Category Archives for "guest/interview"

January 17, 2022

How to build a strong immune system with Dr. Robert Lahita

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Now more than ever, we see the need to have a strong immune system. On episode 521, Dr. Robert Lahita (Dr. Bob) and I discuss his book, Immunity Strong.


Let's Say Hello

[00:02:20.850] – Allan

Hey Ras, How are things going?

[00:02:22.980] – Rachel

Good Allan, how are you today?

[00:02:25.030] – Allan

I'm doing all right. Made it through the new year. Getting into this year. We're recording this. We're just getting into the new year. But now we're into January. And so this is kind of a busy time for a lot of people that are trying to change things. This is kind of the season. January tends for a lot of people to be a season of change, a season of renewal or season of doing something different to try to make the next year even better. But I'm guessing that some of the folks listening to this also probably already quit some of the resolutions, some of the things that they started because that's kind of the long tail of this is that people just start dropping off week three, week four, week five. The gym's packed in January.

[00:03:10.830] – Allan

In fact, the first day we were open this year was one of the busiest days we've ever had. And you and I are talking. It's not even half over, and we've already had more guests and more people sign up in the first 4 hours of being open than we would normally have in a whole week. So, yeah, this is the time that people get started. But I'm just here to encourage you to keep going. Keep going. You're on the right track. If you're moving forward, you're on the right track. Keep moving.

[00:03:41.250] – Rachel

Absolutely. Please keep moving. I think about this time of year. It's quit day. There's a day for quit day. And I can't remember what it is.

[00:03:48.970] – Allan

I think it's in February. I do think it's in February, but I can just tell you from years and years of being a gym goer, it tails off. A lot of people will sign up the week before New Year. More people will then sign up in the first week, and then it just they blast for the first week, and then it just starts adding down, particularly, like I was always in early morning. I was either in the gym early in the morning or in the middle of the day.

[00:04:17.450] – Allan

So that's not peak time. I try to go. And there's not a lot of people there. And so what you would see is 05:00 in the morning as a workout time, typically on a typical day in a normal day of the year, there's three of us in there. And we all know each other. We don't know, maybe not even by name, but it's that head nod as you walk into the gym. We know it's the same three guys and one girl occasionally comes in and gets on the treadmill.

[00:04:42.230] – Allan

But that's it. And then this time of year, 10, 15 people in there at 05:00 in the morning for about a week or so. To me, it's the people that overextend. It's like, are you really going to show up at 05:00 in the morning every day for the rest of the year? And the short answer for most people is, no, that's not sustainable. And so they kind of took that non-sustainable slam of, oh, I'm going to eat salads. I'm going to do this. I'll pack my lunch.

[00:05:13.750] – Allan

I'm going to do that. I'm not going to go out. I'm not going to drink. I'm not going to over and over and then boom, one thing goes south. It all just crumbles because it wasn't sustainable.

[00:05:23.350] – Rachel

Oh, it's too much. It's too much to make such drastic changes across your entire life and expect to hang on to every single one. We've talked about it before. Just take one thing. One change. Make it 5:30 in the morning. Gym day, a couple of days a week. Do it at noon or at night, the other couple of days a week. I mean, spread it out. You don't have to make so many drastic changes all at once. Don't do it.

[00:05:46.440] – Allan

But you did something drastic. Polar plunge.

[00:05:49.900] – Rachel

Oh, yeah. My local run club, run caledonia run. An incredible group of really brave, adventurous people. They decided to start a polar plunge. We did it last year.

[00:06:03.540] – Allan

I have different adjectives. I have different adjectives.

[00:06:07.570] – Rachel

Yes. I can imagine. It's a little chillier up here than it might have been in other parts of the country or the world. But, yeah, we met after a run. We did a run together, and we did a polar plunge in our little Lake. Luckily, there was not very much ice this year. We didn't have to hack through it like we did last year. But, yeah, it was still chilly, still icy and snowy up here. But, yeah, it was super fun. Super cold. But it's super fun.

[00:06:34.210] – Allan

All right. Anything else going on?

[00:06:37.190] – Rachel

No, just excited. I love the new year. I love getting a new calendar. I love planning out my goals. I've got goals that will last all year, and I'm still pondering what I want to do, but I just love this. This is an exciting time of year for me, so I hope that other people find the excitement and hold on to that because that's what's going to keep you motivated throughout the year.

[00:07:00.250] – Allan

All right, well, let's have a conversation with Dr. Lahita.

[00:07:03.670] – Rachel



[00:07:51.620] – Allan

Doctor Lahita, welcome to 40+ Fitness.

[00:07:54.610] – Dr. Lahita

Thank you. My pleasure.

[00:07:56.370] – Allan

Now, I want you to step aside for a little while. Let me talk to Dr. Bob, because Dr. Bob is sort of more on my level of actually being able to explain these things in a way that I think is awesome. Now, don't get me wrong. Dr. Lahita is cool, and I really enjoy the science, the things I learned going through the book and the hard words and just kind of seeing it all pieced together and the science, obviously. But Doctor Bob he's my buddy right now.

[00:08:24.030] – Allan

I like Dr. Bob because he talks my language. And then your book is called Immunity Strong: Boost Your Natural Healing Power and Live to 100. Again, all of that is really important to me. We've gone through a few years where talking about the immune system is pretty much a daily thing. So I think a book like this is huge. Everybody needs to read this book because we have to be the Masters of our body. We have to be the Masters of where you put it  the city.

[00:08:56.830] – Allan

We have to be the ones in control, the government of ourselves. Thank you for writing this book.

[00:09:03.190] – Dr. Lahita

Thank you.

[00:09:04.300] – Allan

Now, when you look at the immune system and we'll see things in newspapers and magazines, and someone will say, Well, this works this way because of that. We were taught germ theory when we were in high school. Maybe some people even going into biology in College or at some level, we all kind of know. Okay, there's these parasites, bacteria and viruses, and they get in our system, and some of them are actually not too bad for us, actually, maybe even better for us. But some of them are actually pretty bad buggers criminals, as you put in the book, and they're not out to kill us. But sometimes they end up doing that and just trying to live their lives the way they do or live their existence the way they do.

[00:09:50.110] – Allan

Can you kind of take your first responders view of the immune system and just give us a general overview so that someone who is reading a newspaper article can kind of wrap their mind around it, maybe just a little easier when they start throwing out beta cells and T cells and cytokines and all those things.

[00:10:09.240] – Allan

Can you kind of talk about that in terms of how our immune system basically works?

[00:10:14.590] – Dr. Lahita

Yes. So I've been explaining the immune system for many years to lay audiences, and I found over the years that the best way to explain this very complicated system, which exists in all of us. And that's what's amazing and most people don't realize is we are so complicated. But the immune system is one of the most beautiful organ systems in the body. It's a protective network, so you can go to police departments or armies, and you can see the same kind of protection set up in many layers and tiers in society, as you see with our immune system.

[00:10:53.480] – Dr. Lahita

So we have basically two kinds of response. We have what we call an innate immune response, which I refer to as the SWAT team of the body. So when you have an injury or a bacterium enters you and it is not supposed to be in you, and we'll get into that in a minute. But like a virus, like influenza or a bacterium that goes into your foot because you stepped on a nail. This is all offensive to the body, and the immune system goes to the scene of the crime.

[00:11:24.270] – Dr. Lahita

And Interestingly enough, we have lymph nodes placed throughout the body in strategic locations. I like to refer to it as the TSA of the immune system. You have lymph nodes in your groin, around your neck, anywhere where there's a possibility even around the ears, where the possibility of a breach of your personal bodily security occurs. The immune system reacts and it reacts locally, first with the innate response and then about two to three days later with the adaptive immune response. Now, your listeners, I'm sure have all heard of antibodies, the proteins in the blood that are very specific at times and affect invaders.

[00:12:09.230] – Dr. Lahita

We call them neutralizing antibodies because they go and they neutralize the criminal. I think of the invaders of the body as criminals. I go into this in great detail in the book so that the criminals that are carried away by a police Department, if you will, specific cells designed to remove criminals and take them away either whole or in pieces to the spleen. The spleen, if you have one and if you don't have one, the lymph nodes then become the place where the criminals be they whole or in part are removed.

[00:12:43.300] – Dr. Lahita

This goes on every millisecond of the day in our bodies imperceptibly. You really don't know when this is happening unless you happen to step on a nail or slice your hand with a knife or you have a tree limb fall on you. Some major trauma. The immune system then jumps into action and plays a major role in keeping you protected and alive. So that's what happens. The foreign invaders are truly criminals. These are organisms, be they parasites, viruses or bacteria that the body has never seen before.

[00:13:23.200] – Dr. Lahita

Unrecognizable. And so they are called antigens versus antibodies. Antigens are foreign invaders. Now, antigens are very serious and can kill you if your immune system is challenged either by you overdrinking alcohol, by smoking cigarettes or by having an inborn that is a genetically inherited defect in your immune response, you can die. And there are other diseases like cancer, like diabetes, like a lot of other things that can challenge your immune system and make it somewhat dysfunctional. And hence the reason for the current vaccines being given to people either 65 and older, where your immune system is beginning to wane in its strength.

[00:14:10.990] – Dr. Lahita

We can talk about that in a second. But the other thing is that if you're on chemotherapy for either an autoimmune disease or some sort of cancer that you have, like prostate cancer or breast cancer, you are at risk because your immune system is having a heck of a time trying to deal with the malignancy. But it's now also being asked to deal with a foreign invader. And people with other viruses like hepatitis C or even HIV have a tough time because their immune systems may not be able to Mount an adequate protective response for their bodies.

[00:14:47.290] – Allan

Yeah. So again, I encourage everybody to get this book. If you want to learn how your immune system works and you're reading the newspapers and seeing the press and thinking, okay, none of this makes any sense to me. Get the book because he goes through it. It is fascinating the way you put this together. Like I said, I was blown away by how simple you made it seem. It's not simple, but you put together a really good analogy metaphor, if you will, of how this all works. So it can literally take away all the jargon and just say, okay, I understand my body has a police force.

[00:15:28.000] – Allan

There's different people on the police force doing different things. They're responding in different ways. Sometimes something's going to happen that's going to kind of confuse my SWAT team and my police force, and they might actually even attack my own body, like in an autoimmune disease. Like I said to me, it was brilliant, and I really appreciate that and want people to learn this. So do that.

[00:15:52.570] – Allan

I want to take the next step because you took the next step, which is something that is important to me, because as I get older, it's like, okay, how do I stay alive and beyond just doing some practical things that we'll talk about later, you brought up a concept of what kind of keeps a lot of people alive longer than others.

[00:16:12.030] – Allan

And it was the biological soul. But we have to give full credit to your wife because she came up with the term.

[00:16:21.050] – Dr. Lahita

She's a wonderful artist. That's why she came up with that term.

[00:16:24.890] – Allan

And I love it. So tell her that. But explain the biological soul and why that's important for us to maintain our health, particularly in this environment.

[00:16:36.130] – Dr. Lahita

Today, there are very few organs that span the entire body, including the brain. The brain shares characteristics with the peripheral. When I say peripheral, I mean, the rest of your body, your arms, your legs, your ovaries, your testicles, your heart, lung, et cetera. So there are very few organs that are that extensive. One other organ might be your skin, which is widespread and injuries to the skin can be very severe and actually kill you. For example, a bad burn of a certain percentage of your body. The immune system is throughout the body.

[00:17:14.490] – Dr. Lahita

So that is what is so important and it interacts with your body, your mind, your brain directs most of the immune system and your spirit. Now, I'm not one of these alternative doctors that does all of this Hocus Pocus stuff, but I'm a real immunologist. And I would say that she's onto something with regard to the mind, body and soul. The mind, if you're depressed, if you are stressed, if you have a divorce, if you sell a house and have to move out to some place, if you lose your job, all of this affects your immune system.

[00:17:54.820] – Dr. Lahita

And we know that from actual data, it's not something that is focused and made up by me. Whether you believe in God or have a religion or whatever, it doesn't really matter. The spirituality of your body, that's the essence of who you are as a person really runs what your immune system does. It really means a lot to be healthy, to exercise aerobically. That means outdoors, if you can, but to breathe oxygen on a daily basis in a big way and to really stress your body a little bit physically, not mentally, but the biological soul permeates everything it wants you.

[00:18:35.840] – Dr. Lahita

This soul wants you to live beyond the age of 100. And we have many people who are centenarians now. And the reason for that is good healthy living. People have taken up the idea that in order to live a long time, they have to do things like yoga, keep a good diet. Many people are vegetarians. Many people take vitamins every day. Many people take care of their bones with calcium and vitamin D and so on and so forth. We now know now more than we knew 50 years ago about how to stay healthy.

[00:19:10.610] – Dr. Lahita

And there are lots of things. And that's where the soul comes in, because the biological soul, which was the original thing I called the immune system. I called it the biological soul after she told me about this. And I said, wow, this is really amazing. This is true, because when you die, your soul dies. Your biological soul dies. Your spiritual soul, if you believe in that goes on and on and on into the ethers. But your biological soul is really there to protect you. And it does so in a very amazingly complex way.

[00:19:43.450] – Dr. Lahita

And so that's why I called it the biological soul. I think a soul is a duality in everybody spiritual biological. If you're an atheist, you can still be a spiritual person. You can go out and enjoy the sunset. You can enjoy the ocean or being in the middle of a forest with nobody but you and the animals. That's what I mean by spirituality. And the soul that we have. This biological soul is there to protect us implicitly. And another point is that we're not the only ones that have these biological souls.

[00:20:16.170] – Dr. Lahita

I mean, if you go to the average mouse or rat, which we experiment with, and by the way, this is where the data on the mind body soul came from experimenting with animals with regard to light cycles and stressing mice on treadmills and other things, and seeing that their resistance, their cell populations dropped, their neutralizing antibody disappeared, et cetera. So this comes from animal work, animal research, which is very basic and is about 30 to 40 years old. So we now can extrapolate it to human beings.

[00:20:47.150] – Dr. Lahita

And so that kind of without me going on and on and talking too much. When you read the book, you'll experience that kind of voila enlightenment about your own inner workings.

[00:20:58.580] – Allan

Yeah. And I think we all know we intrinsically know that there's this connection, this thing going on with us in the world around us, the people around us, and you see it all the time. Someone retires from their job. They are 65 years old, they seem to be in good general health. But two years later they're gone, or a spouse passes, and within two years, the other spouse passes. And it's just kind of that loss of connection, loss of spirit, if you will, that now their immune system has just decided to shut down and let them terminate.

[00:21:35.630] – Dr. Lahita

Right? Exactly. And that happens all too commonly. And it is important to understand what your body is all about and what's going on inside. You don't have to be a doctor to have an appreciation and respect for your system. And there are protective networks and other species, even flies, butterflies. When I go out now I look at animals differently. I look at plants which have their own protective system as well. We all have these biological souls, which may actually philosophically be the basis of religion entirely. Whoever the Creator was has imbued all of us, even the lowest species with protection, which is pretty amazing.

[00:22:23.150] – Allan

Now there is this one creature, if you will. It's a coronavirus we now call COVID-19, and there are various variations of it that have occurred over the last two years or so, and maybe even longer, much longer. As you said in the book, I would just say 1959. I think a lot of us thought this was just going to we would get the vaccine. Most of us would take the vaccine or we would get it survive, get it die. But at some point we were talking her immunity where we were talking about this being over.

[00:22:57.290] – Allan

And I don't think any of us, if you ask me in February, March of 2020, when I was shutting down my gym that I just bought in June, I reopened in February of this year, but at the same time, if you told me this was going to happen and last this long, I wouldn't have believed it. But now it's almost like, well, this might never end. I mean, we might always have COVID-19. I think we'll always have coronaviruses and rhinoviruses and those things because they just mutate come back as a slightly different variant.

[00:23:33.210] – Allan

We get it a cold again and we move on. It's a seasonal thing, mostly. But you get that the covid doesn't seem to follow the seasons as well as most of the things we've dealt with. And it seems to have its own little world going north and south and east and west and past here and past there. And this one's scary that one's not. Is covid endemic? Is this something we're always going to be dodging and dealing with?

[00:23:58.080] – Dr. Lahita

Well, it's not endemic yet. It will be shortly. It's pandemic right now because it involves and infects so many millions and millions of people. And this new Omicron variant, which came around around Thanksgiving holidays and is undoubtedly going to spread during the mixing of the Christmas holidays, results in another rush. Now, as I said in the book, these viruses up regulate and they down regulate because that's what viruses do now. Remember, viruses are not alive. They're particles. So they get into you and they use you to really replicate, to multiply.

[00:24:40.370] – Dr. Lahita

They don't have their own spirit. They don't have their own soul. They don't even have the soul of an earthworm. An Earthworm, at least has a nervous system and has an immune system of its own. The virus doesn't. So what our immune systems are doing essentially right now is they're learning to combat this virus as they do with every other virus. Once the virus is controlled by our collective meaning, collective being the world's immune systems with the help of vaccines, monoclonal antibodies and other now new medications that are coming out that I can talk to you about, these viruses will be controlled and will become endemic.

[00:25:22.820] – Dr. Lahita

But what do we mean by endemic? They're going to be with us forever because a coronavirus not the novel coronavirus, the COVID-19, but the regular coronavirus has been the cause of the common cold for the past five or 600 years in humans. And so it's around. And this virus is a first cousin to that coronavirus. So I suspect that we will get a shot every year with the inclusion of multiple variants and the beauty of molecular medicine now, unlike 1918, during the flu pandemic is we can look actually at the RNA that lives inside of this virus and we can tell where the glitches are, where the mutations are and how to overcome these mutations.

[00:26:05.630] – Dr. Lahita

Our bodies are doing the same thing. Our protective police network doing that via T cells and B cells, which you don't hear much about. All people talk about is neutralizing antibody. Well, neutralizing antibody comes and goes and it's not present in everybody. And some people have strong responses and some people don't. But I talk about that in the book that we have our own cellular immunity, which is long lasting. It's your ability of your police Department to know who the criminals are. It's basically be on the lookout for XYZ Bolo.

[00:26:39.830] – Dr. Lahita

The police use this term. Be on the lookout. And when you're exposed to coronaviruses, some of us have immune systems that already recognize it. Even the novel coronavirus. Many of us have immune systems that don't and they have to learn about it. Vis a vis vaccines. That's what a vaccine does. It teaches your immune system to recognize a foreign invader. So that was a long answer to your question, but I don't think we're at the endemic stage yet. We're still in the pandemic stage.

[00:27:10.860] – Allan

Okay, thank you for that. Now, I like practical, which is my thing. I don't want to necessarily depend on someone else to help me. If I can do something to help myself. And in the book, you shared some tips, some areas that we should focus on to maximize what our own immune system can do for us, because I think we've seen healthier people have better health outcomes with Corona. What are some things that we should be focused on right now for ourselves to have the best immune system possible?

[00:27:44.150] – Dr. Lahita

Well, aside from mitigating the current infection, which means wearing a mask, washing your hands, etc. For the way to really handle the coronavirus and to make sure you're in tip top shape. And this goes for older people as well. People that are in their 70s and 80s is to exercise every day in some way. And number two, if you can meditate even ten minutes a day to relax your brain, remember, the brain controls the immune system, and if you're super stressed, you're going to get a horrible infection, you will recover from it in all likelihood.

[00:28:21.260] – Dr. Lahita

But you may wind up regretting that you are so stressed out so that's important sexual relationships, intimacy doesn't have to have sexual relationships. But if you do, if you can great, it can be homosexual or heterosexual. But nevertheless, there are certain hormones that are elicited within our bodies that really promote immune function. I'll just mention two of them prolactin in women in particular and in men, but less so in men. And the hormone oxytocin, which comes about from intimate relationships. And those two neurohormones are very important to immune function.

[00:29:03.390] – Dr. Lahita

Now, we have communication molecules in our bodies called cytokines. That literally means cell communication. And we have chemokines that tell cells where to go. And most people don't know this. But in that complex police Department, which in real life in New York City, for example, they use two way radios to talk and say, Somebody's been shot. I need help. Well, in your immune system, the chemokines and cytokines are released immediately by your innate immune system. Certain cells T cells. And this tells your body that there's an invasion.

[00:29:37.990] – Dr. Lahita

And when the coronavirus comes in through your nasopharynx in your nose and through your mouth, that happens, there's an alarm that goes out, and your immune system not being familiar, will try to find the novel coronavirus in its library of criminals. And if the library of criminals doesn't include it, it sets up a new response so that if you're re challenged, you're recognizing this. So what the vaccine does is it teaches your immune system that this criminal is not unique and new. You can be infected with the coronavirus.

[00:30:14.340] – Dr. Lahita

Nauseum. People say, oh, I got vaccinated, and my test is positive. Well, that's okay. You got the virus residing in your nasopharynx. You can transmit it to somebody else. If you're not wearing a mask or you're sloppy, but you're not going to get sick and die. You're not going to be on the respirator because your immune system is already familiar. It recognizes this virus, and that's what's cool. It's really cool. That's the only term that I can think of to say this is a cool way to have your own body respond imperceptibly.

[00:30:44.820] – Dr. Lahita

I might add to your coronavirus. Now, one glitch there is that we all have what's called immunogenetics. We inherit how our systems work, like our hearts, our brains. We inherit how our lungs work from our forefathers, from our grandparents, from our great grandparents and so on. So if you're unlucky to have bad immunity through immunogenetics being not so great, that could be a problem and that we usually find to be very rare. And yet it does exist out there. And, for example, to give you an example of that would be a tennis player or some guy who's an athlete who gets the coronavirus and succumbs very quickly.

[00:31:30.060] – Dr. Lahita

And that's happened. We've seen these muscular guys who are in good health. They look like the picture of health. They get the coronavirus and three days later they're on a respirator, and then five days later they die. So you don't know. The biological soul is different in each individual, and it depends on a lot of factors. But in order to keep you healthy and to boost your immune system, exercise and I don't mean marathon running or triathlon. I mean simply jogging, bicycling, getting on the elliptical for like 30 minutes every other day.

[00:32:04.840] – Dr. Lahita

You don't even have to do it daily. Get yourselves in tip top shape, lose weight. This coronavirus is fat. We've known that it's been published this week last week in The New York Times. Fat is a wonderful substrate for the virus. It likes to live in fat. It hides itself in the fat cells. So get thin, lose weight. If you never did before, now is the time to do it. Once this thing becomes endemic, we're going to see it every year. We're not going to see as many cases, but we're going to see it from now until the end of time.

[00:32:39.430] – Dr. Lahita

So that's a long wind answer to your question.

[00:32:43.550] – Allan

Dr. Bob, I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest. You can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?

[00:32:53.510] – Dr. Lahita

Okay. So I mentioned a few, but the way I see staying well is to exercise. Number one. Number two, there's moderation to everything. If you like to drink wine, great. Drink on the weekends. Have a glass of wine every day every other day, but don't have a bottle a day. If you're an alcohol drinker, drink very moderately. I think exercise is incredible for those who are religious out there. And I know in Latin America, religion is important. Prayer is extremely important and very strong force, very strong force.

[00:33:33.570] – Dr. Lahita

Even if you're not a religious person. Prayer, prayer is like a way of meditation, yoga. The Chinese have it in Tai Chi and Qigong. If you've been to China and you see the people doing Tai Chi every morning or Qigong every day, you see that they're extremely healthy. They keep themselves very thin. It's a good way to live. Again, if you're a jogger jog, you don't have to do, in fact, I say in my book that the data show that if you're a runner and you run marathons or triathlons, it's actually not a good thing because it does

[00:34:09.920] – Dr. Lahita

At some point you reach a curve where your immune system begins to be oppressed by over exercising. And then, of course, relationships is very important. Meditation is important, and of course, a good diet is critical.

[00:34:25.250] – Allan

Thank you. Dr. Bob, if someone wanted to learn more about you or more about the book, Immunity Strong, where would you like for me to send them?

[00:34:34.010] – Dr. Lahita

Well, they can pre order the book on Amazon. Now, if they want me, they can go to my website, which is doctorboblahita.com, and I'm there, and they can always write to me. Send me an email. Look at me on Twitter, I'm on Facebook, and I'm on Instagram. So I have many ways that you can see me. A lot of my TV appearances talking about the book or about the immune system are out there now, and I welcome people to come and contact me. And if I can, I will personally respond to them.

[00:35:07.060] – Allan

Great. You can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/521, and I'll be sure to have the links there. So, Dr. Bob, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.

[00:35:17.840] – Dr. Lahita

Thank you. Thanks for having me. I really appreciate talking to you. And I hope the listeners have gained some insight into how our immunity works. And the title of the book is Immunity Strong. And I mean that Immunity Strong, the biological soul in its full force today during the pandemic.

Post Show/Recap

[00:35:43.170] – Allan

Welcome back, Ras.

[00:35:45.090] – Rachel

Hey, Allan, what a fascinating interview. I really need to read this book. I am fascinated about the immune system and all its complicated workings. This is a great interview.

[00:35:56.390] – Allan

Yeah, he did an outstanding job because I read a lot doing this podcast and just other things because this topic obviously interests me. Otherwise, I wouldn't be doing it for over six years. But the immune system is one of those things where it is so critical to us staying alive. And I remember this from when I was really young. There was a movie that John Travolta was in called Boy in a Bubble or something like that. And the kid didn't have an immune system. And so he had to live in a bubble his entire life and went through all the way to his teens because I guess his parents could afford to put him in a room in a suit and things like that, which a lot of people wouldn't have access to.

[00:36:40.210] – Allan

So that's just kind of one of those things of saying. Okay, what if you didn't have an immune system? Or now we're seeing more and more with autoimmune disease? What happens if you have an overactive immune system? And so if you're dealing with autoimmune issues or dealing with leaky gut or dealing with a lot of other things that all are related to your immune system, then this is a good book to get just so you can kind of pick up on what those words are, what they mean, what is a cytokine storm and what does that actually mean?

[00:37:09.400] – Allan

And what are these T cells and beta cells and all these different things that you hear about and more and more particularly with Covid. We're hearing these terms and so kind of at least understanding it so that you're making the right decisions for yourself and for your family and making sure that you're taking care of this system because it's not something you just stop taking care of and hope for the best.

[00:37:35.570] – Rachel

Right. Well, I appreciate how he broke it down and a really fun analogy using the term SWAT team and having TSA agents kind of monitoring things. And my other favorite term, BOLO be on the lookout so that your body has its own way to be on the lookout for certain invaders like Covid or any other flu and cold and other invaders.

[00:38:02.010] – Allan

Yeah. That's why when you'll hear something like they'll say, okay, because of the nature of this variant, your body, if you've already had it or you've been vaccinated, your body is better prepared for it when it happens, because it's got that Bolo going on versus a virus like typically a cold virus, it mutates so fast that by the time you get re exposed to another round of or another variant of even maybe the same cold, it is so very different. Your body doesn't respond to it. When we get flu shots, they're not giving you one flu shot.

[00:38:38.520] – Allan

I mean, it's not one thing. It's like three or four things that they think might be, because by the time they get it manufactured, they don't know who's going to mutate several times, but they're trying to get as close as possible to a few different types of variants that they think will give you that opportunity for your body to respond the right way.

[00:38:57.990] – Rachel

It's an interesting science watching how they monitor other parts of the world to determine what kind of threats we might have here. But you know what? That's kind of like you mentioned that's almost like being on the defense, like we're waiting for something to happen. We're being responsive. But on the other side of the coin, we could be a little bit more Proactive by paying better attention to the things that we do in our normal day to day lives. That kind of protect us from these types of situations.

[00:39:24.150] – Allan

Absolutely. And that's the takeaway of this is you can be passive and let science do what science does. They'll get your shots, do your thing, avoid people, lock yourself away. But if you want to live your life, which all of us do, then we can be Proactive in the way we approach these things. So instead of being passive, we're active. And that active is exercise, eating right, getting good sleep, stress management, having great relationships. If you listen to me for any time at all, what does that go back to?

[00:40:02.460] – Allan

That goes back to just being healthy. It goes back to weight loss. And we say weight loss is sort of a side effect, while a strong immune system is a side effect of living a healthy lifestyle.

[00:40:14.370] – Rachel

Absolutely. And to have a strong immune system means that we could manage all of these different types of illnesses a lot easier when the common cold comes around every summer or the flu every winter. Pneumonia. As long as we take good care of our bodies, our bodies will respond faster to these invaders, and then we won't have the side effects or the serious illness that often comes with these things.

[00:40:40.590] – Allan

Yeah. And the thing about this that I want to put out there that I think is really important to think about is this is not a point in time. It's just going to go away. We talked about covid being endemic, and what that means is that there's probably always going to be a version of this floating around somewhere, just not a lot of it. Meaning if you come back around and surge back up and be kind of dangerous. But we're always going to be dealing with flus.

[00:41:05.190] – Allan

We're always going to be dealing with colds. And there's many cancers that are forming viruses. And if you just think back, bird flu, H1N1, AIDS, like, every five to ten years, something kind of sparks up in the world. There's almost 8 billion of us right now. So something sparks up in the world that has the potential to be just another one of these things. Now, why does it not happen? Well, because some people have strong immune systems, and so it out. And so it's just kind of one of those things of saying you do have control, get vitamin D, get outside, get some Sunshine, get some vitamin D, make sure you're eating right.

[00:41:49.720] – Allan

Which means whole foods where you're getting good energy, good vitamins, good minerals, and then exercise. Basically, it puts a resilience in your body that nothing else can. It's a hormetic effect of push yourself and get stronger. And just that work, your body is getting better. And then stress management and sleep. Those are two hard ones. Don't get me wrong. I know, because I've been down that road before, and I know that sleep is hard because we have so much to do. And I know that stress management, which was the hardest and last thing I tackled as far as I was going, was, how do I do this?

[00:42:32.620] – Allan

And I did something pretty drastic that a lot of people can't do, but just having mitigating tools and knowing that's your issue and focusing on it. So a healthy lifestyle equals a healthy immune system and a lot of other downstream effects of weight loss, more energy, better everything.

[00:42:55.260] – Rachel

Oh, absolutely. That's absolutely perfect. Great tips.

[00:42:59.710] – Allan

All right. Well, Rachel, with that I'll bid you adue. And we will talk next week.

[00:43:05.680] – Rachel

Take care, Allan.

[00:43:06.770] – Allan

You too.

[00:43:07.670] – Rachel



The following listeners have sponsored this show by pledging on our Patreon Page:

– Anne Lynch– Eric More– Leigh Tanner
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Thank you!

Another episode you may enjoy


January 10, 2022

Tailor your brain for optimal mental performance with Dr. Emily Willingham

Apple Google Spotify Overcast Youtube

The brain is a very special organ that we are just beginning to understand. Dr. Emily Willingham provides a science-based roadmap to better mental performance in her book, The Tailored Brain. Avoid the useless, and sometimes dangerous brain performance hacks and focus on the key things to make your brain healthy.


Let's Say Hello

[00:02:20.830] – Allan

Hey, Ras.

[00:02:21.950] – Rachel

Hey, Allan, how are you?

[00:02:23.680] – Allan

I'm good. So we did the recording of two episodes at once. Rachel and I were literally just sitting here five minutes ago wrapping up the other episode, I think, 519 that you just listened to last week. This episode, there's no real “Hello,” but we wanted to have this little “Hello” segment. So when I say welcome back, it doesn't sound so weird.

[00:02:46.090] – Allan

So let's go ahead and have this conversation with Dr. Willingham

[00:02:50.830] – Rachel



[00:03:18.910] – Allan

Dr. Willingham. Welcome to 40+ Fitness.

[00:03:22.090] – Dr. Willingham

Allan. Hi. It's nice to be here.

[00:03:24.480] – Allan

Your book is called The Tailored Brain, From Ketome to Keto to Companionship, a User's Guide to Feeling Better and Thinking Smarter. And as someone who's now in their mid 50s and hitting the second age in the second half of the 50s, I don't feel as smart as I did when I was younger. When I was 13, I knew everything.

[00:03:48.850] – Allan

Don't we all?


Then I got into College and it's like, okay, I got some things to learn. And now I feel like, okay, if I don't use my brain on a regular basis, it could turn to fat. It's already 60% fat, but it's like it could just stop working one day and I just wake up and not know my name. So I think a lot of us know dementia is a real thing. Some of these are real. You're really losing it. And other times it's just okay. So I forgot where I left my keys. That's not really dementia, but I don't want to forget where I left my keys. And so thinking of ways that I can improve my not necessarily intelligence but memory and the capacity to function well or at least feel like I'm still not losing it.

[00:04:34.540] – Allan

I think it's really important. So I appreciate the opportunity to have you want to talk about a book like this.

[00:04:39.140] – Dr. Willingham

I'm really glad to be here to talk about those things because it does address them all.

[00:04:43.690] – Allan

Good. So now I think a lot of times we go into this and it's like, okay, I want to be smarter. I want to maintain my brain. I want to do some things and we're kind of given these studies because the easiest way to know what works is to actually study it and then come back with these results. And so we know you kind of do have to use your brain for it to continue to function the way you want to. And you can get smarter at certain things.

