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Dr. Jonny Bowden is the author of Smart Fat: Eat More Fat. Lose More Weight. Get Healthy Now. He is a board certified nutritionist. He’s known as the nutrition myth buster. He’s a bestselling author of 13 different books.
I get a book a week doing this podcast. Every time I do an interview, I’m reading their book. But this is one of the few books – Smart Fat, we’re going to talk about today – that I actually purchased on my own just to read. I don’t do that very often because I do get a lot of guests on and I do a lot of reading. So for me to actually go out and purchase a book, you know it’s got to be good. So, This is going to be a great conversation.
Allan (1:21): Dr. Bowden, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Dr. Bowden (1:25): Thanks. It’s great to be here. Thank you.
Allan (1:27): Today we’re going to talk about your book, Smart Fat, and I’ll tell you, I don’t do this very often because I have a lot of reading to do, reading the books for the podcast. But your book was one of the few books that I actually went out and bought myself, well before I had you on the show. So I was really excited when Krista reached out to me and said, “Let’s get on the show.” And I’m like, “Yes, I definitely want this man on my show.”
Smart Fat was kind of my precursor to really understanding what was going on in my body. I had started eating Paleo as a way of managing my weight, and what ended up happening was I ended up in ketosis. And I was trying to figure out, “I’m in Ketosis, but my doctor is yelling at me about saturated fat and cholesterol in my food. I’m doing this for the right reasons, I think.” And then reading your book set me on a really good, smart course for making sure that I was getting smart fats in my diet. It really made me happy that I had that knowledge coming away from your book.
Dr. Bowden (2:28): Thank you. I’m glad that book accomplished something for some people. It wasn’t one of our bestsellers, but it really warms my heart when someone says, “I got something out of your book that made a difference in my life”, because that really is the reason we write.
Allan (2:41): I think that’s the point – initially you start out and you’re saying, “They are telling you to eat healthy fats, and exactly what does that mean?” And it’s all over the place. We’re going to talk about fats in a minute, the way you break them down, but one of the reasons that a lot of people will come to a personal trainer or they’ll see a book like yours and say, “I need to understand that” is all the conflicting information about metabolic syndrome.
They know that they’re insulin resistant, they know that they’re prediabetic, their doctor is telling them to eat a certain way and they’re reading all this stuff and it just gets confusing. Can you talk about metabolic syndrome? I was really shocked at some of the numbers. I think you said 50% of individuals over the age of 65 suffer from metabolic syndrome.
Dr. Bowden (3:26): Yeah, and it’s even worse than that. One third of everybody suffers from that, and most of them don’t know it. And that’s across adult age groups. Metabolic syndrome used to be called in the ‘80s and ‘90s… It was discovered by a guy at Stanford named Gerald Reaven, and he called it “Syndrome X”. They didn’t even have a name for it. They knew that there were a cluster of symptoms that tended to hang out together, and when you had three or four or five of these symptoms, you were known to have metabolic syndrome.
Your listeners will probably recognize this more than they do metabolic syndrome – it’s also known as prediabetes. So when your doctor says you have prediabetes, they’re talking about metabolic syndrome. And what that is is a cluster of five conditions – low HDL cholesterol, high triglycerides, abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, and some degree of insulin resistance; and we can talk about what that is as well. So your blood sugar is a little elevated, your insulin is elevated, you’ve got a little bit of high blood pressure, you’ve got some fat going on in the abdominal region, and your HDL cholesterol is low. That’s metabolic syndrome. Even if you had four of those five, it’s considered metabolic syndrome.
Why it is dangerous and important and serious – multitude of reasons. The first is, you’re not even going to feel symptoms. High blood pressure doesn’t have a symptom. Diabetes doesn’t have a physical symptom that you feel. In many cases this damage is being done and going on under the hood and you’re not aware of it. So, that’s one reason it’s dangerous, that you live blindly thinking, “I feel fine, nothing wrong.” The second reason it’s dangerous is it almost always progresses to diabetes, and then can progress to heart disease. Diabetics have – I don’t remember the exact number, but it’s a double digit increase in likelihood of getting heart disease. They’re very, very related. In fact, as we talk about all these things – obesity, diabetes, heart disease – we’re going to find time and time again that they all share certain characteristics in common, certain basic causal characteristics. One of them being a disorder of carbohydrate metabolism, which is almost always called insulin resistance, and we’ll certainly get into that.
So, metabolic syndrome needs to be taken seriously. I have said for a decade, I don’t give a you-know-what about somebody’s cholesterol reading, but I do care about their high blood pressure. High blood pressure is a real risk; high triglycerides are a risk in different and interesting ways; low HDL can be a risk; and abdominal fat is a big indicator of insulin resistance. We can talk more about what the definition of insulin resistance is, but for now I’ll just tell you this: If you want to do an insulin resistance test at home for free, it’s real easy. This is how you do it. This is the Jonny Bowden low tech version of an insulin resistance test. Stand in front of a wall, walk towards the wall. If your belly hits the wall before your nose, very likely you’ve got insulin resistance.
