Microsoft Research: The Calorie Myth & 6 Reasons Calorie Counting is Crazy with Jonathan Bailor


Rich: Welcome to the Microsoft Visiting Speaker Series. My name is Rich Stoakley. It’s my pleasure to introduce Jonathan today. As a visiting speaker Jonathan came all the way from Building No. 4, so he is actually at Microsoft. He works at ASG in Office.

Jonathan is a bestselling author; he has been featured on many of the most popular national television shows; he writes his own blog and podcast and has been featured on many top blogs as well and he writes on the subject of nutrition and exercise.

Anybody here ever read a book on health, nutrition, diet, exercise? Okay a few. So many of those books I think you’ll find are based on theories or a very small set of interesting research or research that they think supports their point. When I stumbled on Jonathan’s first book, the thing that struck me was it was 20% bibliography by weight. That really resonated with me. As I found anything I questioned or didn’t understand, I could immediately go to find out exactly what the supporting literature was.

Now as we look at Jonathan’s new book, I think you’ll see that that looks at some of the even more recent literature and really lays out a nice improved blueprint for how we can all establish and maintain fantastic health. While his books I know have had and will continue to have a positive impact on people’s lives, knowing that he is a full time Program Manager and a full time author and speaker, I’m looking forward to his book on time management…because that’s…unbelievable. Please join me in welcoming Jonathan Bailor.

JONATHAN: Thank you very much, I appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you for that lovely introduction and thank you everyone for making a lifelong dream come true. I never actually thought this day would come where I would get the opportunity to speak in the context of being an author to a group such as this. So thank you very much. This is a moment I will remember for a very long time, so thank you for making it possible.

In today’s talk, I’m not going to regurgitate what’s in the book. I’m going to go a little bit off track and hopefully provide a little bit of entertainment and also some science to complement what’s in the book. But before I get into any of that, I wanted to give you guys a little bit of background on this journey and what it’s meant to me and what it’s meant to those in my life.

I started out life with two very, very academic parents. Both of my parents are college professors and I have a much, much older brother who was very athletic. This matters because when I was a child I was very scrawny and geeky and I continue to be geeky and this is what led me to a passion for working in an engineering position at Microsoft.

Growing up with a very academic household and with a much older, athletic brother who I wanted to emulate and being naturally thin led me down a path, a path of looking at the mainstream wisdom around eating and exercise, going to gyms, reading muscle magazines, reading popular literature, in fact going so far as to become a personal trainer. The way I paid my way through college was by being a trainer at Bally Total Fitness in Columbus, Ohio. I experienced something very unique in that time period of my life.

As I mentioned, I was a naturally thin person. We sometimes lose sight of the fact that there are millions of naturally thin people in the world. We probably know and resent them because they just eat whatever they want and they don’t gain any weight. I experienced this first hand when I was training because I was consuming literally 6,000 calories per day. Actually I have Excel spreadsheets that tracked this. I would do double shots of olive oil with every meal in an effort to gain weight. This was during and before college, so I was between like 18 and 22 at the time.

The vast majority of my clients were not like me. They were females generally over the age of 35 who would come to me literally in tears saying, “Jonathan, I swear to God I’m doing what you’re telling me.” And I told them this, “Eat 1200 calories per day (this was before all of this), eat 1200 calories per day and exercise obsessively. And they’re doing it! I’m watching them do it. I’m helping them create the food logs enabling them to do it.

They didn’t get smaller and I wasn’t getting bigger. And look, we’re all Homo sapiens, we’re all people, we’re all the same species, so how is it that we can react so differently and no one’s really asked that question before? No one’s ever said, “What is it about a naturally think person that makes them naturally thin? And why aren’t I like that?

This becomes kind of an emotional issue for me because I am a naturally thin person and I remember and I regret thinking that people who struggled with their weight were somehow…it was a character flaw, right, that somehow I was doing something they weren’t. And looking back on it I wasn’t! I was eating 6,000 calories per day and not exercising as much as my clients, yet I couldn’t gain weight and they couldn’t lose weight. Sadly that’s the way our culture has been looking at weight issues for the past 40 years, as a character flaw and as a moral issue.

The reason that matters so much is because once we resign ourselves to “obesity is just a matter of gluttony and sloth and you just need to eat fewer calories,” we stop asking questions and we stop trying to solve the problem. The solution is we just need to try harder and we all just need to work harder and eat less and exercise more. We all just need to count calories more precisely.

And we know that doesn’t work from our own personal experience, and what blew my mind… I’m having this experience, I’m eating 6,000 calories a day, and my clients are eating 1200 calories per day. I’m not getting bigger, they’re not getting smaller, and we’re both just getting sick and sad. I retired from being a trainer because my goal was to help people. I wasn’t helping them; I was actively hurting them and I couldn’t even help myself. So I stopped doing that, but my passion to try to figure out a way to change the human body and the human mind through eating and exercise didn’t go away.

This is when the geeky, academic side came out because I said, “Well where else can I get my information? I’m already an expert, supposedly — personal trainer, people pay me thousands of dollars to give them advice which is not working and, in fact, is making them worse. So I said well where do I get my information from?

I started talking to my parents who are again professors and they said, have you ever looked at the primary research? Have you ever used an academic journal maybe, or looked at these — not physicians, ironically, an M. D. a general practitioner.

My mother teaches English Literature. She’s a professor. If I said, “Mom, teach me Calculus,” just because she’s a professor doesn’t mean she would be an effective Calculus teacher. Right? So just because someone’s an MD — most MDs… There’s no nutrition education requirement to get an MD, zero, none.

That doesn’t mean that MDs don’t know what they’re talking about, it just means there are entire other areas of research like endocrinology and endocrinologists, people that study your hormones; gastroenterologists, people that study your gut and the role that gut bacteria plays on your health; neurobiologists, probably the most influential field when it comes to weight regulation, people who study your brain and how your brain regulates everything else about your body, so might it have a role in your weight? Absolutely. But no one’s looked at those areas.

We have literally been told the– Think about this for a second. Could you imagine if in any other area of our lives, we used the same technology we used 50 years ago? Think about the way computers worked 50 years ago. They were the size of this room. We don’t use the same phones we used five minutes ago let alone 50 years ago, but we literally are using the same eating and exercise information we were given 50 years ago, in the face of the worst obesity and diabetes epidemic in history, so it’s not as though it’s working so well that we can just stop. Right?

The economic burden of just Type Two Diabetes — not obesity — just Type Two Diabetes in this country is $50 billion greater than the economic burden of tobacco in all forms. So it’s not as if this theory of just “try harder to overcome your character flaw” from 50 years ago is working.

This is what I started to see when I dug into the primary research and started to get my information from people who spend their lives in lab coats rather than people who spend their lives wearing spandex or on talk shows. It changed my life because I couldn’t find support for what I was taught as a trainer. It didn’t exist.

The first three years of my research were spent trying to confirm what I believed and I couldn’t do it. It was literally impossible. In fact there has never been a study ever, ever that has counted or looked at calories consumed and burned and weight loss and confirmed the calorie math that we’ve all been taught.

Every study that has ever looked at intake and expenditure and then the change in weight has disproven this calorie math we hear. It’s like if you eat one fewer almonds per day, you’ll lose 20 pounds in 20 years because it’s as simple as calorie math. That has been proven false in every single study that has ever looked at it.

