Faith: Hello everyone and welcome to the “Shatter Your Limitations”tele-summit. I’m your host, Faith Presley, and your guide on this journey of co-creating your wildly happy, passionate and successful life.
Today is very exciting because you get to meet Jonathan Bailor, author of the revolutionary book, The Calorie Myth. He’s going to help us shatter many myths about calories, exercise, healthy eating and weight loss. You’ll want to grab a pen because Jonathan won’t be holding anything back today as he shares the scientific proof that has been hidden from us for half a century.
Here’s a little information about Jonathan. He is a nutrition and exercise expert and a former personal trainer who specializes in using high quality food and exercise to simplify health and fitness. Jonathan has worked with top scientists for over ten years, analyzed over thirteen hundred studies and synthesized over ten thousand pages of research. He has been endorsed by top doctors from Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins, Yale and UCLA.
Jonathan also hosts a highly popular syndicated wellness radio show and consults for organizations worldwide and is the author of The Calorie Myth. So you can see why I’m so thrilled to have him join the Shatter Your Limitationstele-summit. Welcome, Jonathan, and thank you so much for being with us today. Could I get you to share a little bit of your personal story with the audience?
Jonathan: Thank you, Faith. My journey towards shattering limitations, especially around calories and weight, and all these restrictive– Health has been thought ofas being very restrictive, which is ridiculous. Life is not about restricting yourself. Life is about growth and intelligence, and we’ll talk about that later.
But my journey started a long, long time ago, when I was a little kid.I grew up in a very academic household. Both of my parents are college professors. There is also a really interesting element here that my brother is much older than I am. He is ten years older than I am and he is very athletic individual. So here you have thislittle guy — me– and I’m just innately geeky.
I spent the past decade working as Senior Program Manager at Microsoft just because I love really technical things and engineering solutions to problems and helping people. Anyway, you’ve got this really geeky kid who’s being raised by extremely academic parents and wants to be like his athletic older brother.
Well, consistent with the stereotypes around geeks, my problem was not that I would gain fat too easily. The problem was that I couldn’t gain anything at all and I was this very lanky, goofy, non-masculine looking child and I wanted to be like my brother so I wanted to be big and strong.
In fact I used to wear a superman costume. This was when I was much younger, not like a teenager.That may or may not be true. When I was younger I would walk around with the superman costume on because I wanted to be like superman. So what I did was what everyone in this situation would do.
I got asversed in the conventional wisdom as I could. In fact, I went so far as to become a personal trainer. That’s the way I paid for college, by being a personal trainer at Bally’s Total Fitness in Columbus, Ohio. But that experience changed my life because here you have me — I’m a person, a homo sapien,and everyone looks like this homo sapien, we’re the same species –and I’m eating literally, six thousand calories per day. I would do double shots of olive oil because the only way to get six thousand calories into your body — it was not easy to eat that much.
Faith: Wow that’s a lot.
Jonathan: So I’deat six thousand calories — a lot of calories, a lot of calories — trying to get bigger. So I’m trying to get bigger. I’m not getting bigger, I’m just getting sick and I’m going to the bathroom all the time and I’m working with clients. Now, my clients were very different from me. This is an eighteen year old guy. At that point, most of my clients were thirty-five plus year old women who had the exact opposite goal. They wanted to get smaller.
So I did exactly what I was taught and what we’ve all been taught. I told them to limit themselves, to limit the number of calories they’re consuming to about twelve to fourteen hundred per day, and to limit the amount of time they spent with their family or on their job because they need to dedicate about two hours of their day to pounding it out on the treadmill or working it out on the stair stepper.
That didn’t help them either.They didn’t get smaller. They just got sad and sick, much like I was getting sad and sick and not getting bigger. And I said to myself, “Self, how is it possible that we’re all human and some humans, like me, can eat six thousand calories per day and not gain fat, and other humans only consume twelve hundred calories per day and cannot lose fat?” And that is the fact. That is not my opinion.
We all know people who are naturally thin, who eat and eat and eat and don’t gain fat, and we know people — oftentimes our mothers are common examples, or grandmothers — who don’t really eat. My mother eats once a day, maybeand she struggles with her weight. So how do you have one species that has that big of a divergence in how bodies react?What’s going on? It can’t just be about calories.