Allan (6:42): One of the funny things is when I’m working with a client, they’ll tell me, “I want to lose weight.” And I’m like, “I’d rather not measure weight on the scale. I’d rather we wrap a tape measure around your belly.” In my mind that is a better measurement of health and wellness than what the scale is going to tell you, particularly if we’re trying to also gain some muscle mass and do some other things.
Dr. Bowden (7:07): You’re absolutely right.
Allan (7:10): I know they hate that. They say it’s easier to step on the scale. And I’m like, “Easy doesn’t always win the game. Sometimes we’ve got to go a little bit further.”
Dr. Bowden (7:18): I totally agree with that. I use the scale as well, because it’s an added motivator, it’s very easy, and it’s still a piece of data that you want to know. I know what you’re thinking and what maybe some of the listeners are thinking. It doesn’t reflect body fat and you could be gaining body fat and losing muscle and your weight would be the same. All of that’s true. Nonetheless, someone like me who’s been monitoring my own body functions and weight and whatever else for 30 years – I’m pretty good at figuring out the correlation between weight and if I’m losing muscle or gaining body fat. So I use both. I check the waist measurements of course, but I also do a daily checking on the weight just to see if it’s moving in the right direction or if it’s staying still or what it’s doing.
Allan (8:01): You talked a little bit about insulin resistance, and now most doctors will track that and that point where they’re going to call you “prediabetic” is typically through looking at your A1C, which is a measure of blood sugar over a period of time. That number I believe is still 5.5 as the guideline?
Dr. Bowden (8:19): No, it’s a little higher. I think it’s 6.0 or 5.9, but we’re in the ballpark.
Allan (8:23): Okay. So, for someone that’s actually trying to look after their wellness, what are the health markers? You’ve mentioned a few of them, but what would you say if I was going into the doctor and I was going to get a blood test and talk to my doctor about things? What are the things that I should look for and say, “This is a clear signal that I have to change?”
Dr. Bowden (8:40): I’ll tell you what I would want to be tested, but I’ll also tell you that you may have an argument with your doctor about this, because if the doctor doesn’t know to do these tests and you’re telling them, the likelihood is they’re going to say, “You don’t need that. That’s just Internet stuff.” So if they’re not already giving you these tests, if they don’t already see the value of these tests, they are probably going to take that position that it doesn’t matter and it’s nothing and it’s all just nonsense. I have seen that happen with CRP tests – high sensitive, C-reactive protein, which is a general measure of inflammation that I think everybody should know what their CRP level is. And you’ll get doctors who say you don’t need that, and they’re just plain wrong. They just don’t stay up with the literature, they’re very stuck in their belief system and views. “Cholesterol causes heart disease, fat is bad, stop the saturated fat.” And it’s not going to change. So, it’s not as simple as going into my doctor and saying, “I think I’d like a Fasting Insulin test.” They’re going to say, “What do you need that for? Where did you read that?”
It’s not as simple as that, but let’s take the doctor out of the equation. Let’s assume you have someone who’s trained in functional medicine, which is a certification that MDs, NDs, PhDs and other people in the field will go and get after their graduate work, because it is an orientation to medicine that is not taught in medical school, and that is to look at the whole body as a whole.
So they look at all of it integrated. Most doctors do not do that. They’re all specialists. A thumb specialist looks at the thumb, a heart specialist looks at the heart, and nobody talks to each other. So, if you have one of those doctors, you’re going to have trouble. If you have a functional medicine certified doctor, they’re not going to argue with you about these tests; they probably will have given them to you anyway.
So I would look at the CRP test, I’d look at homocysteine. I would forget and burn forever and ever the stupid HDL, LDL cholesterol test, and I’d get the much more modern and much more informative Particle Test. Another one that your doctor will probably argue with you on, but the Particle Test – and we can get into that later – is the only one that really gives you valuable information about cholesterol that you can use.
I would also look at a marker called Lp(a), which is notoriously difficult to modify with lifestyle. It can be done, but it’s very hard, and that’s one of the reasons that’s not something we bother with, because they think you’re kind of stuck with your Lp(a) levels. But the fact is, Lp(a) is a better predictor of heart disease than anything else; certainly better than cholesterol. It’s a particular kind of lipoprotein; it’s not good to have that elevated.
Other than that, I would do some low tech tests that you can do yourself. And this is for everybody. This is really one of the best secrets in health. If you have a basic blood test, I don’t care how rudimentary it is, it’s going to have triglycerides on it and it’s going to have HDL and LDL. If you take your triglyceride reading and you make a ratio to your HDL reading – that number will predict your heart disease probably better than 90% of the markers out there.
