Jonathan: Hey everyone Jonathan Bailor here with another bonus episode of the Smarter Science of Slim podcast where I try to bring to you all things Smarter Science of Slim related that are audio things or interviews or anything that I can deliver to you via this podcast. I want this to be your one stop shop for those things on the internet so here we go. This week, we’ve got an interview I did with Liz Summers on the Conversations Public Affairs radio program, some real good content. I hope you enjoy it and Carrie and I will be back with some fresh, new content just in a few days.
Liz: Welcome to the program, this is Conversations. Thanks so much for being along I’m your host Liz Summers, Conversation is a public affairs program of this station and we look at a wide range of issues that affect individuals, families, our community and the nation. On today’s program, America’s obesity epidemic, what’s causing it? My guest is Jonathan Bailor, who has looked at decades worth of research on this issue.
Hello Jonathan, thanks for coming on the program today.
Jonathan: Thank you Liz it’s a pleasure to be here.
Liz: The top looming health crisis of the 21st century in America are sure to be obesity and type 2 diabetes, and whatever way ever you look at it, the numbers are staggering. The prevalence of type 2 diabetes in America has tripled since the 1980’s. In 2010, there were 27 million Americans with diabetes and 67 million with pre-diabetes and going hand in hand with diabetes is the obesity epidemic. It is estimated that by 2020, one in every two Americans will be obese, yet it is the leading cause of preventable death in the US and around the world.
Obesity affects not only more and more adults but a growing number of children and adolescents as well. What’s caused this obesity epidemic? Is there a discrepancy between the way nutrition and health information is presented to the public and the science behind it and if so who is benefiting from that? My guest this morning has spent the past decade analyzing academic research related to diet, exercise, and weight loss and believes the answers to these questions and ultimately the way to address the obesity epidemic lie in the scientific data itself.
He writes about the physiology of weight loss, health and fitness in the book The Smart Science of Slim, his website is thesmarterscienceofslim.com. Jonathan, first of all advances in science have allowed us to accomplish some really remarkable tasks; combating horrible childhood diseases, mapping the human genome, organ transplants, so why haven’t we able to get a handle on the obesity issue?
Jonathan: Liz we have, the sad thing is that that information just hasn’t been disseminated to the public, just as heart transplants are not perform the same way they were 40 years ago and doctors know that. The way that obesity is thought of in the research community and in the scientific community has changed dramatically in the past 40 years, we’re just not told about it.
Liz: There are hundreds, if not thousands of diet and fitness books out there are on the market over time and especially right now in the last five, ten years. A lot of them claim scientific information behind some of their findings, so how did you go about finding the science that either was or wasn’t behind many of these fitness and diet weight loss claims?
Jonathan: I actually didn’t look too much at the existing theories out there. In fact, what makes The Smarter Science of Slim a bit unique is, we started from nothing and we said what has the scientific community proven? Let’s go in with no assumptions and let’s see what the data lays out. Ten years later and 1,100 research studies later, we arrived at a surprising and somewhat counter intuitive conclusion about the cause of and solution to obesity.
Liz: If the science behind successful weight loss has been out there all this time, why hasn’t it been brought to light in the way that is now?
Jonathan: The challenge is, the people that are doing this research are researchers just like you and I don’t necessarily know about advancements that have been made in treating heart attacks. Obesity is a medical condition and people who spend their lives researching aren’t the people writing the back of cereal boxes and aren’t the people on the late night infomercials and aren’t even the people on talk shows, so what really impassions me is to work with these individuals to take their data and to get it out there to the world so that people like you and I can benefit from it.
Liz: How did you find these people? Where did you start to look? How did this all kind of come together?
Jonathan: It goes way back actually to high school because I became really formally interested in health and fitness. Back then, I actually became a personal trainer as early as high school so that was my first foray into this formal health and fitness world but in working with clients I quickly began to realize how ineffective traditional approaches were in the long term. My clients who worked with me, they get results but then they go about living their regular life and gain all the weight back and then some because I was telling them to do something unsustainable; starve themselves and spend up to two hours a day exercising, which realistically not going to happen in today’s culture, nor should it. We’re not meant to live in a state of starvation, so after seeing that and after basically failing with traditional knowledge, I looked the only place I had left and that was the academic research community.
