your work before, just sharing a little bit about yourself and what you do?
David:I’d be delighted. I’m a brain specialist. I’m a neurologist, and that probably doesn’t explain what I do. I’m very much involved in various lifestyle factors as they affect the brain, as they affect human physiology, and really have begun exploring well beyond the brain, [00:04:00] what are we doing to ourselves in terms of the foods that we eat, both positive and negative? More recently, how are our food choices and other lifestyle choices affecting the microbiome, affecting the 100 trillion organisms that live within us because we now recognize that those organisms are playing a pivotal role in terms of determining whether we are healthy or not. That’s pretty much in a nutshell what I do.
Guy:There you go.
Stuart:Fantastic. We first heard about you, David, when you wrote the book, Grain Brain which was fantastic. For me, I think it was important because we heard a lot of stories and press about grains and how they’re making us fat and they’re ruining our health. Other ways made the connection of it’s grains … I’m okay with grains. I don’t get any gut ache. I don’t get any gastrointestinal issues, but I never thought about it from a brain perspective. I just wondered if you could share just a little bit about why you wrote Grain Brain, what inspired you to write it?
David:Stuart, the real impetus behind Grain Brain was for the very first time, I thought it was critical for a brain specialist to take a position of prevention, of looking at the idea that these devastating brain conditions that I’m dealing with on a daily basis, autistic children, adults with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, MS, you name it, that some of these issues are preventable, and that really flies in the face of pretty much mainstream doctrine. It is going against the grain, if you will which it seems to fit. It became very clear to me that our best peer-reviewed, well-respected literature [00:06:00] has been publishing information not only about gluten but about more generally, carbohydrates and sugar for a couple of decades, and no one has paid any attention.
It’s been published, but I really found that somebody needed to step forward and make that information known to the general public. I began implementing these practices in my clinical practice in treating patients day to day and began seeing really remarkable results. That is what got behind me writing the book, Grain Brain, really exploring how sugar, carbohydrates and gluten are absolutely toxic for the brain. Ultimately that book was translated into 27 languages and is published worldwide. The message has really gotten out there. I’m very proud of that. These are people reading the book that I will never see and yet, I know the information that they’re gleaning from reading this book is going to help them, and it makes me feel good at the end of the day in terms of what I’m doing.
Guy:Yeah, that’s fantastic.
Guy:Awesome. It’s interesting about grains because people seem to have a real emotional attachment to sugar and grains. The moment you ask them to start cutting down, reducing, removing, it can be quite challenging.
David:People have a religious connection to grain. It’s in the Bible. Give us this day our daily bread. For somebody to come along and say, you know, maybe that’s not what you should be eating, it challenges people on multiple levels. Number one, bread and carbs and grains are absolutely comfort foods that we all love. We all got rewarded as children by having a cookie or a piece of cake on your birthday. We love those foods. We love sugar. We are genetically designed to seek out sugar. It’s allowed us to survive.
The reality of the situation is we’ve got to take a more human approach to this in terms of our higher level of understanding and recognize that we [00:08:00] as a species have never consumed this level of sugar and carbohydrates, and that gluten-containing foods are in fact challenging to our health in terms of amping up inflammation, which is the cornerstone of the diseases I mentioned: Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, autism, even cancer and coronary artery disease. In that sentence, we’ve covered a lot of territory.
You mentioned grains, and I want to be very clear. There are plenty of grains that are around that are not necessarily containing gluten; and therefore, my argument against them doesn’t stem from the fact that they contain this toxic protein called gluten but rather because they’re a very concentrated source of carbohydrate. Rice, for example, is gluten-free and you could have a little bit of rice. There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of rice, but you have to factor the carb content of that serving of rice into your daily carbohydrate load and don’t overdo it. I’m not coming down on grains across the board, but I’m really calling attention to the fact that these grain-based foods are generally super concentrated in terms of sugar and carbs.
Guy:I understand your carbohydrate tolerance. You answered the next question where I was going to speak, like, should we limit it to all grains or just the heavily refined and processed carbohydrate kind of …
David:See answer above.
Guy:Yeah, there you go.
Stuart:What about the [high street 00:09:28] gluten-free alternatives where people are saying, well, look, it’s grain-free, gluten-free?
David:Again, Stuart, exactly my point. People walk down the gluten-free aisle thinking, hey, I’ve got an open dance card here. It’s gluten-free. How about it? That opens the door to the gluten-free pasta, pizza, bread, you name it, flour to make products, cookies, crackers and you name it. Again, the issue is that one of the most devastating things that’s happening to humans today [00:10:00] is that our blood sugar is rising. There is a very direct correlation between even minimal elevations of blood sugar and risk for dementia. That was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in September of 2013 where they demonstrated that even subtle elevations of blood sugar well below being diabetic are associated with a profound risk of basically losing your marbles.
Please understand, when we’re talking about Alzheimer’s and dementia, there is no treatment available for that issue. Having said that, then this whole notion of prevention and preventive medicine as it relates to the brain really takes on a much more powerful meaning and urgency.
Guy:Would glycation pop in there as well then where you’re speaking … Would that all stem then from the processed carbs and the fact the brain is …
David:That’s right. Guy, you bring up a very good point, and that is this process of glycation. Just for your viewers, let me just indicate what that is. Glycation is a biochemical term that deals with how simple sugars actually bind to proteins. That’s a normal process, but when it gets out of hand, it changes the shape of proteins, amps up inflammation and amps up what are called free radical production.
We measure glycation really very simply in the clinic, and I’m certain that’s done worldwide, by looking at a blood test called A1C, hemoglobin A1C. Diabetics are very familiar with this term, because it’s a marker of the average blood sugar. A1C is a marker of the rate at which sugar is binding to protein. The higher your sugar, the more readily that process happens. What we’ve seen published in the journal, Neurology, is a perfect correlation between levels of A1C or measures of glycation [00:12:00] and the rate at which the brain shrinks on an annual basis. There’s a perfect correlation then between higher levels of blood sugar through glycation that you bring to our attention and the rate at which your brain will shrink.
Well, you don’t want your brain to shrink, I can clue you. A smaller brain is not a good thing. That said, you’ve got to do everything you can, and that is to limit your carbs and limit your sugar. What does it mean? It means a plate that is mostly vegetables, above ground, nutrient-dense, colorful, fiber-rich vegetables, as well as foods that actually are higher in fat. That means foods like olive oil. If you’re not a vegetarian, that would be fish, chicken, beef that is preferably not grain-fed but grass-fed, fish that is wild as opposed to being farm-raised, like the chicken being free range.
This is the way that we actually give ourselves calories in the form of fat calories that will help us lose weight, help reduce inflammation, help reduce this process of glycation that we just talked about, and in the long run, pave the way for both a better brain but also a better immune system and really better health all around.
Guy:That’s a fantastic description of glycation as well. I appreciate it. Would you recommend everyone to go and get that tested once?
David:Yes, absolutely. In fact, in Grain Brain, I present a chart that demonstrates what I just talked about, the degree of glycation plotted against the shrinkage of the brain’s memory center called the hippocampus. In our clinic, hemoglobin A1C is absolutely a standard test just like fasting blood sugar, and also fasting insulin, the degree of insulin in your body. The level of insulin in your body is really a marker as to how much you’ve challenged your body with sugar and carbohydrates in the past. You want to keep [00:14:00] insulin levels really low.
When insulin levels start to climb, it’s an indication that your cells are becoming less responsive to insulin, and that is the harbinger for becoming a diabetic. Why am I fixated on that? It’s because once you are a diabetic type 2, you have quadrupled your risk for Alzheimer’s. That’s why this is so darn important.
Guy:They start just growing and growing, especially with diabetes as well.
Stuart:In terms of the growing number of people that are suffering neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and the like, is it too late for those guys or can they …
David:Not at all. I recently gave a presentation with the director of the Alzheimer’s Research Program at UCLA here in the states. We gave a talk, an evening talk at a place called the Buck Institute. This individual, Dr. Dale Bredesen, is actually using a low-carbohydrate diet, gluten-free, normalizing vitamin D levels, getting people to exercise, and actually put together a program of 36 different interventions, has now reversed Alzheimer’s in 9 out of 10 of his original patients. Only 10 patients, it’s not a large number, I admit that, but it is a start.
We are in western cultures so wedded to the notion of monotherapy; meaning, one drug for one problem. You say high blood pressure; I give you a drug. You say diabetes; here’s a pill. You say Alzheimer’s; here’s a pill. Well, the truth of the matter is there is no pill, despite the fact that there’s something on the market, but there isn’t a pill that will cure Alzheimer’s or even have any significant effect on treating the disease and its symptoms. That’s where we are as we have this conversation.
Now, it looks like the work [00:16:00] of Dr. Bredesen is showing that Alzheimer’s is a multifactorial event, and that to cure it or at least turn it around, you have to hit this problem from multiple angles at the same time. It’s happening. It’s not happening through somebody owning the rights to a specific medication.
Stuart:That’s fantastic. That’s radical.
David:I’ll send you the link to the lecture that we gave.
Stuart:Yeah. That was my next question. I would love to find out.
David:Consider it done.
Stuart:Thank you. In your new book, Brain Maker, you dig even deeper and talk about the connection between the gut and the brain. I wondered if you could share a little bit about that as well, please.
David:I will. Let me just take a step back. Last weekend, I went to University of California San Diego, and I met with, of all people, an astrophysicist who is actually studying the microbiome. If you think a neurologist paying attention to the gut is a stretch, how about an astrophysicist? It turns out that he is probably one of the most schooled individuals on the planet in terms of using a supercomputer technology to analyze data, and they drafted him there to look at data that deals with the microbiome in that they have probably the world’s most well-respected microbiome researchers there. They brought Dr. Larry Smarr on board to help Rob Knight really work with the data.
The things going on in the gut in terms of just the information are breathtaking for sure. We now understand that in one gram, that’s one-fifth of a teaspoon of fecal material, there are 100 million terabytes of information. This is a very intense area of research just because of the sheer amount of data [00:18:00] and information that it contains.
We recognize that these 100 trillion organisms that live within each and every one of us have a direct role to play in the health and functionality of the brain, moment to moment. They manufacture what are called the neurotransmitters. They aid in the body’s ability to make things like serotonin and dopamine and GABA. They directly influence the level of inflammation in the body. As I talked to you about earlier, inflammation is the cornerstone of things like Parkinson’s, MS, Alzheimer’s and even autism. The gut bacteria regulate that, and so it’s really very, very important to look at the possibilities in terms of affecting brain health by looking at the gut bacteria.
Having said that, one of the patients that I talk about in Brain Maker, a patient with multiple sclerosis named Carlos came to me and his history, aside from the fact that he couldn’t walk because of his MS was really very profound in that he had been challenged with respect to his gut with multiple courses of aggressive antibiotics. Why would I be interested in that? I’m interested because the gut bacteria control what’s called immunity, and MS is an autoimmune condition. At that point, I began reviewing research by a Dr. Thomas Borody who happens to be in Australia.
What Dr. Borody did, who is a gastroenterologist, a gut specialist, is he performed a technique on patients called fecal transplant where he took the fecal material with the bacteria from healthy individuals and transplanted that into people with various illnesses. Lo and behold, he noted some dramatic improvements in patients with multiple sclerosis. Think about that: [00:20:00] Fecal transplantation for patients with MS. His reports are published in the journal, Gastroenterology. I sent my patient Carlos to England. He had a series of fecal transplants and regained the ability to walk without a cane. He sent me a video, and I have that video on my website. This is a real person who underwent this procedure.
I just took it to the nth degree. The question was how do we relate the gut to the brain? Now we’ve realized how intimately involved brain health and brain dynamics are with respect to things that are going on in the intestines. It’s a very empowering time.
Guy:Yeah, that’s huge. Regarding gut health, and let’s say somebody is listening to this and they’re relatively healthy and they’re going about their day, but they might be curious to know if their gut integrity is good or isn’t. Are there telltale signs that your gut might not be quite right?
David:Absolutely. As a matter of fact, if you turn to page 17 in Brain Maker, I have a list of over 20 questions that you can ask yourself to determine if in fact you are at risk for having a disturbance of your gut bacteria. There are laboratory studies available of course, but these questions are things like were you born be C-section? Did you have your tonsils out as a child? Do you take antibiotics fairly frequently? Are you taking non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs for inflammation? Are you on an acid blocking drug? Do you have an inflammatory condition of your bowel? Are you suffering from depression? Are you more than 20 pounds overweight?
The reason these questions actually have traction when it comes to their inference with reference to the gut is because these are situations which really point a finger at disturbance of the gut bacteria. I open the book with those questions [00:22:00] because many people are going to answer a positive on multiple parameters and then I indicate to them that that’s not uncommon, but the rest of the book, the rest of the 80,000 words is all about, okay, we’ve all made mistakes in our lives. We all have taken antibiotics. Many of our parents had our ear tubes put in or we were born by C-section or who knows what? The important empowering part about the rest of that book, Brain Maker, is, okay, we messed up. How do you fix it?
That’s what I really spend a lot of time doing in that book, and that is talking about those foods that need to come off the table, those foods that you need to put on the table, fermented foods, for example, that are rich in good bacteria: foods like kimchi and cultured yogurt and fermented vegetables, sauerkraut, for example. How do you choose a good probiotic supplement? What about prebiotics? What about this type of fiber that we consume that actually nurtures the good gut bacteria within us? That’s contained in various foods like jicama, Mexican yam, Jerusalem artichoke, asparagus, garlic, onions, leeks, dandelion greens, etc. These are foods that are really rich in a specific type of fiber that then goes ahead and amplifies the growth of the good bacteria in your gut.
I really wanted to write that book in a very empowering way for all of us living in western cultures where we’ve messed up. The evidence is really quite clear when you look at the microbiome, at the gut bacteria in western cultures and compare what those bacteria look like with more agrarian or more rural cultures, less developed countries.
Stuart:We’ve gone to page 17 and we’ve filled out the checklist and now we’re concerned. How can we test [00:24:00] the diversity or the quality of our gut bacteria?
David:That’s a very good question. There are tests that are available and they are improving year by year, and you can have them done. I’m not sure what you have available to yourselves in Australia, but there are several companies that make those tests available here. The real issue though is I don’t think we yet know specifically what a healthy microbiome should look like. We know the broad strokes. We know that there are ratios between two of the larger groups of organisms called Firmicutes and Bacteroidete that tend to be associated with things like diabetes and obesity, etc. We really don’t know what it means to have a good microbiome.
One thing that’s really quite clear is that one of the best attributes for your microbiome is diversity. When you look at rural African population microbiome compared to westernized microbiome, the main thing that really jumps out at you is the lack of diversity in our type of microbiome, the lack of parasites, the lack of a large array of different organisms. You may have raised your eyebrows when I said a lack of parasites, but it turns out that we have lived quite comfortably with a wide array of parasites throughout our existence on this planet.
There is something called the old friend hypothesis, which means that we’ve had these bugs inside of us for a long time and not only have we developed tolerance to things like parasites, but we’ve actually been able to work with them and live with them in such a way that parasites and various worrisome bacteria actually contribute to our health. When we sterilize the gut with over-usage of [00:26:00] antibiotics, for example, we set the stage for some significant imbalances in terms of our metabolism. As we sterilize the gut with antibiotics, we favor the overgrowth of bacteria, for example, that can make us fat.
Why do you think it is since the 1950s we’ve been feeding cattle with antibiotics? Because it changes their gut bacteria. It makes them fat. Farmers who raise those animals make more money because the animals are bigger and they’re selling them by the pound.
Guy:Another question popped in. I don’t know if it’s a stupid question or not. Do you think we’ve become too hygienic as well? If we shower …
David:No question. That is called the hygiene hypothesis. I think that it really has been validated. That was first proposed in 1986 when it got its name. It holds that our obsession with hygiene … I paraphrase a little bit … Our overdoing with hygiene, the sterilization of the human body and all that’s within it, has really paved the way for us to have so much allergic disease, autoimmune diseases, what are called atopic diseases, skin-related issues.
We understand, for example, that autism is an inflammatory condition and really correlates quite nicely with changes in the gut bacteria. There’s an absolute signature or fingerprint of the gut bacteria that correlates with autism. Now there are even researchers in Canada, Dr. Derrick MacFabe is one … I’ve interviewed him … who correlate these changes in bacterial organisms in the gut of autistic children with changes in certain chemicals that have a very important role to play in terms of how the brain works.
This is the hygiene hypothesis. It’s time that we let our kids get dirty and stop washing their hands every time they walk down the [00:28:00] aisle in the grocery store and recognize that we’ve lived in an environment that’s exposed us to these organisms for two million years. It has a lot of merit, the hygiene hypothesis.
Guy:Sorry, Stuart. Another question that did pop in there at the same time.
David:Take your time.
Guy:Stress, worry and anxiety because you feel that in the gut when you’re … Have there been studies if that affects microbiome?
David:Without a doubt. I actually have written about these in Brain Maker. It goes both ways. We know that stress increases the adrenal gland’s production of a chemical called cortisol. Cortisol ultimately begins in the brain. When the brain experiences stress and the hypothalamic-pituitary axis is turned on and that stimulates the adrenal glands from make cortisol. Cortisol does several important things. It is one of our hormones that allows us to be more adaptable momentarily to stress but the downsides of cortisol are many. It increases the leakiness of the gut, and therefore increases the level of inflammation in the body. It actually changes the gut bacteria and allows overgrowth of certain organisms, some of which are not actually even bacteria but even yeast. In addition, cortisol plays back and has a very detrimental role on the brain’s memory center.
By the same token, we know that gut-related issues are front and center now in looking at things like depression. We now understand, for example, that depression is a disease characterized by higher levels of inflammatory markers specifically coming from the gut. Think about that. There is a chemical called LPS or lipopolysaccharide. [00:30:00] That chemical is only found normally in the gut to any significant degree. It is actually part of the cell wall of what are called gram-negative bacteria that live in the gut. When the gut is permeable, then that LPS makes its way out of the gut and you can measure it in the bloodstream.
There’s a very profound correlation between elevation of LPS and major depression. We see this correlation with major depression and gut leakiness and gut inflammation, and it really starts to make a lot of sense when we see such common events of depression in individuals with inflammatory bowel disease like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s.
Stuart:Back to the balance of the microbiome so gut bacteria. What three culprits, what would be your top three culprits that really upset the balance?
David:Number one would be antibiotics. We are so aggressively using antibiotics in western cultures. I think every major medical journal is really calling our attention to that. The World Health Organization ranks antibiotics among the top three major health threats to the world health of this decade. Antibiotics change the gut bacteria. They change the way that bacteria respond to antibiotics, in the future making it more likely that we’ll have antibiotic resistance, making it more difficult to treat bacterial infections when they should be treated. I think that we really have just begun to understand the devastating role of antibiotics in terms of changing the gut bacteria. The over-usage of antibiotics in children has been associated with their increased risk of things like type 1 diabetes, asthma, [00:32:00] allergic diseases.
You asked for three. The other big player I think would be Cesarean section. C-sections are depriving children of their initial microbiome because understand that when you’re born through the birth canal, right at that moment, you are being inoculated with bacteria, bacteria that then serve as the focal point for your first microbiome. When you bypass that experience, you are born basically with the microbiome that’s made of whatever bacteria happen to be on the surgeon’s hands or in the operating room at that time. Interestingly enough, children born by C-section who don’t have that right microbiome have a dramatically increased risk for type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, autism, ADHD and even becoming obese when they become adults.
We’re just beginning to understand really what an important event that is, and that is when you’re born that you receive genetic information from your mother that is what we call horizontally transferred as opposed to the vertical transfer from mom and dad in terms of their genome. Understand that you’re not just getting the bacteria but you’re getting the bacterial DNA. When you get your arms around the idea that 99% of the DNA in your body is bacteria contained in your microbiome, then the whole process of being born through the birth canal really takes on a very, very new meaning, doesn’t it?
Stuart:It does. It’s massive.
Guy:The thing, again, they almost can be beyond our control as well. Like you mentioned, it could have been given antibiotics as a kid and C-section. I just want to make a point that when you start to repair these things, [00:34:00] it’s not a short-term fix, I’m guessing, that it takes time to repair the gut. If somebody is listening …
David:In our practice, we see improvements happening very quickly. We often see people get improvements in as little as a couple of weeks, especially children. They seem to turn around so quickly. The truth of the matter is that we now see literature that indicates that antibiotics, each time you take them, change your gut bacteria permanently. There may not be a total reversal that’s possible based upon some of our lifestyle choices. That said, we are now seeing some really impressive results from what’s called fecal transplantation where you put in to the gut healthy bacteria from a healthy individual.
One researcher, Dr. Max Nieuwdorp in Amsterdam has recently presented his treatment of 250 type 2 diabetics, giving them fecal transplant, and he basically reversed their diabetes by changing their gut bacteria. It’s pretty profound.
Stuart:It’s quite a hot topic over here, fecal transplants. They ran a story a few weeks ago of a chap who was suffering from an autoimmune disease and he first went out of country and received the fecal transplant and his improvements were off the scale, but he put on huge amounts of weight. He was a skinny guy.
David:It’s not the first time it’s happened. Actually, the main use of fecal transplantation is for the treatment of a bacterial infection called Clostridium difficile or C. diff. Here in America, that’s a disease situation that affects 500,000 American [00:36:00] every year and kills 30,000. The antibiotic cocktails that are used for C. diff. are about 26% to 28% effective. Fecal transplantation is about 96% effective. There was recently a publication of a woman with C. diff. and she elected to undergo fecal transplantation and chose her daughter as the donor. Unfortunately, her daughter was very big. Immediately following the fecal transplantation, this woman gained an enormous amount of weight. I think something in the neighborhood of 40 pounds very quickly.
You’re right. It calls to our attention the work by Dr. Jeffrey Gordon here in the states who has demonstrated in laboratory animals that when you take human fecal material from an obese person and transplant that into a healthy laboratory animal, that animal suddenly gets fat even though you didn’t change its food. We’re beginning to understand the very important role of the gut microbiome in terms of regulating our metabolism, in terms of our extraction of calories from the food that we eat.
So many people tell me, you know, Doc, I am so careful with what I eat and I just can’t lose weight. The reason is because through their years of eating improperly, of having antibiotics, etc., they’ve created a microbiome that is really very adept at extracting calories from food. One of the biggest culprits, for example, is sugar. Sugar will dramatically change the microbiome. What do people do? They begin drinking sugarless, artificially sweetened beverages. It turns out that the weight gain from artificially sweetened beverages is profound and in fact, the risk of type 2 diabetes is much higher in people consuming artificially sweetened drinks than those who drink sugar sweetened drinks.
I’m not arguing in favor of drinking [00:38:00] sugar sweetened beverages. I’m simply saying that there’s no free ride here. What researchers in Israel just published was the explanation. The explanation as you would expect is that artificial sweeteners dramatically change the microbiome. They set up a situation of higher levels of certain bacteria that will extract more calories and will also help code for inflammation. There’s no free ride. You’ve got to eat right. You’ve got to get back to eating the types of foods that will nurture a good microbiome.
Guy:Do you think the local doctor or GP is going to start looking at microbiome in the near future? Because there’s only an antibiotic that gets prescribed when you go there, you’re not feeling well or you get a cut …
David:No, I don’t think so.
Guy:You don’t think so?
David:No. I wish it were. I wish that were the case. Next month, I’m chairing an international symposium on the microbiome with leaders in the field from all over the world, well-respected individuals. The people who are going to attend are really a very few group … a small group … It’s be a big group, but these are people who are really highly motivated to stay ahead of trends, and by and large, this is going to take a long time to filter down to general medicine. It just isn’t going to happen any time soon.
Guy:Proactive approach always seems to be the way.
David:You got it.
Stuart:Say I wanted to be a bit proactive right now and I’m going to jot down to the chemist and think, right, I’m going to ask them for their top pre- or probiotics. Is it a waste of time?
David:No, I don’t think so, especially as it relates to prebiotics. You can’t go wrong by increasing your consumption of fiber, but prebiotic is a special type of fiber that in fact nurtures the gut bacteria. [00:40:00] You can go to your chemist and in fact, they may very well sell you a wonderful prebiotic that’s made from, for example, Acacia gum or pectin or something like that. There happen to be some pretty darn good probiotics on the market as well. I think there are certain things that you have to look for. I’ve written about them in my book. There are certain species I think that are well-studied and there are five specific species that I talk about in the book like Lactobacillus plantarum, Bifidobacterium longum, Lactobacillus brevis, etc.
The point is, hey, we have more than 10,000 different species living within us, so it’s hard to say what’s best. We do know that some of these species have been aggressively studied and do good things in the gut with research now coming out indicating that interventional studies, in other words where they give certain bacteria to people, there are changes that are measurable. Let me tell you about one interesting study that was just published.
A group of 75 children were given a specific probiotic for the first six months of their life; it’s called Lactobacillus rhamnosus. They followed these kids for the next 13 years. What they found was that the children who had received the probiotic, half the group, none of them developed either ADHD or a form of autism. Whereas the group that did not receive the probiotic, there was a rate of autism or ADHD of about 14.2%. What does it say? It says that balancing the gut helps do good things. This study took 13 years to complete, maybe another year or two to publish, but we’re getting to the point where we’re seeing interventional trials of specific organisms having positive effects [00:42:00] on humans. I think that’s what the future is going to open up with. I think we’re going to see much more of that.
Guy:Definitely. Even from us, we’ve been involved in the health industry for quite some time and we’ve seen microbiome, gut health, more and more information is coming out.
David:Yes, you are. It’s time. It’s really going to be very, very empowering.
Guy:Yeah, it’s become a hot topic. Look, I’m aware of the time, David. We have a couple of questions that we ask everyone on the show that they can be non-nutrition-related, anything.