Let me explain how to do it. So let’s say your triglycerides are 160. That’s elevated, that’s high. And let’s say your HDL cholesterol is 40. So the ratio is 160:40, or 4:1. It’s a very high ratio. If, on the other hand, your triglycerides were 100 and your HDL was 50, you’d have 100:50, which is 2:1, which is very good. That’s a little math test that’s very easy. You just divide the smaller number into the bigger number, you get a number, and that’s the ratio. You want that to be as low as possible. When it reaches up into the 4 and 5, it’s high risk. When it’s down into the 2 and 1, you’re in the smooth sailing. And that’s a test everybody can do at home.
Allan (12:56): I’m due for another test here soon, but the last time I had it tested, my triglycerides were 94 and my HDL was 89.
Dr. Bowden (13:06): One out of 300 times somebody will actually have a negative ratio. Not a negative ratio, but under one, like you do.
Allan (13:16): Really close to 1.
Dr. Bowden (13:17): Your triglycerides are so low. It’s a wonderful number – under 100. Fantastic. And your HDL is off the charts high. 89, holy moly, I’ve never…
Allan (13:27): Now, my LDL is really high; it’s typically running around 250.
Dr. Bowden (13:33): So your total is in the 3s.
Allan (13:35): Yes. So my doctor loses his mind and he’s like, “You’ve got to quit eating egg yolks and…”
Dr. Bowden (13:42): This is the point where I would change doctors, and let me tell you why. It’s a legitimate point of view. I have integrative doctors who I love and respect, who do still worry about very high LDL. That’s a legitimate point of view. Here’s where your doctor hasn’t read a research article in 10 years. Dietary cholesterol, such as the cholesterol in eggs, has zero effect on blood cholesterol. Everybody knows this. The USDA and their advisory committee actually put out the comment, “Cholesterol is no longer a nutrient of concern”, meaning dietary cholesterol does not matter. Let’s get that really clear to the audience, in case you’re confused. The cholesterol you eat in your diet – eggs, shrimp, all of it, means zero to your blood cholesterol. So, the fact that he said that… I don’t hate him based on the fact that he’s concerned about LDL – I think it’s a wrong position, but it’s a legitimate position.
Allan (14:44): I’m going to step in and defend him just a little bit. We really diverge and we have that conversation on a regular basis. I get your point, but he’s really, really good at understanding the homocysteine and CRP.
Dr. Bowden (15:04): I understand and I don’t mean to knock on your doctor, but let me explain something. This is not a controversial area, this is not something where there are multiple opinions. Dietary cholesterol doesn’t affect… Let me make this a very clear statement so that the people who said, “But what about this? What about this?” I can handle it. There is a condition that’s called “familial hypercholesterolemia” and it runs in families. It’s a genetic anomaly and it causes you to have extremely high cholesterol no matter what you do. You look at an egg, you get cholesterol. For people who have that – that’s maybe less than 1% of the population – let’s put them in a separate category. They need special medical attention; I don’t want to give them advice. But for the other 99% of people, cholesterol in the diet doesn’t matter, and the fact that your doctor thinks it does puzzles me and makes me think that he has not read an article in the last 10 years.
Allan (15:58): And like I said, we have some really good discussions, and I actually did an experiment.
Dr. Bowden (16:02): How about pointing that out to him?
Allan (16:03): I have. I did pescatarian for an entire four months with no eggs whatsoever. My HDL plummeted, my triglycerides went up, and my LDL moved a smidge, like from 250 to 230. I would have to drop this number down nearly 100 points to get anywhere close to what the numbers would be. Actually when you look at my ratios, like you said, my triglycerides to HDL, I was worse health-wise than I was before. So I went back to a different way of eating. That’s where I think a big part of what’s lost in this research – I’m hopeful that books like yours are going to get more people talking about this – is that people will sit there and tell you they know there are different types of carbs, they know there’s the trash carbs that come in a box. They’re going to tell you they know those are processed carbs. And then of course if you’re getting plant materials they’re going to say obviously that’s a better quality of carb. People will do that with me and they’ll be like, “This is not a grass-fed cow.” So people are starting to have those conversations. They’re having the same conversations about the different fats and which ones are good, particularly when they found out that one that was manufactured for us is actually killing us. I want more conversations about the quality of our food. When you start talking about fat with the smart fat, the neutral fat and the dumb fat, to me it’s like, we need that conversation all the way across the food spectrum. Could you take a little bit of time to talk about smart fat, neutral fat and dumb fat?