The challenge though is that it’s this model of eat less, exercise more is intuitive. This is why in addition to this moralistic idea of obesity as just a character problem, which is false — it’s a disease and we can talk about that more later — in addition to that, the reason this eat less, exercise more mythology despite being disproven in every study that’s ever looked at it lives on is because it’s intuitive. But just being intuitive doesn’t make something right.

Look out the window. It looks like the earth is flat, doesn’t it? It really is intuitive that the earth is flat, and if it wasn’t flat wouldn’t the people on the bottom fall off? Right? But being intuitive doesn’t make something right. Once we start to understand science and scientific laws such as the law of gravity, we can start to understand how the earth doesn’t have to be flat.

Once we understanding biological laws, for example that the body doesn’t work like math, it doesn’t work like Algebra, it works like Biology, then using algebraic models to understand a biological organism makes about as much sense as thinking that the earth is flat.

Anyway, that’s my personal note and it’s– I want to mention that because I’m not going to get too tactical on what I want you to do today. The book covers that in detail. What I want to give you are the seeds that I believe once you plant them in your mind, how you look at eating and exercise will be forever different because that’s the impact it’s had on me and I believe that’s why the book has been successful.

What causes you to question these things that have been shoved down our throats as gospel for 40 years which literally have no basis in science? Their basis is in false appeals to authority, false appeals to intuition, and frankly scientific laziness. So I want to confront and bust some of those myths and help plant those seeds for you today.

First of all, imagine someone who’s struggling with their allergies. They breathe and it makes their eyes water. Imagine telling that person to the solution to treating their allergies is to breathe less. Well it’s true, your eyes will stop watering if you stop breathing. That’s absolutely true! It’s true. And if you stop eating, I guarantee you you will lose weight — if you just completely stop eating.

That doesn’t mean it’s a healthy or helpful approach. Right? Just because something works… We need to question what “works” means. No one has a hard time losing weight; we’ve all lost weight. The issue is maintaining a healthy weight and energy levels and sex drive and mental acuity and happiness simultaneously. So will going on a 1000 calorie diet, injecting yourself with whatever — I don’t want to get anyone in trouble — and spending spending two hours a day exercising, make the number on the scale go down?

Yes, it will and if you can keep that up for the rest of your life, will you maintain that weight loss? Yes, you will. Should anybody have to do that? I would argue no. Science confirms that and when we start to look at this problem like a quality issue rather than a quantity issue, allergies are not caused by the quantity of air you are taking in.

Reducing the quantity of air you’re taking in will make the symptoms of your allergies go away, but they don’t cure the fact that you have allergies. Now imagine breathing in a different quality of air, air that maybe doesn’t have pollen in it. Then you can breathe as much as you want and your eyes will stop watering.

So we have to start looking at this as a quality problem — that’s what we’ll talk about more today — rather than a quantity issue. Telling someone to eat less, just eat less is like telling someone to breathe less. You cannot be hungry for your entire life. If you leave this talk with nothing else, you cannot have a happy life if you’re hungry.

You can’t, so any weight low approach that is predicated on you being hungry either has to fail because you will stop doing it, or it will fail because it will compromise the quality of your life. If you’re doing this to improve the quality of your life, why would you do that to yourself?

Once we understand that just simply taking the diet that has made us either diabetic or struggling with our weight or having an autoimmune disease, and just eating less of it…? Once we acknowledge that cannot be a viable option, then the only thing we have left to do is to change what we are eating rather than how much we’re eating.

This isn’t to say that calories don’t exist or that calories don’t matter. It’s only to say that you can’t have to count calories, and that in fact the body is designed or evolved — depending on your belief system — to count calories for you. That’s what we’ll talk about today.

So I want you to break free from this. I want you to start to question everything you’ve been told for the past 40 years because I promise you and as you’ll see in the book it’s not rooted in science, it’s rooted in theories and Puritanical morality.

I’ll give you four examples. Before I do that I will talk about this slide. It’s important to note that really — I don’t care whether it’s a diet or a lifestyle, vegetarianism, Mediterranean, kosher, halal, paleo and a lot of these seem very different… (Is paleo the opposite of vegetarianism?) But what’s interesting about all of these lifestyles that have somewhat withstood the test of time — there are hundreds and hundreds of diets but really these are the ones that kind of bubble to the surface — why? Because people are often able to achieve great results with them and to stick with them.

What do all of these have in common? They don’t count calories! They don’t tell you to eat less! They tell you to change what you’re eating! They are quality-based approaches rather than quantity-based approaches, and that’s literally 15 years of my life. Here it is, summarized.

It’s about the quality of what you eat and that will take care of the quantity of what you eat. It’s not that quantity doesn’t matter; it’s that it’s impossible to over eat the proper quality of food. You can’t do it, as evidenced by the cast that before anyone knew what a calorie was let alone count them, we had sub 3% rates of obesity.

Think about that for a second. Ah, the answer is just… Actually the nutrition labels just today got updated. The calorie count is now gigantic! So now we’re going to solve the obesity epidemic because people have a better understanding of the number of calories their consuming. You can do calorie math more precisely now. How could that possibly solve a problem when no one even knew what a calorie was prior to the problem existing? This has gotten so confused.

Again, calories what? No one knew what a calorie was let alone count them prior to the obesity epidemic, so we can’t be forced to count them to solve the obesity epidemic. Now this does not mean that calories don’t count. Calories do count. They doesn’t mean you have to count them; let me explain.

If you drink 10,000 calories of melted butter per day every day for a year, even though that won’t release any insulin that we hear so much about, you will gain fat, a lot of fat. But nobody does that and nobody will do that. Okay? So calories do count but you can’t have to count them.

Another way to think about this. If you had to consciously count calories — let’s just say for a second you have to consciously have to count calories — 1) That assumes that your body is really, really stupid by default, that it can’t manage it’s energy balance on its own, which is odd considering that most of us if we’re not diabetic don’t think about our blood sugar at all.

Our body is just somehow able to regulate our blood sugar within this very narrow range automatically. It’s not magic, it’s homeostasis. That’s how our body works. And isn’t it amazing that if you drink more water, you don’t have to think about it, you just go to the bathroom more. That’s just how the body works. Right?

We all learned back in high school biology class this term called homeostasis, which is that the body — and living organism — seeks to maintain balance, that life exists within a very narrow range. Our brain, specifically our hypothalamus, does that for us with our blood pressure, our blood sugar, and also our body composition. The actual cause of obesity is the dysfunction of this system. It’s not a dysfunction of your character, it’s a dysfunction of the system.

Think of obesity like diabetes because we all know that blood sugar is homeostatically regulated. This means that if your blood sugar goes up — you don’t have to think about it — your body does stuff to bring it back up, and if it goes down — you don’t have to think about it — your body does stuff to bring it back up.

The fact that blood sugar is automatically regulated doesn’t mean that system can’t break down. One out of every four Americans actually have that system broken down or in the process of breaking down by being diabetic or being pre diabetic.

Diabetes is the breakdown of the auto regulation of blood sugar. When that system breaks down, guess what you have to start doing? Consciously monitoring blood sugar because the system that’s supposed to do it for you is broken. But again, injecting yourself with insulin will never solve diabetes. It’s taking over the breakdown of the system and doing manually that which should be done automatically if we could cure these disease.

Obesity works the same way. Obesity is a disease that takes place in the brain, your hormones and your gut which breaks down your body’s automatic ability to regulate energy balance for you. Now one way to treat the symptoms of that disease is to take over that process manually, but that’s not sustainable nor enjoyable.