David:Is this the bonus round?
Guy:This is the bonus round, man.
Stuart:I just wanted to pop in, Guy, just before you hit those last ones. I was interested, David, as to do you have a tailored personal daily routine specifically to nurture your microbiome?
David:Yes. It’s what works for me. I’m super careful about what I eat. The truth of the matter is I am at risk for Alzheimer’s. My dad passed away about two months ago with Alzheimer’s so I know I’m at risk. Probably one of the most important nutritional things I do is exercise. It’s nutrition for the soul. I guess I have a little leeway there. It’s really good for the microbiome as well. It really helps protect the ability of that LPS from damaging … ultimately leading to damage to the brain. Exercise actually increases the growth of new brain cells through something called BDNF. My dad is very low in carbohydrate, extremely low in sugar. I use a lot of prebiotic fiber, 15, 20 grams a day. I take a strong probiotic, vitamin D, vitamin E, fish oil, a multivitamin, a B complex. You didn’t ask about supplements but I just toss that in for the heck of it.
I generally, for me, do well with only two meals a [00:44:00] day. I don’t yet know who wrote down that you have to have three meals a day or the world would come to an end, but somebody must have obviously. Because I like the fact that I haven’t eaten from dinner until I have either a later breakfast or an early lunch the next day. That sometimes can be as long as 12 to 15 hours of not eating. It works really well for me because as I wake up in the morning, my brain is sharp and I never really liked exercising with food in my belly. A lot of people have breakfast and go to the gym. Fine. It doesn’t work for me. I like to go to the gym on an empty stomach and then have lunch and then dinner.
Stuart:That’s excellent. Does the type of exercise make any difference to the way you feel?
David:Well, sure it does. The type of exercise I really gravitate to is aerobic because as I talked about in Grain Brain, aerobic exercise is the type of exercise that actually will turn on the genes that will code for this BDNF chemical that will allow you to grow your brain cells. That’s what the studies at University of Pittsburgh have demonstrated. You really need to do aerobics. I do a lot of stretching and I lift weights as well. I think those are good for you, good for a person. I’m prone to back issues. I do a whole routine for my back. The one thing that it’s inviolate in terms of my routine is the aerobics part.
Guy:Fantastic. I appreciate that. That’s awesome. Back to bonus round, have you read any books that have had a great impact on your life that you’d like to share?
David:I have. From a medical perspective, there’s a couple of good books by Gary Taubes called Good Calories, Bad Calories, and another one called Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It. I would recommend the latter, Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It [00:46:00] because it is so clear in terms of mechanisms that relate to sugar and weight gain and inflammation.
I’ve read Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse on a number of occasions. I think it has resonated with me on a personal level in terms of my life journey, one of the most perhaps influential books for me. Pardon me?
Guy:Fantastic. You’re not the first person to say that book as well.
David:In fact, I just looked at it earlier today. I love books. I don’t know if you could see [crosstalk 00:46:41]. A lot of people these days send me their books to review so I’ll write a comment on them. I’ve got this really great conduit of new books coming to me, two and three a day now, which is really great. I really am fortunate because I get to see a lot of books before they’re actually even published. I reviewed a book today from a Harvard researcher on what is it that makes us hungry and what to do about it, a really incredible book.
I recently reviewed a book by Dr. Frank Lipman talking about the 10 things to do to stay healthy. Really it was The 10 Things That Make Us Fat and Grow Old, is the title. It isn’t out yet, but I read that book this morning, a very, very powerful, clean-cut, straightforward information that’s totally in line with current science.
There’s another really good book I would encourage people to look at called The Disease Delusion, and it’s written by Dr. Jeffrey Bland. It really is an important book because it talks about where we are in terms of how medicine is practiced, how we look at patients and really paints a good picture in terms of what medicine could look like in the [00:48:00] future. I’d encourage your viewers to take a look at that book.
Guy:Fantastic. We certainly encourage Brain Maker as well which [crosstalk 00:48:07].
David:Thank you. I appreciate it.
Guy:Last question: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
David:My dad used to say no matter how … As you go through life, my friend, let this be your goal. Keep your eye upon the donut and not upon the hole. It always worked for me.
Stuart:I like it.
David:There’s one other, I don’t know if it’s advice, but a statement that was made by Maurice Maeterlinck, a Belgian Nobel Laureate. I first read this when I was visiting a friend, Dr. Amar Bose. He’s the one who has Bose audio, the headphones and speakers. He took me to his laboratory in Massachusetts and I was very impressed, but then we went into his office and on his glass door was the following quote by Maurice Maeterlinck: At every crossway on the road that leads to the future, each progressive spirit is confronted by a thousand men appointed to defend the past. That always meant a lot to me because Dr. Bose really went against the system as he created his audio products. People said it couldn’t be done. You can’t cancel sound, on and on.
I really know what it’s like to be opposed by a thousand men appointed to defend the past because the stuff that we talk about is not status quo. It’s not what everyone is doing. I’m grateful for that. I think that it hopefully is ahead of the curve. Time will tell. We’ll see where we go. When maybe the three of us have a conversation in a couple of years, we’ll see where we are.
Guy:Yeah. Fantastic. We really appreciate it. For anyone listening to this who would like to get more of you, where would be the best place [00:50:00] to go online?
David:My website is drperlmutter.com. That’s D-R, Perlmutter, P-E-R-L-M-U-T-T-E-R, dot-com. Facebook I post every day. Oddly enough, David Perlmutter MD. My books are in Australia. They’re around the world so people can read my books if they like as well.
Guy:Yeah, fantastic. Greatly appreciate you coming on the show today and showing your knowledge and time with us and the listeners.
Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.
How do you put a claim like this into a short video (above)? In all honesty you can’t, but hopefully it will whet the appetite enough for you to dig deeper and listen to the full fascinating interview with investigative journalist and NYT bestselling author Nina Teicholz.
In 2014, Nina released her book ‘The Big Fat Surprise’ that was nine years in the making. Within the book she reveals the unthinkable: that everything we thought we knew about dietary fats is wrong.
The book received rave reviews including:
“Most memorable healthcare book of 2014″ – Forbes.com
Full Interview: A Big Fat Surprise! Why I Eat Saturated Fat & Exercise Less
Guy Lawrence: Hey, this is Guy Lawrence of 180 Nutrition and welcome to another episode of the Health Sessions.
So, if you’re watching this in video you can see it’s a beautiful day here in Sydney as I stand on my local Maroubra Beach and I might even be tempted to get a wave a little bit later, as well, but on to today’s guest.
We have the fantastic Nina Teicholz today. So, if you’re unfamiliar with Nina, she is an investigative journalist and she spent the last nine years putting a book together that was released in 2014 called “The Big Fat Surprise.” It hit The New York Times bestsellers list as well, which is an awesome achievement.
So, if you’re wondering what Nina’s all about, well the title of the book is a slight giveaway, but yes, dietary fat. And if you’ve been frustrated over the years, like myself and Stu, about the mixed messages of nutrition and what the hell’s going on, Nina sets the record straight today. Especially when it comes to what fats we should be eating, what fats we should be avoiding and even the whole debate around vegetable oils, which I avoid like the plague anyways. I don’t even debate about it anymore.
So, there’s gems of information.
Now, I must admit, I didn’t know a great deal about Nina, but she came highly recommended and this is the first time I met on this podcast today and I thought she was an absolute rock star. She was awesome. And yeah, it was a pleasure interviewing her and yeah, you’ll get a lot out of it.
Stick with it, because it’s action-packed and it’s probably a podcast I’m going to listen to twice, just to make sure I understand all the information.
Last, but not least, I know I ask every episode, but if you could leave a review for us. If you’re enjoying these podcasts and you get something out of it, all I ask is that you leave a review. Five star it and subscribe to it. This is going to help other people reach this information too so they can benefit from it as well.
One of my ambitions is to get the Health Sessions into the top ten on iTunes, in the health and fitness space and I really need your help to do that. So, we’re definitely gathering momentum. We’re moving up the charts and this would mean a lot to us if you just took two minutes to do that.
Anyway, let’s go on to Nina. It’s an awesome podcast. Enjoy.
Guy Lawrence: Hi, this is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart Cooke. Hi, Stewie.
Stuart Cooke: Hello buddy.
Guy Lawrence: And our lovely guest today is Nina Teicholz. Nina, welcome to the show.
Nina Teicholz: Thanks for having me. It’s good to be here.
Guy Lawrence: It’s awesome. Very excited about today. It’s a topic that definitely fascinates us. We’ve had various people coming on the show, talking about all things, fat especially, and looking forward to getting your collective experience over the years and being able to share it with us and our audience. Yeah, it’s going to be awesome. So, it’s much appreciated, Nina.
So, just to get the show started and the ball rolling, would you mind just sharing a little bit about yourself, what you do and your own personal journey for everyone?
Nina Teicholz: Right. Well, I’m a journalist. I’ve been a journalist for decades. I live in New York City. And about a decade ago I sort of plunged into this whole area of nutrition.
And that started because I was doing a series of investigative food pieces for Gourmet Magazine, which is a food magazine in the states. And I was assigned to do a story about trans fats, which are now famous, but back then nobody really knew about it. I wrote this story that kind of broke that whole topic open in the U.S. That led to a book contract and I started writing a book about trans fats.
And then I realized that there was this whole, huge, untold story about dietary fat in general and how our nutrition polices seemed to have gotten it terribly wrong. And then after that it was decade of reading every single nutrition science study I could get my hands on and just doing this, like, deep dive into nutrition science. At the end of which I wrote this book called, or I came out with a book that was published last year, called “The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet.”
That book has been controversial, but also successful. It became a bestseller internationally in, you know, it really was the first book to really make the case for why not only fat was good for health, but saturated fat. You know, in butter, dairy, meat, cheese, the kind of fat in animal foods was not bad for health.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Nina Teicholz: And maybe those foods were even good for health. So, that, of course, turns everything know upside down on its head. So…
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Absolutely.
Stuart Cooke: Fantastic.
So, just thinking then, Nina, that you’re completely absorbed in research and medical studies and things like that. At what point during that journey did you question what you were eating?
Nina Teicholz: Well, I started out as a, you know, what I call a near-vegetarian. Since I was in my late teens I had basically, like most American women, I had eaten a pretty low-fat diet, very nervous about eating any kind of fat at all. And I hadn’t eaten red meat in decades. I had like, little bits of chicken and fish. And I was, you know, I was a good deal fatter than I am now. But I also used to just exercise manically. I use to, really, for an hour a day, I would bike or run and I still wasn’t particularly slim.
So, when I started this book, it took me, I would say, a few years until I started really believing what I was reading. Which is to say, that fat wasn’t bad for health and I started to eat more fat.
And then I started to; like, I would say it took me a good five years before I would; I could actually cook a piece of red meat. Like, buy a piece of raw red meat and taste it, because I just hadn’t, you know, all I had in my; I’d only had vegetarian cookbooks and it just seemed; it was like a foreign thing to me.
But, I’m not one of these people, like, I know you probably have listeners who they just like they see the light from one day to the next and they can radically remake their whole diet and that was not me. It just took a long time for me to make that transition.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. In a way it’s such a big topic to get your head around in the first place, because we’ve been told the low-fat message, well, I have my whole life, you know. And when I first started hearing this myself, I was like, “Really? Come on. No way.” But then over the years, you know, I applied it and it’s changed my life, really.
So, what I’m intrigued in as well, if you wouldn’t mind sharing with us, Nina, is how did we end up demonizing fat in the first place?
Nina Teicholz: Well, that really goes back to the 1950s. I mean, there was always this idea that fat would make you fattening, because fat calories are more; they’re more densely packed. And there’s nine calories per gram of fat and there’s only four or five in carbohydrates.
So, there was always this idea that maybe fatty foods would also make you fat. But it really didn’t get going as official policy that all experts believe; it started in the 1950s and I have to back up a little bit if you don’t mind?
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Go for it.
Nina Teicholz: I mean, it actually started with saturated fat, right? It wasn’t; it all started with the idea that saturated fat and cholesterol were bad, would give you heart disease. And that really started the 1950s.
It’s a story that I tell in my book, it’s been told by others, how a pathologist from the University of Minnesota named Ancel Keys, developed this hypothesis. He called it his diet-heart hypothesis, that if you eating too much saturated fat and cholesterol it would clog your arteries and give you a heart attack.
And this was in response to the fact that there was really a panic in the United States over the rising tide of heart disease, which had come from pretty much out of nowhere. Very, very few cases in the early 1900s and then it became the number one killer. And our president, Eisenhower, himself, had a heart attack in 1955; was out of the Oval Office, out of the White House for 10 days.
So, the whole nation was in a panic and into that steps this Ancel Keys with his idea. It wasn’t the only idea out there, but he was this very aggressive kind of outsized personality, with this unshakable faith in his own beliefs and he kind of elbowed his way to the top.
So, the very first recommendations for telling people to avoid animal foods, saturated fats and cholesterol, in order to reduce their heart attack risk, those were published in 1961 by the American Heart Association, which was the premier group on heart disease at the time, still is. But at that point there was nobody else.
And so, that started in 1961. Then by 1970 they’re saying, “Well, its not just saturated fat. It’s all fat, because if you reduce fat in general that’s likely to keep calories low.” That was always the argument. That somehow it would just keep calories low and so that was probably a good idea to avoid fat all together. That started in 1970.
Then you see this low-fat diet, which, you know, there’s no evidence. There was no clinical trials. There’s no evidence at all. It just was like; kind of this idea that people had. That was adopted by the U.S. government in 1980, so then it became federal policy.
The whole government is kind of cranking out this idea and all its programs are conforming with it and then throughout the ’80s you see it spreading around the world. So, it spreads to your country. It spreads to Great Britain. It spreads everywhere. And then all Western countries follow the U.S. and our advice.
So, that’s how we got into this whole mess.
Stuart Cooke: Wow.
Nina Teicholz: And, you know, it’s; now we’re starting to get out of it. But it’s been decades in the making.
Stuart Cooke: Crikey. It’s ludicrous when you think about it based upon zero, I guess, concrete medical knowledge at all. I’m just; I’m intrigued about the studies that are set up, that guide us on this journey. I mean, how are these nutritional studies, I guess, initiated? And it seems that they can be so easily biased. Is that true?
Nina Teicholz: Oh, you know that is such a huge topic.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Nina Teicholz: I mean, there are thousands of nutritionists studies and we all know what it’s like to feel like be whip-sawed by the latest study and how do you make sense of them? How do you put them in perspective? Is really the question. What do you make of the latest mouse study to come out?
So, the way it all began was with the study that was done by Ancel Keys, called the “Seven Countries Study.”
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Nina Teicholz: And that was done on nearly 12,000 men, men only, in seven countries, mainly Europe, but also the U.S. and Japan. And that was a study; it’s called an epidemiological study; and that’s the key thing to know about it. It’s the kind of study that can show an association, but not causation.
So, it can show; it looks at your diet, and usually these studies they test diet just once and they ask you, “What did you eat in the last 24 hours?” You know how well you can remember that, right? And then 10 years later they come back and see if you’ve died of a heart attack or what’s happened to you.
So, even in the best of studies where let’s say they ask you three times what you at in the last 24 hours or they try to confirm what you say with what they measure; maybe they measure your diet. But even in the best of those studies, they can still only show association.
So, let’s say they find, as Ancel Keys did in that first epidemiological study, let’s say they find that you don’t eat very much saturated fat and if you’re one of those people, you tend to live longer. But not eating a lot of animal foods, you know, in post World War II, let’s say Greece or Italy or Yugoslavia, which is what Ancel Keys discovered; that was; those people were also, they were poverty-stricken people, devastated by World War II. They also didn’t eat a lot of sugar.
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Nina Teicholz: Right? Because they didn’t have it. But; so you don’t know, was it the sugar? Was it the fat? An epidemiological study can never tell you. Or is it something you didn’t even think to measure? Was it the absence of magnesium in the soil? Was it your, you know, now is it your internet use? Is it your exposure to plastic? You don’t know all those things you can’t think to measure. You’ll never know in an epidemiological study.
But that was, that Seven Countries Study was the basis of that original American Heart Association recommendation and it’s also been the basis of a lot of other bad advice that’s based on these kinds of studies that only show association.
So, the better kind of data is called a clinical trial, where you taka a group of people and you divide them into two groups and you give one group this kind of, you know, a high-fat diet; the other group a low-fat diet and you see; everything about those groups is the same. It’s what’s called “controlling.” You’re controlling for internet use, for magnesium in the soil, or whatever. You take them in the same city; you assume they’ve got the same exposure to all that stuff, so you don’t have to worry about it. You just can measure the effect of the diet or you know, give one a drug and the other not a drug.
So, clinical trials are the kinds of studies that can provide rigorous evidence. And, you know, that they’re harder to do. They are expensive. It’s expensive to feed people. It’s expensive to; you know, usually the good clinical trials really control the diet all day long. It’s best if you do them on institutionalized people, where you can totally control the diet.
But there are clinical trials out there now; now there are after all these years, and you know, all those clinical trials show first, you know, one that saturated fats does not cause heart disease, does not cause any kind of disease, and that the low-fat diet that we embarked upon, when it was finally tested in big clinical trials, was shown to be either, at best, totally ineffective and at worst, it looks like it could very likely provokes heart disease by creating worsened blood lipids.
Stuart Cooke: Wow.
Nina Teicholz: So, but, those clinical trials, when they eventually came out it was sort of too late, because the official dogma had already charged ahead.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Crikey. Yeah. We’re still seeing an absolute barrage of low-fat goods on the shelves and that message is still loud and proud. People are still completely fearful of fat. It’s insane, isn’t it?
Nina Teicholz: Yeah. I don’t know what the official recommendations are in Australia, but I know in the U.S. they’ve tried to back off the low-fat diet. Like they don’t include that language anymore.
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Nina Teicholz: But they still model all their diets as being low-fat. Low-fat is sort of defined as anywhere between 25 and 30, 35 percent of calories is fat.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, okay.
Nina Teicholz: You know, before the low-fat diet we were; all our countries were eating 40, 45 percent fat.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Nina Teicholz: So, we’ve really dramatically reduced our fat intake. But, you know, our officials just can’t; it’s hard for them to back out of it. It’s just our; all of our food supplies are based on the low-fat diet. I mean, all of our cattle has been bred to be leaner for instance, you know, amongst many other things.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. From over the years of what I’ve seen as well, even if people adopt a higher-fat diet, there’s still a huge amount of confusion about fats themselves.
Nina Teicholz: Right.
Guy Lawrence: So, I’d love to get a little bit of clarity on that today as well. Like for vegetable oils for instance. You know, where did vegetable oils come from and the idea of them being healthy, when, you know, when I avoid them like the plague.
Nina Teicholz: Well that’s another amazing story and I’m not flogging my book, but it’s only place where the history of vegetable oils is really set out. And I just couldn’t believe what I’ve discovered about them. I mean, so the basic thing to know it that they didn’t exist as a foodstuff until really the early 1900s.
Before 1900, the only fats that were really used, well at least in America, I don’t know about Australia, but were butter and lard. Around the world it was butter and lard were the main fats that were used in cooking. And there was some olive oil in Italy, you know, in the Mediterranean.
But that starts later then you think, actually. And before that all oils were used; they were used for industrial uses. They were used to make soap. There were a lot of uses of oils, but it was not for eating.
And then; and so the very first oils introduced for eating, just as plain oils, they didn’t come around; in the U.S. they were introduced in bottles in the 1940s and before that they had; oils are unstable, you know, and they oxidize and they go rancid and they won’t last in shelves.
So, before that, in 1911, in the U.S. at least, they were introduced as like a kind of imitation lard. It was called Crisco that we have. And that they harden the oils through a process called hydrogenation and that produces trans fats. Which is why we all know about that now.
But that was first invented to make those oils stable, to harden them, so that they don’t oxidize and grow rancid.
So, that’s when they came into our food supply. That industry, the vegetable oil industry includes some of the biggest companies in the world now; ADM, Monsanto, Cargill, IOI Loders Croklaan. I don’t know if those are familiar names to you, but they’re huge companies. And they from the very; from the 1940s on, they figured out how to influence; like for instance, they were hugely influential in launching the American Heart Association. Which then wound up recommending vegetable oils for health. Because …
So, if you get rid of the saturated fats, what do you replace them with? You replace them with unsaturated fats and that’s vegetable oils.
So, these companies got their products recommended for fighting heart disease, basically. And they did that by infiltrating into our most trusted institutions, including the American Heart Association and also the National Institute of Health. And that’s why we think vegetable oils are good for health.
I mean, the main argument was that they lower your total… and originally it was they lower your total cholesterol. And then we could measure other things like LDL and HDL, the argument was they can lower your LDL cholesterol and therefore they fight heart disease. Well, I mean, that whole cholesterol story turns out not to be so simplistic.
So, that’s how they came into the food supply and that’s how they came to be viewed as healthy.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah and did it in everything. Like when you walk into the local supermarket, well the commercial supermarkets, I should say; they’re in so many foods.
Stuart Cooke: Well, yeah, 99 percent, I think, of our processed and packaged foods will contain them in some way, shape or form which is kind of crazy. And you touched a little bit on trans fats as well earlier; Nina and I wonder whether you could just talk a little bit about that today? Because that is, that’s a phrase that is quite fearful over here and I know on the packaging at least a lot of the manufacturers are very proud to say, “zero trans fat.” So, what exactly is it?
Nina Teicholz: Well, so when those vegetables oils are hardened, that process that I just mentioned called hydrogenation, that’s just an industrial process and one of the side effects of that process is it creates some amount of trans fats in that hardened vegetable oil, right? You harden the vegetable oil so it can be used precisely as you say in those packaged goods, right?
So, a lightly hydrogenated oil would become; be used as the basis of like a frosting or something. A soft, creamy substance. And the more; if you create; a more highly hydrogenated oil containing more trans fats would be used to say make the hard chocolate coating of a candy or something.
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Nina Teicholz: So, you have varying amounts of trans fats in all of those hardened vegetable oils that are the backbone of our food industry.
Trans fats, you know, from that very first introduction of Crisco imitation lard that they were always in there and scientists kind of knew about it and were worried about it, from the 1970s on. But it really wasn’t until they were; really didn’t become exposed and known until the early 1990s. And it turns out that they slightly raise your LDL cholesterol. I mean, that’s; that was the evidence that upon which trans fats were kind of hanged by various expert agencies.
Trans fats are not good for health probably, but not for that reason. I mean, I think their effect on LDL is very minimal. They also seem to interfere with the functioning of your cell membranes. They kind of lodge themselves into critical key spots in every single one of your cell membranes. And they increase calcification of cells.
So, definitely trans fats are not a good thing. They were kind of condemned, I think, for the wrong reason. But, you know, the main issue now is like, what’s replacing trans fats? So, if you get rid of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, what replaces them? And my worry is that they’re just being… in restaurants, which used to use these hydrogenated oils in their fryers.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Nina Teicholz: Again, they were hydrogenated to be stable. That means not to create oxidation products when heated. So, in this country at least, restaurants are going back to using just regular old non-hydrogenated oils, which are toxic where they’re heated.
They create these hundreds of oxidation products and they create massive inflammation in the body, I mean, there’s all kinds of very worrisome health effects of those non-hydrogenated regular vegetable oils.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Nina Teicholz: They’re also inventing new oils. There’s something called, interesterified oil that they’re inventing to try to use instead of these trans fats oils. So, the trans-free options are to me, like, equally worrisome or if not more so. And, you know, what should be happening is just to return to butter and lard. That’s what we used to use.
Stuart Cooke: Yup.
Nina Teicholz: That’s what we used to use. Those are solid, stable fats that … and tallow, McDonalds used to fry their French fries in tallow. They’re solid and they’re stable and they don’t oxidize and they don’t go rancid.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Nina Teicholz: And that’s what we should return to. But we can’t, because we’re; there’s this taboo around saturated fats that we can’t use them.
Guy Lawrence: Wow. That’s incredible, isn’t it? I was going to say with the next question, like to just to simplify everything we’ve just discussed for the listeners, is like, what fats would you eat and what fats would you avoid? Like from everyday to …
Nina Teicholz: You should cook with stable natural fats. Lard. Butter. Ghee.
Guy Lawrence: Ghee.
Nina Teicholz: Coconut oil. Tallow if you have it. Those are stable. They’re natural. They’re the fats that we’ve always cooked with throughout human history.
If you want an oil for your salad dressing or whatever, olive oil, which; olive oil is better than vegetable oils. The reason is that olive oil is what’s called monounsaturated. It only has one double bond that could react with oxygen. Vegetable oils are polyunsaturated, meaning they have multiple double bonds. Every single one of those double bonds can react with oxygen. So, you want to just keep your double bonds low and that means using olive oil in favor of those other vegetable oils.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Fantastic.
Nina Teicholz: Is that enough?
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. That’s good advice.
So, you touched upon the olive oil as well and I’m just thinking about, you know, in our society today we’ve got a diet for everything. You know we’ve got Paleo diet, low carb/high fat, Mediterranean; crikey there’s so many. With the research that you’ve done, are any of these existing diets close to optimal for long-term health?
Nina Teicholz: You know, I think; so, looking at the clinical trial research again, that kind of good rigorous data …
Stuart Cooke: Yup.
Nina Teicholz: It’s strongly supports a lower carb/higher fat diet for better health. That diet is better at fighting helping people lose weight, at keeping their blood glucose steady and under control, which is how you keep diabetes; prevent diabetes or keep diabetes under control and also for improving cardiovascular risk. The majority of cardiovascular risk factors seem better on that diet. So, that’s a diet with anywhere from 45 to 80 percent fat even and carbohydrates, you know, 20 to 40 percent carbohydrates.