You’d be surprised researchers generally don’t get a lot of media attention so when you call a researcher up and you say “Hey, I read your study on XYZ, that’s great work can you tell me a bit more about it? They are usually like “Well thank you I’d be happy to tell you more about it!” and that just began a ten year journey of just reading and reading and reading and speaking with these researchers and it impassioned me because it was so counter to what I was taught as a personal trainer. In some ways, I was almost trying to rationalize in my brain this discrepancy so it just fed me and fed me to keep reading and researching and more.
Liz: Let’s talk about some of the myths or “conventional wisdom” that’s been out there for a while, that sounds right on the level of it but you say it is really misinformation. To lose weight you just got to eat less and exercise more.
Jonathan: This is the biggest myth out there without question Liz because if we just eat less of a diet which cause us to have suboptimal health and fitness, that’s a bit like touching a burner on a stove more gently to avoid burning ourselves, that’s not solving the problem. There’s a common misconception that if we just eat less and exercise more our body has to burn fat. People often say law of thermodynamics proves this right energy can’t be created and destroyed it can only change forms.
There’s a big assumption there and that’s if the body is in a state of caloric deficit, not to sound too technical, that it has to burn fat that’s not true what researchers has actually proven is that when the body is starving, first it goes into the state of malnutrition, which is obviously horrible for our health. Second, it’s slows down. This is why, when we starve ourselves, we feels sleepy and terrible and groggy and crabby. If that’s not enough to balance us out our body will then burn muscle tissue. Why?
We’re in a state of caloric shortage, what’s it going to burn off? It’s going to burn off calorie hungry tissue, can’t burn off our brain, can’t burn off our heart but it can burn off our muscle tissue. If that’s not enough, then and only then we burn fat but at what cost? We’ve slowed ourselves down and we burned off our muscle tissue. If we want to keep fat off of our body, those are the two last things we would ever want to do so in reality eating less and exercising more unless we’re able to keep it up for the rest of our lives, which in 95 percent of cases study show, we’re not, we’re actually setting ourselves up for long term fat gain and worsened health.
Liz: And kind of along the same lines is a calorie is a calorie is a calorie is a calorie and they are all the same.
Jonathan: Absolutely and this is where we see people at work,’ I’ll just skip lunch and eat these cupcakes that people brought in because this is my lunch.’ The problem is that a calorie is not a calorie at all, the calorie quality matters immensely both in the nutrition it provides us and especially the hormonal reaction these calories cause in our body. We know this, we feel differently eating 300 calories of Twinkies than we do after eating 300 calories of non-starchy vegetables and lean protein for example.
Liz: We’re going to talk about this hormonal thing that eating bad foods does for us in detail in just a minute but I’m curious about over on the fitness side of this then, popular wisdom is you must work out often and for long periods of time in order to lose the weight, you’ve just got to get in the gym.
Jonathan: That again is based on that calories in, calories out assumption. Exercising less is the same, excuse me, exercising more is fundamentally the same as eating less, it’s just working on depriving our body of calories. What we really need to do is to change our health and fitness in the long term is change the hormonal balance in our body and that is only achieved by increasing the quality, rather than the quantity of our exercise.
Think about it, as trying to move a table for example, you can push gently on a table, once, twice, a thousand, a million times, the table will never move but if you give it one forceful, high quality push, then it will move. When it comes to triggering the hormones which yield lasting benefit in our body, we need less but more forceful and safer exercise in order to cause that hormonal change in our body.
Liz: Back on the food for a minute, then we will talk some more about exercise. The USDA food pyramid has been around for a very, very long time, emphasizing grains, then vegetables and meats and finely fats and sweets are at the top but the real emphasis on grain consumption, so based on the research that you’ve been able to discover what is fundamentally wrong about the USDA food pyramid?
Jonathan: The food pyramid and their more recent redesign…
Jonathan: The MyPlate. Continues this assumption and Liz, it really is an assumption, that we need to eat grain. There is nothing and this is a scientific fact, there is nothing uniquely nutritional about grain. There are things for example that are only really found in meats or seafood or vegetables or fruits that is not true for grain. Anything that a grain can do, this is fat, can be done by non-starchy vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, non-grain better than it can be done by grain. We’re often told grain is a great source of fiber. Spinach has ten times more fiber than flour. Cocoa, the primary ingredient in chocolate has three times more fiber calorie per calorie than whole wheat flour.
Liz: Oh my goodness.
Jonathan: Grains and the challenges, grains also have a lot of bad characteristics. What they do to our body hormonally is simple disastrous, so when you combine a lack of unique nutritional value with caloric density and hormonal detriment, you end up with what we’ve got on our hands today and that’s a obesity and diabetes epidemic.