Wouldn’t it be more productive to heal the brain inflammation or to heal the gastrointestinal dysregulation or the hormonal dysregulation that underlies the breakdown of the system itself rather than trying to take over what should be automatic and regulated by the system itself?

Think about it a little bit like a clogged sink. What causes a sink to overflow? It’s not a lot of water. It’s a clog in the sink and a clog in the sink, even if you’ve got one little drip of water coming in, will eventually cause the water level to overflow. It’s because the sink has lost its ability to balance itself out. You could just say the answer to your clogged, overflowing sink is to never wash your hands again. Just stop. Just have less water in.

But it doesn’t solve the problem. You could sit at the sink with a teaspoon, throw on your spandex, put on some techno music and just bail water out with a teaspoon for two hours a day and you’ll sweat and it will feel like you’re doing something and the water level will go down, but the clog is still there. The system itself is still broken.

That’s again why food quality matters so much. By manipulating the quality of what we eat, we will heal that system and we will reregulate our body’s ability to balance calories for us.

Another thing to think about. If we needed to consciously count calories, how does any other species on the planet avoid obesity, because they can’t even conceptualize what a calorie is? Yet somehow, left to their own devices, they don’t become overweight. In fact, in university settings when they try to study obesity, they usually use rodent models, so rats or mice.

Up until about 50 years ago, they couldn’t make rats and mice obese. We talk about many of these studies in the book where they would literally pump excess calories into the stomachs of rodents and the rodents would respond by being more active automatically or down-regulating the food they eat. Somehow, miraculously though, because we all know we have this thing called the hypothalamus in our brain which balances out automatically.

They could not make animals become fat until they discovered what they call affectionately in research circles, the cafeteria diet, which is they started feeding rats and mice what we eat today. Effortlessly, the rats and the mice became obese and this isn’t limited to rats and mice.

You’ve probably heard of grass-fed beef versus grain-fed beef. The reason cattle are fed corn and grain is to fatten them up because, left to their own devices, a cow eating an unlimited amount of grass — that’s all it does, it just eats all day long — cannot, does not become overweight. It’s only when they change the quality of what the animal is consuming that weight becomes a problem.

One other point I forgot to make on the first slide but it’s interesting none the less. We talked about animals; think also about this idea that you need to consciously regulate stuff. If that premise were true, so let’s say it’s true, you do need to consciously count calories, you must consciously count calories, that can’t just apply to calories.

What about Vitamin C? Why don’t you have to consciously monitor the amount of Vitamin C you take in and the amount of Vitamin C you urinate out? Or like phosphorous and riboflavin and thiamin and zinc and the 2,000 variants of Vitamin D?

If you needed to consciously monitor these things, wouldn’t you need to consciously monitor everything that’s essential for life? What about the essential amino acids? Of course that can’t be true because we wouldn’t be able to do anything else in our lives. That’s why our brain has sections of it designed to handle these things for us, assuming they aren’t broken through the improper quality of foods.

Everything else… Oh, this was the point about vitamins and minerals. So everything else doesn’t require conscious regulation, so why would energy balance? All right. Point four, Bodily function. I have alluded to this already. Seriously, think about every other thing in your body, everything else — your heart rate, your breathing rate, hydration levels, sleep, body temperature, blood pressure, all of them balance themselves out!

That doesn’t mean you can’t get hypertension. The fact that your blood pressure, your body tries to regulate it, doesn’t mean that system can’t break down but you don’t get hypertension by eating too many calories. You get hypertension from the quality of food you’re eating. I’m just… We have to free ourselves from this calorie mythology because, if we’re aiming at eating fewer calories, we’re just aiming at the wrong target and, in fact, we’ll artificially deprive ourselves of the essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fatty acids that we need to heal the system itself.

Maybe most importantly — but this is a little bit pedantic and geeky so I generally don’t play it up too much — it’s impossible to count calories. It really is impossible to count calories. Counting calories in cannot be done. Let’s imagine that you tried to actually count every calorie you consume. Okay?

The way you would do this most efficiently and most effectively is you would only eat food that has the now bold and big font letter CALORIE COUNTS on them. Okay? So you would only eat those things because you need a precise calorie count. Even those nutrition facts labels — studies have been done — they’re, at most, 90% accurate; so there’s a 10% margin of error. So assume a 10% margin of error even in the best case, the most ridiculous scenario that no person would ever do.

The average person consumes about a million calories per year. Okay? A 10% margin of error means you could, even in this ridiculous hypothetical situation, overeat 100,000 calories per year. But we don’t see people gaining 30 pounds of fat per year consistently, which is what overeating 100,000 calories should do.

In fact, if you look at the data from our country, we are eating more calories than we ever have. In fact, in 2006 there was a study published at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill that showed that from — actually the study itself wasn’t from 2006, but — it showed that from the mid ‘70s when we as a country were relatively weight stable to 2006, the average per capita consumption of calories increased by about 570 calories per person. So the researchers stopped and said, “There you go; there’s the cause of obesity. Right? We’re over-consuming calories. Case done, closed.”

Wait a second. If, in 2006 the average American is consuming 570 more calories than they should be consuming (or when we were weight stable in the 1970s), then between 2006 and 2014 if we are actually eating 570 more calories per person per day than we need to remain weight stable, you can just do the math. 570 additional calories per day times 365 days in a year times 8 years equals enough calories to say that the average American should have gained 476 pounds of body fat since 2006.

Since the ‘70s, the average American has gained 20 pounds of body fat, and since the 1970s we’ve consumed enough excess calories to gain about 1100 pounds of body fat. How do you explain the fact that the average American has only gained 20 pounds of fat in the face of consuming enough calories to gain 1100 pounds of fat? Could it be that their body is trying it’s damnedest to regulate the weight but it’s just being overwhelmed?

The answer is yes. Every single study that has ever looked at over-consumption of calories has shown that one thing happens consistently all the time in every single person if they’re overfed. Their metabolism speeds up. And you know what happens if you consistently underfeed people? Their metabolism slows down.

Can there be any debate that the body is trying to balance itself out? When you eat more, you burn more; when you eat less, you burn less, automatically. That’s the body trying to balance itself out. So calculating calories in is impossible and the math just doesn’t add up. Calculating calories out is even more ridiculous.

So I’m really really sorry for anyone who this Christmas season got one of those calorie counter bands because it’s all good. To be very clear, we should be active; we should exercise; it’s incredibly good for us. But chronic low-intensity exercise has been shown repeatedly — even the New York Times has reported this, it’s known in the mainstream — doesn’t really help with the weight regulation too much because if you burn more… Think about it like this.

You go for a jog, you sweat more. What does that make you want to do? Drink more. You go for a jog, you burn more. What does that make you want to do? Eat more. Yep, the body’s trying to balance itself out. You’ve got to change the system itself, not starve the system.

Anyway, trying to calculate calories out… About 70% of the calories you burn throughout the course of the day has nothing to do with physical movement, nothing at all. None, zero, zip! And in fact, the type of foods you eat can drastically change calories out. In fact, there has been some fascinating research by the University of Illinois by a gentleman by the name of Dr. Donald [?sp?]-Lehman.

(This is going to get really geeky for a second, but oh well.) So imagine, if you consume protein at about 30 gram doses, you take an amino acid called Leucine and you elevate it to a certain level in your bloodstream. This goes through a pathway in your brain, it’s called the mTOR pathway which triggers this process known as muscle protein synthesis.