I mean, people really respond to diets differently.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Nina Teicholz: And so, your nutrition needs are different if you’re young, if you’re a child, if you’re elderly. It’s just so important to know that people respond differently to different diets. But; and critically it depends on whether or not your metabolism has kind of tipped over into this unhealthy state.
So, if you’re obese or if you have diabetes or if you have, are fighting heart disease, you are more sensitive to carbohydrates. So, your tolerance for them is lower. If you’re healthy, if you look like you guys, your tolerance is higher for carbs. If you’re active and you’re burning calories a lot, your tolerance is higher.
So, you know, you have to kind of adjust your nutrition plan based on that. But, you know, I think that one of the key things to realize is to eat a higher fat diet you have to eat, and if you want your fats to be natural, based in natural real foods, you just; it has to be a diet that’s higher in animal foods.
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Nina Teicholz: You know, that’s again why; it’s one of the reasons why meat, butter, dairy, eggs, cheese is important to have in any kind of diet. The other reason is, is those are the foods where, you know, the majority of nutrients are, like almost all nutrients are, that you need for good health. And that’s not true in plant foods. It’s very hard to get the nutrition you need on a plant-based diet.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah and this is coming from someone that was a vegetarian, like you said as well.
Nina Teicholz: Yeah. Oh my God, you know, I had anemia. I had; most of my young adulthood I had anemia and all kinds of health issues that I had no idea were based on nutrition, but seem to have been now that they’re resolved.
Stuart Cooke: Wow.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Wow. And just to tie up the fat thing and I know because one question we get asked a lot, “Well, how much fat do I eat?” So, what would a plate look like for you at a meal? Could it be as simple as you cook your veg, you have your steak and then you put a big knob of butter on it kind of thing to have the dietary fat for that meal? What would your advice be?
Nina Teicholz: Yeah. I mean, that sounds like a great dinner to me. I mean, I’ve heard various ways of explaining it to people, you know. Like, half your calories should come from animal foods and half the volume on your plate should come from plant foods. Or what did somebody else say? Eat meat; eat animal foods until you are full and then have some fruits and vegetables.
Guy Lawrence: Wow.
Nina Teicholz: You know, I think, yeah I think like visually if you think like half your plate is being; having animals foods on it, like eggs, meat, diary and then the other half being salad greens, you know, fruits and things. That’s probably a pretty healthy diet.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Just keeping it simple.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely. So, just thinking now then based upon where we are right now, with all the information that’s coming from, you know, the government, the doctors, you know, health advisors. So, if I go to the doctor’s and the doctor says, “Look, you know, you need to get in better shape. I need you to adopt a low-fat diet.” Now, that’s hugely confusing for me now with this barrage of information, new information that’s come out, saying the complete opposite. So, where would I start if I come back from the doctors with that info?
Nina Teicholz: Right. Well, first you sign up for your podcast.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: That’s a good one.
Guy Lawrence: We send it to so many people and friends, you know, who have had that message.
Nina Teicholz: Yeah. And then you send your doctor my book or you send him your podcast. I mean, this is; I mean it is confusing. I think that until the paradigm shifts and our expert advice shifts, we’re going to live; we’re all going to live with this kind of cognitive dissonance between what our doctors say, who, you know, by the way have; most doctors, at least in America have about one hour out of their entire, what, seven-year education is at one hour or one day is devoted to nutrition. Really, they don’t know about nutrition. Even though if you look at polls, most people get their dietary advice from their doctor. So, that’s unfortunate.
But you really do have to become a little bit of an independent thinker, I think, on this subject. You know, especially if you feel like if the low-fat diet isn’t working for you, then there’s your own; I mean, in nutrition everybody is their own “n=1” experiment, right?
Stuart Cooke: Yup. Yeah.
Nina Teicholz: You know, you can go on a low-fat diet and see if it works for you over time. And then if it doesn’t you can go back to your doctor and say, “You know, that really didn’t work.” And he’ll say, “Well, you didn’t exercise enough and you didn’t lower your fat enough.”
Stuart Cooke: Yup.
Nina Teicholz: And you can try that advise and see if it works for you. Or you can go on a higher-fat diet and see how well that works.
I mean, I just think that this is a field where there is a kind of alternative view and you have to kind of wean yourself from expert advice in this field. Because the expert advice is really misinformed and it’s entrenched. So; and I think that’s not going to change any time.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. It’s a huge topic and its, yeah, which; you touched on exercise as well. So, question would be, exercise and heart disease are highly related, you know, heart disease and prevention. What’s your thoughts on that?
Nina Teicholz: You know, the recommendations for exercise are mainly based on this idea of burning calories, right? And that’s all based on this idea that weight, your weight, is determined by your calories in, how much you eat, subtracted by your calories out, how much you exercise.
And so, that’s why their recommendations are, you know, burn as many calories as you can. Or, you know, exercise an hour a day to burn calories.
But it just turns out that, you know, weight is not so simply regulated by calories in versus calories out. And we all know, like, I could probably go to a meal with you guys and you’d probably eat a massive amount of food and I’d be sitting there eating like, nothing and thinking, “Why are these guys so slim?” I mean, we all know people for whom that’s true and we all know fat people who just don’t seem to eat very much and we assume that they’re all, you know, stuffing themselves with ice cream every night. But that’s not necessarily true.
The experiments on exercise are uniquely depressing. I mean, they show that when; here’s the most depressing one I’ve ever read, which is kind of emblematic of the whole field, which is, they took a group of people. They had half of them do nothing. The other half trained for marathons for an entire year. They ran like a hundred miles a week, at the end of which the groups were the same in weight. The marathoners hadn’t lost any weight or any more compared to the controlled group. And that was, because when you exercise a lot, you get hungry and then your body, well, your body’s not an idiot, it knows; like it just wants, you know it will make you hungrier and then you’ll eat more and then you’ll replace the calories that you burn.
So, that kind of aerobic exercise does not seem to be effective and there’s a lot of studies like that. I mean, I’m sure you’ve talked about it on your program, the kind of exercise that seems to be supported by better evidence is, like, intense exercise, like, lifting weights or doing sprints or you know, really intense exercise that changes your actual muscles at a cellular level, will actually change their sensitivity to insulin.
Which is totally fascinating. But you don’t have to do a ton of that exercise, you can just do like 15 minutes of it, of intense exercise, and that seems to make, you know, enough of a difference to have an impact.
Stuart Cooke: Perfect. Perfect. Yeah, I have a little 6-minute workout that I do couple of times a week and I’m done and dusted in 6 minutes, but it knocks me sideways. But I feel great for it and I sleep better afterwards and I don’t have to spend hours in the gym on a treadmill.
Nina Teicholz: It’s too bad you’re so obese, really. Obviously it’s not working.
Stuart Cooke: I know. Well, you can’t really see the full body …
Guy Lawrence: Stu, I tell you, as I’ve mentioned on many podcasts, Stu’s body fat is probably at about 8 percent, right? I mean, he eats like a horse, like I can’t keep; like he probably eats physically twice the amount of food I do in a day. It’s incredible. I don’t know how he does it or what he does, but …
Stuart Cooke: Well, it is interesting because we had some genetic testing done on the both of us and our makeup is so very, very different. And it really is a slap in the face for everybody who counts calories, because we are so uniquely different. I couldn’t put on weight if I tried and I have tried. Whereas it’s the opposite for Guy. So, it really does, you know, take a little bit of a mind shift to think, “Well, perhaps it isn’t just about what I’m eating.” Because our bodies are kind of chemical machines rather than just, you know, adhering to the simple principles of energy in/energy out. So …
Nina Teicholz: That’s great.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Nina Teicholz: For women, I would say for women, especially women, you know, of a certain age like me, you know, then there’s other factors; your hormones become involved.
Stuart Cooke: Yes.
Nina Teicholz: I mean, your fat in technical terms, your fat deposition is controlled by your hormones, right?
Stuart Cooke: Yup.
Nina Teicholz: And the reason that carbohydrates fatten you up more is that they trigger the release of a hormone called insulin, right?
Stuart Cooke: Yup.
Nina Teicholz: And then when you get to be my age your hormones change and it becomes; and so that also messes with your fat deposition and then you have to, you have to make adjustments or figure that out. But I mean all of that just shows you that fat is controlled. The deposition of your fat on your body is controlled by your hormones. Insulin is one of those hormones and other hormones have an effect as well.
So, it’s really not about the number of calories that you eat.
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Nina Teicholz: One of the great things about eating a higher-fat diet is it just; you don’t have to count calories. Which is like such an enslaving, awful way to live. You know, you can just eat until you’re full. All the tests on the so-called Atkins diet, all the formal scientific experiments, they don’t tell the people to control calories. That diet works even without counting calories. So …
Stuart Cooke: Yup.
Nina Teicholz: And that’s a fundamental thing, because that is a terrible way to live. Like where you’re counting the number of calories in your toothpaste, because like, you know, you’re just; you’re, I mean, you’re like, “I’m never going to get back in that dress.”
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. The other …
Stuart Cooke: I was just thinking that’s just a perfect product; just low-carbohydrate toothpaste. Why didn’t we think of that? We’d make a fortune.
Nina Teicholz: If you’re counting calories.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. True. True.
Guy Lawrence: And the other thing we see all the time as well, is that when people are counting calories, a lot of the calories they’re indiscriminate about what they eat. Like, there’s no nutrients in to them whatsoever except glucose half the time, you know. It’s just processed carbs and they keep to that. I often wonder what that would be doing to you know, the gut health, the inflammation and all these knock-on effects that are coming from that as well. It’s huge.
Nina Teicholz: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. And just supports; we certainly don’t push the calorie-counting message, that’s for sure.
Stuart Cooke: So, given the fact then, Nina, that you’ve written this amazing book and you’ve just got a wealth of knowledge and it’s a question now that we ask everybody on our show and if you don’t mind and I apologize in advance; can you tell us what you ate today?
Nina Teicholz: Sure. I don’t mind. It’s not very interesting. Let’s see, I two fried eggs for breakfast.
Stuart Cooke: Yup.
Nina Teicholz: I drink a lot of coffee. And then I had a huge bowl of full-fat cottage cheese with walnuts and some raisins for lunch. And I haven’t had dinner yet, because I’m here in California. I don’t know what time it is there, but I haven’t had dinner yet.
Stuart Cooke: Right. Okay.
Nina Teicholz: That’s it.
Guy Lawrence: Perfect. There you go.
Stuart Cooke: Fantastic.
Guy Lawrence: And just touching on that, another thought that came in, because for anyone listening to this that is still eating a low-fat diet, you know, what would you advise them in terms of what you found on transition, you know, to allowing the body to adapt and utilize fat more as a fuel?
Nina Teicholz: Well, so a few things; one is that if you’re transitioning to eating more red meat, if you haven’t eaten red meat in a long time you don’t have a lot of the enzymes that you need to digest it and it does take awhile to build those enzymes back up. So, that’s kind of a slow transition.
The other thing is that typically when people switch to a higher-fat diet, I’m talking about like an Atkins diet that’s quite high in fat, there’s a transition period during which you feel awful. And one of the problems with a bunch of these trials on the Atkins diet is they were like, “Oh, let’s test it for three weeks.” And everybody feels horrible during those three weeks. And they’re like, “Oh, that diet must not work.”
But you have to test it for a longer period of time, because there is this transition period. Your enzymes are changing; your regulatory pathways; your metabolism is changing; you’re switching to burning fat rather than glucose as fuel. That takes time and there are resources to try to help you make that transition without suffering too much.
You know, you’re supposed to drink bone broth and have more sodium and you know, there’s various things that you can do to try to replenish some of the nutrients that are depleted. And you know there’s books; I can recommend a book about that. But you have to get through that transition period and then you start feeling better. That’s the crucial thing.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Fantastic. Yeah I just wanted her to touch on that.
And we have a couple of wrap up questions that we ask on the show every week and one was what Stewie just asked for, what you ate today?
Another one is, what books have influenced you the most or what would you recommend to people and this can be outside the nutrition or anything. Is there any that spring to mind?
Nina Teicholz: Well, I haven’t read anything other than nutrition for so long. I feel like, oh yeah, there was probably “Catcher On The Rye” back when I read other kinds of things. But, you know, in nutrition the most important writer in nutrition in my view is Gary Taubes. His book, “Good Calories, Get Bad Calories,” is like the Bible, I think, of this whole field. I think it’s, you know, fantastic. It’s; my book covers a lot that same territory, but it’s maybe a little bit lighter and also covers some other things.
So, yeah, I think that’s the most important book I can think of in this field. He also wrote a book called, “Why We Get Fat.” That’s a little more user-friendly.
Yeah, and then you know, Jane Austin. Read about human nature. Never gets better than that.
Stuart Cooke: Perfect. That’s excellent.
Guy Lawrence: Excellent. And the last one, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Nina Teicholz: Oh, you know I get asked this and then I’m like, “I don’t know anything about; I don’t know how to live.” I don’t know. Actually I just don’t know how to answer that.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Nina Teicholz: I think that maybe in this field, for this audience, the point about taking care of your sleep. I’m a chronic insomniac; I’ve been for years. And that so interferes with your weight, and your ability to function and I’m just getting my sleep in order and I would say, yeah, attention to your sleep. It’s just as important as what you eat.
Guy Lawrence: Perfect and we certainly agree with that one.
Stuart Cooke: That is excellent advice. I am absolutely consumed by all things sleep right now. So, in another conservation, I could chew your ear off about that topic.
Nina Teicholz: Oh, I would really like that. I would really love to hear actually what you know.
Stuart Cooke: Likewise.
Nina Teicholz: It’s a whole; that’s another topic where, you know, where you go to your doctor and what they say is so unhelpful, you know.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely.
Nina Teicholz: And what you find on the internet is largely unhelpful and it’s hard to find your way to good information. So …
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, they’re all alike. I’m been; I have been infatuated by this probably for the last two years and I’ve read a billion books and a million podcasts. And yeah, I’ve got all these strategies as well that are just like gold and I know now that if I do this thing I’ll have a better nights sleep and it just works. So, yeah …
Nina Teicholz: Thank goodness.
Guy Lawrence: Can you share with us tip, Stu for anyone that’s listening out there.
Stuart Cooke: Okay. One tip; I’ll give you two tips.
Guy Lawrence: There you go.
Stuart Cooke: Blue light and devices wreck sleep, because it interrupts with the body’s production of melatonin. So, if you’re staring at a laptop at 9 o’clock at night and then expect yourself to go into a blissful sleep, it won’t happen.
So, I’ve just been; I wear these blue light blocking glasses. You know, I look like a construction worker. But, crikey, you put them on and ten minutes later you feel sleepy. It’s that crazy.
Nina Teicholz: Wow.
Stuart Cooke: And so, yeah, for me it’s kind of devices off at kind of 6 p.m. and then I try and get into more of a sleep routine where I read and listen to music and prepare myself for sleep wearing those glasses. So, that works.
And the other thing, is a little bit of carbohydrate-cycling. So, following a reasonably low-carbohydrate diet, I tend to have most of my carbohydrates at night before I go to bed. And that really helps with insulin and puts the body in this sleepy state and helps me stay asleep during the night.
So, I find that if I restrict my carbohydrates in the meal at night and just have, I’m going to say carbohydrates, but I’m thinking more of the starchy carbohydrates. So like, sweet potato, things, you know, outside of just the veggies. It works. So, a baked potato, with like guacamole on it; a steak, some veggies covered in olive oil; is my go-to-sleep meal.
We have that on a Monday evening almost religiously and I get the best sleep on Monday night. I just do. So, I’ve been researching a little bit more about that; just about starch and stuff like that and how that plays with our sleep.
Nina Teicholz: All right, I’m signing up for your pod. I’m …
Stuart Cooke: No problem.
Nina Teicholz: Those are great ideas. I’ve heard them, but I mean, that is; really sounds very smart and you’re right. If you can encapsulate that advice and get it out to people, that’s incredible service. So, sign me up.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic.
Stuart Cooke: All right and thank you.
Guy Lawrence: That’s a good one, Stu. That’s awesome.
And so, what does the future hold for you, Nina? Anything exciting coming up?
Nina Teicholz: No. I hope to be; have a very dull life and get a lot of sleep. But I am; I’m particularly interested in trying to change the actual nutrition policy, you know, that exists, so that; which is so influential. That’s why your doctor gives you the wrong advice, is that they get their recommendations straight from the government and that’s also true in Australia, I know.
So, I think that that needs to change and I’m hoping to work to try to move that along. And basically, you know, nutrition reform. I mean, it’s one thing to write a book, but then you just have to get that message out there. So, I’m working on that.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic. And for everyone listening to this, where is the best to go to get more of you so that you; your website?
Nina Teicholz: I do you have a website.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Nina Teicholz: It’s not so active, but there’s a lot of information there, which is: www.thebigfatsurprise.com.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic. And they’d be able to get your book from there too or just on Amazon?
Nina Teicholz: Yes. I think it should still be on Amazon. There’s actually a new version that’s being sold in the UK without the thousands of footnotes at the back. So, that’s; might even be considered beach reading, because it’s a light enough book to carry with you.
Guy Lawrence: Well, Stewie’s going through it at the moment, I’m waiting for him to finish and then I’m going to be reading it.
Nina Teicholz: Oh, good.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Fantastic.
Nina Teicholz: Great. Well, it’s lovely to talk to you both.
Guy Lawrence: Thank you so much for coming on this show, Nina. That was an awesome and yeah, everyone’s going to get so much out of it. That’s brilliant.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. It’s been a pleasure. Thank you again, Nina.
Guy Lawrence: Thanks, Nina.
Nina Teicholz: It’s really been great to talk to you.
We welcome back Donal O’Neill to the show, the creator of the Cereal Killers Movie with the fantastic message; Don’t Fear Fat.
This time Donal is here to chat about his new movie and sequel to the original; Cereal Killers Two – Run On Fat. We dive into the world of elite athleticism and performance where world class triathlete Sami Inkinen and Dr Steve Phinney challenge the efficacy and safety of “carb loading” for sports performance.
If you like the idea of eating whole foods instead of sugar gels and processed carbs as your main source of fuel, then this episode is for you!
Full Interview: Cereal Killers 2 Movie – Run On Fat with Donal O’Neill
In this episode we talk about:-
How two people rowed 45 days straight on a high fat diet
How to become a ‘healthier’ athlete on top of performance
The best sporting disciplines that are more suited to a low carb diet
The steps an athlete should take if wanting to adopt this style of eating
Guy Lawrence: Hey, this is Guy Lawrence of 180 Nutrition and welcome to another episode of the Health Sessions. We welcome back today, Donal O’Neill. Now you might remember we had Donal on our podcast roughly about a year ago discussing his movie Cereal Killers. Now, Cereal Killers actually went on to be viewed several hundred thousand times, which is pretty remarkable considering that it was Donal’s first movie.
It was featured on the world’s largest health website. It’s also been on the BBC, national newspapers and it was deemed one of the top 10 independent movies of 2013, which is awesome. So, if you haven’t seen that and you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can check out our podcast and just type “Cereal Killers” into Google, because it’s a fantastic documentary on fat adaptation. (Let me get my words right.)
So, he’s now back with his brand-new movie, which is Cereal Killers 2, called Run on Fat, and I must admit I was very excited when I saw this because I think it’s a movie that just needed to be made and at least put that into the mix out there.
And it’s exactly that. It’s about fat adaption and sports performance and elite athleticism and it actually follows the progress of Sami Inkinen who is a World Ironman champion and his wife Meredith and they both decide to row from San Francisco to Hawaii nonstop. I think it took them 45 days, of course, using fat as the primary source of fuel, and they were also monitored and given guidance by Dr. Stephen Phinney, of course, who is a low-carb legend himself, so make sure the movie, check it out. It’s a must, and you’re going to thoroughly enjoy the podcast today, because we get to chat on and on about, yeah, everything that’s within Cereal Killers 2, so I have no doubt you’re going to enjoy it.
If you are listening to this though iTunes, just a simple subscribe to our podcast and also a review would be fantastic. Just helps us get found easier on iTunes and spread the word out there, and, of course, if you are listening to the and you want to come over and see our pretty faces on video or watch these in video, come to 180nutrition.com.au, and we’ve got a heap of resources there to include our free e-book, which I’m very proud of which I wrote. Yeah, it’s a great place to start if you find all of this information a little bit overwhelming.
Anyway, I’m going to stop talking and let’s get into the podcast with Donal. Enjoy.
Guy Lawrence: Hi, this is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined today with Stuart Cooke. Hello, Stewie, as always.
Stuart Cooke: Hello.
Guy Lawrence: And our awesome guest today is Donal O’Neill. Donal, welcome back to the podcast, mate.
Donal O’Neill: Morning, guys.
Guy Lawrence: So, mate, it’s good to have you back on the show and obviously talk about the new movie, Cereal Killers 2, but I thought just before we start getting into that, can you just bring yourself up to speed for anyone that might not have heard of you or the first movie, Cereal Killers?
Donal O’Neill: You mean there are people down there who haven’t heard about us?
Stuart Cooke: I think there were two. There were two that I found, last week.
Donal O’Neill: I thought our last podcast had addressed all of that, well for those that haven’t come across us yet, I’m the producer of Cereal Killers, which was a movie I made with a bit of a personal quest into the whole area of health and wellness and particularly metabolic disorders after my dad who was a, sort of, seemingly fit, healthy sports man took a heart attack.
So I got busy researching why that happened and I was stupid enough to think I could make a feature-length documentary about what I found out and that went kind of okay, so…
Guy Lawrence: You did a fantastic job.
Donal O’Neill: We lost the plot… We’ve done it again, so, here we are.
Guy Lawrence: I remember we were talking to you on the podcast last time and you said this thing just grew and grew and grew, and you ended up getting Dr. Peter Brukner and the Aussie cricket team at the end of the movie and everything, you know, it certainly wasn’t a two-week project by any means by the looks of it. What inspired you to do a second one with Cereal Killers 2 – Run on Fat?
Donal O’Neill: Well, a really interesting thing happened when we ran the Kickstarter account in for Cereal Killers 1. Sami Inkinen contacted me after that campaign and, I’m a big believer in the power of the internet, obviously, you guys would be, too, and Sami just contacted me out of the blue from California. I did not know who he was. He said he wanted to help pump the movie in North America, and Sami is also a tech entrepreneur, so he’s very familiar and capable in this biz, but a long story short, Sami sponsored a screening tour of North America for Cereal Killers 1.
The movie was already made, at that point, and I met him really this time last year for the first time, and we hit it off, got along very well. He’s a World Ironman age group champion, phenomenal athlete, so the bulk of our discussion was around sport and performance and whatnot, and then when we hooked up in San Francisco, we talked some more, and I got to understand really what he himself had done, and I realized that he probably has more data than anybody else on the planet in terms of his journey to fat adaptation in an elite performance model, so I was absolutely fascinated by that.
And he engaged Steve Phinney who came to the premiere in San Francisco last year. It kind of rolled from there. I went and spent some time with Steve Phinney who’s a remarkable man, and the idea for Cereal Killers 2 was born because Sami and his wife Meredith had decided they were going to row across the Pacific. It kind of struck me as a nice story arc with a fantastic scientist center stage, because Steve was advising Sami on his dietary aspects. Yeah, it all just knitted together. It struck me, “This is a strong story,” and the guys agreed to participate and, you know, Steve Phinney in particular had never done anything like this and I just think he’s a man whose time has come and Sami was a wonderful manifestation of his principles, so I just thought the story was strong and the people were interested and willing and finally we got it done.
Guy Lawrence: Great job. Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Are you expecting any grief from the sports or science fraternity at all?
Donal O’Neill: Well, I absolutely hope so. Yeah, the debate has already started, Stu. Some of them have got a little bit animated, shall we say, about what we’re talking about, and, of course, people look at the title of cereal Killers 2 – Run on Fat and they take that very literally and whatnot, but, listen, what’s going to happen, I have no doubt that Steve Phinney is going to be vindicated and everything he’s been saying for 30-plus years XXaudio glitchXX [0:07:47]
I’ve seen Sami firsthand. I’ve watched this guy train. I’ve watched him go through the motions and this is very, very real, and Tim Noakes makes one comment during the movie which I think it’ll pass a lot of people by but he’s really summed up where sports science could and should be going and it’s certainly where he’s taking it and that’s, the sports scientists in particular, they look at performance from a very acute perspective and that’s if you’re doing a four- or five-minute row or whatever then they’ll assess that particular window which clearly is a very, very short period of time, but note they’re saying that they need to start looking at the performance model much more holistically.
You take an athlete like Sir Steve Redgrave who’s type 2 diabetic, you know, practically while he’s standing on the Olympic podium and it doesn’t make sense and Noakes is saying, “You know, we can do things and we can use the principles of fat adaptation to make athletes healthier.”
And you don’t get the career switch…has a huge monetary impact for many athletes and Phinney touches on that because he knows that a lot of athletes are doing this, particularly older athletes, and they’re using the, you know, the lowered inflammation that they’re seeing in their bodies for quicker recovery and they’re adding one to three years to careers that would otherwise come to an end.
So there’s a lot in this and, obviously, a couple of the Aussie XXrowing? Drill?XX [0:09:21] teams have come out publically that they’re doing it, and one would not really anticipate that, but we can see the switch coming and it’s real and, you know, the argument will be, “Well, you know, fat isn’t an efficient fuel, you know, 70 percent VO2 max performance level.”
But what it’s doing up to that point seems to be creating some pretty dramatic XXaudio cuts outXX [0:09:49] for athletes around the world.