Liz: The push now toward whole grains, is still bad or maybe worse I don’t know.
Jonathan: Well it’s a bit like saying I’d rather have one broken leg than two, it’s true. Whole grains are better for you than refined grains but there’s still that assumption that we have to eat grains. It’s like, what’s the best grain? That’s the wrong question to ask. The right question to ask is what has science proven to be the best foods, who said grain is one of those? It’s not about what’s the healthiest grain, it’s about what’s the healthiest food but our Government doesn’t seem to be asking that question.
Liz: What about cultures that are grain dependent like Japanese people eat a lot of rice, Italians have their pasta. I’m not sure exactly what the obesity epidemic is like there but I know traditionally for the Japanese culture, Japanese people have been known to be on a slim side. How do you reconcile a diet that is based on rice and there’s not seemingly an obesity issue there?
Jonathan: Well there’s two important factors that combined to cause obesity issues and that’s poor quality of calories and over eating, so if you take in a poor quality of calories but you do not over eat, you may not become obese, you will not achieve optimal health. There’s plenty of examples of individuals who are starving, frankly, like in second or third world countries, who look obese, however…because again the quality of their food is not up to par. In cultures where these substances are consumed in moderation, we’re not seeing this problem because again they are consumed in moderation and it’s not to say that if we eat grains we’re going to die tomorrow. That’s obviously not true but what it is to say is if we’re looking for causes to the problem we are facing, grains are great place to look.
Liz: Jonathan Bailor is my guest on Conversations and we’re talking about America’s obesity epidemic and what scientific research says about losing weight, health and fitness. He is author of the book The Smarter Science of Slim. There is a lot more to come on this issue on Conversations, so I hope you will stay with us.
Welcome back to Conversations good to have you along with us today. I’m Liz Summers. What’s causing America’s obesity epidemic? That’s the issue we are looking at in this half hour with nutrition researcher Jonathan Bailor. It’s estimated that by 2020, one in every two Americans will be obese, yet it is the leading cause of preventable death in the US and around the world.
Jonathan has spent the last ten years analyzing what the academic research says when it comes to diet, exercise, and weight loss. He writes about his findings in the book The Smarter Science of Slim and the website is the smarterscienceofslim.com.
Let’s talk a little bit about how this whole push toward high carbohydrate, low fat got out into the public, Ansell Keys I believe his name was…
Liz: It had to do with prevailing heart disease information at the time but he was a pivotal person, if I understand correctly, in launching this whole maybe decade or more of time nutritionally that was really focused on eating high carb, low fat and what does nutritionally?
Jonathan: You’re exactly right the brief history in early in the 20th century, individual named Ansell Keys performed a now famous study where he collected data from, I’m a little foggy in the details, but 20 countries and then he picked six and reported on those six and the reason why he picked those six is because they showed a positive co-relation between the total fat intake and the incidents of heart disease issues and then he dug further in his data and said, well those people also have higher total cholesterol and fat seems to co-relate with cholesterol, so therefore fat causes heart disease, don’t eat fat.
If you look at his entire sample set, that conclusion is invalid. In fact, if you picked seven different countries from his samples set you can show an inverse relationship between fat consumption and heart disease incidents but in the absence of bloggers to call him on his faulty reporting, he ended up on the cover of Time Magazine and it became a rallying cry for our country and then when you pile on top of that, the fact that producing starch and sweet or heavy foods, that are low in fat is in incredibly profitable because they don’t need to be refrigerated, they can be processed, they be manufactured into food like products.
You end up with a cycle where you have the “scientific community” telling you need to do something. The food manufacturing industry is saying “Absolutely” and we end up where we are today whereas researchers have… The Harvard Medical School is on the forefront of saying “In fact, there’s an inverse relationship which means the consumption of unsaturated fats and heart disease”, meaning the more of them you eat, the less heart disease you have.
Most cutting edge research is showing that even in certain types of saturated fats, like those found in coconuts for example, medium change triglycerides are also showing inverse relationship with negative health issues. The data that is coming out today is showing that starches and sweets, especially sweets, are the fundamental cause of what we’re experiencing today because fat, we need fat. Our hormones are manufactured from fat, our cells body requires fat, we need fat. Fat doesn’t make you fat like eating green vegetables doesn’t make you green vegetables.