When you eat a certain quantity and quality of protein, it takes a certain amino acid up to a certain level in your bloodstream which goes through a certain pathway in your brain to trigger this metabolic process called muscle protein synthesis. What that is is your body rebuilding itself. Every day, if fueled properly, your body can regenerate about 250 grams of you, literally rebuilding itself.

If you do that — so if you eat — researchers are estimating these 30 gram doses of protein, getting this amino acid up to the certain level three times per day, you will trigger this muscle protein synthesis. That process burns between 500 and 700 calories per day. Think about it like a growing child. The reason children can eat and eat and eat and eat and eat? They’re growing!

We can be growing, too. We don’t have to just be slowly dying. We can grow as well, but that growth process burns 700 calories per day. You would have to jog for three and a half hours to burn 700 calories. So simply manipulating your diet can cause you to burn more or less calories than you ever would, unless you’re Lance Armstrong, through exercise.

Nothing you wear on your wrist will ever tell you how many calories you’re burning through muscle protein synthesis, at least not yet. Or how much your liver is burning per day, which is about 500 to 600 calories. So again, just free yourself from this calorie counting mythology. It literally is like thinking the earth is flat. You shouldn’t beat yourself up about it because it is extremely intuitive and it’s what we’ve all been told, but it’s wrong.

It’s intuitive but it’s wrong. And again, this isn’t to say that starvation won’t make you lose weight; it will. But that doesn’t mean you should do it. Cutting off your left leg will cause you to lose between 30 and 80 pounds in an instant, and you will keep it off for the rest of your life! Permanent weight loss! But that doesn’t mean it’s a healthy or sustainable approach. Right?

That’s the question here. We need to revisit our goals. Our goal is healthy, sustainable, enjoyable, fat loss not weight loss and robust health and robust energy.

All right, so just how ineffective is this calorie counting mythology? There was a three year study done in the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders, and I like this study because there’s a fairly large sample size and a very diverse group of people. This study showed that less than one in twenty people were specifically 4.6% of individuals are able to have success through this traditional calorie-counting methodology.

It doesn’t mean it can’t work; it just means it works very infrequently. Now to put into perspective how infrequently it works, the American Cancer Society preformed a study on the long term success rates of quitting smoking cold turkey and maintaining that habit of not smoking. (That didn’t come out right, but okay.) The results of this study were shocking, and they were especially shocking because tobacco is the third most addictive substance in the world trailing only heroine and cocaine. And if you’re up on the most modern research, sugar is going to come up on that list pretty quickly because rodent studies are repeatedly now showing that sugar is more addictive in rodent models than cocaine.

So sugar’s going to come on this list here pretty soon — but I digress. So for now, tobacco was the third most addictive substance in the world. So the third most addictive substance in the world — what is the long term success rate of individuals who try to quit it cold turkey, no help, no nicotine patches, no gum, no support group, just stop, no more cigarettes? 5.5%, which is low but it’s not as low as the success rate of just trying to eat less.

Actually think about this for a second. Say we have a person, Tom. Tom has 100 pounds of excess fat on his body, say 120 pounds of excess fat on his body. And let’s assume that a pound of fat — we’ve heard this 3500 calories in a pound of fat, let’s assume that that’s true — so that means Tom has about a half a million calories in his body, it’s just waiting, “I’m already here, I’m your calories, half a million.”

Yet Tom still gets hungry. Tom’s brain still says to Tom, “Tom you need to eat some more calories.” It’s not because Tom is lacking will power. How is a brain, that is drowning in calories that are already in the body, demanding more? We start to see this again as a medical problem, a scientific problem that we can investigate. These questions just become undeniable and they cause us to revisit these models which can’t possibly be true.

But of course the question is then, “What about these things?” What about we see this all on television, the newest one where the girl is like — this is being recorded so I can’t say what I really believe but yeah. So we see this a lot.

The reason this happens and the reason we all have friends and maybe us as individuals said, “You know, I count calories and I exercise a lot and that works for me.” First of all, if it does, that’s awesome. It works for 4.6% of the population and if you’re one of those 4.6%, that’s awesome. You’ve achieved your success and I’m absolutely delighted for you, and I’m not saying that sarcastically. If this works for you, please continue.

What I am explaining is that the other 95% of us shouldn’t lose hope. There’s an alternate approach. So how do we explain things like this? It’s the law of large numbers. It’s very simple. At any point in time in this country, there are about 100 million people trying to count calories. You take a number that big and you have a 4.6% success rate; you’re still going to get about 5 million people per year who are like “You need to eat less and you need to exercise more because you’re lazy and you’re a glutton.” But that’s false.

That’s false. It works for them; that doesn’t mean it will work for everyone, so don’t let the law of large numbers fool you. Also don’t think that this is too good to be true because it’s actually not and it’s actually the model that has been supported in science. This other model simply hasn’t.

One of my favorite studies because it literally pitted this smarter approach of focusing on the quality of what you’re eating, specifically eating foods that provide you the most of what you do need — vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids and essential fatty acids, those are the things that are essential for like.

Things that are not essential for life are things like sugar and starch and Trans fats. Those are not essential for life. So all we’re talking about here is focusing on the foods that provide you with the most of that, which is essential for life and the least of which — that is, nonessential for life — and not worrying about calories. It’s just focus on essential nutrients and let calories balance themselves out as they have for the entirety of human history up until the current three generation and as they do for every other species on the planet.

So take this approach. You have the traditional group that just said “Work harder.” They ate about a 60% carb, 15% protein and 25% diet which is about comparable to what most Americans eat. Then they did this traditional low-quality exercise. We don’t have time to talk about exercise today, but again, exercise is much like eating, is about quality not quantity and it’s about hormonal healing not burning calories. I talk a lot more about it in the book.

But they took the old approach to exercise, where exercise is just another way to starve yourself. It’s just about reducing calories. So they exercise for 40 minutes a day, 6 days per week. So healthy — and this was clean, like keen nua oats, all the sexy carbs nowadays — and then they exercised 40 minutes a day, 6 days per week.

The Smarter group ate a bit of a more balanced diet focused on getting their carbohydrates more from fruits and vegetables, more protein and actually a little bit less fat, and they exercised significantly less, about 40% less. At the end of the study, this harder group ate less, and they exercised for nearly 20 hours more than the Smarter group. So they ate less and they exercised more.

Here’s what the studies showed. The eat more-exercise less but smarter group lost over 100% more body fat, they gained lean muscle which is one of the single strongest predictors of mortality, meaning that as your muscle wastes away, it’s a condition known as sarcopenia. It’s like osteoporosis for your bones. That correlates with early mortality, much more strongly than excess body weight does. So we do not want to burn off our muscle tissue. These individuals gained muscle while the individuals who starved themselves lost muscle, as we would expect.

Specific to belly fat, individuals who ate more and exercised less but smarter — doesn’t mean they’re pounding back butter, it just means they’re focused on food quality and exercise quality rather than focusing on quantity — shrunk their bellies by about 100% more. And in fact they lowered their LDL cholesterol by more than 100%. Cholesterol is another whole topic. The point is they still lowered the LDL cholesterol more than 100% than individuals doing what we’ve all been taught and what I was taught as a trainer.

So not getting too deep into the “how to do this,” and what I’ve been alluding to by manipulating food quality, but I just want to scratch the surface and encourage you to dig deep in the book and also we have a syndicated radio show which is totally free that you can find on iTunes and Stitcher and on YouTube.

The quality of the food that you eat is determined by four things. This isn’t the Jonathan scale of quality. These are the four factors that have been studied rigorously in clinical settings, not observations but in clinical settings. There’s a big difference in observing a population and being in a controlled environment.

