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Steph Lowe – Nourishing Your Gut the Smart Way

Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.

Stu:  This week welcome to the show Steph Lowe. She is a sports nutritionist, triathlete and cashew butter addict from Melbourne, Victoria. She teachs how easy real food living and performance can be. 

A little more about Steph:

  • She has been gluten free for nine years now, and literally because it makes her happy.
  • She has an undergraduate degree in Sport and Exercise Science (James Cook University, Townsville).
  • She has a post graduate degree in Human Nutrition (Deakin University, Melbourne) and is one subject away from completing my Masters.
  • She is a long course triathlete currently taking a break from racing to reset the body and mind.

Her biggest piece of advice is to dive straight in – study, blog, create, share and enjoy the journey. Do what you love, love what you do.

Audio Version

downloaditunesListen to Stitcher Questions we ask in this episode:

  • How can we use carbohydrates to nourish and/or heal our gut?
  • Are shop-bought pre/probiotics beneficial or a waste of money?
  • What are the most common tell-tale symptoms of poor gut health?
  • Will LCHF work for everyone?

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Full Transcript

Stu

Hey guys, this is Stu from 180 Nutrition, and welcome to another episode of The Health Sessions. It’s here that we connect with the world’s best experts in health, wellness, and human performance, in an attempt to cut through the confusion around what it actually takes to achieve long lasting health. [00:00:30] Now, before we get into the show, you might not know that we make products too. That’s right. We’re into whole food nutrition and have a range of superfoods and natural supplements to help support your day. If you’re curious, jump over to 180nutrition.com.au and take a look. [00:01:00] Okay, back to the show. This week I’m excited to welcome Steph Lowe, A.K.A. the natural nutritionist. So Steph is a sports nutritionist, triathlete, and cashew butter addict from Melbourne, with a strong focus on low carb, high fat for enhanced sports performance. So really, really interesting stuff. We talk about gut health, carbohydrate confusion, the effectiveness of shop bought probiotics, and why you may want to switch to eating cold potatoes. I’ll be doing that very thing today. So without further ado, let’s get into the show. Hey guys, this is Stu from 180, and I’m delighted to welcome Steph Lowe back to the show. Good morning Steph, how are you?

Steph

Well thank you, how are you?

Stu

[00:01:30] Yeah very good thanks, very good. So Steph first up, for all those that may not be familiar with your work, just wondered if you could share a little bit of your history and your journey for our listeners please.

Steph

[00:02:00] Yeah for sure. So these days I run the Natural Nutritionist, which is a online hub that celebrates the importance of real food. And we work with a wide variety of people, certainly from beginners and potentially families that are looking to move into what we call a real food lifestyle, all the way up to our endurance athletes who are looking to optimize their metabolism and become a fat adapted athlete.

Stu

Fantastic.

Steph

[00:02:30] So that’s what I do day to day, well since 2011 actually. So we’re coming up to, I can’t even believe it, seven years now. So yeah, prior to that I was [inaudible 00:02:24] so studied my postgraduate in nutrition, but I’ve worked in the health and wellness space for decades now. I have an undergraduate in sport and exercise science. So pre the Natural Nutritionist, I worked as an exercise physiologist. So now I’m lucky working with athletes, I get to join my two loves of exercise and nutrition, and absolutely like living and breathing a dream job really. Very grateful.

Stu

[00:03:30] Fantastic. Well look, you are super educated in terms of answering my questions then today. Because I’m very interested in the likes of carbohydrates, ketosis, gut health, and things like that, so I just thought I’d kick off with a question then. Talking about traditional carbohydrate strategies. So in your opinion, how do they impact our long term health, and particularly gut health? And when I say traditional carbohydrates strategies I mean that carb loading for exercise, and I guess eating an abundance of carbohydrates for energy just to get us through the day as well.