Stuart Cooke: It’s interesting, as well, because where athletes are concerned, you know, power and performance and endurance are buzzwords, but you mentioned healthier, and that just resonated to me for athletes to become better and healthier, as well, because as you said, like, Steve Redgrave being type 2 diabetes is crazy and just hadn’t heard that term before which it just makes you think deeper, I think, into a little bit about what the film is actually about.
Donal O’Neill: Yeah, I mean, I myself, I had a brief and very average international athletics career, but I broke down. I was overtrained and I got very, very seriously injured and, you know, sport at the elite level is, you know, “there’s nothing healthy about race days” is what they say and it’s true, but there’s really not a whole lot healthy about professional sport per se, because, you know, athletes, they get damaged all the time and, you know, we understand that and we’re quite happy to go through that, and if you ask any athletes, “Would you place much emphasis on your longer-term health, or would you rather go to the games?” You know, seven, eight out of 10 are going to say, “I want to go to the games.”
But, you know, that’s the athletes’ temperament, but surely there’s a duty of care there somewhere as well for these sports scientists and nutritionists who are advising them to at least open their eyes to this growing phenomenon because, you know, Sami was contacted by one of the British Olympic rowing team, and one of their mentors, I can tell you, was very vocally against what we’re doing here, but yet there’s somebody on that squad contacting Sami directly saying, “I want to take sugar out of my diet entirely. I can see the benefits of this, etc., etc.” so it’s happening and it will be led by the athletes because there’s XXno defined sightXX [0:11:45]
A vast majority of research comes from carbohydrate interests and, sure the research isn’t there to support this, and that’s what the scientists say, but it’s coming, and it’s coming through some very interesting channels. They’re not traditional channels. The U.S. military are going to be involved in that, and it’ll probably be three, four years down the line because that’s how long these things take before some real heavyweight research hits, but it’s starting to creep out already, and Tim Noakes is on it. He’s, I think, just got some funding for a major study XXhere in ?XX [0:12:21]
It’s coming, but the athletes are getting the benefits and they are not hanging around.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, I mean, people are certainly going to have to take notice of what Sami and his wife have just achieved, you know. Had that row been attempted before?
Donal O’Neill: It’s been done, but obviously they broke the world record. The remarkable thing is that it’s not only what they achieved but what happened to their bodies, because we didn’t have time to go into it, but what other ocean rowers have experienced is that they get off a boat and they’re like ravenous animals, I mean, they’re literally just, they’ll eat anything. And in some respects, Meredith’s performance is even more remarkable than Sami’s because we know that he was an Ironman and all of that, but she got on that boat and got off of it at exactly the same weight. She showed no XX?XX [0:13:17] of any sort.
I mean, I saw a picture of the guys at a concert the day after they got off the boat and you’ve got, like, thousands of people in the shot and you’ve got these two, like, health beacons, and it’s just remarkable. That shot, for me, said more than a lot else. It’s not in the movie, but…
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, I think we should explain for listeners, as well, that it was 44 days straight rowing from San Francisco to Hawaii. Is that correct?
Donal O’Neill: Yeah, 45 days, and they pushed out from Monterey, Guy, and they averaged probably 12 to 14 hours a day, but for the last week, they put in about 20-plus. They weren’t even getting any sleep, but they actually covered…Their best day, in their day they covered more than any other boat in the race, including the four-man crews, and that was in the last week, so it was just astonishing, and, you know, but the test at the end of it, I mean, you’d sworn they come business class to Hawaii. There was no break out on the body. All the enzymes that we see that signal inflammation and breakdown, they just weren’t there, I mean, it was just the protective aspect of the diet was remarkable.
Guy Lawrence: That’s incredible, isn’t it, when you think about that?
Stuart Cooke: We did wonder why you XXaudio cut outXX [0:14:45] as well, Donal.
Donal O’Neill: Yeah, I mean, I was XX?XX [0:14:50]
Stuart Cooke: Maybe CK3.
Donal O’Neill: No, I was behind the camera all the time. I just, I couldn’t come out from behind it, you know, I was, I was, I was with them in spirit. But actually the guy you see in the movie…Sami was due to do it with a buddy of his Patrick Sweeney who was, he rowed in the ’96 Atlanta Olympics. You’ll see him in the movie briefly, and he kind of decided, well, or perhaps Meredith decided, “Listen, I think I should maybe do this with you,” so Patrick he got dumped out of the boat in favor of Meredith for marital reasons, and I’ve met Patrick. He’s about 6-foot-4 or 5 and built like your typical rower, so, probably less interesting, to be quite honest with you, because Patrick wasn’t doing the diet.
Stuart Cooke: I’m just surprised that they managed to stay in that little capsule for that long and go through that amount of exercise and pain and they’re still together. I mean, that’s a triumph in itself. That’s amazing. Crikey!
Donal O’Neill: Well, they’re still together and they’re expecting their first child, so, it’s all going along swimmingly.
Stuart Cooke: So think about sporting industry, I mean, what will they learn from Sami and Meredith’s triumph? I mean, is there, you know, how far reached does this journey touch everybody in their industry? I mean, is it a talking point? Will things change?
Donal O’Neill: They will change through customer demand. You know, we did a lot of research into the energy drinks market and the supplements, these Gu-type supplements, and it’s just a massive industry. They’re not going to go anywhere any time soon, and when you strip all that away, the layers to which they’re involved in sport is quite staggering, because events are sponsored by them and, you know, they’re marketed to just about anyone in the States by Time magazine, as marketed to kids, you know, so they’re very, very aggressive, they’re very, very good at what they do, and if you’re somebody who’s sugar-fueled, you need them.
So you’ve got that magic mix in there, so, it’s something that will take education and it will take time, but you don’t remember that the sports drinks, they’re probably consumed by, 99.9 percent of the people consuming them have nothing to do with sports, they’re probably just a teenager or somebody with a hangover, so, it’s a tough one, and there’s a lot of money, you know…
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. I was going to mention talking as well with Dr. Stephen Phinney, cause, you know, he’s been doing this kind of work for 30 years and is mentioned in the movie as well and you could say he’s only now starting to get recognition for all the work he deserves. I mean, what do you think? Do you think that will happen for Dr. Stephen Phinney? Is he getting the recognition he deserves?
Donal O’Neill: Well, I think you just need to look at the tour he’s just done of Australia, Guy. I think it’s starting to happen, and I thought it was very poignant when he made one of his addresses in Australia, he said it was the biggest crowd he had ever addressed. I think there were over 600 people there, but to me it’s shocking that he has encountered what he’s encountered, but it’s remarkable that he stuck with it.
I asked him about his fellow researchers on his very first paper and what happened to them, where they went, and they’ve all gone on to have stellar careers in places like Harvard, because they decided a few years into this journey that they weren’t going to get funding and they realized they were coming up against brick walls, and Steve Phinney decided he was going to follow the data and, you know, do what he believed in.
So, he’s a remarkable, remarkable person for that. I think that his time is absolutely upon us.
Guy Lawrence: Yes. Fantastic, and it’s fantastic to see him in the movie. I mean, we met him when he came to Sydney and we had dinner with him on the Friday night before the talk, and one of the first things he showed us was Sami’s achievements. He was so proud and so happy to be a part of it.
And he’s such a nice guy, too. He’s so humble and down-to-earth and…
Donal O’Neill: You just know there’s an astonishing intellect. He’s got…and he reminds me of the first time I met I met Tim Noakes, I mean, they’ve got this child-like fascination, and they’ve got this absolutely cutting edge scientific brain and, you know, Steve, he just…A lot of people have fed off his work and have used it for their own, for their own benefit, but, I mean, he’s the guy. It all starts with him, and, you know, I think Jeff Volek is really going to carry through with the faster study, which is over very soon.
We got a glimpse of that. We could only show so much of that in the movie, but it’s, I believe, it’s been published sometime around now, and that’s the first big study that’s going to really rattle the cages. Keep it going.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, any other sporting disciplines you think that are adopting this way of eating, from what you’ve seen? Have you planted any seeds elsewhere?
Donal O’Neill: Well, the XX?XX [0:20:53] sports were very interesting because they’re, you know, the scientists always refer to cycling trials or runners or whatever the steady-state, endurance-type events, and Tim Noakes says that they’re looking at these parameters in performance in a very acute fashion, because, you know, what about things like concentration? What about the mistake at the end of the game?
I know from playing Gaelic football, you know, after 55, 60 minutes of that, you’re taking hits. You’re knackered. You make a split decision and it goes the wrong way. You could lose the game. Same goes for soccer, Aussie rules, so the athletes in the field sports who are adopting it are, and they’re kind of cycling carbs a little bit, what they appear to be benefitting from as well as physically is an increase in mental performance because their ability to make a split-second decision is enhanced.
Sports like golf, tennis, I mean, Mardy Fish was a great example of this. He used it to lose a considerable amount of weight and extend his professional tennis career at the very top level, so that’s the part that people are missing. I think golfers would benefit enormously from it. Again, one slip up and your round’s gone in that sport, so, I think it’s going to keep up. There are a lot of athletes using it we don’t know about, and I think it’s going up.
Guy Lawrence: It’s mainly just endurance sports, though, isn’t it? Anything that’s long duration. Do you know of any doing high-intensity shorter stuff for this kind of…?
Donal O’Neill: One of the things that the sports scientists have been unable to answer me on is a sport which involves weight categorization or weight-dependence. I mean, I myself was a high-jumper, and if I could’ve dropped even half a kilo or a kilo and maintained physical power, my strength-to-weight ratio would’ve improved, I would’ve been a better specimen for high-jumping, so I XX?XX [0:23:17]
They’ve done this study, one of the studies has shown with a lead gymnast is that over a one-month adaptation period, and this is the problem, you know, scientists point to these trials and say, “Oh, it doesn’t work,” but they don’t fat-adapt the athlete long enough, and that’s a huge, huge issue in this, so with a lead gymnast, they discovered that after one month there was no loss of power, everything was pretty much the same, but their weight had dropped slightly by half of a kilo.
And I know if you do that with a long-jumper or a triple-jumper, you know, pole vaulter, you’re going to have a very significant benefit because those are events where one centimeter is the difference between winning and losing or a world record or not, so there’s something in this for some niche little areas. I know some MMA fighters who are using it, and they’re doing it because when they go to cut they will drop ten kilos plus in some cases to get to their fighting weight, but they can walk around comfortably even one to two kilos less then it means the cut they’re down to losing eight kilos.
Because for them it’s about getting into the ring as powerful as possible after that weigh-in, so it’s a pretty dramatic impact on the body and if they can take the edge off that in the end it’s, you’re talking small margins but that’s what professional sport is, it’s about these really small margins.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Yeah. I think a very foreign concept to think in, to increase your fat to drop your body weight, when you go and, like, it’s a far cry from counting calories. Or do you think an elite, like an MMA fighter or an elite athlete would still count the calorie of the fat that they’re eating, or do you think they’ll just play it by ear a bit?
Donal O’Neill: I think, you know, athletes are so tuned in to their bodies, I think they’ll find their way if they dedicate themselves to it, but there’s also this idea it’s not going to work for absolutely everyone. I mean none of these things are one-size-fits-all, but it’s a tool, but I think the athletes are in a position to listen and understand pretty quickly what’s happening in their bodies, so I think they’ll find their own way.
I don’t know that there’s a computation or a, you know, equation that you can use and just throw it out there. I think they need to listen to what’s happening.
Guy Lawrence: …find their way a bit.
Donal O’Neill: The one guy to watch in this space who I think is going to become one of the biggest names out there is Dominic D’Agostino at the, let’s see, he’s in Pensacola, Florida, and he’s been financed by the U.S. military for over the last nine years researching the whole area of ketones and performance and, you know, the military have gone on a bit of a solo run on this. They’re trying to create the perfect war fighter, and they’re not interested in, you know, double blind trials.
They’ve been using ketones to, Dominic’s been researching, you don’t need to use exogenous ketones to combat some of the interruptions they’re getting during deep diving training maneuvers, so the Navy SEALs, they tend to get epileptic fit-type scenarios, and they’re just worried that there’s something in exogenous ketones that proffer a protective a protective element on the soldiers.
So they’re doing some astonishing research and Dominic himself is a part of it. He’s a huge, powerful man, but he’s looking at ketones in performance as well, so powerlifting is an interesting one because Jeff Volek was a competitive powerlifter who used a ketogenic diet to maintain body weight and, obviously, that strength to weight ratio we’re talking about again, so he was able to compete at a lower body weight without any loss of power.
So in a sport like that there’s a huge explosive element and it seems to me that the explosive part required not such that it depletes the glycogen stored entirely, so they’re somewhere between. I asked Phinney what the, you know, where is the magic number and they don’t really know. They know that it’s not a suitable approach for a 100-meter sprinter, but it works well for your gymnast or your powerlifter and, you know, they don’t know where that ends, but it strikes me that, in its purest form, the very explosive literally split-second events where there’s weight dependency, they can really, really benefit from this type of approach.
Guy Lawrence: There you go. There you go. With the military, will that, will they be releasing any sort of studies on that in the near future or is that something that’s going to be ongoing or…?
Donal O’Neill: Well, Dominc’s doing some research that I know will become publically available in due course, but clearly with the military they’re not going to be putting out posters any time with results, but I spoke to him recently for the first time and he’s a remarkable guy. I think you should try and get him on the podcast, actually, because he’s…
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, sounds awesome, yeah.
Donal O’Neill: Yeah, if you want to get to the center of the ketone universe, he’s the guy in the loop.
Guy Lawrence: Another question while we’re on all of this. If an athlete, like a higher-end athlete, who carb-loads stopped you on the street tomorrow and wanted to improve their diet and performance and asked you questions, what would your advice be to him in a nutshell?
Donal O’Neill: Well, that actually happened quite recently with one of the MMA fighters here, so my first advice was, and again, I got back to something that Noakes said. He believes no athlete requires more than 200 grams of carbs a day, respective of what you’re doing, and I think if you can dial back on the carbs that there certainly seems to be longer-term benefits to be accrued from doing so, but if you can take away the fast, cheap fuel in favor of real food and a higher quality fat content, there are benefits in that.
And I think it’s paramount that athletes start to look at the longevity of their careers or rather their coaches do, because it’s very difficult to ask a 22-year-old kid to think about putting another year or two on the back of their career. They’re not interested. They just want to win now. So that’s why I think the whole circle of influence becomes important, but any athlete who pulls out the fast, cheap fuels, I think is going to see, they’re going to see a benefit when they look back on their career.
If that’s going to be, you know, immediate, I don’t know, but for some it is. For others it won’t be, but I know long term there will certainly be benefits to be had from forgetting the conventional carb-filled approach.
Guy Lawrence: I often wonder about, you know, athletes that are prone to a lot of injuries, as well, and how much their diet would be affecting that outcome, as well, you know? And adopting a higher fat diet for endurance is like a preventative measure for injury, as well, you know?
Donal O’Neill: I mean Peter Brukner has spoken about the benefits to some of the Aussie cricketers and he’s told me privately he’s seen things that have just astonished him as a doctor and he’s embarrassed almost that it’s taken him this long to arrive to this conclusion, and again the scientists will say, “That’s anecdotal.”
Well, you know, the L.A. Lakers are one of the highest profile franchises in world sport. And they don’t do things with anecdotal returns. They do things because of return to the scoreboard and the XXbank balls? 0:31:55.000XX. So, equally, the pro Aussie XX?XX [0:32:00] teams that are doing this, they’re doing this because it works. That’s just how it is and that’s how it’s going to roll.
And I think athletes are kind of like, if a member of the general public gets sick all of a sudden they tend to start looking at their diet and get very concerned about it, athletes don’t really give a shit if they’re winning and they’re healthy. They’re not going to change anything, but you get an athlete that is starting to maybe feel the pinch or picking up a few injuries, they will, and that’s why I think the older athletes have adapted and adopted this much faster and I think that’s going to be the way in and it’ll trickle down slowly.
But it’s there, and I think the big term you’ll hear, because the scientists won’t want to stop talking about fat adaptation, you’ll hear terms in metabolic flexibility and this type of thing and the interesting thing for me is that sports science has never defined what a low-carbohydrate diet is, so they’ve done studies where somebody’s on a 150 grams a day and they perceived that to be low-carbohydrate. Now that may be low-carbohydrate against five, six hundred that some athletes are taking at the moment, but I know some of the field sport athletes in particular, they’re doing maybe 50, certainly less than a hundred grams a day and they might go up to 150 on match day. So over a week, you know, they’re taking maybe 20 percent of the carbs they once were or less, and yet sports science says, “That’s not low-carb,” because they’ve gone to 150 or 200 on match day.
And I tell them, “Well, why don’t you XXlay down your markXX [0:33:43] you’ve yet to actually define what a low-carbohydrate diet is, so your research really ain’t worth shit to me.” And that’s how I get, but Gatorade ain’t going to sponsor that research anytime soon, are they?
Guy Lawrence: No, you’re exactly right, you know, but it is great, mate, and I was so excited to see this movie being made and come out, because it’s a topic that nobody seems to delve into. It’s very hard to find and almost considered taboo, but it’s totally not, you know? To me, it makes a lot of common sense, you know? Just to touch on the topic, I remember, you know, working as a fitness trainer at the university in Sydney for a long time, and I got exposed to, like I mentioned before, charity with cancer patients and they were all about using a ketone diet, increasing their fats, and it was the first time I heard about that and it was about eight years ago and I was like, “What is going on?”
And then actually coming back into the sporting facilities and trying to find more information, because I was then lost, I’m like, “Well, how do I apply this?” Because everyone’s all about carb-loading, preparing for these games and sports day and eating X amount of carbohydrates in the week, and it was just like this torture for a while because I was clueless what to do. And then I was slowly chipping away and investigating, so, yeah, I think it’s, I just think it’s excellent, and every bloody athlete should at least watch it and be an open mind, you know?
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, it’s certainly opened my mind, that’s for sure.
Donal O’Neill: That’s all you can hope for, people to take a look and make their own conclusion, you know? Try it, but…something for everyone. I think it’s a different movie than Cereal Killers. It’s obviously totally focused on performance, but, you know, athletes will drive this. A big-name athlete who’s endorsing real food is an incredibly powerful statement, and too many of them are endorsing Gatorade and Powerade, you know, using whatnot.
It’ll be a big statement when they start to emerge and I think if your cricketers win the World Cup down there, then that would be a great starting point.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Time will tell. How are you eating now, Donal? because on Cereal Killers 1, like, you were, really pushed the high-fat to an extreme where you were into ketosis and saw the benefits from that. Are you still doing that? Or have you dialed it back a little? What are you doing now?
Donal O’Neill: I do cycle in some carbohydrate. I’m probably two kilos heavier than I was at the conclusion of Cereal Killers, which for me is a difference between looking kind of ill. I’m keeping my wife happy, so I’m not somebody who strives to be in ketosis all the time, by any stretch. I cycle in some carbohydrates when I’m training and on the weekends, but it’s still, I still eat a very low-carbohydrate diet with an emphasis on fats. I’ve introduced some MCT oil and stuff like that.
I researched ketogenic diets that bit further on the cancer angle is astonishing for me and that’s something I researching at the moment. When you go all the way back to, I think, 1934 when Otto Warburg won the Nobel Prize. It’s strange to me that so many things went wrong around the middle of the last century. We’ve got a duty to open the book on them and, perhaps, revisit them, but I mean, my health since I started eating this way, I haven’t been sick for a day. It’s been remarkable.
Guy Lawrence: That’s fantastic. How long have you been eating this way, Donal?
Donal O’Neill: It’s probably been a good four or five years now.
Stuart Cooke: Okay, and just for our listeners out there, and we might even have asked you this before, but just could you outline what you ate yesterday? Just very briefly so we can get a handle on what high-fat really means to us all.
Donal O’Neill: Yesterday wouldn’t be a typical day because, as you guys now, one of the things about eating this way is that you wake up some days and you’re; you’re just not hungry. Yesterday was one of those days. It was an unexpected fast. I didn’t eat very much at all, but a typical day, so this morning I just had, you know, my coffee with some MCT oil, some coconut oil and heavy cream, so that’ll be my kickoff to the day. We find the good thing about being in Capetown, I mean, it’s like, surely, you’ve got some amazing food resources here which are by international standards are very cheap, so we get some fantastic pastured hen eggs here, and pasture-raised bacon and grass-fed beef and ostrich and all types of stuff, so I’ll have a couple of eggs with avocado.
One of my favorite breakfasts is a little coffee shop across the road. They do an avo breakfast which is going to become world-famous I think, man. They take half an avo, they stuff it with cream cheese and a bit pesto and then throw bacon on top, and it’s magnificent.
Guy Lawrence: Wow!
Donal O’Neill: So, that’s one of my favorite breakfasts, and at lunch time I make quite a few smoothies, but I throw in, I’m just about to throw out a blog on my smoothie of the day, but again I have half of avo in there, an egg, if I’m feeling heavy I’ll throw in a banana, berries, MCT oil, coconut oil, macadamia nut butter, and stuff, a bunch of stuff like that, so that’ll get me through the afternoon, if I’m hungry, and then typically I train late afternoon and then dinner is just, yeah, it’s a high-quality protein source and then lots of veg cooked in coconut oil or butter. Dark chocolate off the back of that, glass of red wine and you’re done.
Stuart Cooke: Perfect, perfect.
Guy Lawrence: Smoothies are a Godsend, right?
Stuart Cooke: They are, yeah.
Donal O’Neill: I got one of those little NutriBullet devices there for Christmas, so I threw in the nuts and everything right into the smoothie and they’re great, but…Great device, but I have to say you should read their dietary recommendations. I think they’re pumping veganism now. You’re only allowed four eggs XXaudio cuts outXX [0:40:25] nutritional advice, but…
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, we had a question about eggs, didn’t we, Guy, on Instagram the other day. Do you remember?
Guy Lawrence: “How many eggs can you eat a day?” That’s right, and Shane, who I actually, who I know chipped in, and he said he for six weeks had 180 eggs a week and had his bloods done before and after, and he said they were exactly the same.
Stuart Cooke: That’s right. I certainly didn’t expect that answer.
Guy Lawrence: I know. It was great!
Donal O’Neill: I think the self-experimentation has gone the way of the ultra-runner. It’s no good to run a mile, I think, anymore you’ve got to run 100 miles without stopping, I think…
Guy Lawrence: Exactly, yeah, yeah, yeah. So what’ve you got planned for the future? Anything exciting coming up in the pipeline?
Donal O’Neill: Yeah, well, we’ve actually been approached about a third movie. Obviously, every time you do this, you kind of take a six-figure risk, and I’m taking the risk, so you just need one bad day at the office and it’s XXaudio cuts outXX [0:41:33] So we’ve been approached about a very exciting concept for the third movie which is actually cancer-related. So I’m researching that at the moment, and I think it would be…I just lost my godfather to cancer very recently and if there’s something we could do in that space and do it well, I would love to give it a shot It would be a remarkable project, but it’s early days, but that’s something that I’m just getting into researching quite heavily at the moment.
Beyond that, I think it’s just going to be the case of getting Run on Fat out there. We’re going to do the worldwide premiere on February 2nd in San Francisco. So we have Sami and Meredith, and Steve Phinney, and some of the other folks in the movie coming along to that. So that’ll be a little bit of fun, and we’ll drive it out from there. Then we release online. It’ll go through the same channels as before.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Is Sami rowing back from Hawaii to see you in San Francisco? Is that what he’s doing?
Donal O’Neill: No, I’m rowing over. I’m actually in tomorrow, so I’m rowing over to see him, you know…
Guy Lawrence: From Capetown, yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, we’ll Skype you. That’s awesome.
Guy Lawrence: So what’s the best…For anyone who wants to check out the movie, what’s the best URL to go to, Donal?
Donal O’Neill: They can go to RunOnFatMovie.com.
Guy Lawrence: Excellent, and we’ll share all the appropriate links and send this out anyway, and, yeah, help get the word out there. You’ve done a fantastic job again, mate, and…
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, brilliant.
Guy Lawrence: Brilliant, and really appreciate you coming on the show.
Donal O’Neill: Well, thanks for having me. We’re looking forward to growing the audience Down Under. We’ve had an incredible reception in Australia thanks to you guys, and Rob Taylor, and Peter Brukner, and everybody down there. So, it’s just been amazing, and I think there’s a lot of good stuff happening in Australia, and I think you need to export some of that message to Ireland in a hurry, boys, because the country of my birth is in trouble and nobody’s listening, but I really think there’s something happening Down Under.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. We should do just that.
Guy Lawrence: Awesome.
Donal O’Neill: Excellent.
Stuart Cooke: All right, okay, well, we will talk to you soon, hopefully.
Guy Lawrence: Very soon.
Donal O’Neill: Thank you, guys.
Guy Lawrence: Thanks, Donal. Cheers, mate.
Stuart Cooke: Thank you, buddy.
Guy Lawrence: Bye.
Donal O’Neill: Have a good one.
Guy: This could also have easily been my top twenty, but for the purpose of readability I’ve kept it to nine. Everything I’ve listed here, I had bought into growing up and thought I was living a normal ‘healthy’ lifestyle.
In my early twenties though, all the signs were starting to appear that my health wasn’t great; Massive energy swings each day, weight gain, fatigue, sinus issues, blood sugar problems to name a few. I was fed up and decided to do something about it.
I’ve adjusted my diet over the last eight years and being close to forty years old, I have never felt better! Whether you agree with the points I’ve listed or not is fine, but if you are not totally happy with your health, energy or weight then maybe it’s worth taking a look at. From my experience it worked for me and I’ve seen it time and time again with others; what you put in your mouth on a daily basis has a massive effect on your long term health.