The four factors are:

Satiety, how quickly a calorie fills you up and how long it keeps you full. For example there’s a potato chip that tells us that once we pop, we can’t stop! It’s telling you “When you eat these calories, they will make you hungrier. Right? Lite beer is “You give me money and I will give you calories that don’t fill you up.” That’s what lite beer is marketed as. So lite beer and Pringles have low satiety. Whole foods found directly in nature, such as vegetables, fish, meat, nuts, seeds, low-sugar fruits have higher satiety.

Aggression, this is likely how calories are to be stored as body fat based on how quickly they’re released into our bloodstream and the hormonal response they cause. 500 calorie slowly trickling into your bloodstream that doesn’t jack up your insulin levels will be treated much differently by your body than 500 calories that dump straight into your bloodstream.

Nutrition. This is the one we’re most familiar with but we have to think about nutrition from a quality perspective, or how many essential vitamins and minerals, amino acids and fatty acids we get relative we get to nonsense such as sugar. The best example of this is juice. Yeah, let’s use juice. Juice has more vitamins and minerals in it than soda does. It does, absolutely; but it also has 30 grams of sugar per serving. Actually an 8-oz. glass of grape juice has 50% more sugar in it than an 8-oz. glass of Coca Cola. So yes, it has more vitamins and minerals, but taking a vitamin pill and dropping it in that 8-oz. glass of Coca Cola doesn’t make the Coca Cola nutritious because we can’t just look at the good stuff that food provides. We also have to look at the bad stuff.

This is also why, if I were to come to you and, say you see me eating a donut and you’re like, “Jesus, Jonathan, I thought you were about nutrition. You’re eating a donut. What’s going on?” And I say “Oh I’m getting [?sp?]-me fixes.” And you say, “I got you, I got you.” And then you see me eating ten donuts and I’m like, “Well I’m getting ten times the nutrition if I eat ten donuts. Right?” No! Because we all intuitively know you’re getting ten times as much garbage as well. So you have to look at the good relative to the bad, not just the good.

Finally, efficiency. This is the one that’s least well known in the mainstream and this has to do with how easily our body can store calories as fat. For example, fat — when you eat fat — can be stored as fat quite easily by our body. That doesn’t mean it makes you fat; in fact, one of the biggest myths in the world other than that you have to count calories is that eating fat makes you fat. Eating natural fat doesn’t make you fat, it makes you full, but we can talk about that later.

Protein for example is not a source of energy for your body. Carbohydrate and fat are the primary sources of energy for your body. Protein is a structural component. Because of that, protein calories can’t really be stored as fat very efficiently, not to spend too much time on it, but if you do eat a lot of protein and you have excess protein — more than you need to trigger muscle protein synthesis or repair tissue, things like that — you eat protein, it goes into your stomach, it leaves your stomach as amino acids.

If you have more amino acids than you need, it will go into your liver. There’s a process called gluconeogenesis — gluco (glucose) neo (new) genesis (creation) aka the creation of new glucose. It will take amino acids with the glucose which is blood sugar. If you then have more glucose in your bloodstream than you need, then your body has to do this other process that takes glucose and turns it into triglyceride aka body fat. Every single one of those processes burns a hell of a lot of calories because it’s chemical reaction and it takes energy to perform chemical reactions.

So eating protein, for example, even if you were able to eat 300 calories of protein and you didn’t need it, the most protein that could be stored as body fat in a 300 calorie dose of protein is about 100 calories because the other 200 would be burned off turning it into body fat. It’s like metabolic alchemy and it’s a very inefficient process.

This is why studies which isocalorically increase protein, aka take a group of people, feed them 2,000 calories, take another group of people, feed them 2,000 calories, give these people 30% of their calories from protein and give these people 15% of these calories from protein, the group that eats more protein will consistently burn more body fat. Why? Because they’re burning more calories simply through these metabolic processes. Anyway, that doesn’t mean you should eat 100% protein; it just explains why diets higher in protein work so well, one of the reasons.

Now to simplify this, you want to eat satisfying, unaggressive, nutritious and inefficient calories because you don’t need to remember. All you need to remember is water, fiber, protein because sane, healthy foods are high in water, fiber and protein. Water, fiber, protein. Water, fiber, protein.

Unhealthy foods, low quality foods are dry, low in fiber and low in protein. So think way more of these foods that provide us with what’s essential, way less of what’s nonessential, and those foods are in order of volume. If you do nothing else — I’m not saying you should stop exercising, continue to exercise, but literally, just for 21 days just try this. Willing suspension of disbelief, just try this:

Eat way way more non starchy vegetables, way more. I’m talking double digit servings per day. Try to find a way breakfast, lunch and dinner get three servings of vegetables at each meal. That will get you to nine and then eat a snack; that will get you ten. And we describe how to do that very efficiently, cost effectively in the book.

And when I say non starchy vegetables, I mean vegetables you could eat raw. You don’t have to eat them raw. In fact, I would encourage you not to eat them raw initially because you’ll find them disgusting and then you’ll stop doing it. I would encourage you to sauté them in healthy fats such as coconut oil or even a bacon grease. Generally speaking you want to cook in saturated fats because they don’t oxidize under heat — we can talk about that later. But don’t feel like you need to eat vegetables raw.

Focus on green, leafy vegetables; sauté them in a delicious, healthy fat, and put them on half of your plate. And of course you can eat raw vegetables. Raw vegetables are fabulous for you, I just don’t want that to deter you from eating vegetables in general. But again, vegetables that could be eaten raw. Potato can’t be eaten raw; corn can’t be eaten raw. Those aren’t vegetables; they’re starches. Way more non starchy vegetables.

So that’s have of your plate, conceptually. That’s the vast majority of the volume of food you’re putting into your body, the vast majority should be nonstarchy vegetables, especially green, leafy vegetables. And you get bonus points for things like kale, for things like chard, for things like Bok Choy, spinach, romaine, Brussels sprouts. Deep green, leafy vegetables are literally therapeutic; they unclog your sink, they cure your allergies, to tie back all the crazy analogies I’ve given in this presentation so far.

Next on your plate and next in terms of volume should be nutrient-dense protein. These are foods that get the majority of their calories from protein. That’s a really important point, the majority of their calories from protein. An egg is a very healthy food, but it gets 64% of its calories from fat and 35% from protein. It’s a good source of fat; it’s not a good source of protein. Nuts get about 80% of their calories from fat. If you want to get 30 grams of protein from nuts, you’re going to over eat because they are not a good source of protein. They are a good source of fat.

So when I say nutrient-dense protein, I mean foods that provide you the majority of their calories from protein, contain minimal toxins and contain a bunch of essential vitamins and minerals. These are primarily — I know we’ve got vegetarians in the audience so we can talk about this afterwards — but just primarily these are found in seafood of any form, ideally wild cod and humanely raised animals — so grass fed beef, free range chickens.

Generally eating sick animals will cause you to become sick as well, so it’s better to eat humanely raised non sick animals. So eat a lot of seafood, eat a lot more seafood and focus on eating nutrient-dense proteins such as animals that were raised humanely.

More whole food fats. Right now chances are, if you’re like most Americans, you’re getting the vast majority of your calories from starch or sugar and it’s not that carbs are bad. It’s just that carbs are like fats and proteins. There are high-quality sources and there are low quality sources. I want you to focus on high quality sources and that’s why the primary focus of this way of living is non starchy vegetables, which are carbohydrate, just the highest quality sources.