So I had to quit being a personal trainer because I started to not even believe in myself. I was like, “Jonathan, you can’t… This isn’t working for you and it’s not working for anyone else. You’re in the business of helping people and you are hurting people because telling someone to starve themselves is painful and 95.4% of the time, studies show, it leaves them worse off long-term.”
So I retired from being a trainer, but I was still committed to the original reason I wanted to become a trainer, which was to help people and also help myself. So I said, “Self, what can you do? What can you do now? You tried the conventional approach. It didn’t work.”
Well here’s where the geeky side came out.I said, “Where did my personal training curriculum come from? And where did that information come from? And where did that information come from? And where did that information come from?”And when you ask that question about five times, you end up finding these journal articles and these dense research papers that nobody other than researchers ever reads.
But if you read them, the disconnect between what the actual clinical researchabout eating and exercise says and what I was taught as a trainer was shocking. It was, literally.I felt like I was lied to because I was, because what was proven by the science was not at all what was reflected in my teachings as a trainer.And then it started to make sense, because for about three years I was like, “Faith, how did this…?Eating less and exercising more has to work. Right? It just makes sense.”
And I said to myself, “Actually, how could that be true when we’re trying? We’re trying harder than we ever have in human history.” No one even knew what a calorie was, let alone count them up until recently. America is this exercise-obsessed culture. Go to any other country in the world and they don’t talk about exercise like we talk about exercise here.
This whole idea of counting calories and exercising — we are doing these harder than ever in this country and we are getting fatter and sicker as a result. So if it was just about counting calories, eating less and exercising more, how would we explain that? We’re trying and it’s not working. It’s failing. And the reason it’s failing is because it is wrong.
It was a theory, a theory that was presented to us in the 1950s and it’s a reasonable theory but think about it like the theory of the flat earth. Like it makes sense to think that the earth is flat. Look out your window, it looks like the earth is flat and if the earth wasn’t flat, wouldn’t people fall off? But the earth isn’t flat.
When we actually understand science, like the science of neurobiology, how your brain is involved in weight regulation and the science of endocrinology, how your hormones play such a critical role, and the science of gastroenterology and how your gut bacteria plays a critical role — of course calories exist! They exist and if you eat ten thousand calories per day, you’re going to gain fat.
But once you understand science, you understand that thinking about calories as the be-all and end-all of health and fitness is like thinking about height as an accurate measure for intelligence. It isn’t! I mean, yes, small, short children are not always as intelligent as fully grown adults, but height does not measure intelligence. Calories do not measure health.A can of Coke has the same number of calories in it as a half an avocado, which has, “the same number of calories” as a thirty-minute jog. Are those all the same thing?Absolutely not.
So anyway, that is my journey. It gets me pumped up because we have been lied to. We have been given theories from fifty years ago presented to us as fact and in a culture where we so prize being up on things. Like iPhones from a year ago are like, “Ah, that’s the iPhone from a year ago,” but we’re still given eating and exercise information from sixty years ago!There’s been so much research that just hasn’t been shared with us.
So I have since then committed my life and spent thirteen years, at this point, reviewing over ten thousand pages of academic research, working with people, top researchers at the Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins, UCLA, to take this amazingly complex, proven science, simplify it and apply it so that the mainstream can start to live better because of it.
Faith: It’s amazing how wrong we seem to have got it all along. I read a quote of yours where you said, “Biology doesn’t work like Math, it works like Biology,” and that sounds like what you’re saying here. We just have got it completely wrong.
Jonathan: Exactly and it’s not our fault. Like you, me and the listeners, we didn’t get it wrong. If you go drive your car over a bridge and the bridge collapses, it’s not your fault for driving the car over the bridge. Somebody built that bridge and their job was to make sure that bridge did what it needed to do for you. That person failed. We have people in our culture whose job it is to tell us what to eat and how to exercise. They have failed, we haven’t. I mean, we now need to take the power back because the information is available to us, and that’s why I wrote this book, The Calorie Myth. We now have access to the science.
Lord knows,based on the past forty years, there’s a huge vested interest in us being sick and fat. Right?There is a lot more money to be made off of a fat, sick and sad populationtaking statins, antidepressants, yada, yada, yada than there is to be made off of a happy people who are just “yeah, I’m good. I don’t really need anything because I’m already happy.” So we have to take the power back. We have been given bad information and once we have access to the right information, you will be shocked, shocked, at how simple slim and being healthy can become.