Steph

[00:04:00] Yeah, awesome question. So we’ll certainly break it down, but the big thing to remember is inflammation, and its impact on gut health. So if we look at what the recommendations are for a conventional carbohydrate loading strategy, it’s somewhere in the vicinity of seven to ten grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight. [00:04:30] We can just keep it really simple and do the maths, ten grams per kilogram of body weight. So if you weight 70 kilos, that’s obviously 700 grams of carbohydrates, right? So these guidelines are recommending like just significantly ridiculous and huge volumes of carbohydrates that an athlete is supposed to consume in the one to two days prior to performance, which is supposed to facilitate a one to two percent increase in performance. [00:05:00] I think that that science that was gospel for decades obviously looked at things very insular, because yes there might be a benefit from that glycogen side of things, which is that obviously how we store carbohydrate in the muscle. Therefore consuming carbohydrates, one could assume that would mean that you would get more muscle glycogen and therefore be able to perform better at a high intensity [00:05:30] But what that theory doesn’t factor in is that the muscle glycogen stores of a human are not unlimited. They’re very fixed by factors like genetics and training background, and certainly nutrition plays a part. But the analogy I like to think of with our muscle glycogen tank is actually that of a sink. [00:06:00] So if you think of a sink that’s full, that’s the ideal scenario to make sure you’re replenishing your muscle glycogen and therefore when you go to your next training session [inaudible 00:05:49] particular high intensity [inaudible 00:05:51], which utilizes the glycogen phosphate system, obviously you need that to be able to perform. But once the sink is full it’s full. [00:06:30] So the carbohydrate loading guidelines, and certainly most of the nutritional guidelines that we still see on the AIS and the [inaudible 00:06:10] and then the elite level sports, they are recommending grams or consumption well beyond that topping of the sink, and the sink is overflowing. So for a lot of people that causes problems absolutely with the gastrointestinal system, but for a lot of people body composition. [00:07:00] And I’m sure we’ll talk about the impact of carbohydrates on your body composition longer term, but definitely in that acute situation of carbohydrate loading, you carry a couple of water molecules for every molecule of glycogen, so you’re already going to be feeling quite heavy from the extra water weight. And for a lot of people that does lead to weight gain on the scales, so you’re heavier on those days. So doesn’t that decrease your performance, right, because you’re having to carry a greater weight around the running course or in that rowing event or whatever it might be. So we’ve got to keep our perspective [inaudible 00:07:19] that we just don’t have the ability to store that much carbohydrate.

[00:08:00] But coming back to my first point, the food that they’re recommending we consume has to be low fiber because otherwise we’d be too full, if we’re trying to consume 700 grams of sweet potato a day because of the fiber that comes with that food. So the guidelines say that you need to be consuming orange juice, lollies, white bread, and even sports drinks. So inflammation, inflammation, inflammation. And that’s the last thing an athlete needs any day of the week, not to mention right before competition when the demands on the body are significantly higher. [00:08:30] And we know that obviously from that gut health point of view, inflammation is what causes the gaps in the pipe junctions, which is the way we explain leaky gut or an analogy I love is that the small intestine is essentially a bucket and inflammation causes holes in the bucket. And that is an absolute cascade to significant gut health and digestive problems, but lots of long term health problems as well.

Stu

So if I’m a weekend warrior say, so I’m just a guy who likes to get out, lift a few weights, cycle, swim, you know, just keep fit, what would be the most common tell-tale symptoms then that perhaps the fuel isn’t serving me right? So the way that I’m eating isn’t serving me right? [00:09:30] Because we’re surrounded … I live in Byron Bay and it’s a very fit culture, lots of people cycling, swimming and running, and just being very fit, but I do find that there are lots of people that are jogging that are overweight, lots of cyclists with a big belly, and I’m thinking, if these guys are so fit, are they exercising because they want to lose weight or are they the way they are because they’re just not eating well? If that makes sense. Where are we going wrong?

Steph

[00:10:00] Yeah, we always know it’s 80% nutrition and about 20% exercise, and you absolutely cannot out-train a bad diet. So I think from an aesthetic point of view you can absolutely see someone that has that insulin pouch we call it, you know, it’s that lower abdominal fat that is a direct result of somebody that is producing too much insulin, which is coming from a diet too high in carbohydrate for that individual.

Stu

Right.

Steph

So yeah, they might be a weekend warrior or they might be doing Iron Man triathlon, but if they’re still producing insulin they will be storing rather than burning body fat.

Stu

[00:10:30] Okay, got it, okay. So, on the flip side of just perhaps weight gain, what in your opinion would be the lesser known problems that we might not have considered where carbohydrates are concerned or eating the wrong type of carbohydrates?

