Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.
Guy:I’m certainly not one to dramatise content and blog posts just to grab peoples attention, but when you hear what some food manufacturers are up to, it really does give you the sh**ts!
I think our take home message from this weeks 2 minute gem video is this; you really do have to be proactive when it comes to your own health.
We spend an hour with one of Australia’s leading nutritionists, as we tap into all her experience on how we can achieve greater health and longer lives.
Our special guest today is Cyndi O’Meara. Not your typical nutritionist, Cyndi disagrees with low-fat, low-calorie diets, believes chocolate can be good for you. Amazingly, she has never taken an antibiotic, pain-killer or any other form of medication her whole life! The one thing that was clear from this podcast is that she is a passionate, determined and a wealth knowledge. Sit back and enjoy as she shares with us how she helps others improve their quality of life so they too can enjoy greater health and longer lives.
Full Interview: Achieving Greater Health & Longer Lives. What I’ve learnt so far…
In This Episode:
Where we are going wrong from a nutritional stand point
With so many ‘diets’ out there, where the best place to start is
The simplest nutritional changes that make the greatest difference on our health
Hey, this is Guy Lawrence of 180 Nutrition and welcome to today’s health sessions. Today, we have an awesome guest here in store. I know we always say that but it’s true. She is Cindy O’Meara. I believe she is one of Australia’s leading nutritionists and she often appears on TV and radio and has a massive amount of experience, and get this, at 54 years old, I think she’s an amazing example of health. She’s never taken an antibiotic, a painkiller or any other form of medication her whole life.
I think that’s incredible and she certainly got a lot of energy and a lot of knowledge and it was awesome to tap into that for an hour today. We get into some fascinating topics. The big one that stands out in my mind is deceitful food labeling. Some of the things that are going on with manufacturers is quite jaw dropping and scary. Looking back as well, this is why we started 180 in the first place and the 180 Superfood because I was working with cancer patients with weight training programs and we couldn’t access any really decent supplementation back then, especially protein and whole foods, making them much more accessible for them anyway.
That’s where 180 started if you didn’t know. Anyway, so we get into food labeling lies. The first place to start with all this information out there, Paleo, Keto, Mediterranean, low carb, I’ve always got confused out now. She really simplifies it and how to work out what’s best for yourself and where to go first if you are struggling with them things. We tap into her own daily habits and philosophies on life as well because she’s in such amazing shape.
It was great for her to share her bit of wisdom on all that too. I have no doubt you’ll enjoy. The internet connection does drop in and out slightly here and there but all and all, it’s all good and sometimes it’s beyond our control with Skype but the information is [00:02:00] there and you persevere, you’ll be fine. Thanks for the reviews coming in as well. We had a great one yesterday saying, “Superfood for your years, buy a highway to health.”
It’s always appreciated. I know you’re probably driving a car, walking the dog or whatever it is you’re doing in the gym and you go, “Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. I enjoy the guy’s podcast, I’ll give a review, you know,” and then go and forget about it which is what I would do anyway because I’m pretty forgetful like that. If you do remember, leave us a review. They’re greatly appreciated and we read them all and yeah, they help us get this message out there.
If you’re enjoying it, that’s all I ask. Anyway, let’s go over to Cindy, this is another great podcast. Enjoy. Okay, let’s go. Hi, this is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart Cooke. Hi Stu.
Stuart Cooke: Hello mate.
Guy Lawrence: Our fantastic guest today is Cyndi O’Meara. Cindy, welcome to the show.
Cyndi O’Meara: Thank you.
Guy Lawrence: Look, with all our guests that come on, we generally end up intensively looking into the guests more as the interview gets closer. I’ve been listening to a lot of your podcasts over the last few days and it’s clear that you’re very passionate and knowledgeable, so I’m hoping to extract a little bit of that and get it into today’s show. It’s a pleasure to have you on; I really appreciate it.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah, no worries.
Guy Lawrence: Just to start, have you always been into nutrition? Is this or has this been a thing that’s evolved over time? Where did it all start for you Cyndi?
Cyndi O’Meara: Well, I’m from a fairly different family you could say. My dad was a pharmacist who then, after 6 years of pharmacy, realized that, and this was in the 50s, realized that pharmacy wasn’t the way to health. He went from New Zealand to the USA and went to Palmer College of Chiropractic, he became a chiropractor. He learnt the difference between mechanism, philosophy and vitalistic philosophy and had us kids and chose never to give us medications unless it was a life [00:04:00] threatening situation.
We ate well, we had an outdoor lifestyle; we just lived a different life. We never went to the doctors unless I broke a bone. I remember going twice because I broke bones. I’m 55 and I’ve never had any medications, no antibiotics, Panadols or anything. Then he gave us a really outdoor lifestyle, travelling and we traveled 3 months around the world, we skied, we went skiing a lot. When I got a love for skiing, I thought, “Well, I don’t want to go to university. I want to ski.”
Then someone said to me, “Well, why don’t you go to a university that’s [inaudible 00:04:36] skiing?” and I went, “Well, that’s a good idea.” They don’t exist in Australia so I had to go to the University of Colorado in Boulder and that is where my life changed. I did pre-med and had one of my classes that went for the 12 month period was with a gentleman by the name of Dr. Van Guven. He taught me cultural anthropology and anthropology.
I realized that food had a lot to do with the way we evolved. If it wasn’t for food, we’d be dead. If it wasn’t for hunter gatherers, our agriculturalists, our herders, our pastoralists, we would never have survived and it was our adaptation to the environment that we were living in that enables us to do that. That’s what I learned, so I went, “Yey! I’m going to be a dietician.”
I came back to Australia and studied nutrition at Deakin University and didn’t agree with anything, not one thing. I just went, “Oh, I can’t be a dietician. This is just ridiculous. They don’t … They’re teaching margarine, they’re thinking low fat.” We didn’t do low fat. Meat’s bad for you, this is bad for you and I just went, “I can’t do it.” They wanted me to feed jelly to sick patients and even the pig feeds were made of high fructose corn syrup and I just couldn’t do it.
I thought, “Well, I’ll go back to university and I’ll become a chiropractor.” I went back to university, did 2 years [00:06:00] of human anatomy, cut up cadavers for that whole time and went, “Hmm, it’s not the dead ones that I really care about. It’s actually the live ones.” It was a result of realizing my knowledge of the human body and my cultural anthropology and all of that just came together and I went, “I know what the human body needs.”
I set up practice as a nutritionist and did the opposite to everybody else. That was 33 years ago.
Guy Lawrence: Wow.
Stuart Cooke: Excellent.
Guy Lawrence: That was very radical back then as well, 33 years ago.
Cyndi O’Meara: Oh yeah. I think goodness … Nutrition wasn’t big back then. It’s not like it is now. You see Pete Evans get absolutely slaughtered because he says, “Eat real food.” Back in those days, there were 20 girls that I went to school with and they just followed the guidelines. I was just a little pimple, I wasn’t annoying anybody until I started to write for the Sunshine Coast Daily and then I annoyed everybody.
That was a lot of fun. 2 years of letters to the editors, suing by food companies, all the usually stuff-
Guy Lawrence: The usual stuff.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, that somebody like me would get. That was the early 90s and then by late 90s, I wrote my book Changing Habits, Changing Lives. Nobody wanted it so I self published it in ’98 and then it just went from strength to strength and now I run a company. There’s 20 people in this building so hopefully, they won’t make a noise, I’ve warned them all. We now have a food company, we have an education company, we’re about to put out a documentary because food’s big, nutrition’s big.
People realize what we’re doing is not working and we need to do something different. We have a lot of sick people in the world and I’m on a bit of a crusade to go, “Hey, there’s another way. We don’t have to live like this,” and it’s the philosophy of vitalism which is the human body is intelligent. It has the resource … If you give it the right resources [00:08:00] and stop interfering with it, it has the ability to heal and to stay healthy through prevention. Yeah, so that’s in a nutshell.
Stuart Cooke: Amazing.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. No, that’s an awesome story and I can see that you’re super passionate. From a nutritional standpoint, and everybody has … Much like religion and politics, everybody has got their own opinion on nutrition, “Got to eat this way to get these gains.” In your opinion, where are we going wrong right now?
Stuart Cooke: Look, I think we’re looking at science a little bit too heavily. I look to science to back up anything that I’m thinking at the time, but in the end, I look at culture and tradition. I look at how did we survive millions of years without science, adapt to the environment, survive, all the things that have been thrown at us from volcanic eruptions with heavy metals being spilt onto our environment to having to adapt to a changing world?
I have a philosophy of vitalism, so looking at the body as an intelligent, innate presence and then I look at food in exactly the same way, that it’s intelligent. Then with the help of cultural anthropologies and the vast array of different foods that we can we can survive on, I then go and look for science that may be able to help me back up these claims because everybody is into science, evidence based. I hear it all the time but you what I’ve learnt is that you can absolutely look at all the science out there and it’s all opposing.
That really depends on who’s funding, who has a theory and they have a passion about it and they want to get that theory out there such as Ancel Keys [00:10:00] in the 1960s who started the low fat. My thing is that we’ve just thrown culture and tradition out and we’re just looking at science. When we look at epidemiological studies, we’re actually really not doing an exact science, we’re just doing it, “Oh. Well, this population does this then they get these problems so that must be the issue.”
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Just thinking now to go on from that, we’re very fortunate because we’re absolutely involved in the nutritional space. Everyone I speak to, myself and Stu, we’re bouncing all these theories off and we delve into it and podcasts every week is awesome. Obviously, there’s a lot of people out there that it’s not their thing, they’re very busy and they just want to scratch the surface; make simple changes.
Then when you go to look at where to start, we’re bombarded. We’ve got Paleo, primo, low carb, high carb, ketosis-
Stuart Cooke: Keto.
Guy Lawrence: Keto is another one and all of a sudden, it’s like, “Well, they’re all claiming to be right. Where do I start? How do I do it?” and even in the messages because everyone seems to have good intentions as well, it’s getting lost still. What would your advice be to somebody listening to this going, “Oh okay,” they’re confused on where to start?
Cyndi O’Meara: Well, I doubt that anybody eating McDonald’s hamburgers is listening to you right now. I really doubt that, okay?
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, I hope not.
Cyndi O’Meara: I’m thinking for the person who’s out there that is eating that way and has no awareness about their body or what they’re consuming, they’re probably not listening. The people that are listening to you are probably people that are well educated and have a fair idea of they need to make some changes. If they’re in crisis, then they have to do crisis care nutrition.
If they’re not in crisis and they’re just looking at, “Hey, I need to make some changes, [00:12:00]” well, I recommend … I wrote the book Changing Habits, Changing Lives. That was back in 1998 and it’s about looking at one aspect of your pantry and swapping it for a better quality, organic ingredient. Just let’s look at salt, so I go, “Let’s throw away the white salt which …” And I explain exactly what they do to white salt, what iodine that they put into it.
Then what I do is that I then say, “Well, there’s a better quality salt out there.” Let’s say over 52 weeks, they do 1 pantry item, they will revolutionize their pantry. They will start to use the right ingredients in order to be well. Because it’s really hard to say, “Let’s just throw everything out of the pantry and let’s start again,” because then they go back to their old ways. For me, it’s about getting quality ingredients into the pantry to begin with, realizing that nobody can cook a food like you can and because at the moment, I’m rewriting my book Changing Habits, Changing Lives.
I’m looking at the food industry really intensely. You know, since I wrote the book in ’98 and then I did another edition in 2000 and another edition in 2007, so this is only 8 years on, they’re getting sneaky, they’re so sneaky. They’re doing this thing called clean labeling where they’re changing the name of the ingredient so they don’t have to put a number on it. For instance, BHA and BHT is an antioxidant that’s produced by the food industry. People are on the lookout for it. They know that it cause health issues.
Well, they’ve now renamed it rosemary extract or extract rosemary. That sounds better, doesn’t it?
Guy Lawrence: Oh, [crosstalk 00:13:45] that sounds like something I would actually quite like to consume.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah. Well, I saw. I first saw it on breakfast cereal quite a few years and I’m like, “Okay, something’s fishy here. I don’t trust them.” I’ve never trusted breakfast cereal makers but I definitely … When I saw that [00:14:00], I went, “What’s rosemary extract?” so I went looking. When I found this new thing they’re doing, it’s clean labeling. I think number 1, become educated. Do not trust the food industry to tell you what is happening.
Another thing they’re doing is they’re using this new thing called NatureSeal and they don’t have to put it on the ingredients and you know why? Because it’s part of the processing of the food, so if-
Guy Lawrence: Could you repeat the … What was it called? Nature-
Cyndi O’Meara: It’s called NatureSeal.
Guy Lawrence: NatureSeal.
Stuart Cooke: It’s NatureSeal, and so what it does is if you cut an apple and put NatureSeal in the processing of it and put it in a plastic bag, it will last 3 weeks. It won’t go brown, it won’t go off, nothing will happen to it. The makers of NatureSeal go, “Oh, it’s just a bunch of, you know, citrus and vitamins and minerals.” Now, finding the ingredients wasn’t easy. I had to go to the [Paint 00:15:02] office in order to find exactly what they’re putting in NatureSeal.
They make up these stories, the food industry are no smarter. They just go, “Aah! 3 weeks and my apples are going to survive.” We just put it in packaging, they don’t put it on lettuce so you wonder why you’re lettuce is lasting forever, [inaudible 00:15:20] NatureSeal on it. They don’t have to put it on the ingredient list. For me, it’s about you have to be a savvy consumer these days and I’m more into the 1 ingredient pantry.
I have … All my pantry is just nuts and seeds and grains. I’m not against grains. In actual fact, I’m doing a documentary called What’s With Weight? What’s happening to it, why are we having problems with it? My 1 ingredient pantry is just herbs and spices and nuts and seeds and cacao and salts and sugars. I’m not against sugar. We needed sugar to survive, we needed carbohydrates to [00:16:00] survive, but if I have somebody in an emergency situation and nutritionally, I have to make drastic changes there.
Let’s just talk about the common man or woman out there that just wants to improve their health. Number 1, become educated, know what they’re doing to your food. Number 2, clean out your pantry and bit by bit, swap different ingredients for high quality ones. In my industry, in my foods, I call them faucet foods. They are the foods that are organic, sustainable, ethical and you can trust me because if it’s not in my pantry, it’s not on my warehouse and I’m pointing out there because my warehouse is out there.
I don’t put a food in because I know it’s going to make money. I put a food in because I want it in my pantry and I want the best and I learn. When I go looking for a food, sometimes it takes me years to find a food. When I go looking, I go like, “Let’s take that.” This is one that we’ve just brought into our foods. Do you know that they pollinate dates with the pollen, so they have to get the pollen, but they add wheat to it to distribute it over the trees so that they pollinate; so that they don’t have to hand pollinate each one. They just do a blanket spray of wheat and pollen.
A lot of celiacs can’t eat dates these days because of what’s happening. This is where we start to learn, when we go looking for food. Another one we bought out recently, we bought out camu camu a couple of years ago. The people that we were buying the camu camu on said, “Well, why don’t you put it in a capsule and we’ll send you the ingredients of the capsule?” They send me the ingredients of the capsule which they said is a gelatin capsule and I read the ingredients and I went, “You’re serious? There’s probably glycol in here?”
It’s like, “Probably glycol has been taken out of medications in the USA because it causes liver and kidney and kidney damage [00:18:00] and you’re putting a perfectly beautiful food into that?” These are the things that I learn and every food that I have purchased to go into my kitchen, to then give to my family and friends and then to a community, is thoroughly investigated. If it doesn’t match up to what I want, then it doesn’t go into our food supply.
Guy Lawrence: It’s so scary. You have to take quick responsibility in your hands and move forward and it’s time consuming, that’s the thing. It made me think about the posts we put up, Stu, last night on Facebook. We put a photograph up and it’s the new health star ratings, I think from the government.
Cyndi O’Meara: Oh, do you want to just shoot me now?
Guy Lawrence: No. We put a photo of them. We had the organic coconut oil at .5 out of 5 and the Up and Go Breakfast, Liquid Breakfast was 4.5 out of 5. It was good to see everyone was just absolutely disgusted last night, so people are savvy too. Again, I guess it’s our audience listening that are already onto it. There are people out there sadly, they’re …
Stuart Cooke: I think really one of the take-home messages must be that … And we always talk about eat like our grandparents used to eat. It’s simple whole food ingredients because they are going to be, you would think, less altered and less processed and products. I think as a general step, if you can move towards the whole food items and eat less processed food, then you’ve got to be on the right track.
Again, I was interested Cyndi, especially your changing habits, we are by our very nature, creatures of habit. We’re very habitual and how can we change our habits when we’re used to getting up in the morning, spending 2 minutes pouring in our cereal at breakfast time. Because we know that even … People out there are still smoking. They know what cigarettes do to our health but it’s so engrained in their daily habits [00:20:00] that they can’t get out of it.
A lot of our friends know the right thing to do but they’re creatures of habits and they just don’t … So how can we tackle the habitual side of things?
Cyndi O’Meara: We’re not going to change everybody, that’s what I’ve learnt but you can change the people who are willing to make a change. People that are willing to make the change are people in crisis. That will be number 1. They’re in such a crisis that if they don’t make a change, then they’re not going to be able to get up in the morning to even pour their breakfast cereal. The other people that make the change, and these are the ones that I love, I love this group of people out there, and they’re mothers who have sick children.
Because of the choices that they have made perhaps or the choices that the food industry have made for them or what our governments are making for us as far as the amount of chemicals that are being sprayed on our sports fields, on our playgrounds. Mothers will move mountains to save their children. I see it over and over again and you know what? They’re the ones that I look out and I go, “I can help you,” but if I have somebody who’s smoking and doesn’t want to give up smoking, I just go, “Well, there’s nothing I can do for you.”
Let me give you a really good example. I swim with a very intelligent man. He’s a emergency care medical doctor. He has an autoimmune disease and when I met him a year ago, I said to him, “You know there’s a lot we can do with nutrition and autoimmunity now.” Now, he’s in crisis by the way guys, he’s not … He’s about to have another hip replacement, it’s not good what’s happening but he’s an intelligent, amazing man.
I gave him Terry Wahls book, The Wahls Protocol because I think, “Medical doctor, he’ll relate,” so he reads it and I said, “What are you thinking?” He’s at page 70 at this point and he goes, “Oh, it’s not a priority Cyndi. [00:22:00] I haven’t finished the whole book.” Okay, so I go, “Oh okay, okay, cool, cool, cool.” Then he gets to about 140, page 140 and I say to him, “So what are you thinking,” and he goes, “I’m not giving up ice cream.”
Guy Lawrence: Wow. Yeah, right.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Cyndi O’Meara: Then I spoke to him the other day and I said to him, “You know, and I noticed you’re limping.” He goes, “Yeah, bad engineering.”
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, it’s very, very tricky and you … [crosstalk 00:22:27] trigger foods and they just don’t want to … They don’t want to let them go and often times, it’s the trigger foods that are really holding people back.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: His pain isn’t great enough yet, that’s the problem.
Cyndi O’Meara: I don’t know how it’s not great enough. I text him last night because we swim together and we were going to do ins and outs this morning at 6am. I text him, I said, “Are we doing ins and outs? You’re bringing Bonny?” Bonny is our buoy that we swim out to and he went, “Oh, my hip was really bad.” Now for him to miss swimming and to miss coffee with our group of friends, it’s not something that he likes to do.
I don’t know what else I can say to him. He’s not somebody I’m going to change I don’t think so I have to work on the people that want to change. They will change their habits. You don’t have to hit them over the head. They’re going, “What’s my next step? What do I need to do next?” For the people who are listening out there that are not in crisis or are not a mom, then it’s a step by step process.
Educate yourself on what breakfast cereals are doing to your body, educate yourself on how they make breakfast cereals and the way of excreting it is no longer the way Kellogg’s did it back in the 20s and 30s. It’s very different. They had vitamins and minerals. One, you can pull out with a magnet called iron. I’m not sure you’re meant to do that with the food that we eat but I’ve actually tried that with carrot and green beans and things like that, but I can’t seem to be able to get it out with a magnet but I can with the breakfast cereal.
They make the B1 from acetone. Who [00:24:00] makes vitamin B1 from acetone? You just have to become educated. You have to understand what they’re doing and we think because it’s fortified, it’s a good thing. To me, if I see anything fortified, I do not touch it because I don’t know how they’ve made the supplement or the fortification. Naan bread is folic acid and iodine, must be fortified with those 2.
Well folic acid, your body has to convert to folate. It’s synthetically made and iodine is mined out of a mine out of Japan, comes to Australia in these big barrels and on it, says, “Warning, dangerous to your eyes, to your skin, to this.” Yes, it’s in great amounts but-
Guy Lawrence: Could just explain what fortified is and why they do it as well just for any listeners that might not be familiar?
Cyndi O’Meara: Okay, so back in the 1930s, 1940s after the depression and the war, they recognized that there was some mineral deficiencies and vitamin deficiencies, so with pellagra and beriberi and diseases like this. They thought if they added that to the flour, then they could help, so it was for diseases. Now, I just think it’s something that we’ve always done so let’s continue to do it. We’re not using probably the vitamins that we used back in the 20s and 30s and 40s.
We’re using something that chemistry has figured out how to replicate nature, so they think. They fortify it with vitamins, with minerals, mainly just vitamins and minerals are fortified [inaudible 00:25:37]. Then they think that the population is eating breakfast cereals or drinking milk so they might fortify it with vitamin D but where is that vitamin D coming from?
It’s something that we’ve been doing for a long time but it was first for actual diseases. Now, it’s just, “Well, we’ll just throw it in because it’s no longer in the food.” There’s nothing in white flour anymore. It’s completely [00:26:00] gone and it’s a destitute food and so they go, “Oh, well put nice in and iodine in, [inaudible 00:26:07] and thiamine and we’ll throw some iron in there,” and so they throw everything out then they go, “Oh, we’ll just replace it now.”
Stuart Cooke: A marketer’s dream as well of course because you’ve got these beautiful slogans on the front of the packets that tell you how helpful these products are and we’re drawn to this kind of stuff.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah, and there’s a whole aisle dedicated to the stuff.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Cyndi O’Meara: Seriously? Who eats that stuff? Really?
Stuart Cooke: You see these foods now slowly moving away from the cereal aisles into the … What used to be very small health food aisles which very few people used to ponder. Now of course, they’re infiltrating.
Cyndi O’Meara: Oh. You’re going to love this, so I went to the health food aisle just recently and I took a photo of one food in there and it was the gluten free food. Let me just see, so I’ve got my phone so I’m just going to see if I can get it. Okay, so here we go. This is the original Freelicious Cracker. Okay, so it’s made up of maize starch, rice flour, organic palm oil thickener (1422). I think that comes from wheat actually, so it’s gluten free anyway, egg white not egg, and you know why?
Because they take the yolk out for other things, I don’t want to spoil that with egg yolk, it’s too expensive. Pregelatinized rice flour, emulsifier (lecithin from sunflower), sugar, salt, thickener (guar gum), raising agents (sodium bicarbonate, ammonium, hydrogen bicarbonate), dextrose, natural flavor, rosemary extract which we know is BHA and BHT. I find it hysterical, I really do. I’m just going through them. Here’s another one.
This is in the health food aisle. [00:28:00] This one is … I don’t even know what this one was. Oh, this is … It’s a cookie, so gluten free flour, tapioca starch, starch, it’s not even tapioca. In my new Changing Habits, Changing Lives, I talk about starch and how they make it, rice flour, potato starch, it’s not potato flour, it’s potato starch, modified tapioca starch, dextrose, thickeners (466464), emulsifier (471), vegetable gums … Do you want me to keep going? It’s just goes line after line.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Cyndi O’Meara: Natural color, flavor, preservative … This is in the health food aisle and there’s another flavor and then there’s another flavor. I mean we’re duped.
Stuart Cooke: It’s a marketers dream because essentially, it’s just a problem. How can we make this Frankenfood look so beautifully healthy? Of course they’ve got a team of people, “Well, that’s easy. Leave it to us.” I’ve been a graphic designer for 25 years and if I really wanted to, I could do that. I could come up with the slogans and the logos and the beautiful colors that depict the farmer carrying the basket and it’s all they think about I guess.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, that’s all they care about.
Stuart Cooke: It’s just a joke.
Cyndi O’Meara: There’s an old movie and my dad used to tell me about it. He’s a really, very wise 87 year old. Very healthy, takes the occasional medication so he’s not on [inaudible 00:29:25], lives by himself, still adjusts as a character, he’s amazing. He said to me, “There was an old movie out called The Piano Man and it was about a man who comes into town that creates a problem and then he has the solution to the problem.” What I find is that we are creating problems all the time and then finding the solution.
Do we really have the problem in the first place? The first problem they had was salt, it causes hypertension. Salt was taken out of everything, everything was low salt. Second thing was fat’s a problem. Was it really a problem? Not really but anyway, fat was a problem, everything went low [00:30:00] fat. Then we found trans fats and then now the industry is saying, “Oh, trans fats are bad,” makes me laugh.
Since 1978, we’ve known trans fats were bad but it was only 2007 when the Heart Foundation went, “Ooh, trans fats are a problem guys. We’d better stop … We’d better stop advocating it.” Then fats became a problem, everything went low fat. They found a solution to the problem we really never had and now sugar and carbohydrates are a problem.
Stuart Cooke: That’s right.
Cyndi O’Meara: The ketogenic diet was a diet that we had throughout evolution in order to survive a bad summer or a bad growing season where there was no sugar available and only lean meats because the cows didn’t have anything to eat. They were really skinny and they had lean meats. Sugar was there to tell the human body that it’s a great season, we can have babies.
All the tests on ketogenic diets are done on men, not women. Women go into infertility, intimate infertility, not permanent but intimate infertility in the ketogenic diet because that was the way nature intended us to survive as human beings. Who needs a pregnant woman when there’s no food available in the winter? She would die, she would not survive and neither would the baby.
I don’t have a problem with ketogenic diet but people have to realize that the ketogenic diet is actually a survival diet for evolution. It wasn’t something that we lived on for years and years. We lived on it periodically in order to survive so that we could use ketones, not sugar because sugar wasn’t available, but we could use those ketones. If sugar never came, then we would just live on those ketones although we would be fat burners, not sugar burners and as a result, we [00:32:00] wouldn’t lay down fat.
As a result, lactone wouldn’t be increased in our body which is the master hormone to say, “Hey, let’s have some fun. We can have a baby.” The ketogenic diet is brilliant for epilepsy, for Alzheimer’s, for … We’ve realized the importance of the ketogenic diet for certain populations.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, for when they’re in crisis a lot of time.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: It’s interesting as well because people are … We’re very much now in the environment where people are crashing themselves with exercise and they’re pulling the carbohydrates out of their diet and you are seeing hormonal issues, especially with females as well where they’re skipping periods and just things are crashing for them. It’s a very good point.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah. It’s natural, it’s what the body has to do. It doesn’t know it’s living in 2015. It could be living in BC, long BC because genetically … Like the Paleo all talk about this, they all go, “Well, we haven’t adapted in 40,000 years you know? We adapted 1.5 million years ago and we haven’t adapted in 40,000 years.” Genetically, we don’t have to adapt. What has to adapt is our microbiome.
It can adapt every day to your different food choices if you don’t destroy it. Yeah, I just find that … Let’s just get back to normal eating. Let’s just get back to the way we used to eat. Just don’t think that there’s a panaceum like a macro-nutrient out there such as protein, fats or sugar that is your issue. What your issue is is that we’re in a state right now where our children are getting sicker, even adults are getting sicker.
I don’t know, and I’ve interviewed 14 people [00:34:00] about this and the question was, “Have we gone past the point of no return? Is our microbiome so destroyed that we have no hope of getting past this where our kids can’t even drink mother’s milk? Are we at that point?” Half of them said, “No, I don’t think so Cyndi. We have a resilience, we can change.” The other half were very, very like, “Not sure, not sure if we can get out of this.”
This all started in the 1930s when arsenic was starting to be sprayed on the cornfields in US, let’s say Iowa, USA. That was to destroy a grasshopper plague that was decimating the corn and the wheat in the Midwest. The use of chemicals after World War 2 such as DDT, were then sprayed on the corn fields and the wheat fields. Whenever, I think it was Jane Goodall, said, “Whoever thought that it was okay to grow food with poison?”
My grandmother’s from the cornfields of Iowa and I look at … She lived into her 90s, so my mother was born in 1937 when they were starting to spray arsenic. My sister was born when they were still spraying DDT in the 50s and both my mother and my sister have passed away. My sister got an autoimmune disease at 25, my mom got lung cancer, and never smoked a day in her life, in her 60s.
I look at the destruction of the microbiome through each successive generation. I was fortunate that I was born in Australia and my father was a New Zealander and my brother was born in Australia. The 3 of us seems to have really done well as opposed to what was happening back there. I think [00:36:00] what we could have done 30 years ago when I first started nutrition was just get people off a junk food diet on a real food diet, worked. These days, it’s not working as well and in the last 5 years, I’ve just noticed a huge crisis. I think-
Guy Lawrence: It’s like we’ve gone and messed up almost every aspect there is to be messed up and it’s gotten us in a whole world of trouble and yeah, is the task can we turn it around and actually, going forward for the next generation? I mean I still think the most proactive thing you can do is vote with the money you spend on your food every week and your shopping pool and actually start supporting the small businesses, the local farmers and actually stop buying anything that’s produced on a mass scale too. I don’t know how else.
Stuart Cooke: That’s very tricky because we don’t have the money to shop organic, especially those with large families as well. We have to try and do the best we can so it’s a really delicate balance.
Cyndi O’Meara: Look at this, and it’s about priority also. It is about priority, so I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie Homegrown.
Stuart Cooke: Yes.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah, it’s brilliant. It’s about this guy who lives in LA and he has basically grown … His whole land is just growing food and he’s got goats and chickens and everything in there and this is the way we used to do it. My grandfather had a garden. My grandfather had 11 children. From his garden, he fed those 11 children in Iowa, USA. My grandmother would get all the produce in the summer.
It grew like mad, it was humid, got all the produce and she would ferment or she would can or bottle [inaudible 00:37:44] and because they had a basement, everything went to the basement. In the winter, when the snow was on the ground and the ground was frozen, they lived off that so [crosstalk 00:37:54]-
Stuart Cooke: Totally, and I remember my grandparents had a garden or an allotment estate.
Guy Lawrence: Allotment, yeah [00:38:00].
Stuart Cooke: My parents, we had potatoes and beans and berries, blackberries down at the bottom of the garden and grew Braeburn apples and almost everyone had a hot house for the tomatoes as well because it gets cold in England. Yeah, that’s where we come from and now of course, it would be crazy. Grow my own vegetables? I could just purchase them.
Cyndi O’Meara: Well, you saw Michelle Bridges, she thinks we’re all freaks.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Cyndi O’Meara: You know, seriously? That’s the attitude that we’re up against when people like us that are talking this way. There’s a town in England that’s an edible town. Have you heard of it?
Guy Lawrence: No.
Stuart Cooke: No, I haven’t.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah. It’s called the edible town and about 8 years ago, this woman, Pam Warhurst, just went … Didn’t have a committee, didn’t care about what the council thought, we just started to plant trees that would produce food. Now, it’s very famous and it’s called the edible town and you can watch it on the TED video, ted.com and just look up edible town, Pam Warhurst and watch it. It’s just … I get goose bumps, just thinking … Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, and it’s just all doable as well. That’s the thing. we have the conditions to grow our own food and it doesn’t have to be costly, it just has to grab a little bit of our time and we can do it. I’ve got a question for you. Now, you’re almost the ultimate food detective and I heard a great phrase and I think it came from Sarah Wilson where, “We can’t unlearn what we’ve learned.”
You know all of this stuff and you’re a super sleuth where ingredients are concerned. Do you have any nutritional no-nos, so foods that you simply will not consume if you’re out and about and you’re at dinner parties or barbecues or in a restaurant? What foods would you avoid at all costs?
Cyndi O’Meara: How much time do we have? [00:40:00]
Stuart Cooke: About 20 seconds.
Cyndi O’Meara: I think that answers your question. I have a lot of no-nos, a lot and I like going to restaurants that I know the chefs will feed me single ingredient foods and I do travel by the way. Then when I travel, I look up … Pete Evans taught me this. He says, “Don’t look for the best restaurant, look for the philosophy of the chef,” and so that’s what I do. If I’m going to go somewhere and I don’t know a restaurant or something like that, I’ll … Look, people hate me.
I woke into a restaurant and I’ll ask questions and I’ll walk out if it’s not what I want. Yeah, Pete taught me that. Pete just said, “Find the philosophy of the chef and if they are a chef that is not a gastro-” what do they call it? Gastron … Whatever, the ones that use chemicals, those ones which you can pay $1,000 a head to go to these restaurants, I’ve seen them. I’m really [inaudible 00:41:02] figured that one, I’ll just go to a place down the road that just does meat and veggie for me.
I have a lot of non-negotiables and they’re all basically additives, preservatives, flavorings, margarines, hydro generated vegetable oil, interesterified fats, [inaudible 00:41:19] fats, homogenized milk, some pasteurized milks, skim trim, [red shape 00:41:23]. Would you like me to go on with fine foods?
Stuart Cooke: I think we’ll stop you there, that’s all.
Guy Lawrence: The scary thing is is that I know people mostly dieters are consuming them foods.
Cyndi O’Meara: I don’t know what’s better.
Guy Lawrence: You know?
Cyndi O’Meara: I want to live the best life I can. I want to be energetic. When my grandchildren come, I want to be on the floor with them. That-
Stuart Cooke: No, that’s exactly right. Yeah, and it’s about being the best version of yourself. We’ve got time on the planet, let’s try and make the most of it.
Guy Lawrence: 100% and it’s nice waking up in the morning feeling [00:42:00] good and ready to bring on the day. Yeah, I constantly think about it because I made the changes.
Cyndi O’Meara: I can hardly wait [inaudible 00:42:08].
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, I probably-
Cyndi O’Meara: I can hardly wait [inaudible 00:42:09].
Cyndi O’Meara: I can hardly wait to get up in the morning. It’s just like … I’m going, “Let me go to bed so I can get up in the morning,” because then I get to go for my swim and I get to enjoy the sunrise or … And people don’t live like that. They can’t get up out of bed, they’re tired, they drag themselves around. It’s so sad and most people have just got these blinkers on and they probably think, “Oh my God! She must live such a boring life, you know? She has these non-negotiables. Oh, no. I don’t know, far from it.”
Guy Lawrence: They’re missing out. With all that in mind, I can bring in another aspect that we haven’t spoken about yet and be interested to get your views on it is emotional stress and how much that affects our general health. What’s your take on that because-?
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah, food’s just part of it. I love that and my dad is the ultimate chiropractor, a chiropractor who will fix everything. That’s his belief whereas my [inaudible 00:43:14] is that we have to look back to our cultures and traditions. We have to look at what our evolutionary body needs. Most people are in the sympathetic dominance. They are constantly in fight or flight.
They never have a downtime. They’re [melons 00:43:33] are always going, they’re emotional bankrupt and I think when you are aware of this and you’re aware of certain things that are happening in your body and you know you’re in sympathetic dominance, you need to back off. Many people are hunched over, so they’re hunched over ready to fight or flee. They’re hunched all the time on our computers. I guess it’s really important [00:44:00] to sit up.
We have constant life sources, so there was a time when we had [inaudible 00:44:07], draw away all your life sources that no computers or phones or anything like that. Have some downtime. Who needs a TV these days? Really, TV is boring. I think that there were a lot of other things that were involved in sympathetic dominance and if we can calm all of that down and know how to calm it down and not be in that fight or flight, and doing things for our evolutionary bodies such as sleep and movement and relationships and connections and face to face.
Here we are, I know I’m seeing you on a screen but it’s so much nicer to be around somebody and that’s really important, that face connection because that’s how we lived as hunter gatherers and agriculturists. I actually look at the hunter gatherer, the agriculturalist, the pastoralist, the herder and I look at the life that they lived and we are so lucky that we can glimpse into these people that are still living traditional lives such the Kyrgyz of Pamir, up on the Afghanistan belt, they live at 14,000 feet.
The Hadzas, the Himbas, the Hunzas, the Dani of Papua New Guinea, there are people that are living this way and we can get a glimpse into how they have survived, so emotion is a big part of it. We look at our whole life as opposed to … And we live vitalistically as opposed to mechanistically where we just look at diet or we just look at movement or we just look at sleep patterns so yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah
Guy Lawrence: What-
Stuart Cooke: You mentioned holistically as well, so we’ve spoken about diet and we’ve spoken about stress, [00:46:00] so movement. What do you do? What do you do for exercise?
Cyndi O’Meara: I’m not your go-out-and-run-100-miles. It just bores me to tears. I have a girlfriend who is the 24 hour marathon champion, and don’t’ get that at all, but then she doesn’t get what I do and I love to swim. I ocean swim so-
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, that’s us too.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah, I just get into the ocean every day. I come down to Sydney and I swim with the bold and the beautiful. I’ll go down and I’ll swim the crew in Tokeh if I’m down there. Up here, I swim at the Mooloolaba Beach Bums, so swimming is really important. I have a desk, I’m sitting at the moment, I have a desk that rises so I can stand and work. My belief is that we need to be on the move all the time.
We did that as hunter gatherers, agriculturalists and herders, so to get up and down on your desk, to stand up on your desk, get a treadmill. I was listening to Ben Greenfield recently, I don’t know if you follow Ben Greenfield?
Guy Lawrence: [crosstalk 00:47:08] Yeah, I’m aware of Ben.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah, so Ben was talking about the Spartan Race and how he trains for the Spartan Race. He’s whole thing is stay moving all day long and then he [inaudible 00:47:20] 30 min intensive. He says that’s how he trains for the Spartan Race which worse than the Iron Man Race and I went, “You know, I’m a person that does that.” I do intensive sometime and then I’ll just move most of the day.