Faith: It’s obviously important that we do that now, too.Some of thestats that you had quoted on your page atthecaloriemythbook.com talkedabout the rate of diabetes and pre-diabetes increasing one hundred thousand percent in the last one hundred years. That’s crazy. Isn’t there a SANE way to approach this? And can you tell us what acronym SANE stands for?
Jonathan: One of the primary calorie myths. Just to break it down real quick here — and there’s way more detail on the book, obviously, The Calorie Myth. Getacopy; it will change your life. It’s changed my life. Anyway, the three major calorie myths.
The first is that we need to consciously count calories. I’m not saying, nor is any accredited researcher saying, that calories don’t exist and that calories don’t count. If you eat ten thousand calories, you’re going to gain fat. The thing isno one who eats food eats ten thousand calories. It becomes a challenge and we stop eating food and start eating edible products that are addictive and toxic and break our body’s natural regulatory systems.
So the proven science is that, just like our body automatically balances out our blood sugar, for example, and automaticallywhen we drink more water we urinate more, it balances us out. And if you try to hold your breath, as soon as you stop, you’ll breathe in a lot more; and if you hold your eyes open, you’ll blink more. Your body seeks out balance. That’s how it works.
It does the same thing with calories. It’s not that calories don’t exist. It’s not that they don’t matter. It’s that the body is designed to balance them out automatically when it’s not broken, just like it does for every other thing that we eat in the world. Think Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, thiamine, riboflavin, phosphorus, and potassium. We don’t count micrograms of phosphorus in and micrograms of phosphorus out, yet somehow, none of us are dying of a phosphorus deficiency because our body is able to balance us out and guide us correctly.
Anyway, the same thing is supposed to happen with calories when we feed ourselves appropriately, but it’s very difficult to feed ourselves appropriately when we’re told that calories are all that matter and that “a calorieisa calorie so just eat whatever you want. Just don’t eat too much,” which basesto your point here, a calorie isn’t a calorie. That’s a myth, that’s the second calorie myth.
This is not my opinion, this is what the research says. It is a fact that calories vary in their quality by four factors. I abbreviate them using the acronym SANE. The S stands for Satiety, meaning how quickly calories fill us up and how long they keep us full. We all know that different calories have different levels of satiety.
For example, there’s a popular brand of potato chips that tells us that once we pop, we cannot stop. That brand of potato chips is advertising openly the fact that consuming those calories, far from filling you up, will actually make you want to eat more calories. So calories are not the same from a satiety perspective. You want to eat satisfying calories, that’s the Sin SANE.
The A is aggression. We want to eat foods that gradually give us energy, that don’t aggressively dump a bunch of sugar into our blood stream. This has a lot to do with glycemic index, glycemic load, things like that. Most people are starting to understand this but we absolutely understand that a piece of whole wheat toast, for example, does something very different to our blood sugar than an equal number of calories from, say, salmon, and that’s because one of those food sources provides calories in a much more aggressive fashion or a much more rapid fashion than another. So we won’t eat un-aggressive foods so we have constant energy and don’t overwhelm our body. That’s the A in aggression.
N is nutrition. This is the one that we’re led to believe we understand the most, but just like with everything else, we’ve been misinformed. We’ve been misinformed because, for example, we’re led to believe that a cereal that has 65 percent of its calories coming from sugar is healthy because it’s been fortified. There’s this myth that if you take a can of soda and dissolve a vitamin pill in it, that now that soda is healthy because it contains vitamins and minerals. That is not true. Just because a food contains vitamins and minerals doesn’t mean it’s nutritious.
We have to look at everything about the food. So we have to say, what else is coming along with those vitamins and minerals? And again, just like everything else, we understand this intuitively, but we’ve been lied to and we’ve been confused by this misinformation.
Faith, if I were to tell you that ten doughnuts are ten times more nutritious than one doughnut, you would say, “Jonathan, that is wrong. And the reason that’s wrong is because you know that everything that makes one doughnut bad is multiplied by ten in ten doughnuts.”But there are more nutrients, there’s more vitamins in ten doughnuts than there is in one, but there is obviously ten times as much bad stuff as well.So we have to look at nutrition quality or the number of nutrients we get relative to calories and relative to toxic substancesin food. So we need to think about eating nutrient-dense food rather than just food that makes nutrition claims on the label. That’s the N.
Finally the E is the factor that is the least well communicated to the mainstream and that is Efficiency. The average person burns about ten percent of the calories they burn over the course of the day simply digesting food. We don’t have little pieces of pasta floating around in our blood stream. Our body is fuelled by two substances, fatty acids and glucose.