[00:05:11.730] – Allan

Like, if you studies you do Sudoko puzzles, then your brain is going to learn how to do Sudoku puzzles really well. And I had a guy on before, and he said, Well, if you really want to challenge yourself, try to write a Sudoku puzzle, and I did it's not easy to actually do it reverse engineer Sudoku puzzle, but I did it. And actually, if you go to the show notes for this episode, I'll include a link to that if you want to do that. [Note: I'm looking for this puzzle. I found the solution PDF, but not the primary puzzle I did in 2016.]

[00:05:41.230] – Allan

But sometimes what we see as far as the press and the headlines and this and that is not that it's wrong. It's just sort of the pseudoscience as you put in the book, and you had a really cool checklist. So why is all this stuff out there that isn't true, actually out there? And what are some ways and you have ten questions. But what are some ways that we can look at it and kind of know. Ok, this is probably not true.

[00:06:11.830] – Dr. Willingham

Well, I first published this checklist. It was when I was being a Forbes contributor. Or maybe it was even earlier than that. But the aim of it was to get people to sort of critically analyze information as it was coming to them. And I think the first place that you can look and be analytical is who is giving you this information? Where is that information coming from? And so you want to look at the source and to think, well, what might their agenda be? And I don't mean in a conspiratorial way, but in a way of what motivation do they have to say, “Oh, you need to try this elixir of life. It's going to add ten years to your lifespan?”

[00:06:53.070] – Dr. Willingham

Okay. So go see who makes the elixir of life. Who is this person? And do they have any association with it. That doesn't immediately negate that it's effective, but it's a starting point for you to maybe think. Okay, well, that's a little weird. I should dig a little deeper.

[00:07:14.710] – Allan

I have to admit, I'm just as likely to fall for these things as anybody else because some of it just sounds so cool. You're listening to this one podcast and this guy's like, oh, you've got to try this one supplement. It's going to make you so much more focused, so much smarter, you're going to be so much more creative. And so you go out and you pay the $90 and you buy that bottle of supplements.

[00:07:44.460] – Allan

I don't know. But I felt like maybe it was working. But then at the same time, I also know I'm not someone who's immune from the placebo effect with things like that. So can we talk a little bit about supplements, particularly as we look at things like neurohacking?

[00:08:05.720] – Dr. Willingham

Sure. Yeah. And that plays into this list as well, because one of the things you want to look at is to claim something that's kind of exceptionally broad. Is it going to help your whole brain to do the same? Because the brain is a really complicated organ. It would be kind of odd for something to really have a huge global effect that way. The other thing is what you described, which is a testimonial. Somebody says, oh, this is the thing for me, but there's not an evidence base that is being provided when somebody says, oh, this just made me feel better.

[00:08:33.830] – Dr. Willingham

The other thing is if you spend $90 on something, you've sunk some cost into it. And we don't like to think that we wasted those costs. We don't like to think that we wasted our investment regardless of whether it's monetary or some other form of investment. And so then we kind of become invested in a kind of a more extended way, right?

[00:08:53.900] – Allan

It's a cognitive bias at that point.

[00:08:55.450] – Dr. Willingham

Yes. Exactly. We have this bias, man. I really hope this works. And then, yes, placebo effect is real. There's a physiological underpinnings to it. There's a study that they did with psychedelics with microdosing. And in some cases, they had the people dose with their own microdoses of psychedelics that they were using. But in some cases, they swap this out for just nothing, not the people taking them, but the researchers. And then later did the big unveiling. And the people were very surprised to find that they had these experiences that they thought were because they were microdosing psychedelics.

[00:09:34.120] – Dr. Willingham

And there was nothing. There was nothing in the pill at all. One of them literally said, wow, you've actually found some way to put spirituality into an empty pill. So that's something that's coming from within. It's a physiology that's saying, yes.

[00:09:48.010] – Allan

And the micro dosing just to kind of be clear on that. If anyone doesn't know what that is is basically where you take a psychedelic. And instead of taking what would be considered like a full trippy-trippy kind of dose where you're really going off the deep end of these things, it's a piece of it, maybe a 10th or 20th of a normal dose.

[00:10:09.340] – Dr. Willingham

That's right. You're not supposed to really trip on like you would if you did a big walloping dose of mushrooms or something like that. So, yeah, you're just supposed to just kind of feel, I guess, a little lifted, you know, if you take them.

[00:10:23.860] – Allan

Yeah. And so that's really popular with coders in Silicon Valley and some of the other creatives out there that think, okay, I can walk into the workplace and not look like I'm tripping and still kind of get some benefits from this drug that I'm taking.

[00:10:37.490] – Dr. Willingham

Right now.

[00:10:39.120] – Allan

Another two things you talk about, which is again, it's kind of that fascinating science fiction. Oh, wow. If we could do this, we could talk to animals. Kind of thing is DCS, which is using current and TMS, which is using magnetics. They're very similar. And you talk about a little bit about how there's a little crossover between one and the other. Can you talk about those technologies, how they're being used and what you're seeing about them?

[00:11:07.270] – Dr. Willingham

The Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation is the one that strikes me as kind of holding the danger because it's one that people even just order a kit. Please don't go do that because the evidence base for it's, doing anything that people want it to do is not as sparse from what I can find. I had one neurologist who has a lot of experience with this. Just say, please don't go experimenting with your brain. You order them, you put electrodes on you set up your brain and some place that allegedly is going to achieve the outcome you want, whether it's feeling smarter or having a greater attention or focus or whatever.

[00:11:48.150] – Dr. Willingham

And if you go and look at boards where people aggregate and discuss these effects, some of the things they say are really kind of frightening. I lost my second language. I can't spell anymore. I can't find words and all that is anecdotal as well, but balanced up against the fact that there doesn't seem to be a lot of data to support it. I would kind of steer clear of that. I would go for a walk before I would put an electrode on my head and just kind of zap my brain and hope I was getting the right spot.

[00:12:20.170] – Allan

Yeah, because that's crazy because I'm like looking at you and I don't wear the same hat. We bought a kit. It's like, okay, we're talking about trying to fire off particular neurons, and those are not like big things. They're little bitty things we're trying to find and specify, and we're trying to do it. I guess looking in a mirror.

[00:12:45.070] – Dr. Willingham

The whole thing strikes me just a little bit of a clue, so I would not run and spend however much it is $40. Some of them are quite inexpensive, which might also be a bit of a red flag, I don't know

[00:12:57.300] – Allan

Or the Burns on your head.

[00:12:59.000] – Dr. Willingham

Or those Burns on the head that they talked about as well. I'm just thinking, yes, I'm going to try walking first and see if I get anything from that.

[00:13:06.700] – Dr. Willingham

The other one, though, that you mentioned, is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and you cannot go and order. This is a very pricey thing to do. And they have done some trials with these where they, for example, apply the simulation and people see very transient improvements in how they perform on certain cognitively challenging tasks. And then it's also something that is used for depression, and that is a prescription and a version of it, so that one shows more promise, and there's also a more controlled exposure. You can't order yourself TMS.

[00:13:45.850] – Allan

I think the reality of these things is that you have doctors. If a doctor's working with you to solve a problem and they're using these therapies then they're coming from a place where they do this. They do this every year, every day, every week, and as a result, they have some experience with it. They know what not to do things. And as a result, as a part of a protocol or a treatment, you understand that and say, okay, but if this is something you're trying to do on your own, neither one of these, even if it's accessible, is not necessarily in your best interest.

[00:14:22.200] – Dr. Willingham

Exactly. Again, this is a situation where practice actually does make perfect, just like you get better at doing crossword puzzles and more of those that you do. You're right. Clinicians are going to have a level of expertise and understand how to map the brain and target the right place for something like TMS. That would be. So it would be like trying to cut your own hair almost, you know, to really get to the right place and get the kind of tailoring that you want for it.

[00:14:46.330] – Allan

And then the final one is games. And this one was kind of interesting to me because I've always thought if I learn how to do Sudoku, learn how to maybe play chess or learn a foreign language or those type of things that those stimulations are, there's definitely got to be some benefit to it. But when you get on those games that are specifically for cognitive enhancement and I'll even confess, I went to a doctor and part of his protocol for talking about aging was that he was going to make us cognitively better.

[00:15:20.030] – Allan

And after I played the game that he had me play for half an hour, I just knew if I came back and played that game, I now know things I didn't know going into it the first time that I was probably going to do better at that game just for the sake that I've played it before.

[00:15:36.530] – Allan

People like these games, they feel like you're doing something. But what you've seen out there is that maybe they're not giving us the enhancement that we think they are.

[00:15:46.530] – Dr. Willingham

Yes, they are video games. They are brain games. There are all kinds of things that people said, oh, this is going to give you this kind of globally improved thinking, right? But there are some researchers who have really gone granular with the data from the studies that have been done on these things, and it's a wash. So you don't see what they call far transfer effects away from this precise skill that you're building when you do a crossword puzzle or play chess, for example, one of them just said to me, you play chess because you enjoy it, and that's the best reason to do it.

[00:16:28.790] – Allan

Kind of one of those things of doing the crosswords and just staying a little bit sharp with them because you feel good sitting there on a Sunday doing The New York Times crossword puzzle is actually relaxing. It's comfortable, which being relaxing kind of takes us to the next topic that maybe you feel smarter because you've taken time to destress.

[00:16:49.610] – Dr. Willingham

Yeah, that's a big one.

[00:16:52.550] – Allan

Because I could tell you. Well, I'll tell you when I'm stressed, my brain works like I'm in kindergarten again, it's almost like I become a dumber person. Sorry, but that's not to say it.

[00:17:07.490] – Dr. Willingham

I feel sort of like it's a washing machine in there. Everything is just going to switch around. I can't, like, just capture the thing I'm trying to capture because there's just too much going on. And it is true that stress does do that. This is a cognitive burden on you on top of everything else. And yeah, if you're sitting there and you're doing The New York Times Crossword on a Sunday, and especially if you get that thing completed without cheating at all, you know, you get this little reward and you feel pretty good about yourself and everything feels kind of refreshed. And you took time away from everything else around you just. And that is relief. It lists a burden out of your mind, honed again.

[00:17:50.030] – Allan

Now we own a bed and breakfast. And so this guy came up yesterday and he was in a hurry, and he threw this math puzzle at me real quick. And so here's the deal. Basically, if they charge something on a credit card, I have to charge them 5% to cover the fees. And so he said, okay, well, how much do I'm like $130? He's like, okay. He said, I'll give you $40 in cash. And I said, okay, that's 90 left. And then the 5%. And I said $4.50. But then I sat down on my calculator and I calculated it came up to $3.60. And I'm like, okay. And so I just charged him $3.60.

[00:18:23.410] – Allan

And after he walked away, I was like, okay, I was stressed. I was pressured, and I knew it was $4.50. But then I let my brain turn off because of the stress of getting this guy done quickly, because now I've got to get it in the system. Then I got to charge the credit card. I turned my brain off. Why does stress affect us that way? Like you said, washing machine or for me, it's just I'm an accountant by trade before I became this. And I'm like, the math was in my head. But I didn't believe myself. I had to recalculate and made a mistake and then still didn't pick up on it. After he was gone.

[00:18:59.650] – Dr. Willingham

Right there's, a famous book called, Thinking Fast and Slow by Kahneman (https://amzn.to/3FgA8HM), in which he sort of talked about these two systems. We have. One of them is our snap decision system, and the other one is the more deliberative long-term system. But that second one takes a lot of resources for us to really take time and think through things. And when we're under stress, we kind of just default to that other one that maybe is not as filtered or as deliberative.

[00:19:24.410] – Dr. Willingham

There's a study that they did where people who were overtaxed with a lot of multiple tasks at once, if they were given an option to get some money now or wait a little while, like, a half hour or something and get double the money when they were overtaxed that way, kind of similarly to what you were experiencing, they're just, like, just give it to me. Now. I just don't have time to think about this. And either way, at least I guess I'm getting some money.

[00:19:47.860] – Dr. Willingham

Whereas if you had been deliberative, you're just sitting there doing your New York Times crossword and nothing else you'd be like, yeah, I'm going to wait get double, right?

[00:19:59.870] – Allan

So we've talked about that neurohacking and how that Stuff's not going to work. And obviously the stress is something that all of us are dealing with probably more now than any time in our lifetime with all the things that are going on in the world and more every day. What are some things? And I particularly want to dive into a couple of them. But what are some things that we can do to improve our cognition and effectively tailor our brain?

[00:20:25.490] – Dr. Willingham

Well, you actually mentioned one, and that is an activity that makes you feel better, right? But in the book, across all of the facets of what we do with our brains, I looked at physical activity is a big one. And if you engage in it with somebody else or you get out in nature while you're doing it, you add some dividends to it as well. Now you've got me. I'm thinking like using accounting terms because you mentioned accounting, but those two things feed off of each other and everything that we're doing when we do those kinds of things is we're giving away a little bit of our cognitive burden, right?

[00:21:08.440] – Dr. Willingham

When you do things with your body, when you do physical activity, the physiology that goes on there is, yes, you get more oxygen to your brain. There are some molecules in your brain that you can get higher levels of them that will help you kind of refresh neuronal connections and things like that. But you're also kind of using your body, which if you're having adrenaline from stress and anxiety and things like that helps you kind of fizz that away as well. There are all these things that go on that intersect that relieve that burden in our heads and give us some space to be more clear in our thinking.

[00:21:43.320] – Allan

Yeah. For me, when I was in major stress mode at work, when I was in corporate, it was okay. I got to go throw heavy weights around, go to the gym and just pick up heavy things. My co-host, Rachel, she's a runner. So for her, if she gets stressed, she's probably going to put on her running shoes and go do something long. But if you're looking at the types of exercises that are best for improving cognitive, are there some that are better than others?

[00:22:14.090] – Dr. Willingham

It is really what you just described. I mean, some people really that deep bodywork where you just feel it so deeply, they get a huge benefit out of that. And others get benefit about from the forward motion, along with just kind of, I think being outside and things. I have somebody in my house who has to do both pretty intensively so that their mood feels better for them and they feel kind of more at peace inside their own heads.

[00:22:40.380] – Dr. Willingham

So that's the tailoring part is how much do you do and what kind what the studies do show is it doesn't have to be a ton. It can be pretty moderate kind of according to the recommendations of the public health folks.

[00:22:54.090] – Allan

Okay. So this could be just going for a walk, particularly in nature. It can be doing some yoga, Tai Chi.

[00:23:00.890] – Dr. Willingham

Tai Chi.

[00:23:00.890] – Allan

Okay. There you go.

[00:23:03.470] – Dr. Willingham

Exactly as we get older. It's kind of harder for us to do some of the heavy things, right?

[00:23:09.430] – Allan


[00:23:09.940] – Dr. Willingham

The kind of more strenuous things. I also am in my mid 50s, and that's just kind of been my experience. And so you make adjustments for that. But there are all kinds of physical activities that seem to be effective.

[00:23:22.340] – Allan

Yeah. So this is just another benefit to exercise. So take that to heart, not just looking and feeling better, but actually being a little bit smarter.

[00:23:33.090] – Dr. Willingham

Thinking better, feeling a brain that I think is more comfortable with this.

[00:23:38.270] – Allan

Cool. And then another big one that was in the book that I think we all know this is important, but it used to be really woo-woo. And now it's kind of more mainstream. But mindfulness, and a mindfulness practice. Can you talk a little bit about how that helps us and kind of ways that we can think about using mindfulness to help.

[00:23:58.310] – Dr. Willingham

Right. I came to that as somebody who was a skeptic of it for lots of reasons. And it's a bias that I brought to it. And so one of the reasons I wanted to look at it for this book was, you know, I want to see what the evidence looks like for this. And then I came away. I wrote this book during the pandemic, and I came away using things that I had read about because I was like, oh…

[00:24:24.530] – Dr. Willingham

So I'm a knife when it comes to this kind of thing. And there are practitioners out there who are probably just going, yeah. Duh, right? But for someone like me, it was very effective to learn about that and to find an evidence base for it. What I found was that when you start to get into spiraling thinking, especially sort of self focus and not in a good way. But if you do practices that click you out of that so that you're using kind of an executive function to order yourself around and make yourself do the responsible thing, and you're co-opting your attention network in a really conscious way so that you're directing your attention very consciously that gets you away from those thought processes that are kind of internally and negatively oriented.

[00:25:11.420] – Dr. Willingham

It's been really useful. Spiraling anxiety. I use a lot for that because of what's going on in the world right now. I would almost say for me, it's been kind of life saving in a way good.

[00:25:27.410] – Allan

Dr. Willingham, I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest, and happiest. You can be what are three strategies or tactics to get and stay?

[00:25:35.420] – Dr. Willingham

Well, first of all, you can call me Emily. I should have mentioned that.

[00:25:40.130] – Allan

Now you earned that doctorate. I know that they do not just hand those out. There's a lot that goes into earning that Dr. So no, it's yours.

[00:25:51.120] – Dr. Willingham

I appreciate that acknowledgement. Thank you so much.

[00:25:53.980] – Dr. Willingham

I would say the three things that I took away from this book and that I am using are mindfulness that I really work on just clicking myself back into a moment. I think it helps me for a lot of things, including focus and memory and things like that.

[00:26:10.750] – Dr. Willingham

The other one is social engagement. I'm not an extrovert. So I'm not saying, especially right now that you should go to a big party and hang out with people. I mean, in a sense of that really kind of reciprocal sharing that you have with people with whom you're close and you help each other and you relieve burdens by talking with one another and recognizing each other's emotions and that kind of thing and providing that sort of support.

[00:26:38.650] – Dr. Willingham

And then the last thing is that physical exercise. I actually doubled my walking. I went up from I used to target 3 miles a day, and now I target five or six just because I kind of need more to keep things clear with the way the world is right now and the anxieties that you can have about it. So those are my three that I took away.

[00:26:58.630] – Allan

Great. Thank you. So, Dr. Willingham, if someone wanted to learn more about you, learn more about the book, The Tailored Brain. Where would you like for me to send them?

[00:27:07.500] – Dr. Willingham

They can find me on Twitter at Ejwillingham, and that's probably the best place to start.

[00:27:13.590] – Allan

Okay. You can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/520, and I'll be sure to have a link to the Twitter account you just mentioned. So thank you so much for that. Thank you for being a part of 40+ Fitness.

[00:27:26.750] – Dr. Willingham

It was really great to talk to you today. I appreciate you having me.

Post Show/Recap

[00:27:37.890] – Allan

Welcome back, Ras.

[00:27:39.510] – Rachel

Hey, Allan. What a really interesting conversation you had with Dr. Willingham. The brain is such a mysterious organ. It really is.

[00:27:49.050] – Allan

Yeah. As she got into the brain, this is one of the things I think that's cool about this book. If you're interested in learning more about the brain, was she literally mapped the brain out in a similar fashion the way you would actually look at a globe as you start thinking about how the brain works. So she's got the whole world. And then she's got continents and countries and cities and using those as a metaphor for describing the parts of the brain and how the brain works.

[00:28:19.180] – Allan

And there's things that she brought up. I'd always heard, okay, there's the lizard brain, there's the mammal brain, then there's the human aspects of our brain. And she said, it's a lot more complex than that. It's not like there's layers of brain that do these things. It's certain parts of the brain fire. And if something's not working, then your brain can adapt a little bit and fire from different ways. And while they are getting better and better at kind of imaging how the brain works, everybody has a unique, their own thing, brain.

[00:28:52.840] – Allan

And so the way it works for me isn't always the way it works for you and then spend a lot of time talking about intelligence and how all these things, the pills, the electricity and magnetism, the games and all of that. How those biohacks, neurohacks, if you will, don't really, ever bear out. They make you like the games. You can be better at the games. If you do a crossword puzzle, you get better at crossword puzzles, but they've not yet shown where you can take that and take that over to say, okay, you're a smarter person because you did crossword puzzles, or you're a smarter, better person because you play a game where you were doing something, tagging, butterflies, whatever.

[00:29:40.590] – Allan

So there's these things out there, but people will sell them to you. You can buy one of those brain zappers for a couple of $100. Run some electricity through your brain. Maybe you feel better and feel like you learned something. Maybe you learned that you could actually mess up your brain pretty bad running electricity through it like some of the stories she's had in the book. And so just recognizing that really, there's not these quick fixes these little things. And I tried one of the neuro enhancer things.

[00:30:11.330] – Allan

That was just basically, it was not meant for long term. I'm going to be a smarter person. It was just okay. You're going to feel sharper. You're going to be more alert. Nootropics. And blah, blah, blah. I tried it and I felt like maybe it was giving me a little bit of an edge. I was feeling better, felt like I'm thinking better, but at the same time, it just could have been that I was on placebo effect and I don't know any better. And then I just didn't want to spend $90 for this stuff because again, it didn't do that much, $90 worth. But I felt a little bit. But that could have just been there was a stimulant and I was like, I'm awake.

[00:30:54.850] – Rachel


[00:30:55.990] – Allan

Really, when you boil this down with the premise of the total book is of all the things they ever shown that are measurable, measurable, intelligence, measurable, better brain lifespan, everything. It comes down to a few core things. Her favorite was exercise, but there was also sleep, nutrition and stress reduction. And I can tell you today through stress reduction, my brain works a lot better than it did when I was working a corporate job.

[00:31:32.770] – Allan

I can think circles around myself when I had that corporate job because I was chronically stressed all the time and I don't live that way now. And so my brain just works a little bit better. It's a little bit more creative. I mean, I can read a book in a day.

[00:31:53.030] – Rachel

That's awesome.

[00:31:55.670] – Allan

I mean, by reading in a day, I don't mean reading the whole day. I mean, I can literally now 250 page book read it in about four and a half 5 hours. And so yeah, standard kind of work day, taking breaks and a lunch. I get up in the morning, I start reading and 02:00 in the afternoon. I finished reading the book. I send the show plan over to the author and “Boom” done for the day. I had to be able to do that this week because I had five interviews

[00:32:24.830] – Rachel

For sure. Holy cow!

[00:32:26.610] – Allan

Yes, but exercise, nutrition, sleep, stress reduction. If you put those all together, what we're talking about is improving your health, improving your fitness. And so the moral of the story is healthy body, healthy brain.

[00:32:48.950] – Rachel

Yes. And be aware of those snake oil salesmen. Those get rich, quick schemes and train your brain schemes. It's just not proven out. But I think if I were to reorder those helpful tips, I'd start with sleep. Sleep is the most important time for your brain to rest and recover.

[00:33:10.220] – Rachel

And stress reduction cannot be emphasized enough and good food and good movement. I think those are the best ways to keep your whole body healthy, especially your brain.

[00:33:21.680] – Allan

Yeah, I completely agree. All right. I'll talk to you next week.

[00:33:27.540] – Rachel

Great. Take care, Allan.

[00:33:29.100] – Allan

You too.

[00:33:30.030] – Rachel

Thank you.


The following listeners have sponsored this show by pledging on our Patreon Page:

– Anne Lynch– Eric More– Leigh Tanner
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Thank you!

Another episode you may enjoy


How to end the crash and burn cycle of food addiction with Dr. Susan Peirce Thompson

Apple Google Spotify Overcast Youtube

Like drugs and alcohol, food addiction is real and because we can't just not eat, we have to go about addressing it differently. Dr. Susan Peirce Thompson shows us how in her book, Rezoom: The Powerful Reframe to End the Crash-and Burn Cycle of Food Addiction.

You can find the full show notes at 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/519.


Let's Say Hello

[00:03:55.750] – Allan

Ras, how are you doing?

[00:03:58.400] – Rachel

Good, Allan. How are you today?

[00:04:00.970] – Allan

I'm doing all right. It's been a hectic little week. Last week, I had five interviews. This week, I had Santa Claus duty. Dressing up at Santa Claus at Lula's. And so the kids came in. I think I've got another one on the agenda to do for the Rotary Club. And then both of our daughters got proposed to this week.

[00:04:25.550] – Rachel

Is that right? Congratulations. How exciting.

[00:04:29.950] – Allan

Yeah. One of them just turned 29 and the other is 28, and she'll turn 29 in July. So, yeah, they were getting around that age where I guess you start saying I'm old enough that I'm not a kid anymore. And I'm young enough that I can have kids. So they're right. And I think the sweet spot they should at this point, know themselves pretty well. They seem to like the guys they're with.

[00:04:55.570] – Rachel

Good. That's important. Wow that's so exciting.

[00:05:01.910] – Allan

That'll change.

[00:05:04.850] – Rachel

That's so exciting. What a wonderful time then for both of them. Very exciting. Congratulations to them both.

[00:05:11.330] – Allan

How are you doing?

[00:05:12.680] – Rachel

Great. I'm doing good up here. Enjoying the up and down weather up here in Michigan. Sunny days, a little bit of snow, little bit of rain. You never know what you're going to get. But things are good. I just wrapped up a week of my marathon training plan, had a great week, good runs. It's really been a lot of fun.

[00:05:31.090] – Allan

Well, good. You know, this is also a time of the year where you kind of have to watch your health because the changing weather and everything else kind of beats up your immune system. You're inside a bit more than you normally would be. So we're exposed to a little bit more of this and that. Obviously when those the main virus Corona going around, but cold and flu season and a whole bit. So take care of yourself. Eat well, get plenty of rest and follow the basic protocols.

[00:05:58.820] – Allan

Wash your hands. Avoid sick people.

[00:06:02.270] – Rachel

Yes. Do the best you can.

[00:06:04.910] – Allan

Do the best you can with what you got. All right. Are you ready to have a talk with Susan?

[00:06:10.590] – Rachel



[00:06:50.830] – Allan

Susan, welcome to 40+ Fitness.

[00:06:53.810] – Susan

Allan, so good to be here with you.

[00:06:56.010] – Allan

So your new book, Rezoom: The Powerful Reframe to End the Crash and Burn Cycle of Food Addiction. And while I scored a three out of your range of how really susceptible I am, just a three with food, there's other things that I wouldn't score as well on. I think this is a really important concept because so many people think of food as just eat better, just eat better, eat less. And for a lot of people, their brain just doesn't work that way. And that's what I thought was really cool about your book.

[00:07:34.540] – Allan

It's like, okay, now let's actually call it what it is, even though clinically, I guess the Association and all those folks, they don't want to call it that

[00:07:45.050] – Susan

Yet. They're going to have to because it is. Right.

[00:07:49.370] – Allan

But the whole point is if we don't treat it the way it needs to be treated. We don't get better.

[00:07:55.500] – Susan

That's right. You can't treat a condition that you don't know that you have or that you refuse to believe that you have. So food addiction is very real. And that's one of the big thrusts of this book it's actually the title of chapter two, food addiction is real. If we don't know that by now, sort of, Hello next live. Look around. Right. And the thing is that I think food addiction these days is an intuitive obvious thing for people, right? Either they experience it or they see people they know who experience cravings, who experience repeated attempts to cut back with no lasting success, who experience unintended use this slippery slope where you intended to eat a little bit, and then you find yourself eating more and more and more who experience real consequences.

[00:08:43.710] – Susan

I mean, 130,000 people in the United States this year prior year, right. Had their leg amputated because of the way they were eating 130,000 people. Now, if that's not shocking enough, 55% of them will have their second leg amputated within two years because having one leg amputated wasn't enough of a cue to cut back on sugar with their type two diabetes. Right. So if you don't think that that's sort of hazardous use or using beyond the beyond, it just it is right. Food is so addictive.

[00:09:17.430] – Susan

So that's what this book is about. And it's about a different approach to managing the treatment or the recovery. Or like, how do you lose weight and handle food addiction in a way that actually works and is actually sustainable? So that's what the book is about.

[00:09:33.380] – Allan

And this is not just some textbook. This is how you treat addiction. This is the way we've always treated addiction. You've lived and breathed addiction, not just food, but other things in your life. And that's where you're coming from in this book. And I really appreciate the opening up the vulnerability that you had to have a book like this where you're saying, no, I'm not some hottie taughty PhD that's going to tell you how to beat addiction. I talk from experience of successes and failure.

[00:10:04.850] – Susan

Yeah, totally. And that's I think why food addiction was so obvious to me. I mean, I knew food addiction was real when I was 21 because I had gotten clean from crack cocaine and Crystal meth. I got clean. Finally, at the age of 20, I spent my teenage years doing drugs and progressing to harder and harder and harder drugs, culminating in dropping out of high school, prostitution and just repeated cycles of going out to prostitute and then going into the Crack house to smoke cracks. So living like that without a place to live except the crack house.

[00:10:36.930] – Susan

Is that's a pretty serious case of addiction? And when I got clean, I never went back to drugs or alcohol after that moment, I just got clean. And yet within a year, my weight had started to pack on. And I was eating in a way that just looked felt and was just like my drug addiction. And food was harder to kick, Allan. That's the creepy thing. Food was harder to kick. I was not able to just kick food the way I had drugs. I mean, obviously you have to eat to live.

[00:11:10.210] – Susan

But there were a lot of things that made food harder. And before I knew it, I was obese and really struggling with food. And my weight has been the story of my life. I mean, I could say, in a way, I started using drugs at the age of 14 already to start to manage my food. I already had a weight problem. I already had a food problem, and that's why I turned to stimulants like Crystal meth to manage my food and my weight problem. So it went all the way back for me.

[00:11:34.530] – Susan

So, yeah, I don't come to this. I do have an academic background. I have the PhD and all that. But that's not the high mountain top from which I speak. I speak from the gutters of, like, here I am eating a pint of ice cream with tears streaming down my face. Why am I doing this again? Kind of place. So I get it at a visceral level.

[00:11:51.750] – Allan

Yeah. And as I said, I went through and I looked at your susceptibility chart and took the quiz and I said, okay, I scored a three, which for food

[00:12:03.380] – Allan

That makes sense for me because..

[00:12:05.120] – Susan

Just so people know on a scale from one to ten, ten is highly susceptible to food addiction. So it's a measure of how susceptible your brain is to food addiction. And, Allan, you're just a three, which means food isn't your thing.

[00:12:16.170] – Allan


[00:12:16.420] – Susan

It either means you're not susceptible to addiction at all, or it means you might be susceptible to other addictions. But food isn't your thing.

[00:12:22.660] – Allan

Right. And so, like I said for me, it was okay if I just say I'm not going to eat dessert. I don't eat dessert, and it's not like I leave that table after I said no to dessert and stop by the convenience store and buy some ice cream to eat at home in private. Because I really sugar. I wanted that sugar. I was addicted to that sugar. I just said no because that was the visual of me being at the dinner table and no one else wants dessert.

[00:12:53.150] – Allan

Why is it so hard for us to beat food addiction?

[00:12:57.230] – Susan

Food is the hardest addiction to kick. And I say that both as a hope to die addict in every way. But also clinically speaking, food has some very unique things about it. First of all, it is socially pushed, like no other drug, not just accepted, but pushed and pushed and pushed. Which means when you're trying to, let's say, abstain from sugar, right? Good luck getting through Thanksgiving or Valentine's Day or whatever without people actually pushing it on you. So that's one challenge you have to eat to live, which you have to eat to live.

[00:13:37.900] – Susan

But you don't have to eat Donuts to live, right? This is one of the things that bright line eating does well, is it helps people figure out the line between what you're eating and not eating, right? When you're an alcoholic. When you're a crack addict, the line is really clear. Don't drink, right? Don't smoke crack. It's not ambiguous. Generally speaking, I mean, with alcohol, Benadryl or whatever. There are some slight NyQuil, whatever. But generally speaking, the line is pretty clear with food. It's a minefield. And I spent eight and a half years after I got cleaned from drugs, trying to figure out where the first bite was.

[00:14:16.660] – Susan

I couldn't tell what I was eating. That was tripping me up, right? And finally I came to sugar and flour. That's what it seems to be. Sugar and flour. It's essentially the processed foods. But if you just abstain from sugar and flour, that's a good demarcation point. But, Allan, I could go on, and probably I should. I just don't want to soliloquise here for ten minutes on you. But there are a couple of other really fascinating reasons why food is harder than any other drug. It is the hardest.

[00:14:44.400] – Susan

It's the hardest.

[00:14:45.140] – Allan

Please do. I want to get into this topic because again, I think if you don't recognize the problem, you'll never find a solution. And if you think just forcing yourself to try something, another diet, another thing, and you don't get to the root cause of why this is so hard, then you're never going to solve the problem, particularly not solve it long term.

[00:15:09.960] – Susan

That's right. And here we are, early January, right. All these people have made resolutions to lose weight is always the number one resolution, and we probably have people listening who've made that resolution before. Right. So here's another reason why food is harder than anything else to kick, and it has to do with something that I think most people lump together with food addiction. But if you think about it, it's actually an entirely separate problem. And so to illustrate, I have an analogy that I like to give.

[00:15:43.470] – Susan

I call it the acne analogy. Imagine the universe, this is just a little thought experiment. Imagine a universe in which drinking alcohol over time caused acne to develop all over your skin and not just acne, but really bad disfiguring acne and not just really bad disfiguring acne, but fatal acne. Acne that research suddenly showed would kill you 10,15, maybe even 20 years before your time. So you learn this, you know this and like people will, because alcohol is fun to party with. Right and relax with, you start to drink, so you start to drink.

[00:16:30.780] – Susan

And at first it's not a problem. You start to develop a little bit of acne, but it's not that bad. And over time you drank more, you develop alcoholism, and the acne comes on hard and fast. So years go on. Your body is now covered with really bad acne, and you know it's going to kill you before your time. You try quitting drinking over and over and over again. You finally succeed, you get sober, but the acne persists. You still have it. And now your job is to figure out what to do with this acne because it's terribly unsightly.