Steph

[00:11:00] Yeah. So I think if we just talk more on sort of a symptom picture first just to give someone context. Certainly what we see is that really unstable blood sugar or energy control, which for a lot of us, especially those that are still in the corporate space manifest as what we call three thirtyitis, which is the cravings and the fatigue and just the general lethargy that happens, no surprise, not too long after lunch which was probably sushi or sandwiches or even something more refined than that, that is probably more typical in that environment. [00:11:30] I do a lot of seminars speaking about carbohydrates and one of the questions I always ask is hands up who gets three thirtyitis, and we have a bit of a joke about it. But 95% of people put their hands up. And then you go on to explain the impact of carbohydrates and blood sugar control and cravings and energy, and people are actually really quite surprised to learn that those symptoms are a direct byproduct of their previous food choices. [00:12:00] But that’s so empowering to learn because the natural opposite is then true. What if you could actually get rid of three thirtyitis by changing what you eat for those one or two meals prior? Like it’s not rocket science, but we’ve been in this space with the food pyramid and the government recommendations of the volume of serves of wholegrain foods and carbohydrates we have been brainwashed to believe we needed for the last five decades. [00:12:30] So I love when someone actually gets to experience that firsthand. They might simply change from a sandwich or sushi to a salad or last nights leftovers, and suddenly they’re calling you or direct messaging you or emailing you and they’re feeling like night and day, like so much better. To you and I it’s probably the basics, but I think it’s a really important conversation to have, because the choice is in what goes in your mouth, right?

Stu

[00:13:00] Absolutely right. Absolutely. And I feel that there’s almost now a global paranoia of the carbohydrate, people are … I can’t eat the carbohydrate, you know I have to think about putting something else into my mouth. So let’s talk a little bit about carbohydrates, and specifically for me, the types of carbohydrates that we might want to start including in our diet if we want to nourish and perhaps even start the healing process in gut or digestive issues.

Steph

[00:13:30] Yes, I mean this is a really important conversation, because we do work in the LCHF space, which is lower carbohydrate higher fat. You could go simpler again and just speak about JERF, which I’m sure [inaudible 00:13:34] just eat real food goal that we should all have. But we don’t want to assume that we should be avoiding all carbohydrate. [00:14:00] What we know is particularly important for our digestive system is carbohydrate in the form of resistant starch. Some really simple examples here are our cooked and cooled potato, and that can be white potato or sweet potato. And then we’re looking at cooked and cooled white rice if someone’s eating grains. And there are other examples like acacia gum that usually comes in a powder, or green banana flour that’s literally a flour type replacement. [00:14:30] Now, the main reason why we love resistant starch is they don’t have the same function as a carbohydrate in that it would otherwise spike the blood sugar and the insulin and affect things like the energy and the cravings and how we feel at 3:30 like we were just discussing. Resistant starch doesn’t affect your blood sugar because your body doesn’t digest it. Your beneficial bacteria do. [00:15:00] So the term resistant is actually, you can think of it as like it’s resistant to digestion in the small intestine. And so it passes into that large intestine, which is where we have trillions of bacteria that actually need this food to thrive. We’re in this gut health space where it’s so vogue and people are essentially drinking kombucha and eating kimchi, and there’s 101 [inaudible 00:15:18], and I know you and I are going to talk about testing today, but I see too many people doing all this gut health stuff but they still don’t have any beneficial bacteria. [00:16:00] Now, there’s a bit [inaudible 00:15:32], so we need to make sure we’ve got the right foods in there so that the [inaudible 00:15:39] we’re consuming … and obviously the bacteria that should already be in there, have some food to thrive. And this is really important from an inflammatory point of view as well, because we know that the resistant starch is actually the preferred energy source for the cells that line our colon, and they feed on that resistant starch which down regulates their inflammatory signals. They also produce butyrate which is another amazing anti-inflammatory short chain fatty acid that we absolutely need to thrive. [00:16:30] So I don’t want anyone thinking they absolutely need to be keto outside of like a chronic health condition, and obviously you’d still be including resistant starch in some way, shape, or form. But for the vast majority of people, even if you are LCHF you absolutely have to be aware of the importance of these foods and learning how to integrate them onto your plate.

Stu

[00:17:00] Brilliant. Brilliant. So I’m just going to dial back a little bit. You spoke about the potatoes and I’m thinking that our listeners, and I include myself in here as well, I eat a lot of sweet potatoes and I know our listeners do. It’s almost like the default healthy carbohydrate I guess, for want of a better term. Now, the cooling of the sweet potato in order for it to be as beneficial as it can, what are we talking? Do we have to cook these sweet potatoes and put them in the fridge overnight or can we just cool them for an hour? How does that work?