Liz: Let’s talk a little bit about how your body metabolizes fat and you talk about a set point rather than a calorie balance model and how, once we get to a higher weight and stay there by eating unhealthy food why that’s so powerful in keeping us overweight?
Jonathan: The set point is best understood by replacing the current model we have in our brains for how our bodies work, which is like a balance, which I’m sure you’re familiar with, calories in, calories out.
Jonathan: Our body works like a balance, if we instead think of our bodies like a sink, if we put more water in the sink what happens? More water drains…
Jonathan: The water level in the sink only rises when the sink becomes clogged and what clogs the sink? Putting the wrong quality of stuff in the sink, no quantity of water would ever clog the sink but when the sink becomes clogged, any quantity will cause the water level to rise and we can bail water out but the water level still stay risen. We don’t solve the problem until we clear that hormonal clog or in our bodies, what’s called a hormonal clog.
Our bodies work the same way we eat the wrong quality of food, primarily starches and sweets, it creates a hormonal clog in our body and our body starts to believe that the set or the water level or fat level our body should carry on it becomes elevated and our body starts to fend that point we can’t get the flu lose 20 pound, change nothing about our diet and then somehow, gain it all back and that’s also how we know people who eat a lot of food don’t really exercise and still stays slim. How does that work?
Jonathan: Genetics, no genetics, well you’re right genetics is half of it, their hormonal balance is the other half. What researchers are showing is that chronically elevated body composition or body fat levels is caused due to this hormonal clog, which causes our set point or the body composition our bodies think we should have to rise and the solution is through improved eating quality and improved exercise quality because quality caused the problem, quality will solve the problem. Quantity will never do that, it’s like turn down the water in a clogged sink, the problem is the clogged sink, the solution is removing clog.
Liz: The solution is eating what you call SANE food as opposed to inSANE food, so just give us a few examples of each. InSane foods I can guess what you’re going to say there but just a little bit of a differentiation between those two.
Jonathan: Well, and SANE foods, SANE is just an acronym for the four factors that scientifically prove that a calorie isn’t a calorie. Satiety, aggression, nutrition and efficiency. Calories in foods vary in those four factors. The common denominator among SANE foods is that they’re rich in water, fiber and protein. So SANE foods are wet, fiber rich, and protein packed; non-starchy vegetables spinach, kale, lettuce, any kind of seafood, lean organic grass-fed meats, cottage cheese, plain Greek yogurts, eggs, nuts, seeds, berries, citrus fruits. Basically things you find in the perimeter of the grocery store, things that need to be refrigerated.
InSANE foods are dry, low in fiber and relatively low in protein, things you find in the center of the grocery store, starches and sweets, things that don’t need to be refrigerated.
Liz: A lot of tan food huh?
Jonathan: Lot of tan, a lot of white food.
Liz: About sugar, sugar of course is an inSANE food and probably there’s no amount of it that is “good for us.” Are we going to find in the next five or ten years what damage to our body now all of these fake sugars are doing. You’ve got your Splendas and chemical variants of sugar at least that’s what manufacturers say but if we’re taking sugar out of our diet, is there any safe fake sugar?
Jonathan: Safe is, I don’t know if I can say safe. Let’s put…we can do preferable..No there is, my father and sister both work in a addiction counseling, which is actually an interesting field because researchers have proven that sugar causes an addictive characteristic in our brain like a low dose of morphine. Sugar addiction is a proven condition and when you go SANE, you’ll experience it firsthand because you’ll go through withdraw. You’ll feel really crappy for two days but then you’ll feel great.
When we talk about weaning ourselves off sugars, we have to think about risk minimization. If someone’s smoking two packs a day, smoking one pack a day, is better without question, so if you need to sweeten things, non-choleric sweeteners are unequivocally better for you. When consumed in mass quantities, unrealistic quantities they’ve shown to do damaging things but choleric sweeteners when consumed in any quantity have been shown due to damaging thing.
My recommendation would be transition from caloric sweeteners to non caloric sweeteners perfectly natural ones such as Truvia, and as you can, wean yourself off of those but again if your goal isn’t perfection. I wrote this book I still use non-caloric sweeteners because I’m not willing to go the rest of my life without them. I don’t use them as much as I used to but there is certainly much better especially from a hormonal prospective, than caloric sweetener.