[00:17:06.270] – Susan

You don't want to live with it, and it's going to kill you 5, 10, 20 years before your time. So you go to search for a solution to the acne, and you find one. There actually is only one solution to the acne, and you start to adopt this solution. But the problem is, it's got a side effect, and the side effect is powerfully driving urges to drink alcohol. And so in your life, you get stuck in this loop of drinking alcohol, quitting drinking alcohol, trying to solve the acne problem being driven back to drink alcohol.

[00:17:46.110] – Susan

This is the relationship of food addiction and excess weight. The problem with excess weight is the brain fights prolonged weight loss by driving you to eat, even if you're still maintaining 100 or 200 extra pounds on your body. If you've lost weight over any significant period of time, your brain makes hormonal adjustments to force you to regain weight, and it drives you back to your food addiction. So this is the maddening loop that people get stuck in. And that is, in my opinion, the biggest reason that food is the hardest addiction to kick.

[00:18:25.970] – Allan

Yeah, the hormones are really a big part of this because if you're constantly hungry, then you're going to struggle to stay away from food and then staying away from food makes you constantly hungry. It's a bad cycle. Now, one of the things I really liked about your book was you didn't just jump into a diet or a program and say, this is what you eat. These are your because you did talk about lines, but we're going to get to that. But the first thing we have to get into and we're going to talk about this is that selfwork.

[00:18:57.430] – Allan

That self awareness and not just this casual self awareness of. Oh, great. I have a sugar addiction. It's a much deeper awareness of that at points in time. And I don't mean from a schizophrenia perspective, but we're different people in the fact that at some point in time, the voice in our head is telling us, Well, go ahead and have that doughnut. And then there's another voice in our head, it's the controller. It says, no, you shouldn't have that. And they might be going back and forth.

[00:19:30.630] – Allan

And when they are, we find ourselves now obsessed with thoughts of food because we told ourselves no. And we've also told ourselves, yes. Can we talk a little bit about this parts work and how there's different voices and then kind of go into a couple of examples, like the one I just started about how that works dynamically within our brain.

[00:19:50.450] – Susan

Yes. Totally. Well, just to say, first of all, this perspective on human beings is spreading rapidly because it's so effective. It's called internal family systems, or IFS and more easily called parts work. Like you just referred to it as. And what's so helpful about it is that it allows us to create change really rapidly by relating to these different sort of selves that we all seem to embody. And I'm not talking about dissociative identity disorder or multiple personality disorder. I'm talking about every healthy psyche has multiple parts to it.

[00:20:33.330] – Susan

And this notion goes way back there's Egyptian hieroglyphs that have a parts dialogue on ancient tombs. Socrates, Aristotle, and Plato all talked about parts. Socrates said it best. And actually it pertains to the food idea like that you just mentioned Socrates said one mind cannot both want and not want at the same time. Therefore, we are all at least two. And so just bringing up this idea that there's different parts of us. So in bright line eating, we invoke this parts notion to help people heal at really, really deep levels.

[00:21:18.670] – Susan

Anyone really who wants to be healthy. I would wager even a three on the susceptibility scale of food addiction. Like you, Allan will have developed some version of these parts, the food indulger part and the food controller part. The food indulger says some version of, hey, why not? It's a special occasion. It's an important day or I deserve it. Or I feel like eating or whatever and gives us license to indulge a bit, right? Whatever that means to us.

[00:21:50.750] – Allan

It'S the devil on this shoulder and angel on this shoulder, and they're like, oh, come on. No. You said you were going to do this.

[00:21:59.050] – Susan

And the angel is the food controller that's trying to manage it, right? The food manager, and we have different versions of it. Some people just have a healthy version that's like, you don't want to do that because you'll feel a little yucky tomorrow morning. And, you know, you're getting up early for a run, and some people have a really perfectionistic and wickedly critical food controller that's really mean or really sets up a high standard that's almost impossible to live to, right? Super perfectionistic. But anyway, most of us have some version of that angel on the shoulder.

[00:22:36.990] – Susan

That's saying, no. And what we get into in the book Rezoom is we also introduce people to their authentic self, their highest self. I don't mean self like, ego, self. I mean self, as in grounded, centered self. You know, you're there when you're calm, clear, connected, curious, compassionate, like, in that kind of place, you can make decisions for yourself that are really empowered and not really driven by either of those voices. I think that's a really interesting awareness from this perspective is you're not actually trying to create a world where you're always siding with the angel, with the food controller, you're trying to settle into a truer version of yourself that is actually a step back from the control, right.

[00:23:28.230] – Susan

Anyway. Yeah. It's something we get into in the book a lot is what's the inner work you have to do in order to sort of transcend the war, the polarization between the food indulger and the food controller, because for people who are high on the food addiction susceptibility scale, it has become a full on war.

[00:23:46.990] – Allan

Yeah. And I think that's the key. If you do this self awareness work and you really think about it and it blends into your Rezoom process of okay, why did this happen? What were the voices? Who was I talking to when I did this? And why did I react the way then? You know, it's like, oh, well, I was just being a food rebel because I've been so strict on myself for so long and drill sergeanty, if you will. That okay. I just kind of popped a gasket and said, Damn it, I'm having a piece of pizza didn't kill me, didn't really throw me over the edge.

[00:24:18.800] – Allan

But just enough where I said, okay, maybe I just need to be kinder to myself instead of being so mean and rigid and thinking of myself as bad just for thinking about the pizza because it's creating that dynamic in yourself where either the rebel comes out and you have all these different characters

[00:24:37.430] – Susan

sort of archetypes. Yeah.

[00:24:41.090] – Allan

Who was I when I made this decision? Who was I when this happened? And every one of them and I think this is really important that you say in the book, every one of them is actually looking out for your best interests.

[00:24:53.940] – Allan

They're just doing it from their own paradigm.

[00:24:56.460] – Susan

Right. Totally. And Allan, this is the thing. So on the food addiction susceptibility scale, I'm a ten. And that's not surprising. Maybe hearing my addiction background. But here's the thing, Allan, is for people like me who are much higher on that scale, we're talking seven, eight, nine, tens. Once you get into certain territory on that scale, it might actually be true that the best path to peace to food neutrality, where food thoughts aren't dominating your day to physical health and weight loss. The best path to that might actually be a path that involves some form of abstinence.

[00:25:42.050] – Susan

Right. I abstained from sugar and flour, because when I include them in my diet at all, it's the sort of classic example of addiction. It's the same reason I don't try to smoke one cigarette. I tried that experiment again about four years ago and thus started about two years of trying to quit cigarettes. Quitting restarting again. I don't need to run the one cigarette experiment. It goes badly for me, right. And I just got to say the one cookie experiment goes just as badly. So I don't run that experiment anymore.

[00:26:11.790] – Susan

But the key is that I'm not doing it from a punishing food controller place. And so the Genesis of this book was really how do we present a reframe on food recovery for people who've gotten trapped in a Yoyo dieting cycle or in a food addiction recovery cycle? Because there's a lot of twelve step programs that talk about abstinence from certain foods as well. And people often get trapped in a relapse cycle. And I had gotten trapped in that cycle again myself, after many, many years of peace and being in my bright body, which is like what I call sort of a right sized body without carrying around all sorts of excess fat and stuff like that.

[00:26:53.350] – Susan

I've been there for a long time, and then I got trapped again in a relapse cycle. And coming out of that, I've been out of that for a few years now. Coming out of that, I got the awarenesses that I put into this book. It's a reframe on the perfectionistic tendencies that can naturally go along with an abstinence framework. But the kicker is, for some people, the abstinence is still necessary, right? It still doesn't mean that trying to eat the one piece of pizza for some people is going to be the right thing to do, because if you've run that experiment enough times, you know that for you, it might not work.

[00:27:27.500] – Susan

So this book is for people who are in that category and who need a reframe to get out of the crash and burn cycle because it's very painful.

[00:27:36.330] – Allan

Yeah. Because the quicker you get back on the road, the less damage you've done. I don't want to say the easier, but it just makes it you feel more in control because you didn't completely crash. You're sort of easing yourself back into traffic and moving forward.

[00:27:52.310] – Susan

Totally and this book helps people who have brains more like mine to actually avoid the crash before it happens. Coming from a place of more healing, more self compassion. It's really the shame and the self flagellation on the way to picking up the excess food, right? That accelerates the tragedy of it. And so this book is sort of the prescription of getting off of that horrible cycle altogether.

[00:28:23.570] – Allan

Now, one of the things you do in the book, which I think is really important. I'm a big fan of commitment. I would not have been successful in changing my health and fitness if it didn't start with a commitment to myself. You've done something, I think that's pretty special is you're looking at it from making a daily commitment. So when you wake up because you do have that structure, you do have that abstract mindset. You have these bright lines. And so right now, four, probably you have more because there are others.

[00:28:54.970] – Allan

We'll talk about those. But there are at least four base bright lines. And we're not talking about a line in the sand because a line in the sand you can easily miss over and not see you're talking about bright lines for a daily commitment, you actually write out exactly what you're going to eat the next day each day, and then you're able to report back to yourself on your commitment that I follow through with exactly what I told myself I should do today. Can you talk a little bit about bright lines eating and what the four core ones are and then go into some of the others because I think those can be equally as important.

[00:29:32.930] – Susan

Yeah. So in bright line eating, there are four essential bright lines with the food, and two of them have to do with the substance addiction, right? No sugar, no flour. That's keeping the alcohol, the nicotine, the crack cocaine out of our system, no sugar, no flour. The other two handle the process. Addiction, the behavioral addiction to just eating. And they are meals. So eating just meals, no grazing, no snacking. And typically we start people off three meals a day. There are some exceptions, like people who had bariatric surgery recently can't eat that much food at one meal and that sort of thing.

[00:30:10.590] – Susan

But generally speaking, it's three meals a day and then quantities. So we actually bound our food with a digital food scale. Yes. I weigh my food. And it's so funny because I just had a visitor who is a one on the susceptibility scale, literally a one. And he was visiting my house and we ate all our meals together for a few days. And he just kept talking about how he's like, okay, you told me you weighed your food, but you eat more than I do at every meal.

[00:30:38.340] – Susan

This is like a full grown man. Right. So we're weighing our food not to make for tiny quantities, but actually to make sure that we eat enough of a lot of foods, because people who have a history of dieting typically will not eat enough at each meal unless you make them actually account for it. Those are the four bright lines. A bright line is a legal term. Originally, it just means a clear, unambiguous boundary that you just don't cross. Right. So this is like the bright line that the alcoholic puts up for alcohol, right?

[00:31:09.760] – Susan

I'm just not going to drink no matter what. And then the other things I would count more as habits or behaviors or tools or whatever, like writing down your food the night before. That is a practice that people start when they start doing bright line eating. And, yes, committing it right. In some kind of way. I often recommend people even commit it to someone else, which can be very powerful. Like, this is what I'm eating and then circle around the next 24 hours and say, yes, I ate only in exactly that.

[00:31:35.080] – Susan

And here's what I'm eating tomorrow.

[00:31:38.570] – Allan

Well, that's why we have a ceremony. When we get married, we wear a ring when we get married. That's the public commitment. And you're like, okay, here I am. I'm committed to this relationship, and that's deeper meaning than you just saying to yourself before you go to bed. This is all I'm going to eat tomorrow, and no one else on Earth knows. So it does hold you a little bit more accountable to what you're doing, which again, if you need that support is really important.

[00:32:05.210] – Allan

Now, doctor, I define wellness as being the healthiest fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?

[00:32:16.910] – Susan

Oh, my gosh. Say it again. You define wellness as being the healthiest,  fittest

[00:32:23.570] – Allan

healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be

[00:32:25.990] – Susan

Healthiest, fittest, happiest.

[00:32:28.170] – Allan

In my mind, you have to have all three.

[00:32:30.710] – Susan

All right. Healthiest, fittest, happiest. So I'll just share from my expertise, right. Because I'm sure people come on here and can say all kinds of things. Anyone can sort of spout off on that. But from my vantage point, one of the big ones is going to be look at and honestly face the amount of food addiction that you actually have on board with the brain you've got right now. Like, assess it like, Allan, you took the quiz, right? People should take the quiz, find out what kind of brain they've got, because if you're a one, two or three, it's a whole different ballgame.

[00:33:08.270] – Susan

Right? You don't need to worry about a little bit of sugar. You can have that recover really quickly. And absolutely. Research shows that being 90% to 95% true to a food plan is enough, right? When you're higher on the scale, that little bit of sugar turns into more and more, and also creates a lot of psychological chatter where you're thinking about what you've eaten or not eating, whether you're on your plan or off your plan, how many miles, how many calories, how many pounds to burn off that thing that you just ate in?

[00:33:37.080] – Susan

That's a state of mind that is not. Well, that's not healthy, right? That's not happy. It may or may not be fit, but it's definitely not healthy and it's not happy. So there's one right there. Like take a look. And if people want to take the quiz, they can go to Foodaddictionquiz.com. Foodaddictionquiz.com. So acknowledge however much food addiction you have on board, because it really does change the landscape of the type of food approach that will work for you. If you're trying to be well, you're trying to be fit and you're trying to be healthy.

[00:34:09.320] – Susan

Everyone who's trying to be fit knows that you can't out exercise a bad diet. Right. And if the diet piece is the piece that keeps slipping in your wellness regimen, take a look at that. And Allan, I don't know if we're going to have time to talk about it, but I just want to say because this is a podcast for people over a certain age, right? Is that sort of theme?

[00:34:29.640] – Allan

over 40. Yes.

[00:34:31.080] – Susan

All right. Well, maybe let me just mention it now, if I may. When you're over 40 and especially over 50, your diet impacts your body differently. And this is true whether you're male or female. And the reason is lowering estrogen. And as your estrogen becomes more probabilistic and lower, this is true for men, too. Don't be fooled. It's not just men have testosterone, women have estrogen, men and women have both. And as your estrogen goes down, you stop getting the synergistic and protective effects it has on your insulin response.

[00:35:10.630] – Susan

And that means that your body now responds very differently to the junk food that you might be eating. You don't get away with it anymore, and that is the source of the weight creep in the middle that people experience past a certain age. Now, we did a research study that we published in a peer reviewed scientific outlet that showed that doing bright line eating, which means eliminating sugar and flour on our program. In the first two months, people at every age category lost an equivalent amount of weight, which means that this type of approach to eating turned a 60 year old woman's body into a 30 or 20 year old woman's body.

[00:35:48.300] – Susan

Which is shocking, but just saying the older you get, the more you need to acknowledge the amount that the degree to which addiction to certain processed foods might be playing. Right. So there's that.

[00:36:02.510] – Susan

The second thing I would say is really note your meal timing in relation to your circadian rhythm. So here's something that I used to experience. I'm a night owl by Constitution like wickedly so. Like, left to my own devices. I'm up till three, four or five in the morning and I'm sleeping past noon every day since I started eating this way, which I did 18 years ago.

[00:36:26.660] – Susan

I've been eating this way now since I was 28 years old. I'm 47 now it's 18 years that I've been eating this way. I now go to bed and I'm like eyes drooping full melatonin at 09:00 p.m. Like last night I went to bed, I went to sleep at 08:39 p.m. And I was up easily at five. But I'm not that way constitutionally. The difference is I started changing my meal time since I started eating breakfast, lunch and dinner. It turns out that the timing of your meal has as big or a bigger impact on your circadian rhythm as light exposure.

[00:37:05.430] – Susan

So don't be fooled. Any calories you're putting into your system after dinner, they're mucking up your circadian rhythm. So really consider returning to breakfast, lunch and dinner, or at least watching your meal timing as it relates to your circadian rhythm. That also had a huge impact on my mood by giving up sugar and flour and changing my meal times the way I have. I used to have clinical depression really badly and I don't have it anymore. And then the third thing I think is make sure that you feel deeply supported and connected in life.

[00:37:43.370] – Susan

I used to teach, so I'm still a professor at the University of Rochester, but I don't teach as much anymore because I do so much research and with this bright line eating thing. But I used to teach positive psychology at the College level. And a few years ago researchers discovered that human connection is more potent for well being than the combination of diet and exercise put together. That's how important it is to not feel lonely. It's so important to be well supported and connected. And if you think you're an introvert, just saying in the book Rezoom, we've got a category or a part called the Isolator, right?

[00:38:23.980] – Susan

Which is different than healthy alone time. Introverts and all people really need a healthy amount of alone time. Isolation is a different thing. Isolation is keeping yourself from support that would actually be helpful. And research shows that introverts and extroverts alike experience the same degree of uplift when they add something to their schedule, like lunch with a good friend once a week. Right. So introverts just need fewer people and fewer superficial connections, but a few deep ones are absolutely necessary. So however you roll, just make sure that you would answer, oh heck yeah.

[00:39:02.010] – Susan

To a question like right now in your life, are you feeling deeply supported and connected? Those are my three.

[00:39:09.510] – Allan

Thank you, Doctor. If someone wanted to learn more about you or learn more about the book, Rezoom or your program bright lines Eating, where would you like for me to send them?

[00:39:20.690] – Susan

I would say probably the first step would be to take that quiz, go to foodaddictionquiz.com, but also Bright Line eating (brightlineeating.com) and you can get started with Bright Line eating for just $20 a month. So if you just want to give it a try and see, you were mentioning hunger earlier. We publish findings in the Journal of Nutrition and Weight Loss. Two years out, people haven't regained any of their weight. It's shocking the results that we're getting around here.

[00:39:54.070] – Susan

But also within the first two months, people's hunger and food cravings have gone away completely on our program. On average, literally hunger and craving levels down to below one and a half out of five. Like little to no hunger or cravings anymore ever. So. Yeah, brightlineeating.com people can give it a try for just $20 a month. It's probably the best deal in weight loss.

[00:40:15.270] – Allan

You can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/519. And I'll be sure to have the links there. So, Dr. Thompson, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.

[00:40:26.190] – Susan

Thank you so much, Allan. It's been a pleasure.

Post Show/Recap

[00:40:35.950] – Allan

Welcome back, Ras.

[00:40:37.580] – Rachel

Hey, Allan, what a really fascinating interview you had with Susan. I'm really excited to get the chance to talk about food addiction because it's something a little bit different than your standard dieting type situation.

[00:40:51.850] – Allan

Yeah, I've had people on we've talked about how food can be used as kind of this emotional bridge, if you will, a best friend, something that takes the pain away. And I've never felt that compulsion with food as using food to do that adrenaline absolutely. I'll do something crazy, like jump off a building or something like that.

[00:41:23.050] – Rachel

No, thank you.

[00:41:28.370] – Allan

Select certain number of people that are susceptible to food actually becoming a problem if they're using it for the wrong reasons. And you and I were talking before we got on here, you took the quiz that I took and encouraged people to get out there and try it. I was a three. You were a two, and it's this self awareness thing. What is your relationship with food? And you really have to break that down to a core component of what does food mean to me. Now, I know you and I, we think it's fuel.

[00:42:10.140] – Allan

We're going to go for a run. It's fuel. And there's food that I just love that I know I'll eat more of than I should or that I need, especially when I can't get them all the time and then they're available. I kind of go a little bit overboard on it, but it's not that kind of food. It's pretty much moved away from the sugars and that. But I never really was. I would say I might have been addicted to bread, but the only reason I say that is when I went paleo the first time I would have dreams about bread.

[00:42:54.670] – Rachel

Wow, that's interesting.

[00:42:56.580] – Allan

Like smelling it, like in my sleep someone was cooking bread and I could smell it in the oven and just dreaming about bread. And I thought, this is so weird. I quit bread a week ago and I'm dreaming about bread. So maybe there was a little something there with bread. I don't know, but talk a little bit about from your experience, because again, you're too. So that's not how you look at food?

[00:43:23.980] – Rachel

No. Like you said, I definitely look at food as fuel. And I'm aware of the addictive nature of my personality, and I say potential addictive nature. When I was a kid, my grandmother, who I love and adore and respect and was crushed when she died from breast cancer. She was a smoker. And whenever we went to her house, her curtains and her couches and the blankets on her couch, everything reeked of cigarette smoke. When we drove in a car, she would smoke in the car. And even in the dead of winter, it could be 20 below.

[00:44:03.840] – Rachel

I just needed that little bit of window down so I could get some fresh air to get some relief. That smell was just so overpowering and influential to me that I knew I would never want to smoke ever in all of my life. And to this day, I've never even tried cigarettes or any other thing that you might smoke. I've never done it because I was so repulsed by that. But people who smoke it's an addiction. It's like Susan mentioned, she had a more serious drug addiction than cigarettes, but there is an addictive part to that whole thing.

[00:44:40.170] – Rachel

And I can see how food can become similar, whether you're physically in need of having that sugar rush, because, you know, carbs and sugar can be very addicting. Or is it more of her personality? Like Susan mentioned, she had a drug addiction. She replaced that compulsion with food. So there's something to that personality component as well. But being aware of that, having that self awareness like you mentioned, food never crossed my radar as being something that I was compelled to have. I don't hide food in my pantry and eat it later in the closet.

[00:45:18.560] – Rachel

Although the one thing I will admit to is coffee. If anybody knows me, I am a definite coffee addict. I have it every day. But even with that, I know that I don't have to have it to live. If I woke up tomorrow and was camping, like when I go to Isle Royal next year and I can't have my pureed coffee pot with me. I know I could go a couple of days without having it. I know I'll have some consequences, but it's a different type of addiction than I think sugar or flour is, like Susan had mentioned.

[00:45:52.990] – Allan

And we've had guests on Rosie was on, and the woman Cheryl was Sharon. I've had a couple of guests on that really had emotional, deep issues with food and the way they thought about their body, the way they thought about their food. And it was that relationship with food that was the problem. And so as you go through self awareness of your journey in health and fitness, it's critical for you to have that conversation with yourself and say, what kind of relationship do I have with food?

[00:46:35.010] – Allan

And why would I feel compelled if I went to the grocery store to go down the cookie aisle when I know that the cookie aisle is just not going to serve me in what I need for what I'm trying to do? And so as you look at that, if you feel compelled or take the test to probably give you some information there. But most of us, if we take a moment and we're honest, we can say I am a moderation person or I'm an all or none person.

[00:47:05.760] – Allan

And I can tell you I am an all or none person. Even though I scored very low on that test, it was really because it was just related to food. And I can say no to any food, and I can have a little of something and then not have any more. But there are other things that I'm all or none. And when it's all, I mean all until it's all gone, that kind of thing. And maybe I used to be with that. Like I talked about Girl Scout cookies, and I'd buy the thin ments, and the box would be gone the first day.

[00:47:43.690] – Allan

even if I was trying to be good, I'd go to the grocery store and go to the freezer because we'd put them in the freezer and I would take a serving, which I think was like three cookies and I'd eat a serving. And then I'd go sit down. I'd eat the three cookies. I'd get back up. I'd walk there, I'd get another three cookies and go sit down. And then I'm just standing in the freezer eating the rest of the cookies.

[00:48:05.630] – Rachel

Wrap them up, finish off, can't eat any if they're not there.

[00:48:09.800] – Allan

Yeah. And so I had to come up with some strategies that worked for Girl Scout cookies until it was just a point where I no longer thought of Girl Scout cookies as something that I needed. I actually would give the Girl Scout money and not take the cookies.

[00:48:25.170] – Rachel

Sure, that's wonderful.

[00:48:26.380] – Allan

I just say, okay, you're trying to raise money. I get it. Back then, okay. Again, to kind of date. This is a box of cookies was like 250. Someone's telling me that they're like $5 because I don't stop by the booth anymore if I came out of a grocery store in the United States in February, which I haven't done in three years. But you walk by. They're there and wants cookies here's 250. No, just buy yourself a box or give a box away or whatever. And then I just move on.

[00:48:58.470] – Allan

So this is a very important concept, and that self awareness is critical. Otherwise you're setting yourself up to fail because this stuff is everywhere. It is the flour and the sugar is in every single thing out there. It's just almost impossible to avoid. And there are going to be times when you go in and you're like, okay, I want something to eat. And what's this? How is it prepared? It's breaded. It's like, okay, can you make it not breaded? And sometimes they can. Sometimes they can't.

[00:49:31.030] – Allan

But then even then, there's sugar in the sauce or there's this and that. It's really hard to avoid these foods. And if they trigger you, like, Susan said she tried to smoke a cigarette, just one. And then, boom, she was right back to smoking, and it was just really she knows she can't even have a little bit or she's going to go off. And if that's you, then you have to be honest with yourself. And yes, cold Turkey, you're out. There is no moderation. There is no trying it. There is no detour with this stuff.

[00:50:08.980] – Allan

It's all or none. And you have to get that into your head if you care about your health and fitness.

[00:50:17.230] – Rachel

Susan mentioned the word abstinence, and I just want to keep that word in bold prints right front and center, because for some people, abstinence is absolutely necessary. And for her, with her type of an addiction, personality or physical addiction to food, she cannot allow herself a bite of sugar or a bite of flour because that could send her back down the spiral to where she was overweight and unhappy. And I think that there are a lot of people out there that need to come to terms with that word abstinence.

[00:50:49.870] – Rachel

For people like you or me moderation, we can live with that. We can have a couple of Girl Scout cookies and then wait until next season when Girl Scout cookies are sold again. But for people who have more of an addictive personality or that physical need for food, chips are in the grocery store every day. Cookies are in the grocery store every day. And sometimes abstinence would be the tool, the main tool to break that habit. I just want to keep that front and center.

[00:51:19.770] – Allan

And there's a reason in these grocery stores in these convenience stores that things are where they are. If you want to walk down to the milk aisle, you're probably going to have to walk through an aisle that's going to have sugar laden foods or chips or something. And you're going to turn around when you stop to buy something like bottled water. And there's the chips. And it's literally set up that way you get up to the counter and there's on both sides, candy lining both rows. But it's done on purpose.

[00:51:51.850] – Allan

They study that stuff. They literally studied the traffic flow and optimize their sales. They're putting that stuff in your way. So you see it, and then you buy it. Yeah. So you have to know yourself. You have to go back to your commitment. And if you do that, then yes, abstinence. And it's that point of saying abstinence is the only way. And then you have that relationship with yourself, and you have to say, okay, I'm not going to cheat. And you wouldn't cheat on your relationship and say, oh, that person looks really fine.

[00:52:27.400] – Allan

I'm going to go do that. No, you don't. But you have to have the same self love. You have to have the same self awareness and not put yourself in those situations if you don't need to be. And most of us, if we're trying to lose weight, trying to get more fit, we don't need that stuff.

[00:52:46.150] – Rachel

Absolutely. Yeah. You said the other word that I would like to highlight and bold. And that's commitment. And whether you're committed to moderation or committed to abstinence or whatever it is, just be committed to yourself for sure and make the best choices for you.

[00:53:01.420] – Allan

All right, Rach, I'll talk to you next week.

[00:53:03.750] – Rachel

Take care.

[00:53:04.700] – Allan


[00:53:05.320] – Rachel

Bye now.


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Another episode you may enjoy


December 27, 2021

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Tara Garrison breaks out of the tribalism of keto forever with her motto, Do Keto. Not Forever. On this episode, we discuss her book, Short-Term Keto.



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Let's Say Hello

[00:04:14.130] – Allan

Hey, Ras, how are things?

[00:04:15.970] – Rachel

Good. How are you today, Allan?

[00:04:17.870] – Allan

I'm doing all right. Really interesting weekend.

[00:04:21.530] – Rachel


[00:04:24.330] – Allan

We had our Christmas parade here. So you're listening to this? It's just now past Christmas, but we're recording this a couple of weeks in advance, and we had the Christmas parade. And one of the things that kind of came about, and I was sort of side-swiped by this is my wife decided that I was going to wear a Santa suit and sit in the back of her golf cart and pass out candy and toys to the kids. And it was insane. Thousands of kids out there screaming “Santa! It's Santa!”

[00:04:59.130] – Allan

And then they're sitting on my lap and I'm taking pictures.

[00:05:02.910] – Rachel

How sweet. That's so cool.

[00:05:05.680] – Allan

It was just bizarre. I'll post a picture on the Facebook group. You can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/group, and you'll see a picture of me sitting in the back of a golf cart as Santa.

[00:05:20.250] – Allan

And then the parade. We were told to get there at a certain time, and they weren't even ready to near ready to start that thing until about 2 hours later. And then we're on the parade for over an hour, and I was like, okay, I've got to go to the bathroom, so I hopped out and I'm running.

[00:05:34.500] – Allan

So you got to stand on running through the streets to get to the bathroom. And then I got to go run back and find where we are in this parade to get back on the golf cart. So some funny moments. And you walk into a place that everybody knows me. Except now I'm dressed like Santa. And as soon as I get close and they start to recognize me, I say, “Don't say a word. Don't.”

[00:05:55.170] – Rachel

That's so sweet. That's Wonderful.

[00:05:58.050] – Allan

So not something I expected, but I did the best Santa I could.

[00:06:03.190] – Rachel

That's awesome. What a fun weekend.

[00:06:05.610] – Allan

So how are things with you?

[00:06:07.320] – Rachel

Good. Really good. I'm pretty excited today. I just hired a trainer to help me get through a marathon. I've got a spring marathon already scheduled, and I've been thinking about it for a while, and I thought, you know, I do want to set a goal time for this full marathon, and I think a trainer is going to help me see my training in a whole new light. So I'm pretty excited to get started with her real soon.

[00:06:32.120] – Allan

Yeah. Is this one you've run before?

[00:06:34.350] – Rachel

No, it'll be a new marathon. It's actually one of the two runcations I've already scheduled for next year, and it's the St. Louis Marathon, and that will be in early April.

[00:06:45.270] – Allan

Ok. So based on what you know, of that course, is it similar to one you've run before?

[00:06:49.840] – Rachel

Actually, I don't have a profile yet. There's not a profile on their website that I found yet, but I'm asking around, so I'm hoping to get some insight. I hear it's hilly in that area, but I don't anticipate it being crazy hilly.

[00:07:06.400] – Allan

Yeah, but that's going to help set your expectations if you go into it. And this thing's, like Big Sur. You're like that was not what I was expecting. And then you get there. So you're not really that satisfied with your training and your time. But yeah, because if you're going to run hills, you need to do a little bit of training on hills, just know that you're getting the best you can out of your training. So I'll be interested to hear how this all goes about, because having a coach, that's what a lot of people don't recognize is how beneficial having someone there that knows the ropes, that knows what's going on to just kind of push you a little harder.

[00:07:44.250] – Allan

And yes, as a coach, at times, I hire coaches and you hire coaches, and that's what we do because we want to win. We want to do better, even if winning is just winning being better at ourselves.

[00:07:56.640] – Rachel

Sure. Sometimes it's nice to have another set of eyes on what I'm doing and how I'm progressing. It'll be interesting to see I'm sure she will push me harder than what I might push myself. And I'll have some solid accountability, too. So it should be really interesting to see how this plays out.

[00:08:15.890] – Allan

Good. And I'm pretty excited. I'm launching my new program in January, Win at Weight Loss, and you can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/win and get on the waitlist for that. There are going to be limited slots because I can only handle so many clients. I don't pass my clients off to anybody else. I handle each and every one of them. This is a program, a six week program that basically teaches you everything you need to know for yourself, for your body.

[00:08:49.220] – Allan

This is not a cookie cutter, here's the four things I want you to do. I've done those before, but for most people, yeah, it works. But a lot of people, they need more. They need that next step because they plateau and they stop and it doesn't work. And so when things stop working, you need tools to get through that as well. So that's what this 6-week program win. It weight loss is. Go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/win. And you can get on the list. And then we'll have a conversation to see if this program is right for you.

[00:09:21.370] – Rachel

That sounds awesome. It'll be great. Good luck to everybody who signs up. Do it quick.

[00:09:26.730] – Allan

Please. Yeah. Because once I get to a number, I'm like that's all I can handle. I will have to turn that off. And then the waitlist won't be for January. It'll likely be for April. So just realize now I'm going to do these in classes or cohorts if you will. So we'll go through with a group of people, and then I'll be done. And then I'll maybe start another one. But they're going to be points of the year where I just take time off.

[00:09:49.020] – Allan

So if you miss this one, it's going to be probably two, three, four months before I do another one. And so you want to get into this one while the iron strike while the iron is hot, if you will.

[00:09:59.060] – Rachel

That's right. Do it.

[00:10:00.250] – Rachel

All right. Tara is a coach, and she was a Keto coach until she decided that maybe keto wasn't the right way for her to manage her health long-term? Are you ready to talk about Short-Term Keto with Tara Garrison?

[00:10:16.890] – Rachel



[00:11:12.750] – Allan

Tara, welcome to 40+ Fitness.

[00:11:15.190] – Tara

Yeah. Thanks for having me excited to be here.

[00:11:17.470] – Allan

So we're going to talk about your book, Short-Term Keto: A Four Week Plan to Find Your Unique Carb Threshold. And what I like about this. And it's what I tell a lot of people because, like, oh, you do Keto, but you don't do it all the time. Why don't you do it all the time? All the other Keto guys, they want to do it all the time, and you say I'm going to do it.

[00:11:37.590] – Allan

I told you, who's going to bark?

[00:11:40.230] – Tara

He's like, on camera. It's my time to shine.