Steph

[00:17:30] Yeah, I mean the time is going to depend of the temperature, so that’s probably something to think about, whether you just cooling them on the bench or doing it overnight. I think more from a practical standpoint, what I get my athletes to do is just to roast them in coconut oil on the weekend and they’re in the fridge and you can just throw them in a salad.

Stu

Got it.

Steph

Then you don’t have to sort of worry about those nuances or have it to be something that becomes like another job for you to do. I think the colder the better, because then obviously you’ve been able to allow that starch time to convert.

Stu

Yes.

Steph

But the practical strategies are what’s more important. So yeah, Sunday food prep we call it the hour of pour. Roast it up, and then you can put it into your glass containers in the fridge for the five days ahead or whatever your week looks like.

Stu

Brilliant. I think that’ll make a lot of people very happy to hear that advice which is great.

Steph

Easy, easy. And yes, not another supplement or anything like that, not that I think they don’t have their place, but certainly it should be easy to integrate from that behavioral standpoint.

Stu

Brilliant. And what about shop bought pre or probiotics? Now I’m aware that we’re all hugely individual and maybe just the generic bottle on the shelf isn’t going to work for everybody because our guts are going to be in very different states. Are they in your eyes, beneficial, or a waste of money?

Steph

Yeah, it’s quite a broad question. So it really needs to be always brought back to the individual. I’ll go back to another scenario I seen in the clinic when it comes to testing.

Stu

Yes.

Steph

I actually often see people with one or the other of a lacto [inaudible 00:19:18] or a bifidobacteria overgrowth. So if we talk about a very generic … am I allowed to say a brand?

Stu

Sure.

Steph

So a very generic Inner Health Plus, which is probably a product that most people are familiar with in that space, it’s on TV, there’s the blue round man dancing around on the screen. Now these are lacto [inaudible 00:19:40] and bifido bacteria, so two strains. If you’re taking those strains but you’ve already got an overgrowth you’ve actually creating a bigger problem.

Stu

Right, okay.

Steph

So I think there are some products that are exceptional, and especially the soil based probiotics that give us the bacteria that we know people like you and I that are living in more of a sort of a developed world and we may be guilty of some [inaudible 00:20:12] hygiene hypothesis. You might be a little bit different but I don’t get in dirt very often. So we know that we’re missing these key bacteria that the hunter tribes and the really I guess, people that are still hunting and gathering, is what I’m trying to I guess separate between. Some of those products certainly can be very beneficial, but I don’t love the idea of people going crazy on their either supplement version, food or beverage version, without really understanding what they need.

Stu

Yeah of course.

Steph

[00:21:00] And I think that’s a big problem we’re seeing now, that people are sort of self diagnosing or drinking … maybe replacing their Diet Coke habit with Kombucha thinking that they’re doing something great, and it’s perpetuating the problem. So we’ve really got to be careful with how broad we prescribe or consume these foods.

Stu

[00:21:30] I think you mentioned before about testing. For one, supplements, regardless of what they are, cost money, and it could be a waste of time if we don’t know where we’re going wrong, we don’t what we’ve got to address. What do you do in terms of testing? So if somebody comes into you and they’re not feeling at the top of their game, they want to improve their performance, they have problems with their gut, what would be the first port of call for you?

Steph

Yeah, so I will admit that up until recently my first point of call was always blood tests.

Stu

Right.

Steph

[00:22:00] And it still is for a lot of people because it’s a really easy and usually cost effective option [inaudible 00:21:59] stock take of someone’s health, identify any nutritional deficiencies, obviously catch any health degeneration … basically before someone’s getting a diagnosis when they’re actually really unwell. So we can really optimize someone’s pathology with a blood test. [00:22:30] [00:23:00] But I’ll put this scenario to you. If we’re doing a blood test and we’re doing, say someone’s ferritin [inaudible 00:22:27] to look at things like iron in the blood and ferritin, which is our storage capacity, and we’re seeing someone with really low levels … they’re not a vegan, they’re eating the grass fed meat, they’re drinking their broth, they still have low ferritin. Me finding that out is important, but I can’t really treat that until I know the root cause of that. And I can guarantee you in this instance the root cause is absolutely dysbiosis, which is some sort of a gut imbalance.