But if you’re not eating all the sugar and starch, where are you getting your energy from? You’re getting your energy from whole food fats. These are foods that get most of their calories from fat and are found directly in nature, such as eggs, nuts and seeds. Some of my favorite and some of the best for you are things like macadamia nuts, cocoa, coconut, chia seeds, flax seeds, fatty fish, eggs, olives and avocados. They’re fabulous for you.

And in fact, by eating more fat rather than making you fat will help condition your body to burn stored fat. Here’s the very quick version of how this works. You hear people talk about this on the Internet like “being fat-adapted.” Here’s what this really means, very quickly because we’re running short on time — right now chances are if you’re eating 50+% of your calories from carbohydrate, your body sugar adapted meaning it likes to run on sugar. You’re giving it mostly sugar, so it’s used to burning sugar.

You can’t really store sugar in your body. You have a teeny tiny bit stored in your muscles, called glycogen, but it’s not a lot and it’s used for like burst training and emergencies. It’s like kindling; it’s not your savings, it’s not what fuels you throughout the day. So you can’t store energy as sugar. So let’s say you eat a lot of sugar and your body is used to burning sugar, it wants to burn sugar, you eat a bunch of sugar for breakfast like most Americans do and then your body burns through that sugar and it’s hungry.

You eat breakfast at 7 a.m., it’s hungry at 9 a.m.… Why is it hungry? Why is it hungry two hours later, especially if you have some excess fat on your body? It’s hungry because you feed it sugar; it’s used to burning sugar, it wants to burn sugar. What’s stored on your body? Not sugar!

So by eating sugar you’re training your body to eat sugar which makes you want to eat sugar because the only way your body can eat sugar is if you eat sugar. For example if you eat mostly fat, most of your calories from fat, here’s what happens. You eat breakfast. Breakfast is egg based with a bunch of vegetables in it. You’re going to get the majority of your calories from fat, you’re going to get some wonderful protein as well. 9 o’clock comes around, your body has burned through those calories, what does it do? It says, “I need some more calories and I like to burn fat.”

There’s some fat over here. There’s some fat over here. Just because fat didn’t pass through your lips doesn’t mean it then can’t burn it off your hips. So ironically, while we’ve been told that eating fat makes us fat, eating fat in place of garbage carbohydrate enables your body to fuel itself using your stored fat.

And this is really, really transformational because what people then start to experience is when they start eating this way, they experience what the research community calls a spontaneous reduction of caloric intake, which just means they unconsciously get full on an appropriate number of calories. They’re not trying to eat less. They just spontaneously do because ironically they’re not eating less, they’re just supplementing the food that passes through their lips from the food that’s already stored on their hips because their body has regained its ability to burn its stored body fat.

So eat more whole food fats. That doesn’t mean more Spam; this doesn’t mean eat more canola oil. This means eat more whole food fats. This also doesn’t mean — this might ruffle some feathers– eat more coconut oil? Coconut oil manufacturers will tell you “take two tablespoons of coconut oil per day.” Coconut oil is a processed food. It doesn’t mean you can’t cook with it, but it means that I’d rather you eat coconut, or olives in place of olive oil. Eat the whole food.

Absolutely you can cook with oils, but focus on getting the vast majority of your calories from whole food fats. Finally more low-fructose fruits. This is going to make some people in the audience sad, but the fruits that mostly eat in this country, as one would expect based on the health and fitness outcomes we have in this country, are the very fruits that are highest in fructose and the lowest in vitamins and minerals, such as bananas — oh– grapes — oh, man — and apples.

What you really want to focus eating more of are berries and citrus fruits — blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, as well as oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruits. These are the fruits that maximize essential vitamins, minerals and amino acids and minimize sugars, especially things like fructose which cause all kinds of crazy neurological dysfunction in the brain when taken in excel.

So you do that in place of processed fats such as trans fats and seed oils, vegetable oil, Spam. And in place of sugar and starch. So you actually eat more because these water/fiber protein-rich foods are packed– The volume of spinach you would need to eat to consume 300 calories is huge. But I want you… You’ll know you’re doing this correctly when you eat between two and four pounds of food per day — which I know sounds silly, but if you actually look at our ancestral records, that’s what people ate back in the day. Because when you don’t have calories jammed down into these sugar, starch, trans fat bites of death. Then the food you’re eating is big and your shopping cart will be big and your refrigerator will be overflowing and your freezer will be overflowing, but your cupboards will be relatively sparse because foods high in water, fiber and protein often need to be refrigerated or frozen.

You’ll also find these on the perimeter of your grocery store rather than the middle of your grocery store. You’ll also find them in nature, which all of this science… It’s crazy because you look at all this science and it just gets back to… Doesn’t it kind of make sense to the things you find directly in nature are the things that we run best on, considering that they were the only things available to us when we evolved?

Or like even if you don’t believe in evolution, wouldn’t intelligent design dictate that it’s much more intelligent to design a creature that can live best off of things that are available to it rather than things that have only been available for the past 15 years? It just makes sense.

So things look like this, it’s delicious. We all do this. We’ve all eaten eggs for breakfast unless we’re vegetarians — we’ll talk about that later. We’ve all eaten eggs for breakfast and that’s what I would encourage, eggs with vegetables for breakfast, omelets, frittatas. You can make smoothies using things like chia seeds and flax seeds and cocoa and coconut. You can throw some green vegetables in the smoothie with some strawberries and some citrus and it’s yummy.

And for lunch, it’s just like what you’re already eating except you take the sandwich off the bread or you get the Thai food without putting it on top of rice and you eat all of the main dish except half of the main dish and half rice. And for dinner you can eat lasagna; just make it with egg plant noodles instead of regular noodles or use spaghetti squash instead of spaghetti. Just eat more of the non starchy vegetables and more of the chicken or steak rather than using things like rice and pasta and rolls as filler.

I have not ever met anyone who has left a restaurant and just been like, “Oh my God, that rice was so good!” Right? It’s used as filler. Don’t do that. We all work at Microsoft. We all have the means; we can do this. We can enjoy the most delicious, healthy, nutritious foods on the planet and it’s wonderful and if you just eat more of it you’ll be heathier as a result and it’s not about being perfect. This isn’t a diet.

This isn’t like “I have to do this all the time and if you fall off the wagon you’re done! It’s… No, no. Not at all. Think about your sink again. If you get a little bit of hair in your sink every once in a while, it doesn’t cause a clog. It’s the continuous just like ah, look at all the hair in the sink. That’s when it gets clogged. Right? So it’s okay if you want to have a birthday cake at birthdays. Yeah, it’s your birthday. That’s totally fine.

Eventually what you’ll find is that when you eat this way, which I call a sane lifestyle because it’s satisfying, unaggressive, nutritious and efficient, that it will make you feel and look so good that you’ll start to be like, “You know, I bet I could make that birthday cake with coconut flower and Xylitol and still have birthday cake and in fact I’m going to put some eggs in there and wow! That’s actually healthier for me than the dinner I used to eat. So I’m going to have birthday cake for dinner tonight.” And that would be okay!

It’s about making smart substitutions, not depriving yourself. The thing that’s so brilliant about this lifestyle in addition to never needing to count calories, never needing to be hungry, is there’s no flavor that’s off limits. Sweet, salty, bitter, fatty, they’re all possible. You just use smart sweeteners like Stevia and lo hun guo and Xylitol and erythritol, fat. We talked about you enjoy an abundance, bitterness — vegetables are pretty bitter but you’ll get used to it. It’s all right and you’re going to sauté them in butter, so it’s okay. Again sweet fruit is fine.