[00:11:44.310] – Allan

Yes, it's my time to shine. So sorry about that. But I'm going to leave that in.

[00:11:51.570] – Allan

But the principle of this is that I look at and similar to you, I think look at keto as a tool.

[00:11:58.830] – Tara

Yeah, absolutely. And a powerful one. Short-term keto. I don't know if I'm jumping ahead.

[00:12:06.580] – Allan

No. Yeah. Go ahead.

[00:12:08.610] – Tara

Short-term keto. I've had a program for many years now called Keto In and Out, right? That was a precursor to this book. And really what it was born out of was seeing what a powerful tool Keto is in our day and age pretty much. I'm not going to say everybody should do keto, because I definitely have times, I just told a woman yesterday I'm like, I don't really don't think you need to do keto. I already think you're metabolically flexible, you're thin, you're healthy, you're thriving. I don't see any for it.

[00:12:39.040] – Tara

But most of us, we literally get into our car. We, like, sit down in a seat while we're still in our house. Like our garage is still our house. We sit in a seat, we drive to the grocery store and we sit in a seat, come back and we have endless access to food. And guess what happens over time at that lifestyle very sedentary and overeating. We are not forced to be in a situation in which our bodies need to run off their own body fat for fuel.

[00:13:05.340] – Tara

But if we lived in the wild and this is where it kind of gets to what you're saying here about not always being if we lived in the wild, if we lived in nature, which unless things go real bad in the next few years here, which hopefully they don't. But most likely we're not ever going to be in that situation again. We're just living out in the woods and trying to hunt for food. But that is our natural state. That is what our bodies. That's what they evolved upon over many thousands of years was not always having endless access to food and having to move even when you don't really feel like it so that you can have food. And guess what happens as a result of that, our bodies would go into ketosis naturally.

[00:13:46.740] – Tara

So what does this mean? It means when you run out of enough incoming carbohydrate to support your bodily functions, your body will turn your own body fat. Or now it's dietary fat often because we have so much food available to us. But your body will turn fat into these things called ketones. And you will run off of those as your energy source. And so many cool things happen in our bodies. As a result of that, we drop inflammation. It's more easy for us to focus. Without food, we can go longer without food without feeling hangry and angry and shaky and hypoglycemic. And all of these things.

[00:14:21.450] – Tara

Gut healing benefits. It's really powerful for the body. Our brain gets a boost. They go through our blood brain barrier. We have more mental energy, and some people hypothesize that maybe that was to help us go hunt and find more food. You know, we want to be mentally clear. So we don't do this. Why would you do this? Why would you do this? Why would you, like sit there and be uncomfortably hungry and you have everything you could ever imagine sitting in your pantry just waiting for you to eat it.

[00:14:45.710] – Tara

We're just not going to because we don't have to. Here comes keto. This intervention in which all we do is intentionally remove most of the carbohydrates from our diet, and we get this adaptation in our body. To me, the point is the adaptation and going back to this living in nature analogy, like, if you're freaking starving and you're living out in nature and you come across whatever food, whether that's potatoes or berries or whatever or animal, you're just going to eat whatever you can. Right.

[00:15:18.040] – Tara

And so a lot of people get in the mentality of carbs are bad for you. And carbs make you fat. And it's like, no, it's just an abundance and over consumption of carbohydrates all the time in which your body never, ever gets to explore this other half of its capacity, which is ketosis that can become, quote, unquote bad for you over time, because now you are kind of dependent on glucose for energy and you get hangry and shaky and all of these things if you don't have it. So keto is a powerful tool that allows us to come in and get our metabolism to be doing what it was always meant to do in the first place.

[00:15:55.770] – Allan

I do something I call Seasonal Ketosis. And so it's basically I know there's seasons of the years when I'm going to want to eat certain things or drink certain things and do certain things, usually around the holidays and football season and that kind of thing. And so I was just like, okay, I can be in ketosis. And I feel great in ketosis. But I was like, I don't want to live my life this way 24/7. So I would cycle out, and then I would cycle back in.

[00:16:24.170] – Allan

And what I found was for me, it works very well. And then I've had other people that I've worked with, and they can't necessarily bring back the carbs because the way they process carbs and the way they eat carbs just doesn't work. Can we talk a little bit about this bio-individuality I've heard used. Why are some of us wired to be fine with keto most of the time? And then others were wired more with the threshold of being able to take in more carbs?

[00:16:57.030] – Tara

Yeah, that's a great question. Any good nutrition coach, I think they're first going to want to know, where are we starting? What's going on? What's the starting point? And so if you have let's say, for example, you have type II diabetes. I'm not recommending that you bring carbs back in. Actually, the research is kind of starting to shift over the years. We used to say this is not we're not healing type II diabetes with this, we're just managing it depending on how far progressive is. We're seeing that it might be possible, at least to be able to increase the carb threshold a little bit. But we're talking years of doing keto, right.

[00:17:36.500] – Tara

So if you have prediabetes type II diabetes, you're using keto to manage something like epilepsy or some sort of therapeutic approach. It might be a long-term thing for you. For women who are perimenopausal or post menopausal, they may have higher estrogens, and that doesn't mean that they have to just live with that and be like that forever. A lot of things can be changed and shifted. But I'm saying if that's where you're starting, you might need to be keto for a long time.

[00:18:06.730] – Tara

If you're very obese, I'm just blunt with it, the more obese you are, more likely, the better keto is going to work for you, because that means you likely are not metabolically flexible. Your body has a hard time going into its own fat source and using that for fuel without you becoming extremely uncomfortable and hungry and cravings and all those things. So you do something like keto, you might do it for years. There's so many different things that could be happening in the body to cause this.

[00:18:33.920] – Tara

There's even DNA. I do DNA work with my clients. There's even predispositions that certain people have to have less normal, like impaired glucose metabolism. Right. We look at people with Alzheimer's. If you have Alzheimer's in your family, you may be possibly have some genetic predispositions to not manage glucose as well. A lot of these things can be completely changed by lifestyle, right. But it takes time.

[00:19:01.830] – Tara

And then I've had clients where they're extremely fit. They're extremely active. Their blood sugar regulation is great. They have good muscle mass. They're already quote unquote fat adapted, meaning their body can run off fat just as well as carbs. They might not even need to do keto. Everyone doesn't need to do it. And then there are some people that actually really it's probably going to be a life changing intervention for them.

[00:19:26.060] – Tara

And so I would say that the biggest hitters are if you have high blood sugar, this is going to be a winner-winner chicken dinner for you. It's just for me, people who they feel like finally, because when you have blood sugar cravings for food and your body is saying you're going to die if you don't eat like something sugary right now because it doesn't know how to go into ketosis.

[00:19:50.190] – Tara

It's pretty much it that's going to be a life changing experience for you left in your satiation hormone goes up. That's life changing for people. I've had clients that are 400 pounds plus and just lost hundreds of pounds, it's life changing for them, so it really depends on where your starting point is and for the sake of time, I won't go too far into that, but we go into detail on that of reasons you might want to try to do keto and possibly do it longer term in my book.


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[00:22:02.790] – Allan

And then the other side of it because I work with clients too, and we'll go low carb with their eating and they feel really good. They're losing the weight 40 lbs, 50 lbs gone and they feel great. And they're like, this is incredible. And then they're like, but I want to introduce carbs, but I'm afraid.

[00:22:20.020] – Tara


[00:22:20.830] – Allan

So what are some signs? They're like, this works so well, but they're like, I know a holiday, I know a vacation is coming. We're going to Disney. We're doing this and it's like, can I? And I'm like, Well, you need permission first, right? I know you have some signs, okay. It's probably okay for you to start reintroducing carbs.

[00:22:41.410] – Tara

Yeah. I love this question. This is one of the main reasons I even started talking about this at the time in 2018, when I started sharing this message, kind of developed this little tagline of ‘Do Keto. Not Forever.'

[00:22:52.170] – Tara

That was very rebellious of me. Very. Because I was very involved in the leaders of the keto movement, where all my friends and colleagues and this was just like an abomination at that time. In 2018, keto was like, the end. All be all. If you are a smart person, you understand that ketones are better than glucose and like that was just the mentality.

[00:23:12.780] – Tara

And I had recently gotten off of keto, so I came into it very lean, very athletic. I just qualified for the Boston Marathon, was lifting weights. Did keto. I appreciated some of the benefits that I got in terms of mental clarity. I think I needed a little more fat, so just hormonally felt better. I could go longer between meals, which was super cool without feeling hungry. I really got tapped into physiological hunger versus blood sugar hunger. And that was cool. But for me personally, I lost muscle and gained body fat.

[00:23:43.980] – Tara

And at the time I was dating one of the leaders of the keto movement, so I know I was optimizing it. I'm a trainer and nutritionist myself, but my body just wasn't loving it from a body composition or athletic performance perspective. And I had just brought carbs back in and everything was going back up for me. And I still maintained those benefits that I had received during keto. I've been able to go between meals for a long time. And so here I was like talking to all these women at conferences and they're terrified of carbohydrates, right?

[00:24:11.000] – Tara

They're terrified. They've been taught these will make you fat. These will inflame you. Even people saying they're going to kill you. There's like a lot of fear. And the clients that I've worked with. Sometimes my clients come to me and they've lost over 100 lbs on keto already. And I'm like the carb savior or something because I teach the message. They're like, Girl, are you serious? Are you telling me I can really have carbohydrates again? Because I'm terrified. And what I like to tell people is like if you've experienced a big weight loss on keto, remember that you are not in the same body right now that you started with.

[00:24:41.510] – Tara

It's hard emotionally for us to get there sometimes, right? We still see ourselves as a 200, 300, 400 pound person, but you're not. You lost 200 lbs. You lost 100 lbs. Your body is different now. The physiological processes are different. So what I say is, look, check your blood sugar management when you wake up in the morning. If you're under 90 in the morning, even if you ate some carbs the day before, that's a really good sign that you've achieved better blood sugar management. If you're starting to just gain weight back, maybe you've turned into lazy keto and you're not actually in ketosis anymore and you're gaining weight back.

[00:25:15.820] – Tara

You're just not feeling as good. You're not getting the same results because once your blood sugar management is good, you're not going to get the same drastic result from keto that you did when your blood sugar was poor. If your sleep isn't good, if you feel like you're crying a lot like that could be low serotonin. If your gut health isn't good, you just chronically have watery stools or constipation. Those are all signs that maybe it's time to just explore bringing cars back in.

[00:25:39.580] – Tara

And I just want to say one thing real quick. And that is please remember that when you first bring carbs back in, your insulin response will not be as high. And we've seen that is a rat study. But for about two weeks after getting off keto and bringing carbs back in, you may have higher blood sugar spikes than you would after those two weeks are over. Once your body gets regulated on how much insulin to produce, I say that because so many people, they're like, I try to eat one carb and my blood sugar shot through the roof.

[00:26:07.280] – Tara

I'm like, I know that's because you've been keto for so long. I've had times when I was keto and I ate carbs, and I literally fell asleep like I was in a coma. And so it's that please remember that. And the types of carbohydrates you eat are super important as well, and make a tremendous difference.

[00:26:25.080] – Allan

Yeah. Because just like, we often have that problem, they call it keto flu. I call it carb withdrawals. When you go into ketosis about a two week period of time that your body is trying to figure out. Whoa, what is this way of eating? What's going on here? Why don't I have this? It works the other way when you're trying to go back in. It's like, okay, Whoa. I've got a sugar rush just having a little bit of ice cream or a cookie,

[00:26:50.980] – Tara


[00:26:51.490] – Allan

Whoa. Where did that come from? And then your body will adapt, and we get this metabolic flexibility, where our body is able to easier go back and forth. If you said, okay, I'm going to take the weekend off or take a month off, and I'm going to go and start reintroducing carbs, and then it's not really what you want. It's not really working out. You're not feeling it. Then you just do that transition back. And it's actually not hard. It's not as hard as it was the first time.

[00:27:18.520] – Tara


[00:27:19.070] – Speaker 1

If you get yourself into a really good state with how your insulin responses, how your pancreas is working. And like you said the other things, like Ghellin and Leptin, and just kind of making sure that you actually know what hunger is and just eating sugar for the sake of sugar.

[00:27:35.330] – Tara

I appreciate you saying that because I think you're the first person I've heard say that. I'm like, I feel like the lone wolf over here. Everyone's teaching, hey, when you go to keto, it sucks. And your gut is going to get all messed up because your enzyme regulation is off because you're not used to making that much lipase to break down fats and all these things. And it's okay. Just hang in there. But nobody's breaching that. I felt like. I've been like, I'm like, hey, also, when you bring carbs back in, some things have to get up regulated in the body to the amount of amylase you produce to break down carbohydrates in your gut, your ability to manage and process that much fiber.

[00:28:09.090] – Tara

And that's why I slowly reintroduce carbs in the book, because sometimes people are like, oh, I ate carbs, and I got really bloated. My body just hates them. I'm like, no, you're just not used to producing enough enzymes to break it down. It takes time. So I appreciate you sharing that message. It's also a transition out.

[00:28:26.760] – Allan

I actually put it in my book that I published in 2018. So in December of 2018, I had the same message that you don't have to be in keto forever. But you want to have a reason. You want to have a strategy as you go into these types of things. And so one of the most important strategies, I think, is people are looking at carbohydrates and trying to get past that fear or that phobia, which I guess carb phobia is now going to be a word if it's not, I just made it up.

[00:28:55.680] – Tara

I say it all the time.

[00:28:59.350] – Allan

Okay. Not all carbs are the same. Yeah, but we have this in our mindset. It's like I look on the label and that's mistake probably number one. But I'm looking on the label and the label says it's got this many carbs. And can you kind of go through and talk about how we can look at carbohydrates and how we can prioritize them as we begin to reintroduce?

[00:29:22.820] – Tara

Yeah. I love this question. And the reason this is one of the main reasons I wrote this book is because I noticed because I'm a keto specialist in my regular everyday life. Everyone feels the need to talk to me about keto, right? I'm sure you noticed the same. Right. And I get these people they're eating pizza and chips and whatever and fast food, and they'll say, oh, man, I know. I just got to go back to keto, and I'm like, wait a minute. That's not the only way to be healthy.

[00:29:49.390] – Tara

There's another place that's not junk food or keto that's, like, all in or all out thinking. I almost forget sometimes that when I'm telling people that it's okay to eat carbs, I don't like calling anything good or bad. It's just you're not going to get as optimal results when you're eating processed carbohydrates full of canola oil and processed white flour and sugars. And that's not going to be the same experience of what I'm talking about. And the way I like to prioritize it is non starchy vegetables.

[00:30:21.470] – Tara

So the things that we actually kind of consider vegetables, right? Broccoli asparagus cauliflower have at it, because sometimes even keto, you have to actually limit that. For some people who are really sensitive, it's like, oh, you can have carrots again. You can have any vegetable you want, and that brings us into starchy vegetables. Right. So that's kind of the next step is like potatoes, sweet potatoes. If your gut can tolerate it, it depends on the person. But some people manage beans really well. Some people have sensitivities and can't have those things.

[00:30:50.600] – Tara

But if your body processes the well, go for it. Start eating more things from nature. And then my next on my list is fruits, you know, and you could alternate that you could put fruit up there with starchy vegetables to start eating fruits again. See how your body does see how you tolerate them. There's so much fear around these foods, especially in the keto world. It's like, don't eat bananas. I just saw a share the other day and it was like, oatmeal is unhealthy. And I'm like, no for some people, maybe, but not for everyone.

[00:31:20.100] – Tara

So question some of these dogmatic beliefs that you've gotten and look at the actual research if you want to, it's not there. We're taking something that might be true for some people and trying to make it true for everyone. And so that's like, it's something to be mindful of in the nutrition world right now in our information age. And also, I am not opposed to whole grains like quinoa. And so granted, if you have leaky gut, you don't want to be eating these things, they're probably going to exacerbate it, right.

[00:31:48.180] – Tara

If you don't cook your foods like this might affect it. Right. But if you look at the actual research, there's so much in support of some of these whole grains, even oatmeal, helping with cholesterol, helping with LDL levels, helping be heart protective. And I have to go so against my programming and the keto world to say stuff like this because we've been taught for so long. Like grains are bad, like beans are horrible. Definitely don't eat those. Don't eat bananas. Those are fake foods. And I'm like, I've come to a place in my journey where I'm like, if nature is allowing it to be grown and you ask your body, how does my body actually feel when I eat these things?

[00:32:29.060] – Tara

When I eat quinoa, I feel like, amazing. My body loves quinoa as you bring these things back in, start to experiment. How do I feel? Especially after kind of that two week mark is gone. And I bet for most of you, at least it's been most of my clients experience after a phase of keto when everything's regulated in the body and they start bringing these things back in and let go of their beliefs that it's hurting them, they start to feel really good.

[00:32:51.280] – Allan

Yeah. And that's what I like with your plan is that basically it's not this. Okay, turn the switch. And now I go carb crazy. It's okay. We're going to go in and we're going to have some spinach and we're going to have some broccoli and we're going to have some cauliflower and we're going to slowly introduce these vegetables and see how our body responds.

[00:33:11.970] – Allan

It might be a little hard. At first, you might not be digesting. It the way your body needs to, and you might be gassy feel a little bloated, but give it a shot, give it a legitimate shot. And then once you kind of adapt and your body is performing well with that, you can go to the next step saying, okay, I want some sweet potato, and it's not like you eat one whole sweet potato. You have a little bit of sweet potato with dinner and see how you feel.

[00:33:34.890] – Tara

I like how your plan is kind of putting that together in a structure. So there's not a whole lot of questions of okay, do I go out for Thanksgiving dinner and that be my break, my keto thing. No, you're not going to feel well if you do that.

[00:33:49.940] – Tara

Right. And the intention is if you slam on your gut and to your blood sugar, because keto is a restrictive diet, it is. And so sometimes there's an emotional component of, oh, my gosh. I think why people get stuck in it, possibly because they're like, I like this restriction because I don't trust myself to be not, like, off the rails. Once I do eat carbs and I'm trying to show a different way of, like, honoring…

[00:34:17.640] – Tara

The way I like to put it is this imagine that you're still keto with healthy carbs as part of keto. If you kind of look at it like that instead of just like, I'm going to eat whatever the freak I want. Pizza time, soda time. That's not it. It's still eating whole foods from nature. And I'm really just trying to help people get the experience of what it can feel like when you eat carbs to support healthy functions of your body. But not so many carbs that you go into a diabetic coma being theoretical. But you know what I mean, because that deters people from understanding what it can feel like to live a balanced life again after a phase of keto.

[00:34:54.750] – Allan

Right. And once again going back to the metabolic flexibility, you might find that your carb threshold has gone up substantially. And so whereas before, when you were insulin resistant, when you were obese and when you were really struggling, 25 grams was all you could handle. And when you start looking at what, 25 grams of carbs equates to it's almost no carbs that you're eating. And then you say, okay, now I'm going to push this up. And maybe now you're eating 50, you might find yourself still in ketosis most of the day if you're doing any measurements at all.

[00:35:28.080] – Allan

Some people I've seen particularly very fit, very athletic, moving people when they're doing a lot of movement, they're doing a lot of work cleaning out their glycogen stores and doing those types of things. They can eat 100-150 and still maintain ketosis most of the day.

[00:35:45.410] – Tara

Yeah. Even Dominic Agastino shared this. I think on I believe it was on Dave Asprey's podcast or maybe Joe Rogan or something. But he was saying that he eats about 150 grams of carbs a day, and he called it more ketogenic than ketosis. And I think what he means by that is he's helping to support some probably most of you. If you're keto nerds, you've heard there's parts of your brain that really want glucose. There are certain parts of your body that do want glucose. So you're supporting those organs, you're supporting those things.

[00:36:13.160] – Tara

But you're still active enough. I mean, Dom, like, he deadlifts, like 500 lbs. It's dude strong. Right. So just like you're saying, he's using that glycogen and then intermittent fasting so that he's able to go back into ketosis easily. And I think that's become my lifestyle. I probably eat, I would say, between 100 and 200 grams of carbs. I crush it in the gym every morning. I am like, scary, almost beast mode. And that's why I can do stuff. And then I pair that with intermittent fasting.

[00:36:39.960] – Tara

It's such an easy lifestyle, and you don't have to not have any carbs, which for me, especially someone like me who's athletic. It really limits for me that kind of intensity in the gym. Right. And so it can become an easier flow of life if you're willing to add some activity into your routine as well. But the less active you are, probably the less carbs you need, I'd say across the board for human beings.

[00:37:08.430] – Allan

Yeah. And that kind of goes to the next thing. I really haven't seen anybody else that's spent a lot of time talking about this. But part of the reason that you do want to make sure you're eating those non starchy vegetables and sometimes some starchy vegetables and definitely fruits is your neurotransmitters. They're basic components. And if you're just going strict keto for a long period of time, you're probably going to have some issues with your GABA and your dopamine and serotonin and those types of things which are going to affect your sleep.

[00:37:42.900] – Allan

They're going to affect how you feel. And when your body gets stressed. Now we're talking about adrenaline and things like that. So can you talk a little bit about those neurotransmitters? Because this is a conversation that a lot of people aren't having about why carbs are actually an important component of what we eat. We got to do it right with regards to how we process. But you'll know, it because your brain will turn on when you get the formula right.

[00:38:12.410] – Tara

Right. And I love talking about this. And thank you for asking, because there's such a lack of awareness of how much nutrition impacts our mental health. And so often I see people go into these blame and shame cycles of what's wrong with me. I don't know what's wrong with me. And I'm like, actually, okay. So you had something traumatic happen and you're sleepdeprived and you're sad and you've been keto. And maybe you don't even know you have a genetic predisposition for low serotonin. And so your serotonin is in the crapper.

[00:38:40.610] – Tara

And you're feeling so just down. And guess what? Actually eating carbs is smart. Your body is probably telling you to go eat some carbs because it's like, we need to get serotonin up. So you're not so sad, friend. And then people are like, I don't know what's wrong with me. I just don't have any willpower. And I'm like, hold on on. Let's look into this. So let me give some basic information. I'd say the biggest impact that keto has on certain air transmitters would be dopamine, serotonin and GABA.

[00:39:08.020] – Tara

So when your keto, your dopamine will be higher. So when you eat a diet that's mostly fat and protein, you're going to favor dopamine production. That's because tyrosine the building block of dopamine and tryptophan the building block of serotonin, they compete to get across the blood brain barrier. So if you're eating more fats and proteins, the tyrosine is going to win. You're going to be more dopamine or making more dopamine. And then if you are eating more carbs and protein as the majority of your diet, you'll favor serotonin production.

[00:39:40.390] – Tara

So what does this mean? If you are somebody who has really low dopamine and you go, keto, you may all of a sudden start. You may have a life changing experience on your mood. You're like, all of a sudden I'm driven and I'm making my dreams come true, and I'm nice to everybody and confident and like, wow! That's where I think a lot of the zealots of keto come from these deeper biological processes they're having. They don't understand. They're like, all I know is, I got better. Things got better. Like, I felt a lot better.

[00:40:13.430] – Tara

But let's say somebody has they already have good dopamine levels, but they have low serotonin, and then they go keto, and they get higher dopamine. But they might like that a little bit, but didn't really need it that much. But they needed a little bit of serotonin that they were getting. And now all of a sudden, it's dropped. And they're in a place where they are sad and crying a lot and just feeling really emotional. And then they're likely to put more pressure on themselves.

[00:40:37.940] – Tara

Come on. Why can't you just do this thing? And it's like, you need to know that there could be a biochemistry aspect to this process for you. And so I always honor people. I'm like, Listen, if you don't feel better on keto, and you've been doing it for, like, a month and you just don't feel better. It's okay to honor that it's not the only way to be healthy. You can also eat a balanced diet and exercise and get many of similar benefits.

[00:41:02.850] – Tara

And then GABA, I really like to share about. So ketone bodies have been found to be GABAergic. So what's GABA? GABA is like, the breaks on our brain. So a lot of people who are overthinkers, they just can't stop, can't stop, can't stop, can't stop. They may like being in a ketogenic state because that overthinking is usually indicative of, well, it can also be maybe you need to meditate and work on some things like that. But glutamate is a neurotransmitter that causes it's excitatory. It's like go go in our minds. And if that conversion, it turns into GABA.

[00:41:39.470] – Tara

So if it doesn't turn into the breaks in the brain, we're just like chronically obsessing over these little things. And it makes people feel crazy. And so ketone bodies can help increase your GABA levels and help that to stop. So that can be really enjoyable experience for some people. But if you already have good GABA levels, you're not going to feel that you're not going to really need that. I like to go into this in the book of some different things you might be feeling and experiencing on keto and why.

[00:42:10.500] – Tara

And then the last one will be adrenaline. This is something that honestly concerns me. Dr Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney did a study on this because a lot of people were concerned that keto might just be this high on ketones, might actually just be high on adrenaline, which feels great and helps you lose weight in the beginning. But over time it increases cortisol and can actually cause you to gain weight and have health problems. And so they showed that as long as you have adequate salt intake on keto, that you can offset the overproduction of adrenaline on keto.

[00:42:41.910] – Tara

But if you don't, which I say is pretty like you don't know exactly what your sodium levels are and what your needs are that day. So I get concerned about people who may not have adequate salt levels on keto, and they're going into this high adrenaline state for years on end, and that can cause problems in the long run. So just something to be aware of. I share all the details of that in the book, but the impact of our how are you feeling?

[00:43:07.020] – Tara

Are you really feeling better? Are you feeling kind of crazy? Are you feeling kind of like manic and overly busy or uber-confident? Too confident, like you don't care about anybody anymore. Maybe your dopamine is through the roof. I just like to create awareness of these things so people don't have this shame and stigma of what's wrong with me, and they actually have some understanding behind it.

[00:43:26.560] – Allan

And I think this speaks to when we say food is information. Movement is information. This is how it happens. It's the neurotransmitters. It's the hormones. All those things have to balance out. All those things have to work for you. And if you're out of balance because the food you're taking in isn't serving you or your movement patterns aren't serving you, then you're giving yourself bad information and your body is responding the only way it can.

[00:43:55.880] – Tara


[00:43:56.810] – Allan

Doing these experiments getting out there and experiment of one. You know, you're the most important sample size there is. And just saying, I'm going to try this four-week plan and I'm going to find my carb-lite, keto and I'm going to get into keto. And then when I'm ready to come out, I'll follow this four week plan to reintroduce and really Journal and pay attention to your mood, pay attention to how your skin looks, how you feel, how your workouts. Like you said, if you start going beast mode in the gym, something good is happening.

[00:44:26.470] – Tara

Yeah. And sleep and digestion and all those things. I love that those are the questions I have as you go through that process. And ideally, it's a four-week plan. I'd love for you to make it like twelve weeks and do one week for a whole month. But be aware. And one of the cool things. And I'm sure you're aware of this with you all the time is you might not need as many carbohydrates after doing a phase of keto to give you that get up and go, which is kind of cool.

[00:44:54.440] – Tara

So you're exactly right. Please honor your body and what your body is asking for and give things time, though. One day you ate cupcakes yesterday. My body hates carbs. No. All right. Give yourself a little bit more time to experiment than that.

[00:45:09.900] – Allan

Tara, I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest, and happiest you can be what are three strategies or tactics to get well?

[00:45:18.190] – Tara

Yes. Number one, sleep so big. I don't know how to say it, but you guys know you're worthy of sleep, right? Remember that. Nothing is more important than that. Everything in the body goes up when you have adequate sleep. And I think so many people are depressed and anxious because they literally just need sleep. And all those neurotransmitters I talked about the production all goes down if you don't have enough sleep, so biochemically, you're in a bad mood and that's hard to get out of. So sleep is, I'd say the core the key stone of wellness. It's the healer.

[00:45:50.950] – Tara

Next is having a consistent routine for success. Have a consistent routine. So it's not so hard all the time. Like, I got to get to the gym some time today. I got to figure out something healthy to eat at some point like that's very stressful. So you can eliminate this decision fatigue by having I have a morning routine. I have a consistent gym time with actual times on it. I have my clutch, go to meals and I have an evening routine. I have boundaries for myself. Right. And that is like it makes it so easy. Your body knows what to expect and you know what to expect, and then you just get in flow that gets you results.

[00:46:22.090] – Tara

And I'd say the last thing is showing up for yourself and having boundaries, saying no to things that you don't want to do, doing things that bring you joy, saying no to relationships that drag you down, spending time in relationships that nourish you. Like that. It's having happiness, like prioritizing kind of that inner child saying, I'm here for you and continuing to show up for yourself in a way that you need. I'd say between that having a flow of a fit, healthy lifestyle that you can stick with with ease, sleeping and nourishing your soul, it's good stuff.

[00:46:57.250] – Allan

Thank you for that. Tara, if someone wanted to learn more about the book, Short-Term Keto or the things you're doing, where would you like for me to send them?

[00:47:06.310] – Tara

You know what I would say? Go to my website, Taragarrison.com and you can click on the book link there because I am giving away my Top 100 Keto recipes for free with anybody who orders the books. So all the info for that is just right there. It's quick, easy, instant download because I want to make sure if you read the first chapter and you're like, wow, keto sounds really cool, and I actually want to try it and use Tara's recipes. I wanted to make sure people were supported on that. So my favorite Top 100 Keto recipes that I've used with clients and boot camps and all these things over the years are all condensed into that.

[00:47:35.460] – Tara

And then you can find links to Amazon and Barnes and Noble and all these websites where you can purchase the book.

[00:47:40.260] – Allan

Okay, you can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/518 and I'll be sure to have the links there. So, Tara, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.

[00:47:50.190] – Tara

Thanks so much for having me.

Post Show/Recap

[00:47:56.270] – Allan

Hey, Ras, welcome back.

[00:47:57.990] – Rachel

Hey, Allan, what a great interview. There's a lot I'd like to talk about, but why don't we start with the idea of using keto as a short term fix?

[00:48:06.410] – Allan

Yeah, most of the people in the keto space love keto and then therefore, it's the only way to eat. And the short of it is. And anyone that's listening to this podcast more than a week knows that I don't buy into that. I'm not into the dogma of there's only one way for you to eat. There's an optimal way for you to eat where you are right now, and there are certain things you probably want to accomplish that eating the right way for that is going to serve you better.

[00:48:40.910] – Allan

I can tell you from my experience, keto is the best way for me to drop body fat. If I try to do it any other way, I tend to overeat. I don't feel satiated, and I don't enjoy myself enough to stick with it. And then there's just shortcuts. I can't say, okay, I'm going to lose weight and continue to consume beer or bread or those types of things because my body just puffs up. Now. I love beer. Don't get me wrong. And I really am kind of fond of bread, but they don't serve my body, particularly if I'm trying to lose weight.

[00:49:16.550] – Allan

And so if I'm looking to try to lose body fat, I have to go rather strict with keto, but I also have in the back of my mind. Yes, it's not permanent, but it could be if it needed to be. And so the flipping back and forth, which I do as a part of what I call seasonal ketosis is really just that thing to say. Okay, if it's a good time for me to start cutting body fat, which I'll tell you right now, it is. I'm looking for that Tough Mudder in August, so I would love to be 25 lbs less when I do that run because it's that much less weight I have to carry.

[00:49:52.940] – Allan

Now, the weight service me well right now. And if I want to lift heavy and do the things I'm doing, walk and lift heavy, I'm fine. It doesn't cause me any issues at all. But if I want to do something intense and long like the Tough Mudder, I'm going to need to do make some changes to me physically, which includes losing some body fat to perform the way I want to perform for that. So keto is a great way to improve your health. It's an elimination diet, so strictly you're eliminating whole food groups. Yeah, you are.

[00:50:26.990] – Allan

But same thing. If you're a vegan, same thing, you're vegetarian, same thing. If you're a carnivore, all those ways of eating, you're eliminating something. Even if you do the FODMAP diet, even if you do the Mediterranean diet, you're eliminating certain foods. And so elimination is what diets are. Almost none of them are just eat what you're normally eating and just eat less of it, because everybody knows that doesn't work, right? I'm starving all the time and I'm craving foods. So the eating less and moving more by itself doesn't work.

[00:51:00.990] – Allan

You've got to find a structure to how you're eating that helps you feel satiated. That lets you eat less and have the energy to move more. But you can't start with the eat less move more model. You have to think about the foods that are serving you and then go from there.

[00:51:20.030] – Rachel

Absolutely. I thought that was the greatest part about this being a short-term fix is that it's just one test, really. It's one experiment to see how your body responds when you take certain foods out of your diet and add other foods back into it and see how you feel in response. And it's pretty quick that you'll see some changes. But just like she said, you don't have to live on it forever. Once you reach maybe your body composition goal that you're trying to get through, or once you get through your Tough Mudder, maybe you can reassess your relationship with carbs.

[00:51:56.690] – Rachel

which brought me to the next point was that let's talk about carbs because carbs are not all created equal. And like I've mentioned in the past, if anybody says carbs, I instantly think of a giant baguette of bread or the pastries we eat at breakfast. I always default to bread, but that's not all the carbs. That's not it.

[00:52:17.280] – Allan

No, because carbs are going to range everywhere from the leafy greens that have almost no real usable carb. It's fiber and water. Mostly you look at celery, and everybody will say, Well, that's almost a negative in the calories, because there's so much fiber to digest that and get it to chew it, you're almost burning more calories than you are eating. That's not entirely true, but it is full of water. And so from that perspective, to say that celery is the equivalent of potatoes is the equivalent of bread is the equivalent of Twinkies. It's just not true.