Stu

Got it.

Steph

So I’m starting to, where possible, start with stool testing.

Stu

Okay.

Steph

And that’s because, as you know, the microbiome is obviously the center of our health and we know that all health starts in the gut. And from that absorption picture, we need to make sure that what we’re eating is actually able to be absorbed. You know, you are what you eat, but you are what you can absorb.

Stu

Yeah, totally.

Steph

So stool testing is so powerful because it’s a snapshot, but it’s like a window into your soul, like it’s pretty amazing how science has evolved in terms of what we can actually identify. And then we can obviously look at someone’s levels of beneficial bacteria, so what are their lactobacilli and what are their bifido levels? And do they even need kombucha?

Stu

Right.

Steph

Or you know, have they got no bacteria and why?

Stu

Yeah. No that’s a good point, and I guess like you mentioned before, you could actually be doing more harm than good if you’re feeding the wrong type of bacteria, right? Which is unknown unless we do get these testing.

Steph

[00:24:30] And I think that’s a really important point, because to reiterate, people are also I think … there’s a gap in the education between how to look after your gut health. Most people listening know what kombucha is, but does that mean they need to be drinking the full bottle like every day? Or do they only need like a shot, like 30 mls? That’s very different in terms of the volume, but obviously the number of bacteria and the health outcome of something like that. [00:25:00] Firstly, if anyone is taking a number of different food and or beverages and or supplements and they’re not feeling optimal, more is not the answer. Often less is the answer, which is a really important point to clarify. And I think absolutely always about test, don’t guess. Don’t assume that you need to be having all of these options. I mean most people need something, but you need to know exactly what that is.

Stu

Yeah, no that makes … test, don’t guess, I like that. That’s a t-shirt in the making. So let’s say I’ve come to you or my practitioner, local practitioner, had my tests, been determined that my bacteria is a little out of whack, so I’ve been prescribed whatever I need to to set me in the right direction, what’s the typical timeframe that you would generally see improvements? Are we talking six weeks, six months? Because I know that microbiome gut health, I mean it’s not a quick fix is it?

Steph

No, it’s not a quick fix, but it changes so rapidly. So you can actually start to get improvements relatively straightaway.

Stu

Okay.

Steph

[00:26:30] Which is great. But that’s not fixing the problem, that’s just starting to progress the situation. We try to work, when it comes to testing, we try to work in just under a six month block. And that’s not saying that nothing’s going to change for six months because that would certainly be quite stressful and overwhelming for someone. But it’s more to firstly appreciate the time that it does take, but to teach that person, teach that client what the system needs to look like. And again, test don’t guess. Once you develop a protocol, you actually need to do the test again to make sure it worked or working.

Stu

Yeah of course. Yeah.

Steph

So I like to set up a bit of a conversation more around what the commitment can be, because adherence is the number one priority regardless of the protocol. Because even if it’s the best protocol on earth if it’s too expensive or stressful or not sustainable, it’s not going to work. [00:27:30] So the conversation starts like that, exactly that, adherence, logistics, budget, and so on. But we put together that timeline working towards, usually monthly consultations with me, because things always need to be changed based on how that individual responds and what their symptoms do or do not do. But I would definitely give it that six months before you retest to get more information about the state of your microbiome. [00:28:00] But the interesting thing is, is most people they have another situation to start to work on, so it can kind of be a never ending project, but if we acknowledge the significance of our gut and obviously the gut brain connection, and that systemic impact it has on our health, then it makes sense that we would always have that as a pretty high priority to be improving.

Stu

[00:28:30] Brilliant. No it sounds great. It’s just everybody … most people today are aware of the growing importance of gut health and they don’t they’ve got to do something about it, but it’s very tricky to know what to do, because lots of conflicting advice on the shop bought probiotics. It’s the answer in a bottle. And I guess lots of confusion on where to eat as well. It sounds like many of these issues arise from eating the wrong type of food, predominantly carbohydrate, the wrong type of carb. Is ketosis the answer, a keto diet?

Steph

[00:29:30] Well I definitely think we need to go back to my point earlier about the volume of carbohydrate for the individual. Like we know that ketosis has some amazing research on it for metabolic disease like cancer, epilepsy, type two diabetes, but outside of that, so if someone’s healthy, I don’t think it actually is necessary. We know the definition of ketosis is that sort of 20 to 25 grams of carbohydrates a day. Most people would find that very unsustainable, and not to mention like why try an extreme if you could get the same result, if not more result by living in that gray?