Dr. Bowden (17:37): I’d love to, and thank you for bringing that up because it is a very central notion. And it’s a notion that I actually came to after probably 20 years, and I’ve noticed that some of the people I most admire have come to the same conclusion, which is, we have spent decades worrying about the percentage of protein versus the percentage of carbs in the diet, versus the percentage of fat in the diet. We worry about all these things and in fact, the position I’ve come to and many other people are coming to is that the quality of your food probably matters more than whether it’s the right percentage of protein and fat and carbs, or whether it’s Paleo or whether it’s South Beach. The quality of food matters probably the most. I always say that if people would just eat from what I call the “Jonny Bowden four food groups”, which is food you could hunt, fish, gather or pluck, then many of our health problems would disappear. I don’t care if you’re on Paleo or vegan or raw foods or high carb. If it was all these foods that you could hunt, fish, gather or pluck, you’re probably going to be alright. That’s the general way that I look at it in terms of quality of the food. It is probably the most important variable in the diet, the quality of the food that you eat.
Allan (18:53): I agree. I even said that in my book that I’m currently working on. I said it’s sad that we have to use the term “whole food” at all. It’s sad that term actually exists.
Dr. Bowden (19:04): Let me give a shoutout for a friend of mine’s new book, which I have no financial interest in, but she sent it to me and it’s excellent. It’s called Formerly Known As Food. If you want to really read what’s happening to the food supply and the stuff you’re eating that you think is healthy, check that book out, Formally Known As Food. It’s pretty scary. But you’re 100% right, Allan, it is the quality. I know you want to talk at some point about the quality of meat, which is a subject near and dear to my heart, but let’s talk about the quality of fats, since that’s what Smart Fat, the book is about, and that’s what you brought up.
So, the problem with the notion of eating healthy fats is that not everybody agrees on what’s a healthy fat. I guarantee you your doctor has probably been dragged into the 21st century enough to know that there is such a thing as “healthy fat”, but he has no idea what it is. And I’m willing to make a bet on that one. When you talk to these conservatives about healthy fat, they grudgingly admit the fat in salmon is good. They have no concept that there could be a saturated fat that’s good for you – that’s completely off their radar. So, it’s not enough to just say, “Let’s eat healthy fats.” We’ve got to get into the weeds and define what that is, and that’s what we try to do in the book.
There are plenty of saturated fats that are fantastically healthy for you. Whether a fat is healthy or not has zero to do with whether it’s animal or vegetable. I want to make that very, very clear. That is not the marker for good and bad fat. In my opinion, the marker for good and bad fat has one and only one characteristic. Is it a toxic fat or is it not a toxic fat? Here’s what I mean by “toxic fats” – fats that have been heated and damaged, like the foods that have been fried in restaurant fat that is used over and over again for seven days. Cooled and heated, cooled and needed. It’s a carcinogen factory, so that’s bad fat. Trans fats – really bad fat. They contribute to heart disease, they contribute to stroke, they have no particular value. Very bad fat.
Vegetable oils, one of the things we have been hammered to eat more of, are highly pro-inflammatory and probably one of the main reasons that everyone is experiencing inflammation in unprecedented amounts. We eat 16 times more of that stuff than we do Omega-3s, which are anti-inflammatory. So, all of the soybean oils, canola oils, safflower oils, cottonseed oil – all of these things that we’ve been told are healthy and good for us are literally creating tons of inflammation. As you know, and probably your listeners know, inflammation promotes or causes or contributes to just about every degenerative disease we know of. So, the notion of bad fats and good fats being classified parallel to whether they come from animals or vegetables is just antiquated and it’s wrong.
Here are some examples of very, very healthy saturated fats. Coconut oil – loaded with antimicrobials, loaded with lauric acid, which is great for the immune system, loaded with medium chain triglycerides, which help produce ketones in the brain that are used for energy. Coconut oil is a fabulous fat. One that people don’t know about as much, which is equally, if not better, is Malaysian palm oil. And let me tell you why. First of all, it’s red. Why is it red? Because it’s got tons of carotenoids, which is the same thing as Beta-carotene. It’s carotenoid, there are 600 of them, they’re red so they come in red foods like peppers and watermelon. Well, it’s got tons of that. It has something called tocotrienols, which are a fraction of vitamin E. There are four of the vitamin E components, and those tocotrienols in Malaysian palm oil have been found to protect the brain after a stroke. And why do I say Malaysian?
I’ve just got to give a shoutout to the environment, because I do care about animal rights. A lot of places that make palm oil actually deforest, and the orangutan’s habitat is harmed. In Malaysia it doesn’t happen. Fifty percent of the country’s rainforest is protected forever, compared to, say, 3% of ours. It takes 10 times more land to produce canola oil or soybean oil than it does to produce Malaysian palm oil, and the trees grow for 30 years. So this is a country that really protects its rainforest, cares about the environment, cares about the health and wellbeing of the animals that live there. And that’s why I really give a shoutout to Malaysia. Palm oil in general is a healthy oil, but let’s get it from companies that are being responsible and sustainable. So that’s another wonderful path.