[00:53:00.040] – Allan

There's a whole range of them and how your body utilizes them. That's so different. And we talked to Dr. Yeo a week or so ago, and the basic principle is that fiber is not going to be digested by you. It's going to get all the way down deep into your small intestine before bacteria are going to start hitting at it. And then it gets into your large intestine. And that's where they're going to start doing their breakdowns and stuff. So the fiber is going to go all the way through you, and you're not technically going to get any calorie load from it.

[00:53:33.060] – Allan

You're going to feel full or longer because it's not being taken up. Whereas bread and sugar and the Coca Cola and stuff that you want to drink, those things are hitting your bloodstream almost immediately. They've been almost completely digested in some cases again, if they're processed, they've been digested before you even put them in your mouth because of the processing. And so when it hits your digestive tract, they become sugar in your system. And then there's an insulin response. And there's all the other things that go along with that.

[00:54:06.390] – Allan

Different carbs are going to work differently for you. And there was an Israeli study a few years back, and they put the long-term monitors and continuous monitoring of blood glucose that you see people with typically with type II diabetes and type I diabetes. They wear this so they can constantly be monitoring their blood sugar. And they had this thing set up to basically just continually just check their glucose, check their glucose, check their glucose. And then they said, when you get ready to eat something, whatever you want to eat, a banana, a baguette, as you said or anything like that, a donut.

[00:54:46.410] – Allan

Then you go ahead and just log what you ate when you ate it, and they would say, okay, well, one person's blood sugar would just shoot up when they ate a banana, and someone else's wouldn't. And then there's the other aspects of this. If you eat a green banana, like, really green, like, hard to open. It doesn't peel, you basically cut it. That's almost entirely non-digestible starch. It's almost all fiber, and it's basically a prebiotic that's going to feed your intestinal flora, your microbes in your intestine, because you're not going to digest that as sugar.

[00:55:26.920] – Allan

Now, if you let it get ripe, and now it's a yellow or slightly browning, it's a high dose of sugar. It's changed. Same thing with a potato. If you eat a raw potato, it's almost all nondigestible-fiber. If you thecook it and eat it, it's now something that's going to boost up your blood sugar relatively quickly. If you then refrigerate it and eat it later, you've now turned it into a resistant starch. So that's all with the potato.

[00:56:01.780] – Allan

So there's a lot of variation there in the foods that we eat. And there's a lot of variation in individuals. And really, the only way, you'll know, if the food is serving you or not is trial and error. And that's what's great about keto is keto is that elimination diet that takes you off of all of that. And the other thing that at least it was great with keto was that it was all whole foods, because before the keto was really a big thing, they didn't have all the keto snacks and the keto fake recipe stuff. I still want my pizza. So make a keto pizza, which is fine. Except now you're introducing some processed foods, even with the almond flour and the coconut flour and eating a lot of cheese. So if you have a dairy problem, that's just another thing where it might not serve you to be doing this.

[00:56:57.830] – Allan

That stuff didn't exist early on in this whole drive to keto. And I approached it from a paleo perspective. And I'm like well, my ancestors would not have eaten keto pizza. And so it's just those kind of things of saying, think about food as nourishment for your body. And if the food isn't serving you towards the goals that you have for your health and fitness, then it's not the right food for you.

[00:57:27.050] – Allan

And that's kind of the message that Tara came into this was she was a fit young person trying to be competitive and athletic and get stronger and have a certain body fat percentage. And those things were really important to her. And keto was a tool that got her to a point. And then she's like, well, I'm not getting there. And I know I'm doing it right because I have the right resources there's just something about keto that's not working for me right now. And she transitioned off of keto.

[00:57:57.010] – Allan

And then she got to her body composition level. She got stronger. And that's Tara, that's perfect for her. And if you're struggling with something, consider trying keto and see how it goes. You don't have to think of it as, oh, well, once I go on it, then I'm locked in for the rest of my life but you might get there like you have Rachel and say, this does actually serve me very well. This way of eating serves me very well.

[00:58:24.920] – Allan

And if I want a beer after a race, I'll have a beer. That works perfect for you. And for Mike.

[00:58:33.830] – Rachel

Yes, it does. That's our Mo. Mike has an iron gut, so he's able to eat more non keto foods, and I'm able to eat. But that's just it is that we do enjoy certain foods when we feel like we can do that. So a beer every now and then. That's fine. I'm actually going to be experimenting with the sweet potatoes. You had mentioned this to me before about baking them and refrigerating them and baking them again to make them more insulin resistant. That's something I'll be experimenting with as I get ready for my marathon coming up.

[00:59:10.300] – Allan

And I've heard it done mostly with white potatoes. So you might want to do a little bit of reading on that. I'm not sure if it's the sweet potatoes that do that same way because they are slightly different. They're a little less starchy than the white potatoes. So I haven't looked into the sweet potatoes. But if you do that, then report back what you learn about it, because that would be very interesting.

[00:59:31.250] – Rachel

Well, you know, I'd like to choose foods that have a little bit more punch, nutrient wise. And I feel like a sweet potato might have a few extra nutrients that I could probably use in my diet, whereas a plain white potato may not. But I'll definitely try both experiments.

[00:59:46.120] – Allan

You might be surprised if you start really looking into what's in the potato. Besides the insulin response for standard potato, there's still some good nutrients in the potato, so give it a shot.

[00:59:57.940] – Rachel

Yeah, I'll check into that and let you know.

[00:59:59.990] – Allan

All right, Ras, I guess I'll talk to you again next week, then.

[01:00:03.060] – Rachel

Sure. Take care.

[01:00:04.350] – Allan

You too.

[01:00:05.220] – Rachel



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Another episode you may enjoy


December 20, 2021

How to know you have mineral deficiencies and what to do about it with Thomas DeLauer

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On episode 517 of the 40+ Fitness Podcast, Thomas DeLauer and I discuss how to know when you have a mineral deficiency and what you can do about it.



This episode of the 40+ Fitness Podcast is brought to you by Pushrs.

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This episode of the 40+ Fitness Podcast is sponsored by Organifi.

Organifi is a line of organic superfood blends that offers plant based nutrition made with high quality ingredients. Each Organifi blend is science backed to craft the most effective doses with ingredients that are organic, free of fillers and contain less than 3g of sugar per serving. They won’t take you out of ketosis, if that’s your way of eating.

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Let's Say Hello

[00:04:08.440] – Allan

Hello, Ras. How are things?

[00:04:10.480] – Rachel

Good, Allan. How are you today?

[00:04:12.450] – Allan

I'm doing all right. I've been kind of busy with the challenge. We're doing the Crush the Holidays challenge. That's been a ton of fun. I kind of push myself outside my comfort zone, doing daily videos. I've never done that before. I've done daily audios, and I'm very comfortable behind the microphone, recording and doing my thing. But then when I have to think about how does the lamp behind me look? Because one of you is OCD and had to bring up, like, fix the lamp for the love of God.

[00:04:44.830] – Rachel

Oh, goodness.

[00:04:47.470] – Allan

But it's been good. It's been a good opportunity for me to push myself a little bit outside the comfort zone that I had, and it's pushing the others. It's one of the things as we get into the holidays, it's just really easy to just say, okay, I'm on the coast for this last six weeks of the year, and then January, I'm going to hit it. But you just lost six weeks to do something different. And so they're doing things different. They're really thinking through the mindset parts of fitness and health, and they're setting plans.

[00:05:20.530] – Allan

They're setting structure. They're building habits now that will serve them tenfold next year. So I'm really excited about the people that are going through the challenge. And then, yeah, what I'm going to do is in January, I'm going to launch a new program because I had a twelve week program and it was a really good program. Don't get me wrong. I love it. But what I found was that that's a long time to be coaching someone on mindset. And so I'm working to compress that into a six week program.

[00:05:50.310] – Allan

I'm going to call Win at Weight Loss and launch that in January. So if you're interested in learning about my weight loss program, it's guarantee. It's money back guarantee. We're going to talk about mindset a lot. There'll be some standard workouts and things like that that you can do depending on what your fitness goals are. We're going to really dive in deep to what makes us overeat what makes us bend, what makes us go off plan. And what are all those saboteur things that we do and other people do that keep us from losing the weight that we deserve to lose.

[00:06:22.690] – Allan

So if you're interested in that, go to 40Plusfitness.com/win. Again, that's not 40PlusFitnesspodcast. It's 40plusfitness.com/win. W-I-N and you'll see a little form there you can fill out to get on the waiting list, and then we can have a conversation and see if this program is right for you.

[00:06:42.970] – Rachel

That sounds awesome. Sounds like a fun program.

[00:06:45.570] – Allan

Yeah. And I'm so excited with the Facebook group. It's going to the challenges, the weekly challenges and the different things that we're doing in there. I'm going to be posting more excerpts, clips, video clips. If you've ever wondered what it's like to be recording an interview with, say, Tony Horton or all these other guys like, we're going to talk about Thomas DeLauer today, you'll be able to see clips of them on the doing parts of the interview. That kind of what I call the highlights. I'm going to be posting those clips in the Facebook group.

[00:07:18.090] – Allan

So if you're interested in seeing those clips and kind of connecting more with what we're doing here on the podcast, go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/group. And that'll take you to our Facebook group and request entry. As long as you're cool, you can be a member.

[00:07:34.810] – Rachel


[00:07:36.430] – Allan

Well, there's some people who decide to not be cool and they decide they want to sell you their services or they want to show you some things that aren't really in our realm, and it's fine. There are groups for that. There's people that are interested in that. But that's not what we do. What we do is encourage you. We give you guidance and help you. And it's a very supportive, active community for individuals that are looking to lose weight, get fit. And knowing that being over 40, we got to do it a little bit differently than we did when we were kids.

[00:08:12.330] – Rachel

Yeah, it's a great group, that's for sure.

[00:08:14.950] – Allan

So what about you? What have you been up to?

[00:08:17.650] – Rachel

Trying to get my head screwed on tight as we close out this year? I can't believe the year is just about over.

[00:08:25.330] – Allan

Yeah, it's going quick. And that's what I'm saying for a lot of people to take six weeks off and they just look at it and say, it's Thanksgiving and then it's Christmas, and then it's New Year, and it happens like that. So this is not taking some time right now to get into your head and have the right conversations about mindset, things that have held you back in the past and how you're going to do things differently and starting now doing those things differently rather than waiting until January 1st.

[00:08:58.450] – Allan

If you're going to join a gym, you think you're going to join gym. I know that's not for everybody, but do it now. Don't wait till January 1st when the gyms are just packed with people and you're just a number coming through the Turnstall. Go in there. Now, get familiar, get with the trainer, learn how the equipment works and then do your thing. But don't wait because you're losing an opportunity, losing days, and it just drives me crazy.

[00:09:24.120] – Rachel

Yeah, exactly. I'm already planning out my next year. I've got a couple of races on the calendar, so just doing my homework right now so that I can start the year off with a bang.

[00:09:35.960] – Allan

Good. Excellent.

[00:09:36.950] – Rachel

Good stuff.

[00:09:38.110] – Allan

All right. Well, you're ready to have this conversation with Thomas on Mineral Deficiencies?

[00:09:43.040] – Rachel



[00:10:06.850] – Allan

Thomas, welcome to 40+ Fitness.

[00:10:09.910] – Thomas

Thanks for having me, Allan.

[00:10:11.210] – Allan

Now, I've actually been following you for a number of years, watching some of your stuff at this point on YouTube, you have nearly 2.9 million subscribers, which is over half the size of the country I live in and nearly 1800 hundred videos. So I think if someone sat down and sat down and tried to watch your whole library, it would probably take them about a year to do it, assuming they slept 8 hours a night. So it's a lot of stuff a lot.

[00:10:41.450] – Thomas

And I usually tell people if they're first coming to my channel and saying, like, hey, just go easy. Don't binge a bunch of videos because it's just going to you're going to lose your mind. This is way too much and definitely start small.

[00:10:55.170] – Allan

But no. But the point is you have a library now. And so someone has a question around keto, around minerals, around a lot of different things. You're worth going and checking out because you're probably going to have a video on it and it's going to be very informative and it's quick. It's not a 30 minutes or an hour long video. It's 9-10 minutes, eight minutes, whatever minutes it needs to be, and you just boil it down and it's very well done. And the information is there. The research is there.

[00:11:27.240] – Allan

So again, really good stuff. I appreciate the opportunity to have you here.

[00:11:31.750] – Thomas

Thank you. And it's awesome to just be able to have a good conversation rather than just talking to a camera.

[00:11:37.060] – Allan

Yeah, I get it. We talk about minerals, and I think everybody generally knows minerals are a micronutrient of food that we get from various things we eat, and if we don't get enough of them, sometimes our body lets us know. Sometimes it doesn't, but we don't perform well. We don't feel well, if we're not nourished, and part of nourishment is making sure that we have adequate minerals. What got you so interested in mineral deficiencies?

[00:12:11.410] – Thomas

The first thing that got me really into it was magnesium just flat out. I just started reading a lot of the research on magnesium, how I stumbled across that. I don't even remember how I stumbled across so much the initial research there. But that's what fascinated me. And with magnesium, which I know we'll get into some more depth, but it opened up so many different cans of worms because I found that, wow one mineral deficiency leads to another one chelates, another, too much of this one leads to not enough of this one or too much to this one.

[00:12:42.930] – Thomas

And it was like, this never ending thing. It was just like, oh, my gosh. Mineral balance is so important. So I kind of became a little bit obsessed. If you want to call that, I ended up on the clinical advisory board for some magnesium groups. And there's some studies, Scottsdale magnesium study. And then from there, it was like, okay, I'm sitting in this magnesium world. Maybe this is a little bit biased for me to only be focusing so much on magnesium. So then from there, that kind of branched into.

[00:13:10.420] – Thomas

Okay, well, what about sort of the ugly duckling of the bunch? Let's talk about zinc and potassium. I just realized that as far as low hanging fruit, for what people can do for quicker optimization, better ultimate brain performance, minerals really are that they are a low hanging fruit that you can feel almost immediately with micronutrients such as vitamins, those kinds of micronutrients, you might feel a deficiency, but it's going to take a little while to fix it. You're not going to go and think, okay. I must hypothetically say, deficient in vitamin C, load up on vitamin C.

[00:13:45.360] – Thomas

It's going to take days for you to kind of recoup that minerals. It's one of those things where if you're deficient and you're having an issue within seconds of taking that mineral in, the issue, I don't want to say is resolved, but it's on its way to becoming resolved. And I just love that for someone who has a short attention span like myself.

[00:14:00.800] – Thomas

It was like, this is cool.

[00:14:03.790] – Allan

Yeah. And I think magnesium, as important as it is, is actually a mineral we don't talk about a lot. We talk about sodium getting too much, getting too little. Someone starts to get a little bit of a cramp as they're running and media is like, eat avocados, eat some bananas, get your potassium up. But magnesium actually plays maybe one of the biggest roles in our body's function, including cramps. Why is it so important?

[00:14:34.270] – Thomas

First of all, we used to say it's involved in, quote, over 350 different enzymatic functions within the body. Well, now that's looking to be more like 650 to 700, and it's probably growing. Like magnesium is, it is what's called a cofactor. So it is either directly involved or indirectly involved in different enzymatic reactions, which just means all kinds of different cellular processes within the body, also involved in different gene expression, meaning allowing us to literally live up to our genetic potential. Also find that it's one of the minerals that we are most efficient in as a human population, not just in any one region of the world, but in general.

[00:15:11.560] – Thomas

So that really just illuminates the issues that we face with it. And so being that it's a mineral that we are generally pretty deficient in, there's a lot of research surrounding it. So is it the most important? Maybe, maybe not. But when you look at the data because it is the most abundant in terms of that data, it certainly looks like it is.

[00:15:34.810] – Allan

So how would I know that I was deficient in magnesium?

[00:15:38.950] – Thomas

The way that I usually describe it is the first one is kind of vague. Okay, lower energy. Magnesium is absolutely critical for the formation of what is called ATP, which I know you talk about on your show a lot. But ATP adenosine triphosphate, what ultimately is the energy currency within our body without ATP cannot function. It is required for the formation of ATP. So without magnesium, we slow down the production of ATP. One of the first things you feel, which, again, is vague, is fatigue, general fatigue.

[00:16:12.290] – Thomas

And you find that. Okay, my brain just isn't firing the way that it should be. I feel like my muscles aren't contracting the way they should be. I just feel generally sluggish, although, again, that's such a vague one it's hard to really describe. So one of the other ones I talk about is if you feel like you're more reactive and almost more stressed than you ordinarily would be, that can sometimes be an acute sort of symptom of deficiency in magnesium. Or it can even be a more chronic, longer term thing.

[00:16:40.580] – Thomas

I like to recognize it as more of an acute thing, because if it's happening out of the norm, it's one of the first things that you can recognize. Personally, I'll give kind of my own anecdotal thing. I'm already a fairly high strung guy. It's just how I'm pretty wired. But if I notice that I'm over the top anxious or over the top stressed, and I like to use the example of, like, when you're driving down the freeway and you're going a little bit too fast and you catch a cop out of the corner of your eye and you get that quick surge of what feels like almost six stomach acid going into your stomach and you're like, oh, no, wasn't going too fast.

[00:17:15.910] – Thomas

If you find yourself having those kind of instances multiple times per day, that's very strong indicator that magnesium should be playing a factor there, because it's such an important role with NMDA receptors. And kind of what allows a stress response to actually hit a muscle and more than just the muscle, but the rest of our body, too. So that's a big one. And then aside with that goes right in line with sleep. Having trouble sleeping, again, magnesium is critical for what's called GABA gamma aminobutyric acid, which is like the cycle of the brain that we need to be more relaxed, to be able to sleep and to be able to get that restorative sleep that we need.

[00:17:55.070] – Thomas

So if you find really those well, the one other one we can add in there is muscle cramping, but that's going to be one that again, as we discuss a little bit more, I think we'll see come up a couple of times, so it's hard to pinpoint. But what I will say is if you're cramping in the middle of the night, not during a workout or not during an activity that's usually more indicative of a magnesium cramp versus a potassium cramp, which we'll talk a little bit more about.

[00:18:22.260] – Allan

Yes. And one of the other symptoms I see with a lot of my clients when we start talking about their magnesium intake is when they have difficulty going to the bathroom. So if you find yourself a little constipated, actually, Magnesia the medicine that you would get over the counter to clear that up. It's magnesium. Pretty good dose of it.

[00:18:42.370] – Thomas

Yeah, without a doubt.

[00:18:43.910] – Allan

So beyond what are the ways? Because if we're not getting it from the food we typically eat, is this something we need to supplement with when we notice these things? Or other different foods, we could be choosing to get a better mix of magnesium in our diet?

[00:18:59.300] – Thomas

Yeah. So magnesium is one of these, it's quite difficult to get a copious amount of it from food. I shouldn't say that you can get it from food, but what ends up happening is for people, we'll post little infographics on Instagram top magnesium rich foods. 1oz of almonds has X number of milligrams of magnesium. How many almonds you would have to eat to actually get an adequate amount would put you at eating three 4000 calories of almonds. So you have to kind of weigh these things out.

[00:19:33.390] – Thomas

I would say by far the best food source of magnesium is going to be like dark leafy Greens, Collard Greens, bok choy is really the deep leafy Greens. So the more dark green that you can get, the better. However, it is one of those supplements that I feel like because our soil is so just deprived of minerals now, like our soil is just not nearly as rich in minerals as it used to be even 50 years ago. I don't like recommending supplements. I mean, I will preface that like it's not who I am.

[00:20:03.230] – Thomas

I don't like to say, hey, just go take a pill. But magnesium is one of those that makes my list of always in my backpack, always going with me. And remember that the more muscle you have the more magnesium you oxidize because it's heavily churning in the muscle tissue, and I'm a relatively heavily muscle guys. So I know that how much magnesium I need is different from what my wife might need or different from what a sedentary individual might need. So you kind of have to find your tolerable upper intake and got some ways to kind of determine that.

[00:20:36.360] – Thomas

We can talk about it if you want, but generally, yes, I would recommend supplementing it.


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[00:22:24.870] – Allan

Zinc is another one that is, I'm not going to say under discussed, but it's just something that we again when you get into talking about minerals because there's so many of them, it's one of those that I think is actually underrated. It's much more important than we give it credit for. And if you're not eating certain foods, you probably aren't getting enough.

[00:22:48.130] – Allan

Why is zinc so important?

[00:22:50.550] – Thomas

Zinc is yeah, I will agree with you that it's very underrated. Zinc is, wow. We're seeing that it's imperative for testosterone function in men and also how it can have testosterone be received by a receptor, which I'll explain in a second. Very important for the immune system. Very important when it comes down to reactive oxygen species kind of regulation. So antioxidant kind of regulation within the body. It's sort of this mystery mineral, right. We're slowly discovering more and more ways that it is applicable to daily life.

[00:23:23.970] – Thomas

The amount of zinc that we store in the cerebral cortex portion of our brain is pretty phenomenal. Normally, you see minerals kind of spread throughout different regions of the brain, not evenly, but just fairly dispersed with zinc is for the most part almost all in the cerebral cortex, which is our area of higher thinking, like the hippocampus. That's very indicative of. Okay, clearly, we're seeing zinc is involved in some levels of higher cognitive thought, right? Just higher, just levels of thinking, spatial working memory, everything like that.

[00:23:58.190] – Thomas

So just starting to scratch the surface. One of the things that I think is the most fascinating about zinc. And unfortunately, you have to kind of tread lightly with how you talk about this, but it's relationship with the immune system. There are these things called the granulocytes. And these are types of immune cells that when you first have a pathogenic, bacteria or anything, a pathogen of some kind entering in your body, these types of immune cells immediately go and they sort of engulf it. They engulf the pathogen.

[00:24:24.540] – Thomas

Well, then, the next step, what people don't always understand is that the next step involves reactive oxygen species, oxidative stress, which normally we think of as a bad thing. But when we're sick or we're dealing with something, we need a certain degree of that to come in and actually fight the infection. So essentially, zinc is playing a huge role in regulating the reactive oxygen species from coming in and attacking the pathogenic bacteria. When I say regulating it actually puts a ceiling on how much reactive oxygen species we actually sort of create.

[00:25:00.930] – Thomas

So, for example, let's say I had an infection of some kind. Okay, that infection comes in. These immune cells go and they attack it. Then the secondary response is okay, we'll trigger some forms of reactive oxygen species to go attack it. Well, without zinc, the body might just create a bunch of reactive oxygen species to just attack it. It's like putting a nuclear bomb on something that you might have just needed a. 22 caliber rifle for. So then you're getting this huge inflammatory response, huge attack on the body that you didn't need.

[00:25:31.450] – Thomas

So zinc puts that ceiling. So it helps corral the immune system, because what people don't often realize is the symptoms you feel when you get sick. That is your immune system doing the job. And the more symptoms that you have a lot of times, it's an over activity of the immune system. That's just my favorite characteristic of zinc, because people don't think about it like that. They don't think about the fact that this reactive oxygen species is normally touted as a terrible thing. Actually, when controlled is a very good thing.

[00:26:01.290] – Allan

Yeah. Just for the record, typically, when I'm in the United States, I will take zinc from the perspective of eating a lot of oysters. I love raw oysters, and I eat oysters practically every day when I can get them in the United States. But I'm not in the United States right now. So my regular regiment is to take a ZMA, which is zinc magnesium each night before I go to bed. Helps me sleep, keeps me regular. And then the zinc, just really like you said, kind of makes me wake up just feeling just a little bit more aware, not going to say it's like the adaptogens and some of the other things that you can take.

[00:26:40.440] – Allan

But I feel a lot better when I'm on a ZMA regiment.

[00:26:45.370] – Thomas

Yeah, without a doubt, it's definitely noticeable. And when you're looking at people that are over the edge of 40, especially, there are two angles in which zinc is super fascinating. For one, there was a study just specifically looking at serum testosterone levels. So they found that, okay, if you took older individuals that were deficient or sorry, not deficient, but they were lower levels of testosterone and were deficient in zinc when they gave them zinc, then their testosterone levels went up tremendously. I think it was it went from 8.3 nm per deciliter up to 16.

[00:27:21.370] – Thomas

So we're looking at almost double in a zinc deficient group. Okay. That's not saying that someone that has adequate levels of zinc can go and take zinc and explore their testosterone levels. But saying that someone that is older that is suffering from possible low T that is deficient in zinc. If they supplement with zinc, they can see a pretty tremendous increase in their testosterone levels, which is so important as we get over the age of 40 for multiple reasons, mainly just retaining muscle mass and preventing sarcopenia and the muscle wasting that just naturally starts to happen after, like, age 35.

[00:27:51.900] – Thomas

The other piece is it works in tandem with helping or calledergic receptors, which can accept the testosterone. So it's increasing the affinity of the receptor for the testosterone. I always say, what good are a bunch of cars and trucks driving on the freeway if there's no exits, right. Like if there's no exits and they're just constantly circulating, they're never able to get anywhere. They're just circulating testosterone is that way too, right. What good is a high level of testosterone if there's no exit, if there's no ability for it to leave and actually bind to a receptor.

[00:28:25.130] – Thomas

So increasing the affinity of a receptor, which zinc has the ability to do that is, in my opinion, arguably more powerful than increasing your testosterone levels. I'd rather have some moderately low testosterone, but a high affinity than high testosterone with a low affinity.

[00:28:41.880] – Allan

Yeah. And then there's a reason why they call oysters the Viagra of the sea. It actually happens. Yes. It's a real thing.

[00:28:53.250] – Allan

Another mineral that I think is really important. And, of course, it's a personal story, but it's potassium. I was training really hard, and I said, okay, I'm going to really get clean with my diet, really get clean with everything. And so I was drinking a lot of water, and I was in a very humid area, very warm. And so I was sweating a lot.

[00:29:17.920] – Allan

I was working out a lot. I was drinking a lot of water, got on an airplane for 26 hours, so very dry environment got home, didn't feel so good. The second day, I'm in the hospital and I go into the hospital and the doctor is like, well, you're dehydrated and you have low potassium and low sodium. In fact, your potassium is so low that you're really close to going into a coma. If we hadn't put you on this IV, salient IV, we could have lost you.

[00:29:50.050] – Allan

And I walked into the hospital, and this could have happened. Why is it so important for us to keep our potassium at some level, our sodium balanced and where it needs to be? I tend to run low. So every time I go in to get a blood test, I do check this and pay very particular attention to it. But I have to be very cognizant of how I feel. And if I start feeling a little woozy, I'm immediately hitting some salt and some no salt to kind of make sure I get these minerals.

[00:30:19.090] – Allan

Can you talk a little bit about why these are so important?

[00:30:21.490] – Thomas

Yeah, well, you just nailed it right there. It's the first indicator. We got to think about our brains for a minute. We think about our nervous system. And a lot of times people think, okay, my spinal cord and my nerves to my extremities. Okay, cool. The largest network of nerves neurons is in your brain. Right. So you're going to feel nervous system affects in your brain more than anything. And I always like to kind of lead off with that, because a lot of times people are feeling cognitively just down and just really run down.

[00:30:50.780] – Thomas

They got perfect sleep. Everything's in line. Why am I feeling like this? Why am I feeling foggy? The first thing I say is increased sodium and potassium, because what's happening is you have this sodium potassium pumps that are explained like a slingshot. This is a podcast, so usually I can have cool little images that pop up on my videos. But think of it like a slingshot. When you are sending what's called an action potential, the potential to create energy or create a movement. Let's say, like the literal thought of me to  thinking, I want to lift this rock up.

[00:31:23.510] – Thomas

Okay, well, that whole concept starts in the brain obviously starts with the signal to eventually move my hand to pick up the rock. Well, that's a series of what are called action potentials. Just like the name implies, the potential to make an action. Well, this travels down the nerve. It eventually goes to calcium channels and all this to ultimately move a muscle. But the simplicity of it is this, you have sodium that enters a cell and that sodium enters a cell and then potassium. That gate closes and then a different gate opens and potassium rushes out of a cell.

[00:31:53.640] – Thomas

And you have this constant changing of a sodium potassium gradient. And it is that constant changing of sodium entering into a cell and potassium releasing it. Sodium entering into a cell and potassium releasing it into an Axon that is ultimately sending that signal. Think of potassium like a slingshot. The sodium going into the cell is what is actually sending the signal. It's conducting the electricity. The sodium is like the electricity that sodium enters into a cell. But without potassium, you don't have a slingshot to pull the sodium back and kind of release it into the next cell.

[00:32:30.220] – Thomas

Okay. So that sodium and potassium relationship is so unbelievably important. And if you're deficient in potassium, what happens when you're just bombarding the cell with a bunch of sodium conducting a bunch of electricity? First of all, you're going to cramp because you don't have the release from the potassium, pulling the sodium or allowing the sodium to leave again and allowing it to go into the next phase. But you're also just left with this basically electrically charged situation. That's a huge problem. And that happens against peripherally like, our muscles and everything like that.

[00:33:05.260] – Thomas

But it's happening in our brain, too. But our brain doesn't cramp. Not literally. But what will happen in our brain is we'll just end up with this disrupted signal from that sodium potassium pump, and that's just disengaging the whole circuit from working. So all of a sudden your brain just fogs up and you feel really just weak and kind of lame, like you just don't feel like you can really have good thought. You can't articulate very well. And some of those things we're taking in some potassium or a little bit of salt with some potassium right then and there can almost instantaneously make you feel better.

[00:33:39.030] – Thomas

Salt is so important along with potassium, because they counterbalance each other. Right. So one of the symptoms of having low potassium is sensitivity to salt, because potassium is regulating that fluid balance inside and outside of the cell. If you're deficient in potassium and you're overrun with sodium, then what's happening is you don't have that balance. So when you do have more sodium, it's affecting the potassium to sodium ratio. You're only going to really develop fluid retention issues and the bloating and the facial bloating and stuff that occurs with sodium.

[00:34:13.620] – Thomas

If you are also deficient in potassium, people get afraid of sodium because I don't want to be puffy. I don't want to retain water this and that I'm worried about becoming hypertensive and full disclaimer, if you are actually hypertensive, then yes, sodium does play a role in that.

[00:34:30.300] – Thomas

Okay. But if you're a normal, healthy individual, it does not. So that's the big disclaimer there. If you are hypertensive, then yes, you do need to monitor sodium. But in a normal, healthy individual, large majority of the population, you could usually add some sodium and not have a bunch of water retention as long as potassium levels are adequate. So you'll notice if they have a bunch of salt and you're sensitive to that salt that's usually an indicator that your sodium potassium ratio is a little bit off. To go on,

[00:34:58.940] – Thomas

I mean, basically, if you're cramping during an activity, it's almost invariably a potassium issue, not a magnesium issue. So that cramp will tell you right then and there you need potassium more than anything.

[00:35:09.550] – Allan

Yeah. And if you just throw water at it, that's going to wash out some of the potassium you have existing and a lot of the sodium, and you're going to potentially put yourself in a bad fix. So don't just drink water thinking you're fixing a cramp problem. Yes, you may be dehydrated, but you need those minerals as well.

[00:35:28.200] – Thomas

Definitely. And remember that the more sodium that you have in your body as well, the more that you're going to retain these other important minerals, because sodium is the one that's really the determining factor of how much we urinate and how much we keep and how much we lose. So if you're deprived of sodium, then you're going to lose other minerals, too, because you're going to be urinating more because there's less to hold on to. It's less awesome. So things are just flowing through you. And with that urine stream, you're not just losing sodium. You're losing everything else, too.

[00:36:00.450] – Allan

Why is chromium so important?

[00:36:02.730] – Thomas

Chromium is important in a lot of different pathways, but the one that is most relevant probably to many people, as far as the metabolism is concerned, is simply for what's called GLUT4 translocation, for allowing glucose to get into a cell better. So it's chromium. There are multiple studies that demonstrate that in an insulindependent fashion, it allows glucose that is in the bloodstream to get into a cell better, because chromium allows that GLUT4 to go from the nucleus of the cell out to the outer membrane of a cell.

[00:36:37.660] – Thomas

So what that means is this thing called GLUT4 that lives inside of our cells is kind of like a big net. And normally that GLUT4 is living inside of a cell. But when it sees glucose in the bloodstream or insulin, it magically goes to the outside of a cell, and it catches the glucose in the bloodstream like a big net. Well, in most people these days, especially people over the age of 40, with mitochondrial dysfunction and levels of insulin resistance, that doesn't happen quite as much.

[00:37:04.370] – Thomas

That sleepy GLUT4 just kind of hangs out in the cell and doesn't translocate to the membrane. Well, that's a problem, because that means you're going to have high circulating blood glucose. You're also not getting energy into the cell. So the cells sort of deprived and the cells kind of running into an issue. Chromium increases that transportation. So it helps that GLUT4 get to the outside of a cell membrane quite easier. So then you can absorb that glucose better. There's also a bunch of just interesting data when it comes down to there's a study that's published in the Journal of nutritional neuroscience that found that same kind of thing in the brain like it helps the brain against what's called brain insulin resistance.