Stu

Yes.

Steph

So we take people away from the extremes in all different facets in the clinic here at the Natural Nutritionist, but in the carbohydrate space, it’s so important to work out what you need.

Stu

Yeah of course.

Steph

[00:30:00] So we do do some blood tests in this instance, just to check in with someone’s blood glucose level, which is obviously directly influenced by previous food. So if someone’s eating a standard western diet they’re going to have a blood sugar well over five, probably closer to six, which is a big red flag, they need to obviously start to eat less carbohydrate. [00:30:30] And then secondly we will always do someone’s HbA1c, and that’s their glycated hemoglobin, so it’s the sugar that sticks to the red blood cells over a three month period because of the food choices you’ve made. So that’s even more powerful because it gives us a bigger picture of what that person’s been doing, what they’ve been putting in their mouth, obviously over a period of time, not just like yesterday or the day before. [00:31:00] And again, if someone’s HbA1c is above five and anywhere near six, red flags. I mean pre diabetics are diagnosed at 6.0%. So that’s [inaudible 00:30:57] someone, alright well what you’re doing is not working, you absolutely need to start to change your macronutrients and decrease your carbohydrate. But this person might be able to completely reverse any of that metabolic dysfunction on 100 grams of carbohydrates a day.

Stu

Got it. Yeah.

Steph

[00:31:30] Then that’s obviously four times as much as 25. So we can get all the health benefit as well as there’s a million other strategies that you can implement to produce ketone bodies without having to have your carbohydrates super low.

Stu

Yeah. No that’s good-

Steph

So that’s the art, things like [inaudible 00:31:40].

Stu

[00:32:00] That’s good advice because I was chatting to a friend of mine over the weekend, friend was wanting to lose some weight and doing a little bit of a fed fast, and just pulled out all the carbohydrates from their diet. And just not a happy camper. Like I just feel miserable, I got headaches, I got no energy, and I’m thinking I’m sure … I think you’ve probably gone to an extreme by doing that, and it’s probably unnecessary. And I guess that’s the effects of almost like a forced detox and your body’s just screaming out, “I need some more carbohydrates.” I actually see a lot of that. People just go, “Carbohydrate, you’re the enemy, I’m getting rid of you.” And then they feel like absolute crap. Which is-

Steph

It’s actually called the metabolic gray zone.

Stu

Oh is it really?

Steph

It’s a real thing. Yeah. So it’s four to seven days usually. There’s kind of two schools of thoughts around that, like you can do it and it acts as a really good carbohydrate tolerance test, because obviously the degree of your symptoms are relative to the damage that you’ve done, and usually the volume of carbs you’ve been eating. There’s definitely the hard way, but it’s the quick way, because after about a week when your body’s able to burn fat and produce ketones you do start to feel much better. Your mental clarity’s back obviously with that ability to utilize MCTs for fuel. But it’s not necessarily like a good decision, especially if you’re at work or whatever, like the timing of it would need to be quite particular.

Stu

Definitely, definitely.

Steph

Whereas just a gradual reduction would be much nicer.

Stu

Yeah. Bit cranky. That’s what I said, I actually said, “Sounds like you’re kind of … you’re in that gray area between you haven’t quite utilized fat for fuel and you’ve got zero energy, you’re feeling super cranky.”

Steph

Yeah. Lots of MCT coffees.

Stu

Exactly.

Steph

[crosstalk 00:33:41].

Stu

They’re going to persist. I’m interested now then in low carbohydrate for athletes, because I know that last year we talked about the principles of that very thing. What have you been up to since?

Steph

Yeah, so I mean we work one on one with athletes worldwide to teach them the benefits of becoming a fat adapted athlete, and one of the foundations of that is obviously LCHF, so that lower carb, high fat model. But we’re just developing an online program called LCHF Endurance. So the release date’s being announced very soon, and that’s a 12 week program, because we know that it takes about 12 weeks to really switch that metabolism around. Again, that’s not that you don’t get any benefits straight away. But to go from a complete sugar burner, and that’s whether you’re following a western diet and or you know that carbohydrate model and carbohydrate loading like we spoke about before, to being able to really efficiently burn fat for fuel. [00:35:00] So we’ve developed that program to be able to guide our athlete through that process and teach them obviously why they don’t need to be totally keto, when and why they should be including whole food carbohydrates, lots of gut health stuff, and all the other factors that you need. Because obviously we know that food is a big part of it, but there’s more to it with stress management to make sure that you’re able to burn and not store fat. And so [inaudible 00:35:19] like a really nice holistic focus and teach our athletes as to what their priorities are to build on their metabolic efficiency.