The other thing about saturated fats in general is they stand up to heat. What people don’t understand is you can’t buy your extra virgin olive oil and then come home and fry stuff in it. It’s insane. The reason we spend so much extra money for extra virgin olive oil is it’s never been touched by chemicals or high heat. That’s what extra virgin means. If you can imagine the old wineries, where they would have these big barrels of grapes and the old big men would stamp. They would use the pressure of their feet to stamp them and turn them into liquid. But it’s like that – there’s no chemical processing, there’s no high heat. So you come home, you put that oil in the frying pan – you’re now destroying the very polyphenols that you just paid all that money for. You have to understand standing up to heat is a very important characteristic for food, especially if you cook. Saturated fat stands up to heat; you can cook it at higher temperatures without harming it. So there are a lot of wonderful fats in the saturated fat community and there are a lot of really harming fats in the vegetable fat community, such as, for example, canola oil. We’ve got to get past this notion that good and bad fat divides along the lines of animal versus vegetable, because that just isn’t true.
Allan (25:16): That’s one of the things I really appreciate you had in the book, was a table that talks about the smoke point of these various oils, which tells you when you’re going to sit down to cook, which oil would be the most appropriate. So sometimes it can be avocado oil, or the palm oil, or coconut oil, and then you can use olive oil to drizzle, as a dressing, those types of things. I think that’s a really good guideline to help someone understand how to use oils properly. And if the oil can sit on your shelf for years and not change, probably not the best thing to put in your food.
Dr. Bowden (25:49): I couldn’t agree more. My co-author on Smart Fat, Dr. Steven Masley, took a year off of medical school to study at the Four Seasons. So he’s actually quite an accomplished chef and it was his contribution in there to put in these smoke points, because the oil changes quality, literally becomes a bad fat if you cook it at the wrong temperature. It literally creates damaging compounds. So, this is a very important consideration also when it comes to saturated fats – they stand up to heat, they don’t damage.
Allan (26:19): His recipes are excellent, by the way. I did the lemon butter sauce for the salmon, but my wife doesn’t like salmon, so we put it over asparagus last night. Awesome.
Dr. Bowden (26:29): Nice. I’ve done a lot of books that have recipes in them. We usually hire a cook or a chef or a recipe developer, and then we comment on it and all that. But we’re not cooks, we’re not chefs. Steve did his own recipes for that book.
Allan (26:43): Very, very good. You have to tell him that. Now, another area where I think people can get a little confused – it confused me a little bit in the early days – was, if we’re trying to cut back on our sugars, because sugar is a problem, then we’re going to look for foods with a lower glycemic index. Then there’s this term, “glycemic load”.
Dr. Bowden (27:05): I can clear that up for you in a second.
Allan (27:06): Okay, cool. Please do.
Dr. Bowden (27:09): Glycemic index is a measure that tells you how high your blood sugar goes for a given amount of carbohydrate, which is 50 grams. Here’s the problem. If I go to the supermarket and I see a spice, like imported saffron, and it’s $300 a pound – it tells me what it is for a pound, but if I’m making a recipe that needs a pinch of saffron, I’m not going to pay $300; I’m going to pay whatever that pinch is. Very different pieces of information. So with the glycemic index, it’s great that we know how much your blood sugar goes up and how long it stays up based on 50 grams of carbohydrate, but we don’t always eat 50 grams of carbohydrate. For example, we have pasta, even a relatively small portion of pasta, a reasonable portion – what they put on the Ronzoni box, which nobody eats; everybody eats the whole thing. But even if you ate a small portion, you’re at 200 grams of carbohydrate. On the other hand, if you eat a big bunch of carrots, only about 3 grams of that big bunch of carrots are actually usable carbs; the rest is fiber.
What the glycemic load does is it tells you what you’re going to pay at the register. Not how much it is per pound, but what you’re going to pay for the amount that you use. So glycemic load is glycemic index plus taking into account the portion size. That’s critical because again, if I’m going to eat pasta, I’m going to eat four times what the glycemic index shows me, but if I look at the glycemic load, that’s going to take into account that portion and it’s going to give me an idea of how high my blood sugar is going to go up with that amount of food. That’s why I think the glycemic load is far more accurate and far more predictive than the glycemic index, which is kind of a theoretical number. If you ate 50 grams, that’s what it would do. But what you’re actually going to eat – this is what it’s going to do, and that’s glycemic load.
Allan (29:16): I think that’s valuable, because we started the conversation talking about metabolic syndrome. If you are constantly spiking up your blood sugar, maybe you don’t think you are because this has a relatively moderate glycemic index, but the volume that you’re eating is much more than the 50 grams. I shudder to think, when I was training as a bodybuilder in my 20s, I would sit there and get a can of tuna and I would put it on this big, big heaping thing of pasta – pretty much the whole bag.
Dr. Bowden (29:49): That was the bodybuilder lunch. The guys, the trainers with tuna and white rice, or brown rice, at the time. That’s what everybody thought was the perfect bodybuilder diet.