I find that I’m probably fitter than most 30 year olds without having to try. I can run 5k without even training for a 5k race. I’ll just go run it and I think we believe that exercise is something that we should take our time out to do but we don’t think it’s okay to take time out for hunting for foods, gathering [00:48:00] our foods, cooking our foods. Michelle Bridges did it perfectly on that weekend that she did the worst for a part of her life.
She believes that exercise is something that we have to take time out to do, but we can just throw a plastic container full of yeast extract and other things in the microwave, press the button and we’re all cool. To me, that’s the biggest myth of … It’s just [biggest 00:48:33]
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: No, and it is about … There’s a disconnect between how we used to be as kids and how we’re conditioned now because I’ve got 3 young girls and I was watching them-
Cyndi O’Meara: Lucky you.
Stuart Cooke: We’ve got a busy household. These girls, they don’t stop, like they don’t stop. I was innately aware the other day. I was thinking, “You 3 really don’t stop,” and they’re wandering up and down doing hand stands, they’re playing on the floor, they’re lying down. Yesterday, we went to Bronte Park and they said, “Dad, come and take us to the park and come and play with us.”
I thought, “Well, I’m going to do everything that you do for an hour,” so before we hopped in the pool for a swim, I just said, “Right, what should we do.” We were on the monkey bars, we were climbing, we were on the roundabouts, we were racing up and down and today, I feel like I have been worked. It’s just one of those things. We didn’t lift any weights, it wasn’t … No treadmill, it wasn’t exercise, it was just play and it is that deconditioning where we used to just run and be free.
Now, we’re kind of … Like you said, we’re hunched and we’re sitting and we’re immobile but we have to make time for our treadmill session. It’s just let’s get back to where we were and just remember that we can move and we can … We don’t have to be sore if we lay on the ground [00:50:00] because we’re just deconditioned to it. It’s just a mindset I think, isn’t it? [crosstalk 00:50:06]
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah, and I think it’s awareness because we were not doing this that long ago. It’s only probably in the last 4 decades that we have completely gone off our evolutionary path and most people don’t even realize it’s happened. They think it’s okay to sit in front of the television for 4 hours. They think that you get in your car and you drive to the local store or that you shouldn’t go barefoot because you get parasites.
I’m barefoot until I come to work. I’m barefoot to the beach, coming back from the beach, to the coffee shop. Like all the guys go, “We are all [inaudible 00:50:41] for [inaudible 00:50:42]. We are feeling so sorry for you.” I just think we’ve lost that … I think we have to become aware, become educated and start to play again. I bought a farm and I went up to the farm this weekend to work because I had to finish the 5 hour edit on my documentary.
I’m trying to get it down to an hour and a half. I said to everyone, “I’m going to the farm to work.” “Oh, we’re coming to,” got no work done, no work done whatsoever because it was storm and it was raining. We wanted to go down the bottom of the farm and see the waterfalls. We’re trekking around the farm and there’s leaches everywhere but I noticed my-
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, it’s just fun.
Cyndi O’Meara: It’s just fun. I noticed my son and his girlfriend just throwing each other around the place and I went, “Girls and boys don’t do that anymore.” I noticed that beautiful play that they were doing and tickling each other and I don’t know. I don’t see that anymore and it’s really cool to get them back into nature, into the mud and into the playground at Bronte Park, you know?
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. I’m aware of the time but I will add-
Cyndi O’Meara: Sorry Guy.
Guy Lawrence: No, that’s cool [00:52:00]. It’s awesome because I was listening to your podcast and how you homeschooled your kids and you all went round Australia in a camper van, is that true?
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah, we did.
Guy Lawrence: That’s just awesome. I got so much inspiration from that. I’m like, “That’s something I’d love to do,” yeah.
Cyndi O’Meara: It was the best years because we homeschooled the children. I didn’t have to get up pluck their hair, put their school uniform on, make sure they had their lunch. They would get up at 6 in the morning and work for 3 hours knowing at 9:00, we could play. They would get up and do it themselves. These were 6 year olds, 9 years olds and 11 year olds, that’s how old they were.
We’re about to leave, the 5 of us and the girlfriends now and the … Your old [inaudible 00:52:44], we’re about to leave for a 4 week skiing vacation just because we go, “Let’s go play. Let’s go and play.” We ice skate, we ski, we trek, we do snow angels, we do road trips. People just don’t do holidays like that. They go to the islands and they sit in the sun. I couldn’t think of anything … Although hiking in the sun … But just, yeah.
I know I could go on and on but I’m not happy that I have inspired some people to go, “Hey, maybe I’m not aware of my body and what’s happening and what foods I should be eating and that I should ground by going barefoot.” I’m not the hippy, I was … You think you’re the hippy but look at me. I dress well.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, exactly, straight from Nimbin.
Cyndi O’Meara: You think?
Stuart Cooke: Like you said, it’s holistic so in order to be able to do all these wonderful things in play, you have to have the energy for that and in order to get the energy for that, you really do have to eat the foods that provide you the energy and you have to get the sleep that, again, affords your body to rest and recuperate to give you the energy to do all these wonderful things. It’s holistic so yeah, absolutely. [00:54:00]
Guy Lawrence: Brilliant. It’s a brilliant message Cyndi, absolutely.
Cyndi O’Meara: Thank you.
Guy Lawrence: Now, we’ve got 2 wrap up questions we ask everyone on the podcast so I thought I’d get into them. The first one is could you tell us what you ate yesterday just to give people an idea or even this morning for breakfast if you’ve had breakfast?
Cyndi O’Meara: Okay. Let me do yesterday’s breakfast because everybody was at the farm. I cooked up, so I laid down lettuce, avocado, tomato, I had made up some pesto and I had just made a tomato chutney, so I laid that out on a plate. Then I fried up some sage, so I had some fresh sage so I fried that up in butter, put that on the plate then I had some leftover pumpkin from the night before so I put some pumpkin. I heated it up and put that on the plate and then I scrambled up some egg with some parsley and put that on the plate.
That was breakfast and then I went to a friend’s place who lives off the grid and is very alternate. I had a late breakfast and for dinner, I had … He made a paella. He’s a medical doctor, a GP, integrative medical doctor. He’s very Keto and Paleo but he made me a paella with rice. I’m like, “Huh, that’s amazing,” and that was with all sorts of sea foods. That was my meal yesterday and I’m not about how much I can eat.
I’m about how little I can eat and still feel amazing. I think to say I need to increase my metabolism so I can eat more, I just think we’re at the wrong end. I would rather eat less and live longer eating more than eating more in a day. I look at sometimes what I eat in a day and it might be just [tart eggs 00:55:48]. I might just feel like tart egg.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, you’re just tuned in and listen to your body and if you’re hungry, you eat and if you’re not, you don’t.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic. The last question, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? [00:56:00]
Cyndi O’Meara: When I was 19, I was working for my dad in Bendigo, Victoria as a chiropractic assistant. This lady from Colorado came to me. She was a chiropractor’s wife, oh, and I think she was a chiropractor as well. They were coming and they were … She was … I don’t know where I was but I remember her saying this to me, “You’re a smart girl. What are you doing in a town like this doing nothing with your life?”
She went back to Colorado, showed me where I could ski and the university I needed to go to which was in Boulder and she changed my life. I don’t know where I would be if I didn’t have her make that comment to me. That was a defining moment in my life, very … Yeah. I’m still in touch with her, Katie Felicia was her name and she works in Colorado Springs and I saw her a couple of years ago. Yeah, that was probably it.
Stuart Cooke: Fantastic.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic, yeah. Somebody give you a little budge and it all changes.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: Awesome, and for anyone listening to this, where would be the best place to go to get more of you Cyndi?
Cyndi O’Meara: Just changing habits dot com dot au is my website and there’s everything in there, how you get on Instagram and how you get on Facebook, how you get on Twitter feeds, how to get to the education, what foods I have, my podcasts because we do podcasts. We’ve been going 2½ years now called Up For a Chat. Yeah, it’s all there so [crosstalk 00:57:40].
Guy Lawrence: Perfect. We’ll lead to it all anyway. You mentioned a documentary. When will that be out?
Cyndi O’Meara: That will be out late March next year, so we’ve done all the filming for it. We’re not just in the editing stages and the storytelling and the story, I think it will get a lot of people thinking really about what they’re doing. That’s my [00:58:00] aim, so it’s called What’s With Weight? We have all have a website called What’s With Weight but that’s not up and running yet. That will be the end of March. Get on my feeds and I will tell you what’s happening.
Guy Lawrence: Keep everyone posted, yeah.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah. I’ll keep everyone posted including you guys.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic. Yeah, let us know.
Stuart Cooke: Please do.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: For sure. If we can help, we will absolutely.
Cyndi O’Meara: Thank you, appreciate it.
Guy Lawrence: Well, that’s it. Thank you very much for coming on the show Cyndi. That was awesome.
Cyndi O’Meara: Thank you.
Guy Lawrence: Really appreciate it.
Stuart Cooke: Yap. Take care and we hope to hook up with you in person outside of the cyber world very soon.
Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.
They say you learn something new everyday, well we certainly did with todays guest! If you or anyone you know are struggling with symptoms like IBS, food allergies and intolerances, acid reflux, migraines, hives, insomnia, chronic fatigue (the list goes on!)… then looking into and understanding histamine intolerance is well worth your time.
Ex-CNN/BBC journalist shares with us how she heals her chronic inflammatory condition.
We have another awesome guest for you in store today and her name is Yasmina Ykelenstam. She’s an ex-journalist with over 10 years research and international news production experience for people such as 60 Minutes, CNN and the BBC, so she knows how important it is to get her facts straight!
In 2008, after 20 years of being misdiagnosed with everything under the sun, she was forced to quit a career of a lifetime after seeing over 68 doctors. In 2010 she was finally diagnosed with histamine intolerance. Yasmina then embarks on a mission to get to the bottom of it all with the help of nutrition, lifestyle, meditation and a different approach to exercise… Prepare to be inspired!
Full Interview: Histamine, Food Allergies, Skin Care & Meditation
In This Episode:
From journalist to health advocate; her story
What is histamine & the role it plays
How to test for histamine intolerance [07:28]
Why fermented foods were not the best choice
The ‘Natures Cosmetics’ she uses for her skin
Why meditation has played a big part in her recovery
Guy:Hi this is Guy Lawrence of 180 Nutrition and welcome to today’s health session. We have another awesome guest for you in store today and her name is Yasmina Ykelenstam. She’s an ex-journalist with over 10 years research and international news production experience for people such as 60 Minutes, CNN and the BBC so she knows how important it is to get her facts straight which is a big one and she has an amazing story to share with us today.
In a nutshell, in 2008, after 20 years of being misdiagnosed with everything under the sun, she was forced to quit a career of a lifetime after seeing over 68 doctors she reckons. In 2010 she was finally diagnosed with histamine intolerance. If you’re unsure what histamine is don’t worry about it, I think it’s actually really relevant for everyone and we do explain there in the podcast today and Yasmina’s explanation is going to be much better than mine so hold for to that.
She goes into that, how she’s radically changed her nutrition and lifestyle, her exercise approach and started including meditation as well, which I will add and we do discuss all awesome topics and how she’s pulled her life around and is a great example of what a bit of determination can do and change and now she’s out there spreading the word as a low histamine chef and doing an awesome job of it and we were just very privileged and proud to have her on the podcast today and she was a lot of fun, she was great, superly down to earth. Superly, could I say that word? Anyway I’ll stay with it. Top girl, great to have her and you will get a lot out of it to enjoy. Of course any feedback please send us back to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can go into our Facebook page, 180 Nutrition write on the wall. We generally get round to them all as [00:02:00] quick as possible.
This is the part where I’m going to ask for a review, I do it every episode and I probably will just leave it at that. If you enjoy the podcast leave us a review on iTunes and they really are appreciated. Anyway, let’s go over to Yasmina and the low histamine chef, enjoy. Okay, let’s go for it.
Hi this is Guy Lawrence, I’m joined with Stewart Cook, hi Stu.
Guy:Our fantastic guest today is Yasmina Ykelenstam. Did I pronounce that correct?
Guy:Ykelestam and I even practiced it before the show as well oh God, hopeless. Thank you so much for coming on the show today Yasmina. We’ve got some amazing topics to cover, but more importantly could you share your absolutely fascinating story with us as well and our listeners because it think it’s just fantastic.
Yasmina:I’ve been sick most of my life, on and off, with strange symptoms, allergy-like flues that weren’t flues, IBS, hives those kind of things. Then it really intensified when I was a journalist working in war zones in Iraq and Lebanon and eventually it got so bad that I had to quit my job and I had to find a career, a business that I could run from my bed basically which was I did some marketing and I used to pull on a shirt pretend I was sitting up in an office but really I’d be lying in my bed because I was so sick and nobody could tell me what it was.
Then finally I came across some woman in a … Not some woman, she’s a very good friend of mine, she’s also a blogger too and she told me it might be a histamine issue. I was in Bangkok at this point and I flew straight from Bangkok via New York, all the way to London and I got a diagnosis of something called histamine intolerance which I will get into in a minute and then it was I was then re-diagnosed with something called mast cell [00:04:00] activation. It’s not really clear, I seem to have both or maybe they are kind of the same thing but in any case it all worked out in the end and I’m feeling much better.
Guy:How long ago was that Yasmina?
Yasmina:The first was in 2010 and then the second diagnosis was in 2013.
Stu:There you go.
Stu:For everybody out there so for our listeners who are unfamiliar with histamine, now in my very limited knowledge I’m thinking it’s the kind of reactions that I used to get when I had high fever as a child, with stuffy, itchy, watery eyes and I just want to … Could you just touch on the role of histamine, what it is, what it does to the body?
Yasmina:That’s basically it. Histamine, we are used to hearing about anti-histamines, most people have histamine reactions. Histamine is an inflammatory molecule that lives in mast cells which are part of our white blood cell system. But it’s also found in foods. Histamine’s job is if there is some healing that needs to be done, the mast cells break open and histamine and other inflammatory mediators go to the site of the infection and begin the healing process. But as I said, it’s also found in foods, but also, histamine’s role is diverse in the body. As I said, it’s an important player in the healing process, it’s a neurotransmitter which affects serotonin and dopamine, it plays a role in our metabolism in weight gain and weight loss, it’s part of the digestive process and it also helps set the circadian rhythm so our wakefulness cycle and it’s now been shown to be involved in narcolepsy.
Guy:Wow. What would the symptoms be of histamine intolerance? Everything? [00:06:00].
Yasmina:Pretty much everything which is why it takes an average, I’m going to use mast cell activation as an example here but it takes up to a decade or rather an average of a decade for the average woman to be diagnosed with mast cell activation which is related to histamine intolerance. A decade because the symptoms are so incredibly diverse and they rotate, and they migrate from different parts of the body as different clusters of mast cells become activated and depending on diet, which part of the world you live in.
In any case, here are some common symptoms, there are literally dozens of symptoms. I had 55 symptoms that were directly attributable to histamine intolerance or mast cell activation. Here are a couple of them otherwise we’ll be here all night. There’s IBS, acid reflux, food intolerance-like issues, migraines, hives, insomnia, blurry vision, palpitations, chronic fatigue, intolerances to extremes in temperature, and inability to fly in planes because of the vibration and changes in pressure, food allergy-like symptoms and in the extreme, idiopathic anti-epileptic shock, idiopathic meaning we don’t know why.
Stu:Okay, well, given that very varied and almost crazy list of symptoms, how can we test for it?
Yasmina:With difficulty, the first step is finding someone who believes you and on my website, there’s a post which you can print off medical studies and take them to a doctor with you but I’ll tell you how to get there later. I’ll start will histamine intolerance. Histamine intolerance is generally diagnosed by a high blood plasma which is the overall [00:08:00] amount of histamine in your blood. A result of a low di-amine oxidase enzyme in the body. Di-amine oxidase is one of 2 histamine lowering enzymes, it’s also known as DAO. The other is HNMT but that right now can only be tested for in your genetic profile and some people say that the only definite way to diagnose this is by having a decrease in symptoms when going on a 4 week histamine elimination diet.
Some people, a lot of people walk away with a false negative from the testing for this because there’s many causes for histamine issues, you don’t have to have low DAO and your plasma histamine can be low one day and very high the next depending on your stress levels, what you’ve been eating, all that kind of stuff. Generally I would say, look for allergy-like symptoms with negative allergy tests and by these I mean IGE testing rather than IGG which is the food sensitivity testing.
As I said, plasma histamine fluctuates so it’s a little difficult. Also there is the issue that you can have a relatively normal histamine level but if your other inflammatory mediators are elevated, such as prostaglandin, interleukins, leukotrienes, that kind of thing, the other inflammatory mediators that are also housed in the mast cells along with the histamine, they can potentiate whatever level there is of histamine. If there is already some kind of inflammation going on, let’s say the histamine is normal, prostaglandins can enhance the effects of any histamine that’s being released in the body. Plus if you have excess leukotrines, that then enhances the prostaglandins and the histamines.
Just testing for plasma histamine is not very [00:10:00] reliable. For mast cell activation syndrome, it’s urinary test of n-methyl histamine. It’s a 24-hour test so you get an idea of the level throughout the day. It’s the prostaglandins, the other inflammatory mediators I just mediators that I just mentioned, and then something that’s also very important in my view is I’m finding more and more people are having a problem with something called oxalic acid which is found in plants. It’s a plant defense mechanism and it can cause major inflammation in people who are already dealing with some kind of inflammation.
It’s found in kale, almond, celery, zucchini, for example. What happens is when we get sick, we try and get really, really healthy and so a lot of what we do is we eat high histamine foods, by accident the avocados, the tomatoes, the pineapples, because we’re told all these are great for us and lots of nuts and all of that, they’re also high histamine, then we are adding lots of oxalic acid into the mix with the kale, the almonds, all of these wonderful plant foods. If there is an existing inflammation issue, these can temporarily aggravate the issue. I’m not saying don’t eat these foods, these are all the foods that I eat, but it’s good to be aware of it.
Guy:Wow. There’s a couple of things that spring into mind, the first thing is I’m going to have to listen to that again once I get off this conversation to make sure I fully understand what you just said. But on top of that, where would you start? Because you’re naming foods that people assume are healthy so unless you get the diagnosis correct, you could be continually triggering this inflammational problem off from the get-go without even realizing it.
Stu:Another point is well, I’m thinking Yasmina from a bloke’s perspective, my blokey way to fix that would be to run down to the chemist, get some Claritin, take a swig of [00:12:00] Claritin and see what happens. Does that fix it? That kind of … Well, maybe it’s a histamine problem if Claritin works.
Yasmina:You know, funnily enough that was my ex-boyfriend’s logic which was just take a few fistfuls of antihistamines and if it works it works. By this point I was already on a few antihistamines a day. He said, “Well how come that’s not working for you? This obviously isn’t it.” Poor thing was just used to hearing me talking about different theories about what was wrong with me and he had just had enough. He’s just like, this girl is just a hypochondriac. Which is why most of us get sent to psychiatrists actually because we’re told it’s psychosomatic.
The antihistamine issue, that’s a very good point, but there are actually 4 histamine receptors in the body. Claritin, for example, and most antihistamines work on the H1 receptor which to really oversimplify things means the respiratory system. You have a fever, you get [sniffly 00:13:00], you can’t really breathe, they give you an H1 blocker and that dries up your nose and it blocks that histamine receptor. But there’s the other 3 histamine receptors.
The H2 receptor is, again, oversimplifying, is to do with the digestive system. If you have a person who’s suffering mostly from digestive issues, they don’t really know and if they go to a doctor who doesn’t specialize in mast cell issues, they might be told, well take an H1 blocker and your symptoms should dissipate but the fact is if it’s digestive issues, an H1 blocker isn’t going to do anything.
Then there’s the added problem that a number of the doctors I’ve spoken with including Dr. Janice Joneja who is a pioneering immunology researcher who was one of the first people to research histamine issues, a concern with antihistamines is that throwing the histamine receptors out of whack can cause more histamine release into [00:14:00] the body basically. First of all you have the rebound effect which is when the antihistamine wears off, the body produces more histamine to make up for the shortfall. There’s lots of different reasons that that might not necessarily work.
That is also an issue with the histamine elimination diet by the way. A lot of people feel better after 4 weeks, myself included, and then they think, well, I’m just going to stay on it because I feel better. Then what happens is, you just keep losing foods, and losing foods, and losing foods and you’re even reacting to the low histamine foods and you’re like, oh my god, I’m just so histamine sensitive that I literally, I cannot be in a room with any histamine. Well no, the fact is your body keeps producing more and more … This is one of the theories that your body produces more histamine because you need the histamine for so many essential functions in the body and I keep trying to share with people that histamine is a good thing, it’s our friend, we just don’t want too much of it so we need to be careful, we need to find ways to balance the histamine.
Stu:If I was completely distraught and in a very similar place to where you were and said to you, just tell me one thing. What do I do right now? What one thing can I do right now? What would you advise?
Stu:Right, because we do have another question about mental stress as a trigger so [crosstalk 00:15:28].
Guy:I’ve got a question for you off the back of that. Why do you think you got if from the first place? From what?
Yasmina:There’s many different theories as to why people develop histamine issues. One is genetics, they are finding people with mast cell activation … I keep referring back to mast cell activation because we have research on that. unfortunately histamine intolerance is being treated by nutritionists and holistic practitioners … I’m not [00:16:00] saying that this is not a valid way of dealing with it, I’m saying that these people don’t normally release medical studies so we don’t have anything concrete to go by. I’m a big believer in holistic methods of treatment, just I would like the research to be able to talk to it about people. Oh no, I’ve just lost my train of thought. I did say I woke up very early today.
Guy:It’s very late over there in Paris too. That’s cool. Because I’m jumping around [crosstalk 00:16:33].
Stu:We’re on the topic of meditation and how you first thought that you came to … Where the histamine came from in the first place for you.
Yasmina:Right. We have the genetic aspect which is that in mast cell activation studies they are finding that people who have high inflammatory mediators, it runs in the families. This would apply to histamine intolerance as well, one would assume. Then there’s exposure to pesticides, to chemicals, there is viral infections. For example there’s a theory that you could have some sort of childhood virus and your immune system, once it’s dealt with, remains hyper activated. The immune system just stays in overdrive believing that there’s something to continually be dealing with but in some cases that could be true, some people have childhood viruses that remain in adult years but it remains dormant in the body unless there’s some sort of major health event in which case it can reactive.
Food poisoning has been said to potentially trigger it. Serve cases of food poisoning and serve illness of some kind, operations, that kind of thing, again the immune system remaining in overdrive [00:18:00] and trauma. I was listening to a very interesting talk by a doctor, I believe it was Milner and he was saying that the majority of his patients, they came to him and they say, I don’t know, I was so healthy, everything was going totally right, and then suddenly this traumatic event happened in my life, a car accident, a husband dying, a child dying, some sort of personal incident, and that is what triggers the mast cell or the histamine activation, which is not an uncommon thing.
There’s a great book called The Last Best cure in which the author who is a science journalist herself, she shares a questionnaire developed by a medical company in the States that can actually predict how likely you are to develop an immune system dysfunction based on the level of trauma you have had in your life. When I read the book, I just thought, okay, I grew up during a war and I went to war as an adult 3 wars. I haven’t really had really traumatic events like some people have. Some people have had really terrible, terrible things happening to them. But then I read the questionnaire, it was like, did you move once, more than once every 5 years before the age of 11? Did you ever hear your parents fighting in the next room? Did one of your pets die before you were the age of 8? I just thought, wow, I’m in trouble and I scored off the charts, off the charts.
Stu:To me when I heard what you did as a journalist, I thought, my god that’s stressful. For me personally, from an outsider looking in, I don’t know how stressful it was.
Yasmina:It was highly stressful and …
Guy:Just thinking about the sources of [00:20:00] histamine triggers as well. Outside of food, personal body care products, sun screens, all that kind of thing, would that fall into that category as well?
Yasmina:Yeah, absolutely. Bath products, even so called natural products like cocamidol betaine which I can never pronounce and the SLS which we now know are not so great for us, and various other products can cause immune system disruption that can affect the mast cells. When you consider that what we put on to our skin, I heard 60% of what we put onto our skin is absorbed into our bloodstream. That figure is contentious but it’s interesting to think. I had not really considered it before although it made complete sense.
But the good news is that when you consider that beauty products have lead in them which we thought was an urban myth but was then proven to be the case and there was a big expose on it in the New York Times, people had always told me, “No, no, no, it’s a myth, it’s a myth, it’s a myth.” It’s not a myth. When women are eating, I think it was 5 pounds of lipstick a year, it all adds up. The good news is that although there are things that can trigger us, there are other things that we can put on our skin that make us better such as moringa oil which is a natural anti anaphylactic and an antihistamine. There’s pomegranate seed oil which increases collagen production but is also an antihistamine. You have brands like Dr. Alkaitis, their product is so pure you can eat it. You can eat it. I have eaten their almond face cleanser just out of curiosity to say that I did.
There’s RMS beauty created by a woman who had multiple chemical sensitivity, she actually does the makeup for the Victoria Secret Angels, and she created this amazing range of beauty products with just the most incredible raw beauty products that treat the skin in an anti-inflammatory way and there is 100% pure which is … I don’t get anything for mentioning these things. I hope it’s okay, I just want to …
Guy:Go for it. Help people yeah.
Yasmina:Yes. 100% pure, it’s an American brand but you can buy it all over the world and their products are the cleanest I have found anywhere. Even though people write to me and they’re like, Oh so you use 100% pure but it has tomato in it. Well, when you compare a little bit of tomato or a little bit of strawberry in a face cream to phenol-exo-hetra-tetra-cyclne-adol, you know I’m just pulling from air. I know which my body triggers to more and it’s not a little bit of tomato or strawberry.
Guy:Yeah, right. To pull it back, with everything that can trigger histamine, which is incredible really when you think about it you’d be afraid to go out the door sometimes.
Yasmina:I used to be. I used to wear a mask. I was one of those weirdoes.
Guy:That’s amazing. With Steward then asking, what’s the one thing you can do right now and your answer was mediation, my question would be why probably because I sidetracked this conversation 10 minutes [crosstalk 00:23:28].
Yasmina:No worries. My life fell apart and interestingly I had my genetic profile read by somebody and I carefully chose someone because I didn’t want somebody who was sell me thousands of dollars of supplements. But I told him, look, I just want to know about the mast cell stuff, I don’t want to know about any other health issues and he says to me, “That’s very unusual, nobody’s ever told me that. You know, just ignore everything else, I just want to know about this.”
I said, “Well, you know, I, I am a high stress person, you know, [00:24:00] especially when it comes to my health and I really don’t want to know anything else because the likelihood is I’m, I’m just not going to be able to deal with it right now.” When we spoke, he started first of all by laughing at me, and I said, “What’s up?” He said, :I can now understand why you made that request. In your genetic profile, every possible gene relating to stress is in your genetic profile.” He said, “It’s my belief that you should be able to control your symptoms through stress release.”
Funnily enough about 2 years before that I had started meditation after reading this book The Last Best Cure. I was told that … I’ll come back to this later but I started meditating and I started noticing some positive changes, lots of positive changes. Then I reached the point where I thought I’m eating 5 foods, this is not working because I’m terrified of eating anything else. I came up with this really, really, crazy idea, I had been on a meditation retreat for a week and after years of restriction and misery, I ate everything I wanted on that mediation retreat. It was all vegan, it was all made from scratch there was no tofu, it was super, super healthy whole foods. I ate it all and I was fine and I just though, this is the key, this is the key. At the time, I just thought, right, this is how I’m going to get my life back. I’m done with sitting at home, I am done with not being social, I am done with thinking that my life is over…
I had made so much progress and happiness and feeling better about things but really was still stuck in this mindset of I’m never going to get better. There is only so much better I’m going to get and maybe I’ve already reached there. I read The Last Best Cure and she talked about [00:26:00] how meditation fights inflammation. I just thought, that’s when I went on the mediation retreat and after that, I came up with this idea that I could re-introduce foods as long as I stayed calm while I was reintroducing them.
I’m not suggesting anyone else try this, I don’t have any message to sell people on how to do this, talk to your doctor, your shaman, your whatever, your witch doctor but get a medical person on board. What I did was I did a risky thing, I took a bowl of strawberries and I had gone into anaphylactic shock from having 1 strawberry a few years earlier. My health was a lot better at this point. I was no longer fearful of going into regular anaphylactic shock. I have to say that I was much, much, better than I used to be.
I did a mediation, mindfulness mediation at the dinner table 15 minutes and then I started eating the strawberries one after the other, mindfully, really being in the moment, being in the experience. Just not allowing the fear and the dizziness and the anguish that accompanied every single meal in the last few years, I just let that all out. I experienced it and I saw it there in front of me and I made my peace with it. I actually said to myself, you know what? At this moment, I’m okay with letting go. Whatever happens, happens because I’m at peace. I haven’t experienced many moments like that since but it was an incredible moment and I just let go of the fear and I ate the bowl of strawberries and [inaudible 00:27:46]. That was [inaudible 00:27:48] for me.
Maybe I would have survived anyway, but the point is, I had set something in motion whereby I had told my brain and my body [00:28:00] that this was the key and my unwavering, unshatterable belief that this was going to heal me, was possibly a placebo effect but the fact is, if anyone can find that one belief, even if it’s the eating McDonald’s every day is going to heal you, it might work for a time anyway but there are more sensible ways to do it. Mine seems to have a lasting effect so far, nobody can predict the future but the point is the meditation has brought me peace and acceptance. It doesn’t mean that I’m not going to continue fighting for my life but for my recovering but I have made my peace with however it is that I wake up on any given day.
Stu:Well that is fantastic. Do you continue to eat strawberries today?
Yasmina:I do, I eat a lot worse that strawberries.
Stewart:No it sound like you certainly got a strategy that works for you. In terms of knowing where to start, there’s so much to do to try and get your head around what might be happening, what you could do. If I wanted to gravitate to perhaps some natural antihistamine foods, where would I start? What would be the best ingredients to choose?
Yasmina:That’s my personal choice is starting with those foods, so plentiful in nature. Really, I think if I had grown up in Lebanon where my mother is from where the food is just natural, you just literally just pluck it from the tree and put it on the table. My mother always commented, “When we used to go to Beirut, you never had any food issues.” She was right. That’s also because the diet was rich in these following foods.
What I have found to be my most powerful ally and that for many of my readers are bioflavonoids, quercetin, rutin [00:30:00] and luteolin. They are found in plants. They are what’s called mast cell stabilisers. There has been some amazing research by a doctor in the States, Dr. Theoharidis at Tufts. He’s funded by the National Institute of Health, he has over 300 studies on mast cells, mast cell activation and he found that these bioflavonoids, in particular, quercetin and luteolin, quercetin, the study was done on, is as powerful as the most commonly prescribed medication for stabilizing mast cells to prevent histamine release. But this is also applicable to people with histamine intolerance because quercetin acts as an antihistamine, so it works in preventing the mast cells from releasing histamine that’s in the body already and it acts as an antihistamine so when we eat dietary histamine, it doesn’t bind to the receptor in the body. It doesn’t appear to have the same side effects as antihistamines.
In any case, you can find these bioflavonoids in fresh green herbs. I eat so many green herbs. People watch me cooking and they’re like, when do you stop putting, I don’t see you measuring anything? How do you measure the herbs? I say, when it tests like one more handful is going to make things taste funky then I stop. Fresh green herbs, things like sweet potato, butter nut, squash, broccoli, most brightly colored vegetables and greens. The thing is, it gets a little confusing because you’ll have a lot of articles that say things like pineapple is an antihistamine, tomatoes are antihistamines, well those foods are found on the high histamine food list. That’s’ because partially because different parts of the fruit or the food can have different properties. The leaf can have one property, but the fruit itself can have others. Is it the combination of other nutrients or the lack of nutrients or the sugar? Things like that.
Raspberries for example are on [00:32:00] list as high histamine but they’re also a good source of quercetin. People say, well, they have quercetin but there’s an … I look for foods that have these qualities. My first choice would be rather than eating tomato ketchup, which is a processed food and is also high histamine, I will have a bowlful of raspberries because they do have some quercetin, they are anti-inflammatory but they are slightly higher histamine than blue berries for example. As I said, severe histamine restriction is not a great idea. What I do is I try and balance things by including as much of these antihistamine foods as possible, to balance out the higher histamine foods that I eat.
Stewart:Would non-organic plants and vegetable be an issue? I’m thinking along the lines of pesticides because not all of us, me included, can afford to feed a family fully organic. It gets crazy. I really increase the amount of fruit, many veggies really, I eat lots of veggies but I’m thinking, I’m washing and scrubbing but I still think they’re loaded with pesticides and nasties.
Yasmina:Yeah, scrubbing them only does so much because it’s inside the food but yes. Pesticides would be an immune system trigger which would exacerbate the histamine or mast cell issues, but at the same time, yes, it is expensive. I try and eat as much as I can organic, there have been some studies that have show that quercetin levels may be higher in organic vegetable and in organic farming. I can’t remember the reason why and that was contentious also. That was just one study.
What [00:34:00] I do is take the list of the most heavily contaminated foods and try and eat those organic and then eat the rest conventional farming. There’s money saving strategies like I eat an incredible amount of herbs and they are not always in season so what I do is I buy in bulk and I freeze. I chop them up and I freeze them. Then that gives me a year’s supply. You can go to farms and make some kind of deal with then … If you have anybody local, you can get vegetable boxes, you can … It’s tough, I would say that I spend most of the money I earn on food.
Guy:But you feel a lot better for it though right, so it’s?
Yasmina:I do but it’s a delicate balance eating a little bit left overs [inaudible 00:34:52].
Guy:What about fermented foods? Because I hear they can be a catalyst for histamine triggering as well.
Yasmina:Fermented foods a double-edged sword absolutely. We’re told they are the best way to heal the gut and yet they cause histamine release because of the bacteria. A lot of people arrive finally at histamine tolerance diagnosis or the suspicion that being what they have because they were on a highly fermented diet such as the guts for example. The interesting thing is a lot of people are eating the fermented foods to heal the gut but new research tells us that there is a mast cell involved to leaky gut, therefore quercetin and other approaches to mediating histamine and mast cell issues could be applicable to leaky gut and I had horrific, horrific, horrific leaky gut symptoms and I have to use the real name here, intestinal permeability because if we want people to take us seriously we need to use names that doctors will pay attention to.
[00:36:00] I managed to heal mine in my opinion, it might have been other factors as well but I didn’t do any L-glutamine, I didn’t do any fermented foods, I didn’t do any bone broths. Just generally I think that anyone who says that they have a healing protocol that will definitely work for you, is a little delusional or lying or has the best intentions but just we’re all different.
Guy:100%. We hear that all the time with diet too. This is the diet, this is … It’s like come on guys, really? Yeah.
Yasmina:Exactly. The first thing I tell people is the histamine lists are terrifying. Forget sticking to any one dietary dogma, forget about sticking to list. Make your own lists of foods. Trial and error, make a list of symptoms, IBS, blurred vision, blah, blah, blah. Don’t do a food diary because that’s just setting yourself up for failure. It’s like eating something and then sitting there with a notepad, what’s going on in my body? What’s going on in my body right now? Oh, I twitched, I twitched, okay.
It’s like the research on how concert violinists for example, they put them in MRI machines and the parts of the brain that get denser with neurons, the more they practice, that kind of thing. You become better at playing the violin the denser that these neurons become because you’re spending more time, more time, more time. We have become virtuosos if of our sickness. We’ve spent so much time focusing inwards, looking at what is going on in our bodies, looking for what’s going wrong. We’re intensifying our perception of these things. That is my experience, my own experience and I’ve seen it in others. That’s one of the amazing things about mediation. At times, when my symptoms were at their worst, I would go into [00:38:00] the discomfort and just accept it and release it. It’s absolutely mind-blowing.
Guy:The mindset’s massive, it’s massive. I think of Tom Gabriel when he spoke on our podcast and he was talking about chemotherapy, once somebody was diagnosed with cancer they did a study, about 30% of the people were starting to lose their hair before they even started the chemo because they were just going in and just absolutely terrifying themselves, and the body takes over, which is fascinating.
Yasmina:There was an article I was just quoted in yesterday that was on US world news, the website and world news and reporters, I can’t remember right now, sorry. But it was on the nocebo effect. The evil twin of the placebo effect. Yeah, absolutely, expect to react and you probably will.
Guy:While we’re on the topic, for any of the listeners recommend listening to our podcast with Dr. Joe Dispenza because he actually wrote a book recently called You are the Placebo. I’ve read it. He was an awesome guy but he explains that really well in the podcast so if anyone wants to check that out they can too. Yeah, let’s do it.
Stewart:I have a question. Do you support your diet with any off-the-shelf supplements?
Yasmina:I do. Again, these might not work for everybody and I’m certainly not a doctor so please don’t run off and buy these but to discuss them with a medical professional. I started out taking quercetin by a brand called Twin Lab T-W-I-N L-A-B and quercetin with vitamin C. initially I was told that vitamin C was great for histamine and mast cell issues but I reacted to all vitamin C and I thought, wow, wow, that’s another thing I [00:40:00] can’t take. But then I realized that ascorbic acid is often made from fermented corn. Fermented number 1 and corn, which is highly allergenic and is a trigger for many people.
I found the Twin Lab, coincidentally which has the vitamin C that’s made from ascorbyl palmitate, which is made from palm trees and to my knowledge is not actually fermented. That was just great. I stated taking that and then I became aware of a stronger quercetin and luteolin supplement developed by Dr. Theoharides who I talked about earlier and the mast cell researcher. He created this supplement and it changed my life.
People say that you can’t work your way up to a therapeutic dose of quercetin and luteolin through your diet. My argument to that is, well if you eat nothing but quercetin and luteolin rich foods you’re hedging your bets anyway. Even if the quercetin isn’t doing anything you have all these amazing plants foods and you’re not ingesting any garbage so you’re giving your body a fighting chance. This neuroprotek perhaps in combination with the diet, really, really changed my life. The one symptom I forget to mention earlier that is such a huge problem for many of us and was my absolute nightmare as a journalist, imagine this, brain fog and memory loss. A journalist with brain fog and memory loss in war zones.