Stu

And the term athlete, are we talking competitive athlete, Olympic athlete? Or would I fit into that space? Because I like to keep fit.

Steph

You’re very much an athlete Stu. I think athlete is anyone who exercises, don’t you?

Stu

Yeah, sometimes I don’t feel very much like an athlete, but …

Steph

[00:36:30] No. It’s more about … it’s definitely not performance driven at all, actually you don’t need to be winning crossfit games, you don’t need to be on the podium, that’s irrelevant. It’s more someone that really enjoys exercise, that’s got some performance goal, could be your first 5K. Could be rowing across who knows, a big body of water. There’s lots of different ways to look at it. But really everyone is an athlete, and we need to acknowledge the importance of certainly real food, definitely smart exercise, so learning that more is not necessarily more when it comes to exercise, and those lifestyle strategies that are really important to optimize your health but also your athletic longevity.

Stu

Got it. Got it. And I like the way that you phrase LCHF because before today, I’ve only ever heard it as low carb high fat, but I notice that you’re using the phrase lower, which is-

Steph

Definitely.

Stu

[00:37:00] Which is actually quite refreshing because low carb makes me think oh no, I’ve got to lose all those beautiful potatoes that I liked before.

Steph

You don’t. It’s lower and relative to the food pyramid which tells us that we need to eat 400 to 600 grams of whole grains a day. It’s that relative comparison. And then acknowledging that for someone lowish would be 150 grams a day.

Stu

Got it.

Steph

[00:37:30] You could fit lots of sweet potato and even fruit in a budget like that, as long as that suits the individual. They’ll be lean, they’ll be usually male, they’ll be quite active, the genetics will obviously be suited to that sort of food. But these people are probably not dissimilar to yourself without knowing your full history. There are plenty of people that thrive on 150 grams a day. Obviously again, very different from our conventional ketosis definition.

Stu

[00:38:30] Yeah. That’s interesting. You’ve actually, I think you’ve summed me up quite accurately, because I did … two years ago I went super low carb, when it … LCHF just really came on the scene in the underground fight club style health movement that we’re kind of exposed to, and I went super, super low carb, and I also went super high on my exercise, so embraced crossfit and just went health [inaudible 00:38:18]. Got my timing wrong and my adrenals just crashed. And it took me a long time to get back from that. And I just realized that super low carb doesn’t work for me, but lower carbohydrate does. So it’s good to hear you verify that I guess in the program. I’m excited to see what it entails as well.

Steph

[00:39:00] Yeah. It’s a little bit of work, but we do encourage everyone to get a good stock take of where their macronutrients are, because yeah you might absolutely already be in that definition, but potentially walking around with a little bit of a story that doesn’t suit you because of that experience obviously. But knowing what you’re eating is really important because how can you tweak things in either direction if you don’t know where your baseline is?

Stu

Yeah. No definitely, definitely. Brilliant. So functional medicine, so what excites you right now in the functional medicine space? Because I can see that things are getting smarter and smarter where I guess every day diagnosis, prescription, and testing is concerned.

Steph

[00:39:30] I think I’m probably looking forward to seeing more around what Professor Thomas Borody and people are doing in the crapsule space. So you know how … do you know what am FMT is?

Stu

No I don’t.

Steph

[00:40:00] So in the gut health space, there is some amazing research around the benefits of FMTs, which is a fecal matter transplant where people that are quite unwell, certainly like an example would be Crohn’s disease, they actually get like a healthy person’s poo implanted which allows them to restart their microbiome and put these diseases into remission.

Stu

Right.