Allan (30:03): And now looking back at it, if I’d known that information and what it was going to do to my future health, I would not have gone that route. I would’ve found a cleaner protein, cleaner way to do that. It would not have been exactly that way. I like having a better understanding of what food is going to do to our body, and glycemic load is going to do a much better presentation of how our body would respond.
Dr. Bowden (30:25): The only problem, Allan, is It’s a little harder to find. You can find glycemic index numbers all over the place, but not everybody knows about glycemic load, so sometimes glycemic index is all we have. But remember, glycemic index is a measure of how much 50 grams of carbohydrate will raise your blood sugar, eaten by itself. The minute you put olive oil in your cornflakes, the cornflakes no longer have the glycemic index that they had when they’re eaten by themselves. So, foods in combination have very different effects on blood sugar than foods eaten separately. For example, the brown rice might have a very high impact on your blood sugar if you ate it alone, but if you put some oil on it and eat it with tuna, the impact is considerably less.
Allan (31:08): Yes. You’re looking at in the book a much different way of eating, and you call it the 5-5-10. I like this because I’m a victim of this as well. We all like something simple. Simple helps us stay on track – calories in, calories out, step on the scale every morning, keep your fat low and this many grams, or however they want to go about this. But your plan basically says we need smart fats, we need clean proteins, and we need fiber, and here’s how you do it. Can you talk us through the 5-5-10 plan? I think we know now what smart fats look like. Talk about the clean proteins versus the mean proteins, and then fiber and why fiber is so important.
Dr. Bowden (31:57): Can I just point out that when you listed those three things that are essential in the diet, carbohydrate was not among them?
Allan (32:03): It’s not essential, yeah.
Dr. Bowden (32:04): Not essential. I always like to point that out to people.
Allan (32:07): Although I would say fiber technically classifies as a carb. It’s coming from carbs, but in a general sense, you’re right. Our bodies need the fiber to feel full and satiated, so that way where we’re not overeating and our body’s functioning the way it needs to, we’re giving her gut flora everything it needs. I agree – we don’t have an essential, but I think you still need to eat some plant matter. That’s why it’s 10 versus 5.
Dr. Bowden (32:36): I couldn’t agree more, but I think it’s important to remember because we’re constantly assaulted by that God awful American Dietetic Association, which changed its name to try to get away from its ridiculous roots. But they are still the American Dietetic Association as far as I’m concerned. They’re still apologists to the mainstream, they’ve never had an original thought, and they’re the ones that will keep going on and saying, “You’re going to lose essential nutrients if you don’t eat your cabs.” That is completely untrue. There is no physiological need for carbohydrates in the diet, in the human body, and that’s been shown time and time again. Now, that does not mean you shouldn’t eat them. As you said, we need the fiber, the polyphenols, the nutrients, the flavonoids, the vitamins, the minerals, all the things that are found in an apple. We need them; we want them. But what it does point out is that we’ve been given crazy dietary advice. We’ve been told to eat 60% of our calories from the one macronutrient we don’t even need. No wonder we’ve got an epidemic of diabesity. I wanted to point that out about the carbs.
Let’s go to the three essential things in the human diet – fat, protein and fiber. So the notion of five smart fats, I think we’re pretty clear on. We want to get things like Malaysian palm oil and coconut oil. By the way, the fat from grass-fed beef is wonderful. Nothing wrong with it. We’re going to get into the difference between grass-fed and not grass-fed in a minute, but there are lots of really healthy fats. I think we have some idea for sure, we talked about them. Five of those a day; 10 servings of fiber a day. That’s the 5-5-10. Ten is the fiber, which, as you point out, is essential for a number of things. One is to feel full, sure, but two is to moderate your blood sugar because when you add fiber to sugar, it has a very different effect on your blood sugar than when you just drink the sugar. Apple juice by itself has one particular effect on blood sugar, but if you were to add some kind of butter to it… I’m not suggesting this; doesn’t sound like it tastes good, but just theoretically if you were to add a thing of butter to your apple juice, it would have a different impact because the fat would slow it down, just like the fiber would. So, we need 5 things of fat, we need 10 of fiber, and we need 5 of what we call “clean protein”. And I would love to explain the difference between clean and mean protein, or what we call “clean and mean”.
Allan (35:03): Please do.