Stewart:Not the ideal situation.
Guy:No. Eventually that played a huge part in why I left journalism because I worried that I was endangering myself and others by being out in the field. Yes the neuroprotek cleared my brain fog up entirely. Again, in combination with diet I’m sure, and it doesn’t work overnight. Dr. Theoharides told me it will take about 6 months for it to kick in, [00:42:00] and it did take 6 months for it to properly start working. All kinds of people are using it now. People with autistic kids are using it for them because … I’m not entirely sure the length of it.
Stewart:That was neuroprotek was that?
Stewart:For anybody wanting to access that, is that readily available on the internet?
Yasmina:It is. They sell through Amazon and also through their website. You can just google it or google Dr. Theoharidis, it should come up. Oh god, I’ll have to spell that name.
Stewart:Yeah, it doesn’t sound easy.
Yasmina:Vitamin C also [mangosteen 00:42:39] I started taking when all my hair fell out and I lost most of my hair, it was quite traumatic but that turned out to be combination of shampoo and inflammation generally and [mangosteen 00:42:50] and a little bit of vitamin B12. The [mangosteen 00:42:54] is an antihistamine, it’s a mast cell stabilizer and it also inhibits the synthesis of prostaglandins from mast cells. Histamine when it’s released, prostaglandin is synthesized as the histamine is released and they augment each other. I theorized that dealing with the prostaglandin would help with the histamine reactions and it also apparently helped my hair grow back. Prostaglandin D2, excess prostaglandin D2 is often to blame for male baldness or plays a role in it, just to remind you.
Guy:It sounds like you’ve been through so much. How do you feel now after everything listed-?
Yasmina:I feel like it was my scariest war and I felt very much like a soldier having been, well, perhaps on a crusade for many, many, many decades and I just turned 40 this year, and I’m now finally [00:44:00] experiencing health, good health for the first time since I was maybe 8 years old and it’s pretty amazing. I used to feel quite buttered and angry. I was very, very angry. I was so angry, I had the shortest fuse on the planet, I would just scream at the drop of a hat. Journalism didn’t help that very much working in war zones and being in horrible situations where you have to evacuate a team or deal with incoming fire, but there’s no room for politeness in most situations. It’s just all changed and I’m happy and peaceful and I let go of my anger. I was very angry with doctors, who didn’t spot the sickness and I was angry with … I was just angry with life and now, I don’t know. It’s so much-
Guy:That’s amazing. I know you’re inspiring so many other people with your own message which is fantastic.
Stewart:Just thinking that we’ve spoken lots about food and the catalysts for histamine reactions. Given the impact that mediation has had on your body as well, what about exercise? Because exercise can be a stresser on the body as well, so what do you do?
Yasmina:Absolutely and I wish somebody had told me this. It was very frustrating to exercise, exercise, exercise and eat really well and gain weight for most of your life. I now know it was inflammation and stress on the body and I was doing the wrong kinds of exercise. There are a lot of people with histamine … Histamine can make you collapse if you exercise too intensely. Running, lots of cardio, maybe football, things like that. Lots of cardio can upset your histamine levels [00:46:00] and cause it to spike. Now generally inflammation spikes for up to 72 hours after intense exercise as the muscles break down and the repair themselves. That causes inflammation.
In the long-term, it’s anti-inflammatory. Now for somebody who has a histamine issue, that temporary spike and inflammation can be very detrimental or even a little bit scary. I used to pass out on the treadmill, I would lose feeling in my hands and my feet. Just really horrible things. Then I read the research … That stopped me exercising for many years. I didn’t know what was going on but I became frightened of exercise and it turned out to be a great excuse because I can be quite lazy by nature. Couch potato, it was a pastime.
Eventually, I found the research on how to exercise without causing a histamine spike and it turned out that exercises in which you use your own weight, such as yoga, Pilates, things like that, or lifting weights calmly, without cardio will not cause that histamine spike. I went back to yoga. I used to practice yoga in 2000 and when I’d just started out working for CNN and although I loved it and I was doing Ashtanga which is fast paced, is the power yoga. I told my aunt one day, I just need to beat the crap out of something. I love yoga but I feel like I’m in class and I just want to beat somebody up. I think I just need something a bit more dynamic so I went to kickboxing.
I went back to kickboxing last year mostly just to prove to myself that I could. [00:48:00]I started running again, I started kick boxing. I was doing an hour and a half a day of kickboxing. I felt great. I could do it. But then the strangest thing happened, I started feeling like I wanted to beat people up again.
Yasmina:I realized the stress hormones were just causing, because stress hormones cause mast cells to break open and dump inflammation into the body. If the mast cells are in the brain when that happens, than can affect your other neurotransmitters. It can make you aggressive, it can make you depressed, it can do so many things to the brain and it’s a topic that’s starting to be researched more now. If you go on the internet and you type in, inflammation and depression, you’ll have tons of results. I was misdiagnosed as bipolar. I believe it was a miss diagnosis because as soon as I changed my diet, I had no more episodes. Over the course of 6 months, the episodes stopped. I was a rapid cycler. I would be laughing, I would be a great mood and then suddenly bang, I’d be screaming, I’d be angry, yeah, I’m going … The beast would come out and then I’d start crying.
Stewart:Wanting to beat people is okay when you got the skills to do that so you’re on the right track.
Yasmina:Eventually I realized that the key was yoga. It combines the mediation, you’re using your own weight and even if it is cardio, the immediate inflammatory benefits counteract or seem to, at least for me and the many, many others of my readers who do yoga, it’s very, very popular, instinctively, some people just know that yoga was a big part of it for them and that they [00:50:00] needed to go do it.
Guy:It almost seems like inflammation is at the root cause of everything. It all traces back to inflammation, essentially.
Yasmina:Yeah, but I worry that it’s becoming, oh it’s inflammation.
Guy:Oh, it’s paleo, oh you eat this, oh, you’re going to do that.
Yasmina:Exactly, what’s causing that release and I’m finding for so many people, it’s trauma, unhappiness and stress.
Guy:Yeah. Hence why mediation has been such a big part. They’re some great tips. We are just aware of the time. We have a couple of wrap up questions that we do on every podcast. Very simple. The first one is, what did you eat today?
Yasmina:Okay, I had a green smoothie which was mango, broccoli, cucumber, arugula, watercress, karela, spirulina, vegan DHA which is like an omega 3 fatty acid thing and that was it. Then I had a massive, and I mean massive, my salads are these epic bowls of greens with thyme, coriander, basil, chickpeas, grilled veggies, and then I was naughty. Then I was naught. I had a homemade blueberry, wait, blueberry coconut sugar, raw vanilla, ginger coconut oil cake that I baked and it’s based on a muffin recipe that people can get for free on my website and I’ll tell them how they can get there at the end.
Guy:Perfect. That would make me be naughty too, it sounded-
Stewart:Doesn’t sound that naught. I thought you were going to talk about a milk burger or something along those lines.
Yasmina:No. I do make my own ketchup though, but I didn’t make it yesterday. If you’re a histamine person you’ll be like, oh my god you made ketchup? Yeah, yeah, I do.
Guy:[00:52:00] Do you eat meat?
Yasmina:I eat a little bit of it. I was vegan for a while but when you’re down to so few safe foods that don’t cause any kind of reaction, you have to eat whatever doesn’t bother you and meat was one of the things that didn’t bother me. I tell people that what I do is I’ll just chop up a little bit of meat and then I’ll toss it with lots of veggies or stick it in a salad or something.
Guy:Cool. The last question is … Were you going to say something Steward?
Stewart:No. Did I look like I was?
Guy:You did. You had that look there and I thought-
Stewart:I always have that look.
Guy:What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Yasmina:Oh wow, well, there’s 2. One was when I was falling apart and tried to check myself into a mental institution because I thought I was having a nervous breakdown, stress invaded. A friend of my mothers who picked me up from there said to me … She took my hand and she just said, “Yasmina, sometimes all you have to do is chose to walk on the sunny side of the street.”
Stewart:That’s good advice, that is good advice. I like that [crosstalk 00:53:15].
Yasmina:So true. That’s number 1 and number 2 was, and this was life changing. My doctor in Spain told me this when I was finally diagnosed with mast cell activation. She said, “If you go into anaphylactic shock, the best thing you can do is lie down on the floor and relax.” When she said that to me, I said, “What do you mean?” Because they don’t like giving EpiPens in Spain. She said, “Call the ambulance but lie down on the floor and relax. It’s the most important thing.” I just said, “What do you mean?” Then she explained to me the stress hormone thing and whatever and then that kicked off my research.
That actually saved my life. When I was in Kenya, I didn’t have any medication on me, I was too far from hospitals, couldn’t get anywhere, I was in a house, nobody could hear me, there was a [00:54:00] party going on downstairs. I lay down, well I actually fell down on the floor and I began a mediation involving a visualization before I lost my vision and I mediated and eventually I was found and I continued meditating, meditating, meditating, and it was just life changing. Just suddenly my vision started opening up again and my heart started regulating.
There’s different levels of anaphylactic shock, not every anaphylaxis leads to death. I can’t tell you, oh I had a level 5 anaphylactic and I thought I was going to die and I had never thought that before. I was convinced I was going to die this time and I got through it and that was the changing point in my life and I thought, I can control this, I can heal. This has shown me that this plays a big part.
Stewart:That’s right. There’s some truth to what you’ve been practicing. I think I like the sound of that.
Guy:Have you written a book in all these experiences that you’ve been through?
Yasmina:I’ve actually written 11 e-books. I’m working on getting a book published. I’ve written the outline and I’ve spoken with a few people that worry there aren’t enough people who are interested in this so we’ll see, I’m still working on it but in the meantime, there are eBooks for download on my website. It covers everything from beauty to diet to a little bit on mediation. I have a yoga course that’s going to launch in January. I teamed up with my teacher to do this yoga course to take people who aren’t exercising right now and it just steadily gets progressively harder more intense, to try and help the healing process. More cooking videos, there’s a bunch on YouTube and stuff like that.
Guy:Fantastic. Where would the website be?
Yasmina:It is the low L-O-W histamine [00:56:00] H-I-S-T-A-M-I-N-E chef, C-H-E-F .com thelowhistaminechef.com
Guy:We’ll be [crosstalk 00:56:07].
Yasmina:I won’t give you my full name because you’ll never be able to [crosstalk 00:56:10].
Guy:I had 2 cracks at it and got it wrong [inaudible 00:56:13], so yeah.
Stewart:That’s awkward. I can testify that here’s heaps of stuff on there. I’ve got a number of your eBooks. Men Food was great, love the paleo granola recipe, I thought that worked for me. Yeah, get on there, dig around, loads of stuff and some of the videos are entertaining too.
Guy:Yeah. Thank you so much for your time Yasmina. That was just absolutely beautiful and I have no doubt, heaps of people get a great deal from that and so I really appreciate you coming on today and sharing your journey with us. That was awesome.
Yasmina:Yeah, it’s been wonderful talking to you guys talking to you guys. Thank you very much. It’s been a great interview.
Guy:No. Thank you.
Guy:Cheers. Bye bye.
Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.
Are grains really the enemy? Who better a person to ask than a guy who’s interviewed hundreds of health leaders from around the world and walks his talk when it comes health and nutrition. His answer wasn’t quite what we expected! Hence why we loved it and it’s this weeks 2 minute gem.
Abel James is the founder of ‘The Fat Burning Man’ show. A health and wellness podcast that’s hit No.1 in eight different countries on iTunes and gets over a whopping 500,000 downloads each month! It was fantastic to get the laid back Abel on the show today to share with us his own personal weight loss story, his discoveries, the trial and errors and the applied wisdom of others.
To sum up Abel James in his own words: My goal is to create a place where people can have spirited discussions and debate about issues that truly matter – not just fat loss and fitness, but ultimately health and quality of life. I also feel obligated to expose the truth about nutrition, fitness, and health so that people are no longer reliant upon deceptive marketing practices, misleading corporate propaganda, and powerful special interests that have accelerated the worldwide obesity epidemic and health crisis.
Full Interview: Lessons Learned From Becoming The Fat Burning Man
In This Episode:
Abel’s journey from being overweight to becoming the ‘Fat Burning Man’
What the body building industry taught him about weight loss
Guy Lawrence: This is Guy Lawrence of 180 Nutrition and welcome to today’s Health Sessions.
So, as you can see, if you’re watching this in video, I’m standing here at Mcmahons Pool here in Sydney, which is a pearl of a location and I quite often find myself jumping in first thing in the morning. The water is cold here in winter in Sydney, although the sun’s shining, but it’s a great way to start the day nonetheless.
Anyway, on to today’s guest. I might be a little bit biased but I think this show today is fantastic and we’ve got an awesome guest for you. And he has a podcast himself, and I reckon he has one of the smoothest voices that is just designed for podcasts and radio, I tell ya. And that might even give you a clue already.
Stu often says I’ve got a face for radio, but I don’t know if I’ll take that as a compliment. But anyway. So, our guest today is Abel James, AKA the Fat-Burning Man. And if you are new to this podcast, definitely check it out. I’ve been listening to them for years. And Abel has had some fantastic guests on the show, as you can imagine, when you’ve been doing a podcast for over four years.
And we were really keen to get him on the show and share his experiences with us, because, you know, once you’ve interviewed that many people and some absolutely great health leaders around the world, you’re gonna pick up on what they say, their experience, and how you apply it in your own life. And we’re really keen to find out from Abel why he does, you know, because he’s covered, obviously, topics on mindset, health, nutrition, exercise, and what are the pearls of wisdom has he gone and taken over the years of experience and applied it. And some of the stuff what he doesn’t take, you know, take on board as well.
So, Abel shares all of that with us today, including his own story. Because Abel was once overweight. He’s looking a very, very fit boy at the moment, just from changing his nutrition.
So, anyway, that’s what you’re going to get out of today’s show and it’s a great one. So, it’s a pleasure to have Abel on.
And also, I ask for reviews, you know, leave us a review on iTunes if you’re enjoying the show. Subscribe, five-star it. You know, let us know where in the world you’re listening to these podcasts. I think we’re in 32 countries at the moment or maybe even more getting downloaded. So it’s pretty cool. And we always love to hear from you, so, yeah, jump on board and of course drop us an email back at 180Nutrition.com or .com.au now.
So, let’s go over to Abel. Enjoy the show.
Stuart Cooke: Guy, over to you.
Guy Lawrence: Hey, this is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart Cooke, as always. Hey Stewie.
Stuart Cooke: Hello, mate.
Guy Lawrence: And our fantastic guest today is Abel James. Abel, welcome to the show.
Abel James: Thanks so much for having me.
Guy Lawrence: Now, you will have to forgive us this morning, mate. It is very early in Sydney. So, I’ve never seen Stu up at this time of the morning, I think, so it will be interesting to see how he responds.
I’m just kidding. Come on.
Yeah, look, obviously we are big fans of your podcast. It’s great to have a fellow podcaster on. And what we were curious about, just to get the ball rolling, is I guess a little bit about your journey and what got you into podcasting and what let you to that. Because you’ve been doing it awhile now.
Abel James: Yeah. Well, the podcast itself kind of comes out, or it comes somewhat naturally, because I’m a musician and have been doing that for a very long time. So, you know, I had a blog, and this was, I guess, like, four years ago when I first started Fat-Burning Man.
But before that I worked as a consultant with some companies in the food and beverage industry right after I got out of college. And so I’d actually been blogging about health for many years before that, but anonymously. My site was called Honest Abe’s Tips. And it was a picture of, like, this digitized Abe Lincoln peeking out from behind the laptop.
But then with Fat-Burning Man, I realized that when I went through my own struggles with health, basically, I got fat and old and sick in my early 20s and didn’t want to keep being that way. So I kind of turned things around and found that it was a lot easier and more straight-forward and simpler than almost anything I’d ever read had made it out to be, you know, in the fitness magazines and the media. Even some of the science.
And so I started this up and realized that, you know, if I were looking at a fitness book or a fitness blog or something like that, first thing I’d do is, like, turn around, look at who’s writing it. Like: Are these people actually living it? Are they following their own advice?
And so I figured, you know, it’s the internet. Let’s just put it all right out there. And so I came up with this ridiculous Fat-Burning Man, like superhero type thing and just wanted to make it about being positive and showing that you can be happy and healthy at the same time. Because so much of the messaging, especially then, but still now, is that you need to be hungry and miserable and punish yourself. But you really can have a more holistic approach. So, that’s what I try to do.
Guy Lawrence: Did you ever imagine the Fat-Building Man would take you on this journey to where it is today? You know, when you started.
Abel James: You know, it’s so funny. Because now it kind of sneaks up on you a little bit. You know, like, I was just out at a health food store here in Tennessee and like within five seconds of walking in, someone’s like, “Abel! Hi!” We just moved here and that just happened in, like, New Orleans, in California. And so I don’t even realize how many people are listening but I’m so glad that they are, because when I first started it was just me talking into a microphone and hoping that people would listen and trying to get this message out there that was different and still is kind of different.
Because most of the stuff you find in health, and I’ve had to learn this the hard way, is not health information. It’s marketing propaganda. You know, designed to sell you supplements, shakes, consumables. Whatever they’re selling you is usually kind of, like, disguised in something that’s information. And that information is hurting people.
So, I wanted to just be totally open about all this and say, like, “These are the things that we think might be right, but we’re probably wrong about a bunch of stuff. But that’s definitely wrong over there.”
Guy Lawrence: That’s awesome. That’s awesome.
Stuart Cooke: So, when you mentioned that in your early days you were fat and sick and things just weren’t working out for you, do you think that was particularly diet-based?
Abel James: Yes. Absolutely. Because basically what happened is I grew up, my mom is a holistic nurse practitioner and an herbalist, and I was raised eating from the back yard. And we had fish sticks and stuff like that, too, sometimes, but it was; I had a very strong education in eating naturally, from the real world, back then.
And then, for me, like every teenager who wants to prove that there’s a better world out there than the one that they came from or whatever, to pay off my loans I got this big, fancy job in consulting and I got this big, fancy insurance that came along with the consulting job. And I’m just like, “All right. I’m gonna find the best doctor and listen to his advice and take his drugs and do his thing.”
And so I did that, and it was… You know, when I first walked in, he’s like, “What is the family history?” And I said, well, you know, there’s thyroid problems, most people gain weight as they age, my grandmother has high blood pressure, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
They looked at my blood and they’re just, like, “OK, well, we need to put you on a low-fat diet right away.” And, you know, zero dietary cholesterol and the whole… you guys are familiar with how that works, I’m sure.
And so I got that whole spiel and I’m like, OK. Well, if that’s gonna help me live longer, help my heart be healthy, and basically guarantee that I’m doing the right thing, then let’s do it.
Except it didn’t really work out that way. You know, for the first time in my life… I was always athletic and I love fitness and just getting outside, going for hikes or runs or mountain-biking. Whatever. And so I never really had a problem with weight. And all of a sudden, it’s creeping up, and it wasn’t until my boss made fun of me for being fat that I realized that I was, like, “Oh. This is fat.”
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. “There’s a problem.”
Abel James: And I wasn’t, like, massively overweight. But if you imagine me with less muscle and 20 pounds of flab, then all of sudden you kind of look like someone who’s much older than you actually are. And certainly not thriving anymore. Not athletic.
And I always want to be the best at whatever, so I had to turn that around.
Guy Lawrence: Was there any, like, little tipping points with books or information that made you sort of go, “I’ve really got to start delving into this” and looking down that path?
Abel James: Well, yeah. For me… So, I’m pretty narrow-focused a lot of the time and my focus then, when I first got into it, it was my first job, you know. My first real in-the-workforce job. I worked with my dad growing up and in restaurants and stuff. But this was the first thing I was taking seriously. And so I just wanted to pay down my debt as quickly as I could so that I could be free to do whatever more passion-based stuff.
And then I, basically, like, a little bit at a time saw that it wasn’t working. But I had outsourced it from my own brain, you know? I had always focused on being fit and athletic and running a lot, whatever. But it kind of like got away from me, because I was working so hard doing something else that was kind of like stealing my attention. And then it wasn’t until that comment and a couple of other things happened that I was just, like, “Oh. I guess I’ve got to focus on this.”
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: So, for all of our listeners, and your listeners as well, what did you focus on and what did you change?
Abel James: Well, it was interesting, because I grew up, my brother is about five years older than me, and I watched him go from… he’s a little bit obsessive and he watched Pumping Iron, the Arnold Schwarzenegger bodybuilding classic movie of the ’70s. He watched that for the first time, and I watched him over the next few months go from 155 pounds to well over 200; up to 220 of just solid, massive muscle.
So, that; it was in the back of my mind. I think sometimes you need something crazy like that. You need to see it happen in front of you before you really believe that it’s possible. You know what I mean? And so I hid that in back of my mind.
And so I always knew that you could do stuff that didn’t make any sense and it would kind of work out. And he did a lot of things that, dietary-wise, who knows what he was eating but it certainly wasn’t healthy. It was very different from the foods that we were eating.
But it was more generous with fat and protein and lower on carbs and kind of like counter to everything that I was told was healthy. And so I saw that whatever I was doing was not working. So I needed to do something different. And I was just like, well, why don’t I just flip it on its head and get some of the fats up there again and take down the carbs, take down the processed food, just kind of look at… I was looking at ketosis, cyclical ketogenic dieting that the bodybuilders were doing in the ’60s and ’70s, and it was like, you know they’re eating 26 eggs a day. Or drinking two gallons of milk a day. Or just chugging heavy cream. And getting down to 3 percent body fat. And for someone who had too much body fat, I’m like, “That’s interesting. I gotta try that.”
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely.
Guy Lawrence: It happened for us the same, because I worked with mainly people with cancer about 10 years ago and I used to do the weight-training programs for them. And it literally started from a bodybuilders’ diet. They got them on a ketogenic diet and weight-training, and that was the first time I was exposed to a high-fat diet, and back then I saw the results too. You know, it was quite remarkable, and their health, everything gets turned on its head overnight and you’re, like, “My God, I’ve got to tell the world.”
Abel James: It’s very bizarre. Because it should kill you, right? According to everything that the doctors tell you. That should just put you straight into a stretcher or a coffin or whatever.
Guy Lawrence: Absolutely.
Abel James: But oftentimes it does the opposite.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. So, with all your guests and podcasts, there’s all these amazing people you’ve interviewed and things like that. Any pearls of wisdom that have stood out or guests that have jumped out at you? It’s probably quite a big question but…
Abel James: I look for the things that… Well, I should just say, even the people who come on my show, which are, like, curated (to a certain extent), by me, they have to go through some sort of vetting process. They love to disagree about a lot of things. And for me I just try to keep it on point, step aside. I’m not gonna be combative even if I disagree with what they’re saying. I think it’s really important to see the richness of experience in people who are getting results.
And so I look for the things that they agree about. And there are very few. But number one is that everyone should be eating more leafy green vegetables and colorful vegetables, especially the non-starchy kind. And almost everyone agrees on that. Pretty much 100 percent.
Yet, almost nobody does it. Even the people who are, like, super paleo and super healthy or whatever. They’re more, usually, obsessed with the latest gadget, pill, carb-backloading approach, like new things that… I just had Kiefer on, I have a lot of people on with kind of like new spins on whatever. And so people get obsessed with, like, the new spin instead of having a salad. Which is like… So, one of the things that I try to do is encourage people to do the simple things that we already know, because it’s really easy to ignore that.
Or, if you go and you’re paleo and you’re really excited about it and you’re getting all these results and you’re doing CrossFit and then you go and get a paleo treat or whatever from the grocery store, because now you can find those, at least in America. And, you know, all of a sudden you take down 25 grams of sugar without even realizing it. But it’s “totally paleo” because it has honey in it. Wait a second!
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, half a jar.
Abel James: That kind of goes against the whole thing. So, I try to make it simple for people and more habit-based. More like, my background’s in brain science and psychology so I try and take it from that angle where, like, you guys know: If you’re training people or if you want to achieve something in your own life, it’s not really about the information that you have as much as, are you doing it. Right? So, I really try to focus on getting people to do it, making that easier and more simple.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. You always find you can go on these crazy paths and you always get back to basics. Just keep it very simple.
Stuart Cooke: I think those basics generally come back to how our grandparents ate as well. It’s, like, super simple, really.
Abel James: It was wonderful. Beautifully simple.
Stuart Cooke: It’s it? Yeah. It couldn’t be more simple, yet in other respects it couldn’t be more complex with all this crazy info out there.
Abel James: Especially today.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. Totally. So, over here we had quite an interesting article that came out in the Sydney Morning Herald about grains and bread and how everybody’s becoming more resistant to gluten and they’ve got intolerances and sensitivities to everything under the sun.
In your opinion, are grains the enemy?
Abel James: That’s a great question. I think they’re one of the enemies, yes. But that’s more a function of the fact that we’re eating grains in a way that we never ate grains before than the fact that they’re grains, if that makes sense. So, what I mean by that is if you take a chicken and then breed it to have certain characteristics like having breasts so large that it topples over or breaks its legs like most of the turkeys and poultry we have and then you inject it with a bunch of antibiotics and, you know, feed it with poison and whatever else. It’s not the same chicken that our ancestors would be eating.
And if you take wheat and, over the course of time, you breed it to make sure that it’s well-adapted for transport, ready for harvest months before it would have been otherwise, and basically mutate it and change it into something that it wasn’t before, it’s not the same wheat either.
And so what we do with that wheat, for example, is then, if that weren’t bad enough, kind of like mutating this thing into something that’s bred not for your health but for basically industrial efficiency, then you throw it through all these industrial processes, like grinding it into this really, really fine powder and not allowing it to ferment on the stalk, which releases enzymes to make it digestible, and then you let it fester on a shelf and get old or whatever, but it’s so irradiated and processed that you barely notice that the food is so spoiled.
It’s not the same thing as eating wild rice like Native Americans did here, especially in the Southwest. And you can you still, though, my wife is from Arizona, so we go there quite often, you can go and get, like, Native American wild rice and eat that.
So, if you compare that to, like, Uncle Ben’s rice, a brand we have here which is basically like processed white rice, not the same thing. So, we do eat some grains, but it’s in an entirely different way than almost everyone else eats grains these days.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, totally. No, that’s a good point. I read, a few years back, a book called Wheat Belly, and it really does kind of open the lid on the wheat industry. And, crikey, you really do think twice.
Abel James: It’s hard to get away from them.
Stuart Cooke: Very, very hard to get away from them. Unless, of course, you eat like your grandparents ate and then it’s actually a little easier to get away from… putting labels on vegetables.
Guy Lawrence: What are your thoughts on… Because I struggle with wheat and gluten and a big thing for me has been looking at food sensitivities over the years, and allergies. What are your thoughts on that? Have you personally looked into that?
Abel James: I have. It’s interesting because we don’t know how reliable it is. Especially… food allergy testing is one thing, but food sensitivity testing is quite another. And so for me, there are so many different variables but I’m trying to get better and better.
And a few years ago I had… Probably about two years ago, at this point, I remember I talked about food sensitivity on the podcast with Dave Asprey, the Bulletproof Executive guy, who just loves testing of all kinds. And so we went through various things that I was supposedly reacting to. I did the tests again about a year after that and most of the things had gone down. A couple of them stayed up. And then there was a new one, like pinto beans or something else I “highly reacted” to. Whatever.
And there were some other unfortunate ones that were, like, paleo foods. Like olives. Olive oil. And honey. From the first test. Those seemed to kind of stay elevated. And then I took it again about three, four weeks ago and I’m reactive to almost nothing now.
So, from my own personal experience, it’s been interesting to look at that because I love science, I love numbers, I love personal experimentation. And I don’t know what’s going on with that. I can say that I’m pretty happy about it, but I don’t know if it kind of like invalidates the tests that were done before. Because one of the arguments against it is that it kind of just counts the stuff you’re eating too much of anyway.
Guy Lawrence: When, like, the olive oil and honey came up on the test, did you then avoid those foods?
Abel James: I did. I avoided them, not completely, because it’s really hard to eat a salad anywhere that’s not your own home without olive oil or GMO oil or whatever else. And so basically if someone knows that you’re paleo or gluten-free or healthy-conscious, then they’re giving you honey and olive oil and… mushrooms was another one that came up.
Yeah, so, kind of bizarre things, especially considering how healthy those things are normally and how much they would be included in almost any meal that you eat out. You don’t really think about not eating something like mushrooms, right? Or olives. But once you have to look for that, it’s in everything. You can’t believe it. It’s just hard to get away from.
But, yeah, I definitely; I went from eating those things on purpose to eating less of them or basically not forcing myself to eat those foods anymore. And that seemed to do the trick.
But gluten is one that we’re not really sure if it’s the gluten itself or just the wheat being so manipulated and so low-quality that that’s hurting us. But there’s something in modern wheat that’s terrible for us. It might be the gluten. Some people are definitely allergic to it, flat out. Other people are kind of reactive to it or whatever. But I just avoid it, pretty much at all costs.
Guy Lawrence: It’s interesting. Like, Stewie, had the short straw when it came to sensitivities tests. He came up eggs, glaringly.
Abel James: Oh, no.
Stuart Cooke: One of these things. And I was loving my eggs. I’d eat two, three, four, five a day, which is great. But then I also do wonder whether worrying about the foods that you shouldn’t be eating, worrying about all these crazy diets, you know, does more hard than good. Can it actually then evoke food sensitivities because your cortisone levels are going crazy.
Abel James: Right.
Stuart Cooke: You know, it’s just insane. I’m wondering, from your perspective, how important do you think it is to try and unplug or really work on stress management as part of your kind of holistic approach to health?
Abel James: I think it’s the number one thing that people don’t really talk about. Because it’s not that sexy to say, “Sleep. Go to sleep early.”
“Don’t get stressed out. Meditate. Chill out. Take a walk. Take a vacation.” It’s really easy to say those things. But it’s like eating a salad, right? We all know that that’s exactly what we should be doing. The problem is that we’re not doing it.
And so, yeah, I mean, one of our secrets, why we “look and feel so great all the time and always have this energy” is because we go to sleep, like, way earlier than most other people. And we take flak from it sometimes.
But, at the same time, when you show up to a… So, we go to a lot of, like, health masterminds and stuff like that with a lot of the other big names in the field. Stuff like that. And I can tell you, these people are just, like, running themselves into the ground, a lot of the time. And they’re not really sleeping. They’re kind of compensating.
And we’re ready to rock, and usually, like, we’ll go out and party and hang out with all these people because it’s so much fun. We don’t really get to do it that often. And so you see just the huge tax that running; that basically doing too many things at the same time doesn’t matter who you are, what you do, if you’re in health or not, it’s beating you up and it will get the best of you at some point.
And so the really boring things that we do every day are the things that really matter. So, like, for instance, my wife and I, we wake up every morning, we do Qigong. We’ve been doing that now for a few years, I guess.
Guy Lawrence: Can you explain that?
Abel James: Qigong, or yoga, which is like tai chi, and so it’s basically fluid, kind of almost active stretching type movements. Balance and stretching. And then we meditate for, not necessarily very long, 10, 20, minutes. But we do it every single day. And we tend to wake up fairly early and we go to bed early as well. With some exceptions, but not very often.
And it’s the things that you do every day, if you’re in the habit of slumping on the couch after a hard day of work and then you have a beer or two every night, that’s a lot of beer. It compounds.
But if you, every night, you have tea or something like that or you just relax, you have a glass of water, you hang out, you relax, you slow down, you get some sleep. And then on the weekends you go out and you have too much wine or you have a few beers, totally different thing. You’ll probably get away with it, because it’s not the thing that you’re doing every day. Right? That’s the exception.
So, you have to kind of like train into yourself the right habits that are automatic that aren’t getting the best of you. And part of that is definitely tuning down the stress. Because we’re all, like, with the amount of technology that’s around us these days, we’re all totally cranked out of our minds.
Stuart Cooke: We’re plugged in, aren’t we?
Guy Lawrence. Massively.
Stuart Cooke: Do you sleep well?
Abel James: Thank you for asking. What a sweet question. I’ve been doing interviews all day and that’s the sweetest question I’ve gotten.
Stuart Cooke: This is the million dollar question.
Abel James: Yes. I didn’t used to. I used to have a lot of trouble sleeping, especially staying asleep around the morning. It was like I would wake up, it didn’t matter how late I had stayed up the night before… As a musician, my gigs would start at midnight and I’d have to play under three or something and then go to bed at 4. But I’d always wake up at 6 or 7 and again at 8:30, even if I was trying to sleep it through.
But these days, I think a lot of it has to do with how we time our carbs and starches, which is almost always in the evening. And we eat very lightly or kind of like fast most of the day and then we have a big feast at night, pretty much.
And so we have a compressed eating window. And saving the brunt of our calories and food for the evening seems to slow you down and put you in digestion mode at the right time, especially if you are staying… There are other things where we stay away from alcohol most of the time. On the weekends we go out, have some fun, whatever. But pretty much every weeknight we’re not letting that disrupt our sleep. Because science shows that there’s no getting away from it. If you drink alcohol, it’s disrupting your sleep patterns for sure.
And if you stay up certain nights really late and other nights try to go to sleep early, that messes with your clock, too. So we stay on a nice, steady clip of sleeping and waking up in the morning.
And I don’t do well on very little sleep. I’ve always know that about myself. I think it’s one of the reasons that I do well, succeed, is because it’s something I’m obsessed about. Other guys, like, as a musician, you go on tour or whatever, other guys are staying up all night. It doesn’t really seem to be a problem. It is a problem, like, if they actually looked at it, but it affects other people less than it affected me, it seems like. So, I’ve always just made that the one thing that I do. I sleep, and it’s important.
Stuart Cooke: Any particular gems or strategies or hacks that you can share with everybody right now?
Guy Lawrence: You love the sleep topic.
Stuart Cooke: Well, I, crikey… this is my topic. And I’m fanatical about sleep. But always interested in, you know, it could be the tiniest little thing that you do that makes the hugest difference, and of course sleep is the number one. You can be eating like an absolute prince, but if you don’t sleep, then you’re not recovering or restoring; all of those things.
So, any little gems that you could share with us right now to say, “These worked for me”?
Abel James: Well, I think you touched on something that’s really important. Sleep should be time for recovery. And what that means to me is that almost every day I do kind of like micro-exercise, where I’ll do five to 10 minutes of an exercise pretty much every day except for Sunday. And I put that in the morning. So, I do my exercise like first thing, gets my blood flowing, and by the end of the day I’m tired and I want to go to sleep. And so I honor that.
If you try to force it and crack work out, that’s another thing that’s really important. It’s like, I work hard but I’m almost always off of communication by, like, 7 or 8. Usually before that. I shut my laptop. I’m not checking; I don’t have notifications on my phone. That’s a pretty big one, too. Or on my computer. My email comes in; I don’t know. I have to go in and check it. I’m not having all these things that are, like, “bloop, blop, bloop,” no matter what time of day or night it is. That’s really important.
And staying away from technology in the evening is really useful. So, one of the things I do is play guitar or play piano or sing. Do something that’s right-brainish. Gets you into that flow, that relaxed state, that’s kind of sleepy and dreamy. It’s just like perfect timing to kind of lead you into going to sleep.
Guy Lawrence: What kind of… Just touch on exercise. What kind of philosophies do you abide by, then? What do you incorporate in your week?
Abel James: Well, I used to run marathons.
Guy Lawrence: All right. Wow!
Abel James: I’ve always been a runner of some kind. I was never great, but I was always good. It was something I did more for meditation. I didn’t call it that back then, but I’d run outside and I’d get into this state, that the only way I can describe it, is meditative, for sure.
So, I used to do a lot of exercise. And I raced mountain bikes when I was younger and stuff. Now, I’ve found that exercise is something that I do as a habit, not as something that I kind of, like, force in there, if that makes sense.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Abel James: So, at this point it’s pretty much automatic, that in the morning I’m going to be doing something.
On Mondays I do monster lifts, which isn’t anything too crazy. It’s basically just like I have a couple of dumbbells …
I always work out at home, I don’t really go to gyms, because our nearest health food store is in a different time zone. Like, we’re out here in the middle of the woods, so, I don’t really have any other choice.
So, I’ve got a couple of 52-pound dumbbells, free weights, and I use those to do squats and some dead lifts and maybe a couple of other little exercises, some presses or whatever, on Mondays.
Or I might do a kettlebell workout on that day. But every Monday I’m hitting it, I’m making myself sore, and then I’m going to go and crush a bunch of work, my worst work, I put that all on Monday.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Abel James: So, it’s just one of those days, it’s just like, “All right, we’re getting it!”
And then, maybe on Tuesday, then I would do something that’s a little bit less intense, like yoga-type moves, some holds, focusing more on balance and mobility.
And then on Wednesday, I might do a very intense sprint workout. That’s what I did today. Which is, basically just like tabatas. So, you do 20 seconds on, all-out exercise that’s intense. So, I’ll do sprints or burpees. So you do that 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off. Repeat it ten times. You’re done in five minutes.
Guy Lawrence: Oh yeah.
Abel James: And if you’re not smoked by the end of it, you’re doing it wrong.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. Right. That’s perfect.
Abel James: It’s the week, … sorry, go ahead.
Stuart Cooke: It’s just interesting, you know, there are a lot of people now kind of almost ingrained to think, “Well, I’ve got to go to the gym every day and I’ve got to stay in the gym for two hours. And I’m on that treadmill and I’m watching TV and you know, that’s me, done.”
But like you said, you can do this in five minutes. You know, I do a little kettlebell burpee workout and I can do that in about six minutes and I’m toast. Done. But yeah, massive effects on how you feel later on in the day.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. But it’s bringing it back to making sure your sleep’s dialed in and your nutrition is dialed in.
Abel James: Right.
Guy Lawrence: And then you can spend the time enjoying your life outside of these things, instead of obsessing about them all.