1. Follow the Healthy Food Pyramid
Does anyone actually listen to this? If you listen to the pyramid then half your daily diet would be wheat, grains, rice, pasta, cereals (gluten) etc. Yet these foods will respond in your body just like sugar does and send your insulin sky high. This has serious long term negative effects. If I followed this protocol I would be fat and in danger of becoming a diabetic! And this is just the tip of the iceberg. They say if you turn the food pyramid upside down you would be better off. A little simplistic I know, but I tend to agree.
2. Obesity is From Overeating & Being Lazy
This one frustrates me, especially coming from a background as a fitness trainer. I’ve witnessed so many people struggling with their weight yet they are on a constant diet. It’s as if their life is one big diet but they keep stacking on the kilo’s. We hear of weight issues and obesity rates rising and the message remains the same - eat less and exercise more. I feel this is so simplistic and off the mark. Most people who’s weight or health is suffering are following the shockingly wrong nutritional guidelines I’ve listed here. By doing this, it will lead to low grade inflammation which causes a host of problems over time. Hormonal disfunction kicks in including insulin and leptin, thyroid issues to name a few. Then there are digestive issues with gut bacteria, candida and leaky gut with many studies showing how this hugely affects our body weight. The body is so complex we are forever learning about it, and biggest loser lifestyle with weight loss shakes and restricted calories is not the answer.
3. Eat a Low Fat Diet for Long Lasting Heart Health
Like so many people, I grew up avoiding fat as I had it drummed into me that too much fat will clog your arteries, cause heart disease and have you keeling over forty years young! This one makes me angry, as fat is seriously critical for amazing health, including brain function, energy and processing fat soluble vitamins A,D,E,K. For years now I have made sure I have an abundance of quality fats with every meal (note: not all fats are created equal). By doing this, every aspect of my health has improved. If you want to know more on fats, this is a great place to start Click Here.
4. Use Artificial Sweeteners Like Aspartame & Sucralose
Let’s pull out the sugar and use chemicals instead… who’s bright idea was this? Personally I seriously avoid this stuff! Found in many ‘diet’ soft drinks and even weight loss shakes along with so called ‘health foods’. Yet there’s much evidence now showing that this stuff ruins gut health which of course leads to a host of health issues including weight gain. Go figure! The harsh reality is that it’s super cheap to produce, and with slick marketing there much profit to be had. (You can read more on this here)
5. Use Industrial Vegetable Oils & Trans fats Instead of Saturated Fats
I avoid these at all costs. They go rancid easily and break down into free radicals when heated and many of them are hydrogenated and become unstable. I believe this damages cell function and causes inflammation. They are also high in omega 6, which most people over consume, when we actually need more omega 3’s which can be found in quality saturated fats. Amazingly processed vegetable oils can be found in most packaged high street supermarket foods. It might seem like a tiny amount on the ingredients label, but it quickly adds up! Remember this mantra and you can’t go to far wrong; #JERF… Just Eat Real Food.
6. Saturated Fat Will Cause Heart Disease
I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who grew up with a fat phobia, and it took me a while to get my head around the fact that the very thing I was avoiding was the thing that my body seriously needs. This has been a heated and contested area but I believe that saturated fat is critical for health and the brain. Even Time Magazine recently had a knob of butter on the front cover and announced they had got it wrong (yay!). If you are worried about heart health and cholesterol, worry about man made fats along with foods that cause inflammation, which is what I have removed from my diet. I eat saturated fat every day. (Learn more here.)
7. We Need Sugar For Energy
I live a very active lifestyle and keep my sugar intake very low. As far as I’m concerned we are better off without it! Sugar is insidious and is found in almost all foods in commercial supermarkets. It also comes in many forms which can create a lot of confusion. It’s easy to say that this is an empty calorie and can be ‘burned off’, but this doesn’t take fructose into consideration, which is 50% of table sugar and comes with it’s own host of problems. From what I’ve seen, too much of the sweet stuff will definitely take it’s toll on health. I would seriously consider getting this stuff out of your diet. (learn more on fructose here)
8. Start the Day with ‘Healthy’ Breakfast Cereal
I Grew up on this stuff. But the reality is, no amount of mass media marketing will convince me breakfast cereals should be a staple in the human diet these days. Highly processed carbs that feed the appetite but not the body, with many loaded with sugar too! These will also be doing your blood sugar level no favours and you’ll be wondering why you’re hungry in an hour after eating it. If time is of the issue in the morning, make a simple 180 smoothie with 1/2 avocado, 180 Natural Protein Superfood, berries & ice. Giving you all the essentials fats, vitamins, minerals, proteins and fibrous carbs you need in one simple hit! Delicious.
9. Use Margarine Instead of Butter
It was someone’s bright idea to replace butter (which is rich in the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and the minerals magnesium, calcium, potassium, phosphorus and selenium, all essential for good health) with margarine. The latter is made from refined vegetable oils (high in Omega 6 which cause inflammation in the body), which are neutralised, bleached, filtered and deodorised and turned into a spreadable forms by a chemical process called hydrogenation as they are not naturally solid at room temperature. It is also fortified with artificial colourings and flavourings. Does this sound right to you? Seriously, this stuff does not go in my body and it saddens me to see others eating this and thinking they are doing the right thing.
Guy:In all honesty, I don’t prescribe to any diet. There are simply foods I eat and foods I avoid for long lasting health. The Paleo diet or the ‘clean eating’ framework are great starting points but can be easily misinterpreted.
I was inspired to write this post as Stu and I are now running Clean Eating Workshops to end all of the confusion. We receive hundreds of weekly emails based around peoples confusion and frustrations with food which we can now address.
So with that in mind I thought I’d write a list of the 7 biggest mistakes people make when wanting to improve their diet, their health and overall well-being.
1. Not eating enough natural fat
Yes, the word is finally spreading that good sources of animal fat aren’t going to clog your arteries.
In fact, studies show how fantastic natural fats are for energy, brain health, glowing skin and reducing inflammation to name a few. But with all this information, a lot people still have a fat phobia and skimp on quality fats with each meal. I always ask myself how can I add more quality fats to each meal and drizzle my meals and smoothies with the good stuff. I include coconut oil, avocados, duck fat, butter, cold pressed olive oil etc.
Tip #1 Don’t be shy with quality fats and have them with every meal.
2. Eating way too much protein
Cleaning up your diet usually means lowering your carbohydrate consumption (these levels vary from person to person). So what I see time and time again are people going low carb’, who are also not eating enough fat with each meal and overloading on protein.
I can’t tell you how many times I see a salad loaded with chicken and a small drizzle of olive oil. This is a big no no and a classic example of a low carb’ low fat, high protein diet. For best results (especially weight loss or health issues) I’d recommend increasing natural fats, having moderate protein and moderate to low carbohydrate meals (depending on activity levels & goals).
Tip #2 High protein, low carb’, low fat is not the answer.
3. Switching to gluten free bread
They’ve decided to ditch the wheat and go gluten free. This a fantastic decision, but I believe eating gluten free bread isn’t the answer as it comes with it’s own set of nasties. Most high street gluten free breads contain vegetable oils (I do my best to avoid these, period) as they cause cause inflammation (think weight gain & health disruption).
Gluten free breads also can dramatically raise blood sugar levels, and if it’s health, great energy and/or weight loss you are after, this is a big no.
Tip #3 Check all the ingredients for vegetable oils, carbohydrate levels and crazy numbers you don’t recognise. If you are not sure, simply avoid gluten free bread.
4. Not eating enough food
This is a super common mistake! You’re all inspired to clean up your diet and you’ve cut out the breads, crackers, most grains and junk foods. So now what? Eating like a limp squirrel with a few nuts, lettuce leaf and a chicken breast is not the way forward either.
Vegetables are by far the best slow burning carb’s out there and I fill half my plate with them (yes, most meals). Combine this with a palm size piece of protein and an overgenerous serving of quality fats, you’ve got a great meal.
Tip #4 Eating less is not the answer, reducing the bad foods that go in your mouth is.
5. Switching to ‘natural sweeteners’ like agave or honey
You’ve decided to kick the sugar (awesome) and cravings kick in quickly. So you switch to ‘healthy’ sweeteners like agave and honey. Agave is a fructose fix and will be doing you no favours in the long term. Honey has less fructose but should be used sparingly (especially if you are trying to lose weight).
Rice malt syrup is a better alternative, but it still doesn’t give you a license to eat as much as you want. Your best bet is to push through the cravings until they subside. A little natural stevia is a good alternative to help you overcome that sweet fix, but kicking the cravings altogether so you don’t rely on sweeteners is your best bet.
Tip #5 Agave is a fructose fix, not a healthy sweetener
6. Overeating ‘paleo treats’
This one is a classic! I’m the first one to say we have some amazing 180 paleo recipes and treats, but that doesn’t give you free rein because it’s now technically ‘paleo’. Common sense here is needed, especially if they have overdone it with the date juice, agave or honey.
A treat is 180 chocolate ball bound together with coconut oil and a rasberry. Not something rolled into the size of a melon with a bucket full of date juice! There is a difference…
Tip #6 Paleo treats are exactly that… treats (and go easy on the ‘healthy’ sweeteners)
7. Giving up because of headaches
So you are all pumped and ready to take action. You ditch the sugar, processed carbs, drop the bread and the junk food! The first few days you are empowered, motivated and keep thinking why didn’t you do this sooner… then, boom! A headache from hell kicks in, the nose starts running and you can barely crawl through the day with a constant fixation of chocolate fudge ice-cream running over and over in your head. Bad moods kick in and you tell yourself what a load of crap this paleo diet, clean eating lark is, and you fall like a landslide and go back to old ways.
If only you knew what lay ahead if you had stuck with it a few more days, as your body is simply detoxing. The fog would lift, the energy would dramatically rise and long lasting great health would follow.
Tip #7 Stick with it! If your diet hasn’t been the best over the years, change doesn’t happen overnight and you will have side effects. But it’s SO worth it long term.
Do you agree? Can you think of other common mistakes people make when switching to a paleo diet or clean eating? Love to hear your comments below, Guy
Today we welcome back best selling author & podcasting superstar Jimmy Moore, as we talk about his new book ‘Keto Clarity’. Have you looked at a low-carb diet simply as a means to lose weight? What if you learned that combining a low-carb nutritional approach with a high fat intake produces a powerful therapeutic effect on a wide variety of health conditions that most people think requires medication to control? That’s what Keto Clarity is all about.
Join as we get down to the knitty gritty stuff regarding fat, ketosis and low carb living.
Guy Lawrence: Hey, this is Guy Lawrence of 180 Nutrition, and welcome to another episode of The Health Sessions.
Our special guest today is no other than best-selling author Mr. Jimmy Moore. Now, he’s here to talk about his new book, Keto Clarity. And Jimmy’s wealth of knowledge when it comes to ketosis and low-carbohydrate is outstanding and we really dig deep today into covering all the myths and misconception that we might hear in the media as well regarding: “Low-carbohydrate diets are dangerous, we shouldn’t be doing it, and it’s all fad,” and everything else.
Jimmy’s story is exceptional. We’re gonna hear it straight from him in a moment. But, in a nutshell, he was over 200 kilograms in weight at one stage and was following a low-fat diet, tried many fad diets, was getting larger and larger by the year. And so once he sort of really understood low-carbohydrate living, bringing in; measuring ketones in the blood and going into ketosis, then he managed to drop all that weight and now lives a very happy, healthy life.
And this book, I think, is very important and needs to be written, you know, and to get a really clear understanding of what exactly low-carbohydrate and ketosis is and what the relationships are. Because they do differ, actually.
You know, I learned a heap from this podcast today and I have no doubt you will enjoy it.
As always, if you are listening to this through iTunes, and you enjoy our podcast, we’d love you to leave a review for us. It simply helps, A, give us feedback, where we can improve as well but also the fact that it helps with rankings and helps get our podcast and our message out there. Because me and Stu certainly believe that everyone should be, you know, at least listening to these podcasts, because I think our message is so important and we want people to truly understand what good health and nutrition is.
Anyway, I’m gonna stop talking. And let’s get over to Jimmy Moore and chat about his new book, Keto Clarity. Awesome.
All right. Let’s get into it. Hey. So, I’m Guy Lawrence, I’m joined with Mr. Stuart Cooke, as always, and our superstar podcasting low-carb special guest expert today is, Mr. Jimmy Moore.
Stuart Cooke: He’s behind you.
Jimmy Moore: I’m looking for him. I don’t know who you’re talking about.
What’s up, guys? How are you all?
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic. Thanks for coming back on the show.
Jimmy Moore: Thank you. I love this show.
Guy Lawrence: Last time, you were obviously talking about your book, Cholesterol Clarity, and we were very keen to have you back on today to talk about Keto Clarity, your new book.
But I was actually reading it a couple of days ago about your story and I’ve gotta be honest; I felt your pain that you were going through and frustration coming out. And it’s so inspiring to what you’ve actually gone on and done from that and turned it into something amazing.
So, I figured before we kicked off into the book, can you just tell people, especially for all our new listeners who haven’t heard the last show, who’s Jimmy Moore, a little bit about that. Because it’s phenomenal, I think.
Jimmy Moore: Sure. Go back and listen. (I’m just kidding!).
So, back in 2003, I was a 410-pound man. So, what’s that? Just over 200 kilo. It’s a lot of man; let’s put it that way.
Guy Lawrence: That’s incredible.
Jimmy Moore: And I was wearing, you know, humongous shirts, humongous pairs of pants, ripping them every week. I was on three prescription medications for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, breathing medication.
I was 32 years old, you guys. And I’m a tall guy, but 400-plus pounds is not healthy on anybody.
And that’s where I found myself. And I had tried low-fat diet after low-fat diet and all of them had always failed me. And I defaulted to low-fat because we know that when you want to lose weight, people say cut your fat down, cut your calories down, and then exercise on the treadmill for an hour a day. And that’s how you magically lose weight.
Well, unfortunately, that magic pill doesn’t work for everybody.
So, my mother-in-law, for Christmas that year, had bought me a diet book. Yes. Mother-in-laws are wonderful about giving not-so-subtle hints to their son-in-laws that they’re fat.
Guy Lawrence: Very straight to the point, that present, mate.
Jimmy Moore: Absolutely. And she’s a sweetheart lady, so I definitely am very thankful that she gave me the book that she did at Christmas 2003, because it was not a low-fat diet book like all the ones I’d gotten before. It was one about this diet that I had not really tried before: a low-carb, high-fat diet. It was the Atkins Diet.
And I read that book, and I’m thinking, “Man, this guy is wackadoodle. How in the world do you energize your body when you don’t eat a lot of carbs?” That didn’t make sense to me.
And then the fat thing? I was looking at it and going, “Doesn’t he know that raises your cholesterol and clogs your arteries and you’re gonna keel over of a heart attack?”
But, guys, I think the breaking point for me was I was 400-plus pounds. That was reality. I was on three prescription medications. That was reality. I was ripping pants that were size 62-inch. That was reality. I needed to do something.
And I had tried literally everything but this, so what the heck? Let’s give it a whirl.
So, I made it my New Year’s resolution, 2004, to lose weight. And I started January 1st, 2004, lost 30 pounds the first month. What’s that? About 13, 14 kilo. And then the second month I was so energetic at that point I could really feel the effects of what I now know is keto-adaptation. And I had to start exercising. So, I added a little bit of exercise, which, for a 380-pounder at that point, meant walking about 10 minutes on a treadmill at three miles an hour, which was a lot of work. I tell people I was lifting weights. It was my body weight.
And I lost another 40 pounds that second month. By the end of a hundred days I lost a total of a hundred pounds. And I knew at that point there was something special about this. And, unlike any other diet I had ever been on in my entire life, I had no hunger, I was not craving anything. By the end of that hundred days, I had really become fully keto-adapted and able to sustain myself and do quite well without worrying about all that processed carbs that I used to eat.
So, it was a total transformation, not just physically but here. I mean, I remember there was a mantra. I didn’t tell this story last time I was on. There was a mantra I did to try to help myself overcome my carbohydrate cravings, and I made the mantra: “sugar is rat poison.”
So, if you think something is rat poison in your mind, are you going to eat it? No.
And so, after awhile, I honestly believed anything sugary was rat poison.
Guy Lawrence: That is a very good mantra.
Jimmy Moore: Yeah. I mean, it tricked my brain into thinking, “That is not a good thing to consume.” I now call those things “food-like products.” Not real food.
“Just eat real food” does the same thing. But having that negative imagery with this thing that I thought I could never live without was so vital. By the end of the year, I did end up losing 180 total pounds and it kind of kicked me off to the man you know me as today.
I started my blog in 2005 and that rose me to prominence that this guy said, “Hey, you should be a podcaster.” So now I have one of the biggest podcasts in the world on health. The Livin’ La Vida Lo Carb show. And, yeah. I mean, I’m gonna keep doing this for as long as the good Lord gives me breath to breathe.
Guy Lawrence: That’s awesome. That’s awesome.
How many podcast are you up to now, Jimmy? Just for people to know.
Jimmy Moore: So, on the Livin’ La Vida Low Carb show, it’s over 850 episodes. I’ve interviewed well over 900 guests from around the world, literally. All the experts that you can possibly think of have been on that show. And I do several other podcasts as well.
So, all in all, well over a thousand episodes that I’ve done combined with all of my work. It’s really humbling when you start thinking about, “Whoa! A thousand episodes!”
What episode is this? What episode are you guys on?
Guy Lawrence: We’re up to about 25. We do them once a fortnight.
Jimmy Moore: Nice.
Guy Lawrence: Sometimes that goes over to once every three weeks, depending on work outside of running the 180 business. But we just have literally converted our website over. We’ve been spending a lot of time on that. And we really want to start bringing these back in a minimum once a fortnight.
Guy Lawrence: It’s really hard, if you’re not consistent, you know. And if you get like a good schedule. Plus, you start saying, “OK. I just talked to the Jimmy Moore guy. That was so exciting. I want to do another one.” And so you have this passion and zeal wanting to do more.
Because when I first started my show, it was once a week. And the people were like, “Oh, we want to hear more.” So I went to twice a week. And now: “We want to hear more.” And so I went three times. “And we want to. . .” And I’m like, “I’m not going any more than three times a week.”
Guy Lawrence: It’s amazing. Because we appreciate it. I mean, what people don’t know is that you actually inspired me to start podcasting when I met you in Sydney last time. We had this conversation. And it’s like, “Right. We’re gonna do it.”
And then we came back to our studio and did a podcast. And then we switched into making a video podcast as well. And, yeah, love it. But I can appreciate it, because we now realize how much work goes into it, just per episode. So, what you’ve done is phenomenal, and I certainly hope that people appreciate that. Incredible.
But let’s crack open the new book. So: Keto Clarity. This is a two-fold question. Why did you write the book? And, B, could you explain to people what ketosis is, if they’re not sure? I thought that would be a good place to start.
Jimmy Moore: So, yeah, so, why write the book? Quite frankly, the book has never existed before. We’ve had lots of books about weight loss and ketogenic diets. Thank you, Dr. Atkins. Thank you, Protein Power. You know, some of the ones that have been out there for a long time.
And then we’ve had a few others that talk about the treatment of epilepsy, which we’ve long known is one of the strong benefits of a ketogenic diet on health. But that’s it. And you’ve never really seen any kind of practical guide as to: Here’s how you get into ketosis and then once you’re there, here’s how you stay in it. And then if you can’t get there, here are some of the problems you’re probably doing trying to get there.
So, we tried to make like a step-by-step guide: This is how you do it. Because that’s never been written before.
I was, quite frankly, shocked, you know, when I was doing my research for the book that, hey, nobody’s ever written a practical how-to on ketogenic diets before. And then all in one place talking about the totality of health benefits that come from eating this way. It goes well beyond weight loss. Well beyond epilepsy. Which, those two things we have very strong evidence for. But there are so many other things that I’m just really excited about, and some research that’s coming.
So, that’s why Keto Clarity was born, and now that the baby’s out there, it’s really done very well, because it is unlike anything that’s ever been out there on the market before. And in fact, I was just checking before we came on the air: It’s the No. 1 nutrition book in Australia right now, on Amazon.
Guy Lawrence: There you go! That’s awesome.
Jimmy Moore: So, I’m proud of my Aussie friends.
Guy Lawrence: And it’s a beautiful book. Like, it’s so well laid-out. And I love the way that you go the, you know, there were 22 food people you had on board as well, and all the way through each chapter, you know, everything is reinforcing your message as you go through the book. And it does make it very clear to understand.
Jimmy Moore: Thank you. Yeah, we tried to do the same format. Cholesterol Clarity, when I talked to you guys last year, that was kind of the: All right. Let’s prove the concept that people will like this format, with the moment of clarity, quotes from the different experts, and then my co-authors Dr. Eric Westman, a very respected researcher and clinician with low-carb diets, and he did little doctor’s notes throughout.
And in Cholesterol Clarity, it was funny because he didn’t give a whole lot of input on Cholesterol Clarity, as much as he did with Keto Clarity. Because he’s just one of the foremost authorities on the world on ketosis. And so I really relied heavily on him, especially in those science chapters.
You’ll notice at the beginning of Chapter 16, we tell you: This is how you read scientific papers and which ones are more important as we see these headlines in the newspaper, and I know you guys have it there in Australia: “Red Meat Causes Cancer!” “Avoid the Atkins Diet Like The Plague!” And then you go and look and it’s a mouse study. So, a mouse study doesn’t do a whole lot unless you’re Mighty Mouse. And unless you’re going around saying, “Here I come to save the day!” you’re not going to have any application for your body.
So, you have to figure it out for yourself. Look for the randomized control clinical trials. Those are the ones that are really the gold standard. Unfortunately, they’re not using that standard of science on ketogenic diets. So, that is coming. In the coming years, we’ll see more and more. But right now it’s few and far between seeing those kinds of studies.
Now, you asked earlier, “What is ketosis?” That is a great question, Guy!
So, ketosis, in a nutshell, and just to keep it real simple for people, most people walking around, about 99 percent of the world’s population, are sugar burners. So, carbohydrates become the primary fuel source for their body. And then that’s what most people think of when they say, you know: “How do you fuel your body?” How do you. . . That’s why athletes carb up. Because that’s the fuel for their body.
Well, that’s if you’re a sugar burner. But ketosis shifts your body from being a sugar burner over being a fat burner. And so how do you do that? You have to eliminate the sources of sugar, and in this case it’s glucose in your body.
So, what raises glucose in the body? Oh, yeah! Carbohydrates is like the biggest way to raise glucose. So, if you lower those down, and it’s not gonna be the same amount for everybody, but if you lower them down to your personal tolerance level (and we show you how to do that in the book; how to figure out that number), and then moderate down the amount of protein. . . This is a biggie. This is probably the biggest mistake most people make on a low-carb diet is they forget, if you eat too much protein, more than your body can use, there’s this long G-word we talk about in the book called gluconeogenesis.
And that’s just a fancy-schmancy word for: if you eat a lot of protein, your liver is going to turn that protein into, guess what? Glucose. So, when glucose is high, ketones cannot be produced. So, eliminate the carbs to your personal tolerance level, moderate down your protein to your individualize threshold level. And then, guess what? All that’s left is fat to eat. So, you’re eating monounsaturated fats and saturated fats and, of course, the omega-3 fats are in there. Definitely not drinking vegetable oil. We talked about that in Cholesterol Clarity, why that’s a very bad idea.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, don’t do that.
Jimmy Moore: And so if you do all those things, you’re going to be shifting your body from using sugar and carbohydrates as the primary fuel source to being a fat and ketone burner, and that’s being in a state of nutritional ketosis.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic.
Stuart Cooke: I just; I’m intrigued, Jimmy, about your keto journey. Any “aha” moments along the way. You know: How did you find it? What were the pitfalls? Because I think the common perception over here is, to people that don’t know a great deal about it, that it’s a wacky diet. It makes your breath smell. And, you know, it’s crazy.
So, what was your journey like?
Jimmy Moore: Yeah. So, I’ve been low-carb, you heard my story at the beginning, you know, for a very long time. And low-carb; a lot of people have made low-carb and ketogenic synonymous. They are not. You have to really get sophisticated, and we can talk about that here in a second, but my journey looking into ketosis really, really seriously actually began reading a book called The Art and Science of Low-Carbohydrate Performance. It’s by these two very famous medical researchers in the low-carb realm, Dr. Jeff Volek and Dr. Steve Phinney, and they really outlined, you know: Look. If you want to get into a state of nutritional ketosis, you have to start measuring for blood ketones (and I had never heard of blood ketones before; I always thought, ketones, you pee on a stick and it turns pink or purple. That’s ketosis). But there’s much more sophisticated ways to measure now.
So, I read that book and I thought, well, dang. And I was struggling a little bit at the time, as you guys know. So, I was like, “Hmm. Maybe I should give this a go and do an experiment and, well, what the heck, I’m a blogger, let’s do it publicly.”
So, May of 2012 I started on my nutritional ketosis N equals 1 experiment. We give a whole chapter in the book about how that went and the results. But I started, and what I found was, I was not in ketosis when I started. Even though my carbs were low, I was not eating enough fat. That was a big mistake. I was eating too much protein, thinking that chicken breast was a health food. It is not. I was probably indulging in some low-carb snacks, counting the net carbs and not the total carbs. I am, like, adamant now: You have to count every single carbohydrate you put in your mouth, I don’t care if it’s made out of fiber or not, to be intellectually honest with your personal tolerance level, you have to count it all. And some people will be, like, “Well, fiber you get to subtract it because it doesn’t impact your blood sugar as much.” That’s true, but it still impacts. Even though it’s slower, it still has an impact.