[00:37:42.960] – Thomas

That same thing where we have high levels of glucose that are circulating through the brain that aren't getting taken up by the cells. So then you're left with a highly oxidative situation in the brain where if you start getting granular with it, I mean, it could be an indicator of all kinds of different cognitive impairment that happens as we get older, not to mention mitochondrial dysfunction, like the cells within the brain are not able to utilize the fuel as efficiently. And when the cells don't utilize fuel efficiently, you're creating a lot of let's just simply call it waste, right?

[00:38:16.570] – Thomas

It's like if you have a very efficient vehicle that is driving down the highway using all of its fuel with very little waste, you have efficiency. Quite the opposite in a vehicle that has fouled out plugs and just isn't working right, then you're having a lot of waste. Well, the more brain waste we have, so to speak, the more oxidative damage we have in the brain, which can definitely lead to some cognitive decline. So most of my interest with chromium comes from the carbohydrate metabolism piece.

[00:38:43.350] – Thomas

My own opinion is that much of the metabolic decline we see after the age of 40 in all kinds of different situations is a result of just that of that mitochondrial dysfunction where mitochondria has a hard time getting energy in insulin resistance, literal deformations and mutations in the mitochondria that are just inhibiting it from actually doing something normally. It's like an entire thing. I do generally recommend people that are over the age of even any age, really. But over the age of 30, I'm a huge fan of taking NMN as well, which we can kind of have a Sidebar conversation on, but just in terms of mitochondrial support, energy metabolism and just kind of maintaining that integrity so to speak, of the mitochondria.

[00:39:32.040] – Allan

The way I like to think about it, because the mitochondria are the engines of each cell. It's like putting sugar in the gas tank. It's just not going to work well, it's not going to go well. And we're doing that every day. If we're not managing our blood sugar, managing our insulin sensitivity. And these minerals obviously play a part in that. So it's very important to make sure you're in a good mineral balance. Now, there's one mineral that a lot of people over the age of 40 start to really care about because they get osteoporosis or osteopenia.

[00:40:02.030] – Allan

And the doctors like you're losing bone density. And a lot of people say, okay, well, I need to start taking calcium, but you mentioned in one of your videos, why that might not be a good strategy as far as supplementation to supplement with calcium. Can you talk about that? And what are the things that we should be considering with regards to bone health.

[00:40:22.240] – Thomas

Yeah. I will say first and foremost, the American Heart Association had published a study that took a look at over 5000 people in this particular case, and they found that generally supplementing with calcium was not necessarily beneficial. In fact, it was actually detrimental, especially when you look at coronary artery and calcium scores and things like that. So when you're looking at overall heart health, circulatory health, things like that, I caution you tremendously with taking a calcium supplement, we do not generally find ourselves deficient in calcium. That is not a common problem.

[00:40:55.140] – Thomas

The osteoporosis piece is absolutely a real deal, but that's more about calcium getting into the right place, right? That's more about shuttling calcium into the bone, which is more of a vitamin D3 K2 issue more than anything. So if you're concerned with that, I would highly suggest vitamin D three or getting out in some sun and supplementing some vitamin K2. So it's going through the proper pathways of storing in the bone, because what happens when you take a calcium supplement is it's not like it's just magically going into the bone, it's circulating and calcium and magnesium actually oppose each other.

[00:41:27.720] – Thomas

So you're in a kind of a constant balance between magnesium and calcium. And if you have too much calcium, you're counteracting magnesium and you find yourself in this excitatory state where your muscles are contracted and where you're having much more excitability in the neurons. And you really want to keep that at bay. That's not a good thing. It's not a good thing for the heart. It's not a good thing for the muscles, not necessarily a good thing for the nervous system. So magnesium is much more important in that game than calcium.

[00:41:55.720] – Thomas

And again, with our diet, you really do seldom come across diets that are really deficient in calcium these days. We usually do get enough in, so it's not like you find out. Okay, I've got a certain degree of osteoporosis, and I'm going to go and start drinking a bunch of milk or start taking a calcium supplement. That's probably not going to help you out too much there. I just caution people with that. It's much more important to patients in the vitamin D, much more important to pay attention to the magnesium and just get good amounts of calcium from the diet rather than an exorbitant amount from a supplement.

[00:42:29.280] – Allan

Yes. And the thing I would add is if you really want your body to know what you need it to do, exercise. Do resistance training. Resistance training is going to turn on the building of bone in your body. It's going to build bone density as you get stronger as you increase the weight and the resistance. And so if your doctor tells you you have a problem, osteopenia, resistance training and a proper healthy diet are going to be your best bets.

[00:42:59.070] – Thomas

Absolutely. And it's also going to highlight deficiencies a lot faster too. So in terms of being able to showcase OK, well, maybe I'm deficient in potassium. Maybe I'm deficient in magnesium. When you start kind of up regulating the oxidation of these minerals, then you can really. They rear their ugly heads a lot more. Like you mentioned, you run low on potassium. I'm the same way. I don't know if I would know that if I wasn't working out regularly because it highlights it. I know I'm a big cramper. It's a big problem for me.

[00:43:29.100] – Allan

It highlights it. Absolutely does.

[00:43:34.290] – Allan

Thomas, I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?

[00:43:42.420] – Thomas

Well, so I'll give you a couple that are like pragmatic and then I'll give you one that's a little bit more cheesy, which doctor. First one is stop eating after 06:37 p.m. One of the simplest things advice is that I can give people. Not only is it going to probably reduce your caloric intake because you'd be surprised at how much you eat just after dinner or even just. But as far as sleep is concerned, since having two small kids, I have really learned proper sleep hygiene is one of the most important things and the biggest lever that you can pull with sleep hygiene and ultimately body composition and mental health is really not eating a couple of hours before you go to bed.

[00:44:25.810] – Thomas

That is just such a big thing and kind of to double up on that. What I usually recommend is breakfast like a King, lunch like a Prince, dinner like a Popper where you're slowly decreasing the amount of food you're eating as the day goes on. Bigger breakfast, moderate side lunch, relatively small dinner. Then stop cold Turkey 06:37 p.m. You will find your sleep on set is much better. The next one is one that not everyone has access to, but it's something that if you can't use a sauna, you can take a very hot bath and get a similar effect.

[00:44:58.770] – Thomas

I found that especially on days I can't really get a good workout in or I feel maybe stiff sore, I'm just achieve and a good workout isn't going to play in, utilizing a sauna as what's called a hormetic stressor has been the most life changing thing for me. It really has. Someone that's battled with sleep issues, someone that's battled with stress, anxiety, depression. It's such a huge thing for me. There's multiple studies, obviously the finished studies. There's tons of them. It's huge in Finland. I could quote a bunch of different research, but try some heat therapy.

[00:45:31.140] – Thomas

Try it. Try using your sauna at the gym. I will tell you it's the best $3,500 investment you can ever make is getting a sauna and just having one. But it's not always practical. I know it's a lot of money, but I would quicker get rid of my car than my sauna. Let's put it that way. It helps with all kinds of different things in terms of just getting the heart rate up, circulatory system, all kinds of stuff like that. The third one is and it does kind of loop around with everything too, is don't be afraid to prioritize mental health above all else.

[00:46:05.590] – Thomas

As I've gotten older, I really realized that when it comes down to lifestyle, when it comes down to wellness, it's only as good as your brain. It used to be days when I would not want to skip a workout ever, because I needed to stick with what I would consider artificial programming when in reality now, it's not that I'm caving to the type fact that I'm fatigued it's more so, okay, well, some days it needs to be more of a mental workout. It needs to be something meditation, some kind of mindfulness practice things like that.

[00:46:34.830] – Thomas

Yes, sure. You may not burn 300 calories that you thought you were going to burn. You can still get activity in other ways, but prioritizing, not just adding in, but prioritizing your mental health above all else. I promise you, if you prioritize it, everything else will fall in line. Because if your head's not in the game right, trust me, you're not going to be getting the right workouts and you're not going to be making the right food choices. The biggest absolute lever you can pull is your mindfulness.

[00:47:00.010] – Allan

Well, Thomas, if someone wanted to learn more about you, the wonderful things you're doing with the YouTube channel or anything else, where would you like for me to send them?

[00:47:09.450] – Thomas

You can just send them to YouTube. I think that's the best place for them to really get a lot of knowledge. That's just simple. You can just go to YouTube and type in Thomas DeLauer and you'll be covered up with content. Also, my Instagram just Thomas DeLauer. I have cut down shorter versions of my videos there, so in three to four minute chunks, but full disclaimer and you don't get the full effect. It's just there for quick tidbits. So definitely those two places.

[00:47:35.180] – Thomas

Thomasdelauer.com. If anyone needs to actually get in touch with me literally and contact form there. But I think the videos and Instagram are probably the best.

And I wanted to also just kind of as a courtesy to people that are watching this or excuse me listening. I'm just saying that listening to a podcast listen to this podcast. If you go to Verso. There's a company called Verso. I mentioned NMN. I just highly recommend. There's a 20% off discount just because in honor of this podcast. So Verso is an NMN, which is very powerful as you get older in terms of what's called NAD, they have a lot of good information on their site. So if you just use the code Thomas20 at Verso's website, which is literally V-E-R.So just kind of a big thank you to Allan and a big thank you for everyone that's listening.

[00:48:26.490] – Allan

You can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/517. And I'll be sure to have the link there.

[00:48:32.710] – Allan

Thomas, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.

[00:48:35.950] – Thomas

Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Post Show/Recap

[00:48:41.770] – Allan

Welcome back, Ras.

[00:48:43.160] – Rachel

Hey, Allan, give me just a second. A fan girl right now. Mike and I have been big fans of Thomas and Mike more so than me, but we've watched a lot of his videos, so it was really neat to have you listen to your conversation with him. And it was also very interesting, too.

[00:48:58.850] – Allan

Yeah. Thomas spent some money getting as big as he got. I used to see his ads on Facebook all the time, and so that's how I knew who he was. But it was his agent that reached out and said, hey, we'd like to get Thomas on the show. He's got a book coming out in March, so I'm hopeful I can get him back on the show soon to talk about his new book. But yeah, he dives deep into these topics. Keto, fasting and then, of course, anyone who's gone through Keto knows you have to take a look at your minerals and make sure that you're getting your electrolytes, getting your minerals and getting the nutrition.

[00:49:35.390] – Allan

Because these diets keto, carnivore, vegan. They're restricting food groups. And any diet that restricts food groups is something you have to pay attention to the nutritional aspects of the food that you're eating. You cannot just eat leafy Greens, carrots and potatoes and be okay. You're going to have to make sure you're getting the nutrients that your body needs. And that means a variety of foods within the realm of what you can eat. And then if you can't get what you need from the foods that you're eating, then you've got to find that alternative.

[00:50:10.520] – Allan

And sometimes that is supplements.

[00:50:13.030] – Rachel

Yeah. I appreciate how he mentioned that he prefers not to supplement unless it's absolutely necessary. And you're right, we can get all these nutrients and foods. But like I was mentioning to you, I struggle with getting enough iron in my diet. Now I'm kind of wondering how much magnesium I'm getting. I'm going to have to take a closer look at that. But when my tastes change in the summer, I can eat salads all day long, but in the winter, the last thing I want to do is have leafy Greens and so my iron will plummet and Lord knows what else.

[00:50:45.400] – Rachel

But if you can't get what you need to get in your food, then a supplement might be handy.

[00:50:52.700] – Allan

Yeah, and I wanted to have a conversation with them, but I kind of just came to the conclusion that I already knew the answer, which is probably not the right way to approach podcast. I already know the answer, so I'm not even going to ask this question. I probably should have. But a lot of people ask because you can do blood tests for this stuff. The answer is absolutely yes. When I go in for my blood test, I make sure potassium and sodium are on my blood test.

[00:51:17.570] – Allan

Because if you hear the story, I basically went into seizures and was within inches of going into a coma. I mean, quite literally, right there the numbers I had. He said, You're lucky you are not right now in a coma. You caught it just in time. You got to the emergency room just in time. And I only went to the emergency room because when I threw up, when I had the seizure, it hurt my chest. So that night I was laying there still not feeling right.

[00:51:50.340] – Allan

And my chest started hurting. And I'm like, okay, I got to go to the hospital. This might be something else. They popped the nitroglycerin in me straight away, walked me in the back, started putting me, put me on an IV, and then started taking blood and put me on EKG and did all that stuff before they came back around and said, oh, you're dehydrated and you're depleted of sodium and potassium. So it's this horrible, horrible thing because you need water. But if we put water in, it's going to wash more of the sodium and potassium out.

[00:52:22.000] – Allan

So it's like, right now you're on a saline drip. And he said that's right now all we can really do. And so I finished that saline drip. And he said, going tomorrow, get another blood test to figure out where you're studying. And it was still low. So he said, Come back to the emergency room, get another saline. So I was back in the hospital the next day getting another saline and then finally was like, okay, I'm here. They told me get some Gatorade, but I'm like, okay, now I'm not going to, Jesus Christ. What I did,

[00:52:52.520] – Allan

I actually went down the aisle and I ended up with a big bottle of spicy v8. So I'm like, okay, I'll do this because at least it feels better. They got fruit on the label and vegetables on the label.

[00:53:08.810] – Rachel

Yeah, I can see that.

[00:53:11.180] – Allan

It wasn't just glorified sugar water. But all that said is, you can measure the blood on this. But you're changing all the time. And so depending on what you ate last night, depending on how much water you drank, depending on everything else, you may be deficient tonight, even though you were fine this morning.

[00:53:30.450] – Allan

The same with iron. If you had a good meal, you could wake up in the morning, check your iron, and you're just fine. And then you come back 4 hours later. And now you're anemic again. That's just one of those things that, yes, you can test it. And maybe if you think you have a problem, go ahead and get it tested. If you're cramping, if you're fatigued, we gave you some of the minerals, the magnesium, the sodium, potassium that's around the cramping area. If you're feeling just the general fatigue.

[00:54:01.150] – Allan

You can look at chromium. You can look at some of the others, but a good, well balanced diet that is sourced from good places. So the stuff you're buying just in the general part of your grocery store is probably coming from an over farmed farm, and they put just enough of whatever it needs, nitrogen and this other stuff in the ground to grow it. When they talk about hydroponics, they're not typically putting minerals in there. They're just putting what it needs for the plant to grow and produce.

[00:54:36.410] – Allan

Okay. And so you're not necessarily getting the minerals that you need, even though you'd say, okay, what should I eat for like you said, iron? And you said spinach and kale and all those dark green leafy vegetables and red meat. But then you may not be getting much iron from them, because if there was an iron in the soil, it's depleted. Then it's leafy green, but it's not giving you exactly what you need. So supplementation might just be a solution for a lot of us. And it's unfortunate, but sourcing your food well, and then taking some precautions probably makes sense.

[00:55:14.970] – Rachel

Oh, absolutely. Yeah. I agree with you. The quality of the food and where it comes from could make a big difference. And the quantity of minerals that the item contains an Apple grown here in Michigan and California versus Florida. I mean, you got three different areas, three different soil classifications. It could vary greatly. It's going back to your previous podcast about calories. It's the same thing. It's kind of a loose estimation as to how much minerals are in that particular piece of food. But you do both of you brought up a good point about exactly understanding how you're feeling and paying closer attention to your body and what signals it's giving off and then responding accordingly with a different food item that might help.

[00:56:03.470] – Allan

Yeah. There are going to be some telltale signs. Thomas, gave you quite a few of those. So if you feel fatigued, that's not normal, there's something missing, and you can look into that. If you're feeling cramps regularly in bed or just like you're out, then you might have a problem, and then you want to look at circumstances. So you're up in Michigan, where it's really right now, probably cool, cold and dry. The cold pulls all the moisture out of the air. As a result, you become a little less hydrated, and that can cause some problems.

[00:56:44.760] – Allan

I'm down in this really nice, hot, humid location, but as a result, I sweat a lot more year round. I don't have a non sweating season. I really do have to pay attention to my electrolytes because I know I have this tendency. So again, just paying attention, not being afraid of things and just saying I'm going to try it because minerals, as a general rule, if you're buying them as a supplement, are not that expensive. This is not like you've got to go out and spend $70 for a month supply of minerals.

[00:57:22.570] – Allan

You quite literally can get them for pennies a pill, and they give you a lot of what you need, and you take it for a little while and you see how you feel. Now, if the cramps go away, if you're feeling better, particularly with cramps and electrolytes, you should feel better within 30 minutes. Some of these others, you might have to take it like iron. You may have to take that for a little while to kind of get that build up, but it's just a function of saying, okay, I'm going to start taking this supplement.

[00:57:51.980] – Allan

I'm going to pay attention. And as an experiment, so I'm only going to change this one thing. I'm going to start taking this supplement. I'm not going to change my programming. I'm not going to change my food. I'm not going to change my sleep. I'm not going to change how much water I'm drinking. I'll try to just change this one thing, and then you see how it changes you, how you feel. If it doesn't change anything for you, then maybe that's not what you need it anyway.

[00:58:15.850] – Allan

So stop. And then if you feel fine after you stop, then good. You don't have to pay that Penny a pill. Just realize that your health and fitness is unique to you. We're all going to be going through this. The nutrition you have access to the nutrition that you're eating based on the variety of things that you eat, things that you like to eat, and you don't eat, particularly if you're doing something that's more of a restrictive diet of, like kicking entire food groups out, then it's just something for you to think about.

[00:58:43.920] – Allan

If I'm not eating that, how am I getting this.

[00:58:48.000] – Rachel

Right. Absolutely. And magnesium is important. More so than I thought.

[00:58:54.400] – Allan

Well, it's kind of one of those quiet little things that we never talk about, but it's involved in so much of the processes within the body. And you kind of like you build it. Another one that's really important is phosphorus. And you don't even think about that. Where am I getting my phosphorus from? Well, you can get it from cruciferous vegetables. So if you're not eating asparagus, broccoli or cauliflower, you might not be getting enough phosphorus. And as a result, your energy levels might be lower. And so there's so many things out there that can affect how your body produces energy, the B vitamins, the minerals, all those things.

[00:59:35.010] – Allan

And so just making sure that you're getting a good variety of foods and you're still not feeling it. Give a supplement a try and see if that makes you feel better. And if it does, then maybe you've solved some problems and you're not going to have to go to the doctor and said, don't understand why I'm in fatigue. It's like, well, fatigue is a symptom of just about every disease we ever talk about with our clients. So it could be any really, you could have dengue fever.

[01:00:03.140] – Allan

You could have COVID. You could have a common cold. You could have anemia. You could have a magnesium deficiency. There's so many different things that could be causing that. So making sure you're getting good food supplementing if you feel like it's necessary and then just paying attention because your body gives you this feedback loop. That's really cool.

[01:00:25.290] – Rachel

Yeah, that absolutely sounds like sound advice, Allan, great interview.

[01:00:29.570] – Allan

Thank you. And like I said, I'm going to try to get him back on. He has a book coming out in March, so I'm hopeful that we'll be able to connect, and he's a busy guy, but I'm hopeful we can connect and get him back on the show soon. Now, before we sign off, I did want to remind you if you're looking to lose weight in the new year, so we get into January, and you want to lose some weight, and you want to have a little bit of help doing that.

[01:00:53.200] – Allan

I want you to check out my win at weight loss program. It's a six week program. I can't take a ton of people because I'm not like a lot of trainers out there that say, oh, I'm a big name. So I'm going to offload you to my junior trainers. I don't do that. It's just me. So there are limited number of slots I'm going to be able to have. So go ahead and get on the waiting list. If you're interested, go to 40plusfitness.com/win.

[01:01:17.550] – Allan

That's 40plusfitness.com/win.

[01:01:21.080] – Rachel

Perfect. That sounds great, Allan.

[01:01:22.810] – Allan

All right. We'll talk to you next week, then.

[01:01:24.660] – Rachel

Take care.

[01:01:25.520] – Allan

You too.


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Another episode you may enjoy


December 13, 2021

Why calories don’t count – Dr. Giles Yeo

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If you're trying to count calories as a way to lose weight, you'll want to hear why calories don't count and how to lose weight the right way with Dr. Giles Yeo.



This episode of the 40+ Fitness Podcast is sponsored by Organifi.

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Let's Say Hello

[00:03:46.920] – Allan

Hey, Ras. How are things going?

[00:03:49.030] – Rachel

Good, Allan. How are you today?

[00:03:50.980] – Allan

I'm doing all right. Sort of. I did the requisite face plant that you did earlier.

[00:03:56.930] – Rachel

Oh, no.

[00:04:00.270] – Allan

Yeah. We were celebrating Thanksgiving, and then at night, I was like, okay, I've had a few glasses of wine, and I know I'm not going to want to get up at 6:00 in the morning and take these dogs out, so I'm going to take them out right before I go to bed, which means they might just let me sleep till seven. And I went to take them out and it was raining and it had been raining. And so I walked in this field, and it's sort of like someone jerking your hands when you're standing on an ice skate on ice.

[00:04:28.500] – Allan

And so my feet went completely out from under me when the dog decided he wanted to go in a direction, and I wasn't quite positioned for it. And when you have two leashes in your hand and you're falling, there's no breakage except the face. So I did a really good face plant, and Tammy was nice enough to patch me up with some bandage and stuff. So, yeah, just a kind of a face plant. There's no other way to say it, because it was just that, but I'm recovering.

[00:05:02.190] – Allan

It's fine. It's just some scrapes and scars and scrapes and stuff, and I'm probably going to have a nice little scar above my eyebrow for a little while, maybe for a long while, but it's just one of the kind of those things you say. Okay, I need to work on my balance. I need to work on my strength. I need to make sure that I'm not put in that position again as I get older. So it's just kind of one of those reminders of being aware of your environment, doing the right things so that we don't take those bills as often.

[00:05:36.170] – Allan

And if we do, our body has the resilience to get through it and protect us.

[00:05:41.460] – Rachel

Yes, absolutely. Just like you mentioned, I did the same thing a couple of weeks ago, and I'm recovering. I still have a tiny little bruise on my cheek, but it seems to be going away. But I was just mentioning with one of my running partners, like, I think this winter I'll be practicing my gait and learning how to lift my feet up a little bit better, making sure that I pay closer attention and do all those same things, too. Yes, it's a reminder and not a fun reminder to take care.

[00:06:13.830] – Allan

And actually, I kind of follows along with that method I put out there that slip to success, which is okay something happened in our cases, face plant and forgive yourself.

[00:06:26.380] – Allan

It happened. It happened. The circumstances were what they were. And then the second stage is learn from it and then apply it. And so you're going to be training your gait. I'm going to be working a lot more on balance and continue to work on strength. And then we'll hopefully not have to deal with another face plant.

[00:06:46.350] – Rachel

Absolutely. Fingers crossed. Absolutely.

[00:06:49.830] – Allan

All right. Well, you're ready to get into this discussion with Dr. Yeo?

[00:06:52.970] – Rachel

Sure. Let's do this.


[00:07:21.280] – Allan

Dr. Yeo, welcome to 40+ Fitness.

[00:07:23.850] – Dr. Yeo

Thank you so much for having me, Allan.

[00:07:25.930] – Allan

Now the book you have very compelling title, I might add, Why Calories Don't Count: How We Got the Science of Weight Loss Wrong. And that's a very compelling title.

[00:07:37.350] – Dr. Yeo

Thank you. Some people might even call it controversial. I don't think it is. I don't think it's a controversial title.

[00:07:43.380] – Allan

I don't either, especially when you go through the book several times saying, I'm not saying Calories don't entirely count. They do. If you eat in excess of the energy output, you are going to gain weight. And if you eat less than the energy output, you are going to lose weight. It's just really on how we kind of put this all together. But you had one statement in a book that it was towards the end. But I have to see this out front because this was probably the best sentence I've read a long, long time and it said, Rather than wasting our lives obsessing about our weight and how we look, we should instead focus on our health. If you focus on your health, your weight will take care of itself.

[00:08:22.830] – Dr. Yeo


[00:08:24.390] – Allan

And I just love that. I'm going to use that over and over. I'm going to take that quote. And Dr. Yeo, and I'm going to post that everywhere because I think that's really the important thing of what we're after here. We take weight and we consider it some proxy for being healthy and fit and everything else is great in our lives. When it's usually just a side effect.

[00:08:47.910] – Dr. Yeo

It'S not only is it just a side effect, it's also, sadly, what we create to with beauty. And so people are going to say, Well, no, that's rubbish. I can lose a lot more weight. I don't look like how I look, but there's a difference between wanting to look like what you look in a mirror. Look, I want to look like Brad Pitt, but there are any number of reasons why I can't look like Brad Pitt. But if you actually get to the point where you're healthy, you can carry your kids.

[00:09:13.870] – Dr. Yeo

You can go up and down the stairs without getting out of breath. You can cycle to whatever you want to do and you can live your life and not feel that something is holding you back. So what if you're a little larger? I guess that's the point. Can you live your life? Can you do what you want to do and you need help for that rather than looks per se?

[00:09:30.770] – Allan

Absolutely. Now to start this off, you start off the book and you have a supposition here that talks about calories. And this is really kind of the principle of the book, and it's A does not equal B does not equal C, and I'll go through that. A is the number of calories actually in the food that does not equal the number of calories on the side of the pack, which does not equal the number of usable calories we finally get out of the food. So the trouble is this is if I'm going to look at the input, the calories that I'm eating and none of those numbers line up, then it's an impossible math for me to do, even if I have the information on the pack, even if I had a bomb called Kilometer in my house to burn everything I want to burn to figure it out, which I don't, and I'm not going to invest in one of those anyway.

[00:10:26.360] – Allan

But doesn't that create this complication to the calories in calories out model that we really can't overcome with math?

[00:10:34.560] – Dr. Yeo

I think so, at least not with the math that we're using right now. And I think that's the critical thing, as you said in the very beginning. Clearly, they count in some description to 200 calories of French fries is twice the portion of 100 calories of French fries. Clearly, obviously that's the case, but I guess so is 200 grams of French fries greater than twice the portion of 100 grams of French fries. And no one's out here trying to compare 200 grams of French fries to 200 grams of carrots.

[00:11:05.030] – Dr. Yeo

So I think there is this thing we got to get around where we need to be thinking about, sort of like the food we're eating. And while the calories have their use, I think they're complicating matters, because now you talk about people equating their weight to their health. People are equating the number of calories in a food to how good a food is. That is just not the case.

[00:11:30.270] – Allan

Because I can get a little packet of snacks and it's 100 calories, or I could eat 100 calories of chicken breasts.

[00:11:37.290] – Dr. Yeo


[00:11:38.110] – Allan

And it's a whole different dynamic. It's a whole different dynamic.

[00:11:40.680] – Dr. Yeo

It's absolutely different dynamic because of the amount of protein because chicken breast hasn't been processed, it's been cooked, it's been processed by being cooked. So I guess that equation, which I actually put out what it does mean is that the calories everywhere are wrong. That's the first piece of information that everyone gets out. But the issue is we eat food and we don't eat calories, and this is absolutely critically important. And our body has to work to differing degrees in order to pull the calories out after the food.

[00:12:15.730] – Dr. Yeo

And so when you actually eat something like a chicken breast, a piece of steak, a piece of fish. Ok. Like a whole food, you have to chew through it. It's either got a lot of protein or a lot of fiber depending on what you're eating. And so you have to kind of make your way through and your body takes time and takes energy. It takes energy to break down food. Whereas if you have something that's ultra processed, that's out of a pack and that has a shelf life of a million years.

[00:12:42.960] – Dr. Yeo

All right. It's been so ultra processed. And remember when I say ultra process, I'm not talking about fermenting. I'm not talking about the stuff you do in your kitchen. This is stuff that's done in a factory that we cannot replicate at home. Then, in effect, this procedure of auto processing is like an external stomach. So a lot of energy has already been in to the food and made the calories more available. So if you have 100 calories of chicken breast, as you said, versus 100 calories of an ultra processed foods, you will end up with a lot more calories from 100 calories of an ultra processed food.

[00:13:18.640] – Dr. Yeo

And naturally, an ultra processed food because of what's been happening to it has less protein and or less fiber, and it's higher in salt, sugar and fat. So this is the problem. Whereas if you have a chicken breast, you have a chicken breast, you can put salt on it if you wish. Pepper, soy sauce, whatever you want, you control what you add to it because you see the chicken breasts, you're doing something to it. Whereas when you get something out of a pack, we don't know what's in it.

[00:13:44.560] – Dr. Yeo

We just don't. And I think it's important to understand this fact.

[00:13:50.970] – Allan

Because in the key of what you just said there was we're eating food, we're not eating calories.


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[00:15:40.310] – Allan

Our ancestors before they invented calories in the I guess the late 1800 started talking about them. They didn't have calorie counts on their food. They ate till they were satiated, and then they stopped eating. And then they went back to work.

[00:15:56.320] – Dr. Yeo

So the whole concept of the calorie actually was not originally invented. It eventually became to look at human food, but was originally put together for farmers because what farmers were interested in was how much would you feed a cow or your chicken or your sheep and get good quality meat or eggs or milk or what have you that's a product. And so you could see why the farmers really cared. They really would care the calorie content of the food, what was coming out the other side of the animal.

[00:16:29.390] – Dr. Yeo

And so they could say, Well, we're going to change the food. We're going to make better investments in the food. It was only laterally that people said we can do this to human food, too. And that is when it became weaponized. Suddenly the calorie became not something about agriculture and talking about the food supply, but suddenly becoming equated to human beings. And then we worry about our health. And there we go.

[00:16:53.490] – Allan

Yeah, and all of it seems to get weaponized. I think that's what's actually kind of scary here is they'll say, okay, calories are weaponized and then, okay, fat, because fat has more grams more calories per gram than the other two. Then we've got to demonize fat. And then it's like, Well, no fat helps a little bit. But now we've got a demonized cholesterol. It's not the fast cholesterol. And then we got to demonize sugar. And then we got to demonize salt. And that's all the stuff that actually makes the food palatable in the first place, but in the right proportion in the right way.

[00:17:28.610] – Allan

The key of it to me, and you talked about this in the book was, can I eat less actual calories and be satiated? And there are certain foods that do that. And there are other foods that don't. And the first one I want to bring up is protein. Why is protein so important for weight loss?

[00:17:50.990] – Dr. Yeo

Okay, there are two different reasons, two broad reasons why, clearly, they're going to be associated. Famously, a calorie of protein makes you feel fuller, more satiated than a calorie of fat than a calorie of carb in that order. All right. And there are two different reasons why. Sorry. Like I said, we need food and not calorie. Freudian slip. And there are two stages your body goes through to extract calories from food. The first stage is digestion, which we talk about chewing, autochemical digestion. And there is a golden rule here, really quite a good golden rule, which works not only for protein, but also for fiber, but the longer something takes to digest, the farther down your gut it will go.

[00:18:41.240] – Dr. Yeo

And the farther down it goes, different hormones are released and you feel fuller. Okay. And so protein just happens to take longer to digest. It's more complicated. It's just more difficult to take it apart and something else. And so it tends to travel further down the gut, different hormones are released and you feel fuller. So that's the first thing. Now, protein is broken down into amino acids, the building blocks within your gut. And then that gets transported across the gut wall into your blood. And amino acids and sugar and fatty acids are themselves, not energy.

[00:19:16.890] – Dr. Yeo

They're few still. So they then transported to your organs, your cells, wherever you need them. They're then metabolized. And this is the second part of how we actually get the energy, digestion and metabolism. What happens with the metabolism is it takes a lot of energy to metabolize protein. For every 100 calories of protein that you eat, this is unusual. You don't normally do this. I'm just using it as an example, so that we understand. But for every 100 calories of protein we eat, we only ever use, on average, 70 calories.

[00:19:57.470] – Dr. Yeo

So it takes 30% of the protein calories you eat to handle protein. So just out of the blocks, all the protein calorie counts everywhere are 30% out because they don't take into account the 30% of energy it takes to actually deal with protein. And so it's a mix of the fact that protein takes longer to digest and more energy to metabolize together. It makes protein more satiating for us. It makes us feel fuller, even though we need exactly the same number of calories of protein and fats or carbs.

[00:20:31.210] – Allan

Yeah. Now the satiation is the important part. The 30% doesn't mean you get to eat 30% more.

[00:20:39.570] – Dr. Yeo

That's not what I mean. That's the wrong message.

[00:20:42.750] – Allan

Yeah. So just realizing that, yes. If you're looking at your macros and you're saying, okay, this meal is giving me a certain amount of protein. I think you said optimal is probably about 16%. And then I'm getting good carbs. And we'll talk about the good carbs in a minute and some fat. Then each of those is going to digest at their own pace. And because the protein takes longer to digest and uses more energy in the digestion, it makes it easier for you to stay satiated longer, eat less and lose weight.

[00:21:16.170] – Dr. Yeo

Now, that is absolutely right. But there is one thing. So if you happen to be trying to build your muscle and this could be because you're older or it could be because you are actually lifting and trying to bulk up, then there is a case to be made for thinking about how much protein you're actually getting in terms of protein calories and whether or not you need to alter whether or not you need to alter that. Now, this is not the case for everything, but I think there is a case to be made for.

[00:21:43.540] – Dr. Yeo

Maybe I need to up my protein a little bit more if I'm trying to bulk up.