Liz: Okay. We should just mention to people who aren’t aware, Truvia is a form of Stevia which is an herb that is used as a sweetener. We’ve talked about some of the nutritional misinformation or myths that have been out there. Let’s talk a little bit also about exercise myths. We’ve touched on a few earlier like you’ve got to get to the gym and you’ve got to work out really hard and you’ve got to become an endurance runner if you ever want to burn off the fat but the type of exercise you alluded to earlier and it’s using all your muscles in a short burst of energy to move something. Tell us a little bit about of the exercise model that research shows to be most beneficial or more beneficial to the human body then just getting out there and jogging every day.
Jonathan: So again it’s surprising because it’s so counter intuitive in some sense but think about just like we have different muscles on our body doing different things, our leg muscles do different things on our arm muscles. We actually have different fibers within our muscles for example we have what’s called type 1A muscle fibers these allow us do a little bit of work for a long period of time; talk, type, walk. They’re involved with high quantity, low quality.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have type 2B muscles fiber these allow us to generate a lot of force for a very short period of time. Obviously there is an inverse relationship between the quantity and quality that says we can do. We can’t sprint unless we can walk, the important thing to note though, is that this type 2B muscle fibers, these are the muscles fibers when worked cause this hormonal reaction, which clears this hormonal clog and lowers the weight at which our body thinks we should maintain.
The only way to activate these fibers is to perform a type of exercise which requires a lot of force and an exercise which requires a lot of force by definition cannot be done in high quantity so and it’s not about going outside and sprinting. There are ways to do this that are incredibly safe. For example, we can do what is called extensive training, which is like weight lifting but it’s actually weight lowering, where you very slowly and controlled, lower a dramatic amount of resistance, which is amazingly safe because it is so slow and it is so controlled.
When people get injured exercising, it’s generally during jerky movements, this is a very slow, it’s almost like a yoga but a strength training yoga and by doing that, we work different muscle fibers and cause a different and much more promising result in our body.
Liz: Because it is so difficult to do, comparatively to a light, easy exercise, are your muscles going to get fatigued much quicker and that’s part of the good, if I understand it correctly.
Jonathan: Fatigued much more severely, you’re not exercising, the book the catch phrase of the book is Eat More and Exercise Less Smarter and the smarter is the catch, it’s like eat more SANE foods so that you’re too full for inSANE foods and exercise less but smarter where that just means, if we’re exercising to cause a maximal hormonal change in our body, we will be so sore that we will not be able to exercise.
We’ll actually have a challenge moving for three days afterwards, because think about it if you can exercise frequently by definition, it’s really not having that big of an impact on your body, so it’s not about exercising less because we’re lazy, it’s about exercising less because we’re too sore to do more.
Liz: So is there a place to do more cardio at all?
Jonathan: When we talk about cardio in the sense of long duration. If our goal is to be cardio vascular fit, meaning if we want to run a 5K then the best way to do that is to train for a 5K and if we walking around all day is fantastic for you but think about it like there’s specific types of training for specific types of goals. If your goal is to cause hormonal change, which will cause lasting, health benefits in your body, then it’s this eccentric high quality exercise you want to do.
If your goal is aerobic endurance, then aerobic endurance training is effective for you and if your goal is just to be able to walk 10,000 steps a day without getting winded, then walk 10,000 steps a day without getting winded, so it’s about picking the right exercise for your goals.
Liz: If you’d like to learn to learn more about the work of my guest today, Jonathan Bailor, you can go to his website the smarterscienceofslim.com or read about it in his book The Smarter Science of Slim, Jonathan, thank you so much for being on the program today.
Jonathan: My pleasure.
Liz: Join us again next weekend when we explore other topics on the program. I hope you’ll join us then I’m Liz and this is Conversations.
Jonathon: Wait, wait. Don’t stop listening yet.
Carrie: You can get fabulous free SANE recipes over at CarrieBrown.com.
Jonathon: And don’t forget your 100% free ‘Eating and Exercise Quick Start’ program as well as free, fun daily tips delivered right into your inbox at BailorGroup.com.
Welcome to the fourth “bonus” episode of The Smarter Science of Slim podcast. A lot of readers and listeners have noticed that there’s quite a bit of Smarter Science of Slim activity going around the world and web, and have emailed asking for one place they could get all things Smarter Science of Slim…at least from an audio perspective.
So here we go!
Between “standard” SSoS podcast episodes I’ll share SSoS interviews etc. from all around the world and web. I hope these are helpful…and heck, if they’re not, or if they become repetitive (interviewers tend to ask me similar questions), feel free to skip them 🙂
For this week, here’s an interview I had with Lizz Sommars on the Conversations radio show.