So, if we’re looking at carbohydrate tolerance levels, you have to be really honest with yourself and say, “Hey, look. Thirty grams is 30 grams. And that’s what I’m gonna count.”
So, that was kind of the start of my journey and so I started bringing my carbs down pretty; I pretty much knew where my carb tolerance was. It was the protein that really had to come down, down, down, until I found that sweet spot for me and then added in more fat.
I was probably eating 55 or 60 percent fat, which by all definitions would be a high-fat diet. But I found it wasn’t enough. I needed to get close to 80 to 85 percent fat in my diet before I finally saw the ketones show up in the blood that then gave me all the health benefits that I was looking for.
Guy Lawrence: There you go. Now, I imagine that would vary from person to person, right?
Jimmy Moore: Absolutely. And we explain this in Keto Clarity. Please do not try to mimic what Jimmy Moore did. Because you may not have the crazy, messed-up metabolism that I did, being a former 400-pounder.
My wife Christine, actually, she did a nutritional ketosis for a month just to kind of “let’s test and see where you are.” Her macros came in at right around 55 percent fat instead of the 85 that I was doing. And then about 30 percent protein, which I was doing about 12 percent protein. And then 15 percent carbohydrate for her, and I was doing about; what was it? About 3 percent carbohydrate for me. And she got higher ketone levels than I did. On a totally different macronutrient ratio.
Guy Lawrence: Wow. Who do you think should; anyone listening to this, you know, if ketosis is a new paradigm they haven’t thought about before, like, who should consider ketosis, Jimmy? Do you think it’s for everyone? Does it fit all? What’s your standpoint on that?
Jimmy Moore: I think everybody should at least try it one time, just to see what it feels like. You know, certainly if whatever you’re doing now is giving you optimal results in your health, Jimmy Moore is gonna be the first one to step up and say, “Dude. Why would you stop?” Unless you’re a girl. Then I’d say, “Dudette, why would you stop?” Keep doing whatever it is that’s giving you that optimal health.
But unfortunately, you guys, you know most people aren’t healthy. More people aren’t experiencing that optimal health and they’re looking for some kind of modality that might give them that.
So, that’s the cool thing about ketosis. And, you know, if it’s all about weight loss, certainly it is a great benefits to go ketogenic to lose weight. But don’t do it just to lose weight. There are some many more benefits, and I’ve often told people: I would eat ketogenic if I never lost another pound, just for the brain health benefits. Because your brain is so optimized when you eat this way, because the brain loves fat and ketones. It thrives on those. And so if you’re depriving your body of fat, which then, in turn, is depriving your body of ketones, guess what? You’re bringing on early-onset of some of these neurodegenerative disease like dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s. We’re actually finding ketosis helps with all of those things, improve them, and even prevent them from happening to begin with.
Guy Lawrence: Exactly. It’s funny, because the whole keto thing for me, like I first heard about it when; I was just telling a story because I did a talk in Tasmania, the weekend, about how 180 Nutrition got off the ground. And it was being exposed to a charity that was helping people with cancer. And when I got up there, you know, there were about 35 people in the room. All had serious issues of cancer, you know, from brain tumor to breast cancer to skin cancer. You name it. And the first thing they did was put them on a ketogenic diet. I hadn’t even heard the terms back then.
And I got frustrated, because I was seeing the results from these guys and how it was helping them. And that doesn’t get recommended even to this day, still, by doctors.
Jimmy Moore: Yeah. Unfortunately, it’s a fringe thing, and I just got back from a huge paleo conference here in America called the Ancestral Health Symposium. And I was a moderator on a panel there that we talked about this very topic, Guy, of ketogenic diets and cancer. And even the practitioners on the panel were still real hesitant about saying too much too soon about it, that, “Well, we don’t really know the mechanism. We just know that it does put people on the right path to maybe not use as much chemo.”
And, you know, it’s certainly something that I would love to see more randomized control clinical trials on. It’s just when you talk about something like cancer, you know, they kind of look at ketogenic diets as the last resort after you’ve done all these chemicals and everything trying to get the cancer, and I’m certainly not bemoaning any oncologist who’s doing that; they’re trying to save their patient’s life. But I wonder, I just wonder: are we promoting that they should just eat, eat, eat whatever, which is what I’ve heard. I’ve got some family members that actually have cancer and they’re told, “Just eat whatever. If it’s Twizzlers, if it’s, you know, Coca-Cola, just get calories in your mouth.”
That is a horrible, horrible message. Why wouldn’t you want to at least starve those cancer cells of what it thrives on, and that’s sugar? Don’t feed it sugar. And then you give your body a fighting chance to maybe not have to go through as many chemotherapies as you otherwise would.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. It’s frustrating. It’s frustrating.
Stuart Cooke: So, where would be the best place to start a keto journey? Would we have to go to the doctors first and get our bloods checked and get some markers as a starting point? Or do we just dive into your book and just go for that?
Jimmy Moore: Well, I’m not a; I often tell people I’m not an MD, RD, Ph.D., or any D after my name. I’m just a Joe Schmo out here that lost some weight and got his health back and now is kind of a; I consider myself like an empowered patient trying to be a patient advocate of helping people grab back control of their own health.
I know we talked about this with Cholesterol Clarity. People have abdicated their responsibility for their health to that man in the white coat. And they’ve said, “OK. Whatever that person says for me to do, I’m gonna do in my health,” not realizing that person has no training in nutrition, really no education in how to deal with formulating a really good diet.
And so I definitely would not make any recommendations for anybody. Definitely consult your physician if you have any questions. But this book is ready-made for somebody to test on themselves and try and just see how you do. I mean, there’s certainly no harm, because guess what? We’re talking about real food. That’s it. We’re not talking about some wacky green tea supplement or raspberry ketones or any kind of weird things that are out there in our mainstream culture. We’re talking about eating bacon and eggs cooked in butter for breakfast.
Guy Lawrence: I’ve got to ask you a question as well, Jimmy, just for the listeners. Because for so many people it’s so hard to get their head around that they can eat fat. Like, as a natural fat. We’re not talking about the homogenized or the manmade fats or whatever.
You know, just to hear it from you, how much fat can somebody eat, if it’s natural?
Jimmy Moore: So, yeah. Trust me, Guy. This was the hardest chapter in the whole book to write, because I know people are fat-phobic. In Australia, in America, and around the world we grew up propagandized that fat’s gonna make you fat, fat’s gonna clog your arteries. It’s just like when I saw the Atkins diet for the first time I’m like, “Man, this guy is wacked out. What are you talking about eating all that fat?”
And I think how much is enough will depend on your satiety signal. I think first we need to dial in those things that are making you hungry, so, that’s the carbohydrates in excess and that’s the protein in excess. So, you dial those in to your personal tolerance and your individualized threshold levels and then what we say in the book is: Eat saturated and monounsaturated fats primarily. So, that’s: butter, coconut oil, meats, cheese, cream, avocado, avocado oil, macadamia nut oil, all those kinds of fats. You eat those to satiety.
So, when you bring down the things that would drive your hunger, it may not take as much fat to make you satiated. And one of the cool things about ketosis is it gives you a natural satiety. But you get that satiety because you’re eating enough fat.
So, what we tell people is limit the carbs, moderate the protein, but then have fats to your satiety signals. So, you kind of learn, “Oh! This is what my body’s supposed to feel like. I’m not supposed to be hungry and jittery at 10 o’clock in the morning. And after I just ate two hours before that nice bowl of oatmeal with margarine in it and a glass of orange juice, and I’m wondering why I’m hungry so soon.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely. It makes perfect sense. Eat till you’re full. Your body will tell you when it’s full. I guess our body is smart enough to let us know when we’ve had enough.
Jimmy Moore: Well, and one of the quotes that my co-author gave in the book, Dr. Eric Westman, he said in Asian countries, they have kind of this old proverb of: “Eat till you’re 80 percent full.” So, you’re not stuffing yourself but you’re kind of getting to that imaginary point: “Oh, I’m at 79.9 percent.” No, I’m just kidding.
So, you get to that imaginary point in your brain of, “OK, I’m satisfied. I don’t need any more food.” And that’s a beautiful place. And the cool thing about this way of eating is you’ll feel satisfied and you’ll be able to go hours upon hours after finishing your meal without feeling hungry again.
How many people walk around in this world, they eat breakfast at 7 a.m. and they go, “Hmm, I wonder what I’m gonna have for lunch?” While they’re still eating their breakfast.
Stuart Cooke: “I know. We’re so focused on that.”
Jimmy Moore: That happens all the time. We are so “breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack, midnight snack.” And we’ve got to get out of the mentality you need to eat that much. Even the dieticians promote that: “Oh, you need to keep your blood sugar under control and keep it nice and steady throughout the day, so eat little small meals every couple of hours.” And I’m going, “No! I eat one to two times a day, and that’s it. I don’t need to eat any more.” And do you know how freeing it is to not have to eat constantly? It’s great.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely. It’s liberating. We’re just following the carbohydrate train, aren’t we? Up and down and up and down. That’s what we’re doing.
Jimmy Moore: Yep. A rollercoaster ride.
Stuart Cooke: So, tell us about the; you mentioned the ketone sticks originally. Perhaps they weren’t the best way to measure our levels. So, what do we do now?
Jimmy Moore: So, as I was mentioning the Volek and Phinney book, they talked about this thing called blood ketones. But let’s back up and let’s explain why urine ketones aren’t that great.
So, the keto sticks are traditional. You pee on the stick. It’s a little container of 50 of them for about 15 U.S. dollars. And you pee on the stick, it turns pink to purple, and when you first start off, that’s probably a good way to measure for ketosis. Now, the name of the ketone body in the urine is called acetoacetate. OK? So, what you’re detecting is the ketone body, acetoacetate, spilling over into the urine. All right. Great. It’s changing a color. I’m in ketosis.
But then something interesting happens when you are in this ketosis for a couple of weeks. Suddenly, you pee on the stick and guess what? There’s no change. And you haven’t had carbs and you’ve moderated your protein and you’re doing all the great things and suddenly there’s no more acetoacetate. What’s going on?
Well, acetoacetate actually gets converted once you become keto-adapted, and there is this adaptation period of a couple of weeks to four weeks in some people. For 410-pound Jimmy Moore, probably two or three months. But you have this adaptation period. And once you become adapted that acetoacetate then turns into the blood ketone. And that’s called betahydroxybuterate.
And so that’s why measuring for blood ketones, like Volek and Phinney talked about, is so critically important.
Now, you guys are really lucky there in Australia because you have a meter called FreeStyle Optium. It’s the exact same one we have here in America called Precision Xtra but the strips for your FreeStyle Optium are like 70 cents Australian dollars. Here in America, those same strips are about 4, 5, 6 dollars apiece. And so it can be very expensive. There are different ways, and I’ve tried to work with the company to get them to get on the bandwagon of nutritional ketosis.
And it’s funny: now that they book’s out there, people are starting to call the company that makes them, and they’re, like, “You know we want these strips but we can’t spend $5 apiece. What can you do?” And when I tried to convince them there’s a market out here for it, they were like: “Oh, all we care about are diabetics, for this thing called diabetic ketoacidosis.” They were not at all interested in people wanting to do nutritional ketosis.
So, I’m hoping with all those tens of thousands of books that are out there now that people will flood them with calls and say, “Hey, we want this.” Because, quite frankly, they’re just being idiots leaving money on the table because it’s a great business opportunity for them to expand their market.
Guy Lawrence: And I think just; you triggered something saying “ketoacidosis.” That’s another thing people get confused with.
Jimmy Moore: Let me explain that one in a minute. Let me finish the ketones story, because there’s one other ketone body in the body that you need to be aware of. But the blood ketones, Volek and Phinney say, should be between .5 and 3.0. When I first started my experiment: .3.
So, I was below the level of ketosis. I’m like: Hmm. Now we’re getting somewhere as to why I was struggling.
So I started testing that. So, now there are some really interesting ones that have come along measuring for the third ketone body that’s in the breath is called acetone, and there’s actually only one meter right now, it’s this guy that has epilepsy, he lives; he’s an engineer, of all things, that lives in Sweden. And he wanted to; he didn’t like the messiness of peeing on a stick and he didn’t like the prick and the very expensiveness of measuring for blood ketones. So, he went and tried to find a breath ketone meter. He couldn’t find one. So, he made one. He’s an engineer, and he called it Ketonix, K-e-t-o-n-i-x, and he started sharing it with his friends: “Hey, check this out” and they wanted one. And then they wanted one and their friends wanted one. So he’s like, “Well, maybe I should make this into a business.”
So, now Ketonix.com is out there. Right now, he’s the only commercially available breath ketone meter on the market. But there are a lot more on the way. There’s one in Arizona here in America that’s working on a breath ketone meter that she’s trying to get FDA approval for. And then in Japan, on your side of the world, they’re actually working on an iPhone app that you would connect to your iPhone and you blow into it and it’ll give you a breath ketone reading. And the breath ketones correlate pretty well to betahydroxybuterate in the blood.
So, those are the three was that you test for ketones. And if you don’t know where you stand, you really can’t tell if you’re in ketosis or not. Don’t assume, just because you’re eating low-carb, that you’re in ketosis.
Guy Lawrence: Is it something you would probably measure for a month and then after that you wouldn’t know when you’re in ketosis, or is this something you would keep monitoring?
Jimmy Moore: Well, you know, I monitored day and night and sometimes every hour on the hour for a whole year, just to kind of see. But, yeah, you’re right, Guy. After awhile, after about two or three months, I knew when I was in ketosis. And pretty much within a few tenths of a millimolar, I could predict what my blood ketones were.
And so people are like, “Well, I can’t afford to do the testing every day like you did.” And so one of the strategies that we came up with, if you don’t find the breath meter very desirable, if you want to test for blood and really get accuracy, test eight times in a month. So, sometime during the first week that you’re doing this, test in the morning. Sometime in the first week you’re doing this, test at night at least four hours after you ate or drank anything. OK?
So, then you do that over a four-week period and you see the curve. You see, you know, are you making progress or is it going down or is it just saying the same. And then you can make adjustments from there. But that’s a good cheaper way to see where you stand.
I don’t think you have to be obsessive about testing, but if you don’t test at least a little, you have no idea how well you’re doing.
Stuart Cooke: Yes. You need a starting point. And how easy is it to be knocked out of ketosis and then perhaps get back in, if, for instance you have a cheat meal?
Jimmy Moore: Yeah. And it doesn’t need to take a cheat meal for somebody like me who’s really sensitive to carbohydrates. You know, I could have a 12-ounce steak and that gluconeogenesis will kick in and I’m out of ketosis. And it’s not a big deal when you’ve been in ketosis awhile and you get out of it because of the higher protein or higher carb meal. It takes about two to three days and I’m right back in again. So, it’s not that long adaptation. Once you’re in, you’re pretty much gonna stay in, unless you had like a 500 grams of carb whatever cheat. That might take a little while to recover from.
Now, you mentioned diabetic ketoacidosis versus ketosis. I definitely want to address this, because you might have noticed in the book, it didn’t say it just once or twice or three times; I think we ended up doing it about seven total times, because we’re like, we wanted to slap you over the head with it to know this is an important topic.
So, people might be going, well, I’ve heard ketosis is dangerous. Well, ketosis and nutritional ketosis like we’re talking about in the book is absolutely not dangerous. It cannot harm you. There’s no harm in being in a state of ketosis. What is the harm is for Type 1 diabetics and those Type 2 diabetics with no beta cell function – in other words, they don’t make any insulin at all – so, those are the only two people, two groups, that need to work about diabetic ketoacidosis. But catch this: The hallmark of diabetic ketoacidosis is very high levels of blood sugar and very, very high levels of blood ketones.
So, for a Type 1 diabetic or a Type 2 without beta cell function, let’s say they have a high-carb meal but they don’t shoot themselves with insulin. What’s gonna happen? Predictably, their blood sugar will go way up, well over 240 milligrams per deciliter, in American terms, and that’s not good. But then the body thinks it’s starving. So then it starts raising blood ketone levels in parallel with that high blood sugar level and you have these humongous rises in the blood ketones, upwards of 15 to 20 millimolar, on the blood ketone meter. That’s a dangerous state.
Guess what? If you make any insulin at all, you can never, ever, ever, ever – did I say “ever”? – EVER get to that point.
Now, you guys know I tested day and night and sometimes every hour on the hour. The highest reading I’ve ever seen is 6.7 on that blood ketone meter, but here’s the kicker. My blood sugar at the same time: 62. Which is extremely low; it’s really, really good.
So, this is really just distortions by people who want to try to discredit ketosis. I know ketosis and ketoacidosis sound the same, but they are two totally metabolically, diametrically opposed states. And diabetic ketoacidosis can only happen in the presence of a high-carb, not low-carb, diet.
Stuart Cooke: Bingo.
Guy Lawrence: No, it’s good. Because I hear it. Definitely.
Which direction do you want to go, Stu?
Stuart Cooke: You know, I had a question. You touched upon diseases of the brain. And I have a friend who is very dear to me who has just been diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s Disease. Now, I am aware that, you know, high-fat diet, ketosis, would be completely alien. And this person would just be following a conventional diet. You know: processed carbohydrates. Where would we start if we were to suggest anything at all?
Jimmy Moore: So, we actually have a few pretty decent studies of about a year that. . . a very high-fat, very low-carb diet, which would be ketogenic, would help with people with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s. You know, coconut oil, adding coconut oil to their diet is probably a great first start. One of my experts in the book is Dr. Mary Newport, and she put her husband Steve, who had Alzheimer’s disease; early onset Alzheimer’s disease, that’s what she started with. She didn’t change his diet. She kept his oatmeal and everything. But she just started adding coconut oil and MCT oil to his oatmeal.
Stuart Cooke: Was that the study where he was drawing the clocks?
Jimmy Moore: Yes. That’s exactly right. Same one.
And so she started doing that and then slowly he started getting better. And then she and I talked on my podcast, and I said, well, have you thought about maybe reducing down the carbohydrates. So, she started doing that and he saw tremendous benefits starting to happen there, and improvements in his health. That would certainly be applicable, I would think, to any neurodegenerative disease: Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s; any of those.
So, it’s definitely worth a shot to try to increase the fat and lower the carbs somehow. I’m certainly not giving medical advice, but if that was my family member, I would immediately say, “Hey, can I take control of the diet just for a little while?” And try it, because there’s certainly no harm in doing real food. And they try to put all these drugs to combat these diseases when maybe it’s not a drug deficiency; maybe it’s a fat deficiency, and too much carbs.
Stuart Cooke: No, that’s great. And it makes so much sense to provide your body with such a fantastic source of fuel for the brain in a time when I think we’ve gone through a prolonged period of too much starvation for the body because we just don’t get all these nutrients on a conventional diet.
Jimmy Moore: Literally starving your brain. And, you know, people are like, well, aren’t you worried about heart disease with the saturated fat? And I’m like, “You know what? I’m over that. I care about my brain health too much to deprive my body of saturated fat.” Did you know you have 25 percent of all the fat in your body is right there. Right there in your head. And so they don’t call us “fatheads” for no good reason. I mean, we are fatheads. And guess what? If you’re not feeding your body that fat that it needs to have raw materials to fuel that brain, why are we surprised when people start getting dementia? Why are we surprised when you start having those senior moments. Now, we laugh about those in our culture. It’s not funny.
And then, you know, we just had a very tragic death of Robin Williams, a great entertainer. I wonder: Was his brain fat-deprived? It got him to be so depressed that it got him to kill himself.
You know, there are things we’ve got to talk about, and I think ketosis is a big part of the answer to that.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely right. I’ve got; just had another thought popped into my head when we were talking about fat as well. Gallbladder. So, my friend’s had his gallbladder removed. It’s quite common.
Jimmy Moore: Do you know when?
Stuart Cooke: Recently.
Jimmy Moore: OK. Real recently. OK.
Stuart Cooke: So, he has been told, “You’ve got to steer clear of fat.”
Jimmy Moore: That’s what they say.
Stuart Cooke: That’s what they say. So, what’s your take on that?
Jimmy Moore: So, my wife Christine actually; let me see if I can get Christine to make a cameo. Come here, Christine. I want everybody to see. See, she’s never on, like, my video podcast that I do so I want to show; are you. . . There she is. OK. She’s like brushing her hair back. It’s like nighttime here in America, so. . .
All right. Come to the camera. She’s coming. There is the beautiful part of Jimmy Moore.
Stuart Cooke: Hi, Christine, how are you?
Guy Lawrence: Hi, Christine.
Jimmy Moore: They’re saying hello.
Jimmy Moore: Say hi.
Jimmy Moore: All right, cool. Bye, honey.
So, she, in 2000; your gallbladder. . .
Jimmy Moore: Had it taken out and it took. . .
Christine: About a year for me to be able to start eating fat again. Is that what you wanted to know?
Jimmy Moore: Yeah. So, she had to build up an adaptation to the fat again, and it was a slow journey, right?
Christine: Yeah. I found that if I ate too much, too quickly, my liver didn’t know how much bile to produce and so after awhile your body just knows how much bile to produce once you’ve been eating this way awhile.
Jimmy Moore: And now the woman eats more fat, almost, than I do sometimes. She loves, what is it? Five slices of bacon for breakfast in the morning.
Christine: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Bacon every day.
Jimmy Moore: Thank you, honey.
Christine: You’re welcome.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic. So, it’s a process, right?
Jimmy Moore: It’s a process. And about a year later, she was able to ramp her fat back up. And I’d say she probably now eats about 55, 60 percent of her diet is fat, whereas maybe that year, like your friend, Stu, probably 25 percent, 30 percent the first year and you just kind of like work your way up to get back to that level again.
So, I don’t think it’s a forever and ever you have to eat low-fat and avoid fat like the plague. You need fat. Fat is one of the macronutrients that is essential. So, that’s why they talk about essential fatty acids. They talk about essential protein. Guess what? There’s no essential carbohydrates.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. Absolutely right. That’s awesome advice. And it’s just, yeah, I’m so intrigued to look at conventional advice and then talk to people who are just questioning this. Because, you know, we’re all so very different and perhaps, you know, we can just dial in to these little intricacies that will take us on a better health journey.
Jimmy Moore: Right. You guys realize you got like an exclusive. I’ve never had Christine come up on any podcast.
Guy Lawrence: That’s awesome.
Jimmy Moore: You’re special, man!
Stuart Cooke: I feel special.
Guy Lawrence: Definitely. Just to tie it up, we won’t take too much more of your time, but I saw you put out a blog post a couple of days ago regarding what a journalist had been writing about ketosis and the diet and with the claims. And I thought, you know what? That would be really just a couple of good points to touch on because that’s what we’re hearing all the time. So, pull a couple of the claims up and I thought you could address them on the podcast.
And one of them, the first claim was: Your brain and muscles need carbs to function.
Jimmy Moore: That is what they say, isn’t it? In fact, they claim needs 130 grams at least of carbohydrate a day. And you know what I say, Guy? They’re 100 percent exactly right. Dot, dot, dot. . . if you’re a sugar-burner. Because if you’re burning sugar for fuel, your brain does need that. Otherwise, you’re gonna be starving it of the glucose that it needs. Because the brain can function on glucose or fat and ketones.
So, if you’re a sugar-burner, you’d better darn well be getting plenty of carbohydrates in your diet. Otherwise, your brain’s gonna be going; you know, people kind of get that foggy brain and they’re going, “Oh, why do I feel kinda cranky?” That’s it. You’re stuck in sugar brain. So, you’ve got to feed it sugar to make it happy. That’s why when people say, “Well, I didn’t do well on low-carb diet, and I added back carbs and I felt better,” I’m like, “Yeah, because you never fully made the switch over to being a fat-burner.”
So, when you’re a fat-burner, that is idiotic advice to tell people to eat that many carbohydrates, because that is counterproductive to making the ketones.
So, you can choose: sugar-burner or fat-burner. And if you’re a fat burner you’re gonna, you know, fuel your brain with fat and ketones. If you’re a sugar-burner, you’re gonna do it with carbs.
Guy Lawrence: And I think, as well, if somebody; a lot of people have been a carb-burner their whole life. You know? And if the body’s gonna adjust, it’s not gonna happen overnight like if you’re been doing it for the last. . .
Jimmy Moore: Two to four weeks for a lot of people, right around two to four weeks.
Guy Lawrence: Another claim was: Low-carb diets eliminate entire food groups.
Jimmy Moore: You know I love this one, Guy, because they never say anything about vegans removing whole food groups. And I would argue whole food groups that are nutrient-dense foods they should be eating. So, yeah, this is; and then they consider, like, whole grains being a food group. Whole grains are not a food anything. I don’t consider them a human food. You have to highly process grains in order for them to even be humanly consumable. And so that’s one of the things that they’re talking about removing whole food groups.
But here’s the kicker. You’re not really removing anything. You’re just limiting to your personal tolerance levels, but you’re not removing. I mean, I still have 30 grams of carbohydrate. Is that “removing” the food group of carbohydrate? No. It’s just limiting it down, knowing that I have a certain tolerance level. These people say, “Well, just eat everything in balance.” I’m like, “How much arsenic do I have in balance?”
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. Exactly.
Guy Lawrence: Well-addressed. And the last claim was: Don’t do a low-carb diet for more than six months.
I hear these things as well.
Jimmy Moore: I know. And these are things that are put out there in our culture, and this was a very prominent article on a website, Philly.com, I think it’s associated with the Philadelphia Inquirer, which is a major newspaper here in America. I actually wrote to this journalist, by the way, after this, and I said, “You know, if you want the truth, I’m happy to talk to you about what a true low-carb ketogenic diet is.” But I never heard back from her. And didn’t expect to.
I later found out a lot of her posts are pro-vegan. So, take that for what it is.