Abel James: Yeah. The simple things. It’s is just kind of … get your calendar in order. Grab a hold of that thing. Shake it around a little bit, if you need to, and then put the right things in, especially in the morning. That’s, I think, from a habit point of view. It’s like, if you’re forcing yourself to go to the gym every day, for two hours, and go on a treadmill, which almost nobody likes.
Guy Lawrence: Oh yeah.
Abel James: That’s why you watch TV, because you’re so just bored. Then it’s hard to believe that that’s sustainable. It’s hard to believe that you’re going to be able to do that for the rest of your life.
It might work, kind of. But if you can’t do it for a really long time, if you don’t love to do it, you’re going to stop at some point. Then you’re going to fall off the wagon. Get out of shape. Then it’s really hard to get back in shape.
So, like, make this … if you can do your workout in six minutes, do it! I mean I’m a “health guy” or whatever and that’s exactly what I do.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Abel James: I think that it’s the best to know that science supports that too, right?
Stuart Cooke: It does. Yeah, that’s right.
Abel James: I’d much rather; I like running, but to be perfectly honest, if I can do it in five minutes instead of three hours, I’m going with five minutes.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. Every time.
Guy Lawrence: I think you touched on something else as well. It’s important you’ve got to enjoy it. Just do something you love doing. I think that’s so important psychologically, as well, so you can go and do it again.
I worked in a gym for a long time and I found people who forced themselves through the door, just staying there for so long, just like a diet per se, as well. And then they would drop off at the other end and everything they gained, what they’d struggled to gain, it comes back anyway.
Abel James: And it’s heartbreaking, right?
Guy Lawrence: Ah, yeah.
Abel James: When you know what works. You know they know what works, too. But sometimes it’s just; it all goes away.
Guy Lawrence: Yup.
Abel James: It’s a bummer to see that.
Guy Lawrence: Absolutely.
So, moving on, we mentioned your book “The Wild Diet.” Can you tell us a little bit about it? Because it’s launched I’m thinking a few months now.
Abel James: Yes. Yeah. It’s been out for about a month now. It’s called “The Wild Diet” basically, because what we have in most societies now is this industrialized food system that is feeding us junk food, processed food, and junk food disguised as health food. And so a lot of people are getting burned by that.
On the other side of that, we have kind of like this wild world. The opposite of industrialized domesticated. You know, where animals, if you choose to eat them, are raised eating the diets that are natural to them in nature.
So, cows are eating grass, for example. So you eat grass-fed, pasture-raised animals.
Your getting heirloom and heritage varieties of seeds, nuts, plants, as much as you can, because those things are inherently designed by nature, generally most healthy for our bodies at this point. We’re well-adapted to eat things we’ve been eating for a long time in the form that they used to be.
And sometimes that can be hard to find. You know, like finding wheat strains, for example. Finding really traditional sourdough breads, made with an ancient variety of wheat, is something you need to try to do. You need to look for it or whatever. But it can be done.
And so, “The Wild Diet” is basically trying to … I come from the paleo world in a lot of ways. But paleo as a theme has kind of subsumed a lot of other movements.
Guy Lawrence: Yup.
Abel James: It kind of like absorbed them, right? Like the eat local movement, the low-carb movement. And so, I’m somewhere in between all these.
And one of the problems, it’s exciting but, one of the problems with like, paleo, for example, is that it’s gotten so big and so many people have heard about it, that the marketers know that it’s a hot market and so they’re starting to flood the market with a bunch of “paleo health foods.” And a lot of people are getting the wrong idea about what that means.
You can’t just go to McDonald’s and get a hamburger or three hamburgers, throw away the bun and call it paleo, right? If you’re doing it right.
So, I felt like I needed that other word that hadn’t been poisoned yet. So, I wanted to come up with “wild.”
And basically it’s just a … it’s more of a philosophy on how to eat and live than it is about some crazy dogmatic diet. It’s basically like: Here’s everything that you need to know to actually do this, in a simple fun book.
And so, I basically wrote it according to what my community and fans and followers liked and wanted to listen to and then we filled it up with some of the best recipes we’ve ever made. So …
Guy Lawrence: Good one, yeah.
Abel James: … it’s a fun book.
Guy Lawrence: But it’s a bit of a big task putting a book together I can imagine, right?
Abel James: Oh, boy. It’s the worst possible thing you can do for your health, is write a health book.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
So, given the fact then that you’ve got all this knowledge and you’ve put it into this book, this fantastic resource for everyone, the million-dollar question is, what have you eaten today?
Abel James: Oh, good one. So, that’s the question that I can almost not even ask on my show, because a lot of people are so embarrassed about what they actually do.
So, I started the morning with supplements. A lot of them are herbs and adaptogens, you know, like rhodiola is one of my favorites. And fermented cod liver oil I usually have in the morning, because it’s a nice little dose of fat and kind of like front-loads lot of nutrition. Vitamin D is something I take pretty much every day. So, I’ll take that in the morning as well.
And then I made myself … well, every morning I wake up, drink a big glass of water, I usually keep that going throughout the day. So, lots of hydration.
And I had … this is my sixth interview today.
Stuart Cooke: Oh, crikey.
Abel James: And I have two more after this.
Guy Lawrence: Oh, wow.
Abel James: So, on interview days I generally fast until the evening. Sometimes until the afternoon, depends if I have the time or the breaks.
So, I make myself my own, like, usually I roast the coffee about once a week, so I’ll make some French press coffee and then I’ll fill it up with a tablespoon or two of heavy cream or some sort of fat. Which gives me some interest, right? I like drinking that with my coffee and I might have some coconut oil with it or medium-chain triglycides or other fat that I put in there.
So, that’s what I had today and I’ve had, I think, two cups of coffee with probably about three tablespoons of heavy cream, pasture-raised. And then right before this interview I felt like I wanted something and so my wife made an awesome green smoothie, which we have almost every day.
That’s usually how I break my fast, is by having basically a blended-up salad. But you can pick the right thing so it tastes really good.
So, it’s got like three different types of greens in it. It’s got strawberries. It has chia seeds and flax, so it’s full of omegas, the right kinds of fats, and plenty of fiber. So, I hit that with some coconut on top, some shredded coconut, because it’s nice to chew on something.
And that’s all I’ve eaten today.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Fantastic.
Abel James: Tonight I think we’re going to have a big steak and probably a big salad and maybe a side of red rice, I think we have some going. And we have some soup. Some bone broth that we made, that’s left over, that we’re just going to heat up and some of that too and probably some really tasty chocolate or some of Alison’s homemade cookies for dessert.
Stuart Cooke: Wow. It’s almost breakfast time and you are making me hungry.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: That is fantastic.
Guy Lawrence: That’s awesome. Mate, we have a couple of wrap-up questions for the podcast.
Abel James: Hit it.
Guy Lawrence: And first one is, are there any books that you’ve read that have been a great influence in your life?
Abel James: “Chi Running” by Danny Dreyer. He’s one of my past guests. That’s one of the most underrated books there is I think.
It’s about how to incorporate symmetry and balance into your movements. Specifically for running, but it really applies to almost everything using, you know, ancient … I’ve seen a lot of similar things in Taoist textbooks and certainly like the tai chi and things like that.
That’s an awesome book. It’s called “Chi Running.” Danny Dreyer’s the writer who’s been on my show.
Guy Lawrence: We’ll include it in the show notes. Yeah. Fantastic.
Abel James: Yeah. That one’s great.
The “Perfect Health Diet” is done by Paul Jaminet. It came out a few years ago; another just wonderfully researched book.
And Paul … I was fortunate to hang out with him a bunch of times and kind of become friends with him. And he’s not your typical health professional, in the sense that he’s not really interested in any of the marketing or whatever. He likes research and he likes the science.
And so I really like that book too, the “Perfect Health Diet.”
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic. Perfect. I’ll check them out. I haven’t seen any of those two.
And last one is, and this is a pearler. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Abel James: I worked with this Russian guy when I worked at restaurants growing up. And on one catering gig, he just messed up royally. I don’t know what happened exactly, but the boss was really pissed off and this guy was not having a good time. And then he just kind of like turned to me and I’m 14 years old or whatever and he’s this massive Russian guy and he’s just like, “Every kick in the butt is a step forward.”
This is how it started off and you could tell that he didn’t care at all. He was going to have a great day no matter what. And after I kind of like saw that happen and I was like, “All right. That’s cool.” The way that he handled that, I want to be able to handle something like that …
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Take it on the chin and move on.
Abel James: … when the world comes crashing down on me someday.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, that works. That’s fantastic.
Guy Lawrence: Awesome, mate. And is there anything coming up in the future, Abel? Anything you’d like to share? Any exciting projects?
Abel James: Sure. Yeah. We’re excited about … well, we decided basically that, this is my wife and I, this is something that we’re just going to do, you know. We’re going to make this our … we’ve been doing it full-time for a while, but we weren’t sure exactly if we wanted to do apps or you know some other type of publishing or helping publish other people or whatever. But we decided to make the blog and the podcast and our new video series kind of our main thing.
So, we just recorded a huge cooking class, that we invite all these cameras into our kitchen. We set up a bunch of GoPros and other cameras. And so, it’s like documentary-quality. Just hanging out with us in the kitchen learning how to cook things quickly and easily.
And so, it’s called The Wild Diet Cooking Class and you can find that at: FatBurningMan.com/cooking.
So that’s just one of the things, but if you go to FatBurningMan.com and sign up for the newsletter, we’re planning to come out with cool stuff like that every few months or so and just keep a steady clip of like, “You guys want to learn more about ketosis? All right. We’ll do this class.”
Stuart Cooke: Perfect
Abel James: And keep that going.
Yeah. So, it’s been fun. It’s a lot of work, but after taking about a year off traveling the world and going to Australia, which is loads of fun, it’s been really cool to come back with a renewed passion and focus.
Guy Lawrence: That’s awesome, mate and for your book, “The Wild Diet” as well, go back to FatBurningMan.com, as well?
Abel James: You can actually, if you want to see that, you can go to: WildDietBook.com.
Guy Lawrence: Okay. There you go and we’ll put a link in the show notes, as well. Brilliant.
Abel James: Right on. Thank.
Guy Lawrence: Abel, thanks so much for coming on the show. That was a treat. And I have no doubt everyone listening to this will get a heap out of that. That was awesome.
Abel James: Awesome. Yeah. What a pleasure. Thank you for having me.
Stuart Cooke: No problems and we really appreciate it. And you enjoy the rest of the day. Good luck with your interviews and enjoy that meal. Sounds delicious.
Abel James: Thank you so much. You guys have a great day.
Guy Lawrence: Thanks, Abel.
Stuart Cooke: Thank you buddy. Take care. Bye, bye.
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.
Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.
Do diets really work long-term? With every weight loss plan, diet calorie counting and exercise regimes out there all claiming small miracles, it can be challenging to figure out what we should really be doing! So who better to ask than a man who lost over 100kg’s without dieting.
And from the words of Ray Martin (A Current Affair TV Program) “He lost more than 100 kilos (220 lbs) without diets or surgery, now meet the man who says we can all melt fat using the power of our minds”
Yes, this week our special guest is Jon Gabriel, which I honestly believe is one of the most inspiring transformational journeys I have ever heard! Jon’s story has been featured on A Current Affair and Today/Tonight in Australia. His success in helping others lose weight has also been discussed on many popular talk shows in the U.S., including The Jane Pauley Show, Hard Copy and Entertainment Tonight.
Full Interview with John Gabriel: How I lost Over 100kg Without Dieting Using These Techniques
In this episode we talk about:
Why diets never work long term
How the body fat just ‘melted’ off him when he applied certain techniques
The best place to start if you are always struggling to lose weight
Guy Lawrence: Hey, this is Guy Lawrence of 180 Nutrition and welcome to another episode of the Health Sessions. Today I’m standing at Coogee Beach and that building right behind me is Coogee Surf Club. And believe it or not, that’s where it all began for 180 Nutrition now over five years ago with me and Stu.
And I thought I’d bring the introduction here today, because when we started I had no idea where 180 was going to lead to and what was to follow. And it’s quite a special moment for us, because we’re literally about to launch into the USA. And I never in a million years thought that was going to happen when we started a conversation just over five years ago.
So, from probably about the second week of August, you’ll be able to head to 180nutrition.com for you to listen to this in America and our superfoods are going to be available in America. So, that’s really exciting and a really big deal for us.
So, if you’re over there, check it out.
Anyway, on to today’s guest.
Today’s guest is Jon Gabriel and I reckon this is probably the most transformational story I’ve ever heard and one maybe the internet has ever seen. The guy was weighing in at 186 kilos at one stage in his life and he said he had tried every diet under the sun. It wasn’t that he was lazy, he was just struggling; he even went and saw Dr. Atkins at one point and he feared for his health. And if you see him today, ten years on, the guy’s got a six-pack and looks fantastic. I mean it’s incredible.
And what made Jon’s story even more exceptionable was that, basically, fate intervened with him one day and he should have been on the flight from Newark to San Francisco back on September 11, 2001, yes the terrorist attacks, and he missed the flight and he should have been on it and he said everything changed from then because he realized he’d been gifted a second chance in life. And he moved himself and his family to Australia. And then the weight just started to fall off. And a big part of that was using visualization techniques and meditation and, I guess, letting go of a lot of self-beliefs.
But I guarantee from listening to this episode today, you will be inspired to meditate. You know, if it’s something; like, for me, it’s always been a bit of a task, but I’m fully embracing it at the moment and loving it, only because I’m starting to “get it.” And from this episode, you know, you’re going to be sitting there, getting up an extra hour early in the morning, I promise you.
And last, but not least, before we get on to Jon a big thank you for everyone that’s leaving reviews on iTunes. Please let us know if you’re getting something out of this podcast, leave us a review. Tell us a little bit about your story. It’s awesome to hear them. We know these podcasts are making a big difference in people’s lives. And it’s just wonderful to hear it and know that we’re getting our message out to as many people as possible.
So, if you get the chance leave us a review.
Anyway, let’s go over to Jon Gabriel. This one’s awesome.
[text on screen]: 180 Nutrition
Guy Lawrence: Hi, this is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart Cooke as always. Hi, Stuie.
Stuart Cooke: Hello mate.
Guy Lawrence: And our fantastic guest today is Jon Gabriel. Jon, welcome to the show, mate. Really appreciate your coming on.
Jon Gabriel: Great to be here, Guy. Thanks.
Guy Lawrence: We actually had James Colquhoun on our podcast recently and for anyone listening to this, he’s the man behind Food Matters and Hungry for Change, the awesome documentaries. And we asked him actually, “Of all the people that you’ve met and interviewed, who’s been some of your most inspiring? And he instantly said, “Jon Gabriel.”
Jon Gabriel: Wow.
Guy Lawrence: So, we’re very honored to …
Jon Gabriel: That’s a huge compliment.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. So, we’re very honored to have you here, mate.
Jon Gabriel: Awesome.
Guy Lawrence: So, could you, just to kick start the show, I guess, yeah, share a little bit about your amazing story. Your journey from where you started, what you used to do, too.
Jon Gabriel: Yeah. Sure. So, I used to be over 400 pounds or 180-some-odd kilos and I was working on Wall Street. I was stressed out. I felt like I was killing myself. I felt like I was on a treadmill that was just going too fast.
And I got off of that treadmill and over a two-and-a-half-year period I lost a hundred kilos, or 220 pounds, without restrictive dieting. That is: without forcing myself to eat less or forcefully denying myself and without killing myself with exercise. It was almost as if the weight had just totally melted off of me.
And because of the way the weight melted off of me, I knew I had a really powerful message for the world. And I wrote about how I did it in a book called, “The Gabriel Method.” And “The Gabriel Method” touched a chord with a lot of people that had been trying to lose weight by dieting and have not been successful. And the book went on to get translated into 16 languages and is in 60 countries and a bestseller in several languages.
And we went on to create this whole process of losing weight by what we call getting the body to want to be thin rather than forcing. And even today, there’s; a lot of the information that we put out is similar to what other people are putting out, at least from a nutritional standpoint. There’s like a convergence going on in terms of: You need to take care of your digestion and you need to nourish your body properly and how healthy fats. . . And all this kind of stuff.
But nobody, even today, and this is now ten years down the road, we published The Gabriel Method in 2007, but I lost the weight in 2004. So, it’s been; I’ve been out there now over ten years.
I still don’t hear anybody talking about losing weight by getting your body to want to be thin. I hear people talk about speeding up your metabolism and cutting carbs and healing your digestion and reducing stress, but I never, ever, ever, hear anybody talk about getting your body to want to be thin.
So, our whole focus is the science and study of getting your body to want to be thin, because as in my case and now thousand of people all over the world, when you get your body to actually want to be thin, you’re not at war anymore. You don’t have to; you don’t need to know how many calories you should have in a day. You don’t need to know whether or not you should eat in the morning or in the afternoon or whether you should intermittent fasting or eat every two hours.
You don’t need those rules anymore. Your body does the accounting by itself, because you become, in essence, a naturally thin person. So, that’s what we’re trying to do, is turn people into naturally thin people.
Stuart Cooke: How did you arrive at that solution, Jon? Like where was the light bulb moment?
Jon Gabriel: Right. So, it was; basically it was through my life experience. So, what happened was I was sort of a naturally thin person back in like 1990. I was about the same weight as I am now. I was athletic and I ate a healthy diet. But I didn’t have to ever make an effort to keep maintaining my weight. I was like most people or many people that we know.
And I moved to New York. I started working on Wall Street. Really high-stress job. Working my butt off. Try to make ends meet. Blah, blah, blah.
And as soon as I moved I started gaining weight. And I gained maybe five or ten pounds the first year, five or ten pounds the second year, and I didn’t think too much about it. But then by the third or fourth year I was looking at, you know, I was 220, 250 pounds. A hundred kilos.
And so, that’s the first time I decided that I’m going to do something about it. And I did what everybody does, which was go on a diet. Because this is what we’re taught, right? It’s calories in, calories out, just cut your calories. So, I went on a diet and I lost a little bit of weight and then I’m fighting cravings left and right and I gain it back.
And then I went on this process over an 11-year period, where I went on every diet I could find. And every diet I went on followed the same approach. I would lose five or ten pounds through sheer brute force restriction willpower over a one-month period and then I’d come to this place where I couldn’t take it any more and have a huge binge. I’d gain that ten pounds back, literally, Guy and Stu. And when I say I gained that ten pounds back in a day, two days max. I am not exaggerating, I mean …
Stuart Cooke: Wow.
Jon Gabriel: Boom! It would come back and then a week later I’d be five pounds heavier than when I even started that diet.
So, I went on this process where I lost ten pounds, gained fifteen pounds, lost ten pounds, gained fifteen pounds over a ten-year period till I was over 400 pounds.
Stuart Cooke: Wow.
Jon Gabriel: And when I say I did everything, I met with Dr. Atkins, face-to-face for a month. He’s not alive anymore, obviously. But he was living in New York and so was I, and I met with him every Monday morning at 7 o’clock and I spent three or four thousand dollars with him. And in the end, I’m sitting in his office and he’s reading all my test scores. I’m borderline Type 2 diabetic and insulin resistant, metabolic syndrome, cholesterol through the roof, high blood pressure like you wouldn’t believe, all this stuff. And he just looks at me and he goes, “What are you doing? You’re killing yourself.”
Stuart Cooke: Wow.
Jon Gabriel: And I’m thinking to myself: Is that really the best that you can do, Dr. Atkins? You know, you’ve written this book called The Atkins Diet; 30 million people are on the Atkins Diet. I’m going to you face-to-face and the best that you can do is yell at me? Like, I’m going to lose weight because you’re ashamed of me or like you’re shaming me into losing weight? Like I don’t have enough motivation? I had fitness trainers at six in the morning. I would wake up with fitness trainers.
The important message with me is that I was a disciplined, hardworking person and I think that’s true of most people that gain weight. We have this stereotype, you know, where people are weak and lazy.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: But that’s not the case. What happens, I discovered, is there’s like this switch that goes off in your body where there’s the feedback regulating mechanisms that naturally regulate your body weight get completely out of whack and you have this unregulated mechanism where you just keep gaining and gaining and you’re hungry all the time.
And so, yeah, I would go on these diets, but at 11 o’clock at night if I didn’t have my carbs, you know, donuts, pizzas, whatever, I couldn’t sleep. So, then I’d have to eat that.
So, you know, this thing goes on and it’s not about being weak or lazy or undisciplined or trying hard or any of these things. And you go to the doctor and he goes, “Well, you should just eat less.”
And I remember walking into so many different doctors’ offices and they’d just look at me and they’d just give me this look, like, you know, “Oh, this guy doesn’t care about himself.”
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, as if you don’t care, yeah.
Jon Gabriel: Yeah. “Oh, well, you should just eat less.” And that’s what doctors are saying.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: It is kindergarten medicine. It flies in the face of hormonal molecular biology as we understand it today; it flies in the face of it. There is switch that goes off. I lived through it.
So, when I recognized, and the turning point for me was in 2001 I realized that for whatever reason, my body wanted to be fat and as long as it wanted to be fat there was nothing I could do to stop it. And I stopped dieting. I stopped this whole craziness and I just started researching everything I could about the hormones and the biology of weight. And I had a solid foundation in molecular biology from the University of Pennsylvania because I’d gone to the Wharton School of Business, but I wanted to be a doctor too, so I took all the pre-med courses of organic chemistry, molecular biology and all these.
So, I had enough of a foundation to read the researchers’ reports and make sense of it. And I studied and studied and I realized there were a lot of components to it. The biggest thing I studied was stress and the hormonal biology and the biochemistry of stress and what I discovered is that stress sometimes causes the exact same chemistry as a famine.
So, if you were in a famine you would have certain changes in your chemistry. So, your triglycerides would elevate and your cortisol levels would elevate. Certain proinflammatory cytokines would elevate and all these things are the exact same things that happen when you’re in a famine and you’re chronically hungry all the time. And what it is, is a signal to your brain that you’re in a famine.
So, what happens is your brain gets tricked by other stresses into activating the famine mechanism and it becomes this unregulated thing. Because if you were, if you were in a famine in real life you’d have all these stresses. Your brain would go, “Oh, we’re in a famine and we need to eat and eat and eat.” Then you’d eat and you wouldn’t be in a famine anymore. You wouldn’t have the stress anymore and you wouldn’t be signaled anymore.
But if the stress is coming from something other than a famine, but it’s causing the same biology as the famine …
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, right.
Jon Gabriel: It’s like the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. Like, I once saw this National Geography thing with these sharks and this shark had had its belly cut open and its intestines were coming out, but it was a feeding frenzy, and the shark was eating its own intestines. So, it’s like, you know like, one side doesn’t …
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: You know, it’s like one part of your brain doesn’t know what the other part is doing, you know. And this is what people are living through. They’re living through this situation where one part of the brain is not responding properly to outside stresses.
So, what I started to do was look at all the different stresses that can cause this trigger to go off. And so, it turns out there’s a number of stresses and that’s what we published in The Gabriel Method. And some of them are physical and some of them are emotional.
So, if you’re in chronic emotional stress all the time, you’re pumping out proinflammatory cytokine cortisol, the same way you were in a famine in certain instances, not for everybody and we can talk about that, but for certain people it’s the same.
If your digestion is off and you’ve got leaky gut, you’re pumping out proinflamm; you’re pumping out toxins into your bloodstream, which is activating your immune system and causing a low-grade chronic inflammatory XXtechnical glitchXX [:12:40.0] it’s the same as famine. If your triglycerides are elevated because of certain processed foods you’re eating, it’s the same as famine.
So, the key is to change your biology so that your brain is not whacked out anymore and getting miscommunication. And then what happens (and this is what happen for me and this is what happens with the people we work with) it’s like imagine this scenario: You’ve got 200 pounds of excess weight on you. Your brain, because it’s whacked out because of the chemistry, thinks you have zero fat, right? So, you’re eating and eating and eating. And this is what’s going on with people. And then all of a sudden one day imagine you wake up and your brain is getting an accurate assessment of how much weight you have on you and your brain says, “Oh my God, we’ve got 200 pounds of excess weight. This is crazy!” And then what happens is you just start losing weight like crazy. So, I just stopped being hungry.
What I did is, I moved to western Australia. I started growing my own food. I started meditating. I started visualizing. I started taking lots of probiotics and digestive enzymes. Taking super greens with protein powers and smoothies and all this kind of stuff. And all of the stresses that were causing this went away and the weight started to melt off me and I wasn’t even trying to lose weight at that point. I just couldn’t; I just had given up on life kind of.
In my job, I couldn’t work anymore. I was just totally at a breaking point and I just wanted to take care of myself for a little while.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: But the weight started to melt off of me. Melt off of me. And this is; and then it just totally melted off of me, all of it, and I’ve been the same weight now for ten years and I never, ever diet. It’s just that I know how to take care of the communication mechanism that causes your brain to listen properly to the amount of fat that you have. And that’s what I do when I work with people.
And the most overriding comment that I get from people when I work with them and these are people that have been serial dieting for 30 years and might have 50 or 100 kilos or 200 pounds to lose, they say; they go, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’m just not that hungry anymore. You know, you tell me to eat a good breakfast. I can’t eat a good breakfast and I’m not hungry after lunch. Should I still eat every two hours?” No! You have changed. You’ve got it. Your chemistry has changed. Let your body lose weight. Let your body do the accounting now. Your body is your own best friend right now. Let it lose weight.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: Get your body to want to be thin; you lose weight sustainably.
Stuart Cooke: Fascinating.
Guy Lawrence: Did you have to reach a finite tipping point? Like a breaking point? Because we find that with many people that it’s almost like something has to become unbearable and then they snap.
Jon Gabriel: It’s like a perfect storm. It was like a perfect storm for me.
So, I was at 400 pounds. I was working three jobs on Wall Street, you know, I was running three companies on Wall Street and so I was working around the clock. So, one of them was a; just a brokerage company that had 16 brokers working for me. Another one was a startup online company and another one was an online overnight trading company. So, I was getting up every two hours to check the markets.
So, this was what I was doing. I was just racing and racing and racing, but at the same time carrying 200 extra pounds on me.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: So, I felt like I couldn’t go any further. Then I was almost on one of the planes that crashed in XX2011 – misspoke. Edit? 0:15:34.000XX and I just said, “I’m on borrowed time right now. I almost died. Life’s giving me a second chance and here I am killing myself. I’m just going to take a step back.”
And I sold my business. I moved to western Australia. I bought a piece of land. On 12 acres I started growing my own food and I just started living day-to-day. I figured; okay, it didn’t cost me much to buy the property, because currency was real strong for the U.S. dollar back then; this was some time ago. And property prices were really, really cheap in western Australia back then. So, it cost me; it cost me almost; it cost me $75,000, something like that, to buy this property.
You know, it was like; and I just; I said, “Okay. I have a place to live and I have some food, because it’s growing outside. So, today’s taken care of.” And I started living just one day at a time, saying, “Okay. I have a place to stay.” And as I was saying; I used to say to myself, “Okay. Air is free. I have a place to stay.”
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: “And I have food and water. So, today is taken care of.” And that was how I lived my life. And as I was doing that, it just; I didn’t; I wasn’t even trying. I still had; like I still would buy chocolate, eat pizza and all things that you can’t eat because they’ve got fructose and they’ve got; they’re insulin resisting. You know, all the things, but I still ate them and I was losing weight. And then eventually I lost my cravings for them entirely, because my body just kept going healthier and healthier. But it came from a very organic place.
So, when I tell people I lost weight without dieting, they’re like, “Oh, I bet if you measured your calories…” I’m, like, I didn’t measure my calories. I started; my body wanted to let go of weight, I started being less hungry and started craving healthier foods. Eventually I started having enough energy to exercise and so I started riding my bike.
You know, it just all happened from a very organic place by taking care of the chemistry that communicates your brain to your body.
Guy Lawrence: Wow. So, another question that popped in. So, for anyone listening to this who is struggling to lose weight and, “I’ve tried everything,” you know. Where would be the best place to start for them?
Jon Gabriel: So, the first thing you have to understand is that there’s reasons, there’s certain reasons why your body wants to hold on to weight. It comes from a confusion of survive; it comes from your body accidently activating a survival program. So, holding onto weight is a survival program. It protects us against famines when we’re living outdoors. And our body has a switch that activates that survival program. The stresses in your life can trip that switch.
So, the first place to look when you’re trying to lose weight isn’t necessarily how many cupcakes you’re having or any of these other things or how often you’re exercising; those things come into play, but the first thing to do is look and say, “What is the stresses (stress or stresses or stressors) that are tricking my body into activating this fat program?” That’s the first place you have to look.
So, it could be your digestion. And the way that; the clues to that are: “When did I start gaining weight?” So, sometimes people tell me, and I deal with people that have had serious, serious weight issues, lifetime weight issues. They tell me it all started when, for example, God forbid, they were abused as a kid, right? And that’s a trauma that causes stress. It causes chemistry.
Now, if you don’t relieve that trauma and make your body feel like you’re in a safe place, then dieting isn’t going to work. Because as soon as you lose a little bit of weight your body’s going to be like, “Well, no, we need that weight.” It’s a protection, you know, so you have to deal with that.
It could have been when you had a nasal infection. You started taking antibiotics. And then if you look at that and so you took antibiotics for a month or whatever, your friendly bacteria is destroyed. So, if your friendly bacteria is destroyed, that causes an inflammatory stress in your body. So, now we have to heal your digestion.
It could be that you just have too many toxins in your body and you need to detoxify. It could be you’re not sleeping well; you have sleep apnea. That’s a really big one.
You know, one thing we think; you know, you take a guy who’s three, four hundred pounds, work him real hard and he’s trying to exercise; he’s exhausted, he’s trying to eat well and you’re trying; and he goes to a fitness trainer or doctor or whatever and then they say, “Well, you need to exercise more. You need to exercise seven days a week.”
Well, really what he needs to do is sleep. And he’s not sleeping because he has sleep apnea. Because the weight of his neck is choking off his, you know, his windpipe, so he’s not getting into a deep sleep.
Guy Lawrence: Wow.
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Jon Gabriel: That’s causing a chronic low-grade stress. It’s activating his inflammatory hormones and also his cortisol levels and that’s activating this fat program. He needs to get a CPAP machine to learn how to sleep.
If you’re chronically stressed all the time, he needs to learn how to meditate. If you’ve been emotionally abused you need to work through that emotional abuse.
So, you need to focus on the root issue. And the key to finding the root issue is always going back to finding the trigger of “when I started gaining weight?”
So, when you go back there, it’s the first thing I always ask people, “When did you start gaining weight?” and we talk about that. I don’t talk about what they’re eating. I don’t care what they’re eating.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: I want to find out when they started gaining weight. “When I started having kids. When I was in a divorce. When I got married. When my parents separated. When I started working on Wall Street.” Whatever the thing is, we need to go to there. We need to work through that.
So, the first place you always have to look is: what is the trigger, because there’s always a trigger, that’s causing this miscommunication with your body.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah that’s fantastic advice, mate. It’s so difficult to get our message through. Like, you know I worked as a fitness trainer for ten years and that’s why we started 180. Because, you know, I wanted to try and put out the beliefs out there. What I truly felt to be doing including, like, these podcasts and stuff. But when you’ve got; when you’re getting bombarded by the calorie in/calorie out, the diet message like you’re saying “flogging yourself” harder and harder at the gym and sleep comes into the problem. It’s really hard to cut through all that nonsense.
Jon Gabriel: When I work with my coaching people, I’ll work with people that have had a lifetime of weight issues and they feel like they’re failures. They feel like they’re sabotaging. But it’s not any of those things. The approach has failed them. The irresponsible way that we’ve looked at the data that’s out there and analyzed it and our lack of ability to respond to the current; to the new information, is what’s failing them. Not themselves.
So, I will talk; there are people that I have worked with, where I say, “I do not want to talk about food or exercise.” For months, we’ll go three months and then I’ll say, “Okay, now let’s talk about food.” And then we’ll do that for a couple of months and then I’ll say, “Okay, now let’s talk about exercise.” And we’ll do that for a couple of months and then I’ll say, “Okay, now you’re in a situation where you can expect to lose weight.” And they go: Poof! 80 pounds gone within two months. Boom! And stays off. Stays off!
Guy Lawrence: Incredible.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. It’s amazing.
Jon Gabriel: It’s the exact opposite of the diet. So, a diet, you lose weight real quick; 20 pounds in 20 days. And then your metabolism slows. You further activate that famine response, which was already activated for some other stress, right? So, you further activate that. You go to war with your body. You’re fighting cravings all the time. And boom! You gain it back.
This, maybe you’ll do this groundwork, you know. I call it; you pay it forward. You do this groundwork to get to reverse the insulin resistance, the leptin resistance, the inflammation, the cortisol, the mindset, the nutrition. You do all these things in reverse and then you just go, poof! And the weight starts falling off.
And for me, too, when I lost the weight and kept it off; I didn’t lose weight quickly in the beginning, I lost weight really slowly and then it started to speed up and at the end I was losing weight like crazy, because my body became very efficient at burning fat. All the issues were gone. The weight wanted to let go. I had so much energy to exercise and it just; it was like this accelerated thing and that’s what happens with the people that we work with, it’s the exact opposite.
There’s this transition period, where you’ve got to do the work and then poof! The weight falls off.
Stuart Cooke: It’s amazing, because I think the majority of people immediately would assume that, “Well, I have to eat less.”
Jon Gabriel: Right.
Stuart Cooke: And then given what you’ve been telling us that would put enough stress on your body. Just the sheer worry about not knowing …
Jon Gabriel: It’s not just the worry. Think about this for a second. So, remember I said that sometimes the stresses in your life trick your brain into activating the famine response, right?
So, picture this scenario. You’re worried about making ends meet or your digestion is messed up, you’re not getting sleep; whatever it is. But you’ve got stress hormones that are communicating to your brain, your survival brain, not your conscious brain, but your survival brain, which is what’s in charge, that you’re in a famine, right?
So, your brain thinks you’re in a famine and then you go on a diet. What happens? You’re already; your brain already thinks you’re in famine and now you’re in a real famine …
Stuart Cooke: That’s right. Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: … and then you go to war with your body. And that’s why diets don’t work. There’s an inherent conflict of interest, because you’re not working with your body.
So, I’ll give you a perfect example of eating less with someone I just talked to just yesterday. So, we’d been working together for a few months and she says to me, “You know, I’m just not hungry. After lunch, I’m just not hungry anymore and I’m losing weight.” Is what she says and for a long time and she goes, “And something weird is happening. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. But if I do eat at night, I know I’m not that hungry, but if I do eat a certain amount or whatever, I start getting really hot and I sweat and I don’t know what’s wrong.” And I said, “Your body doesn’t want weight right now, which is why you’re not hungry.”
So, yeah, you have to eat less but you’ve got to want your body to want that so your body’s not hungry. Your body wants to lose weight, so you’re not hungry. And if you do eat, your metabolism speeds up so that you burn that food before you go to sleep. That’s what’s happening.
Stuart Cooke: Unbelievable.
Jon Gabriel: Your body just doesn’t want the weight anymore. That’s the way you lose weight sustainably. Get your body to not want the weight anymore.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic.
Stuart Cooke: Brilliant. Fantastic. Tell us a little bit about meditation, because you touched on it earlier. Is that like an integral part of stress management?
Jon Gabriel: Yeah. So, meditation and also what I call “visualization,” which to me is targeted meditation, is really, really important and so incredibly useful, because it rewires your brain chemistry so that you’re not pumping out stress hormones all the time.
So, if you look at the way brain chemistry works, the more you do something, the more it reinforces the signal so you’re going to do it more. That’s how habits are created. But thoughts are the same.
So, if you’re thinking fearful thoughts all day, what’s happening is there’s a signal going to the limbic part of your brain, activating a part of your brain called the amygdala, which is the seed of aggression and fear, which then pumps out inflammatory hormones and stress hormones. And so, what’s happening is the more you do that the more it gets reinforced.
So, you’ve got this unregulated feedback thing that’s pumping out stress, causing stressful thoughts. Pumping out stress, causing stressful thoughts. And if you were to actually trace the chemistry of that part of your brain, it becomes a stress-producing factory or a stress hormone-producing factory, which basically is like taking a weight loss drug all day. It’s like, if you were inter. . . Or a weight gain drug.
So, if you were intravenously tied to a weight hormone that causes you to gain weight and it’s pumping into you all day, you’re just going to get heavier and heavier. This is what’s happening with people.
So, how do you break that?
Well, when you meditate, even though if you’re only mediating only for like ten minutes a day, you start activating, creating inroads to activating areas that make you feel safe and relaxed and connected. And it’s not just for those ten minutes. It’s for the whole; it’s for the rest of the day and then evidently over time, it becomes all the time.
So, it’s just like the same as if you were to work out 20 minutes, three times a week, you’d be stronger all the time. Not just when you’re working out. If you meditate every morning for 10, 20 minutes, you then change your chemistry all day so that you’re not producing those stress hormones.
Guy Lawrence: Okay.
Jon Gabriel: So, that’s really, really powerful. And then when you use visualization, you actually get your mind and body to communicate. So, anything you imagine doing; if you imagine the weight melting off your body, if you imagine yourself craving healthy live fruit or going to the gym or doing well at business or any of these things. When you’re in that meditative state, your mind is very powerful and you become much more able to achieve your goals.
And by achieving your goals, not just weight loss goals, but other goals, sometimes it helps with weight loss too, because if you’re worried about finances, for example, and you’re able to use visualization to help improve your business and to have a good meeting and be successful, then you’re not worried anymore. There’s less stress and the weight comes off.
If you imagine yourself eating healthy foods, then you’re more likely to eat them. If you imagine yourself going to the gym, you’re more likely to do it. Many studies have shown that when you practice, rehearse mentally something, especially when you’re in a meditative state; you’re going to do it. It’s how you create habits.
So, we’ve incorporated meditation and visualization. That’s like the framework to get your mind and body to work together.