[00:21:47.420] – Allan

And as a trainer, I would tell you if you feel like you're losing muscle mass due to sarcopenia because you're older, yes, you probably need more protein. And if you decide you want to take on a resistance training program for the sake of building muscle, you definitely need more protein. But as a basic, getting by 16% is probably a good number to start with. And then just see how you recover from your workouts, whether you are building muscle, losing muscle and change it out from there. Now the next one,

[00:22:18.250] – Allan

And we talked about carbs because there's different types of carbs. And I think many of us get conflated and saying, Well, okay, this is obviously a healthy carb because it grew in the ground. It's a plant. But then, of course, we dice it up and Fry it or batter it and Fry it.

[00:22:33.520] – Dr. Yeo

That's right.

[00:22:35.310] – Allan

Like in San Francisco, you talked about the baseball games, the garlic fries, where there's as much garlic as there are fries. We ruin good things all the time. But fiber and fiber, similar to protein, has a compelling path through our digestive tract that changes the way we digest it, which also metabolize it, which also again helps us with satiation.

[00:23:05.200] – Dr. Yeo

So yes, the first thing is it's quite clear we don't digest most fiber, so some fiber we're able to digest. We'll do that in a second. But the vast majority of fiber that's the stringy stuff we see in the pulp and Orange juice and celery. And what have you we don't digest. It comes out sweet corn, corn on the cob, it comes out the other side. And so as we were discussing with the protein, because the fiber, therefore slows down the digestion of everything it takes longer to digest, it makes you feel fuller.

[00:23:32.990] – Dr. Yeo

The other thing about fiber that is very useful is fiber tends to be found almost exclusively in plants, almost exclusively. The type of macros you'll find in a plant tends to be largely carbohydrates, and maybe a little bit of fat, depending on what kind of plant we're actually dealing with. And the crucial thing is the fiber slows down the extraction of the carbohydrates and therefore the absorption of the sugar. And so you'll have exactly. This is the equivalent of drinking Orange juice versus eating an Orange.

[00:24:06.290] – Dr. Yeo

Right. It's the same kind of comparison where you're getting exactly the same amount of sugar, exactly the same amount of sugar. But if you drink Orange juice, it just gets absorbed the moment it hits a small intestine, whereas the fiber takes time. And so you then have a different glucose profile. Blood sugar profile after you eat something with fiber versus not. And that plays a very big role in terms of not only satiation, but also the eventual feeling of hunger again later as well.

[00:24:36.040] – Allan

Yeah. We call that the roller coaster where basically blood sugar spikes up, insulin kicks in. It sucks that sugar sometimes sending it to the muscles and sometimes sending it to the liver. But most of the time storing it as fat. And then your sugar crashes. And now you want some more Orange juice.

[00:24:54.100] – Dr. Yeo

That's right. And the fiber, evens this whole thing out, even though you get exactly the same. And this is the thing. This is the thing you try and explain to someone says, look, I'm not saying the foods are different. I'm not saying that they are magic, and I'm not saying the different types of sugars, the actual rate and speed and kinetics. Shall we say it is everything. It's absolutely everything to how your body manages its energy.

[00:25:18.770] – Allan

Yeah. And then the fiber goes further because we're not going to be able to digest most of it into our system. So it's ending up all the way down in the large intestine and some magical things happened down there.

[00:25:30.340] – Dr. Yeo

Some magical things happened down there because fiber, as we know, keeps you regular. And that's a good thing we don't want to be storing in us unnecessarily, but more crucially or equally crucially rather. It is very important for your gut microbiome, for the bugs in your gut that actually live there, and it keeps them happy. It keeps them happy. And what do I mean by happy? It means it keeps a nice variety of bugs. That pretty much is what healthy means. When people say, What's a healthy gut microbiome, the bugs variety.

[00:26:03.330] – Dr. Yeo

You only end up with one mono, very few varieties that tends to be meaning that you eat a very boring and very uniform type of diet, which is not great for you. So variety is the spice of life, and fiber is the spice for these bugs. And it's very important for your overall health, for your gut health. For your immune system, there is hardly any body system because, look, if you have bad guts, you feel awful. You're not having a good day. So having healthy guts is important to your overall health.

[00:26:41.910] – Allan

Now, one of the fundamental problems with nutrition. And I wish we could fix this is that there are labels on processed food, and there's seldom labels on the foods that are high in protein and fiber. Because you're picking those up at a farmer's market. You're picking those up in a produce stand in a meat market, and they're not wrapped and packaged the way that's required, particularly in the United States, for them to be labeled. And so if you find yourself eating more processed food, sometimes, I don't think I'm not even sure we recognize how processed our foods are.

[00:27:17.140] – Allan

There's a scale you talk about. It's not your scale. It's a scale that's been out there for us called the Nova scales, Nova classifications. And there's four of them. Could you go through those four real quick? So we would have an understanding, because in my opinion. And again, I'm just a guy that eats and try to get choice to take care of myself is I'm always trying to eat in that number one category, most of my foods. And then if there's a two or three, it's a little bit or it's a way to flavor the one or two.

[00:27:47.650] – Allan

And then I try my best to stay away from the four as much as possible. But could you go through that scale of what that actually means?

[00:27:54.250] – Dr. Yeo

Okay. So this was actually come up from a Brazilian scientist. Oh, gosh, I'm going to have to remember his name. That's terrible. I'm going to forget it, but I'll come up with it in a second. Brazilian scientist actually came up with this Nova system of one to four relatively recently. Actually, we're probably only looking at something like 2011 to 2016 year. So what are the four Nova categories? And this is to talk about how processed the food is. So Nova one, these are what we would recognize fruit, what we recognize as whole food, a piece of steak, a chicken wing.

[00:28:29.510] – Dr. Yeo

All right. So these are just food, whole foods that we would actually go and buy from a market. And what have you now? Nova two are flavorings ingredients. Okay. So, for example, this could be ground black pepper because the pepper has been toasted. It could be oil. It could be, for example, olive oil. It could be purified salt. It could be sugar from sugar cane or otherwise. And these are there for Nova type two. Now, what happens when you mix Nova type one and two together?

[00:29:09.810] – Dr. Yeo

You get a Nova type three. So three are the processed foods that we recognize as processed, for example, bread. Because bread has gone through the process of you put yeast, some fermentation, it goes up, you do things you can drink, beer. Okay. Now beer has gone through the fermentation process. So those are Nova group three and other foods that you might Cook. So pickling. Okay. So Kimchi or Sauerkraut, that would be a Nova group three. So that is the vast majority of food. And actually Nova groups one to three are all pretty much fine, because together they form what we would call whole foods to just minimally processed foods.

[00:29:54.780] – Dr. Yeo

Then there's no group four. And the problem with Nova group four is that that is where in North America, in Europe, in the high income countries, we get more than 50% of our calories from. And these are pretty much every prepackaged foods that are out there that have gone through a process that we cannot replicate in a domestic kitchen or even a restaurant. When you go to a restaurant, you're not getting a proper restaurant, not a fast food restaurant. If you go to a proper restaurant where there's a chef and kitchen and cooking your food, those are never going to be Nova group four.

[00:30:29.590] – Dr. Yeo

Okay. Whereas if you actually have to go through a factory process, it's everything that is in there. And so that's a lot of things. Just to be clear, I'm not demonizing them per se. We eat too much of them. Ice cream is going to be nova group four, croissants are going to be Nova group Four. Pastries are going to be Nova group Four. So there are those, but they at least look something resembling sorts of Nova group four. But then you can go really extreme.

[00:31:01.050] – Dr. Yeo

Right. And you can get these cheaper Nuggets where, for example, the meat is not really meat. Meat is even a strong word.

[00:31:12.970] – Allan

I will never eat another chicken McNugget, as long as I live.

[00:31:18.250] – Dr. Yeo

I don't want to get sued by them, but it's true, but that's the way they actually make it. So those are the four Nova groups. What we've got to do. Why does the Nova group four exist? This is a question to ask. I think it's helped keep 7 billion people in the world alive. Okay. There was a reason why it came about because of the industrial processes. They have economies of scale to make. They typically have very long shelf lives and they're very easily movable, and they're very cheap calories.

[00:31:51.340] – Dr. Yeo

And so as a result, we can actually survive on food. Certainly in the UK, you can now get up to 900 calories in the old school for less than a pound, depending on where you're getting. And a pound is a dollar 20 or one dollar 30 something like that. Yeah, really cheap calories. The problem is the amount we're eating now, that's the first thing. And the second problem is that because it's cheap, the poorer among society, people in the lower socio economic classes end up eating the cheaper food.

[00:32:26.440] – Dr. Yeo

Why? Because that is what's available in their food that they happen to be living in, for example. And it is also what they happen to be able to afford. And so I think it's a double tragedy. It's a tragedy, in a sense, where it is bad for us to eat too much of it and actually the poorest amongst us who are already at risk of diseases and things anywhere also end up eating it the most. So I think there's a double tragedy that we need to try and fix.

[00:32:51.600] – Allan

Well, I think there's a third piece in there that the food companies are responsible for. They're hiring scientists to make the food hyper palatable to make it addictive. I'm going to be talking to someone in a week or so about food addiction and how we deal with that. But the reality is if you find yourself there's just this food, and I like to term it as kryptonite, like your Superman, it's going to kill you. But you can't stay away from it. You can't do anything about it.

[00:33:18.450] – Allan

They make these foods like Kryptonite, they're so delicious. Even they advertise it. You can't eat just one, stack your chips, eat three of them because different flavors, and you're going to eat a whole two of them. And that's more calories than you should have had for your dinner. And they're hyperpatable. They're going to basically become blood sugar as soon as they hit your system. I think that there's a third piece there.

[00:33:46.210] – Dr. Yeo

And it's an arms war, because what's interesting is obviously there is no Advertisement campaign for strawberries. Not that I know. Or the Advertisement, maybe sometimes the Orange juice company, but even that. But then the Advertisement campaigns that go out to support these foods are incredible. And it's weapons grade. We talk about weaponization. It's weapons grade. And so you're someone selling from the local farm because there is no way you can compete against that. Certainly when it comes to kids, I think a lot of it is adults.

[00:34:21.950] – Dr. Yeo

We are obviously impressionable, but it's the kids. It's the kids that they're looking at and watch the cartoons. And they buy the happy meals. And they do the thing.

[00:34:31.550] – Allan

And the Super Bowl, which is coming up, which Congratulations on San Francisco's win this week.

[00:34:37.190] – Dr. Yeo

Thank you.

[00:34:38.300] – Allan

Super bowl. They'll spend millions of dollars. And you think, how many bags of potato chips do they have to sell? But they obviously are because they've been doing these commercials forever. So it obviously sells more potato chips.

[00:34:56.850] – Dr. Yeo

Otherwise they won't do it right. These guys are mercenary. Of course they are. They're not going to be spending the money if they're not getting a return from this.

[00:35:04.870] – Allan

Yeah. So that's the other side of just recognizing that these ultra processed foods are food stuff. They're built to be hyperpatable. They're built to be addictive. And, yes, they are low cost. They're easy to transport. They're self stable for a long, long time. So there are benefits from a feeding the world perspective to having this technology. But I kind of think it's gone a little on the other direction. And that's part of why we're in the problems we're at. And if we can flip back and we can start thinking about this scale of how processes my food and the less processing for the most part, the better.

[00:35:43.540] – Allan

One, two, three and trying to weigh your food and think of your food in that order, the more I have in category one, the better category two is next and then three. And then occasionally, if you want that Mars bar, have a Mars bar, but recognize where you are and what you're doing and enjoy the heck out of it and then be done. Get back to protein and fiber and your weight loss goals.

[00:36:11.070] – Dr. Yeo

I mean, there is another which I do raise in the book and sort of middle ground because I do think we need somehow a society to reformulate our food system. I think somehow we've managed to in trying to keep 7 billion people alive. I do think we've broken significant elements of our food system. Okay. And we're not here to necessarily discuss that. So we need to fix that. But in the meantime, however, in the meantime, how do we try and be pragmatic? And so what I do say is yes, if we want a Mars bar, we can have a Mars bar, but can we make a better Mars bar?

[00:36:46.380] – Dr. Yeo

I think that's the question, right? Can we convince at least in the interim. So this is not the be all and end all. But can we get the companies to put in more nuts, more dates and figs to try and up the fiber and protein content of a chocolate bar or a frozen lasagna or something? And every time I say this, what's interesting is I'm not trying to countenance all of us moving to Nova four as. It's just not my point. But my point is, how do we help the people who through no fault of their own, are almost forced to live on Nova Four Foods?

[00:37:23.210] – Dr. Yeo

Can we get the companies to improve their Nova Four foods? And that's another thing I'm quite passionate about in trying to. And whenever a company, a food manufacturer, for example, speaks to me, okay. I never take money from food companies for the reason, so that I can go in and speak to the food companies and be honest with them. They can listen to me or not listen to me, but I can say, look, you guys can continue making your chocolate bars or lasagna, what have you but can you make it better?

[00:37:52.930] – Dr. Yeo

Can you up the protein? Can you up the fiber? Can you do that? Surely you can. Surely you can do it without really that much of a significant rise in cost.

[00:38:01.570] – Allan

I suppose they can, especially when you think about it. We have a tendency to think of protein as being meat coming from an animal. And we think of fiber as coming from a plant and more of this could be plant based, and you can get there. Fiber is easy. It's practically nothing from a density perspective and almost no flavor from a cost perspective.

[00:38:25.970] – Dr. Yeo

It doesn't cost anything, right?

[00:38:28.710] – Allan

Because they stripped it off of something else. It's sitting there. It's sitting there. It's ready so they can. I know they can. And hopefully they will. They'll see the problem and realize, okay, if I want my clients, my customers to live longer and eat more, I actually have to not kill them.

[00:38:45.660] – Dr. Yeo

Keep them alive. Don't kill your customer.

[00:38:52.170] – Allan

Dr. Yeo, I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?

[00:39:00.240] – Dr. Yeo

Well, oh, my goodness. That's a very good question. Actually, I'm not going to start with nutrition. Obviously, nutrition is one of them. The first is moving and literally moving. Now the interesting thing. And this could be if you are able, going long distances running or cycling or pumping. It could be that. Or it could be going in your garden, walking your dog, mowing the lawn. They're doing something like that. And while moving per se. And maybe sometimes people don't notice. Moving per se is not a great way of losing weight per se, but it is fabulous for you.

[00:39:40.760] – Dr. Yeo

You will never, ever be able to replace the goodness of moving. And so we don't move enough. And so we got to move. So that's the first thing I would say, move. And then the second thing is really think about nutrition, not in an evangelical and puritanical fashion. You talk about it. You sound just from our conversation here. You have the right approach. Look, sometimes you want a Mars bar. Sometimes your kid has a birthday party, you want to have a slice of cake, but we have too much of that.

[00:40:08.770] – Dr. Yeo

So I think thinking about the nutrition and simply if you consider protein and fiber in the diet that you eating, even as a shorthand as a proxy. Obviously the other thing. But even if we consider protein and fiber and moving, I think those three things would actually get you a long way to getting healthier.

[00:40:31.530] – Allan

If someone wanted to learn more about you and your book, Why Calories Don't Count. Where would you like for me to send them?

[00:40:38.820] – Dr. Yeo

They can send all good bookshops. I know some people don't like Amazon, and I don't want to push people there, but all good bookshops should sell the book, Why Calories Don't Count. There's also one. And if you want to hear anything more, just me bibling on and interviewing various people. I also have a podcast called Dr. Giles Yeo, Choose the Fat and it's available at Apple and Spotify and all your favorite places.

[00:41:07.690] – Allan

Okay, well, this is Episode 516, so you can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/516, and I'll be sure to have links there. Dr. Yeo, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.

[00:41:20.730] – Dr. Yeo

Allan, this has been a pleasure. Thanks so much for having me.

Post Show/Recap

[00:41:27.970] – Allan

Welcome back, Ras.

[00:41:30.030] – Rachel

Allan, oh, my gosh. I don't even know where to start. There's a lot we can talk about. But I do want to mention that back when I started my weight loss journey a long time ago, pre Internet days, counting calories was a nightmare. It was just something I never wanted to do, and it's just difficult. It's just a pain to do, especially before smartphones and apps that are so helpful today. But just like a lot of people who start their weight loss journey, that's the only thing I knew about at that time.

[00:42:00.700] – Allan

Yeah, I've been on my fitness pal and some of the others, and I've talked to different people over the years that are tracking and some of them, it's quite literally, like they're doing the accounting for General Electric. I mean, it's just crazy measure every calorie, calculate these numbers, and then you're looking at your weight and they're trying to evaluate and you're like, okay, well, maybe I was off by a pecan the other day. If you find that doing the calorie counting is stressing you out. You're doing it wrong.

[00:42:38.120] – Allan

Now, full disclosure or Disclaimer, or however you want to look at it. If you have a food addiction, if you have an eating disorder or you just find that the gamification of this actually is helping you stick with it, that's great. There are a lot of people that are like that, and that's cool that the whole world is made up of different people. So I'm not going to say there's one way fits all. That'll never be the case. But if you're stressing over the calories, oh, I can't eat this.

[00:43:09.220] – Allan

It has too many calories in it. It's chicken breasts.

[00:43:17.290] – Rachel

Well, that's a good point. I mean, think about what you're eating. I think one light bulb moment that I had many years ago when I did have my fitness pal was one of the foods I did like to eat after a half marathon. I used to go to McDonald's and get the Quarter Pounder meal because I craved the salt and the fat in that meal. And one day I realized that the calorie count for the Quarter Pounder with cheese meal was the equivalent of my total calorie intake for that day.

[00:43:49.700] – Rachel

And it was a big light bulb moment for me because obviously, I can't live on one meal per day, especially running half marathons. But that probably wasn't the most healthy choice that I could have picked for that time.

[00:44:05.750] – Allan

Yeah, one, I think if you read Doctor Yeo's book, you're not going to eat fast food ever again.

[00:44:18.170] – Allan

he actually taught you a lot of people don't want to know how they make the sausage. And I'll just say, you don't want to know how they make the burgers, and you don't want to know how they make the chicken McNuggets. So sue me, McDonald's if you have to. But I'm just going to say, okay, no. Just no.

[00:44:41.470] – Allan

It's okay to have those kinds of things if you start assessing about things and get granted if you have a food issue or things like that, then yeah, I'm going to have Dr. Susan on in a few weeks, probably right around the beginning of the year. And we're going to talk about that because she has these very strict rules in her life. And everybody she coaches very strict rules and those work. But she also has this resume process, which is when you go off kilter, you understand it, you learn from it, and you kind of get yourself back into your box.

[00:45:19.930] – Rachel


[00:45:21.950] – Allan

That approach works. Now most of us can't live in a calorie counting box. We have jobs, we have children, we have friends and family, and we have things that pop up. Like you said, I finished this run. I'm hungry.

[00:45:38.060] – Allan

What's there? McDonald's. Okay. Is it McDonald's or banana? And I'm sorry, but back in the day, McDonald's tastes better than the banana. You need the potassium. Okay, great. But I'm going to go for the burger, too, back in the day. But I think what we're trying to come out with this is number one. Look for the foods that serve you. And we talked with Dr. Yeo about how protein and fiber are going to be your friends in this pursuit. And if you're eating the foods that provide the best quality of that, then you're not necessarily eating a whole lot of meat to get your protein, because you can get that from a vegetable source, which is another thing he talks about in the book.

[00:46:28.330] – Allan

But you look at getting protein because it takes longer to digest and it's more energy burning as you do that. So you're getting less calories out of what appears to be a lot of calories, and it's going to keep you fuller longer. The other side is the fiber. And whether you want to go keto or you want to go as far as carnivore, he doesn't like those ways of eating. From the perspective, you're not getting the fiber. And so if you find that you try keto and you're just not pooping and taking a little bit of magnesium, which we're going to have Thomas DeLauer on the show in a week or so.

[00:47:03.090] – Allan

And we're going to talk about mineral deficiencies. So if you're having trouble at the loo, as Dr. Yeo would say, then you might want to try some magnesium. But if those things aren't working, what you're doing is not serving your body and you're not feeling good and healthy, then we're missing the point. The point is to try to get healthy. The weight loss is the side effect.

[00:47:26.110] – Rachel

I love that part when you and Dr. Yeo mentioned the weight losses, the side effect and also not obsessing. If counting calories becomes too much of an obsession, if it's distracting you, then it's really not the greatest tool in the toolbox. But also, I think focusing on the protein and the fiber and the healthy vegetables that'll give you the nutrients that you need to feel energetic throughout the day and satisfy whatever activities you do as well.

[00:47:56.510] – Allan

I couldn't even imagine sitting down at, like, a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner and there being like, pumpkin pie there. And you're on my fitness pal trying to figure out how much is a slice to get the 100 grams and you're like, mom, do you have a scale so I can weigh this pumpkin pie? If you want some of the pumpkin pie, heat the pumpkin pie.

[00:48:22.560] – Rachel

Well, that's perfectly acceptable, especially during these holiday times when all these wonderful family traditional foods are coming out and you want to try your mom's recipe or your grandma's recipe or something important. I mean, there's so much meaning to that, and if you just enjoy it and have a taste of it and not overdo it, you're less likely to feel those after effects. Thanksgiving is my favorite meal. I tend to eat a little bit more than I normally do, and I feel the after effects later, so enjoy what you can and then get back to your normal eating and you'll feel much better in the days ahead.

[00:49:01.280] – Allan

Now, one of the cool things about Doctor Yeo's book is that when he gets into this, it is a lot of biochemistry, but he says it in a way that is actually follow able. Okay, he still has to use the words mitochondria, Krebs cycle or citric acid cycle and all the words because the words are the words. It's not like he can come up. But he comes up with a lot of ways to think about how that works and why things work the way they work. And then in the end, when he's explaining why protein is a better choice, why fiber is a better choice and those types of things, it clicks, you're like, oh, of course.

[00:49:45.750] – Allan

Why is it that you can eat sugar and your blood sugar shoots up and you can eat protein and it doesn't. Or you can eat sugar with fiber. And it doesn't like he was talking about the Orange juice and the Orange. And so he gives you all the background to understand. He didn't just make this up and say he doesn't want you drinking Orange juice. He's just trying to explain to you, if you're trying to lose weight, the Orange is the better deal.

[00:50:13.480] – Rachel

Sure, it makes total sense. That's so helpful, too. It's hard to imagine the glass of Orange juice being so much different than the actual Orange itself. But it does make sense when you discuss that in your interview.

[00:50:25.750] – Allan

It's not as convenient. And honestly to me, if you're trying to lose weight, drinking your calories is the worst way to do it, because again, if it's a liquid, your body is going to digest it very quickly. It's going to be out of your system and in your blood, and therefore it's not going to satiate you. It just won't. Whereas if you have to go through your system and you have to digest. Actually, physically digest that you're burning calories. Doing that digestion. If it's liquid, the digestion is over.

[00:50:55.060] – Allan

It's just flowing through and saying, okay, ha ladi da and then sugar. And it's in your system. So good. Pick me up in the morning, Orange juice and coffee. But then you're going to be hungry by 10:00am if you ate at seven because you didn't give your body that long term full feeling that it's going to get with the fiber and protein.

[00:51:20.130] – Rachel

It's important that we pay attention to how we feel after we eat these different foods. Because I think that once you find what you enjoy eating and you get a good feeling afterwards, you feel full. It's a better way to plan your meals, especially if you plan them around protein.

[00:51:39.830] – Allan

Yes. Absolutely. All right. Well, Rachel, I'll talk to you and I'll talk to everybody else next week.

[00:51:46.540] – Rachel

Take care.

[00:51:47.450] – Allan

You too.

[00:51:48.320] – Rachel



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Another episode you may enjoy


November 15, 2021

How to optimize strength gains in less time with Philip Shepherd and Andrei Yakovenko

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When you're time-strapped and looking to get stronger, adding reps and sets and even weight might not be the best approach. In their book, Deep Fitness, Philip Shepherd and Andrei Yakovenko show us how time under load (time under tension) is a better way to add volume and get stronger.



This episode of the 40+ Fitness Podcast is sponsored by Organifi.

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Let's Say Hello

[00:04:04.670] – Allan
Hey, Raz, how are things going?

[00:04:06.890] – Rachel
Good. How are you today, Allan?

[00:04:08.810] – Allan
I'm doing all right. I imagine Michigan's starting to get a little bit cool.

[00:04:14.030] – Rachel
Oh, yes. In fact, we have snow in the forecast, so just flurries, but, yeah, it's about to get real cold.

[00:04:23.210] – Allan
We've been really hot here. I mean, temperature here has been pretty warm and dry. We just got rain today and some wind and rain. The wind came in last night and felt really nice because when it's warmer and it's windy, doesn't quite feel as bad because the wind kind of gives you kind of a cooling coming off the water, particularly. And then today it's raining, which is good island that survives on the water that we catch. Kind of important to catch some. It's kind of important to have something to catch.

[00:04:52.490] – Allan
So, yeah, a little bit of rain. And then as we're recording this, we're going into the holiday season here in Panama. So Panama has independence from Spain.

[00:05:06.530] – Allan
Independence from Colombia, and then independence from the United States. And all of those holidays happen in November. So the first week of November is just sort of like just a big holiday week. And people like to travel and do the things inside. So tourism is picking up. People are coming. So Lulu's is starting to get busy and go. And it was kind of funny because we were sitting there and we started getting Lula's on Airbnb. And so Tammy set up and we're supposed to next day talk to our service provider that actually lets our booking agent talk to Airbnb.

[00:05:46.550] – Allan
So at this point in time, she's just set it up and we get our first reservation. Ten minutes.

[00:05:53.630] – Allan
And there's somebody hits us up for reservation.

[00:05:56.870] – Allan
We go on there like, okay, well, run, go, Mark this off on the booking engine because they're not talking yet. We don't want someone to double book. So we managed to get through that and figure that out and then figure out how when PayPal gets money, how to get PayPal to pay us. I think we've done that. Anyway, we're still ironing out like things as we're just getting things going. But things are starting to heat up here, and that's good and keeping Tammy on her toes. In fact, right now, as we're talking, she's at the airport picking up some guests that are flying in today.

[00:06:29.090] – Rachel
Oh, that sounds wonderful. How exciting.

[00:06:32.690] – Allan
Yeah. Well, how are things up there?

[00:06:34.790] – Rachel
Oh, really good. Like I mentioned, the fall is in full swing. We're in peak color right now, so the colors in our area are just beautiful. And over the weekend, Mike and I ran our Cal Haven Ultra marathon, and it's 33 and a half. Actually, it's 34 miles on the Cal Haven Trail. We run from Calaman Zoo to South Haven in Michigan, and it's a rails to trails pathway in the entire run. The girl I was running with and I we're just remarking it how gorgeous the colors are, the golds from the Oaks and the Reds and the Maples.

[00:07:13.190] – Rachel
And it was just spectacular. It was just such a wonderful day. We all had a good run, so it was a lot of fun.

[00:07:20.630] – Allan
Mike finished?

[00:07:22.010] – Rachel
He did.

[00:07:22.910] – Rachel
He and the guy he ran with, they're much faster, and they finished in 5 hours and 29 minutes,

[00:07:32.150] – Allan
That's outstranding.

[00:07:32.150] – Rachel
And they each secured first place in their respective age groups. So they did fantastic. And Luz and I finished just over 7 hours, 7 hours and two minutes, and we tied in our age group. We tried for seconds. So it was a really good day. And like I said, the fall weather was perfect. We didn't have any rain and we didn't have any blazing sun, so we couldn't have asked for better weather conditions. It was beautiful.

[00:08:01.790] – Allan
Good way to close out your season.

[00:08:03.590] – Rachel

[00:08:05.270] – Allan
So now you're going to be lifting some weights.

[00:08:07.670] – Rachel
Yes, I am.

[00:08:08.570] – Allan
Which is a good time for us to be talking about Deep Fitness.

[00:08:12.650] – Rachel
Wonderful. It sounds great.


[00:09:14.690] – Allan
Philip, Andrei, welcome to 40+ Fitness.

[00:09:18.110] – Andrei
It's a pleasure to be here. Thank you, Allan.

[00:09:19.970] – Andrei
Yeah. Thanks, Allan. Nice to meet you.

[00:09:22.310] – Allan
Now, I've had Dr. Mcguff and I've had John Little on and similar messaging, because you guys are coming from a very solid foundation of science-based resistance training. And when I saw the full work of the book by Dr. Mcguff, and he gave you such a glowing review, I got really excited to read this book, and I'm glad I did. So the name of the book we're talking about is Deep Fitness: The Mindful, Science-based Strength Training Method to Transform Your Wellbeing in Just 30 Minutes Per Week.

[00:10:01.730] – Allan
That's a big promise. But I think you deliver. The book is phenomenal. The science is sound, and you do a really good job of explaining some things. And every once in a while, you get this kind of this. Aha moment of well, of course, that's how it works. There's a lot of that in the book, and it's a book that I'm definitely going to have as a reference that I'll go back to time and time again, because even someone who's been doing this for years, there was just a lot in there, even for me to absorb. But it was done well, it was written well, so I appreciate the opportunity to have you on the show.

[00:10:40.670] – Andrei
Thank you.

[00:10:41.990] – Andrei
Pleasure to be here with you, Allan.

[00:10:44.810] – Allan
All right. So, one of the things that kind of hit me, and you put this right in the beginning of the book, which is what most of us do is why do I want to do this? And you say fitness starts with muscle. And initially, when I was reading, I was like, okay, yeah, on one side. And I've talked to people who are on the other side of this conversation with the aerobics and the cardio and all that.

[00:11:08.030] – Allan
As we started getting into it, and it was just something really simple. Initially that kind of clicked with me, but I want to go a little deeper afterwards. But you said all these chronic diseases we have, many of them are caused because we're losing muscle.

[00:11:22.970] – Philip
Yeah. It was a pretty big revelation. This guy in the 80s, there was a really powerful renewal of interest in aging, and a massive study had laid out in gruesome detail what happens to us as we age. It's like everything you take for granted in your youth starts to corrode. They came together in a conference and trying to figure out A what was causing it. And B if you could begin to reverse it. And this guy was sitting with all these papers because he volunteered to write a report on the conference.

[00:12:06.830] – Philip
And what he realized was that every single condition that people were talking about was associated with a loss of muscle mass. And this didn't even have a word at the time. So he coined this word sarcopenia. Sarcopenia just means the wasting of muscle with age.

[00:12:28.010] – Philip
And there'a an inevitability about it. I mean, you're just not as strong. You can't sprint as fast at 90 as you could at 25. But my gosh, in our culture, that loss is drastically accelerated. And what happened as they began to look into sarcopenia, and it slowly gained prominence in the fields of research, they realized that sarcopenia was associated with every single major chronic disease of civilization. These are diseases that are rare in huntergather cultures and prominent for ours. So suddenly, the role of muscle in our health was coming into a new light.

[00:13:19.370] – Allan
I think one of the things you put in the book, which, like I said, it was kind of one of those wonderful light bulb moments. And there's many, many of those in this book was that we store sugar we eat in our muscles and our liver. And if we have less muscle, we have less storage capacity for that glycogen, which means our bodies have to store this fat. And so we start talking about the things like having pre diabetes and diabetes. The cause might not just be what we're eating, because what we were eating was probably fine for us.

[00:13:55.730] – Allan
It was the fact that we've lost so much muscle mass. We just don't have the storage capacity for it anymore. And that's causing us the problems.

[00:14:03.470] – Andrei
Yeah. And that would lead to increase in inflammation when we store body fat around organs that will also start producing those cytokines. And so on. We created havoc for our body. If we cannot store the glycogen, where it's supposed to go in the muscle or replenishing the liver, storage.

[00:14:23.390] – Andrei
Yeah. Makes total sense.

[00:14:26.630] – Philip
Sorry. I was just going to say the other side of that is glycogen is stored in the muscles. Well, a lot of it is stored in the large muscles. In the book we call the powerhouse muscles or the fast switch muscles. And that glycogen is only depleted with intense exercise. So with intense exercise, you can basically empty the muscles or not empty them, but deplete them of the glycogen. So then the storage space becomes available again.

[00:15:00.410] – Allan
And we're starting to get to a point where we're understanding more and more how different things in our body are communicating with each other. You almost want to think that our muscles are separate from our fat, which is separate from our brain, which is separate from our microbiome. But the reality is all of these things actually communicate together. They're all releasing. And one of the things you brought up in the book was myokines. Could you dive a little bit into myokines and why they're so important?

[00:15:29.270] – Philip
Yeah. For years, researchers understood that exercise had this global effect on the body. It affected every organ, every tissue and promoted health. And why? Like, they didn't know why. And then in the early 2000s, they discovered these endocrine messenger molecules called myokines. And they began to research them. And they found over 600 different kinds of Myokines that are released when muscle works. And the more intensely a muscle contracts and the stronger the muscle is, the more myokines are released, and they help in every system of the body.

[00:16:19.650] – Philip
I mean, they promote mental acuity, they promote bone mineral density, they decrease inflammation. It goes on and on and on. The Myokines have sort of been dubbed the X-Factor, the unknown factor in exercise that resulted in such positive effects.

[00:16:40.650] – Allan
And so to get the muscles to do that, we now have what you're bringing forward mindful strength training to failure, or MSTF. Can you talk a little bit about what that is and why that's so important?