So, no more than six months. I’m thinking, so at the end of six months of being on low-carb diet and I’m seeing great results and getting great health, then how am I supposed to eat? What’s my next step? If I’m thriving in that state of eating, why would I change?
It’s a logical question to ask. Now, if you’re not seeing results after six months, by golly, change. Do something different. But if you’re seeing results and improvements in your health and your weight, why would you change anything?
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Absolutely.
Stuart Cooke: Perfect sense. It makes sense.
So, what’s next for Jimmy? Any more clarity books?
Jimmy Moore: Jimmy needs a break from writing, because he wrote two books in one year. That was a lot, you guys.
So, I actually did just sign a contract with my publisher for a follow-up to Keto Clarity that I’m gonna collaborate with this American blogger and Author named Maria Emmerich. Do you guys know her?
Guy Lawrence: I haven’t heard of her name, no.
Jimmy Moore: Ah. Well, you’re gonna find out about her. She was one of my experts in Keto Clarity and so we quoted her throughout the book, but my publisher said, hey, we’d love to have a cookbook. And I’m going, “Do you know how Jimmy cooks? He takes a bowl and he throws stuff in the bowl here and there and I don’t measure anything.” Like a quarter cup of this and a teaspoon of this. I don’t use this at all. This is not something I would use.
And so Maria does. Maria is really good at. . . doing all those measurements and taking beautiful pictures. So, we both are very enthusiastic about ketogenic diets. So, we’re gonna collaborate on a ketogenic diet cookbook that will be coming out sometime around summer; next summer.
So, that’s kind of the next one. Not as much writing for me for that book as it has been the last two books.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. I can imagine. And you’re coming to Australia soon, right, as well?
Jimmy Moore: I am. The low-carb Down Under tour is coming back, and we’re actually gonna go to a lot more cities this time than we did the last time. We’re definitely gonna hit all the biggies: Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, the Gold Coast this time. We’re gonna go to Tassie this time. (Tasmania, for my American friends.) Perth this time.
So, we’re definitely gonna try to hit, like, all the major ones. But that’ll be in the month of November. And, in fact, before I come over to Australia, on the way over, I’m gonna stop in New Zealand with Grant Schofield and his group and do a talk in Auckland, New Zealand on like that Thursday night before.
So, definitely check out my social media stuff and we’ll share all about that real soon.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, definitely. And keep us posted, because we’ll share across our channels as well once we get closer to the date.
Jimmy Moore: Awesome. Thank you.
Guy Lawrence: And in the meantime, if anyone wants to get more of Jimmy Moore, where do they go? Jimmy?
Jimmy Moore: “More of Jimmy Moore.” I love saying that. “More of Moore.”
Well, so, the book, Keto Clarity, if you’re interested in that, we have a website KetoClarity.com. We have all kinds of media pages. We have a sample chapter from the book. I think the introduction is the sample chapter of the book. And then I did the audiobook to my book as well. It’ll be on Audible real soon, but we have a sample of that. I believe it’s chapter one. We have the sample of where I actually did the reading. When you’re a podcaster, people want to hear your voice. So, I did the reading of that.
And then if you want to find out more about my work, it’s LivinLaVidaLowCarb.com or if you Google “Jimmy Moore,” it should be everything on the front page is all my stuff.
Guy Lawrence: Awesome. Mate, that was brilliant. You are such a wealth of knowledge.
Jimmy Moore: Thank you.
Stuart Cooke: Yep. Absolutely. Fantastic. We’ve learned so much and we can’t wait to share it as well. It’s gonna be great.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. Awesome. Thank you so much, Jimmy, for your time, mate. And look forward to seeing you when you get to Australia.
Jimmy Moore: We will see you guys in Oz, man. Rock it!
After recently chatting to the Baker Boys (full interview below) it appears that some brands of fish oil shine over others. Learn how to put your brand to the test above in this short video clip.
Brothers Michael & Christian Baker are nutritional advisors & professional speakers. They have also collected a massive amount of experience over the years within the supplement industry. They were one of the first guys to setup a major supplement store franchise from the USA here in Australia. Strap yourself in for this one as we dig deep into the world of supplements. Join us and find out what actually goes on in one of the most confusing industries out there!
Full Interview: Insider Knowledge & Truths About the Supplement Industry
In this episode we talk about:-
If supplements actually make you healthy
The biggest mistake people make when choosing supplements
How to know if your fish oil is any good
Why some supplements are simply expensive urine
The damaging effects of artificial sweeteners (yes they are in many so called ‘health foods’ & protein powders)
Guy Lawrence: Hey, this is Guy Lawrence of 180 Nutrition and welcome to another episode of The Health Sessions. Today you’re in for a treat as we dig deep into the truths, or what we feel to be the truths, about the supplement world.
Our special guests today are the Baker Boy Brothers, Michael and Christian Baker. These guys were the first franchisees in Australia of probably one of the largest companies in the world, supplement companies, and they’ve been in the industry a long time. They certainly know their stuff.
They’re in the firing line, if you like, of the end consumer, and, you know, they’ve seen a lot of things. Well, as you can imagine, we had so many burning questions, from supplements to “Do we need them?” to the quality and grade of them, you know, “How effective are they? What ones should we be looking for? What ingredients are in them? Is there anything we should be concerned about?” And what to check when looking for them in general, you know?
There are so many gems of information in here. It’s not funny. I certainly learned a lot from this episode, and I’m sure you will, too. So sit back and enjoy it. You’re in for a treat.
Also, if you are listening to this through iTunes, we’d really appreciate the review. That just helps our rankings and helps us get the word out there as we spread the good message about food and health and what we believe. So, yeah, enjoy!
Guy Lawrence: So, hey, this Guy Lawrence, and I am joined today, as always, with Mr. Stuart Cooke. Hey, Stu.
Stuart Cooke: Hello!
Guy Lawrence: And our special guests today are the Baker Boy Brothers, Michael and Christian Baker. Welcome, lads!
Christian Baker: Thanks for having us.
Guy Lawrence: So, we are on all four corners of Australia: Coogee, Maroubra, Bondi Junction, and Newcastle.
Michael Baker: Yes, nice.
Stuart Cooke: Excellent.
Guy Lawrence: First of all, I wanted to just say, you know, you guys are at the firing line, if you like, of the end consumer in retail and working in the supplement industry a long time. It’s going to be fantastic to get your insights on that today. We’re excited to have you.
Michael Baker: We’re glad to be sharing.
Guy Lawrence: We’ll start with you, Mick. Tell us how long have you been in the industry and how’d it all begin for you lads?
Michael Baker: Sure, well, being the older brother it is appropriate, I guess, that I start. I’m probably about six to eight inches shorter than Christian, but it’s okay. I usually get, when people come into the store, and we’re side-by-side, they usually call Christian the older guy and then I’m his younger brother, but it’s not the case.
I’m the one with the beard here.
Yeah, basically, as far as my memory can go back, I used to come home from school, from high school, year 11 and 12, and see Christian on the lounge playing video games. I was like, “Christian, I just come from the gym. I feel amazing. I’m starting to get muscles and, you know, I really enjoy this. You’ve got to get off your lazy bum and come join me one time.”
And, being the stubborn young brother he is, he would always pretend like he wasn’t even listening, just totally ignored me. And I think after about two years or so of drilling him with this, “You’ve got to get to the gym. You’ve got to get to the gym,” he finally, one day, just joined at the gym and literally went, I think, every single day for a whole year straight. He became obsessed with it.
And that’s pretty much what got us into health and fitness. We then went and did our personal training qualification and dabbled into, you know, nutrition a little bit, but we didn’t really know that much, and then, to the point where we are now, which is being in the industry, the supplement industry, heavily for five years.
It’s been some interesting insights and learnings.
Stuart Cooke: Fantastic.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, I can imagine. Did you have any, you know, you’ve been doing it a while now. Obviously, we know you guys well and know the industry pretty well. Did you have any preconceived ideas before starting? Christian?
Christian Baker: Yeah, obviously, being more of a gym background than a nutrition background, at least in the beginning, I didn’t really know what to expect from the supplement side of things other than what I’d seen in magazines, and I had all these ideas of supplements being magic and all this good stuff, so, yeah, I think going into the industry, in terms of the nutritional supplement side, I had really high expectations and a lot of them weren’t met.
I realized certain corners were being cut, certain claims that were being made, a lot of things, yeah, weren’t quite what they seemed.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, I know. It’s intriguing, because, obviously, I started out as a fitness trainer ten years ago and, from the outside looking in, is a very different perceived…perception to when you start getting amongst it.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, it’s certainly a big world out there. Say someone ate a balanced diet, okay, so a reasonably healthy, balanced diet. Would they get much benefit from taking supplements?
Michael Baker: I think, absolutely. I guess most people’s idea of a balanced diet, even a healthy person could be shopping at Woolworths or Coles, you know, big name grocery stores, and if you’re buying, whether it be chicken, steak, fish, usually it’s always grain-fed or, you know, soy-fed, or just corn-fed, again, something terrible, which show up inside the animal. They’re also going to pump it with hormones. You guys know this already. It’s shocking what they actually feed the produce.
And then the vegetable side of things, I mean, it’s one thing to eat vegetables, but if they’re not organic, you’re not really going to get much from them, so I think supplements can really fit in well. A probiotic can really come in handy, especially to anyone on hormones. It can help put the good bacteria back into your gut just so you can actually digest these proteins and foods properly.
Stuart Cooke: It’s a good point. I mean, we also say we are what we eat, but we are kind of what our animals eat, as well, and all of that is completely unknown to us.
Christian Baker: If they’re feeding our animals junk food, so, you know, these leftover grains instead of the fresh produce that they’re designed to eat, then what are we eating? We’re eating junk chicken and junk beef.
But, hey, if someone came to me and they had a diet that was spot-on with huge amounts of green veggies, colored veggies, nuts, fruits, grass-fed meats, and all that stuff, in most cases they wouldn’t really need much else, but you find me a person who does that in all of Australia and then you’re not going to find many.
I think everyone can do with a top up of a few extra things on top of what they eat.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, but, you know, from what I’ve seen, and I’m sure you’d be able to highlight this more, there are a lot of people out there that think, you know, no regard indiscriminate to what they eat, if they take a vitamin pill every day or supplement, say, then they’ve given themselves insurance.
Christian Baker: Yeah, exactly. A lot of people like to use it as an excuse to eat crap, because they are using the vitamins for damage control. Which, you could use that strategy if it’s a holiday or something like that, but as a daily strategy, you just can’t, you know, you can’t do that.
And you’ve got to think about that, as well. How many new micronutrients and, on a deeper level, phytonutrients, they’re the tiniest little things, are becoming revealed over these last few years? If you say, “Cool. I’m taking a vitamin instead of eating a bunch of veggies and then we find out there’s something in veggies that we haven’t been putting in the vitamins, then you haven’t been getting that either. So you really don’t know what you’re not getting if you’re not having enough veggies and fruits in real food.
Michael Baker: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, good point.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, from your experience with people walking into the stores every day, you must have seen, like thousands of thousands of thousands of people now. What do you think is the biggest mistake people make when choosing supplements if they, you know, are not under any guidance?
Michael Baker: Personally, I think, and Christian would probably agree, it’s like most things in life, people want things fast. They want fast results and when you say fast, people want to lose weight fast, and it’s…it’s just…we want to pull our hair out sometimes. They come in drinking a juice from a well-known juice company, full of sugar, and we look in their shopping trolley, maybe they’ve got some chips and some white bread in there, and they’re like, “Hey, do you have a fat-burner? I’ve got a wedding coming up in two weeks. What’s the best thing you can get for me?” And, like, they need to lose weight really fast.
We feel like honestly saying to them, but you can’t really say it like this, “Look, you’ve been putting crap in your body for ten years, and you’ve got ten years of damage, and now you want to heal it, you know, fix it within two weeks. It just doesn’t work like that.”
Most people want short-term results. They’re not willing to actually make the proper changes that may happen a lot slower, but they’re going to live a lot longer and benefit from it.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Right. Marketing play, I mean, you know obviously we all work in the industry, marketing plays a lot in that, as well, I think.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely. well, every supplement claims to be the best out there, and if I went into a store, I could find, you know, a whole range of supplements that do exactly the same thing, but do they vary in grade or quality, or even effectiveness?
Christian Baker: Oh, god, so much. Australia’s got really good laws for protecting consumers when it comes to making sure that we’re having, you know, decent ingredients, safe ingredients.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Christian Baker: But what we don’t regulate, and what I think we really should, is the grade and the quality of ingredients. So, for example, if you get something like zinc, lots of people taking it, there’s about ten, twenty, or thirty forms of zinc. You can take what’s called a zinc chelate or you can take what’s called a zinc gluconate, they’re two different things both providing you with zinc at the end of the day.
Your body can absorb one of them almost entirely, which is the gluconate, but the other one your body can barely absorb at all, and that’s unfortunately more commonly used, because it’s cheaper. If you check the same man taking, you know, a zinc supplement every night, he thinks he’s taking the same amount, but he’s not actually keeping the same amount. His body can’t absorb it.
So, that’s a big concern with where we’re heading in terms of quality of supplements. They’re becoming more varieties out there, but we just don’t have the facts for the quality.
Stuart Cooke: Would it be safe to say that the more I pay the better quality of product I would be getting?
Christian Baker: In most cases, yeah, but…
Guy Lawrence: Not all?
Michael Baker: Depending on the brands. I mean, just, back on that in terms of quality, there’s a lot of products that they’ll have all these claims and everything and then you check the label and there’s what’s called proprietary blend on the back, and it’s so commonly used in the supplement industry, and it’s mainly used in the U.S. where you’ll have this product that’s perfectly branded, has some amazing claims, contains some awesome ingredients, right? XXdistortedXX [0:11:33] The actual doses of the good ingredients versus the lesser ingredients…you have no idea.
Yeah, people are just so used to seeing it, they don’t even question it. Why? Because, it’s like, “We will give you five good ingredients with 20 terrible ingredients, such as high fructose corn syrup.”
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, right.
Guy Lawrence: What about fish oil? Because fish oil, you know, you see in absolutely every single chemist, stacked mountains of it, you know? What are your thoughts on the grading of fish oil?
Christian Baker: Well, fish oil, for starters, is one of my favorite things. I think it’s somewhat of a controversial topic. Everyone’s got their opinion, but I think, if people are taking fish oil…but, yeah, not all fish oil is created equal. Some people take the extra step of processing it an extra step to keep its freshness. Other people just do the minimum required by the government and that does have an impact.
And even when you open the container and smell it, you can tell. A friend of mine, actually, what she does every time she buys a batch of fish oil is pricks one of the capsules with a pin and, if it’s good quality, it’ll smell a bit fishy. No worries.
But, if it’s bad quality, it’ll smell rancid, and it’ll smell terrible, and you should throw the whole container out, and, unfortunately, most…I’ll save you buying fish oil from a supermarket. You should reconsider that. It’s better to go to a health food store or somewhere that is specializing in fish oil rather than just storing a generic brand on the shelf.
Stuart Cooke: That’s awesome take. You do realize that everybody now is going to be rushing to the kitchen and pricking their little tablets of fish oil. Me included.
Christian Baker: Please do it over the sink and get ready to wash your hands, because…XXdistortedXX [0:13:20]
Michael Baker: It stinks.
Stuart Cooke: That’s good to know. Thank you.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. That’s excellent. If there’s one thing that I’ll spend money on, it’s fish oil. I’ll never, personally, buy from, straight from the shelves like that.
Michael Baker: Which one do you take, Guy?
Guy Lawrence: Hmm?
Michael Baker: Which one do you take? I remember you saying a really high quality one you’re taking once.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, I buy, actually, Metagenics fish oil.
Michael Baker: Yeah.
Christian Baker: Good brand.
Guy Lawrence: Moving forward, what’s the biggest misconception then? Like, claims that won’t die, you know, people must be coming in with a perceived idea.
Michael Baker: Really? That’s so tough. I mean, we could talk about carbohydrates. We could talk about getting big quick. I mean, there’s so…
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Big quick’s a good one. I had to deal with that all the time as a personal trainer.
Michael Baker: Yeah.
Christian Baker: You guys would get that all the time with your product.
Stuart Cooke: Yes.
Christian Baker: I think, yeah, there’s so many misconceptions and also things that won’t die, like, such as, don’t take vitamins because it’s expensive year-round, or vitamins don’t work, blah, blah, blah, blah, but the one that’s the most relevant at the moment, just because the fastest growing market of people purchasing protein is not body-builders and fitness freaks, it’s typically normal people who just want to be a little bit healthier and maybe want to lose a little bit of weight and are starting to realize that protein powder is just food. It’s just like chicken or beef. It’s nothing magical, but when they tell their friend to get it, or their friend’s friend or whatever, straight away if they’re a woman or even, a lot of time, with guys, they’ll go, “Oh, my god, I don’t want to take protein, because I’ll get too big.”
I’m like, “Well, I tried to get big for a long time.” So, you know…XXdistortedXX [0:15:08]
Michael Baker: When was the last time you ate chicken? You’re not huge.
Christian Baker: Yeah, exactly. So, like, protein, you don’t see when you go to the supermarket and go to buy a chicken breast, there’s not some big muscley dude on the front, even though chicken breast is the most commonly eaten food by bodybuilders. It’s just protein, and protein powder’s the same.
And I think, over time, it’ll probably get better, but, we got to clear the misconception that protein is for making you huge. Protein is just protein.
Stuart Cooke: Got it.
Michael Baker: You’ve got to get your calories from proteins, carbs, or fat, so, if you want to eat carbs all day and eat plenty of processed carbs and sugars like most people do, you’re going to get fat. You want to eat protein, you’re actually going to probably lose weight, but to try to explain this to the average consumer sometimes takes a good half-an-hour just to do it.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, it’s, I don’t think it’s, it’s certainly not an easy topic to broach, especially when you’re in your shop.
Michael Baker: People have feelings, too, you don’t want break that. If for the last 20 years their great-grandmother taught them to do this, and they’ve got all these ways of eating and living and now, you know, you break their heart. You tell them they can’t have fruit for, you know, fruit for dessert with yogurt before bed, you know, you want to have a lean protein shake instead, they’re like, “What do you mean? Fruit’s good for you. Low calories.”
Stuart Cooke: That’s right, yeah. Nature’s dessert. That’s what we like to call fruit. You mentioned sugars, as well, Mick. Now that brings me on to artificial sweeteners.
Michael Baker: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: These are to, you know, the general public could be seen as a very good thing, because they reduce the amount of sugar in there which is a great thing, too. You know, are they a good thing, or are they a cause for concern?
Michael Baker: Both Christian and I, fortunately and unfortunately, have asthma, and I mean we’re, I’m 30 now, and I’ve still got asthma. It just hasn’t gone away, but I know, I basically know how to control it. So, for me, it’s mainly environmental and what I’m putting in my body, and you know, from dust and some pet hair, but mainly from putting bad foods in my body.
Like, if I have, right now, if I had a diet Coke and then, maybe, even a protein shake with artificial sweeteners, I wouldn’t be able to breathe. I literally wouldn’t be able take part in this podcast, because my lungs lock up and it’s game over for me.
Like, for many years when Christian and I first went into the industry, we’re like so keen to try everything, so we’re pre-workouts, during workouts, post-workout, bedtime, and like a million different shakes, and we’re taking all the top brand names, but yet, we used to finished a workout, we’d have massive anxiety and we’re like, “Oh my god, why can’t we breathe right now?”
Like, we’re really struggling with our breath, and it was funny enough because of the shakes we were taking. They’re fluff, you know, something called Ace-K, sucralose, sometimes aspartame, all of these hidden nasties that reduce the calories but just really don’t do good to you.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, because, from my understanding, there are still a lot of companies suing them, I mean…
Christian Baker: They’re pathetic.
Michael Baker: A majority.
Christian Baker: Sweeteners, god, they’re such a controversial thing. I think, especially going back to what I said before about the growing market with people trying to be a little bit healthier. You know, a lot of people don’t realize that health and fitness are, in fact, two very different things. You know, you get them both right they’ll complement each other, but if you’re only pursuing one and you’re forgetting about the other, you know, you can get off-track.
Case in point, most people start going to the gym, might even take a protein supplement. They might start eating more chicken and stuff like that, but they won’t back themselves up with extra veggies. They won’t take a greens powder with vitamins in it to offset the protein they’re having, and they wonder why they get sick.
Or maybe they’ll look good, but then their skin won’t look so good, or they’ll have bad breath and all these other things, and they have no idea, because there are so many artificial things, you know, getting put into food and supplements, to reduce calories and to make you in better shape, but not with your health in mind.
One thing I wanted to say about sweeteners is from a vanity point of view, which is probably the best way to get it across to most people, is if you look up any study they’ve done with mainstream sweeteners, especially aspartame sweetener e951 that’s used in diet Coke and diet soft drinks and all those things, in nearly every single study, unanimous across the board, people who drink diet soft drinks eat more calories with their next meal, and usually eat more calories across the board through the whole day.
And it’s like the diet soft drink paradox, because your brain is hardwired to get excited and expect some calories when you give it something sweet. It’s a survival mechanism. And, if you’re having these sweet things, these artificial sweeteners, your brains like, “Okay, cool. Where’s the calories at?” And then it’s waiting, waiting…
“Still no calories? Something’s wrong. We need more calories.” And it keeps telling you to get hungrier and get hungrier until you satisfy that craving, but it’s just all messed up. You can’t trick your brain, and artificial sweeteners, they just mess with the way we work, and there’s so many other bad side effects we could talk about, but that’s one of my main concerns.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, and interestingly enough, as well, if somebody is actually having a diet Coke I wonder how conscious they are about their actual, you know, the foods they’re putting in their body, and then the calories that they’re eating more of later are going to be, actually, probably of poor quality, I’d imagine.
Christian Baker: Yeah. Absolutely right.
Guy Lawrence: Escalating the problem. I mean, that’s why 180 started, you know, because, you know, working as a trainer, especially with the people with chronic disease, we couldn’t find a protein supplement without these sort of things in it.
Michael Baker: That’s why we love your protein, because it’s, you take it, you feel awesome after it. Like, you feel like you’ve just had all the nutrients you need. You can go for a run straight after it, whereas the other stuff we used to take, we’d have to like lie down and do deep breaths, like, recover.
Guy Lawrence: And that’s not healthy. I’m just touching on what Christian said, you know, like even from my experience you see a lot of people focusing on their physical appearance and fitness and can look great, but I’d question how healthy they actually really are underneath all that.
Michael Baker: Yeah, Christian and I went to a bodybuilding, a really big bodybuilding event. Last year’s Arnold Classic over in the U.S.
Guy Lawrence: Oh, yeah, that’s right, yeah.
Michael Baker: Yeah, and it was a really great experience, but we could not believe how unhealthy the people were there. Like, it’s meant to be the health and nutrition…
Christian Baker: Industry…
Michael Baker: …industry, but there were people that were in their early 30s, women, that were losing hair, because of who-knows-what they’re putting in their body. You know, just, acne, redness under the eyes, pimples on the back of their delts and their triceps and it was just, stretch marks, yeah, it’s because they were loading up only supplements and then probably some other stuff in the backroom that you don’t know about. They’re not actually eating food. They’re not eating any real food.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, wow. While we’re on the topic of supplements, what are your personal staples? You know, your nutritional supplement routines that you do?
Michael Baker: Christian, you go first. He used to take four to five times as many supplements as me.
Christian Baker: Yeah, how much time do we have?
Guy Lawrence: Cause I know, obviously, quite a few people that work in the industry, and generally the people that work around supplements take more.
Stuart Cooke: That’s right. We can always offer your list, as well, Christian, as a PDF download, if it’s too lengthy.
Christian Baker: Yeah, if it’s a small enough file for download. I used to take a lot of things, and I still like to introduce different things at certain times. I’m very much a human guinea pig, but at the moment I’ve cut myself right down to what I think are, you know, the essentials in terms of my lifestyle, so I take a greens formula, so like powdered vegetables with superfoods antioxidants, all those things, wheat grass, barley grass. I do eat a lot of green veggies and a lot of colored veggies, but I take as well just as backup because I do a lot of exercise.
A multivitamin, as well, even though I’m taking already greens, I will take the vitamin as well. I take fish oil, of course, to help with my joints, but also it does help with skin and also help with fat loss, as well. Protein, but only natural protein, I don’t take any sweeteners, so I take 180. I also take two other different ones, as well, which are natural.
I’ll take branch chain amino acids, which are really good for training and recovery and increasing your strength, but also minimizing any kind of muscle loss, if you’re dieting down, which, at the moment, I’m losing weight, so they’re good, but I do them unflavored which tastes terrible, but, also, because I’m avoiding sweeteners, and that’s the gist of it, but then I add other things for small periods of time.
Like, at the moment, I’m taking zinc, just for a good six weeks or so because we are going into winter, and it does help me with the…
Michael Baker: He just got a girlfriend, as well. He wants to increase his testosterone.
Christian Baker: Yeah, zinc does help with testosterone. In a few days, when you take zinc, so, if you’re a guy, definitely take a zinc.
Guy Lawrence: That is a good tip. What about you, Mick?
Michael Baker: I’m pretty similar to Christian. I do all my daily supplement regime is first thing in the morning it’s the greens powder, then usually about an hour to an hour-and-a-half, I usually go for a big hour walk in the morning. I have a nice shot of double espresso, which is not a supplement, but it’s caffeine in its purest form, and, yeah, with my two main meals I have a multivitamin.
At the moment, I’m taking a bit of olive leaf. It’s olive leaf extract for immune system, because I work quite a bit and I just can’t really afford to get rundown. Training-wise, pretraining I take an unflavored XX?XX [0:25:17] . I take arginine, which is,hands down, the worst tasting supplement on the planet.