Guy Lawrence: So, just for people to visualize it …
Jon Gabriel: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: …you know, I’m thinking meditation is almost like a pressure cooker scenario, where you’re releasing the lid off it and allowing pressure to come.
Jon Gabriel: That’s one way to look at it. I would also look at it as it’s also creating a different connection so that you never even go into that pressure cooker.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: So, on the one hand you’re letting off the pressure, but you’re also connecting in another way so that you’re never even creating the pressure.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, perfect.
Jon Gabriel: So, like, you’re waiting in a bank line, right? And you’re late for work and you get to this; you’re pumping out stress hormones. But what you find, if you do meditate on a regular basis, is you’re not doing that anymore. You’re late for work or whatever, you recognize, “Look, I’m in a line. I’m going to be to work. I’m going to explain this to my boss. There’s nothing I can do about it now.” You don’t have that pressure any more. You give into the outside world, maybe doing whatever it’s doing.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah and you’re in the moment. So, with meditation, Jon, it’s a word that I hear get flung around a lot, and visualization and it’s something that I’ve always grappled with, as well. There’s things I grasp and just run with, you know, in areas of my life and I probably speak for Stu as well. So, for people listening to this, and I know a lot of people that fall in and out of meditation constantly, you know, as in they’ll do it for a week and then they don’t do it for six months. And then all of a sudden it builds up, you know. What would be; like if you could give three tips, like, what would be the simplest way for …
Jon Gabriel: So, I’ll tell you how I started and I get every…
Guy Lawrence: Okay, perfect.
Jon Gabriel: You want; the key is you want to become addicted to it. But there’s a lot, there’s a long road to get there, right? So, what I did was I listened to a meditation every day. It was a 20-minute meditation. I listened to it every day for about two years. Eventually, I would get; when I started doing the meditation I would just get this incredible bliss and relaxation, like, you’re sitting there and you’re not fidgeting anymore, And you’re not trying; like most people; that’s the other thing, it’s very paradoxical in the sense that if you try to concentrate you actually take yourself out of the meditation. Do you see what I’m saying?
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: So, its like, you know, it’s like they teach you in martial arts, if you’re tense and you’re using muscle, you’re not going to be as effective as if you’re relaxed and you have sensitivity and you can move fast and you can think clearly. It’s the exact; as soon as you start trying you get discouraged, you get out of the meditation, and then you give up.
So, what I tell people, I’ve created seven- to ten-minute visualizations. It couldn’t be easier. They’re seven to ten minutes long. I say you have it all set up in your room. You do it as soon as you wake up.
So, you wake up. You don’t check Facebook and then do the meditation. You wake up. You press the button. You close your eyes. And the most important thing is, you let your mind wander. You don’t try to get; so if I say, “Imagine the weight melting off. Imagine yourself.” You don’t try. You just let your mind wander and you just sit there for the ten minutes or seven minutes.
Because what happen eventually; number one: you don’t give up, because you’re not getting discouraged. You’re not thinking, “It’s not working, my mind’s wandering.”
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: You’re not trying. You’re not taking yourself out of the meditation. But something takes over where all of a sudden you’re, you know, your mind’s going “mee-mee-mee-mee-mee,” then all of a sudden you go “meep” and you are there. And it feels; it’s just like, you know, if you think about it all the best experiences you can have are experiences when you’re just there; your mind isn’t doing it.
So, if you’re getting the best message in the world, you might start out, your message therapist is saying, “How’s your day? Blah, blah, blah.” “Oh, yeah, blah, blah, blah.” Then all of a sudden, you know, 20 minutes into it, she’s working on your back and your shoulders, and you’re just like “ah…”, right? Your mind’s not wandering.
You know, if you’re making love and it’s amazing, “ah…” Your mind’s not wandering. Like if you’re having; like if you’re sky diving or skiing or snowboarding …
Guy Lawrence: Surfing. I think of surfing.
Jon Gabriel: …surfing, your mind’s not wandering, right? You’re watching the best sports event, you know, it’s 30 seconds left; your mind’s not wandering. You’re just right there.
So, every great experience that you have across the board has one thing in common. You are just right there. And what happens, you can’t create it with meditation, but it creates you. It takes you over.
You don’t ever know when it’s going to happen and I’ve been mediating for years now and I never know when it’s going to happen. I’m always surprised every time. It’s like “mee mee mee mee mee and tomorrow I’ve got to call this guy” and all of a sudden I go. . .
Stuart Cooke: Boom.
Jon Gabriel: And you’re like; it’s like you’re plugged in.
Do you remember Star Wars; the first Star Wars episode?
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: And C3PO? I don’t know if remember, like in the video he goes, …
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: “If you don’t mind sir, I’ll just turn off.” And he just goes …
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: That’s what it is. It’s like you go “whoop.” And you just; it’s almost like, you feel like you’re being plugged into a source of energy. Where you’re just energized and focused and you feel it and then it permeates your day where you feel this bliss, you know, all throughout the day. And then you’re hooked.
Stuart Cooke: I hope I can work at that. I’ll have to work at that. For me, I liken it to looking at a TV shop with 20 different TVs and they’re all playing different stations. And I’m looking here and here and here. All these conservations coming in, so I need to …
Jon Gabriel: Yeah. All right. But listen to your languaging. You say, “I have to work at that.” And even that is going to take you out of meditation. So, rather than say, “I have to work at that.” just say, “I’m going to listen to that every morning.”
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Jon Gabriel: Just press the button every morning.
So, I take; when I work with people, I take that feeling of that activity out of it. So, all you have to do is press the button every morning. Even if you’re just lying in bed, it’s best if you’re sitting up, but you just press the button every morning until once you become hooked you’re; that’s it. You never have to worry again, because you’re going to do it.
Like I don’t have to go, “Ah…” Like, if with yoga, for example, I have to go, “Ah, I’ve got to do yoga.” You know.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: But there’s some people that are hooked on yoga. You know, they’re going to do their two hours in the morning, because they love it and I’ve never getting that. I will never get to that place. I hate it, hate it, hate it and it’s just that it.
But you can get to that place with meditation. Where, like, for me, I’m hooked. I don’t have to think, “Ah, I have to meditate today.” I sit up and it just comes in and then you’re just; you have this ability to focus and imagine how your day’s going to work out. And you find this correlation between what you imagine happening and what happens in real life. It’s just uncanny.
When you’re, like, a business meeting, you want to do really well. You imagine it and all this light coming out and people just spellbound and it happens. It’s just a cause and effect relationship that’s unreal.
So, it’s like this mechanism. You imagine the weight melting off your body and it happens.
And you know for me I imagined myself, when I was 400 pounds. If you’ve ever seen my before and after pictures, I imagined myself with tight skin and stomach muscles. And everybody thinks those pictures are PhotoShopped. I even; I went back to the lady that took them, just recently we created another video, where we videoed me getting pictures again and had her swear that they weren’t Photo. . . They’re not PhotoShopped.
Like, there’s probably a lot of reasons why that happened, but one of them was, I imagine; really, really, really focused and just tight, healthy and it just, it happened. You know, and I just, I don’t know how much of that is in the mind, but I don’t want to discount the mind either. Because I think the mind is so much powerful than we can even imagine.
We can even, you know, there’s studies with the mind right now, where they did this placebo study with cancer patients, right? Where they wanted to test a form of chemotherapy. So, one group got the real chemotherapy and one group didn’t get chemotherapy, but they thought they got chemotherapy. The group that didn’t get chemotherapy, but thought they got chemotherapy, 30 percent of them lost their hair.
Stuart Cooke: Oh boy, oh boy.
Guy Lawrence: Wow!
Jon Gabriel: 30 percent! We didn’t, we have no idea how powerful our minds are.
Stuart Cooke: It’s hugely powerful, isn’t it. It’s unbelievable.
Jon Gabriel: And everybody’s, nobody’s looking at that. And I’m like why are we not looking at this? But when you apply it the other way, rather than getting you, tricking you into losing your hair, you can apply it the other way into getting you to be thin and fit and successful. And so, that’s what we do with our meditations and our visualizations, is we apply that power in the right direction.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Jon, listening to you just makes me want to do it. You know, like it’s phenomenal.
So, again for anyone listening to this and going, “Well, I’m going to have a crack at this.” and they’ve not done it before. What would be a good amount of time to start with to make it a habit? So, I remember you saying to once, “make it a habit first,” right?
Jon Gabriel: Five to seven minutes. So, but you need; I suggest you need to; you listen to something. Like, we have, we have lots of visualizations that are seven minutes long. Just keep listening to it until you become addicted to it until you can feel the energy, because you feel the vibration, because you feel the calmness and you can feel why it’s working. And that can take six months to a year and then you’re like, “Oh, I get this. I really, really get this. I see why I can’t wait to do this again.”
When you’re there, you do it on your own. But until then, press the button. Don’t work at it. Don’t try. But just press the button every day. Make a commitment to pressing the button first and just sitting there for seven minutes every single day until you become addicted.
And believe me, it’s easier than becoming addicted to yoga, because you don’t have to do anything but sit. You just sit instead of feeling that intense pain that you …
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Well, what we can do, like, if you’ve got visualization techniques for people that we can link to the show notes for this so when they listen to this they can come and check it out.
Jon Gabriel: We have some free visualizations, you know, on our site and we have; we’ve got a support group with 40 visualizations in there …
Guy Lawrence: Wow.
Jon Gabriel: … that, you know, I keep making new ones and that you can join and have a; you can join for free for 30 days. So you can literally, you can join this support group for free and download all 40 visualizations and then cancel the next day.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: You know, like, we want to give these out. I want the world to; I want people; I feel like it’s a blessing to, for me and I wouldn’t be able to do what I did unless I, this happened to me where I became addicted to this; to mediating and visualizing in it. I just want that for the rest of the world you know.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Brilliant.
Stuart Cooke: I had a question now to shift this over to about parents and children.
Jon Gabriel: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Because I’m a dad myself and I take my girls to school every day and I have noticed that there are kids now that are carrying a lot of weight and parents are looking frazzled as well. You know, they’re plugged into the grind.
Jon Gabriel: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Any particular strategies for the parent perhaps who are struggling?
Jon Gabriel: Well, you know we wrote a book. I wrote a book with a pediatrician, named Patricia Riba, named “Fit Kids”. Specifically, I’m the Gabriel Method to kids.
But it’s the same thing. You’ve got to look at causing the chronic low-grade inflammatory stress that’s causing them to gain weight.
So, let’s talk about some of the things. Kids have stresses in school. They have bullying in school. There’s abuse that goes on. There’s nutritional depletion. So, the foods that we’re eating are so full of; so devoid of nutrition that they’re getting nutritionally deplete. And of course, all the chemical changes that take place when you eat all the junk food, that’s a big deal.
The toxins. There’s so many toxins in our food.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: And toxins can cause you to gain weight; then all the toxins of the medications. We’re living in this culture where it’s just expected that we medicate our kids and there’s something like; there’s something like 70 more vaccinations that we give our kids than we had when we were growing up.
Stuart Cooke: Right
Jon Gabriel: So, including a vaccination for hepatitis the second a kid is born. Why you have to get a vaccination for hepatitis the second someone’s born is beyond my imagination. But if you think about what a vaccination is designed to do; it’s designed to cause you to evoke an inflammatory response.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: That’s what it’s designed to do. Which is fine every once in a while. We did it. We had vaccinations. We had our vaccination schedule for our measles and our whatever. But now you’ve got vaccination schedules for itchy knees, I mean, for anything. You know, 200; some statistic by the time you’re three you’ve had like 70 or 100 vaccinations.
So, if you’re constantly injecting substances into your kid all day long and if you look at the childhood obesity; if you look at a graph of how childhood obesity has grown over, since 1990 when we started accelerating the vaccination schedule, it’s pretty much the same exponential curve as the rate of which vaccinations have grown.
So, I don’t want to just dis vaccinations. That’s a heated discussion. But you need to look at the inflammatory consciences from a weight perspective and you need to balance how that’s going; how frequently you have them and do you need every single one of them always.
Is everything life-threatening, that you have to do that? And what are the consequences? And so, that’s one thing.
Another is just other medications. Antidepressants can cause you to gain weight. And maybe; and sometimes the answer when you have depression is you don’t have the right gut flora. There’s a lot of studies to show that.
So, we’re not taking care of the gut flora of our kids. We’re pumping them with medications that cause inflammation. We’re giving them food that has no nutrition. They’re in stressful environments. They’re emotionally abused, you know, we all suffer; that’s there too.
So, you need to look at all those different things with the kid and you need to approach it that way. Because if you don’t approach it that way and just say, “Okay, eat less cupcakes.”
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: You get into this situation where the kid feels shame. The kids; it’s a futile effort that’s destined for failure and then it makes the kid feel like a failure.
Stuart Cooke: That’s right.
Jon Gabriel: You’ve got to give the kid a fighting chance by reducing the chemistry that’s causing them to want to eat chronically. You’ve got to nourish them. You’ve got to heal their digestion. Help detoxify their bodies. Help reduce stress.
We do a lot of visualizations for kids that are really good. There’s one called “The Dreaming Tree.” Another one called, “The Magic Carpet Ride.” “The Ride of the Blue Clan.” Cave Clan I think it’s called, something like that. We just have all these different stories that we tell the kids to reduce those things. And you’ve got to look at the medications that you’re putting in you kids and the frequency. And you’ve got to make an informed decision about which ones are the most important and when to do it. You have to be active and proactive with your kids.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Perfect.
Guy Lawrence: Go on, Stu.
Stuart Cooke: What sounds like the key word is “stress.” Whether it be from toxins, you know, the environment. Whether it’s from our gut. You know, everything.
Jon Gabriel: And that’s not what we’re doing. We’re just saying, “Okay, how may calories?” I remember the lady that we wrote this book with, Patricia Riba. She talks about this 4-year-old kid that carries a cup wherever she goes. And it turns out that she does that because the nutritionist said, “Only eat this much food.” So, she has this cup wherever she goes and she’s just this, you know, poor little 4-year-old kid.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: And whose fault is that; that she’s in a situation, we’re putting it on her. Like that she’s eating too much.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: And you, you know, you have to live through it too. So, like, when I was living this thing, where I was hungry, hungry, hungry all the time and now I’m not. You know that you’ve got to get to that place.
You don’t just take a kid who’s hungry all the time and deficient in so many nutrients and so much; and their gut flora is so messed up, and they’re so insulin resistant or leptin resistant that they’re hungry all the time. You don’t take a kid like that and say, “just eat this much food” and shame them all the time. You’ve got to address the real issues. So irresponsible, because if you look at the research that’s out there; so irresponsible not to be doing that.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, such a huge topic. I mean, do you hold hope for the future, Jon, in the whole?
Jon Gabriel: Yeah, I do, because I see like a convergence of information. I see people, I see people; parents are getting educated.
I mean if I look at my support group, we’ve got a private forum where people may ask stuff and I’ll be; it’s like a Facebook forum. So, I’ll see it on my feed and I’ll think, “Oh, I’ve got to get back to that man to answer that question.” I go back two hours later and there are better answers than I could give. More informed answers.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic.
Jon Gabriel: I thought, okay. These are parents. These are people that had weight issues. These people are very into it. You give people a direction to heal themselves and it starts to work for them. And they’re like, “Screw this, I want to know” and they’re taking their health in their own hands.
So, there’s a convergence and a spreading of people that are taking their health in their own hands and sharing information. And that is hope for the future. That’s real hope.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Fantastic, fantastic.
Mate, we have a few questions we ask everyone on the podcast as we go towards the end and I’m going to bring in one more as well, ask three. But do you; what is your daily routine, like non-negotiable practices that you’ve kind of brought in over the years now?
Jon Gabriel: So, I don’t have many non-negotiable. I meditate every morning; that’s non-negotiable. I won’t start my day without mediating. I do this meditation and as soon as I know I’m ready, I ask for guidance. I ask my higher self to guide me throughout the day and work through me. Once I know I’ve made that connection, because that’s one of the things meditation I feel does is it helps you connect with your higher power. So, that’s non-negotiable. I’m not going to start my day.
So, like if I’ve got to wake up at 4 o’clock in the morning to catch a flight, I’m going to wake at 3 o’clock and meditate. I remember, I remember I was, I was with my video editor somewhere and I had to pick him up at 6 o’clock in the morning and I was looking for him and getting lost. So, it was like 6:10, 6:20 and the guy who’s with him said, “You think Jon didn’t wake up? He fell asleep?” He said, “No man. Jon’s been up for three hours. He’s been mediating for three hours”
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: And it was true. I had meditated; I had gotten up hours before and meditated. That’s non-negotiable for me. I love it.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: I have to do it that. The other thing is I nourish my body. I don’t focus too much on; I don’t have a rhythm of I have to eat breakfast at a certain time or lunch at a certain time or don’t eat this, don’t eat that. But I will have super greens. I will have smoothies. I will have green juices. I’ll have salads. I’ll have sprouts. I’ll have fermented foods. I will eat lots of really nutritious foods and I’ll focus on the adding of those things.
And the other things you can’t eat after a while. You know, when your body gets really, really healthy you cannot eat junk food. And that’s a beautiful place to be, because it’s very different than fighting junk food.
So, those are probably the two non-negotiables. I’m going to do my meditation every day and I’m going to nourish my body really well every day. Those are non-negotiables.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic.
Stuart Cooke: And what about, we always say, “motion equals emotion” and we love to get off our seats.
Jon Gabriel: Yeah, yeah. So, we didn’t talk about exercise. So, let’s talk about exercise for a moment.
Guy Lawrence: Sure. Go for it.
Jon Gabriel: From the perspective of survival. So, how fat or thin your body wants to be and remember how we talked about how you’ve got this sort of survival program in you to force you to gain weight if you’re in a famine, right? You’ve got another survival program in you that forces you to get thin if your body thinks that you need to be thin in order to be safe. I call it the “get thinner, get eaten” adaptation. And so, let’s imagine, so when you get the theory of it then exercise, how to apply it to exercise, is automatic. It just makes sense.
So, the theory is that if you were; if you want to get; if you were living thousands of years ago in an island, where let’s say where you had all the food in the world. It’s all healthy and real live fruit. You can eat all you want. So, you’re not having a famine, right? So, you don’t have that famine stress saying, “Hey, we need to hold to the weight.” And it’s warm; so you don’t need weight for, to hold on to, you know, protect you from the elements. So, you don’t have those stresses that would make your body want to be fat.
And let’s imagine that you lived outdoors, in the jungle, 10,000 years ago and every couple of times a week tigers would run out and they would chase you. And if you weren’t lightning fast, you were dead, right?
Now, that’s a different stress. It is a stress too, but it’s not a chronic low-grade inflammatory stress. It’s a 30-second life or death stress. That 30-second life or death stress changes your body’s chemistry. It makes you very sensitive to the hormone leptin and you start melting fat, because your body says, “Hang on. Forget about everything. If we’re not thin, we’re dead.”
And so, you can replicate that with exercise. And the way to replicate that with exercise isn’t the traditional 40-minute power walk, seven times a week. Because if you were living outdoors and chased by a bear all of sudden, you wouldn’t got for a 40-minute power walk, right?
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: You would run for 10 to 20, 30-second maximum, and you would either be eaten or you were dead.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: Now, so, if you apply that to exercise, what works really, really well is, let’s say you’re gone for a 20-minute walk or whatever, walk leisurely and enjoy it. But every once in a while, for just ten seconds, move as fast as humanly possible and imagine you’re being chased by something. It’s life or death. Because your brain doesn’t know, the survival brain doesn’t know there’s been a real or imagined experience. You imagine that, the weight just melts off of you.
And you don’t have to do this. It’s not about calories in/calories out. It’s about getting your body to want to be thin. So, that actual 30 seconds, you’re not burning much calories in that 30 seconds, but the hormonal changes that take place are forever, because your body goes, “Stop everything. If we’re not thin, we’re dead.”
So, that’s the way to apply it and you, and so when I work with people, I say, “Do this a couple of times a week. Two times, three times max. Exercise for a maximum of 10, 20 minutes, but within that period you need the ten seconds all out.”
And so, when you look at also the high intensity types of workouts that they have, they measure the on and the off, so 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off or a minute sprint, minute rest. I don’t care how long you rest. I don’t care about keeping your heart at a minimum heart rate or a fat burning range, I don’t care any of that. I don’t care about fat burning during the exercise. I just care that when you do that ten-second sprint or 20 second, you are life or death. You are all out, because that’s what’s going to create this specific stress that’s going to make your body say, “We need to be thin.” And it’s all about getting your body to want to be thin.
Stuart Cooke: Excellent.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic.
Stuart Cooke: Perfect.
Guy Lawrence: Mate, we have one more question that we ask everyone on this show. And what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Jon Gabriel: To follow your heart. Because I think there’s a part of us that knows why we’re here and knows our life’s purpose. Knows the future. Knows all of that. It’s communicated through our heart.
And a lot of times we don’t want to listen now, we want to listen to this and it says, “No, no, no. We don’t have time for that. We got other things we’ve got to worry about. Blah, blah, blah.” It’s got all those voices, “I’m going to take care of you, blah, blah, blah.”
But this other voice is going to always push you in the right place at the time. And so I say, whenever you can listen to that voice.
Guy Lawrence: Now, that’s perfect advice and that’s something I can relate to, mate. I think, yeah, fantastic.
Jon Gabriel: Awesome.
Guy Lawrence: Jon thanks so much for it all. So one last thing.
Jon Gabriel: Oh, yeah.
Guy Lawrence: Where can people get more of Jon Gabriel.
Jon Gabriel: Yeah. You just go to TheGabrielMethod.com. So: TheGabrielMethod.com. There’s hundreds of pages of free information and we’re always doing, like, we’re doing a meditation for weight loss challenge coming up and we’ve got all kinds of visualizations you can listen to and podcast information. So, it’s a good place to check out.
Guy Lawrence: Awesome. We’ll link on the show notes as well.
Jon, thank you so much for coming on the show …
Jon Gabriel: My pleasure.
Stuart Cooke: Yes, thank you. A wealth of information and I just cannot wait to share it. Thank you so much.
Jon Gabriel: Excellent.
Guy Lawrence: Good luck to you Jon. Thank you very much.
This week we welcome musician Wes Carr to the show. Wes has an amazing story to share with us as he’s been on quite a journey.
Wes openly speaks to us about his battle with depression and anxiety, and how he’s been using nutrition and meditation with great success to help combat these in his everyday life over the last few years.
If you’re not familiar with Wes Carr, yes, he’s a musician here in Australia. He’s worked alongside icons like Paul Mac, Missy Higgins, Don Walker, and Andrew Farris from INXS to name a few.
If you enjoy inspiring and transformational stories, then this podcast is for you!
Guy Lawrence: Hey, this is Guy Lawrence from 180 Nutrition, and welcome to another episode of the Health Sessions. You know, thinking back a couple of years ago I was sitting in a friend’s car and they played me song and the song was called Blood and Bone. And little did I know that musician would end up on our podcast a couple of years later.
Yes, his name is Wes Carr and even more so little did I know that he had an amazing story to share with us and he’s been on quite a journey. If you’re not familiar with Wes Carr, he’s a musician here in Australia. He’s also worked alongside icons like Paul Mac, Missy Higgins, Don Walker, and Andrew Farris from INXS to name a few.
Pretty amazing resume. But Wes actually has openly spoke about his battle with depression and anxiety, and he comes on the show today to share with us about using nutrition and meditation to help combat those things and bring them to his everyday life.
And I have to say about Wes, he’s one very positive, happy, great guy, and it was a pleasure to have him on the show today and, yeah, you’re gonna get lots out of this.
Also, Wes is actually touring around Australia at the moment. His tour is called Here Comes the Sun: A Journey Through Songs and Memoirs of George Harrison. And I will be definitely checking it out myself. So, if you want to go and see Wes in person, after this podcast, now is the time to do it.
As always, if you’re listening to this podcast, a little bit of feedback is always great to hear from you. Simply drop us an email: 180Nutrition.com.au. And also a review is a great way through iTunes. It takes two minutes to do. Hit the Subscribe and five-star as well. Really appreciate it. Get feedback that way, but it also helps us with our rankings and we know that you’re enjoying these podcasts as well and we can reach more people.
And it’s fantastic and I feel very blessed to be doing these podcasts with such amazing people. And I have no doubt you’re going to enjoy this podcast along with many others today as well.
So, yeah, let’s go over to Wes Carr. Enjoy.
All right, let’s start, eh? Let’s rock and roll; excuse the pun, Wes.
So, hey, this is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart Cooke, as always. Hey, Stu. And our fantastic guest today is Wes Carr. Wes, welcome to the show, mate.
Wes Carr: Thanks, guys. Thanks very much.
Guy Lawrence: Wes, I was thinking we’ve had athletes, triathlons, CrossFitters, naturopaths, doctors. And we had a chef last week; Pete Evans came on. And you’re our first musician, mate.
Wes Carr: I am?
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. And we’re very excited about that. So, every podcast, mate, what we do is get some; just tell us a little bit about your journey, what you do, before we get on to the health topic of everything, which we’re excited to talk to you about. Can you just tell us a little bit about, I guess, your music journey? You know; when did all that start?
Wes Carr: Yeah. Look, I started sort of singing and dancing and performing when I was I think about 2 years old. I put on the Michael Jackson album Thriller like every ’80s child and went nuts, basically.
And that was it, really, and then I kind of decided to start writing at about 12. I picked up the guitar and I just wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote, basically was obsessed with music, really, all the way through my; all the way up until sort of, yeah, now, really. I mean, I’ve always been a musician and entered Australian Idol in 2008. And basically I’ve been in bands and I’ve been in the industry for 10, 12 years and I’ve been in a band Ben Gillies from Silverchair; that was probably the most profile I’ve had before Australian Idol.
And then when I entered that competition it was kind of frowned upon back then, in the industry, because it sort has this sort of stigma that anyone who goes into those shows, they don’t have much experience. Whereas I had quite a lot of experience in the lead-up to something like that.
And it was really me just kind of throwing caution at the wind and just sort of experimenting with a whole different mentality about going about doing things. And I kind of foresaw that the old mentality in the music industry that they still kind of bash these days is that, you know, you have to be laying in the gutter to sort of make it in the industry. You know? You’re gonna have to pay your dues and all that bullshit.
And I understand it in a certain respect, because you do need to have a sense of yourself and you do need to know a bit more about your craft than just wanting to be famous. But for me, I’ve never really wanted to be, kind of, you know, famous for just being famous. It was more about going onto the short and basically just releasing everything that I had under my belt for the last 15 years of my experience.
And that’s all I did. And I was fortunate enough to go on and win the show and be known for winning Australian Idol, which then I discovered that was a little bit of a struggle, because being known for winning something like Australian Idol, you become “that guy from that show” more than that guy who writes this song or that guy who… So, it’s a big leap; you sort of throw a lot of stuff out the window whilst doing it, but at the end of the day it gives you a leg up in the public arena and you get to have a stance, a voice that’s to what you love doing, I suppose.
So, you know, I’m grateful for it but it has been quite a long journey, I suppose, finding my way through it all and seeing what it means, you know? And now seven years later I’m sort of looking back at it all and really sort of saying, you know, most of it’s bullshit, really, but (really, it is) but you get to find a sense of yourself and you get to find; it’s all about you, really. I mean, at the end of the day we’re all here to sort of learn and grow and fully experience; constantly change and experience new things. And that was sort of what I did, and met a lot of cool, interesting people along the way, you know?
And I’ve done that, I’ve worked with a lot of people, I’ve been over to L.A. I’ve worked with Joe Cocker. This was all before Idol, you know. I worked with a lot of different, amazing famous, very famous, acts and people that I’ve met before and after. And they’ve all taught me many things along the way and, you know, now it’s all; now I’m sitting here talking to you guys.
Stuart Cooke: I actually watched, strangely enough, that was the only Australian Idol I’ve ever watched. And I watched it from Day 1 all the way through to the finals. So I know a little bit about your journey on there. And we were engrossed as a family sitting there, and you get so dialed in.
But I was intrigued that, so, from Australian Idol seven years ago to now the Paleo Way with Pete Evans and Nora Gedgaudas. How did that ever come about?
Wes Carr: I lived next door to a mate of mine who’s a really good friend of mine now whose name is Dino Gladstone or Dean Gladstone; they call him Dino on the show, which is Bondi Rescue, which he’s famous for. I lived next door to him in… I’m not gonna give his address out.
And this was sort of straight after the show. Or kind of two years after the show, really, and I’d been on tour for two years, basically drunk, I think, everyone in Bondi’s body weight in vodka on tour.
And I’d been pretty much partying kind of all the way through that and just playing shows. You know how it is. It’s just sort of becomes like a novelty; it just becomes a joke, really, of like how much alcohol is on the rider and everything at the end of the day, after massive shows and things. It is kind of; I don’t know. I just exhausted myself, I think. I just tried to be something that I really wasn’t, in a way. I learned a lot of that through that mentality. So, when I met Dino he kind of steered me in a different direction. I started training with him and just hanging out a bit more, talking to him.
And he introduced me to a book called Primal Body, Primal Mind. And I read a bit of that and I remember him giving it to me, actually, we were on the Cooper Park stairs, which is probably the worst, or some of the worst stairs you can run up and down in Sydney. They are like the “death stairs,” I call them.
And we were training one day and he gave me this book and I read a bit of it and it just kind of opened my eyes up. And then he really just changed my whole perception on food and what food does. It’s like, I had grew up in a household where I don’t think I ever once thought about food as being medicine or anything to do with anything other than being tasty. That was basically what my education of food was. Because growing up in Adelaide, working-class Adelaide, you just don’t think about these things. You just sort of go to school and come home and drink your Farmers Union iced coffee and…
What I used to do XXJohnny in town/talent school in ?? 0:10:00.000XX as a kid and I was XXon the team/a teen??XX in Adelaide and all that stuff. So, we set up a schedule of going from school to the city five nights a week, and every night we’d have McDonald’s for dinner. I mean, that’s kind of what you did. It was cheap, easy, no one ever really thought about it, it was just the way it was. You know?
So, getting back to Dino, like, that was just an explosion for me to finally go, “Wow, OK?” He didn’t eat grains and all this sort of stuff. What the hell is all this about? And he was making these smoothies and just really into his food and talking about food. And when he spoke about his food, he lit up and it was like; it was just this amazing kind of person; he just kind of became this other person. It was great to see. I thought, God, there’s something in this.
And that was about six years ago, I think. Five years ago.
Guy Lawrence: What made you open to that, you know?
Wes Carr: I think because I really admired Dino for his energy. He has a real just this enigmatic energy that when he talks, you know there’s something in here because he’s so, not “obsessed” is the wrong word, but so; he just loves what he does. You know? All those guys down there do, you know? That’s why they do what they do is they…
But, you know, I think for me that they’re just really good inspirations and really good role models for people, especially like me who came after having all-nighters and just boozed, basically, and destroyed, and running around the world catching flights going… And then also having a disposition to anxiety and depression, which I think I was just trying to numb myself with XXaudio glitch 0:12:04.000XX and everything else that was going on with the prescription pills and everything.
And then he just sort of; and slowly but surely I started waking up to the fact that, “Oh, wow! This does really work.” And it took a very long time because I was the only person in my camp that when we went on holidays and things I’d bring my own food in an Esky and I’d basically just copy what Dino used to do. And I bought what Dino bought and everything that Dino did, I just basically mirrored for awhile until I started getting a little bit more like, “OK, there’s something in this.” I don’t know how it’s going to be sustainable because it was really expensive back then, even four or five years ago, it was quite expensive. These days it’s becoming more mainstream and hopefully it becomes more mainstream so the price is lower and there’s markets and there’s a lot more avenues now, but it took a long time to kind of start working up to this, I think, a long time ago.
I mean, paleo wasn’t in the mainstream psyche at the time. It was just the word that I don’t really understand, you know? It was just a lifestyle choice for me that I seem to resonate with.
Guy Lawrence: Have you always suffered from anxiety and depression? You mentioned it. Or was that something that was fueled from the public eye?
Wes Carr: No. I always had a disposition to severe anxiety. It’s more like terror. I’ve never really had it diagnosed properly, I don’t think, because it sort of shifts around a bit, you know? There’s anxiety attacks, there’s the depression, and then there’s the obsessive thinking that…
I was just talking to a; I was just on the Paleo Way tour in Cairns, I was talking to a little boy, a very inspirational little boy who had changed his diet and has changed his life. But he has obsessive compulsive disorder and what he described basically, when I have my, what I sort of call “episode” where I sort of; I’ve got this one terror thought that I can’t get out of my head and it just kind of goes around and around and around and around. And it just becomes more and more and more and more, I suppose, violent, in my head.
And I basically can’t move. I just can’t get out of the house. I can’t do anything. It cripples me inside and outside.
And so I’ve always had that, and that sort of got worse and worse and worse over the years. And that’s just sort of, it comes in sort of stages maybe twice a year or once every two years. It doesn’t really matter when it comes. It just hits like a freight train when it does.
But I’ve recently realized, my wife’s done the XXINN course 0:15:07.000XX, and my little man has had trouble with sensory processing and all that when he was born. And it’s all to do with gut, really. I mean, that’s your biggest brain in your body. You know?
And so for me to constantly be aware of that and keep on the path of trying to change my gut bacteria and giving it the right foods, then I can change my brain. And then I can work on my thoughts.
But when it’s physical, I feel like you struggle with the thoughts. So you’ve got to kind of treat your physical and then treat your psychological and then it will start working all in all.
Sometimes I don’t really treat my physical well and I sort of shift backwards and forwards, because it is a big step and it’s also a very; you’ve got to be very highly committed to it in quite a strict manner to be able to repair your body and have that mentality. It’s like a mantra. You’ve got to have that mentality every day, all the time, you’ve got to wake up and…
Guy Lawrence: It takes work, doesn’t it?
Wes Carr: It just takes a lot of work. At the moment, I’m trying to get off the caffeine. You know? I’ve been an avid tea drinker for ever since I can remember. And I love my cup of tea in the morning, but then it’s got more caffeine in it than coffee, they say. And it acts differently in the body. But still, and I’ve been 10 days off the caffeine, that’s the last thing I probably need to get off of.
And, for me, I feel even better clarity of mind and able to keep up with a 2-year-old sometimes. It’s still a lot better than walking around with this kind of fake energy for awhile.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. It must have been great for you to meet Nora on the Paleo Way after reading the book as well and being able to spend some time with her.
Wes Carr: Yeah, it was a bit of trick, really. It was quite strange. You know, sometimes you sort of get exposed to these people and all of a sudden, bang, they’re in your life. It’s just bizarre. That happened with Joe Cocker and myself. My dad used to do these really bad Joe Cocker impersonations at Christmas time and then all of a sudden there I am meeting him and going over. So, yeah.
It’s happened most of my life. It’s sort of funny. It’s like whoever I think about sometimes they turn up in my life, which is, yeah…
Guy Lawrence: Oh, it’s great. But even to share your story. Because the Paleo Way was a successful tool, clearly. I mean, I went to the Sydney one and I think there was 1110 people there or something.
Wes Carr: Yeah. It’s been nuts. I mean, I think for me to watch it on the outskirts this time around; I was on the first one and then my wife’s on the second one here, and I’m playing at it and playing music. You know, I think for me, watching it all evolve into the mainstream, it’s like we’re saying the world’s flat again. Like, the media have responded in such an aggressive fashion. And it’s just so unfair because it’s just not; it’s not at all controversial when you look at what you’re saying and whatever everybody’s saying with the paleo lifestyle. It’s just pretty bloody simple really.
But then you’ve got to look at all the publications that are writing these things and what their alliances are. You know?
Guy Lawrence: But I think it’s a big shift mentally for people as well. Like, I was in the same boat as you whereas I grew up without a second thought about food. And you almost have to have a bit of a nudge, if you like, by the universe or whatever it is, pain, or whatever it may be, before you look into these kind of; look at the food that you eat and how it applies to your own health.
I think it can be quite a bit ask for people at times, even though it is actually quite simple really.
Wes Carr: Yeah, I think it is a big ask. I mean, I always look at my mum and God bless my mum. I always look at her for examples as to how I suppose 90 percent of the psyche of the public think, because mum’s from Adelaide, she’s been in suburbia all her life, and she’s read the news, watched the news on the telly, and goes to work. And that’s her sort of everything.
But that’s kind of what people do, I suppose. They get up, they read the paper, they read “fear, fear, fear, fear, fear.” They go to work. They just eat whatever they can, because it’s quick and easy and cheap. Then come home. They watch the news. “Fear, fear, fear, fear, fear.” They go to sleep. And then they get up and repeat.
And then on the weekends they have; they go away with the family or something and they recharge and then back. And it’s the same old routine. And it’s just a treadmill. And it’s a little bit insane. Well, a whole lot of insane. But, you know, I think if you can just break away from that and just be aware of one thing or change just one thing about your life that you kind of think “I could do away with that” and just slowly chip away at your so-called routine and start reading a book or just go out for a walk in the sunshine at lunch break and not sit at your desk eating.
Just something really simple that changes that routine. You start becoming a little bit; that little hole that you’re looking through starts becoming a little wider and wider and wider. And if you’re looking through a small hole, you’re gonna only see through that small hole. But if you start looking through, you start breaking that hole apart, a little bit by little bit, you start seeing a little bit more of the entirety of what’s going on around you and what’s happening, you know?
And there is a lot more happening in the world or a lot more awareness going on than there’s ever been because of such readily communication that we’re all involved in and where we are and the Internet and where we log on.
A lot of people read Facebook now as the newspaper, more so, instead of XXsubtext?? 0:22:03.000XX
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. I think the average person logs in, I think it’s five times a day, to Facebook? It’s something like that.
Wes Carr: Yeah, so, it’s in your phone. I mean, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was 15 times a day, to be honest. Because you’re on your phone and you’re on the bus, you’re on Facebook. You’re waiting on the bus… Like, I mean, I look around at a café and there’s people just on their phones, you know?