Steph

But it’s quite an expensive process. People are a bit put off by poo, you know it’s a conversation I have every day, but it does make some people uncomfortable. [00:41:00] What we’re able to do now is put the poo into crapsules. And I think eventually you’ll be able to go online and shop for the kind of poo that you want. So if you want to be a great downhill mountain bike rider that’s got a VO2 of I don’t know, Lance Armstrong in the ’80s, you’ll be able to go onto something like Shopify and purchase it. And then when you take that person’s poo in a capsule, you take on their microbiome. You’ve obviously got to keep it growing, so you have to have strategies beyond that. But we’re going to have so much technology for us to really completely improve our gut health. And obviously you can do it for selfish reasons like performance, but for a lot of people it’s going to be amazing from a health point of view.

Stu

Wow. Yeah. I’m very much aware of fecal transplants, but never heard of the crapsules, which is interesting. I’m just wondering … would that be oral?

Steph

Yeah, it’s going to be.

Stu

[00:41:30] Wow, okay. And that would get through everything, the integrity of the stomach and all the acids and it would be available I’m guessing all over there, but just … wow, I haven’t heard of that. I think I’m going to register the domain crapify after this, going to jump on board, that sounds fantastic.

Steph

[crosstalk 00:41:37].

Stu

Crikey.

Steph

Love it. Probably already taken.

Stu

[00:42:00] Yeah. It is … I actually have a close friend up here who underwent fecal transplantation a couple of years ago. He had a nasty bug, and just couldn’t get rid of it, lost a ton of weight, nothing was happening, food allergies all over the place. So he actually went to the States, had a fecal transplant, bang, done. I think it was blasto, I think it was blasto that he couldn’t get rid of.

Steph

Right. It’s one of the trickier ones.

Stu

Yeah, really hard.

Steph

That’s for sure.

Stu

But yeah, it turned his health around and really quickly as well.

Steph

It’s night and day for a lot of people, which is amazing that we’ve got this option.

Stu

Yeah, totally.

Steph

Because I mean with parasites most conventional doctors will tell you that it doesn’t matter, that everyone’s got them.

Stu

Yeah.

Steph

We’ve really got to move science forward in that space.

Stu

Yeah, I think so, I think so. [00:43:00] So look Steph, I’m aware of the time now, so I’ve got a few little questions that I’d like to squeeze in before we wrap up. I’m intrigued, so if you could distill all of your specialist knowledge into one take home piece of advice, now this is a big call I know. For our audience, so Steph, AKA Natural Nutritionist, knows everything about food and health, but I just need one take home piece of advice, what might that be?

Steph

Live in the gray.

Stu

Live in the gray. Wow, I like it.

Steph

You don’t need to be in any level of extremism to achieve health. It actually often, like you learned first hand, creates the exact opposite goal.

Stu

[00:43:30] Yeah totally. No, that’s good advice actually, because it is … I mean a lot of people adopt a radical way of exercising, of eating, of trying to manage stress or sleeping, and it always does seem to be the extreme. And that comes with failure as well, and a whole host of issues like we’ve already spoken about. Live in the gray, I like it. So what’s next for Steph Lowe? What have you got on the calendar?

Steph

[00:44:00] Yeah, well the big one is definitely LCHF Endurance, which is in the next couple of months. So I’m really excited to share more about that, and people can register for more information at lchfendurance.com.au. And then still working away on my podcast, The Real Food Reel, so we’ll have to get you on the show very soon.

Stu

I’d love to. I would love to.

Steph

[00:44:30] Yeah absolutely. And then always [inaudible 00:44:16] clinic, so we see [inaudible 00:44:20] in Victoria and [inaudible 00:44:22] clients or consultations for our clients [inaudible 00:44:25]. I just don’t believe there’s anything better than personalized support when it comes to having someone to guide your health journey, as well as the accountability and the education that you need to learn what’s right for you, not just what you read on google or on social media.

Stu

Yeah, absolutely, sounds good. So if we wanted to get more of Steph Lowe, where would we go?

Steph

[00:45:00] Yeah, so the online hub is thenaturalnutritionist.com.au. I’m very active on Facebook and Instagram at the same handle, thenaturalnutritionist. So I’d love you guys to come over and connect and say hi. And if you have any questions you can definitely contact me through the website at thenaturalnutritionist.com.au.

Stu

Fantastic. Steph Lowe, thank you so much for joining us. It has been a pleasure as always. And look forward to catching up with you again.

Steph

Thanks Stu, thanks for everything that you do.

Stu

Thank you very much. Speak to you soon.

Steph

[crosstalk 00:45:20].

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