So you’ll get back to normal by getting back to normal. This seems like “Oh my God, this is crazy!” But again, this is how people ate prior to the obesity epidemic. The solution to ending the obesity epidemic is not to count calories. More precisely, as evidenced by the fact that no one knew what a calorie was lite alone count them prior to the obesity epidemic, the solution to the obesity epidemic is to stop doing the things that cause the obesity epidemic, which is eating non food, processed products.

Any culture anywhere in the world always, always when they shift from their traditional diet that kept them healthy and slim without knowing what a gym was or knowing what a calorie was, and they started eating Pop Tarts for breakfast, Lunchables for lunch and Microwave Pizza for dinner and they become sick and diabetic and it’s not because they’re eating more meat or this or that or the other thing.

It’s because they’re not eating food; they’re eating edible products. I don’t care how hard you count calories, eating edible products you will struggle until you shift from thinking about food quantity and calorie quantity to food quality. And it can’t be complex. It can’t. How could we have survived as a species this long if not dying was hard? Right? Like this can’t require these Hollywood secret pill, take this root of some sort. It cannot require that because no one had this problem prior to those things existing.

Anyway, hopefully that was helpful. There’s a lot more research in the book and, of course, if you check out a Calorie Myth book dot com there is a lot more discussion on the surface here and I hope that was helpful.

RICH: Do we have time for questions? How much time do we have for questions? 15 minutes? Okay. Sure. And do we have mics for the questions? No mic. Okay. Yeah and I’ll repeat the question. To be fair, do you guys mind lining up in the aisle and I’ll go in order because otherwise it’s hard for me to pick who’s first.

JONATHAN: Never mind, you can stay seated. I don’t… because if you burn more calories if you stand up. I’m just kidding. Okay. Go ahead, brother.

Q: What about dairy, milk, yogurt?

A: Yeah, the question is what about dairy? Dairy is much like other food groups. Dairy, you want to focus on sources of dairy. One, you need to evaluate whether you personally do well with dairy. Some people don’t have the enzyme lactase and if you don’t have lactase produced by your body, you’re not going to do well with dairy. So just test with yourself.

That said, there are sources of dairy that provide you more of like an essential amino acid such as a Greek yogurt or a cottage cheese as compared to a traditional yogurt that’s going to provide you with way more sugar. So if you are going to eat dairy, I would recommend focusing on dairy that provides you with the most protein and the least sugar, so things like Greek yogurt and cottage cheese. And then there are things like whey protein and casein protein supplements which are dairy based which a lot of people can do well with. Is that cool?

Q: Should take cleansing your body just like all start afresh?

A: The question is what do I think about cleanses? I think… I think if, popping up a level, anything you do that actually helps you is good, and anything you do that makes you feel worse is bad. I know that sounds stupid, but I get a lot of questions like, “What do you think about this?”

If you do a cleanse and it makes you feel great and it makes you want to then, after seven days, eat this way, I would say absolutely do it. If a cleanse makes you think “I can eat garbage 21 days out of a month and then for 7 days cleanse my body out,” that would be a bad approach to cleanses. If a cleanse is a kick-start to eating this way, yes. But you can’t cleanse forever, so I would just focus on what is the cleanse doing to help you achieve the longest term lifestyle change. And if it helps you achieve long term lifestyle change, then I recommend it. If it doesn’t or if it’s used as an excuse to eat processed starches and sweets and trans fats, then I would recommend against it.

Q: Those cleanses would be unnatural then? Is that what you’re implying?

A: There is not a lot of peer reviewed, scientific research that says that cleansing and then eating this way would yield dramatically better results than just eating this way. Make sense? Okay. So I don’t know.

Q: But what about this…the… What you’re saying makes a lot of sense to me, but what about the role of genetics. Like you see a family, I have this in my family. We’ve led really different lives but we look almost identical and with weight problems and other medical kind of problems.

A: Yes. So no. Thank you for bringing that up because it’s very important, very important. Research is actually quite clear in the area of genetics, that genetics are about 45% to 75% of your body composition. That’s relatively cutting edge. What is not as cutting edge and is more common sense in the medical community is that there are three basic body types, ectomorph which is generally taller and skinnier, mesomorph which is right in the middle and endomorph which is a little bit heavier.

Think about this like a football team. Even though you’re not big into American football, you can usually empathize with this analogy. There are those people that are very skinny and fast; they’re called wide receivers. Then there are people who go like this right before the play starts and they’re gigantic; those are called linemen.

If you look at a high school football team, they all eat basically the same and they all exercise the same, yet somehow there’s nothing this 300-lb. guy can do to make himself look like the sprinter over here. So about 45% to 75% of this is genetically predetermined. That doesn’t mean we can’t become the optimal version of ourselves. It just means that, for example, a lot of the people that we see in the media that have six-pack abs have a strong genetic predisposition to be able to visibly display their abs.

And just like no matter how hard I try, I cannot be 6’3”. I can’t. I can’t just try harder to be taller. That doesn’t mean I can’t nourish my body appropriately when I’m growing up so that my bones will grow as large as they can grow, but the key distinction here is that yes, there is a strong genetic component and we need to hold ourselves relative to ourselves.

So think back to when you were at your fittest. Usually it’s the end of high school or early college. Fortunately we are the generation that can remember this because today’s kids won’t even be able to remember this because they’re overweight under the age of five, which is a whole other thing. It’s just heartbreaking. Whatever.

Think about when you were your fittest. Try to get back to that and what you’ll actually find is you will get back to that without trying if you just eat this way, but don’t think about “How do I look like Joe Smith, extreme exercise DVD guy?” Don’t think about that.

Q: So I moved away from cooking and flavoring stuff with butter to olive oil. Which way would you recommend, if you were frying eggs with butter versus frying eggs with…?

A: Yeah, it depends on if you’re using it hot or cold. If you’re cooking, if you’re heating it, you should use healthy saturated fats — just butter, coconut oil, beef tallow, bacon drippings. The reason for this is those saturated fats are more stable under heat.

If you take something like an olive oil or a fat that’s liquid at room temperature and you heat it, what you essentially do is you turn it into a trans fat. So olive oil, which is healthy when you… It is… Olives are healthier but olive oil, which can be a healthy salad dressing for example, when heated, turns into a trans fat. So you don’t want to cook with olive oil. You want to cook with saturated fats and if you want to put dressing on a salad using an olive oil and a vinegar rather than trying to take coconut oil and rubbing it on the leaves is probably a fine approach. Pretty cool?

Q: How many times do people come back to you and say, “Jonathan, I’ve done everything you’ve said to do in your book and it doesn’t work for me”?

A: You would be the first.

Q: That’s like that’s my problem. I’m just asking if…

A: Well what I’ve experienced most often is people will say, “Jonathan, I’ve done everything you’re saying and it hasn’t worked,” and I say to them, “How many servings of vegetables have you eaten today?” And they’ll say two or zero, because what most people find is that eating more protein is easy, it’s delicious; and eating more fat is easy; but until someone can take a week and consume 12 to 15 servings of non starchy vegetables at least 6 of which are green — for a week, consistently…

That’s not an easy thing to do when you first get started. It’s like trying to become a vegetarian. It’s not easy to begin with, but if you can do that, I have never had someone come up to me that actually eats double digit servings of non starchy vegetables, protein in 30 gram doses about 3 times a day — 3 to 5 — and whole food fats and occasionally low-fructose fruits in place of these other things and doesn’t achieve the results we’re describing here.