It’s a little worrying, but, you know, as long as they’re kind of, I don’t know, reading something that’s sort of expanding their minds instead of “the dog did a poo on my lawn this morning” or something, you know. Some weird… If they’re reading something of worth, then I agree with the communication. But the irony is that we’ve got so much communication now that nobody; it feels like nobody’s really communicating.
And it takes people like a Pete Evans or somebody to kind of put their hand up and say, look, you know, what’s going on over here? I mean, a lot of people are calling him “evangelical” or whatever, but maybe that’s what’s needed at the moment to sort of get through, penetrate through to the mainstream. You know?
The media are only going to report and laugh about it. It’s become a bit like the court jesters back in the medieval times, the media, I think. So I think, you know, that’s the thing.
Guy Lawrence: The great thing with Pete is that he’s making people think about what they’re eating.
Wes Carr: That’s right. And I think that’s all he wants. I mean, he’s not the devil and all this other stuff; all this rubbish that’s coming out. It’s just ridiculous. If people could think about just; if people could think why; what’s the agenda with the newspaper? Why are they writing this stuff? Why are they bullying these people? They’re just basically trying to spread some love into the world. You know? That’s basically what it all is. That’s what I believe.
Stuart Cooke: It’s not as if he’s pushing a potato juice diet. You know?
Wes Carr: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: It makes perfect sense. He’s really pushing what our grandparents used to eat before everything got screwy.
Wes Carr: Absolutely. That’s all it is, you know? That’s all it is. It’s just what our grandparents used to eat. And, you know, it’s deemed like they’re running around saying it’s gonna kill a baby, which is just absolutely ridiculous. You know? My boy grew up on the food and he’s the smartest kid I’ve ever known. I may be biased, but he really is. He’s two and a half and he’s talking whole sentences because his brain’s had the good fats, and it’s just bloody common sense, to be honest.
And, for me, getting back to my journey with it all, it’s like, you know, for me, a big thing is meditation. I mean, it’s more about, for me, it’s more about the soul and looking after your body, but also what comes; what’s around your body, you know?
And that’s who we are really, I think.
Stuart Cooke: I’ve heard the term “spiritual transformation” in some of media articles that I was reading prior to the interview. Is that something that you could explain a little for us?
Wes Carr: That’s funny because I never read anything about that.
Guy Lawrence: The media are at it again!
Stuart Cooke: They are. They are.
Wes Carr: Oh, well. As long as I’m not; you know XXa killer?? 0:25:39.000XX or something, I’m good.
Yeah, look, you know. For me, that’s another thing that came around about five years ago was transcendental meditation. I just; I had always really thought about meditation as being a bit, sort of “girly.” A little bit like, “Oh, what do you want to do that for? Sitting around and just kind of, yeah right.”
And I suppose I’ve been meditating anyway while playing music. That’s a meditation, absolutely. When you’re on stage it feels like you’ve disappeared for an hour and a half and then come back and when you get off stage you’re back there again and it takes you awhile to come down from being on stage.
But, yeah, that is a mediation as well. But for me, transcendental meditation, when I first did it, I went and saw a really amazing person called Carol Maher in Sydney and she taught; she gave me a sound, a mantra, and I just; she just sort of said, now just sit there. And she kind of integrated it into my psyche or system or whatever. You know?
And I just started kind of saying this word over and over again, and, man, it was like; I don’t know. I think David Lynch has the best analogy, which is he just sort of says it’s like standing in a lift and having the lift ropes being cut and you sort of free-fall down the shaft of the lift.
And it’s a bit like that. You just sort of, you kind of close up…
Stuart Cooke: How often do you meditate?
Wes Carr: It’s meant to be twice a day. So…
Guy Lawrence: For how long?
Wes Carr: Well, I do a thing called the Flying Sutras as well, which takes another 10 minutes on my 20 minutes. So, it’s an half an hour a day, morning and night. So, I get up early to do it. I have to get up early, really, to do it. Otherwise, I just can’t do it.
And then the night time’s a little bit harder to fit in with babies and everything else. But I still try to get into it, even if it’s just before I sleep. But it does help me a lot to balance my life, I think.
And some days, it’s funny because you start off with a mantra and you think, “I’m just going to really concentrate on a mantra.” And then boom, you’re off. And you’ve just got about 600 things that you discover that’s in your head that needs to be kind of almost like washed away.
Guy Lawrence: Like hitting the Reset button, is it, would you say?
Wes Carr: Yeah. It’s like; they say it’s like a bath-clean mind or a shower-clean mind. It’s funny, you know. As soon as you go into a meditation state, you realize how much is built up in your mind that you don’t know is there until you look within.
And once you look in, you see it all lined up all in a row and it feels like you need to deal with that stuff before you start with your everyday stuff.
And that’s what a lot of people don’t realize that there’s a lot of stuff going in your mind on a subconscious level or whatever it is under the surface that hasn’t been dealt with yet.
So, that’s why a lot of people feel stressed without knowing that they feel stressed. Or, I’m sorry, without knowing what it is that they’re stressed out about.
Guy Lawrence: Did you have coaching for a long time, Wes, or was this something you just pick up? Because I often hear people talk about meditation. But I don’t see many people that are actually habitually doing it on a regular basis.
Wes Carr: Yeah. I noticed that my life becomes a lot more powerful when I do it a lot more than if I skip a few or whatever and all of that.
I seem to go off on tangents or I start a song and don’t finish it. And I’m over here and I’m over there and I’m doing this and I’ve got 300 things going all at once. But if I just stop for that minute. And actually people say, “Oh, where do you get the time to do hours worth of meditation every day, morning and night?” And it’s like, well, I… Sometimes I don’t. But when I do do it I find that I achieve more. It’s like “do less, achieve more.” It’s that Tao Te Ching thing.
But a lot of people don’t trust that. They think that if you run around frantically and try to achieve more, you get more. And that’s not the way it is. It’s like, you know, you’ve got to give a little to get a little. You know? That’s the kind of thing; I think that’s what meditation’s all about. It makes you realize that if your mind’s right, you can sort of achieve anything, really. But you’ve got to take the time to practice it.
And it kind of makes your life feel better and then everyone else around you. You know? Because then you’re a little bit more relaxed so then it’s sort of a bit more…
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Fascinating.
Wes Carr: I think we’re taught to sort of get up and go, like, from the word “go,” you know, from school. I remember: “Work hard. Everything’s hard. You have to work at it. Work, work, work. Hard, hard, hard.” This, that, and the other. Fourteen hours a day. Come home, collapse, get up, do it again, eat shit food.
All of this stuff is just like, from birth. So, you know, if you kind of can wake a up a little around 30 or so is a good age to do it. You kind of come in, reprogram it all and start going, “Hey, well that didn’t really work for me.” Because it doesn’t really work. This all hard work. This whole mentality of pushing shit up a hill all the time. You’ve got to just sort of, yeah, think about it a bit more, you know?
Guy Lawrence: Oh, definitely. It’s funny enough. Myself and Stu did a talk at the Mark Sisson event two weeks ago, the Primal. And one of the things then, as well, I think was a major factor that we ended up talking about was about finding your purpose and passion in life and actually… because then it doesn’t feel like hard work. If you can start to find more purpose with what you’re doing every day, I think it’s a huge thing for your own sanity and health overall. Because it’s gonna wear you down. It has to.
Wes Carr: And it gives you the ease, so therefore the hard work, yeah, like you said, it doesn’t feel like hard work. It probably is hard work to work at it but it doesn’t feel like that, you know? And it gives you the ease to then go and achieve something of a standard that you’re happy with and not just kind of stuck behind a…
Guy Lawrence: Massively.
So, with everything you’ve sort of learned on your own journey so far, Wes, what would your advice to be to anyone that could be listening to this that is suffering from anxiety and depression? Like, what have been the key points for you that you could pass on to those people?
Wes Carr: I think; I read somewhere that Maharishi, actually, the guy who made transcendental meditation famous, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who was famous through; George Harrison went and got him; basically made him a world-famous guy overnight.
He said: When you experience fear and experience anxiety or anything like that, it’s actually the release of it. So, you’re releasing something within, that’s embedded within you, and if you just let it be released, you let it go, if you can let it go, it will go, it will subside, “all things must pass.” Which is a George Harrison quote.
Everything; it’s not going to be like this for the rest of your life. It feels like that way, and God, don’t I know that, where I couldn’t; I was so debilitated in my mind that that was it for me. I was fed up. The last experience or episode I had was really the one that was really the most violent one. It was something that I just could not escape.
And even if you looked at me you probably wouldn’t have known anything was going on. I had to fly to Groote Eylandt, of all places, on a tiny little plane from Sydney at the time and I was in desperate, desperate need of help somewhere. And I thought, “This is it. This is never gonna go away. And my worst terrors and fears are just going to be realized.”
And I now know that, you know, for me, I’m not anti-medication. I’m pro information. I’m not anti anything. If you need that, for the interim, do it, because it then will get your synapses working better. The Eastern and Western philosophies should mesh together. We should all have; if we have the Western philosophies of medication and all of that sort of stuff, we’ve got to have the Eastern where it’s the natural, and, I think, still, to this day, very progressive way of looking at things.
But if we have those both working together, which I’ve done, it helps you; it gives you so much more power. The Eastern philosophies give you so much more power and confidence to then go and become a natural healer or to heal naturally. It can really change your brain. It can reprogram your brain just by one happy thought in the morning.
It does work. You can get out of your funk. You can get out of your deep, darkest place. It’s a very, very easy thing to do but it doesn’t sound very easy when you’re in there. But just trust me. You can do it, just by one little thought: changing your routine, making a different; going to work a different way or go for a swim in the mornings or go to the ocean or go for a walk on the beach or something like that that changes; gets you out of your routine. Gets you out of your funk.
But, you know, in saying that, there are people out there who are chemically; there’s chemical and things out of balance or whatever, which I’ve had as well, and you probably do need some sort of help there, professional help that needs to be guided.
But be aware of the negativity, too, that comes with it. Because it’s not negative. You’re not crazy. I don’t believe anyone’s crazy. I think it’s just an issue with either their health or their backgrounds or something that you can reprogram very easily. We are all very intelligent machines and spiritual beings.
Stuart Cooke: We’re all capable of being happy and healthy. And I was interested in your comment before about the connection of the gut health to brain health. And so I was just wondering what strategies would you implement then from a nutritional perspective to nourish your gut?
Wes Carr: Well, I; this is my just repeating my wife, Pete, Nora, all the guys who are on the Paleo Way tour at the moment. Helen Padarin. It’s that, and I do struggle with this too, because my ego and my rock ’n’ roll background goes, “Bloody hell! This is all bullshit!”
But then my common sense kicks in and goes, “No, it’s not.” You know?
And it is. Fermented foods. A little bit every day, with every meal. Bone broth, which is amazing for you, for anything. Anything. Bone broths are just, like, the best. Fermented foods. You know: good fats. I don’t eat any legumes. Granted, I’m just basically rattling off the paleo diet. But really that’s all, for me, that’s what works the most. And small amount of meat and high; a lot of greens, basically, that’s all I eat, really. I go for the greens. Kale. I love kale. And just super… And green smoothies. Anything green and changing meat up every day. I’m just gonna have lamb, fish, beef, you know. Diversity. And just make it interesting.
And it’s pretty easy, really. And it’s pretty damn basic, too, I think.
Stuart Cooke: How empowering then is this, really, considering now that you can apply everything that you’ve learned to your son? Because I’ve got three daughters and they’re young and I think about what I ate when I was young. And we didn’t know. We lived in a society; we just didn’t know. It was microwaved TV dinners, fast food, sodas, McDonald’s. We were kids of the ’80s, you know.
Guy Lawrence: Exactly right.
Stuart Cooke: We can think about food as information. Food is ultimately nourishing. And we can help these guys grow in ways that we didn’t have access to years ago. So, any particulars for your child’s diet that you pull in every day as a staple?
Wes Carr: Yeah. For me, with the little man, Charlie has been; I mean, she’s got a book coming out soon. The Bubba Yum Yum book that’s the most controversial bloody book this side… in Australia, which basically just has nutrition. It’s unbelievable.
So, yeah, for me, I just think that… He just eats basically what I eat, but on a smaller scale, really. And he has a tiny bit of fermented foods, he has bone broths, he has; just meat once or twice a day. His gut is absolutely; we’re always trying to fit his gut because he just has sensory processing disorders and he was born on spectrum and he stimming and everything when he was born, which means they were showing a lot of signs of being autistic.
So, we went down this path very happily and very readily when we were advised to. I’d already known about it from my introduction from Dino anyway, so it wasn’t really hard for us to do it. But it really worked for him. He couldn’t take mum’s breast milk. So that was very traumatic for Charlie. And then we went through a whole bunch of different problems with him, formulas, and we just realized that all these formulas had, like, toxic crap in them. You know? It’s just junk. And it just makes him full. It doesn’t give him any actual nutrition at all, value at all, I don’t think. Corn syrup and all this other stuff.
So, you know, for us that’s when we found the Weston A. Price and we started making our own formula. And it really worked for him. And that’s when it started; and he loved it. And I just seems good for him. It seemed better for him than, say, your formula you get off your shelf that’s been in a tin for the last how every many years with whatever crawling all over it.
So, I mean, “breast is always best,” they say, but this was the second option that we thought would be great for him. They’re saying it’s too much vitamin A and all that, but that’s only synthetic vitamin A. It’s not natural vitamin A in all this stuff. So, there’s a lot of loopholes that the media have run with that have given it a very dark start and made it have a stigma around it because it’s new and; “new” in inverted commas, which it was only being used in the 1930s and ’40s by our grandparents as a staple diet for kids.
So, it’s funny, and it’s been published over 500,000 times, this recipe. It’s not actually a “new” recipe.
Stuart Cooke: It’s that new!
Wes Carr: It’s that new, man! It’s hilarious how; I don’t know what’s going on in Australia at the moment, but there’s a bit of a shakeup there. Don’t get me started with the indigenous communities. But, you know, I think in Australia we really have to start bloody getting up, world, and waking up a little bit and just realizing that the world is changing and it’s happening for the better.
And there is a beautiful, very non-aggressive revolution going on in the food industry and that’s our future and that’s our kids’ future.
Guy Lawrence: And ultimately what we want to do is be the best version of ourselves that we can be, and it we can do that through food, then why wouldn’t we?
Wes Carr: Absolutely. I mean, we are what we eat, isn’t it? Or we are what we absorb.
Stuart Cooke: It is completely. Where our kids are concerned, too, I mean, we’re great proponents of, regardless of who you are or what you do, we should generally eat the same things, but the volumes will change. So, you know, if you’re a super athlete then you’re gonna eat a little bit more.
Wes Carr: It’s a fine reality, isn’t it? Absolutely. It’s all about your individual needs, you know? That’s what it’s all about. I mean, what works for me doesn’t necessarily work for you.
But in saying that, the awareness, it’s all about being aware of what you’re eating and aware of who you are. You know? And why we’re here and all that.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. But I generally think, as well, the thirst for knowledge from general people is definitely there, because we’ve been at this for five years, roughly. When we started, people were: “What the hell are you two banging on about?”
And now it’s a completely different story. The podcast gets downloaded by the thousands and the content gets read all the time. There’s an awareness happening and the shift is coming, for sure.
Wes Carr: Right. And the people are just sick of the same old thing that’s making them sick. And I think it’s incredible, actually. I believe in consciousness and the collectively consciousness as a whole. And if you do really watch trends and how they evolve, it’s amazing how, when; you become a new person by just being in a different city, because of the consciousness around you. You tap into them. And if you’re more sensitive to energy or whatever it is, if you’re more sensitive to that, you become more aware more quickly.
But there’s the other people that are on to a different train of thought or a different vibration or whatever who it takes awhile. But then once the media start reporting it, it’s en masse consciousness. And then all of a sudden, that’s when everybody’s making up their own minds. And I know a lot of people that aren’t necessarily what you’d call “leading edge” or “hipster” or whatever the trendy word is.
I know a lot of people who are reading the papers these days and going; and making up their own minds for the first time. Because some of it’s absolutely ridiculous.
So, it’s great that they’re reporting all this stuff, because it’s just making all the awareness become a lot more mainstream and people are making up their own minds and thinking about it anyway, even if it is a fearful campaign or whatever that they run with just eating good food. But it makes people more aware of what they’re eating. I think that’s what I’m trying to say. And that’s great. The mainstream is starting to wake up. And that’s when you get a real revolution with everything is when Mr. Barryman, the guy who’s working on construction in Blacktown, is thinking about the healthy option for lunch. That’s when we’re really kicking goals.
Guy Lawrence: That’ll be the day. For sure, mate.
We’ve got a couple of questions we always ask at the end of our podcasts, and one of them is; the first one’s a very simple one. And it’s breakfast. What would you have eaten today, or let’s say yesterday. What did you eat yesterday, mate? Just to give people a rundown of the food.
Wes Carr: We’ve got some fermented cabbage in the fridge, so I; what did I eat for… I can’t remember. I had some sausage. I had some chili. Pork. Gluten-free sausages from our lovely butcher, GRUB.
Stuart Cooke: We know GRUB. Dominic?
Wes Carr: Dommy, yeah, he’s a good mate of mine. And I had some sausages and some fermented foods and some; I just had some kale. I just heat the kale up a little bit because raw kale sometimes…
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, yeah. I know what you’re talking about.
Wes Carr: And then I didn’t eat very much yesterday because I just; and then I had a green smoothie. I went and got a green smoothie with my little man. I don’t know why; I just had to kill some time. And we got back and I cooked up some chops for the little man. He loves his lamb chops. I think I had a chop and a bit of fermented food; a bit of fermented cabbage. Just a little bit again. And what else did I have? I didn’t really eat much yesterday, to be honest. I was so busy.
And then I had some slow-cooked bolognaise. My wife and I put a bolognaise on in the morning and we had it slow-cooking all day. And then we had that for dinner. With kale again, and some veggies. And I don’t think I had any fermented food that night, but I had some veggies and a bit of bolognaise.
And, yeah, the thing is when you’re on a high-fat diet, you don’t kind of seem to need to eat more when you’re really nailing it. It’s like when you first start going paleo, start changing your diet, you kind of feel like you need to eat a lot more than you should. Because I think, you know, I think sugar does that to you. It’s like you’re just insatiable. But once you sort of start getting used to not having too much sugar and not having too much caffeine and all this sort of stuff, you kind of don’t crave too much food. You just sort of have a big meal at the start of the day and then maybe a little bit in the afternoon and a little bit at night. You know? That’s kind of what we’re doing.
Stuart Cooke: I think so. I think you’re getting more nutrients as well out of the food that you’re eating, so you’re satisfied on a deeper level.
Wes Carr: That’s true. And I think the trick is, if you buy big bulk of mince and a chicken for your week, you put your bolognaise on the slow cooker for a day and you’ve got masses of food there left over for you, so that lasts a whole week.
And then sausages for; we’ve got a little 2-year-old so he loves his sausages and his lamb chops and things. So, put them on for lunch and then you have your bolognaise leftovers for either breakfast or for dinner. If you can stomach meat in the morning or not.
And then if you put a chicken on, you eat your chicken for dinner and then you put the bones, you make a broth out of the bones, if it’s… I’m talking organic, locally source sort of meat, not just… especially with chicken, you know. I think, anyway. Especially if you’re making bone broths out of the bones, you’ve got to have healthy chicken.
And then you’ve got your bone broth for four or five days as well, so you’ve got a broth with every meal. Like, I mean, your broth in the morning’s probably the best way to go, to wake up and to have a broth. I think that’s kind of a really good thing to do.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. I have a lot of bone broth.
Wes Carr: Yeah, it just gives you a clarity of mind. And, I don’t know, it does something to your whole system. It’s like having a coffee, I would say.
Guy Lawrence: It just comes back to educating yourself on why you’re doing these things and then learning the new habits that you can employ in replacing the old. And this stuff becomes quite simple to apply.
Wes Carr: And don’t beat yourself up if it’s taking too long to do that, too. I mean, everybody kind of says, “I don’t believe in this whole; I’d fall off the wagon.” Don’t fall off the wagon. Because as soon as you do that, you fall off the wagon.
So, it’s all about just changing one meal a day. Change one meal a day for a start. That’s what I did.
Guy Lawrence: That’s what we say. Absolutely.
Stuart Cooke: Start with breakfast because there’s normally a sugar anyway.
Wes Carr: Yeah. Yeah. It is absolutely horrible. And you wake up feeling so; you wake up feeling really tired and get more stuff that’s gonna make them feel even worse.
Stuart Cooke: You’ve been though the night, you’ve fasted, your body’s ready for nutrients, yet sometimes your Coco Pops just don’t cut it for you.
Guy Lawrence: So, Wes, we’ve got one more question for you, buddy. And it’s a simple one. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Wes Carr: Best piece of advice… OK. Best piece of advice… They’re all; they’re all some kind of XXrock dogs? Rock gods? 0:53:59.000XX; they’re all liars.
There’s one bit of advice; you know what comes to mind? I think it’s; what comes to mind is not an advice as such. It’s basically a mentality. And that’s; I really like the mentality of the Tao Te Ching. It’s a really great; I’m into Wayne Dyer and I don’t listen to music anymore. I listen to audiobooks.
And Wayne Dyer has got a great one, what is it? Oh, man. Let me have a look. It’s a Tao Te Ching translated, for anybody to understand. And, for me, that really resonated with me because of the fact of it’s a real mentality and you can apply it to your life every day.
And you actually trip yourself up every day if you get right down to it, because the ego runs rampant for everyone. You know, we’ve all got this massive ego that we need to appease on a day-to-day basis. But if you start becoming, to use that word again, aware of your ego, you start sort of stripping away that layer of your life. And you start to realize that all your needs that you think you need, you don’t need. And you don’t need anything other than a good diet, obviously. And a healthy mind.
And when you start sort of stripping away all the, I suppose, the noise in your life and all those things that you think you need, you start becoming a lot more calmer but also a lot more aware of what’s going on around you.
So, it’s Change You Thoughts and Change your Life is the book. But it’s a translation of the Tao Te Ching. It’s the Wayne Dyer translation.
Guy Lawrence: I’ve actually listened to that as well, yeah.
Wes Carr: And I was just really; it was really great. I think every kind of bit of advice for life is in it, really. It kind of does hit the nail on the head a lot, with everything. It kind of has it all in there.
And then he sort of thinks; I suppose say “thank you” a lot more. Be grateful. And be grateful for where you are in life and what you do, I suppose. And everything’s a service. As a musician, I’m just in the business of being of service, you know, as a musician. I think that gets lost a bit in the music industry. I think everybody’s out for themselves. But it is. It’s just a service. You know. You’re just a vessel that music’s coming through you. It’s nothing that, kind of, special.
You know? You’re giving something over. I think you’ve got to look at life like that. Just be grateful for who you are and where you are at the moment.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic, mate. And if anyone wants to get more of Wes Carr, where’s the best place to go?
Wes Carr: I’ve got a mailing list on my website. And I’m putting a weekly Wes Wednesday every Wednesday. In the afternoon, I send out just a little quote with a little thing every day about my; I don’t know. An experience I’ve had that week or just a quote that I’ve seen or heard of. Or talking to a dude on the street and he said this and I found it interesting. It’s just a little one-page thing to get you through the week. And it’s on my website WesCarr.com.au. And if you sign up to the mailing list, I send one every Wednesday.
And updates about where I’ll be and my shows and everything are all intertwined on the Wes Wednesday; what is it? Weekly Wes…
Guy Lawrence: The Weekly Wes Wednesday.
Wes Carr: I might have to change that.
Guy Lawrence: www…
Stuart Cooke: But you’ll have to change it to Thursday. It’s easier to pronounce.
Guy Lawrence: That’s brilliant, Wes. We’ll put the links under the show notes and everything, anyway, for people to be able to check out when we put the podcast out.
Wes Carr: Perfect. Yeah. Also, I just, on my Facebook I put videos up and everything, too. But, yeah, it’s all happening on my mailing list at the moment.
Guy Lawrence: Wes, we really appreciate your time. Thanks for coming on the podcast. That was fantastic.
Wes Carr: Thank you, guys. Thank you so much.
Guy Lawrence: And I have no doubt people are gonna get a lot out of it. Awesome.
Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on youriPhone HERE.
This week we have the fantastic paleo and primal expert Mark Sisson. He is a best selling author and runs the hugely successful blog ‘Mark’s Daily Apple’.
His experience and knowledge is exceptional, as he shares with us (in the above short video) how he defines what it takes to live a happy, healthy and active life whilst getting the most out of each day.
In the full interview below we dig deep into the world of Mark Sisson; from endurance athlete to the primal lifestyle, his exercise routines, his simple philosophies he applies to make the most out of each day and much more. And most of all how you can apply them into your life.
If you are loving the podcast’s or/& they are inspiring your health journey, we’d love to hear from you! Simply drop us an email or leave a review on our iTunes :)
Full Interview with paleo expert Mark Sisson
In this episode we talk about:
Mark’s journey from an elite carb-loading athlete to living the paleo way
What exactly the primal blueprint is
How to define what it takes to achieve amazing health
Why exercise for weight loss is not a great weight loss strategy
What a typical week of exercise looks like for Mark Sisson
Guy Lawrence: Hey, this is Guy Lawrence from 180 Nutrition, and welcome to another episode of the Health Sessions. Our fantastic guest today is paleo and primal legend Mark Sisson, a former marathon runner and triathlete in his early days, came on to make his mission to empower 10 million people in the primal lifestyle, pretty much worldwide.
He started his blog in 2006 and he’s now going on, I think, reaching over 150,000 people come to his website a day. Yes.
And he’s also the author of a very best-selling book, The Primal Blueprint.
Now, I’ve been following Mark for awhile, many years, including on my own health journey, and it was fantastic get him on the podcast today. He’s an all-around top guy, very humble, very down-to-earth, and a lot of fun, too. And it was just great to be able to pick his brain on so much. For, you know, I think 45 minutes for the show.
It’s all well and good to have knowledge, but, you know, experience is priceless, I think, and Mark’s certainly got a lot of that. You know, as he said on the show, he’s 61 years old, you know, he looks half his age, he’ll put most people half his age to shame, you know. Just in fantastic condition and a fantastic representative of what good healthy living is. But also not taking it all too seriously, to a degree, and having fun along the way.
Anyway, this was a stellar podcast and I have no doubt you will get a lot out of it today. As always, you know, if you’re enjoying our shows on iTunes, please leave us a review. Hit the five stars. Subscribe. They all add up and they all make a difference in helping us get the word out there with these podcasts that we do, because we know we’re reaching a lot of your guys now.
Also, we are on social media: Facebook, Instagram. Get involved. It’s all under 180Nutrition. And, of course, come back to our website. If you’ve got no idea where to start, these podcasts are a great place, but also we’ve got a free ebook we give away and that’s a great place to start, too. And that’s on 180Nutrition.com.au.
And, yeah, enjoy the show. If you’re enjoying it, also drop us an email. It’s great to hear from you. And we get a lot of emails coming in every week now, and keep them coming because we love to hear from you.
Anyway, enough of me rambling. Let’s get on to the show and over to Mark Sisson. Enjoy.
OK, hi, I’m Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart Cooke, as always. Hey, Stu.
Stuart Cooke: Hello, mate.
Guy Lawrence: And our fantastic guest today is Mark Sisson. Mark, welcome to the show. Thanks for coming on.
Mark Sisson: Thanks for having me! It’s great to be here.
Guy Lawrence: It’s great. Over here in Australia at the moment there’s a bit of a buzz going on because you’re coming over next month. Is this the first time you’ve been to Australia, or have you been here before?
Mark Sisson: No, I’ve been there. I’ve been to Sydney a couple of times. I’ve been to Perth twice. So, I feel like I’ve been on both ends of the continent. Now I need to do something in the center at some point.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, it’s excellent. And Manly, it’s a beautiful place, and I’m sure we will talk a bit more about that through the show as well. But where I was interested to kick off, Mark, is that you’ve affected so many people’s lives through their own health journey over the years, including mine as well, and myself and Stu were chatting and we are intrigued to hear a little bit more about your journey. You know, from back to your endurance athlete days to the transition to primal and everything. How did it all sort of happen and come about?
Mark Sisson: Well, it was a long process. And it was an evolution, for sure. I started out as an endurance athlete and was a fairly decent marathon runner in the ’70s and then became a triathlete in the early part of the ’80s, doing Ironman events and such.
And I wanted to do all the right things. I researched heavily into what it would take to be as fast as I could get, and to be as healthy as I could stay, and how best to fuel my body, and, you know, the conventional wisdom of the day was: train hard and long and eat lots of carbohydrates. Cross your fingers and hope that you get faster and win some races.
And I did get faster and I did win some races, but my health suffered tremendously, and over the years; I had to retire quite early from competition because of injuries because of inflammation and –itises and some other; some lingering sinus infections and a whole host of maladies. And I thought, “This isn’t right. I’m trying to be healthy and I’m trying to do the right things. I work hard. I’m following all the best advice. Why am I not healthy?”
And I just sort of dedicated the rest of my life to looking at ways that I could be as strong, fit, lean, happy, healthy as possible with the least amount of pain, suffering, sacrifice, discipline, calorie counting, and portion control.
And that really led me to discovering that fats were not the enemy. I increased the amount of fat in my diet. I discovered that I could get fit on much less training if I just trained smarter and not harder. I discovered eventually that if I gave up grains, my inflammation went away. And so the osteoarthritis that had pretty much taken me out of the elite marathon division; that went away.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome, I had in my gut that had really run my life for almost forty years, that went away. And it was really quite a revelation that, wow, by just changing a few things in the diet and by altering how much exercise I did and maybe getting a little bit more sun exposure to make some more vitamin D, I didn’t get sick as often, and all these things started to come into place, and it really created the template for what I now call the Primal Blueprint, which is my strategy for living an awesome life.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Fantastic. Stu?
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, before we get into the Primal Blueprint, I’m interesting in asking how does Mark Sisson define good health? Because I think we’re all in different stages on our health journey. And some people have just succumbed to the idea, “Well, I’m getting older, I’m not gonna be as fit and as strong, I’m gonna get more sick.” What’s good health mean to you?
Mark Sisson: Well, I think out of the blocks, the most important part of life is to be content, to be fulfilled, to be happy, to wake up every morning with a sense of purpose and excitement for what the day’s going to bring.
And in order to get to that point, I think you have to be in a position where you’re not in chronic pain, where you have enough energy that gets you through the day while you’re not moody or depressed. So all of the sort of things that comprise what I would call health in general go far beyond not being sick. They actually would comprise, again, like: How do I live an awesome life? How can I take what I have, whether it’s given to me by my familial genes or whether I’ve brought it on myself through inappropriate lifestyle choices over the past few decades, how can I today extract the most possible out of my life that gives me peace and contentment and enjoyment and fulfillment.
And, you know, it always comes back to: It starts with taking care of what you eat. How you eat is sort of how it manifests in your body composition. So, if you’re overweight you’re not gonna enjoy life as much as if you’ve arrived in an ideal body composition. If you’re in pain from inflammation and you can correct that through how you eat, then you won’t spend much of your waking day, you know, lost in that tunnel vision that has you focused on the pain and not all the wonderful things in life that are happening around you. Does that make sense?
Stuart Cooke: That makes perfect sense. Absolutely. I think that everybody is entitled to experience good health, and we’ve got so many mixed messages at the moment and we’re confused about so many areas, whether it be food or lifestyle choices, that I think we just…
Mark Sisson: Yeah. People want to do the right thing. They’re just confused and frustrated because over the years what they’ve been told was the right thing, in many cases by their governmental agencies or by their physicians’ boards or whatever, you know, haven’t necessarily reflected the truth.
And I’ve sort of made it my mission to identify some of these choices that people can make that are more likely to create a positive outcome if they engage in these activities. So, it may be something as simple as: “Well, I was told my whole life to avoid fat and to base my diet on complex carbohydrates.” Well, if that’s working for you, there’s a good reason, because now there’s a lot of research that suggests fat is not the enemy, that healthy fats are actually beneficial and good, and that you might be better-served by cutting out some of the sources or carbohydrate in your diet, because maybe that’s what’s causing you to gain weight or to become inflammation or to have; or to become inflamed, or to have pain throughout your body or skin issues or whatever.
And as we know, there’s; I sort of represent, I guess, the epitome of a healthy 61-year-old guy. You know, I’ve got my little issues that I’m always trying to deal with. Everybody’s issue is like really important to them, right?
Stuart Cooke: Exactly right.
Mark Sisson: So, yeah. So, we’ve all got our little Achilles issues, you know.
Stuart Cooke: I love that. And I’m always of the opinion that if you want something to change then, you have to change something. Otherwise, you’re probably going to experience the same result moving forward.
Mark Sisson: And that’s the beauty of what we do in the paleo and primal movement is we overlay a template which suggests that there are some obvious changes that you can make to your lifestyle and to your diet. But at some point, it’s incumbent upon you to learn enough about your own particular set of circumstances that you can start to experiment with, and we call it “tinkering at the margin.”
Am I somebody who can handle maybe a little bit more carbohydrate than the other person? Am I somebody who can’t exercise too much or I’ll tear up my muscle tissue? I am somebody who needs nine hours of sleep instead of seven and a half. And the are all sort of the; these are the fine-tuning points that I think are really critical for people to, when you’re being mindful about your life and mindful about your health, then they start to pay attention: “What happens if I stay up too late and don’t get enough sleep?” “What happens if I overeat?” “What happens if I exercise too hard or I’m training for a marathon and I overdid it?”
And just being aware is like key point number one. And then, like you see, then, from there, you can make the changes in order to derive the change that you’re thinking.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, absolutely. And we call that, or we refer to that as the “sweet spot.” Everybody’s got to find their sweet spot; find out what works for them. And, yeah, and turn the dial. If it doesn’t quite work, then experiment with the N equals 1, see what works for you, keep going, keep going. And when you find your sweet spot, then you’ve kind of got a blueprint for the rest of your life. Or at least for then.
Mark Sisson: And that’s another part of this that I think is really so awesome is that so many people who encounter a paleo friend who’s had some results or somebody who’s gone primal and has lost weight or gotten off the meds and they start to see what is possible, they quickly realize that this is a sustainable lifestyle. That this isn’t just something you do for 30 days because you have to grind it out and you have to sacrifice and struggle to get it done. This is so easy when you incorporate some of these simple changes in your life. You get pretty quickly: Wow! I can do this for the rest of my life.
And that’s so freeing and so empowering to have that sense.
Stuart Cooke: That’s right. Absolutely. Working towards long-lasting health as opposed to a 30-day quick fix diet which is, again, gonna yo-yo you up and down on your health and weight.
Guy Lawrence: And like you said, as well, I think it all comes back down to initial awareness, because so many people are unconsciously doing the wrong things and they’re not even aware that it’s affecting them so greatly.
And just even being able to put that on their map. You know, we spoke to a couple of friends yesterday, Mark, and said you were coming on the show today and they were trying to understand, I guess, if you were to do an elevator pitch to what the primal philosophies were, because they said, “Well, what does it mean to be primal?”
How would you sum that up to anyone listening to this?
Mark Sisson: You know, I sum it up differently every time, because it always, depending on the context, what I do with the Primal Blueprint is I allow people to affect their own health by decisions they make in their lives.
And by that I mean, at a deeper level, we each have this genetic recipe within us; this DNA recipe that wants us to be strong and lean and fit and happy and healthy. We were born with this recipe that builds that type of a body.
But a recipe, these genes, depend on inputs, from food, from exercise, from sleep, from all these things that turn the genes on or off. You want to turn on the genes that build muscle or do you want to turn on the genes that store fat? It’s all within your power. You can choose the inputs that flip those switches.
So, the Primal Blueprint is really about uncovering these hidden genetic switches that we all have in a way that manifests the body and the feeling and the presence that we all want to have in life; that we all sort of not just dreamed of but sort of subconsciously know is our birthright. And so the Primal Blueprint really is about it’s an empowering lifestyle that allows you to access the best possible health with the least amount of sacrifice and discipline.
Guy Lawrence: That’s a good point as well. The least amount of sacrifice.
Stuart Cooke: Who would not want that? Absolutely.
Mark Sisson: That must have been a long elevator ride, right? That was probably 40 floors.
Stuart Cooke: You’re on the top floor right now.
So, we’re very excited, then, that you’re bringing those philosophies and we’ve got a heap of other speakers as well coming over to the Primal Symposium very shortly in Manly. For everyone out there that isn’t too sure about what this is all about, what can we expect over the course of the weekend?
Mark Sisson: Yeah, so, the Thr1ve.me event is, it’s about three days of fun, and three days of getting back to understanding what enjoying life is really about, from all aspects. So, we are gonna talk about how to dial in the diet. And everyone who shows up, I suspect will have some experience, or not, with paleo eating or with the Primal Blueprint or that way, or low-carb.
We’re gonna tweak it. We’re gonna help you dial it in. We’re gonna talk about some of the strategies that you can use in your own experiment. We’re going to have some of the best speakers in the world, and presenters, with regard to body movement. So, we’ve got people who are gonna show you how to do Olympic lifts, if that’s something you want to do, in soft of a CrossFit genre.
On the other hand, we have people who are experts in body weight exercises. So, if all you ever want to do is go out in your back yard and do squats and lunges and dips and do it in a way that’s going to generate 80 percent of all that’s possible for you physically, we’ll have people there doing that.
We have the world’s preeminent expert on play, Darryl Edwards. Darryl’s been at eight of my events.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, we know Darryl.
Mark Sisson: Yeah. And Darryl is; he’s crazy in the funnest way possible. He basically embodies what it means to go through life with a sense of play in everything you do. And it doesn’t just mean, you know, dancing around and jumping around and acting crazy or playing games. It’s how to get that playful mindset in your work experience. Or, you know, family setting, where maybe there’s a little bit more play that would be required. Or, not required but be very helpful in bringing everybody together.