[00:16:53.610] – Philip
Yeah. I mean, there are several aspects to our mindful strength training to failure. The mindful part is important because that means you're bringing the whole of the body. It's difficult to describe because we tend to sit in our heads and tell the body what to do the way you'd sit on a donkey and beat it to go harder. So what we're proposing is a mindful approach that is made possible by a very slow movement. So, for example, if you're on a weight machine, you would lift the weight very, very slowly and let it down very, very slowly.

[00:17:35.850] – Philip
And you continue to do that until you hit the point of momentary muscle failure. And that can take one and a half or two minutes. I mean, it happens quickly, and then you move on to the next exercise. Within a half hour, you can bring all the major muscles of your body to failure, and you can do one session a week and see improvements. And you really should be cautious in doing more than two sessions a week, because once you've taken a muscle group to failure, it takes time to recover.

[00:18:15.930] – Philip
You need 72 hours. And if you don't allow the muscle to remodel, you undermine its effects in strengthening.

[00:18:24.990] – Philip
And it just simplifies everything. When you go into this mindful space and you're present to this weight and you take it to failure.

[00:18:38.910] – Philip
And it is a joy. This form of training, the high intensity training is known to be a form of suffering. And with MSTF, we're really emphasizing that as you bring a mindful quality to it, it holds a joy. It holds an aliveness that you may not encounter in the rest of your week.

[00:19:06.430] – Allan
As I mentioned earlier, this is very deep in science backing. I mean, you guys spent a lot of time thinking about the whys, and this is not something that you've just done yourself. This is something that over the course of now, I guess decades have been coming to fruition, and now you guys are kind of putting it into a process that's very easy to follow. It takes less time than the standard. If you are going to talk about doing normal resistance training, I think most of us that would go in the gym and do the standard three sets of ten or whatever of X number of exercises and try to get a whole body workout and then try to do that every third or fourth time because maybe we didn't actually stress ourselves that much.

[00:19:48.790] – Allan
So we're doing four or five, maybe six workouts per week.

[00:19:52.750] – Allan
Here we're condensing it. We're a lot more mindful about the work we're doing. We're slowing way down. And so you've taken all these, all this science and you've now broken it. We have six principles that are rolled up into this model. That all are really valuable. As I went through, I was like, you can't not have that one. You can't have this one. So they're all really important. Could you go through those six principles? Because I think they're really important for someone to understand why this way of training is optimal.

[00:20:21.490] – Andrei
Well, I think they're more like a steps of getting through your workout, because ultimately, when talking about the actual training principles, you can synthesize it to around four. But speaking of how we describe them in the book, we work on them in steps. And, for instance, step one, just get ready and just get prepared. Like, understand what you're about to do if you do it on your own with your partner, have a game plan, which machine, which sequence you going to do them. Have your stop push ready water bottle already. Getting that right mindset for what you about to do, because you're working out.

[00:21:04.690] – Andrei
If you're thinking something else, you jump in. You don't have that kind of focus. It could be distracting, and you won't get quite the same workout. And this style of training is not kind of training where you do well with your chitchat and watching TV requires that mindfulness presence and that focus of what you're about to experience. That's kind of the first step is just get ready. Have a clear roadmap of how your next 30 minutes is going to look like. And then we just go through those steps.

[00:21:40.030] – Andrei
Step two is becoming present. And this is where Philip is an expert..

[00:21:48.950] – Philip
I'd be happy to talk to step two. You've got a stop watch with you, because what matters in MSTF isn't the number of reps that is irrelevant. What matters is what we call time under load, how long you go and you'll notice as you do it, you're going longer and longer before you begin pressing against the resistance. It's so important to drop down into your body and feel what you're feeling. I mean, we're trying to guide people away from the conventional approach. I'm going to do this thing.

[00:22:35.610] – Philip
Okay. Here I am. I'm ready. This is very different. This isn't a top down mode of making the body do what's good for it for its own sake. This is a matter of joining the body in its intelligence and my gosh. Once you tap into that, the resources that are available to you will take you to failure in a way that that badgering of the voice in the head can't do because it falls into storytelling, just maybe one more. Oh, I think I'm there now. I got to stop all that chit chat goes away when you drop down into the body and you're just in the moment feeling what is happening and tapping more and more deeply into your resources.

[00:23:26.610] – Philip
And Andrei, why don't you take us into step three?

[00:23:30.030] – Andrei
I guess the first step is we describe it as muscle first movement, second. So I give a little bit of history because that principle. We've been doing it for eight years now. We have a couple of Studios here in Toronto, downtown Toronto. And when I first opened this place, I thought everybody was just like me. Quickly, I realized that's not the case. And working with people, all demographics, all age groups, all different mental neurological abilities quickly learn that not everybody is able to do this training how we kind of Doug McGuff and John Little described the body by science.

[00:24:12.750] – Andrei
There are many answers to it. And one of them was some people, I would train them for months, and will still tell them, feel the lats, for example, doing a city throw exercise and tell me like, where are the lats? And it's kind of embarrassing because here's this client. I had this client for a few months, and he still doesn't know how to feel the lats. And at some point you can only repeat those cues so much, and then you move on. Right. And then actually from when I took one of the Philips workshops, he mentioned this experiment done in a scenario of neuroscience in an area of brain plasticity, where the quality of paying attention makes a neurological kind of difference in rewiring in your brain.

[00:25:05.370] – Andrei
And he was using this example from the brain plasticity in his work. And when I was listening to realize this is why people struggle filling those muscles. So I asked if each book he came, I read the book. So the experiment is basically the book is called Brain that Changes Themselves. Written by Norman Deutsche. And I think it's the first chapter about the subject of brain plasticity. And there's this guy from the States. I think he's retired now he changed, I guess, the idea of neuroscience before his time neuroscience.

[00:25:42.870] – Andrei
So the brain is sort of soft when we're younger. And then it kind of hardwired at older age cannot really wire anymore. So he challenged the whole paradigm. And she showed that the brain is still soft and plastic at any age. It might not be as soft as plastic as one of the children, but it's still soft. So one of the experiments, they talk there that kind of was light bulb for me when I heard it from Philip and read about it, they asked monkey to move index finger.

[00:26:10.290] – Andrei
They look at the brain and they saw socio neurological map turning on, then asking ask monkey to move middle finger, basically, next body part, next finger and another neurological map turn on. They call them topographical brain maps. Because typically with two body parts near each other in the brain, those neurological maps will neighbor each other as well.

[00:26:33.150] – Andrei
So what they did an experiment. They tied the two fingers together for a few months so monkey can only move two fingers together, cannot separate those two fingers. After several months, when they look at the brain, they discover those individual maps disappear. Instead, monkeys develop one large mob. They call it competitive plasticity. Basically something that you fire together are going to wire together. And what's going to happen? Something that you master day in, day out. It's quite literally what appears going to grow in real estate is going to take over the real estate of the adjustment maps that you don't use anymore.

[00:27:08.370] – Andrei
And then it occurred to me, we see searching where we move, searching where we have these dense jobs. We don't feel the back anymore. Day in, day out, year after year, your brain will adjust to a current lifestyle. We have injuries. And I realized it's not because before I was focusing on the muscle, then I realized it was not the muscle. We have to start with the brain. We have to start with rebuilding those neurological brain maps or topographical maps to strengthen the signal into the muscle before even can focus on the muscle.

[00:27:39.570] – Andrei
If you cannot send a potent signal, how can even isolate and target that muscle? So that kind of shifted my approach in the way I started hearing people. And I put this principle on top of our list and realizing that some people and it's clearly absorbed with the age related phenomenon. If I take a client in their 20s, everybody pretty much almost ten out of ten will get the cue, will get the right muscle. Feel the right muscle. With age, typically, the older somebody gets. Some people have harder and harder time, particularly those people who are new to strength training. By feeling the right muscle and by moving its mindfully slow by just feeling it,

[00:28:25.930] – Andrei
What happens again, learning from the science of neuroplasticity brain neuroplasticity, we know that one of the fastest way to create a new memory pattern in the brain is by paying close attention to a task. When we pay close attention to a task, our brain activates nucleus basalis. It's a part of the brain and the rest of the brain. And what that does, it starts producing this very potent so called modulatory neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. And when we have high level of acetylcholine, from paying attention to a task, the brain becomes soft and plastic.

[00:29:06.130] – Andrei
It's going to create those synaptic connections much faster rather than just mindlessly moving the weight up and down. So this quality of paying close attention to the map could be if you cannot feel the lats. I just tell people just that you call just feel it. I won't give you the normal cues until you can feel those right muscles, right. And after a few months, so many clients would come to me and tell me I feel muscles. I didn't know where I had right. So now I'm actually working.

[00:29:38.050] – Andrei
So that's what that step is. When you train number one error. When I ask my more experienced strandedness, I absorb it myself and I ask them, what do we think what do we see here as a mistake and how people exercise? Number one, what we see is people prioritize the movement over targeting the right muscle and what happens you're going to strengthen those existing maps. And if they're not perfect to begin with the targeted muscles you try to reach, they're going to remain unstimulated. But at the same time, you're going to strengthen the other parts in your body.

[00:30:12.610] – Andrei
And that leads to more imbalance down the road. And also you don't really get the job done because you're not targeting and stimulating the right muscles around the body. So the way we explain it here and also explain in the book is make sure you're feeling the right muscles and the joint and experience that movement experiences muscles and make the movement sort of happen as a byproduct as a result of that, rather than making about the movement if it makes sense.

[00:30:37.330] – Allan


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[00:32:24.150] – Andrei
And I think we're going down to step four, which is something it's about the breath. And Philip is an expert, so he's going to elaborate on that.

[00:32:34.890] – Philip
I mean, the breath in our culture, we have a very unsettled relationship with the breath. We tend to hold it. I mean, you hold the breath when there's something you'd rather not feel or there's something you have to do, and you don't want to be confused by all the sensations that the breath evokes, because to release the body to the breath is to precipitate an avalanche of sensations and the whole of the body can release to the breath. You can measure the breath wave, the effect of the breath traveling down through the legs and traveling up through the torso.

[00:33:20.910] – Philip
So how to not only allow the breath to continue without being interrupted without being held because especially under pressure as you're holding the breath, it puts a huge amount of pressure on the internal organs. And then you find not only can you breathe continuously through the movement, but as the breath is released deeper and deeper from within the body, you are impelling the movement with the breath itself. That may sound strange, but it's as though the energy of the breath is moving the weight rather than trying to isolate the mechanics of it.

[00:34:09.510] – Philip
So what's happening is the body as a whole is gathering behind this task and all of the body is contributing to whatever the movement might be by allowing the breath to be resourced from deep within the body and mindful strength training to failure of course. What do we mean by failure? That's step five. And I'm sure Andrei could clarify that for us.

[00:34:44.710] – Andrei
While we can, while we younger have the ability, it's such a gift to be able to exercise and be able to bring those muscles to failure. At some stage. As we get older, we have injuries. Perhaps people develop what is cognitive impairment. They don't have the same ability to bring the muscle to failure, but while we can, it's the adaptation you get from reaching failure, not just increasing in strength, which is that's simple to understand. Take your muscle to full existing capacity and then some and then let your body time to recover, adapt and repeat.

[00:35:27.970] – Andrei
And each time you bring it to failure, you're going to progressively do more and more and more assuming from week to week, you can get stronger and stronger. But as well, I don't know exactly, but I would guess 80-90% of the benefits you get from this training from those last 15, 30 seconds. When you approach and failure. When you tap it into that fight and flight sympathetic nervous system, the body starts producing adrenaline, by the way, that also will raise your acetylcholine in the brain, because now your body is primed.

[00:36:05.650] – Andrei
It's an emergency. It makes you pay attention. You have to deal with it. So there are so many adaptations happen when you bring muscle to failure versus when you don't. We are in the book talking about this experiment. Do you remember the name of that protein, Philip, that they showed this in animal studies when the exercise produced an adrenaline?

[00:36:25.750] – Philip
I don't remember the name of it, but I sure remember the research.

[00:36:30.310] – Allan
It was some letters. Yes, and I think it ended with the two. It started with the C.

[00:36:35.290] – Andrei
That showed that it's an animal that when you produce adrenaline and do an exercise, there are certain epigenetic triggers that happen that otherwise would not happen. So they're modified as one group of mice that they have higher level of that protein and the control group, which is normal level. Both groups did exactly the same amount of exercise. I think they run on the treadmill for two weeks, but adaptations were significantly different. The group that had more of that protein, the increase in endurance by 103% versus control group only like eight and a half percent.

[00:37:14.390] – Andrei
They had more muscle tissue lesson, three muscle fat and so on and so forth. So even though they exercise the same amount. But that was one of the examples that showed. And it's also true for humans that detection happen on a completely different level when you have more of that protein, which the body would actuate in that fight and flight event. And so this is what MSTF really is all about. You only have to do one set. And by the way, I learned about it from Doug Mcguff and John little's book classic Body By Science.

[00:37:49.790] – Andrei
That's all it started for me. I used to go to gym like everybody else, compound movements, deadlifts, all that stuff. I kind of was okay. I had lots of aches in my joints, but I thought, you know what? I don't care. That's just how it just comes with it. And after I read the classic book, Body by Science, this is the last time I exercised convention, and I just fell in love with it. After I've been doing it for a year, all the aches and pains went away.

[00:38:20.870] – Andrei
We did it. I first tried it in my old work with some colleagues, and I've seen changes in one guy who never really exercised properly in his life. But now he had shoulders, chest, triceps, six pack. So after individually, only once a week of the style of training. So all the aches and pains disappeared. It works. Then it occurred to me this is such an amazing form to take care of the body that I need to do something with it. That kind of was why I decided to open New Element training.

[00:38:52.550] – Andrei
And this is why people come to us. That's what we do. We follow the other principles. But bringing muscle to momentary muscle failure is the foundation of the strength, and we move on.

[00:39:09.710] – Philip
I might speak to the last of those principles or steps, which is that MSTF is best understood as a lifelong practice. There's no age at which muscle strength isn't an asset. There's no age at which this protocol is unsafe, either. The slow movement of the weight was really developed for people with Osteoporosis who were in danger of injury, and they thought, Well, let's try moving it very slowly and see if they can do that. And not only did they not suffer injury, as a result, they got stronger faster than had been expected.

[00:40:03.890] – Philip
And so the safety of it. I'm 68. And when I met Andrei, I sort of internalized despite myself, you're at a certain age better not be too intense, just kind of back off a bit. And I discovered this workout through Andrei, and I go to more intensity with the workout more safely than I've ever gone in my life. And one of the consequences of this, one of the reasons that you're encouraged to do it for the rest of your life is that as the muscles come into balance, you have less aches and pains.

[00:40:51.110] – Philip
I mean, I used to have chronic little nagging things that were there for months or years, and they have disappeared from my body. So I will be doing it for the rest of my life. And there's no point at which doing it is not either safe or an asset to your health.

[00:41:13.490] – Allan
Yeah, to compare and contrast this, you go into the gym, and the first thing people do is they come in, and if anything, they've got their workout on their phone or they've got a notebook. That's about all the preparation they did. They're blaring music so they can actually not focus. And then as they get to moving, you're absolutely right. It's like, okay, well, I'm supposed to get three sets of eight with this weight. That's what I came in here to do. And that's what I'm going to do.

[00:41:41.150] – Allan
And when I get those three sets of eight, even if I got all three sets of eight, I'm done. I finished that set and move on to the next exercise. And a lot of times there really isn't even a whole structure to why they're doing the next exercise. It's just, no, I'm working chest today. That's another chest exercise. So I'll just go do that one. The other one is the breath as we're lifting. And if you're doing three sets of eight, you're told, okay, on the eccentric, breathe in on the concentric, breathe out.

[00:42:05.750] – Allan
And it's just like an engine just go. And then the other one is failure. And so few people want to work to failure, either because they have the mental concept that failure is a bad thing or because they're afraid of it. And here you're saying, okay, now we can safely work to failure predominantly because, again, we're going to be focused on working in environments where we are safe. So we're not going to put ourselves under a heavy load of doing bench press and try to go two minutes under a bench press unless we have a spotter.

[00:42:37.130] – Allan
But we're going to use machines. We're going to use resistance bands, we're going to use body weight. We're going to do this in a responsible way, but we can actually use less weight and get stronger. Which again goes into why it's a lot safer. We're moving a lot slower, which again, is why it makes it a lot safer. And then, yes, at that point, this is something you can keep doing. And that takes me to the next bit of this because I think so many people will say, hey, I want you to start doing resistance exercises and like, oh, my knee.

[00:43:10.610] – Allan
Oh, I got this back problem. My doctor is telling me not to lift weights, not to do resistance training. And so as a trainer, typically, I'd say, okay, let's try to work around those injuries, those issues. But you brought up a thing in the book that I've not seen before, and it's called, I'm going to say it wrong again, biotensegrity.

[00:43:37.130] – Allan
Can you talk about that? Because I think that's just one of those things that is never mentioned. Everybody thinks, oh, I'm bone on bone on my knees. So therefore, I can't do resistance training with my legs or my back is going to start hurting me. So I really don't need to have anything I'm doing that's going to hurt my back. Can you talk about why that's not a problem with MSTF?

[00:44:02.090] – Philip
Yeah, you're absolutely right. We shy away from engaging. The book talks about one study that was done with people with arthritis, and they were encouraged to do strength training. Say, your knee hurt. You were encouraged to do leg presses, for example, and to tolerate the pain they said up to about the level of five out of ten. If it goes above that, back off. And in the course of the study, people got stronger and their pain diminished. And that principle you mentioned, Biotensegrity really explains why that can happen.

[00:44:43.250] – Philip
We imagine that the bones are stacked on top of one another in the skeleton, the way you'd build a brick wall, one brick on top of the other. And so then, of course, if the bricks are rubbing, you don't want to exacerbate it. But that's not the way the body works. The joints between the bones aren't in contact with each other. Unless there's a shock to the system. They are floating. The bones float and they're held in this web of muscle and fascia and connective tissue.

[00:45:26.750] – Philip
And when the muscles are strong and the muscles are balanced, the joints continue to float, and it's where the muscles become weak or they're out of balance. Or there's an injury that that can be impaired. But it's all the more reason than, as Andrei was saying to reactivate what muscles have fallen asleep and strengthen them the result. I mean, I felt it myself when I talk about my sort of chronic aches and pains disappearing. I know it's because my muscles are stronger and more balanced.

[00:46:07.470] – Allan
Yes. Again, like I said, I get a lot of people that will say I can't. So you go down this mindset of having a conversation with them. Well, just tell yourself to start, tell yourself to do the brain, telling you to do something. So get a start. Do this that's the big mantra out there. But when we bring mindfulness into this and I think that's what I want to wrap up here, at least for today. I want everybody to get this book so they can learn a lot more about this.

[00:46:39.150] – Allan
But we have this mindset of the drill instructor in my head telling me to go work out, telling me to do my sets, telling me to push one more rep, telling me to do these things. And for a lot of people that they actually can get stronger, they push themselves further. They also have aches and pains and injuries. But when you lean into this, I guess the best way I can say it and use the term willingness versus willing fullness. Can you talk a little bit about that?

[00:47:11.130] – Allan
Because I think as people are looking at this and saying, well, do I really want to because your body wants to. Can you kind of dive into what that's about and what that feels like? Because it's really hard. I'm not even really good at it getting out of my head and getting into actually enjoying what my body can do?

[00:47:30.930] – Philip
Yes. And to give some context to that, the reaction might be what's wrong with me? I can't get out of my head.

[00:47:40.410] – Philip
But thousands of years ago, we actually experienced our thinking in the body and most commonly in the belly. We felt ourselves thinking there, and now we can't imagine any other state than thinking in the head. So it's been inculcated within us. We've been trained to think with the head, and it's such a wonderful relief to drop out of the head and into the body.

[00:48:14.950] – Philip
And that relationship with the body that we've been trained in is one that leads us to feel victimized by the body and betrayed by the body, and we want to be in charge of it, and we know what it needs for its own good and all of that noise overwhelms the body's deepest understanding. So the body, what the body feels is the present. It feels the breeze, it feels the sounds of the world. It feels everything it vibrates to the present and to join the body in that way is to join its attunement to the present.

[00:49:06.190] – Philip
And then you discover, as the body is taken towards failure, you discover the animal joy of it. You are summoned into life, and the energy of your life is coursing through your being. As you are moving this weight and feeling it all. And there is no realm of my life in my week to week existence in which I feel more alive than I do during this workout. And because of that, because I've been able to renew my relationship with the body, I look forward to it.

[00:49:57.070] – Philip
Today's the day I get to go to the gym and come back fully to life. And there's an imperative in our culture that makes us afraid of life. We make ourselves small. We'd rather not feel things in a big way. And here's this realm in which you can do it in complete safety. You can bit by bit. Allow yourself to feel what you're feeling. And that relationship you have with the resistance with the say it's the plates of the machine is no longer an adversarial relationship. There is companionship in it. If that doesn't sound too strange, because here you are no longer in the isolated ego of the self.

[00:50:52.010] – Philip
But you have dilated into the spaciousness of the present and engaged with this weight that is helping you move to the edge. It's such a deep and vivid encounter with the self.

[00:51:12.830] – Allan
Well, Philip, I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?

[00:51:20.570] – Philip
Well, that's a good one, certainly what you put into your body. I mean eating. You can't out exercise a bad diet. Andrei, do you have another one?

[00:51:35.010] – Andrei
Well, clearly, MSTF. Even once weekly, if you can twice a week. It's amazing when people come to us even once a week. As you said, it's hard to believe that you can achieve this transformative benefits in only 30 minutes. But guess what? We've been doing this for eight years. We didn't write the book out of the thin air. It works if you apply this principle correctly. And if you put all the inside out benefits you get from this style. Any style of proper strength training, as long as you're not hurting yourself is the most powerful.

[00:52:11.130] – Andrei
If you put it in a pill, the most powerful help you ever invented. So essentially, it does transform your body. And it does work. So that would be my second one, once or twice of proper strength training once a week.

[00:52:24.390] – Philip
And I might say number three for me is renewing that relationship with the body to drop out of the head and trust the body's intelligence.

[00:52:37.830] – Philip
And the biological fact is, the body processes over a billion times more information than we can be consciously aware of. So to decouple from that driving need to control and drop into the present through the body and feel it through the body is to access a grace in your life that carries you forward minute by minute, hour by hour.

[00:53:11.130] – Allan
Thank you, gentlemen.

[00:53:12.330] – Allan
Andre, Philip, if someone wanted to learn more about the book, Deep Fitness or about your training up there in Toronto or any other things you've got going on, where would you like for me to send them?

[00:53:23.490] – Andrei
Well, the book has it's website, Deepfitness.life. It's available on all the major platforms everywhere in North America and UK. On our website, Newelementraining.com, we created a video library where we professionally recorded videos of all the exercises that we mentioned in the book. So people, if they needed a bit more help, they want to learn a little bit more. They can simply go to Newelementraining.com, go to Resources pages and then have access to the videos as well. And from there, find a way to contact me if they need to and have any questions.

[00:54:00.150] – Philip
I might just add that the book is available as an audiobook and as an ebook. So it's available on all platforms. And people want to find out more about my aspect of MSTF. I've got a website embodiedpresent.com that has all kinds of information, and I still actively teach workshops, and there's a listing workshops and facilitators trainings there. And in late November, I'll be in Europe. So if any of your listeners are there, I'm in Berlin, Amsterdam and England. Please do look me up.

[00:54:42.150] – Allan
Awesome. Well, you can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/512. And I'll be sure to have all those links there. Andrei, Philip, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.

[00:54:53.070] – Philip
Thanks for having us. It's been just fabulous, Allan.

[00:54:56.010] – Andrei
Yeah. Thank you, Allan.

Post Show/Recap

[00:55:02.770] – Allan
Welcome back, Raz.

[00:55:04.390] – Rachel
Hey, Allan, what a great conversation about lifting a little bit slower. It's a nice change of pace.

[00:55:13.990] – Allan
The funny thing about weightlifting is most of what we know is really just based on bro science. It's just okay. Well, what did Arnold do to be Arnold? And then what did this guy do? And so then I grew up in the 90s buying the muscle and fitness and the Flex magazines and all that stuff and making wider.

[00:55:36.010] – Allan
I guess that's how they pronounce it, making him very rich, buying his stuff and then buying supplements that were all in these books and trying any of the workouts that were in there as well. And those magazines are still on the shelves and they're still selling. And so you open them up and it's the same workout. It's just a different bodybuilder. These guys followed the science. They really dove into this. They come on the heels of some pretty cool people. I had Dr. Mcguff on the podcast.

[00:56:04.750] – Allan
It was one of my first interviews, one of my really early interviews, episode 43. Now, I promise, if you listen to it, I don't sound the same. I've learned a lot about podcasting in that time, but it's a really good book, Body by Science, and it was kind of he wrote that with John Little, and when you read through that, it's like then you start realizing, okay, there's a whole bunch of science that's coming out about resistance training. That's not just bro science. It's actual people in lab coats, testing mostly College students, but still testing people and figuring some things out.

[00:56:40.990] – Allan
That was back in 2016 and then jumped forward a few years. And I had John Little on the show with his next book that he came out with, which was the Time Savers workout. And again, the concept was the same as if you use enough intensity and the exercises, you don't have to necessarily change the number of sets, the number of reps, or even the amount of weight to get a more intense workout, you're changing something else. That's a big part of the whole process, the volume.

[00:57:10.270] – Allan
And that is time under tension, or as these guys like to say, at time under load. And it really does make a difference. And it's typically not something when I'm training anybody that I work with tempo until they've been lifting for a good long time. But the way these guys structured it. So we're talking about Philip and Andrei in their book Deep Fitness and all of these books, all of them the way they structure it is in making sure that it's accessible to everybody. It's not just an intermediate or advanced lifting technique that you throw in there to get the muscle to grow even more.

[00:57:47.830] – Allan
It becomes a standard of the way you work.

[00:57:51.670] – Rachel
That's neat. And I think one of the things that they mentioned, too, about being mindful while you're lifting and not distracted by music or chit chat or anything like that. But if you're really paying attention to the muscle that you're trying to work with, you'll feel it if you're thinking about it and focusing on it. And I had mentioned not too long ago, I had read an article about standing with my bag against the wall and trying to do a bicep curl. And in doing that, you remove all of the momentum.

[00:58:23.290] – Rachel
You remove any of the cheating, and I lift pretty light. I lift a ten or 15 pound weight for a bicep curl. But when I stood with my back against the wall, there was no cheating, and I could barely get that ten pound weight lifted. It was so different. But what I realized was that I was really relying solely on the bicep to lift that weight and no helper muscles were involved. It's totally different. So I can imagine that if you're really mindful in the moves that you're doing, you would get a bigger impact because you're really using that primary weight and muscle and not the helper muscles around it.

[00:59:04.690] – Allan
Yes, there's the two concepts. One is the helper muscles, and it's really hard, particularly if you're standing up and you're trying to do any kind of movement. It's really hard not to shift your body weight and do something that's going to incorporate another muscle when your brain feels like the muscle you're using isn't going to be strong enough to do the work. And so anytime someone comes into the gym, it's interesting because they get really excited. We'll do the first day and they'll do some weights and we'll say, okay, this is about how strong you are and they'll do the first workout, and it's so hard.

[00:59:40.150] – Allan
And by two weeks, they've increased their lifting by 20, 30, 40, 100 percent. They're lifting twice as much weight as they were on their first workout just two, three weeks later.

[00:59:52.220] – Rachel
That's awesome.

[00:59:53.770] – Allan
Well, it is.

[00:59:54.490] – Allan
It's huge, impressive. And they're like, oh, my gosh, if this keeps happening, I'm going to be able to lift a truck. And I'm like, that's not going to happen, because what's happened in that time is your brain actually learned to talk to your muscle. If you sit on your butt all day, your brain turns off, it's not having to talk to your butt muscles at all. And so if you don't do squats, right, it's not talking to the butt at all. And so when you slow down and you start doing exercises the way you're supposed to do them, the brain is like, oh, who's that guy?

[01:00:29.590] – Allan
And literally, they start having a conversation. And then once they figure it out, it's like, oh, so we need to fire these muscle fibers to make this happen. And then when it gets smart at that, you can just keep adding weight. And then there's a point where it's like, okay, we fired almost all the muscle fibers we're talking to now. Now we've got to incorporate even more. And or we've got to make these muscles stronger and bigger because the stimulus is more than we can handle.

[01:00:57.190] – Allan
Which is another thing about their program is you are going to take this to a failure, a momentary failure, meaning that muscle can't do the work anymore because your brain has incorporated every muscle fiber it knows, and they are all firing. And that's all you can lift at that point in time. And then you effectively fail. And then your body goes back and say, okay, give me nutrients, give me rest. I've got to be stronger next time. And that's where real strength starts to happen. Because now your body is saying, I have to adapt.

[01:01:30.490] – Allan
You given it everything, the stimulus and everything it needs to adapt. And by doing it in this controlled manner, there's no way for you to change the momentum of it. And there's no way to not fire those muscles. So your brain has to stay focused on that muscle. And it's one of the things people will go do their training, like someone go for a run, they'll turn on their music to make the run easier. People will listen to certain music, what's your playlist in the gym to make the exercise easier.

[01:02:04.090] – Philip
And the reality of it is sometimes easier just means that you're not getting as strong as you can. If you're more mindful about the muscles that are supposed to be firing and you're firing those muscles maximally as much as you can, you're then creating this huge stimulus that's going to benefit you in the end. And the other thing I I think really like about this process is like I said in the past, I would probably not schedule this for anybody. That's not an intermediate level, but the way they're looking at it and it makes a ton of sense is okay so if I'm going to do three sets of ten of squats, that's 30 squats.

[01:02:49.630] – Allan
Or if I do their method and let's just say, I'm going to do 10 seconds down. I mean, 10 seconds up and 10 seconds down, and I'm only going to get five, and then I fail.

[01:03:04.510] – Allan
Okay. I just worked for roughly 100 minutes, 100 seconds. That's not even two minutes. And my leg workouts over my leg press is over. So I'm only doing five reps and not doing 10, I mean got 30. So that's my knee. And if you're worried about your knee, that worry goes away.

[01:03:34.090] – Rachel
Well, that's the interesting thing, too, is that instead of doing a slow motion like I learned from NASM to do a count of four and then pull it back up for a count of three or four or something. To me, that's slow. But to them, they're talking like 30 seconds in a movie or something. I can't imagine lowering, for example, the bicep curl again, lowering the curl down for a count of 30 seconds, and then trying to bring it back up for 30 seconds, I would be done.

[01:04:07.030] – Allan
Well, a lot of people want to do pull ups. They'll come to me as a trainer and say, what are some things you want to do? I've always wanted to do a pull up. I get that a lot. And I'll tell you how I would typically train someone for pull ups. We would start out with either a Lat machine or we would do some resistance bands or some form of assisted pull up. And then over time, you take away the assist and they can get stronger. But there's another way to do it once they start getting to the point where they're almost able to do it.

[01:04:39.010] – Allan
And that's where we would incorporate negatives. Okay.

[01:04:41.470] – Allan
Now, as you may recall from the episodes we've talked about, a negative basically means you're doing the eccentric portion of the pull of the movement. So in this case, I would get them up on a bench or a ladder. And I'd say, okay, I want you to put your chest against the bar, and then we remove the ladder, and I'm like, slowly lower yourself down. And when you get to the bottom and put the ladder or the bench back under you and say, okay, go back up there, put your chest against the bar, and I pull that ladder away.

[01:05:12.790] – Allan
Normally, a person would lower themselves. And at first, if they last 5 seconds, that's phenomenal. Once I know that they can take, like, 10 seconds to come down, that person can do a pull up.

[01:05:25.150] – Rachel

[01:05:25.750] – Allan
Okay. So if you wanted to get really strong pull ups, the way Philip would do this is he would climb up and then he would lower himself, and he would try to make that lowering portion last 30 seconds.

[01:05:39.610] – Rachel
That's incredible.

[01:05:40.870] – Allan
Okay. And then he would try to pull himself up really slow. Now, can someone do that? 30 seconds? 30 seconds? Maybe. Maybe not. But I can tell you, if you can do that, you're going to be doing pull ups like a piston. You won't have any problem at all doing any pull ups that you want to do. So maybe you start with the lat pull down machine and you have someone feed it down to you to your chest, and then you just slowly over the course of 30 seconds try to bring that bar up.

[01:06:13.090] – Allan
Let it go up. Don't let go of it and let it go slowly up over 30 seconds. And then if you need help getting it back down, then let someone help you get it back down and then go again. And that will be giving you a lot of what we're talking about here in that you are putting time under tension or time under load on that muscle, and it's very intense. So this is something you would do probably no more than twice a week, and you're going to feel DOMS.

[01:06:44.650] – Allan
Just get ready. You are. There's just no way that you can start this type of program and not have some level of DOMS. But with everything, this is something about when they talk about mindfulness, it's just something to realize that we are helping ourselves get stronger. And if you're paying attention to the muscles and the muscles are hurting, that's just feedback. That's just feedback. You got to let that go and then get stronger and come back.

[01:07:14.650] – Allan
Well, it looks like something happened to Rachel's connectivity and she fell off the call.

[01:07:19.930] – Allan
So I guess with that, I will call it a show. So I'll talk to you next week. Bye.


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