Dr. Bowden (35:05): So, when you buy meat, 95% of it – I don’t know what the figure is; it’s high 90s – comes from places that are known as CAFOs – confined animal feedlot operations, also known as factory farms. When I was a kid, we used to go to farms, different places for vacation as a child, and I know what real farms look like. Cows are grazing on their natural diet of grass. They walk around contentedly chewing their cuds or whatever it is that they chew there. And they’re getting a diet full of some insects and some worms, which contain Omega-3s, and they’re not given hormones or steroids or antibiotics. That’s what a cow’s life is supposed to be like. If you’re going to eat it, that would be the happy cow to eat. In a factory farm, the animals are caged in tiny containers, stressed out of their minds. They’re fed wheat, grain and corn, which does two things. One, it fattens them up and two, it makes him sick as hell, because they’re ruminants, they have four stomachs, they do not do well with grains. They need grass – that’s their natural diet. The grains and the corns and the wheats and all of that just makes them sick and requires more antibiotics. These cows are then shot full of steroids to make them bigger, hormones to make them grow and to make them have more fat, and antibiotics to just generally keep them from getting even sicker under these horrible conditions that they live under, and also because antibiotics fatten them. So the cows that you eat that come from factory farm operations are absolutely toxic waste dose. The fat contains all of the pesticides, fungicides and all the other stuff on the wheat that they shouldn’t be eating in the first place. You’re getting a nice helping of antibiotics, steroids and hormones, and you get none of the good Omega-3 fats, and lots of the inflammatory Omega-6 fats. That’s factory farmed meat. If that were the only protein available to me, I’d become a vegan, and I’m very far from the temperament of the vegan.
Let’s look at the other kind of meat – grass-fed, 100% grass-fed, pastured meat. These are cows or pigs that live in their natural habitat. They run around, they’re not confined, they eat the grass, the insects or whatever it is they run around and eat there in their natural ways. They’re not fed antibiotics or steroids or hormones. They’re not treated cruelly. Those animals are health foods. And yes, I understand the conflict people have about animals. We are huge animal rights people here. We love animals. Our animals sleep in our bed. We love them. We feel about them the way we do about our children. I understand the horrible conflict a lot of people have about eating these things that we love so much. The problem is that human physiology does better with some animal products in our diet. We just do. When I argue with vegans about this, I want to tear my hair out of my head because they just make up their own facts. The fact is you cannot get DHA and EPA, or you can get a tiny bit of it from some algae, but you can’t get significant amounts of DHA and EPA in the human diet unless you’re eating fish. Unlike the vegan propaganda, if you eat plant-based Omega-3s, they do not convert to the kind that your body needs. They convert at such a tiny rate than it doesn’t really even matter. I don’t believe we can have a healthy diet that contains all of the nutrients that we need from a vegan diet, so we’ve got this kind of conflict, especially if we’re animal lovers. Everyone I guess has to find their own level that they can live with themselves on. Ours is, we don’t eat anything that wasn’t 100% grass-fed and raised. There’s enough there for us to be able to eat meat from time to time. It’s not like we can never eat it. That’s our particular line, and everybody has to find their own. The fact is – I’ve never seen any evidence to the contrary of this – the human body does better with some animal food products in it. Sorry, vegans.
Allan (39:13): But at the same time you even acknowledged in the book a little bit, I think Dr. Masley is on the other side. Not on the other side entirely, but at least there’s a conversation there to say all of your protein doesn’t have to come from animals either. You can get those from beans, there’s some really good pea and rice protein powders, whey protein. Again, if the animals are ethically raised, I think that’s also a good opportunity.
Dr. Bowden (39:40): Yeah, I agree with all of that, except for the fact that when you really look at the ratings on protein… And there are five different kinds; they keep improving them. So it’s gone from biological availability to PDA. There are all kinds of different ways of evaluating protein, but if you look at the evaluations, particularly the current ones – pea protein, rice – they suck. You’re way down in the 60s and 70s, as opposed to beef, which is like 92. So it’s important to know that yes, there are other sources of protein, but sorry, vegans, pea protein is not the same as beef protein. It just isn’t. It doesn’t have the same amino acid profile. Soy protein has a whole bunch of different things. And I’m not saying you can’t get protein other than meat. There’s fish, there’s a million different sources – whey protein, powder. Sure, some of the vegan protein powders or the vegetarian protein powders could be used from time to time, but let’s keep in mind, let’s not kid ourselves that pea protein is in any way as valuable, as rich in amino acids, with the same profile, or as usable as, for example, whey protein which does come from cows and which can come from grass-fed cows, by the way.
Allan (40:53): Yes. And one of the other things you mention in the book that I thought was really valuable, and it plays into some of the recipes that are in there, is that some foods actually do double duty, so it might not mean that you’re having as much food as this might sound like – 5, 5 and 10 servings.
Dr. Bowden (41:12): Sure, exactly.
Allan (41:15): So we might have eggs. If they’re well cared for animals, we’re going to get a good, healthy, saturated fat from the egg and we’re going to get the protein from the egg, along with a good dose of choline, which is hard to get from many other sources. I think you also mention in the book avocados are good source of fat and fiber.
Dr. Bowden (41:35): Avocado – we put that on the cover of the book. The avocado is such a star. I eat them as many meals… You can’t get enough avocado. They are great.