We have cooking demonstrations. So, people who are really interested in how to prepare the best possible paleo or primal meals will learn how to cook. It’s really all aspects of a primal lifestyle that we’re going to cover so that when you leave, at the end of the weekend, you’ll go: “Wow. No I really; I’m excited about what I can do with my own life to get to the next level.” Whatever that is. You may be just starting. You could get to the next level. You may already be well advanced in your paleo and primal living. But there’s always the next rung. There’s always something that’s the next level of excitement and anticipation, and that’s really what I want for everybody who attends.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, Absolutely. It’s going to be fantastic. I mean, we will be there; we’re looking forward to it.
Stuart Cooke: Oh, I can’t wait to get there after that description. I’m going now. Fantastic.
Guy Lawrence: So, like, with Josh from Thr1ve, he’s doing awesome things over there, especially creating awareness as well through his cafeterias and the food and everything he presents. And how did you guys connect… This is a two-fold question: How did you guys connect, and, secondly, are you seeing the same things in America with that change as well?
Mark Sisson: Well, how we connected was, he came to one of my events. So, I had an event in Tulum, Mexico a year and half ago, and it was very much like the Thr1ve event will be in Manly. He brought some of his company’s employees; it was to not just understand a little bit more about this primal lifestyle but it was probably a team-building exercise as well.
They had the best time. They had such a good time he came to me and said: How can I; I want to do something like this in Manly.” So, he had such a good time at our event he said I want to do this in Australia.
So, that’s how we met.
Now, when you ask, is there something like this in the U.S., what do you mean?
Guy Lawrence: In terms of awareness and accessibility to foods with the cafes and the change coming.
Mark Sisson: Yeah, so, I’m finding that Australia is ahead of the curve on a per capita basis, by far, than the U.S. I mean, I would say that Australia on a per capita basis probably has more awareness of the paleo ancestral lifestyle than any other country that I’ve encountered.
That’s very excited. So, you have a number of restaurants that are opening that are offering up this type of fare that isn’t just food that fits the primal or paleo parameters, but it tastes great, so anybody can eat there. You know? That’s the irony here is that you walk into these restaurants and go… I don’t want to walk into a restaurant just because it’s a health food place, you know. I want good food. I mean, I make a point of saying every bite of food I put in my mouth, I want to enjoy.
So, if you tell me it’s healthy but it doesn’t taste very good, I don’t want it. I’ve got no reason to eat it. This is about extracting all of the joy out of life that you can, and part of that for me means I want to enjoy every bite of food that I eat. And when I’ve had enough, I want to be willing to push it away and say, “You know what? That was awesome. I don’t need another bite. I don’t need to fill myself up. There will be more food around the corner.”
That’s sort of what some of your restaurants in Australia are starting to do. We’re starting to do it in the U.S. as well. And I’m actually launching a restaurant franchise concept in about six months in the U.S. as well.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic.
Mark Sisson: Yeah. Having said that, you know, we’re looking to expand the paleo world in the U.S. and it’s; we’re doing a good job but I do think we need to do a better job. I think, you know, we’ve got such great science behind what we’re doing. And the people who are in are all in.
So, we’ve got a culture thing where, you know, giving up the cinnamon buns and giving up the pizza, all that stuff, is kind of a tough ask for a lot of people.
Guy Lawrence: That’s fantastic. We are blessed here, especially in Sydney, you know. I can think of a couple of handfuls of places constantly where I can go and eat paleo very accessible.
Stuart Cooke: Just thinking out loud as well, you mentioned that your restaurant chain, I was thinking for your logo it could be a great big curvature kind of M, you know, golden kind of shape. I could work.
Guy Lawrence: For “Mark,” yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Change the color.
Mark Sisson: It could work.
I don’t have the legal budget to do that.
Stuart Cooke: OK. Just a thought.
I’d love to just get a little bit more specific now around health. I’ve got a few questions that I know everybody would be keen to hear your answer from.
If I wanted to make some simple changes right now, like today, that could have dramatic effect on my health, coming from, let’s say I’m following a standard Australian or American diet, what do you think I could do right now?
Mark Sisson: Well, the first thing you can do, and I think everybody knows this intuitively, is get rid of the sugar in your diet. So, that means getting rid of all of the sugary drinks. You know: the sodas, the soft drinks, the sweetened teas, even the juices, because a lot of those contain a tremendous amount of sugar. Certainly the desserts: the pies, the cakes, the cookies, biscuits, all of the really; it’s really obvious stuff to a lot of people. They know what to omit.
So, that’s the first thing. And a lot can be accomplished with that. I mean, you can really be well on your way to whatever weight loss program that you’re embarking on, regardless of whether it’s paleo or primal or vegetarian or vegan. If you got rid of the sugary stuff, you’d be way ahead of the game.
The next thing would be to get rid of the industrial seed oils. So, you get rid of processed foods that contain soybean oil, corn oil, canola. You know, things like that that are very; they are very highly inflammatory so a lot of people are probably carrying around a lot of extra weight in the form of water that they’ve retained because their entire body is inflamed as a result of their diet.
That’s point number two. And then following that I’d get rid of the processed carbohydrates. So, a lot of the grain-based flours, particularly gluten. I mean, I just think; I’m of the opinion that gluten benefits no one. There are some people who can maybe get away with a little wheat once in awhile. But it doesn’t mean it’s good for them. It just means it’s not killing them immediately.
And then there are a lot of people on the spectrum who are egregiously harmed by wheat and by other forms of grain. And I was one.
And you mentioned earlier, people are sometimes insensitive to what it is that’s causing problems with them, and they don’t get that the sodas that they’re drinking are causing inflammation, or actually helping to lead them into a Type 2 diabetic situation.
I was of the opinion for the longest time that whole grains were healthy, and I, even as I got into my research, started evolving my own diet, I kept grains in for a long time. I was doing research on how phytate bind with minerals and prevent the intake of minerals and how lectins have problems with the lining of the gut and how gluten was bad for people with celiac.
But, you know, I did all this research and yet I was continuing to eat grains in my diet. And my wife one day said, why don’t you just do a 30-day experiment and give up the grains? And that’s what changed my life. That’s really; that’s when the arthritis went away, that’s when the irritable bowel syndrome disappeared, that’s when the upper respiratory tract infections went away. That’s when so many of these minor issues that I thought; and, Stuart, you mentioned earlier that, you know, well, we assume that because we’re getting older, these must be normal and natural. Well, I assumed that, you know, I was already in my mid- to late-40s. I said, “Well, that’s probably a normal part of getting old.” And I assume that I was going to have to live with that. And all that stuff kind of disappeared when I gave up the grains. And I thought, wow, if I’m defending my right to eat grains so aggressively, in the face of what I know, imagine how many people out there are assuming that grains are benign and harmless and aren’t affecting them who might be tremendously benefitted by giving up grains.
So, sort of, what I say to everybody is, look, if that’s still a part of your diet and you still have some issues, why would you not want to do a 30-day experiment? Just cut out the grains for 30 days, there’s plenty of other foods you can eat. I mean, I don’t lack for choices on my list of foods to eat. But cut out the grains and notice what happens. Notice if your arthritis clears up or your pains go away or you lose some weight more effortlessly. Or your skin clears up.
There are a lot of things that are potentially being affected by this high-grain diet that so many people have.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely. Sugar. Processed vegetable oils. And, again, those processed carbohydrates as well.
Like you said, try it. See how you feel after 30 days. Do a self-experiment.
Mark Sisson: Yeah. People say, “Well, what can I eat?” And I go, well, you can eat beef, pork, lamb, chicken. You know: duck, goose, turkey. You can eat ostrich. You can eat croc. You can eat… And then you can eat all the vegetables, all the fruit, nuts, lots of healthy fats, butter. You know: bacon. It’s a pretty inviting way to eat food.
Stuart Cooke: You could always try and eat real food.
The thing I like about that is that when you do start to eliminate a lot of the processed foods, you almost reconnect yourself to the kitchen and to the ritual of cooking, and I think that is something that we are slowly losing through generations as we are kind of subject to so many of these convenience foods.
Mark Sisson: Yeah. I mean, it’s; we have a section on my website, on Mark’s Daily Apple, on every Saturday is a recipe. I have published three of my own cookbooks and three other cookbooks by other authors because these are so; these cookbooks are so popular. And figuring out how we can find ways to prepare real food in ways that are tasty and exciting, you know, it’s fun. I mean, it really is. It actually reconnects people with the kitchen.
Guy Lawrence: You know, you hear more and more of these stories as well, because you triggered them up when you were still training and reluctant to get off the grains. We had Sami Inkinen, the triathlete who rowed from San Fran to Hawaii, on our podcast last week.
Mark Sisson: Yeah, rowed meaning r-o-w-e-d. Not r-o-d-e, but yeah.
Guy: Yeah, that’s right. Sorry, it’s my Welsh accent, eh?
But, you know, he was saying he was close to becoming a Type 2 diabetic and he thought he was in the prime of his life. And the moment he cut out the grains and the sugars and increased his fats and trained his body that way, amazing.
Mark Sisson: Oh, and Sami’s; he’s just an incredible all-around guy. I’ve known him for a bunch of years. We’ve become good friends. And I watched him train for this event that he did with his wife, rowing from San Francisco to Hawaii.
But in the process he thought, oh, I haven’t done a triathlon for awhile, I’ll jump in the Wildflower Triathlon, which is a half Ironman distance, just as part of my training. And he won it outright. And he won it on a low-carb, high-fat, almost ketogenic training strategy.
And he’s a great example of somebody who’s taken the information, because he comes from a sort of a techie background as well, he’s very into the details and very into the minutia. And so he’s embraced this way of living and now, not just for himself and his wife, but for other people. He’s got basically a foundation that’s trying to help fight Type 2 diabetes.
And we’re all trying to kind of just allow the rest of the world to see what; how easy this is and let them in on our secret. Because it really is. It feels sometimes like it is a secret, like: “How come you guys don’t know this? We’re having so much fun here! We’re enjoying life so much doing this, and all you miserable guys out there just slogging along.” And I feel bad. I’m very empathetic. But that’s kind of how I feel sometimes. Like, we have this great secret. How come more people aren’t receptive?
Guy Lawrence: That’s so true. Yeah. Because when we question ourselves, “Are we in this bubble? Do not people…”
Stuart Cooke: We liken it; we’ve raised this before, but we liken it to the film The Matrix where Neo takes this pill and all of a sudden he’s in this completely different world and he realizes that everybody else are cooped up in this little bubble, and that’s not the real world at all. It’s insane.
But, yeah, spreading the word, it’s so important. And especially loving what Sami had done from his podcast and the amount of fat that he was consuming and being so amazingly healthy and coming out of that row with such a low level of inflammation as well, it really does kind of give an upper cut to this low-fat dogma that we’ve been plagued with for so many years.
Guy Lawrence: Well, while we’re on that kind of topic, then, which kind of leads into the next question, Stu, I’m gonna pinch it. But regarding exercise for weight loss. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that, Mark, from your point of view. Because obviously it’s one…
Mark Sisson: Sure. So, the major sort of overriding principle, if there is one, of the Primal Blueprint, is that humans are born to be really good at burning fat. We evolved in two and half million years of human evolution to be able to go long periods of time without eating, because that was just sort of what the environment offered up to us was sometimes nothing. So, this ability to store fat effectively, and then to be able to access and burn it as fuel effective, when there was no other food around.
This is a skill that we all have in our DNA. It’s hard-wired in our DNA. We are born with this ability to be good at burning fat. But very quickly in our lives, we sort of override that with access to cheap carbohydrates at every single meal. So, the body goes, “Well, I don’t need to store fat or I don’t need to burn fat if I’ve got this carbohydrate; this ongoing carbohydrate blood sugar drip coming in from every couple of hours all day long from food.”
So, the body starts to take the excess calories, store those as fat, finds out that it never really has to burn the fat because there’s always gonna be new sources of carbohydrate coming in. Glucose is toxic in large quantities, so the body is trying to get rid of the glucose by burning it. And if it can’t burn it, then it will store it as fat. Fat is a site where a lot of glucose winds up in a lot of people.
So, where was I going with that? What was the question again?
Guy Lawrence: Weight loss and exercise.
Stuart Cooke: Exercise purely for weight loss.
Mark Sisson: Yeah. So, the basic principle then, to be able to burn stored body fat, leads to the first paradigm, which is that you don’t even need to exercise to burn off your stored body fat. Because if you are able to be good at accessing this stored body fat, then your body’s gonna take whatever calories it needs to get from 9 o’clock in the morning until 1 o’clock in the afternoon, it’ll take it from your belly or your thighs or your hips. And it doesn’t require that it come from a plate of food.
And that’s a beautiful skill to develop: this ability to be able to burn off stored body fat 24 hours a day.
Now, if you get into that space and then you’ll trend toward your ideal body composition. You’ll always trend toward burning off the extra unused, unwanted body fat and coming down to that body that you need.
So, that, almost in and of itself, obviates the need to have to go out and burn 800 calories on the treadmill every single day. And what it means is that exercise is actually not a very good way to lose weight. It’s actually a terrible way to lose weight, when you think about it, because a lot of times when people are doing a lot of work on the treadmill and they’re burning; or, on the road, or riding a bike, or on the elliptical, or whatever it is they’re doing, and they’re counting calories, if they haven’t become good at burning fat yet, all they’re doing is burning sugar. They’re burning stored glycogen in their muscles.
Now, what happens as a result of that is they get home from the workout and the brain goes, “Wait. We just ran out of glycogen. The first thing we have to do is refill all of glycogen storage. Especially if this fool’s gonna try it again tomorrow.”
So, the body gets into this terrible spiral where you work hard, you sweat a lot, you burn a lot of calories, but your appetite goes up because you haven’t become good at burning fat. And so you overeat. You tend to slightly overcompensate and for a lot of people that means that, you know, you’re four or five years into an exercise program and you still have the same 25 pounds to lose.
It’s very depressing to watch people, and it’s very common, very depressing, to watch people at the gym every day. And you know they’re working hard and they’re trying to do the work. But they haven’t got; they haven’t handled the first order of business, which is to convert your fuel partitioning away from being sugar-dependent into becoming what we call a “fat-burning beast.” Become good at burning fat, 24 hours a day.
So, you’re burning fat. So, if you skip a meal, no problem, nothing happens to your blood sugar, your energy levels stay even, your body just derives that energy from the fat stored in your body. And it doesn’t mean you get hungry. All these wonderful things start to happen as you become good at burning fat. You become less dependent on blood sugar to run the brain. Because when you become fat-adapted, you become keto-adapted, and the brain runs really well on ketones. And ketones are a natural byproduct of burning fat.
So, all of these wonderful things happen: the appetite self-regulates. Now you don’t get ravenous and overeat at a meal because you were so hungry you didn’t know when to stop. Now your appetite says, “You know what? This is great. This is just enough food. I’ll push the plate away. I’m done. I’ll save it for later.”
And that’s; so, it all come back to this sort of primary skill in the Primal Blueprint which is being good at burning fat.
Guy Lawrence: Do you know what? I adopted that way of life, Mark, about nine years ago and prior to that I wasn’t even aware of how much the food was affecting my mood, my day, the way, when I exercised, my recovery. Everything. And it transformed my life. And people really need to get that, you know. It’s huge.
And we raise the question as well, not to deter anyone from exercise, because I exercise every day; I love it. But it makes me feel great and I do it for many other reasons. But weight loss is not; doesn’t enter my brain at all.
Mark Sisson: Yeah, so, good point. So, you know, I have an exercise plan, and I say you should find ways to move around a lot at a low level of activity. But the movement is more for your muscles, your pliability of the muscles, for your insulin sensitivity, which is coming as a result of moving the muscles. And you don’t need to count calories. Because, again, we’re not looking at exercise as a means of sweating off fat or burning away fat. We’re looking at exercise as a way of maintaining strength and flexibility and conditioning and so if you could find ways to move around, walking becomes one of the best exercises you can do. If you can get to the gym twice a week and do a high-intensity, full-body routine where you are working your arms and upper back and core and your legs. Twice a week is all you need, because once you’ve become good at accessing stored body fat and you realize you don’t need to burn off calories, then you realize also that you don’t need to do that much work to stay strong and flexible and well-balanced and all of the things that we’re looking for.
So, I’m a big fan of exercise and I do love to exercise, still, but I also try to find ways to play. So, for me, like, my biggest exercise day is Sundays when I play Ultimate Frisbee with my buddies; my mates down the road. We; there’s two hours of sprinting. And it’s the hardest workout I do all week. But at no point during the game do I look at my watch and go, “Oh, my God, when’s it gonna be over?” If I ever look at my watch it’s like, “Oh, crap, we only have 20 minutes left.” You know? It’s so much fun.
That’s how I see exercise and play coming together in a way that, yeah.
Guy Lawrence: What would your weekly exercise routine look like on a typical week if you’re at home?
Mark Sisson: So, Sundays, two hours of Ultimate. Mondays I might do an easy stationary bike ride, just mostly because the sprinting on the Ultimate is tough on my 61-year-old joints. So I’ll do maybe an easy bike ride then.
Tuesdays I might do a full-body routine. So, it’s gonna be pushups, pull-ups, dips, squats, lunges, things like that. So, I might do that Tuesday and Friday or Tuesday and Saturday.
Wednesday I might go for a paddle. I do a stand-up paddle for an hour and a half. And that’s a nice, fun aerobic activity that builds tremendous core and, same thing, the whole time I’m doing it, I’m usually with a friend or two, and we’re chatting away and we’re aiming for a point three or four miles out, but we’re still having fun and chasing dolphins and doing all this stuff and never thinking, “When’s it gonna be over?” You just think, “Wow! This is so cool. We’re out in the ocean, it’s the middle of the day, we’re getting vitamin D, we’re hanging out with the dolphins or the whales, it’s spectacular. And it’s, oh, by the way, it’s a killer workout.
It just leaves; I’ve got abs at my age that I wished I’d had when I was in my teens, because the paddling is such a good core exercise.
Guy Lawrence: I love being in the ocean as well. We live by the ocean ourselves here in Sydney and it’s just magical.
Mark Sisson: Yeah. Yeah.
And then I might do a hike one day. I might get on the bike and do intervals. Or, I have… Do you know what a VersaClimber is?
Stuart Cooke: No.
Mark Sisson: A VersaClimber is a rail with handles; it’s got handles, you know, feet and arm holds you can climb. So I might do an intense interval workout on that. I’ve got one in my garage. And I can be on that thing warmed up, do an amazing interval workout to where I am, as you would say, truly knackered, and then cool down and be off in 22 minutes, because it’s just so effective a piece of equipment.
So, you know, I don’t… The old days of going out for a five-hour bike ride and all that stuff and just struggling, those don’t appeal to me anymore. So, the most I’ll do is maybe an hour and a half paddle, or something like that, or an hour and a half hike. Otherwise, it’s short, it’s sweet, and sometimes intense.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Fantastic. Awesome.
Stuart Cooke: Well, you’ve just made me feel very lazy. I’m going to have to do something.
So what about vices? Do you have any vices? You know, that you’ll sneak a piece of pie here and there?
Mark Sisson: Well, you know, I don’t completely shun desserts. My thing on desserts is: All I need is a bite or two to get a sense of what it is. So, the idea of having giant piece of cheesecake or, we were at a, my daughter had a birthday the other night, we were in a restaurant, and they brought out some baklava. And I had to have a bite of that, even though it contained sugar and a little bit of wheat. But, you know, one bite was all I needed and it was like, OK, this is spectacular. But the alternative to that would have been to spend just three more minutes devouring the entire thing and then being left with and achy gut, a racing heart, sweating, and I probably wouldn’t be able to sleep.
And so it’s really knowing what you can get away with. I mean, that’s sort of the; I hate to put it in those terms but some people can get away with a lot. There are some people who are allergic to peanuts, can’t get away with one tiny piece of peanut. So, you know, there’s… And with regard to the desserts, I just; I don’t like feeling of excess sugar in my system. I clean myself out so much that it just doesn’t feel good. And it’s certainly not worth the three minutes of gustatory pleasure sorting it out over the next five hours.
You know, I used to drink two glasses of wine a night for a long time. And I’m on record with the primal movement as saying, “You know, wine’s not bad.” Of the alcoholic choices, wine is probably the least offensive.
But recently I sort of gave up drinking two glasses of wine a night. I might have one glass a week now. Because I think it serves me well. I probably sleep better as a result of not doing that. So, I’ve given that up.
You know, otherwise, you know, no real “vices.” I mean, not to speak of.
Stuart Cooke: That’s great. And like you said, even with the wine, it’s pulling back to your sweet spot and turning the dial and just finding out what works for you.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, absolutely.
Stuart Cooke: Because we’re all so radically different.
Guy Lawrence: Do you find; how do you keep things primal when you’re traveling, Mark? Like, do you find that easy? Difficult?
Mark Sisson: Yeah, I do. I do find it easy. I think you do the best you can, for one. That’s all you can do. But my life doesn’t revolve around grass-fed beef and wild line-caught salmon. I’ll eat a nice steak in a restaurant if it’s been grain-fed. It is what it is. You know, I’m not; it still, in my world, better than a bowl of spaghetti with some kind of sugary; or a sauce made with canola oil or something like that.
So, it’s just a matter of degree. And it’s a matter of the context in which you find yourself.
So, there’s not a restaurant in the world that I can’t go into and find something delicious to eat, even if I have to ask the waiter to go back and have a few words with the chef.
But, you know, that’s… and when I travel, I don’t exercise that much if I can’t get near a gym, or if I don’t have a chance to exercise. Because I know, I have trust, that my body is not going to fall apart because I missed a workout. And the older I’ve gotten, the more I realize that, wow, I probably worked out way too much, even as recently as five years ago. And sometimes I go into the gym now and I might do 50 pushups, 10 pull-ups, 40 pushups, 10 pull-ups, 30 pushups, eight pull-ups, and go, “I’m done.” I don’t need to; I’m as pumped as I’m gonna get and anything more than this is just gonna be killing time and talking to other people in the gym.
The reality is it doesn’t take that much work, once you’ve achieved a level of fitness, it doesn’t take that much work to maintain it. And that’s really part of the beauty of the human body. The body doesn’t want to make that many changes.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, maintenance, isn’t it? I think, like, in terms of traveling, it’s just making the most of what you’ve got with the environment where you are and once you’re tuned into it, like you said, it becomes straight-forward.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely. And especially where food is concerned, because we do live in this world now where we’ve got so many convenient choices when on the road, and I think just a little bit of understanding about the foods that serve us and the foods that don’t. But like you said, you can eat anywhere, and you generally get a good-quality protein and some veggies in most places.
Mark Sisson: You’re good to go! That’s all you need. Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: That’s it.
Mark Sisson: You know, what I find about traveling, probably the one thing that concerns me the most when I travel is sleep. And that’s, you know, so when I come to Oz I’m gonna be, you know, very diligent about how I orchestrate my sleep cycles during the transition, starting with leaving the LAX airport at 10:30 at night, how I spend the next 16 hours.
But also when I get to the hotel. I’ll look at the quality of the curtains and how much I can black them out at night, or how much light comes in from behind the curtains. I’ll look at the noise outside the window and whether or not there are going to be garbage trucks at 4 a.m. underneath my window.
I will literally look at the air-conditioning system, not for how cold it makes a room, but the kind of noise that it makes as a gray noise. And if it’s; I’ve been known to do this. If it’s too much, I’ll put a towel over the vent and I’ll put shoes on it and I’ll temper the whole thing because I want to orchestrate my sleep to approximate, as much as I can, what I’m used to at home.
And so sometimes for me that becomes; the biggest challenge is to sleep.
Stuart Cooke: Well, that’s it. If sleep falls down then everything falls down. Any particular supplements that you would take with you to help sleep at all?
Mark Sisson: You know, I do take melatonin. I take melatonin to adjust to wherever I’m going to be. So, whenever I travel, whenever I arrive at a new country, particularly. In the U.S., three time zones is nothing. I adapt to that immediately. But, you know, six or eight or nine time zones, a lot of times what I’ll do is I will arrive, I’ll maybe go for a long walk or do some kind of a bike ride or some workout, just to get my blood pumping and to get adapted to the air or whatever. I’ll do whatever it takes to stay up until it’s bedtime in the new time zone. So, I won’t take a nap. The worst thing you can do when you travel across time zones is take a nap. Because the body thinks, “Oh, this must be nighttime.”
But as it’s time to, if I’ve stayed up; and it could be 8:30 or a quarter to 9. You know, just enough time to be able to start to adapt immediately to the new time zone, I’ll pop a melatonin. Probably 6 milligrams of melatonin the first night. And I’ll do that maybe an hour before the time I plan on hitting the pillow. And so the melatonin helps to reset the internal clock.
Again, having black-out curtains and having the room be the right configuration to be able to sleep helps.
And I find that sometimes by the next day, I’m adapted, adjusted to the new time zone.
Stuart Cooke: And with everything that you’ve got going on as well, I mean, surely you’d have a busy mind. You’ve got so much on your plate. How do you switch that off at nighttime?
Mark Sisson: When you find out, Stuart, you let me know. Find a good way to do that.
Stuart Cooke: I’ve asked everybody.
Mark Sisson: That’s another tough one. That’s a really rough one, because I do have a difficult time.
Now, most recently, for the last month and a half, I’m fortunate enough to have a pool and a Jacuzzi outside my living room. And a fire pit. So, my wife and I, we stop watching TV around 9:30, a quarter to 10, I keep my pool around 52 degrees; it’s very cold in Fahrenheit, and so I’ll go dip in the pool, spend as much time as I can in that cold, cold, cold water, and then get in the Jacuzzi and hang out for 15 minutes while the fire pit is casting a yellow-orange glow. And then we go right to bed.
And that’s been almost like a drug for me. It’s crazy how effective that is in turning off the noise, the monkey chatter, and being tired, but in a good way. Not beat-up tired but just feeling like when you hit the pillow: “Wow. That hormetic shock of the cold, cold, cold, being in there for a long time, and then bringing the body temperature up with the Jacuzzi.
And, you know, people say, well, I can’t afford that. Well, you can afford a cold shower. And there’s some ways you can play around with that if you want to do that. You can change the light bulbs in your reading lamps to get a yellow light.
But I found the combination of the cold therapy and the yellow light coming from a fire, from a fireplace, has such a calming effect on me that the monkey noise, the monkey chatter, has diminished substantially and I go to sleep just like that.
Stuart Cooke: Perfect. Yeah. I actually find the orange glasses as well that block out the blue like from any devices that we may have work in an unusually calming way as well, which is, again, just another tactic that works for me and you’ve just got to find that sweet spot. But sleep, absolutely. I love talking about sleep. I really do.
Mark Sisson: It’s like this thing that no one dares to talk about if they’re anyway involved in production, productivity, and athletics or whatever. It’s “Oh, I get by on four hours or four and a half or five hours.” Oh, man. I was like, I rejoice in the amount of sleep I get and I’m proud of it.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely. I’m working on getting more every day. That’s for sure.
So, we’ve just got one question we always ask our guests and I’m sure you’ve been asked this a million times.
Guy Lawrence: Two questions.
Stuart Cooke: What have you eaten today?
Mark Sisson: So, today… I usually don’t eat until about 1 o’clock in the afternoon. So, I get up, I have a cup of coffee when I get up, so I have a big cup of rich dark coffee with a little dollop of heavy cream in it. And don’t tell anybody, but a teaspoon of sugar. Actual sugar.
Guy Lawrence: All right.
Mark Sisson: We won’t tell anybody. No, but, I mean, it’s really about the dose. It’s the only sugar I have all day and that’s when it is and it makes the coffee a very pleasant, pleasurable experience.
Today, for lunch, I had a giant salad. We call it a “big-ass salad” here in the U.S. That’s my term. So that was 10 or 15 different types of vegetables with a dressing based in olive oil, but also avocado, a whole avocado in the salad. And then tuna was my protein of choice.
I did have two bites of something before that. I had a; I’m involved in a bar manufacturing startup company called Exo. They’re making bars out of cricket protein powder. Have you heard of it?
Stuart Cooke: I have, yeah.
Mark Sisson: So, I’m on their board and I’m an investor in the company and they sent me their new flavor, which is I said they needed to be higher protein and higher fat. It is off-the-charts good. I can’t wait for this to be on the market. It’s a great tasting bar and it’s really exciting.
Stuart Cooke: Is it crunchy?
Mark Sisson: So, the thing about cricket protein powder is it’s been so ground up, finely ground up, you could not tell the difference between a jar of cricket protein powder and a jar of whey protein isolate. You can’t visually tell. The mouth feels no different. So, the only crunch in there are the nuts. So, it’s fantastic.
So, anyway, I had the salad. I’m meeting some friends in town tonight at a new franchise restaurant in town. I guarantee you I’ll have a steak and some grilled vegetables on the side. And that will be it. I might have a handful of berries this afternoon as a snack. And that’s pretty much an average day for me.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic. And, mate, the last question we always ask everyone, and this could be non-nutritional related, anything. It’s: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Mark Sisson: Well, the best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is to invest in yourself. And for a lot of people, that means education, it means, in my case, where I’m going with this is: Your job is to take care of your health. That’s your number one job. Where you go to work for eight hours a day is a secondary job. That’s almost a part-time job. Your full-time job is taking care of your health. And the more you can learn, the more you can invest today, in yourself, whether it’s education; it could be investing in a business that you’re building, because that’s what I did. I invested back in my own business to grow the brand of primal.
And, for a lot of people, it can be simply investing in your health. Like, the more money I spend on good food to feed my body and nourish my body, the less chance there is that when I’m in my 60s or 70s or 80s I’ll be sick and then having to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless hours of agony combatting something that I could have easily not gotten because I paid attention and I invested in myself at an early age.
Stuart Cooke: That’s good advice. Absolutely. Get stuck in. No one should be more invested than you, I think. Not your health care providers…
Guy Lawrence: Absolutely.
Mark Sisson: Yeah. Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: We need to know what works for us.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic, mate. You know, for anyone who hasn’t heard of you, Mark, which I struggle to find, but if that’s the case where can they get more of Mark Sisson? Mark’s Daily Apple is the best place to?
Mark Sisson: Yeah, MarksDailyApple.com is the blog. And everything I’ve ever said I’ve said there. I’ll say it in different ways and different venues, but it’s really the place to start.
PrimalBlueprint.com is my commerce site where you can buy my books. You can also buy them on Amazon, of course. But my books and some of the supplements that we make that are very tuned into the primal lifestyle.
And, yeah, those two sites, Mark’s Daily Apple and Primal Blueprint, are the main go-tos.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic. We’ll link to them under the show notes and everything. And, Mark, thanks for coming on the show. That was awesome. We really appreciate it.
Mark Sisson: It’s my pleasure. Great hanging out with you guys.
Stuart Cooke: Brilliant. Brilliant. And cannot wait to see you in a couple of weeks when you’re over here.
Mark Sisson: Yeah, likewise. That’ll be fun. It’s coming up very soon, too.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, it is.
Guy Lawrence: Very soon. Three weeks. It’ll be awesome.
Good on you, Mark. Thank you very much.
Guy:Working in the fitness industry for almost 10 years, I would get exposed to hundreds of people each week. It was during this time that I got to understand the public perception of the exercise and fitness world.
Being in the firing line every day I got to cut through the noise, confusion and misconceptions of it all and felt inspired to write this post. So if you find yourself practicing any of the below, maybe it’s time to rethink your strategy.
1. Sit-ups Burn Belly Fat
I can’t tell you how many people would be doing sit-ups, medball twists and crunches because they wanted their stomach and obliques (side ab’s) flat and toned. I know many athletes and weightlifters that have abs popping without doing a single sit-up. Why is this you may ask? Drum roll please… It’s because they understand nutrition, reduce inflammation and work with fundamental exercises that activate the core. Crunches give you strong abdominals, the fat that sits on top of that is a whole different story. If this sounds a little foreign to you and you want to learn more, download our free eBook here.
2. Running for Weight Loss
It’s a common sight, people pounding the streets or spending hours on the treadmill with weight loss as their goal. At first glance this seems like the right thing to do, but the simple answer is this – if you are running for weight loss, your diet is wrong.
This is the greatest fear with women but I would see it with men occasionally too who don’t want bulky thighs and giant biceps! If only it was that easy. Lifting weights is one of the best strategies for increasing metabolism, toning the body, steadying blood sugars and burning body fat. Did you know fat occupies 4 to 5 times more space than muscle? If you exchanged 5kg of body fat for 5kg of muscle you would reduce your body size and have a more toned definition. This is why weighing scales should only be used to weigh your suitcase when you are going on holidays. Learn more reasons why weights are awesome here.
4. You Need to Carb Load
This is the strategy we are taught as fitness trainers and is even more applicable to endurance athletes. Ramp up those carb’s to get you through your workout. The short answer to this is that there are many studies showing that fat adapted athletes respond better than carb loaders. Carb’s are reduced and natural fats are increased with some of the benefits of delivering quicker recovery times, reduced inflammation, less injuries, steady long lasting energy and reduced excess body fat. If you want the more scientific answer, listen to our full interview with running legend Professor Tim Noakes here.
5. Spend Hours in the Gym to Get Fit & Buff
There’s a big perception that more exercise means more results, whether it be muscle building or weight loss. That is so simplistic it’s not funny as there are so many variables at play. There really is a minimum effective dose when it comes to results, and with the multitude of factors in place like nutrition (yes that means eating real foods and avoiding marketing fads), intensity, variation, recovery periods, sleep, type of exercise etc, you must have a clear understanding of all of these to realise your own true potential. They say a six pack is made in the kitchen, and I tend to agree with this. If you understand and implement all the other factors you’ll be the envy of all your friends in half the time :)
6. The Single Best Exercise for Weight Loss
This kind of marketing drives me nuts. I’m all for educating people and simplifying things so it’s digestible and easier to understand, but TV and dodgy advertising tends to skew the message. I would get constantly asked what the best exercise for weight loss was, and my answer would always be the same… ‘do you want the fluffy chocolate covered strawberry answer, or do you want the facts? Sorry to tell you that there is no single best exercise for weight loss… But if you want just the straight facts then watch this short video (2 ½ mins) with us and Australian Institute of Kettlebells founder Dan Henderson.
7. Yoga is for Women, Vegan’s & Tree Huggers
Being a male yoga fan, I had to include this one as I swear some of my mates think that I’m the only guy (pun intended) in the class breathing through one nostril and visualising flowers. To all the guys out there who are reading this, get in there as you are missing out! Especially if you’re an athlete or take your sport seriously, as I’ve seen many of them greatly improve their flexibility and mobility. Personally I practice two to three times a week and mine has gone through the roof. Physically and mentally I’ve found this the perfect counter-balance to the intensive training I do and it compliments it perfectly. There is also magic to be found in a Yin style class (i’m addicted), and I would urge anyone with high workout routines to check them out too. Yoga’s popularity over the years has grown massively for a reason, so don’t let the ego get in the way ;) Watch this 2 min clip with ex army officer Duncan Peak why athletes benefit from yoga.
Guy: Working in the fitness industry for many years, the one question I would get asked all the time was, ‘what’s the best exercise for fat loss?’ So it was great to be able to reverse rolls and ask our special guest this week that very question :)
Dan Henderson is co founder of Australian Kettlebell Institute. The first ever accredited Kettlebells and functional training educators here in Australia. He is also the founder of Coastal Bodies, a Sydney personal training studio that specialises in fat loss, muscle gain, strength and fitness and corrective exercise.
Dan has a BA in Sport and Exercise Mgt, Honours in Human Movement, Cert 3 and 4 in Fitness Instruction, Functional Movement Screen (FMS) Level 2, Level 3 IUKL Kettlebell Instructor, Certified REHAB Trainer, CHEK Holistic Lifestyle Coach (HLC).
The Full Interview: Kettlebells, Fat Loss & the Minimum Effective Dose
Enjoy the interview or got any questions for Dan or us? We’d love to hear them in the comments below… Guy
Guy Lawrence: Hey, this is Guy Lawrence with 180 Nutrition, and welcome to another episode of the Health Sessions. Our special guest today is Dan Henderson. Now, Dan is the founder of Australian Institute of Kettlebells. Now, these guys were the first-ever accredited kettlebell and functional training educators here in Australia, and they’ve now coached over thousands of personal trainers.
Dan also has a personal training studio that he’s been running for seven years in Sydney, you know, specializing in fat loss, muscle gain, strength and fitness, all the usual stuff, and he also has a BA in Sport and Exercise Management and an Honors in Human Movement.
Pretty cool, eh?
You know, working in the fitness industry myself for many years, you know, there was also one question I have to ask him, because I would get asked this time and time again, you know: What is the best exercise for fat loss?
So we dive into stuff like that and many other things as well, and dig deep into the world of fitness, exercise, and kettlebells, and I’m sure you’re going to enjoy it. If you listen to this through iTunes, you know we always really appreciate a review. It takes two minutes to do, and it really helps with our rankings and gets the word out there. So that’s much appreciated and, of course, if you’ve got any ideas for future podcasts, drop us a line, you know.
And, also these are also shot in video, so if you are listening to us through iTunes, come over to our blog at 180nutrition.com.au and you can see our pretty faces as we talk as well.
But anyway, enjoy the show. You’ll get a lot out of this today. I have no doubt, and let’s go over to Dan.
Guy Lawrence: All right, so, I’m Guy Lawrence. With Stuart Cooke, as always, and our special guest today is Mr. Dan Henderson. Dan, welcome. Thanks for joining us on the show, mate.
Dan Henderson: Thank you very much for having me, boys.
Guy Lawrence: We’re very excited. So, was thinking, personal trainer, fitness studio owner, founder of Australian Institute of Kettlebells, the list is pretty impressive, mate. Have I missed anything?
Dan Henderson: Thank you.
Guy Lawrence: Tell us, yeah, clearly you’ve got a passion for health and fitness. How’d it all start with you?