Christian Baker: It’s fantastic.
Michael Baker: For pumps and vascularity, but it’s, it tastes like chlorinated pool water with tuna mixed into it.
Stuart Cooke: Nice.
Christian Baker: With a seaweed aftertaste.
Michael Baker: Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah, so I take XX?XX [0:25:39] and arginine before training. After training, I’ll have coconut water with either 180 or just an unflavored protein that I have, and I’ve got a massive sweet tooth, so I usually have one to two XX?XX [0:25:52] bars a day. Even though, it’s my justification, like, the nice little hit of cacao and all that stuff makes it, makes me feel like I don’t want to go for chocolate bars, so it does the job.
Stuart Cooke: Fantastic. And you guys essentially follow quite a clean diet, as well, don’t you? Devoid of most processed foods?
Christian Baker: Yeah, I think, I don’t get too caught up in exact protocols, like I’ve tried many diets to the letter for a time, just so I can experience it and just kind of take what I want and get rid of what I don’t want.
But, if you had to sum up my diet, it’s pretty much just eating real food, like most of it is real food, real veggies, real fruits, lots of nuts, lots of lean meat. Plenty of fat, too, from good sources, like grass-fed meats, nuts, avocadoes, fish, eggs.
Michael Baker: Are you eating bread these days?
Christian Baker: On the weekend, I’ll have bread, and if I am going to have bread, I’ll have sourdough, because it digests a lot better. Maybe one day a week I’ll have some bread with breakfast or lunch or something like that, because I do like bread, I just don’t want to eat it.
Guy Lawrence: I don’t think I’ve met a person that doesn’t like bread.
Christian Baker: Whoever made bread is a smart man and awesome. Yeah, if you had to match my diet up to an actual diet, I think the closest diet that I eat to would be the Wahls Protocol. Remember Dr. Terry Wahls who you guys interviewed? I’m a massive fan of her, and because her diet works from a fitness point of view as in it helps me train, but it’s centered around health.
Her diet is all about cellular health and giving the body what it needs to regenerate, and I’m a massive fan of that. Even though it takes a lot of effort and a lot of plates of red cabbage…
Christian Baker: The first day that we saw Christian do that, oh, my god, myself and our friend Jeremy was sitting there, all having a steak together, and but Christian had this massive salad bowl full of red cabbage and all this colorful stuff, and we’d finished our steak. We’re pretty much about to just clean and start doing the washing up. Christian hadn’t even started the steak. He’s still eating cabbage.
Christian Baker: I was committed.
Stuart Cooke: Color. Yeah, that’s it. Get some color on your plate. That’s an awesome tip.
Guy Lawrence: What supplements would you recommend, guys, for those that exercise regular? Because I know there have been quite a few, you know…
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, we’re talking, you know, male, female, Joe Public.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, because we get a lot of Cross Fitters, as well, obviously.
Michael Baker: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I mean, your protein just flies out the door, especially Cross Fitters. They are just obsessed with it. I guess it gives them the perfect blend of healthy fats, some nice quality carbohydrates, really good quality protein, no sweeteners, no fillers or anything. So, I mean, that’s, yeah, your 180 protein is like the perfect protein.
Even for women that come in for weight loss. I still recommend it to them, because I’m like, “Look, you’re not going to have cravings. You’re going to get some healthy fats. Yes, fats are good for you. Slow release carbs. A good quality protein. Instead of having your…”
You know, actually, I won’t say the full title, it’s called Celebrity something, I mean, you get it from my words, and I was, I just said, “Okay, do you actually understand what’s in there? You’ve got vegetable oil. You’ve got soy protein, and you’ve got first ingredient skim milk powder, and you, just so many terrible ingredients, and it’s 100 percent sugar, as well.
So then I, you know, switched her over to the 180. Showed her that it’s actually whole foods and not fillers, and, yeah, so, she’s going to be loving it.
Stuart Cooke: Will you recommend like a general multivitamin, as well, to accompany, you know, to accompany their daily lives, as well?
Christian Baker: Yeah, I think, for Joe Public, the average person who wants to be a little bit healthier and who is eating a reasonably good diet, if you follow good diet protocols from Australia which involves a lot of grains, then I would recommend you choose at least either a greens powder, so powder with fruits and veggies and wheat grass, or a strong multivitamin, or you could do both, which is even better, but at least if you start with one of them that’s a good start.
However, unfortunately, with vitamins there’s a huge variance, so please don’t buy any of the ones you see on TV. They seem to put more money into their marketing than they do their research and development. And, if you’re using cheap forms of vitamins like that, you can take the tablets, but your body won’t absorb much of it at all…
[talking over each other]
Christian Baker: Sorry?
Michael Baker: That’s expensive urine right there.
Christian Baker: That’s where the saying comes from. And then, so, yeah, greens or a multivitamin and fish oil, I think that’s a good start for anyone, and if they do that, given that they drink enough water, as well, at least two or three liters a day, like, really, most people don’t do that, that alone is enough to make most people feel significantly healthier.
And most people just don’t buy into that, but literally a few days of doing that consistently, you feel dramatically different, if you haven’t taken those things for a while.
Michael Baker: Getting protein first thing in the morning, if you can do it within a half-hour of waking up, protein as your first meal instead of sugary cereal with some milk, it’s going to help with the blood sugar, their energy, their body fat, metabolism, everything. So, it’s 180 protein first thing in the morning, don’t need to add anything to it. There’s nothing. It’s got everything you need, pretty much for everyone.
Stuart Cooke: Breakfast like a king, I think. That’s the term, isn’t it?
Michael Baker: That’s it.
Stuart Cooke: Mick, you touched on weight-loss shakes, as well. This is a huge can of worms in itself, but what are your thoughts on weight loss shakes, you know, and he marketing that they use out in the High Street?
Michael Baker: Yeah, it’s, first of all, the marketing works, and that’s scary. It does work. Like people like to see labels that say, “Lose weight fast,” or something with “slim” or something…
Christian Baker: If the word toned is on it, women are for it.
Michael Baker: I know. There’s no real definition to “toned.” You can’t go to the gym and get toned. Yeah, it’s, I mean, everyone’s own personal perception, but, yeah, I mean, weight loss shakes, what I would tell to everyone is do your own research to how you can lose weight and then find your own ingredients to make a perfect shake, or go for a 180 shake or something that has got proper whole foods in it.
Like, a typical weight loss shake is not going to make you lose weight. Maybe, you know, for two weeks you might lose weight, because you’re not having calories from other food, but long term, as Christian said before, a lot of them have got the sweeteners in there, so therefore, you’re tricking yourself into not eating other foods and then you’re going to actually going to eat more in the long run.
And then you’re going to put on weight. You’re body’s bacteria, like good bacteria, is not going to be happening. Your gut health is not good. Your liver’s not going to be good. Everything’s going to slowly deteriorate, but the problem is short-term they usually do work, and that’s why people do want them for the quick fix, but it’s just slowly screwing your insides.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, it never fails to amaze me the amount of artificial sweeteners in weight loss products that will have a direct link to your gut health or deterioration of gut bacteria, which is the one thing that you really need to regulate your hormones and weight control, as well, so it’s just a…
Christian Baker: Absolutely.
Stuart Cooke: It’s just, it’s crazy, isn’t it? It’s a vicious cycle.
Christian Baker: And, actually, on that point sweetener 950, sorry, sweetener 955, sucralose, was invented by accident when they were all trying to make a pesticide. So, it was originally designed to kill bacteria in microorganisms, so when you take it into your own gut it starts killing the microorganisms, the bacteria, whether they’re good or bad. It doesn’t discriminate.
So, a lot of people experience bloating, poor digestion, and things like that when they’re taking a lot of sweeteners, and that’s often why, because they’re destroying the environment down there.
Guy Lawrence: The reality is of that, as well, if you have been down that path for years and then one day go, “Oh my god, I’ve been doing this to me,” some things you just can’t fix overnight.
Michael Baker: That’s it. Unfortunately not. Yeah, I mean, back on the weight loss shakes sort of things, the best thing you can do, I guess, is grab the product, turn it around, look at the label, try to see that there are no numbers. If you don’t know what the number is, look up the number, and if you don’t understand the ingredients, run, like, do not, do not go for it.
Another ingredient that’s a killer, which is not really related to sports supplements but it’s called MSG, monosodium glutamate, and that, for me, it’s my kryptonite. It just destroys me, because I’ve got and MSG allergy, which is in all Asian food, flavored chips, but it’s in so many different things, and now they hide it under yeast extract, as well.
Guy Lawrence: Is that right?
Michael Baker: Yeah, it’s another hidden thing that’s in so many different ingredients in the supermarket, gravies and soups and…
Stuart Cooke: Flavor enhancer is another generic term for MSG. It really is funny, but I think the great thing about the society that we live in today is that we do have, or most of us have, smartphones, and most of us have access to, you know, so much information, so when we’re out and about we can make these checks instantly.
Michael Baker: Yeah, totally.
Christian Baker: Yeah, and if you Google a lot of ingredients that you don’t understand, it just comes up, and it gives you two or three different alternate names for them and often times, like Mick said with the whole yeast extract thing, it’s, yeah, it’s something that’s a common irritant or problem for a lot of people but it’s disguised under different names.
Like, a lot of people are terrified of trans fat and for good reason, because there’s no justifiable reason to ever eat it, except that it makes the texture of food really good, but that can be called vegetable shortening, so it’s got the word vegetable in it, so you’re like, “Vegetable. Cool.” But shortening is just another long word for fat, and vegetable fat, you know, if you look at, say, olive oil or vegetable oil, it’s always runny and it’s always a liquid, because it’s an unsaturated fat.
If it’s solid, and it’s not a saturated fat, because they’re solid at room temperature, like butter and stuff, but somehow it’s solid, you know it’s been modified, which is what trans fat is. It’s been messed up and hydrogenated.
Guy Lawrence: Hydrogenated, yeah.
Stuart Cooke: I avoid it.
Guy Lawrence: If, for people listening to this, if you were to say what would just like a really simple breakdown, what would you list to say, “Look, just check these in the ingredients. You need to avoid these.” Vegetable oil would definitely be on there for me.
Christian Baker: Yeah, do you mean when looking for supplements or just in food in general?
Guy Lawrence: Probably both. Let’s do supplements first.
Christian Baker: Okay. Well, yeah, I would say, if you can, avoid, well, we’ll go back to Mick’s point with the whole celebrity kind of shakes and weight loss shakes and those things, the ones that are in supermarkets and on TV.
I think, before you even look at those, you should, kind of, make some rules for yourself, which is what we’re going onto now, you know, what to avoid. You should look for certain things that you want and, also, look for things to avoid, and I think the number one things to avoid would be vegetable oil, because there are so many better ways to get healthier fats. Vegetable oil is notorious for inflammation and causing problems.
I would also avoid skim milk powder, because then you know straight away that the brand is using cheap ingredients. You want a protein powder; you don’t want a milk powder. You can milk powder from anywhere and it’s cheap.
Avoid soy protein, because a lot of people can get away with a small amount of soy in their diet, but in its concentrated form soy protein can wreak havoc on both the male and female bodies. It’ll throw estrogen levels really high, cause you to gain fat instead of lose it, and it can, also, cause other hormonal craziness problems, too.
So, yeah, they’re my top three, and then I would say, also, trans fat, of course, which is less common to find in these shakes, but definitely avoid trans fat, which is written either as hydrogenated something, could be palm oil, any kind of oil, or vegetable shortening.
Guy Lawrence: Like the low fat margarine that you see in so many people’s fridge.
Christian Baker: Yeah, if you’re doing margarine, throw that stuff in the bin, please, like seriously.
Michael Baker: Eat butter.
Guy Lawrence: Cholesterol lowered margarine, too. That’s what on the label.
Christian Baker: Margarine is like spreadable plastic. It’s one molecule away from being actual plastic. It’s crazy. It was only invented because there was short supply of butter during the war or something like that, so I don’t know how it even survived after that, but…
Michael Baker: Anything that says fat free or reduced fat is always a worry, because XXtraffic noise drowned his wordsXX [0:39:40] to be safe, but the majority of the time it’s just a no go, because the only way to reduce the fat or to avoid the fat is to put in sugar or sweeteners or something to replace it. So, it’s just, stay clear form that. Full fat is good.
Stuart Cooke: That’s good advice.
Guy Lawrence: Cool. I was just, sorry, I thought he was going to just throw in some in there, Stu. Alright, guys, look, moving on. We kind of covered your diet. Do you have cheat meals, by the way?
Christian Baker: Absolutely.
Michael Baker: You’re kidding. Cheat meals? You’re talking to Christian. Could I please tell them about one of your cheat meals?
Christian Baker: Please do.
Michael Baker: And it may be a few details off.
Christian Baker: Yeah.
Michael Baker: I remember there was a day, not too long ago, Christian had some, I think he made French toast out of croissants…
Christian Baker: Yep.
Michael Baker: As if croissants don’t have enough butter and goodness already. French toast croissants. after he demolished them, probably covered in Nutella and maybe jam and peanut butter, he then proceeded to buy, I think it was the 24-pack of chocolate chip cookies, and a full liter of, it might have been, full cream milk or Cleopatra milk. He poured the milk into a big mixing bowl, poured the 24 cookies into the bowl, crushed them up, and sat there eating them.
Christian Baker: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: How did you feel after that?
Michael Baker: It was like punishment.
Christian Baker: I felt high, like I felt euphoric.
Michael Baker: Were you watching Cross Fit videos while you were doing this?
Christian Baker: Yeah, I was like, “I need the calories.” But, no, it’s, I think cheat meals are very beneficial if you’re doing them right. Like, if you are on a, especially if you’re on a weight loss diet, you’re most likely, if it’s working, then it means you’re eating the kind of calories where your body is losing weight from week to week, and because your body is smart and it doesn’t want to starve to death, it’s eventually going to catch on to the idea that you’re trying to lose weight, and it’s going to try to stop you losing weight, because it doesn’t want to lose weight, because that’s not a good thing from a survival point of view.
So it’s starts to rev your metabolism down, down, down until even the same low-calorie diet won’t burn any more calories, but if you spike your metabolism again, and you give it a whole bunch of food, you go, “Hey, guess what? We’re not starving. There’s lots of food around. You can burn more energy again.” Your metabolism goes up and you’ll burn more fat the next week.
Also, I think it’s a good psychological release, if you feel like, “Oh my god, I can never eat a cookie again, or I can never eat Nutella again,” which Nutella, by the way, is like my favorite thing in the world, if you haven’t noticed. So then it’s a psychological benefit, too, but absolutely it can be abused.
Like, if I did the kind of meal that Mick described, if I did that that every Saturday when I do my cheat meal, I’d probably be really fat. That was, you know, sometimes they’re big like that, sometimes they’re smaller. I’ll go eat, like, smaller for me, so I’ll eat, like, a pizza, and then a Max Brenner dessert, which, for me, that’s a lot for most people, but I can easily do that, like, no worries.
Guy Lawrence: Give it ten years, mate. You’ll a…
Christian Baker: I’m the youngest in this group. I know. But then the next day I’ll be fasting half the day and then I’ll be doing a heavy workout like squats or something, so I burn it off.
Michael Baker: A lot of the time when we do a cheat meal we’ll do it post-workout, so you know we’ve opened up our glycogen, like our muscle receptors are going to put all our glycogen into our muscle. Glycogen being sugar, and other crap, into our muscles, so off putting a lot of the damage.
Guy Lawrence: That’s a really important point, isn’t it?
Christian Baker: Timing is super important. Timing is extremely important.
Michael Baker: Sometimes we’ll take some alpha lipoic acid, as well, to help balance the blood sugar, and we might even have a shot of espresso after to help with gastric empty, to, you know, get all Tim Ferriss style to, you know, make sure you don’t absorb all that food.
Christian Baker: If anyone wants, like, the ultimate way to do cheat meals and minimize the damage and not get as, you know, try not to store much fat from it, or any, check out The 4-hour Body by Tim Ferriss. It’s one of the greatest books ever written on health and fitness, and it’s also hilarious and really fun to read.
Guy Lawrence: Awesome read. Yeah.
Christian Baker: But just one final note on cheat meals, I think it’s not for everyone, like, if from a psychological point of view, I really like doing things in extremes, so I’d rather be super strict and then super crazy, but I’ve got friends who just aren’t into that. They like to, they’re the kind of people who can go to the gym, come home, eat a few cookies with their protein shake, and they use those cookies for good calories, like it goes to their muscles, and then straight away get back on the bandwagon, eat a salad for dinner with chicken. I won’t do that.
If I start with one cookie, it’s going to result in 24 cookies. So I’ll do none, and I’ll do them all on Saturday.
Stuart Cooke: …and then all.
Christian Baker: But, yes, think about your personality and then that’ll kind of help tell you if you are…
Guy Lawrence: Absolutely, and I think body type has a lot to do with it, as well, because I know Stu could have a cheat meal every single meal and not gain an ounce of body fat.
Stuart Cooke: Come on. We put that to the test in Fiji, didn’t we, and it didn’t, and it absolutely worked to treat. I ate 6,000 calories a day for two weeks and lost a kilo-and-a-half.
Michael Baker: What?
Christian Baker: Oh my god. What? You were doing, you were doing, what’s that guy? That awesome guy who’s friends with…
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. Nate Green.
Christian Baker: Nate Green. You were doing his kind of stuff. He’s super ripped.
Michael Baker: That is insane.
Christian Baker: The calories he eats on some of his programs are amazing, and he’s still super lean, so, yeah. Stu is the Aussie Nate Green.
Stuart Cooke: I’m the skinny version of Nate Green. That’s the problem. But, yeah, I think DNA and certainly our genes have a lot to play in the way that our body responds to food, for sure.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. All right. I was just looking at the time, guys. I’ve got a wrap up question, as well, we always ask every week. This has been awesome.
So, I’ll start with you, Mick. What’s the single bet piece of advice you’ve ever been given? And that can be outside of the nutritional world, as well. Anything.
Michael Baker: Oh, put on the spot, okay, off my gut, it’s, I’m going to have to go with my granddad, or our granddad, he’d always say in his broken German accent…He’d always be lecturing us and…
Christian Baker: Do the accent.
Michael Baker: …telling us war stories, and he’d be like, “Michael, whatever someone can do, you can always do better. Never settle for average, you know. If you see someone, you can do it better.”
That was probably, eh, I mean it’s always stuck with me. It’s very basic. You can interpret it how you want, but it’s just like, go learn from the best and do better.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely. There’s truth in that.
Guy Lawrence: 100 percent. Christian?
Christian Baker: Yeah, no, he’s a great man, and he’s a good immigrant success story, as well. The guy came out from Germany after the war and built himself up in Australia, so we love that guy.
Stuart Cooke: He certainly did it better.
Christian Baker: Yeah, no, he did a great job, and he’s still around. One, my favorite piece of advice is one that Mick and I both love a lot. It’s from one of our favorite business mentors, a gentleman named Fergus, and he said, he passed on something to us that his dad told him growing up, and it’s in the context of business, but I think you can put it into any area of your life, and that is, “Top line vanity; bottom line sanity.” So he’s talking about, if a business is making millions of dollars but not keeping anything, well then it’s stupid. You think you’re cool because you may have lots of money coming in, but you’re not keeping anything.
And I think the same thing can be done with health and nutrition. On the surface, you’ve got this awesome program you’re doing six days of training a week. You’re turning up for all your sessions. You’re doing that morning cardio and that afternoon weight-training. You’re hitting all this perfectly written down routine, but then you’re falling short on your nutrition, and you’re not eating enough veggies, and you think you can get away with cutting corners, and eventually it catches up to you until you look at the bottom line, what the actual results are.
You’re not in good shape. Your immune system sucks. You’re not as energetic as you should be. Your skin’s no good, and you’re falling to pieces, and I think that’s what’s happening to a lot of people.
Michael Baker: Adrenal fatigue.
Guy Lawrence: Massively, yeah.
Christian Baker: People burning the candles on both ends, thinking they’re invincible.
Guy Lawrence: It’s interesting with human nature. You tend to gravitate what you love most and enjoy and go, but you can neglect other areas, and…
Stuart Cooke: That’s right.
Christian Baker: Yeah. It’s hard to control that.
Guy Lawrence: You know, it can fall apart a bit, you know, but I think we’ve all done that at some stage in our lives, as well, you know, and you learn the lessons. Yeah, that’s great, tips-wise. So, where can we get more of the Baker Boys? If anyone who listens to this wants to check out a little bit more?
Michael Baker: At the moment, the best place to get us is bakerboysblog.com.
Guy Lawrence: Right, we’ll have the link up anyway. It’ll be there, so we can support that.
Michael Baker: What about you guys? Just a quick one back on you, I’d be interested to know, like, what’s, well, in terms of nutrition and activity-wise, like, what’s your daily ritual? What’s one thing you do every day? Starting from when you wake.
Guy Lawrence: Starting from when I wake. I’ll go first. What I generally do, because I’m fortunate enough to live right by the beach, I get up, it’s normally by ten past 6:00 a.m. I’m outside. I’ll have a long black and I’ll sit on the beach and then I will dive in the ocean. So that’s how I start the day.
And then, I do that pretty much every day, and if I know me and Stewey are getting into the surfing thing, so if there’s waves and there not too big and scary, I’ll actually start the day with a surf.
Michael Baker: Awesome.
Guy Lawrence: That’s been probably the most addictive thing I’ve got into in a long time, just to be in the ocean and doing that. It’s amazing. And then I come back and I’ll generally have a 180 shake, and then I’ll have a shower and stuff like that and then I’ll tend to have a breakfast a few hours later, so like a late morning breakfast, but I know Stewey’s eaten half his cupboards by 7:30 a.m. If I’m not mistaken, mate.
Stuart Cooke: No, no, I do have a bit of a ritual. So, I start the day every single morning with a big steaming hot water with lemon and ginger. So fresh lemon and ginger. That’s the first that I’ll have, and then I’ll take a multivitamin, some fish oil, and then I’ll get as much color into my breakfast as possible. So I might use breakfast, kind of, making salads, and I’ll just have everything under the sun, and I’ll alternate that perhaps one day with a mega-salad and the other breakfasts I’ll have just a mega-bowl of steamed veggies, and I’ll just drizzle that with oil. I’ll put sardines on the top. I have a 180, you know, a 180 shake is generally my midmorning snack.
Guy Lawrence: And I will add, as well, this is a guy who has to get three kids ready for work, as well, so anyone who’s saying they haven’t got time for breakfast…
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: …needs to rethink their strategy.
Stuart Cooke: Our house can get crazy in the morning. We’ve got three girls and getting them ready for school and getting them on the good breakfast, as well, yeah, we just kind of start that way, and I’ll get as much color into my meals every single day as I can.
Christian Baker: All about that color. Just quickly on your, when you have lemon in the morning, because I’ve been doing that for years, as well, do you ever find it makes your teeth enamel feel a bit funny? Sensitive?
Stuart Cooke: A little. A little. You know, strangely enough, I was finding that more with peppermint tea, which is really strange, because I wouldn’t have thought I should’ve felt that at all, because the acidity levels, but, yeah, every now and again, but I just feel so almost cleansed when I do that. That I think it, yeah, it really works for me, yeah, just getting that in there.
Michael Baker: Nice.
Stuart Cooke: How about that? So, a few tips there for you boys.
Michael Baker: It’s great. I’m taking notes.
Guy Lawrence: it’s the first time anyone has asked us questions.
Stuart Cooke: That’s right, but seriously if you’re interested in what we eat, jump on to Instagram and we photograph most things.
Christian Baker: We always follow that.
Stuart Cooke: Just to guide people…
Christian Baker: Breakfast out and about in Coogee and Bondi. It’s always avocado, eggs, everything’s very colorful.
Stuart Cooke: Exactly. Exactly.
Guy Lawrence: Keeps us honest when you go public. It’s like I can’t put, oh…
Stuart Cooke: That’s exactly right. Guy does his, Guy addresses his treat meals indoors, I think.
Christian Baker: I’ll never be seen outside of my house eating in public unless it’s like a carrot or an apple or something. Ever. Ever.
Michael Baker: He eats those cookies when the lights are off, and he’s like…
Christian Baker: Yeah, yeah, when the doors are closed, I’ll have cookies, but never, never in front…
Guy Lawrence: Just check if anyone’s looking.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, no, that’s right. That’s awesome. Boys, thank you so much, guys, for your time. Your insights have been invaluable and, as ever, it’s been a blast.
Guy Lawrence: That was awesome.
Michael Baker: Love your work. Love your learnings.
Guy Lawrence: This will go down XX?XX [0:52:52] this podcast. That was fantastic.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, awesome.
Christian Baker: It’s an honor to be part of it. I love your show. I listen to it all the time.
Guy Lawrence: Thanks, fellas.
Michael Baker: Thanks, guys. Cheers.
Guy: I don’t think any words can describe how seriously tasty these protein balls recipe are! Think of all your good fats, natural proteins and unprocessed carbs rolled into one, that you just keep wanting more of… I’m sure you get the idea! Big thanks to Keira for the recipe. Word of warning though, only take what you want to eat for your 3pm fix, as you will scoff the lot otherwise! Over to Kiera…
Keira: I must admit, I am guilty for the 3pm afternoon sugar cravings. Thanks to my trainer, I normally forgo these cravings and go on a hunt for a protein smoothie of some sort. However, wanting a cheaper and easier option, I decided to give these little balls a go, and oh how this was a good idea!
These raw, protein packed, antioxidants rich 100% high protein vegan balls, are perfect for that little craving, without the complete and utter guilt that comes after consumption.