Q: I just wondered if that happened or not.

A: Yes. Does that answer your question?

Q: Back to when you were talking about protein being transformed into glucose. Is it possible to eat more than that 30 gram serving and have your body, even though you’re eating a lot of protein, still run off of that sugar that’s getting transformed–?

A: Yes. The question is — and I did not repeat your question. Sorry. The last question was, “Has anyone ever done this and it hasn’t worked?”

The question here is “Essentially can you cause your blood sugar to go up? Can you get weight gain by over eating protein?” The answer is yes. It’s very hard to do though. It’s very hard to do.

The only way to really do it would be through protein supplementation because, for example, if you were to try to do this with even the most concentrated sources of protein like a can of tuna fish. It’s one of the most concentrated sources of protein in the world; it’s like 91% protein. You would have to eat three cans of tuna in one sitting to eat enough protein to go through gluconeogenesis to actually have an impact on your blood sugar.

If you were diabetic and you’re looking at your blood sugar, it is important to note — this is getting really geeky but — that different sources of protein have different levels of an [?sp?]-insulemic response. So dairy protein — especially things like whey — has a huge insulin response. This is why bodybuilders use it a lot or athletes use it a lot, because insulin isn’t bad. In fact if you don’t have enough insulin, you die. It’s called Type One Diabetes.

Insulin isn’t bad; it’s excess insulin that’s bad. So dairy forms of protein generally have a higher [?sp?]-insulemic response. Overeating protein is very very difficult especially if you’re eating vegetables, but it can be done.

Q: I’m a distance runner by avocation and obviously since I burn more, I need to eat more, but do I need to re-balance to that 44-8-20 or just keep the 44-8-20 and just eat more of it?

A: I would, especially for an endurance athlete, say two things. I would recommend reading the book, The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance by Jeff Volek and Steve Phinney. They’re doing some very cutting-edge research at Duke University Medical Center and other places, which is to… Traditionally endurance athletes have been told to take glucose packets and carve up… Remember, you can only store about 1800 calories of glucose on your body. Exactly. Whereas you can store lots of fat on your body. Right?

So if you really want to be an ultra-endurance athlete, I would highly, highly recommend going out of your way to consume more concentrated sources of healthy fat such as Macadamia nuts, cocoa and coconut. And the great news is, if you’re going on a long run, you can put a 1,000 calories of Macadamia nuts in your pocket very easily. So does that help?

I’m sorry, the question was “I’m an endurance athlete. What do I do?” And that was my answer.

Q: I listen to your broadcasts so I know that you have lots of friends in the paleo community. They respect you, you respect them. But their eating recommendations aren’t exactly the same on things like raw spinach and raw kale, peanuts, whey concentrates and like even eggs. So what are your food choices and recommendations and how do we make the sense of these very complementary approaches, like lifestyle choices?

A: So the question is basically how does what I’m saying jive or not jive with a paleo-type lifestyle? Is that fair? And so another way to think of the question is a paleo lifestyle is guided by a principle. The principle is “By eating the way our ancestors ate, you will be healthy.” That is the underlying principle of the paleo lifestyle and it is by and large true.

The principle that underlies what I’m recommending is “Eat foods that provide you with the most of that which is essential and the least of which is nonessential and that will maximize your health.”

Those two circles overlap immensely but there are some exceptions. The paleo diet is predicated on helping people to heal autoimmune diseases whereas this lifestyle is not — that happens but it’s not the goal. It was not designed to do that. The biggest outlier, the biggest difference you’ll see between the two lifestyles is a paleo lifestyle will say it is okay to eat certain forms of starch as long as they’re found in nature as well as sweeteners such as honey because they’re found in nature.

Now the paleo to me, if you want to just pick a diet, the paleo diet is the diet I would recommend without question, without question. That said, the barometer that if our ancestors ate it or if it’s found in nature that we can stop there is an inadequate bar because tobacco is found directly in nature, sugar cane is found directly in nature. There are a lot of things… Snake venom is found directly in nature.

So what I like to do is say, okay start with the baseline of the default hypothesis is if it exists in nature, cool, like check. Now is it satisfying? Is it unaggressive? Is it nutritious? Is it inefficient? Aka is it higher in water, fiber, and protein than some other options I could be eating? If the answer is yes, then I think it’s a good choice.

And of course there’s this other track here where it’s not found directly in nature but it still is sane. This is just kind of a jargon. I’m speaking of paleo effects in a few weeks so again, all respect to the paleo community, completely but we didn’t have blogs back in the day. But paleo people blog all the time. So just because it’s modern also doesn’t mean it’s bad.

And the real hard-core paleo folks like Rob Wolf, Chris Kresser, they all say basically the same thing. Chris is like dairy works for some people. His whole book is about those customizations. Does that answer your question? Kind of?

Q: Kind of. No, I just want more specific like peanuts, are they good for you? I like… Or okay, do I keep my raw spinach casein smoothie or waive smoothie in the morning? Is it going to spike my blood sugar and cause me…? I don’t know, like hypothyroid problems or something you know because they’ve got very specific–

A: Yeah, I think… I believe the paleo diet is a therapeutic diet for people with autoimmune disorders. People spent a lot less time thinking about what they were eating and in fact, my great grandmother back in the time when we had sub 3% rates of obesity… They ate cookies, cakes, pies, dairy. They ate all that stuff and they had dramatically lower levels of disease than we do today.

So I personally believe it’s very easy to become what’s called Orthorexic, which is you start to spend so much time thinking about what you’re eating that the pursuit of health becomes unhealthy. So that’s why I really like non starchy vegetables, nutrient-dense protein, whole food fats, low fructose fruits, in that order, and you will be fine.

Q: Paleo diet, what protein sources do you recommend because they very often seem to be combined with carbohydrates?

A: Yes, great question. I’m glad we got to cover it. The question is for a vegetarian diet, where do I get my nutrient-dense protein sources from? A vegetarian diet can be a more challenging diet to eat this way. It doesn’t mean it’s impossible. What I would highly, highly, highly recommend is — and this is going to sound bad — but you’re almost going to have to write off getting your protein from what you’ve been told to get it from — beans, soy, rice, things like that.

Because soy is 70% carbohydrate by weight. Beans are 70% carbohydrate by weight. Nuts are 80% fat by weight. So if you try to get a 30 gram dose of protein from those sources, it’s literally… you can’t eat that much food. So what I would recommend for most vegetarians are a couple of things. Get pea, hemp or rice protein supplement, just straight out of the gate. I would also get an amino acid supplement. So that’s step one and that covers your protein.

Then with your meals, I would highly recommend shifting more vegetables, more fruits and more plant fats like nuts and seeds… Most of the healthy fats I mentioned were all plants and that can be the bulk of your calories rather than getting the bulk of your calories from soy, corn, wheat, a lot of the things that a lot of plant-based products are made out of that are some of the least nutritious foods and have now been so genetically modified and hybridized that they’re really really bad.

So in three steps… Number one, use hemp, pea or rice protein supplementation as well as amino acid supplement to take care of the protein requirements and then focus on getting the bulk of your calories from whole food plant fats rather than starches. Does that help? And I personally will stay around to answer more questions. It’s just that we can’t video tape them. Can I answer more questions?

Moderator: We want you to stay and sign books. And thank you.

Jonathan: Cool. Thank you so much. Thank you, everyone.

[End of transcription 01:17:51]

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