Dan Henderson: Yeah, look, it’s been something that has been there as long as I can remember, Guy. It’s, you know, I’ve always loved to be fit and active. I was always encouraged to play a lot of sport. Where I saw my career heading was actually into the sports management side, so I just loved being around sporting events. I loved the competition. So that’s what I studied at university, but found myself really gravitating towards the fitness side of things as opposed to sport, and, yeah, it’s just been, you know, full on from there.
It’s really been… It’s not only my job, but it’s my passion, and that’s what I’ve been pursuing for the last seven years, from the time I’ve been in the fitness industry full time.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Amazing. I did your kettlebell certification, like, when you guys first started out. It’s been quite a while ago.
Dan Henderson: Yeah. That would’ve been many moons ago. That would’ve been about five years ago. So, yeah. We’re over five years now with that certification. Couple of thousand trainers in four or five different countries we’ve done now, and, so, it’s, from the little course you would’ve done five years ago to what it is now, it’s been exciting.
Guy Lawrence: It’s massive.
Stuart Cooke: So, why kettlebells, Dan? And did you ever think of founding the Australian Institute of Skipping Ropes, perhaps?
Dan Henderson: It really, it was a tough decision, Stewey. Skipping ropes was definitely, aerobics, was definitely in the mix. Decided to go with the kettlebells…
Guy Lawrence: They’re great fun.
Dan Henderson: Yeah! It was, it was a tough call. It’s, you know, a little less Spandex I had to wear there. That was a definite con. Seriously, the kettlebell was just this tool which I just gravitated towards. I loved it. I love the dynamic nature of nature. I love the coordination, developing power, developing speed, strength.
The skill component really got me, so it was like, it was like learning a new sport or martial arts. So that’s what really attracted me towards it and, you know, the intention when I used it wasn’t to form a new company where we’re, you know, running 200 courses in a year. It really wasn’t. It was, “Hey, this is a great tool. I love it.”
I found out everything I could about it and then I wanted to learn more and there was just not much in Australian market for PTs, so I put together a little course, ran it, you know, to really small groups of four and five for about, oh, twelve months and everyone else caught on about what a great tool kettlebell was.
And, it’s just, now you can’t go into a gym without there being kettlebells or kettlebell classes and a lot.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Dan Henderson: Back then, it was, no one was using them, and it was, it’s been a phenomenon since then. Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: I’m just assuming that everyone listening to this is going to know what a kettlebell is, right, you know, like a cannon ball with a handle really isn’t it?
Dan Henderson: That’s a good description. It’s a good description. It’s like a big round, circular weight with a handle. That’s what it is.
Guy Lawrence: And they just vary in different weights, right. And, but, like you said, because I’ve been, you know, I was a PT eight, nine years ago, and you just wouldn’t see a kettlebell in the gym. Period.
Dan Henderson: No. No way.
Guy Lawrence: Do you know the history of them? Like, where did they come about?
Dan Henderson: Yeah, so there from Eastern Europe. History, kind of, you know it’s an old tool. It’s a tried and tested tool. It’s been around, I think, like, some of the research says couple of hundred years in Russia. They were using it with their athletes. They were using it with their armed forces. And, you know, they’ve taken a different shape and the style of exercises has changed as well and developed, but it’s a tried and tested tool in Eastern Europe, but it really didn’t make its way over to the Western world, the U.S., in particular, until about fifteen years ago, maybe not even quite that long.
And a couple of guys, Pavel Tsatsouline, Steve Cotter, they have been really the advocates for getting it out and making it a lot more mainstream and that’s why we’re seeing it around a lot more now.
Guy Lawrence: Do you think that CrossFit has contributed to the popularity of the kettlebell?
Dan Henderson: Yeah, look, I think there’s been a, I think there’s been a number, yeah, a little bit, yeah, I think there’s been a number of factors, you know, definitely, when it’s a tool which is on ESPN and getting hundreds of thousands of viewers seeing it. It’s absolutely been a big thing, too. Ferriss wrote about it in 4-Hour Body.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. I was going to say. I read that section, and I think he said if there was piece of sporting equipment that you could use for the rest of your life, it’s the kettlebell for, like, an all over, full-body workout.
Dan Henderson: Yeah, it was phenomenal when that book got released. We were getting… It was a great lead generator for us, because people were, people read it and were inspired to use it. It was massive.
Guy Lawrence: It made me go out and start swinging kettlebells more often, like, you’re just like, “This is amazing. Burn fat in 15 minutes a day.”
Stuart Cooke: Exactly. I guess you were lucky he wrote about kettlebells and not skipping ropes, because you could’ve missed the boat there, couldn’t you have?
Dan Henderson: Would’ve missed it, and I know why Guy would’ve jumped onto the kettlebell following 4-Hour Body. There’s a picture of a girl’s booty in there, before and after kettlebells. So I can understand why you were as eager, Guy…
Guy Lawrence: I actually need to improve my own booty. That is true.
Stuart Cooke: Crikey. I don’t know what to say to that.
Guy Lawrence: All right, let’s talk about benefits. So what are the overall benefits of the kettlebells, because it can be… Would you say they’re dangerous in the wrong hands then?
Dan Henderson: Yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely. It’s funny you just said that. We just got a call from a solicitor, and they’ve asked us to be an expert witness, because it looks like a malpractice case where someone has used them incorrectly. I kind of relate it to any piece of exercise or sporting equipment. If used incorrectly, it’s going to be dangerous.
And a kettlebell is no different. I think maybe it has the perception that it’s more dangerous because it’s quite dynamic, the exercises, so you’re in a less controlled environment, and that’s really why we produced our course is because we want people using them right, because it’s such an incredible tool, and there are so many amazing benefits to it, but when you use it incorrectly, you’re going to do damage.
You’re going to do damage to your back if you’re doing it incorrectly. If you’re pressing badly, you’re going to have impingement in your shoulder. All these different issues will surface. So it can be dangerous in the wrong hands without proper training.
In terms of the benefits, it’s, there just numerous. It’s, there a phenomenal tool, particularly for, we’ve already said it, training the posterior. It’s where people are weak: the glutes, the hammies, the lower back. Phenomenal, it’s great.
You know, there’s been numerous studies done now on XXhamstring?XX [0:09:26] activation, happens in your back extensors and they’re coming that it gets more activation than any other exercise tool. There are studies done where people that are doing kettlebells can keep their heart rate elevated at a 90 percent max for an extended period of time, which you just can’t do with a lot of other pieces of equipment.
It’s good for coordination. It’s good for strength. It’s good for power. It’s good for coordination, so yeah, the list goes on. It’s numerous.
Guy Lawrence: Sold. Yeah.
Dan Henderson: Sold.
Stuart Cooke: So the kettlebell would be part of your armory, in terms of weight training and things like that. What do you think would be the overall benefits of purely lifting weights, you know, for our well-being, for everybody out there on the street?
Dan Henderson: Oh, look, weight training, it’s a necessity. It’s not even an option for people. Even if you’re runners, swimmers, if you’re, you know, just older and you’re walking, you’ve got to be doing weight training, and I could almost do a full podcast, actually, I could easily do a full podcast on the benefits of weight training, but definitely, you know, it’s very good for your bone health. It’s very good for your bone density, very good for your metabolism. The more lean muscle we have through weight training, the better our metabolism is going to be, and that decreases as we get older, so we want to try to reverse some of that natural aging. It’s very good for our nervous system. It’s very good for strength, developing power. It’s very good for endurance. It’s good for insulin resistance. It’s very good for the body’s uptake of glucose. It’s good for your bones. It’s good for your joints.
Guy Lawrence: XXNatural hemoglobin reduction.XX [0:11:17]
Dan Henderson: Yeah, absolutely. It’s huge. Decreases stress, and then we haven’t even gone on to the aesthetics side of things. I mean, it makes you look good, so…
Stuart Cooke: Makes you look buff.
Dan Henderson: Makes you look buff, exactly. Most people, when they come and see me, they don’t go, “Hey, Dan, I’d really like, I’d really like better connective tissue.” No. “I want big pecs, Dan. I want big guns. That’s what I want.”
And weight training does that, plus all the other long-term benefits.
Stuart Cooke: So to pull that over to somebody like me. I’m a reasonably skinny guy, and naturally lean. Would I just go into the gym and just lift weights hell for leather to get buff, or would there be a much more strategic approach from you?
Stuart Cooke: Oh, Stu, you’re already buff. Look at the chest.
Guy Lawrence: He is a buff boy. He’s very diplomatic.
Dan Henderson: There it is. One session with me, and look at that chest. That was just one…
Stuart Cooke: You’ve done it. You’ve fixed me.
Dan Henderson: Look, I think it’s… You need to have, you need, like anything in life, you need to have a plan. You need to have a program, so you’re using your time to its maximum efficiency, and you’re getting the best possible outcome.
If you wanted to, you know, get buff, then we’ve got to manipulate the variables so we can do that. So in terms of programming, and Guy would know these things from his days as a trainer, is we need to make sure our rep counts is right. We need to make sure rep periods are right. We need to make sure that we’re training the right muscles using compound lifts. We need to get you in an X number of days and that’s just the training side of things, and then we’ve got all the pre and post-training nutrition so we can get you that best possible outcome, so we can get you buff.
There really is a lot to it. I mean, at its kind of high-end level, anyone can go into the gym and start pushing a few machines around, but that’s not going to get you the best possible outcome.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, right. You need the master plan, I take it.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. You need strategy, right?
Dan Henderson: You need a strategy, yeah.
Stuart Cooke: I’m coming to see you. I’m coming…
Guy Lawrence: He won’t listen to me, mate.
Dan Henderson: Sold.
Guy Lawrence: We’re like an old married couple.
Stuart Cooke: That’s right. In fact, you know what? I’m going to log off right now, and I’m coming down.
Dan Henderson: Sounds good. I’m logging off as well.
Stuart Cooke: See ya, Guy.
Guy Lawrence: A thought that was raised earlier as well, is like, you know, pulling it back to the kettlebell a little bit, because, you know, correct me if I’m wrong, but it’d be fair to say this is to bring the kettlebell into, as a tool in your armory, right, of what your overall benefits are. You wouldn’t want to just be swinging a kettlebell, or you wouldn’t want to be just weight training. What are your thoughts on that, Dan?
Dan Henderson: Yeah, good question, Guy. I think, particularly in the fitness industry, because I guess I’ve got two businesses, I’ve got one for the consumer, one for professionals, and what tends to happen with the fitness industry is we seem to get fixated on one type of training or one style of training and preach that above each and everything else. Where really what I say to all our students is, “Hey, the kettlebell is a great tool. Fantastic. Love it, but it’s one tool in your kit.”
So, does it mean they shouldn’t be using barbells? Hell, no. You should be using barbells, dumbbells, suspension training. You want to mix it up. Obviously depending on what the outcome is you’re trying to achieve, but one tool is not better than the other. They’re just different, and you use them for different reasons.
So, you know, I really like kettlebells for the offcenter nature of them. It’s great for building up shoulder stability. It’s great for building up posterior strength. And it’s good for some interval training that we do, but I will never run a kettlebell-only session. It will always be in combination with bodyweight exercises, with barbell stuff, and a whole bunch of other tools and things.
Guy Lawrence: And flipping on from that, let’s talk about recovery. You know, I remember back in the day, I would see people in the gym twice a day sometimes and six days a week, and like, if there was a seventh day, if they weren’t closed on Sunday, they’d be in there. And there was this mentality, “More is better. More is better. It’s going to get me there quicker and faster, you know?”
Can you just explain your thoughts on recovery and the reason, the rationale behind it, I think, you know, because that can be overlooked.
Dan Henderson: Yeah, I think it’s a massive one. I think there’s been this real shift where we’re promoting super hard, intense, high-intensity interval training and doing that lots and lots and lots of times for a week, and if you are not giving yourself proper recovery, then it’s going to lead to a whole host of issues.
You’re going to start getting sick, because you’ve got a depressed immune system, because you’re putting that much stress on your body. You’ll actually start increasing cortisol too much, which is another stress on the body. You’ll have lots of inflammation. You’ll have lots of soreness in the body as well, so recovery is just as important as your training.
As we talked about a training plan, you need a recovery plan as well. You know, you shouldn’t be overtraining. Myself, I train four to five times a week max, and if my body’s not feeling it, I’m making sure I’m doing more of a mobility session. You shouldn’t be doing soft tissue work within your sessions in joint mobilizations. So you’re actually letting your body get rid of any toxic byproducts from training as well.
Need to be sleeping. Sleeping is just vital and often overlooked. Hydrating the body is a big part of your recovery.
Guy Lawrence: Nutrition…
Dan Henderson: Nutrition, massive, you want to make sure you’re getting lots of good quality protein or lots of good quality antioxidants which are natural. You want to be making sure that you’re actually consuming enough calories as well or enough food, because a lot of people when they train just end up in this terrible undereating phase.
Guy Lawrence: What’s funny, we only put out a post the other day about the biggest mistakes on clean eating and one is people start eliminating some gluten and grains or whatever, pulling these back, and then the next thing you know they’re not eating enough food.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, they don’t know what to eat, essentially so they don’t eat.
Dan Henderson: Yeah, they don’t eat and it’s crazy, like, your body needs this fuel particularly if you’re going to be putting it through hard training, like even more so. So you need to be even more diligent. Overtraining is a really big thing. I’ve seen particularly a number of young guys get caught in the trap. Their thinking more is better, more is better, but it’s actually, that’s not, that’s not the case. It’s actually less is more a lot of the time. Have a recovery plan and you’re going to see huge, huge benefits physiologically, and aesthetically you’ll get better results, but just from an energy level, you’re just going to feel a whole hell of a lot better.
Guy Lawrence: So that’s the thing. I remember I always used to say to my clients, like, you know, the benefits come in your recovery. You don’t get fitter by running; you get fitter by recovering from your run, you know? And it’s the same with weight training. It’s all, that, you know, the growth happens when you’re sleeping and the next day. So you’ve got to give your body that time.
Stuart Cooke: Well, with that weight training point in mind, many females fear weight training, thinking that, you know, they’re going to get big and bulky and buff and manly, perhaps. So what are your thoughts on weight training from a female perspective?
Dan Henderson: Yeah, it’s a great question, Stu. It’s a really good question. It’s the question in my studio with my female clientele. It comes up every, almost without fail, every single female because what we prescribe is a lot of strength training. It’s a lot of weight training, and the big fear is getting big and bulky, and that’s…The first thing is, well I have to validate that fear, because, you know, we don’t, you never want them feeling uncomfortable where they feel that that may be the case.
On a physiological, since it’s actually very, very hard, a lot of the big, bulky kind of, we’ll call them bodybuilders, but it, it’s, they’re not even, it doesn’t even have to be bodybuilders, they’re supplementing with hormones, so on a real baseline measure, just an everyday person doing strength training, weight training females, they’re going to shape. They’re going to tone. They’re going to lean out their body. They’re going to look terrific. They’re, it’s, what they’re doing is a wonderful thing and it’s going to be very, very, very hard for them to get big and bulky.
But, you know, a lot of my clients will say, “I don’t want to get big and bulky.” So I’ll validate it and say, “Well, let’s do, let’s do a little more volume and a lot of weights. How do you feel about that?” And then that way they feel a little bit more comfortable with the process, because in the end, I want them doing it, and I want them feeling comfortable doing it.
Guy Lawrence: How many days a week would you prescribe that? You know, somebody walks in off the street, a lady, and just like, “I’m willing to train, whatever, do you what you want.” What would your normal prescription be? You know…three, four, two, one?
Dan Henderson: Yeah, look, I think a good mix is important, so I’ll like, so, at the moment we’re running a fat loss program where we’ve got them doing really good strength training two times a week and then doing some metabolic high interval training two times a week, but yeah, look, I think two to three times they should be, they should be lifting weights. They should be doing strength based training and that includes a whole variety of exercises using different tools, so yeah, two to three times is a really good number for me.
Guy Lawrence: Excellent. With that in mind, right, when people, you know, are on the train, the bus, they commute in, they’re very, you know, they’re busy, they’re corporate, whatever it is, and it’s like, oh, you know, I just, some people just want to maintain their health or whatever or even get results, you know, six packs or something, whatever it is. Do you think there’s a minimum effective dose, like, do you have any thinking around that, like, to get the results? Or like, you get to this point and then everything else is excess? If that makes sense.
Dan Henderson: Look, yeah, yeah, look, I think, I think one of the things is people are really inefficient with their training, generally, a lot of the time. They; you go into a gym and there’s, there are, there’s people by the bubbler. There’s people XXtalking by the shoe rampsXX [0:21:53] Have a little flex and make sure that the muscles are still there after XXthey say itXX [0:22:01] So, I actually think, I think we can really, we can get a great strength response in fifteen to twenty minutes twice a week, you know. If you know what you’re doing, and you are time-poor, you can still do it. Everyone’s got 40 minutes a week.
Stuart Cooke: That’s right.
Dan Henderson: And we can still get a great strength response from a couple of sessions, just as long as we’re doing the right things. As long as we’re doing big lifts, which are compound lifts using, you know, lots of big muscles, as opposed to, you know, sitting there doing curls in front of the mirror. If we’re dead lifting, squatting, using bench pressing, all those kind of big compound lifts and we’re programming those appropriately then we can, we can get a great result in as little as 40 minutes a week.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. I agree.
Stuart Cooke: So, with that minimum effective dose in mind, as well, let’s pull that over to nutrition. So how important would diet be in terms of weight training, strength training, body composition?
Dan Henderson: It’s, it’s, it’s vital. It’s, it’s, you know people put numbers on it. People go 70/30, 70 percent diet, 30 percent exercise. I just heard another one the other day where it was, they said it’s 60 percent diet, 30 percent exercise, 10 percent hormonal, like, they’ll give it a breakdown. I guess, in either case, it’s a majority of your results are what, are going to come from what you put in your mouth. And you need to get both right. If you want good health, if you want body composition changes, you want to feel good, you want to look good, you need to address both the exercise and the nutrition, but the nutrition is vital.
And nutrition, as you guys know, is not just about what you put in your mouth, but it’s when you put it in as well, and you’re really just educating people on that, so you can’t just all of a sudden get a gym membership, start training four or five times a week and think that it is going to be the answer. It is not going to be enough. You need to compliment it with some nutritional changes and vice versa.
You can’t just jump up, you know, if someone out there is thinking about doing, you know, Light and Easy or Weight Watchers or just something to revolutionize their diet, they’re common programs, but they just address one thing and one thing only. You need to think about your exercise, because it’s going to absolutely compound the impact that you’re going to get from that overall program as well.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. It comes back to like you said, being effective, right? Because why would you, you know, flog yourself five, six days a week, you know, from Maroubra Beach. I see boot camps absolutely hammering it now the sun’s coming up every morning, and I just, you just hope to think that they’re getting their nutrition in check, otherwise it could be, you know, a slow road, even backward.
Dan Henderson: Yeah, absolutely, yeah, I mean, kudos for them for getting out and getting one part of it right, but really you’re just, you’re just not making the most of that time, that investment by only doing that. You need to address the nutrition, and I think that’s where a lot of people get it wrong. They go one or the other and they go extreme one or the other as opposed to having a balanced strategy which addresses both nutrition and the exercise.
Guy Lawrence: yeah, exactly. The next question, mate. I’ve been looking forward to asking you this one.
Dan Henderson: I’m nervous about this now.
Guy Lawrence: I used to get asked this all the time.
Dan Henderson: I am married, Guy.
Stuart Cooke: Oh, you guys would’ve been so good.
Guy Lawrence: Bugger, but yeah, I would get asked this all the time, and I’d be like, oh, so I’m just going to ask you this. This is great. What is the single best exercise for fat loss?
Dan Henderson: Here it is. The silver bullet. You just want one exercise and then that’s it. Do a few reps of that and then you’re done. Yeah. Maybe if there’s one exercise that is just incredible for fat loss, I would just keep it to myself and then publish a best-selling book and then I can interview you guys on my podcast. There is none. I’m sorry to disappoint Guy and I’m sorry to disappoint the listeners out there. There isn’t one just silver bullet which is going to lead to incredible fat loss or massive results.
Guy Lawrence: Six pack abs.
Dan Henderson: I have a series of exercises that I call my staples, and my staples, what I feel are the most fundamental exercises that they should form the basis of your program no matter what level you’re at and that’s whether you’re entry level, beginner, or whether you’re really far advanced, and you just change the level of, kind of, continue on of difficulty whether you’re, if you’re an entry level, let’s use the squat for an example, because the squat is one of them. You come in, you’ve never exercised in your life, you’re going to do squats. Now I might put you on the XXSwiss ballXX [0:27:08] I might put you up against the wall and you might do some bodyweight squats.
If you’re well-trained, and you’ve been really well-conditioned, hey, we’re going to do overhead squats with a barbell when you’ve got the mobility to do so. There’s my continuum, and then there’s all these different variations in between. That’s one exercise.
Next exercise, dead lift, same thing, I might put you on your knees with a bag, a Powerbag, and you’d just do kneeling deadlifts with a Powerbag. You’re just going to learn how to move through the hips, but if you’ve been, again, trained and been doing it for a while, you’re going to do some serious load on a barbell deadlift, a traditional barbell deadlift.
Pullups, same again, you know we use bands in our studio and, as they get stronger, we’ll move the bands until they’re doing body weight. Once they get to bodyweight, then we start adding load, so they’re doing it with a vest, they’re doing it with a plate between their legs.
So, squats, deadlifts, pullups, pushup, again, same thing. People go, “I can’t do a pushup.” Well, stand up against a wall and then you’re going to decrease the distance, you’re going to get, you’re going to become parallel with the floor over time. So, instead of staying upright, we’re just going to keep moving you down and decreasing the gap between your hands and the floor, and then we’re going to add load to that as well.
And then, obviously, I’ve got to put a kettlebell exercise in there being the kettlebell guy. Swings are another staple, so they’re going to be in there, going to strengthen the posterior, get the heart rate going.
Guy Lawrence: Instantly gets the heart rate going.
Dan Henderson: Instantly get that heart rate going, so they’re kind of my staples: the deadlift, the squat, the pullups, the pushups, and the swing. You know, the other good exercises, lunge and dips are in there as well.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic.
Stuart Cooke: Well, I’m going to put all of those things in a little book, get it online, and we’re XX?XX [0:28:54] Would you like to buy a copy?
Dan Henderson: Mate, I’m getting royalty, aren’t I? There’s got to be something in that book…
Stuart Cooke: Exactly, exactly.
Guy Lawrence: But it just goes to show, right, that that exercise can really be adjusted for anyone.
Dan Henderson: Absolutely, and this is, I mean I have so many people who are fearful of lifting weights, fearful of doing strength work in particular. Anyone can run on a treadmill, so when people get a gym membership they jump on a treadmill, because it’s monotonous, boring, and it takes no coordination or brain power, but lifting weights is intimidating to people, but hey we just, hey, this is the entry level continuum on difficulty and we just put you on there and we progress you, progress you, progress you.
All right, we have a little trouble, problem, let’s regress, and we just move you through the continuums and, yeah, anybody can do it from, you know, I get 75-year-old ladies to ex-professional athletes, and they’re doing the same movement patterns, they’re just doing different levels of those movement patterns.
Stuart Cooke: So if that was coming from a fat loss, weight loss perspective, what factors, in your opinion would hinder those? So what would I have to be doing wrong to hinder weight loss, you know? I’m doing all this stuff that you’re prescribing, but it’s not working for me.
Dan Henderson: Oh, Stewey, big question. Not.
Stuart Cooke: That’s my question.
Dan Henderson: It was a good one. It was a good one. Look, I guess when it comes to fat loss and weight loss, and they’re two different things and I think, I’ll make it, I’ll kind of digress a little bit and I’ll come back. Most people want to see me for weight loss, and I go, “No, no, no, I’m going to get you fat loss. All right? I’m not going to get you weight loss necessarily, so I’m going to change your body, and you’re going to be a different belt size, different dress size, and your skin folds will be different. Your girths will be different, but your weight will probably be the same on the scales because of the strength training affect that it has on your density of our muscle in our tissues. Okay?”
So, that’s really important, because people get obsessed with scales and if it’s a good quality weight training program, there might not be actually a big difference in scales when it comes to a fat loss program. Yeah, and people really make that mistake, and it’s one of the things I’ve really got to intervene because I’ve really got to make sure that people understand it because people come and see us and they’re training and they’re outstanding and they’re doing a brilliant job and they jump on the scales and they’re so disheartened because they’re only down 500 grams and they’ve been training for, and doing everything like you said that I’ve prescribed, Stuart, and they’re only down 500 grams, but hey, you know what? Their girth is down ten centimeters and you’re now a size 31 waist when they were a 35 waist, and people just, people need to understand that you can make massive changes to your body in a positive way without losing weight, so that’s the first thing.
In terms of where people get it wrong on a weight loss program, if someone’s really following everything I say from a nutrition and exercise front, then something hormonally is going on there that I’m going to go refer out, and I’m going to get some tests and make sure that they’re, they’re, what’s they’re insulin doing, what’s their thyroid doing? These things are really important, so there’s a number of other factors that can…and particularly, more so, with women than with men. Cortisol comes into it as well, so how much cortisol is that person producing, and I think, I mean, so there’s some of the more technical things that’s where people get it wrong.
On a more basic level, I think where people get it wrong in terms of changing their body composition is that they put so much pressure on themselves So it’s like they’re all or nothing, and they go really well for a short period of time. They’re making all the changes, you know, they’re doing everything, but they’re doing it to such an unsustainable level that when they fail, they fail big, and they just bounce back, and that’s why we see this yo-yoing all the time with people where really I’m just about ingraining good habits.
Let’s work on one habit. Hey, let’s get you drinking two liters of water a day instead of drinking a soft drink or fruit juice or reaching for food because your body is mistaking hunger for thirst. Hey, let’s just focus on this one thing for 30 days, then after the 30 days, let’s focus on one more area, and you just build some good long-term habits.
Stuart Cooke: Perfect. It’s so important, these habits, and especially where stress is concerned as well, because, crikey, just from stressing out too much, you can change your hormones there and that could be a roadblock right there.
Dan Henderson: Massive. It’s huge. I mean there’s that much stress in the world and we place that much additional stress on ourselves. We’re making it hard on ourselves. And then, I mean, it’s all, so yes from the hormonal perspective, we can throw our hormones into chaos with stress, but then it’s also what we do as well. When I’m stressed, people have different responses, but I’ll start reaching for feel good foods. I start eating more sugar than I’d normally be accustomed to. I’ll just eat more than I usually do as well, so I, you know, a lot of the time it’s about addressing the stress then let’s address the diet…
Guy Lawrence: Addressing the stress. I like that.
Dan Henderson: Getting to the root of the problem. A lot of the time there’s something bigger underlying there that will sabotage or that will get in the way of the fat loss plans.
Guy Lawrence: That’s a really good point you raise. I do often wonder sometimes about the fact that people are stressing themselves so much out because they’re not eating right and doing the exercising. The fact that they’re stressing themselves out about these things or got to get to the gym is actually hindering them more than if they just sort of, just let it all go for a little bit…
Dan Henderson: Yeah. It’s too much pressure. Yeah. Like, you’ve got to find a lifestyle, and this is a hard thing to do, but you’ve got to find a lifestyle where you’re embracing healthy behaviors and it’s just part of what you do, but you don’t have this unnecessary pressure or stress to do that 100 percent of the time.
Guy Lawrence: Got to make it fun. Absolutely. We’re going to put you on the spot right now. While we’re on the topic of exercise, what do you do for fitness? What’s your typical week look like?
Dan Henderson: Yeah, look, it changes a lot. I like to mix things up. So, at the moment, I’m enjoying some heavy lifting again. So one day I’ll do some heavy Turkish get ups and weighted pullups and heavy pistol squats. Another day I’ll do some heavy deadlifting and bounce some heavy squats, and then I’m really enjoying some sprint training, so I’ll try and sprint one to two times a week, heavy lift twice a week, and then I’ll usually do a circuit based session, so more of that high intensity interval training kind of session. I might do an AMRAP, a 20-minute AMRAP, something along those lines.
Yeah, I really enjoy mixing it up XXaudio distortion. Sometimes I’ll get sport-specificXX [036:12], so I did a XXcompound sessionXX [0:36:14] with kettlebells, and I just was completely sport-specific, but at the moment that’s what I’m really enjoying. I’m liking the variety.
Stuart Cooke: How often would you mix that up?
Dan Henderson: Look, I’ll reassess it, and really one of the things which I do encourage people to do is, look, absolutely seek outside advice and seek an expert and get some good ideas on all this, but also listen to your body. Like, what is your body enjoy doing, and what gives you energy. If this becomes monotonous for me, I’ll have a look at it and go, “Why don’t we mix this up a little bit? Why don’t we do an extra day of sprint training and one less day of heavy.” Because that’s actually, the recovery for that is taking too long on my body.
Guy Lawrence: That’s a good point.
Dan Henderson: Why don’t we just go for a swim, you know, and do some mobility training and go for a swim, so I think people need to listen to their bodies, and if the movement’s energising them and they feel great, you might not need to change it up too much, but if you’re feeling like you’re getting really sore, or you’re tired, or it’s just becoming laborious, then you need to…
Stuart Cooke: Mix it up. Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: Do you ever take a week off, mate?
Dan Henderson: Yeah. I, look, I probably never take a total week off where I’m absolutely doing nothing, because I find exercising energizes me for the whole day. Running a couple of businesses, I just find, like, it’s such a great releaser. What I’ll do is I’ll have what I call a slow week or deload week or, you know, there are lots of different name for it, recovery week…Where I’m really doing a lot more, a lot more soft tissue work, doing a lot more mobilisation, and really that makes up the bulk of my sessions, mobilizations and stretches and activations, and I’ll just do some light activities. I’ll use some lighter loads if I’m doing some weights and I’ll have a light swim and just making sure…
And that usually ties around my travel schedule. When I’m traveling a lot to present, that takes a, it’s really taxing on my body and the last thing I kind of want to do at that particular time is be doing full on heard circuits while I’m in three different times zone and eating all this weird food.
Just place some more stress on my body, because in the end exercise is a stress, and you’ve got to know when you can up it and when you can decrease it as well.
Stuart Cooke: How does that work with your diet? What do you dial into? What foods do you, what foods do you avoid? And what foods do you gravitate to to make you feel good?
Dan Henderson: Yeah, good question. I guess for me, again, it’s similar to how I feel about exercises. I really try to get my body, I really try to be very in tune with my body, and go, “What, how do you actually feel, Dan, after you’ve eaten that food?” And really understand what makes me feel good.
So, for me, lots of grains don’t make me feel good. I feel bloated. I feel heavy. Lots of pastas do the same. Like, all that kind of grainy food does that. I’m not going to say that to everybody, that’s how it makes me feel, so I’m going to steer clear of that, because that’s the reaction that I had.
So, and the foods that make me feel good are, you know, I’m going to be making sure I’m really eating a lot of protein and mixing up my proteins. I really like, I’ll definitely eat chicken probably five times a week. I’ll eat an oily fish three times a week. I’ll eat some lamb. I’ll eat some beef maybe once or twice a week. I’ll have probably about ten eggs a week, so they’re probably my staple proteins.
I’ll have lots and lots of good fats. I love my raw nuts. I love my avocados, so they’re going to be my fats, and they’re going to make up a big bulk of my diet and then, when it comes to, I’ll have just some berries, generally, when it comes to fruit and bananas and lots of veggies as well. Yeah, if I’m struggling on the veggie front, one of the, I’ve got a NutriBullet. Have you guys seen the NutriBullets? Have you got one?
Stuart Cooke: I’ve certainly seen the adverts. Crikey, it’s on every channel.
Dan Henderson: Oh, mate, I’ll tell you what, Stewey, get one. It is, it’ll change your life. If I’m struggling to get fruits and veggies, just chuck some kale, some baby spinach, a few blueberries in there, a bit of coconut water, a bit of the 180 (there’s a plug).
Stuart Cooke: Plug away, mate.
Guy Lawrence: I haven’t heard of it.
Dan Henderson: It’s just really good protein. You guys should look into it. There we go.
Guy Lawrence: Is it powerful enough to chop all the kale up in that?
Dan Henderson: Mate, you know what? Kale used to be the bane of my existence, and putting that thing in a blender used to drive me mad, but, you know, NutriBullet just chops it right up. It’s got this super-fast and super powerful engine and it just does the job. It is the best. So yeah.
Guy Lawrence: That’s the one with the old David Wolfe’s pushing it on the…
Dan Henderson: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Guy Lawrence: I’m sold.
Dan Henderson: Get on them. Get on them.
Stuart Cooke: Wise words. It sounds great. Essentially you’re gravitating, it sounds like to me, towards kind of whole foods and away from processed foods.
Dan Henderson: In a nutshell. Absolutely. And that’s not to say…
Guy Lawrence: Do you have any tricky treats
Stuart Cooke: I enjoy sweets. Sweets and a big dark chocolate is my Achilles heel. And some good Messina gelato. That is, that is hard to resist. So, a couple of the sweets are good, but on a whole, refined food, and I think for listeners out there, and I don’t know, maybe this sounds all to idealistic, really just slowly cut down all your refined foods and you just find that you don’t actually want them much anymore. Actually, you’ll feel like your body wants whole foods and that’s what you’ll want to give it.
I mean, I’m sure you guys are a testament to that as well.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely. You gravitate to what makes you feel great and your taste buds and pallet and you know cravings change, too. Cravings disappear.
Guy Lawrence: Do you drink alcohol all the time? You know, I’ve found that I gravitate to a red wine now and that’s about it, if I have a glass, but I don’t even drink beer anymore since I cut out the grains and that, you know? It just doesn’t work for me, not that I drink much these days.
Stuart Cooke: You’ve had your lifetime’s worth, I think, Guy.
Guy Lawrence: I have, in the early years in Wales. My God.
Dan Henderson: You can never, ever, you can’t even call yourself a Welshman now. You’re not drinking now.
Guy Lawrence: They’ve disowned me back home.
Dan Henderson: They’ve disowned you.
Stuart Cooke: That’s right. He’s lost his passport.
Dan Henderson: It’s the same thing. I don’t really feel like it. Like, I’ll have a beer, and I’ll make sure that it’s a good quality beer, like I’ll enjoy a really good quality ale and maybe I’ll have one of those a week on max, and that’s about it. I used to drink a lot more beer, but, again, it just makes me feel bloated. I can feel it in my sinuses the next day. My body just doesn’t like it, so, yeah, I don’t gravitate towards it, and maybe in a social setting I’ll have a really nice tasty more of a boutique pale ale, but that’s about as much as I’ll have these days.
Stuart Cooke: Fantastic. Well, I always go for a nice, full bodied mineral water. I push the boat out there.
Guy Lawrence: He does, man, it’s true.
Stuart Cooke: Why not? Treat yourself.
Guy Lawrence: And if he gets really extravagant he’ll put some lemon in it.
Stuart Cooke: Fresh lemon, mind, not that cordial stuff.
Dan Henderson: Living large.
Stuart Cooke: I know. I know. I’m worth it, as they say.
Guy Lawrence: We’ve got a wrap up question for you, Dan. It can be on any topic, but what’s the single best piece of advice you’ve ever been given that springs to mind?
Dan Henderson: I think I’ve kind of covered it already twice in this interview. It extends to nutrition, it extends to exercise, it extends to running business, it extends to relationships, the biggest piece of advice that I could really instill in people would be to trust your gut. And really, everyone’s got their intuition, other people turn into it more than others, and really your intuition will not let you down and that has been…I’m in the hiring process right now with some staff and intuitively I know whether they would be a good fit for my business within about 30 seconds. Really, and I think we tend to turn off that intuition. We tend to try to rationalise things and try to look at them logically, but if you’ve got a really strong gut feeling on something then you need to trust in that and that could be on your nutrition. It could be on your exercise. It could be in your relationships. It could be in your profession. So, really, really trust in that. That’s my pearl, Dan’s pearls of wisdom to finish up.
Stuart Cooke: Wise words. Wise words. Trust your Spidey sense.
Dan Henderson: Yeah. Absolutely. It won’t let you down.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic, mate. How can we get more of Dan Henderson? For anyone listening to this?
Dan Henderson: Yeah, I guess the two businesses are always, if you want to learn more about them, I’m putting out information all the time. I’m a big advocate on putting out free information like you guys, so Coastal Bodies is the studio business. Australian Institute of Kettlebells is the kettlebell business. If you want to learn how to do exercises, mobilize, things like that, there are amazing videos there, video library. I write a blog for the Coastal Bodies, so you can learn a bunch of stuff on there, or hit me up on Facebook, and I have a habit of saying something profound. It’s rare, but having XXat the same timeXX [0:46:08]. So you can see some insights on there, so…
Stuart Cooke: Well, we’ll make sure all the details are on this blogpost, too, so we’ll spread the word.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, if anyone’s got an inkling for kettlebells, I can highly recommend the course. It’s a must.
Stuart Cooke: You lift weights, do you, Guy? You’ve tried this kettlebells.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, a little bit. I’ve got a six kilogram kettlebell here as doorstop.
Dan Henderson: Six?
Guy Lawrence: No, no. I’m back to my 24, mate.
Dan Henderson: There we go.
Stuart Cooke: Are you sure it’s not two point four?
Dan Henderson: Let him believe, Stu, let him have that, all right? He’s doesn’t do anything with the 24 kilo. It is a doorstop, but he’s…
Guy Lawrence: I carry it up and down the stairs.
Stuart Cooke: I’m sure. I’m sure his kettlebell is in inflatable, right?
Dan Henderson: It’s completely hollow.
Stuart Cooke: Exactly. Helium, that’s right. Currently on the ceiling.
Guy Lawrence: Awesome. That was amazing. You’re a wealth of knowledge, Dan. Thanks for coming on, mate.
Dan Henderson: My absolute pleasure. Thank you for having me, guys.
Stuart Cooke: Thank you, mate, and I’ll, I’m going to pop around in about 15, because I’m getting buff.
Dan Henderson: Let’s make it happen.
Guy Lawrence: Awesome. Cheers, guys.
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!