Allan (41:47): It also helps with the recipes and the meal plans that are in there for the first 10 days and the final 20 days. And then of course day 31 and beyond, now that they’ve learned this pattern. It becomes very, very simple for you to just blend through and say, “Here are my meals during the day.” You break it into typically three meals and a snack in the afternoon. Just makes it really easy for someone to go through and say, “Here’s my standard days of eating, and I know I’m getting good nutrition because I’m focused more on quality.” But we’re still keeping it pretty simple with the 5-5-10.
Dr. Bowden (42:17): Yeah, and let me just put a foot note to the 5-5-10. At this point in my career, 28 years into it, I’m not really that much of a fan these days of formulas, including the ones I’ve written, like 5-5-10. Here’s why. I think eventually people have to be their own GPS when it comes to food. These are guidelines. I don’t want people sitting there obsessively with a notebook. No, that’s not the point. It’s kind of like the Fitbits with the steppers. We have that kind of general goal that 10,000 steps a day would be great. I don’t know too many people who go crazy like, “It’s only 8,000. Let me go walk a couple of thousand.” We don’t want obsessiveness to replace good sense when it comes to nutrition. So, 5-5-10 is like an aspirational goal. Let’s strive for that. That’s ideal, like 10,000 steps. But please, people, don’t go nuts trying to fit into a formula. These are guidelines meant to help you find your particular pathway that works.
Allan (43:15): I have to raise my hand and admit walking around my hotel room when I was just 300 steps short.
Dr. Bowden (43:21): I would do the same.
Allan (43:24): The number was there and I was 300 steps away. I just started walking around.
Dr. Bowden (43:28): Of course. But you get my point, right?
Allan (43:31): Yes. I do, absolutely. Dr. Bowden, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness. If someone wanted to get in touch with you to learn more about your books, including Smart Fat, where would you like for me to send them?
Dr. Bowden (43:43): JonnyBowden.com. And starting in September there will be a brand new website with free stuff and all kinds of stuff. You’re welcome to visit me there and sign up for my newsletter, and when the new site comes out in September, you’ll be very happy.
Allan (43:58): Cool. This is episode 338, so you can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/338 and I’ll make sure to have a link to Dr. Bowden’s site there. I can’t thank you enough, Dr. Bowden, for being a part of this podcast.
Dr. Bowden (44:13): It’s a pleasure, Allan. I loved it. Thank you so much. I hope you have me on again, it was a lot of fun. Went very fast.
Allan (44:23): I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Dr. Bowden as much as I did. I’m actually going to have him on again in a couple of more weeks. I’m really interested in getting into another book that he’s written. Very interesting topics, really interesting guy. If you enjoyed this episode though, please do leave us a rating and review. You can do that through the app that you’re listening to this podcast on, or you can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Review and leave a rating and review, subscribe to the podcast there. It really is important for these reviews to be out there. It helps people find the podcast and it does show people what you think of the podcast, which is just social proof that gets them listening. So, go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Review, or leave a review on the app you’re listening to right now.
I do have a couple of extra bonuses to talk to you about in October. I am going to release some extra episodes in October and probably November. I want to give two a week. I’m not sure if I can keep up with that pace, but it is a goal of mine to start adding a few extra episodes in as we get into October, November, because that’s an important time of the year for us to start focusing on our health. A lot of us will tend to overeat as we get into this last quarter of the year, so I want to have a little bit more out there for you to keep you a little bit more engaged, a little bit more accountable. So I’m going to be trying to release some extra episodes during the month of October. You’ll need to subscribe to make sure that you’re getting all of the episodes. If you just log in on Monday to look for this stuff, you might find that there’s extra episodes out there that you’ve got to catch up on. So, I encourage you to go ahead and subscribe so those things come straight to your app. You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Review, and that will lead you to the iTunes page. Again, you can leave a review and you can subscribe there. Or just subscribe on the app that you’re listening to right now.
Also, I want to announce October 1st, we’re going launch the Sugar Challenge again. I know some of you have already done this challenge. If you have, you know that it’s a really cool thing. It’s a 28-day challenge, it’s going to launch on October 1st. I’m going to be cutting off signups for that on the 30th of September, so you’re going to want to go out to sign up for it. It’s at 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Sugar. So go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Sugar, and that will help you sign up for the Sugar Challenge that we’re going to have in October.
And then finally, again, I do need you on the launch team, so if you would please go to WellnessRoadmapBook.com. I’m updating the website pretty much every week, so there’s new stuff out there, new changes as I build that out to support the launch of the book. And then of course when you’re there, please do join the launch team. Those are the folks that are in the know, those are the folks that are going to get some bonus material, bonus content that nobody else is going to get. It’s related to the book, but it really is a cool process and I want to have you on this team. So, go to WellnessRoadmapBook.com and join The Wellness Roadmap book launch team. Thank you.