Those are the two primary sources of energy for our body. So everything you eat, if it’s going to become fuel in your body, has to be converted — think turning water into wine, or turning lead into gold — there is actually a chemical reaction that needs tohappen in your body to convert that which goes into your mouth to something which is available to your body, to use for energy. That’s an expensive process from a metabolic perspective. That’s why ten percent of our calories are burnt doing it.
However, different sources of calories are dramatically more or less efficient at being converted into energy and therefore stored as fat than others. For example, protein takes about a hundred percent more energy to be converted into fat than carbohydrate does. This is why if you take a diet — say, you eat two thousand calories — and you continue to eat two thousand calories but you just get more of those calories from protein, clinical studies consistently show you will lose fat if for no other reason because technically you are eating, unintentionally, fewer calories, because the number of calories you will spend converting protein into useable energy will be greater.
So that ten percent number will go up. The point is, if our goal is to burn fat, eating less efficient calories or calories that are less easily stored as fat by our body, can be very beneficial and this explains why diets higher in protein consistently outperform other forms of diets. So in short, we want to eat SANE foods.
Now, if that sounded complex, there’s good news because SANE foods have three things in common which are much simpler.They’re high in water, fiber and protein. So, if the food you’re about to eat is dry and it has very little fiber in it and has very little protein in it, it is INSANE. It is a food or an edible product that will encourage your body to store fat regardless of the number of calories in it. The message it is communicating to your body is “Store fat,” whereas if you eat foods that are rich in water, fiber and protein, such as non-starchy vegetables,vegetables you could eat raw — you don’t have to eat them raw but you can eat them raw.
You can’t eat a potato raw, you can’t eat corn raw. You can eat leafy green vegetables, cucumbers, mushrooms, asparagus, broccoli, you can eat of those things raw — non-starchy vegetables, nutrient dense proteins –think fish and hormonally pure and humanely raised meat. Think nuts and seeds and think low sugar fruits like berries and citrus. These are SANE foods. These are foods that communicate health and hormonal healing and energy in abundance to our body.
We want to eat more of them, in fact we want to eat so much of them that we’re too full for dry, low fiber and low protein INSANE edible products that are primarily starch, sweet and trans fats, which is basically eat food. Eat things you can find directly in nature. Eat things on the perimeter of your grocery store, that your grandmother would have recognized, not the packaged and processed garbage that is found nowhere in nature. It has nothing to do with the calories; it has to do with the quality of the calories and what they’re doing to the system that dictates yourlong-term body composition and health for the long-term.
Faith: It really makes a lot of sense when you say it like that, so I understand why you also say the secret is that there is no secret. It’s just common sense once you know it. I think, though, when we first hear something that’s a new way of thinking to us, even though it’s SANE, we’re a little afraid to step forward on that journey into the unknown. So I’m wondering, Jonathan, if you had a success story or two that you could share with us, so you can give people some faith that this is the truth and not just another diet fad.
Jonathan: Three important points here and one is just a tip.There are a myriad of success stories. Goto caloriemythbook.com and there’s a whole tab with success stories but one thing we need to watch out for is things are true because they’re true, meaning because they’ve been proven scientifically.This is science that we’re talking about here.
The reason I mention this is this ishow for examplepills,powdersand potionssell their products. They say, “Look, here’s one person who had success with this, so therefore it’s true.”Little do we know that that person may have had success regardless of what they did; maybe they’re a naturally thin person or maybe, like with any of these diet pills we see, if you look in the small text on the screen, it’s like, “When combined with healthy eating and exercise…” So who knows?
But of course, there are wonderful examples up on caloriemythbook.com of success stories. But here’s the biggest success story, Faith, and the most important success story and it also gets back to your other question of when we hear something new, sometimes we can essentially put up our guard a bit.
Every single person who ever lived prior to the previous three generations had no idea what a calorie was, did not go to a gym and ate primarily foods found in nature, simply because these edible garbage things that we have around today weren’t available to them and the rates of obesity were sub three percent and the rates of diabetes were 100,000 percent lower than they are today. So that’s, I don’t know, one hundred billion success stories.
And that’s the thing here. This isn’t new. This is the way we ate before we were getting sick and fat.So doesn’t it make sense that doing what we did before we had a problem is a great way to solve that problem? But we’ve been so bamboozled by these calorie myths that you get. Of course what I justsaid is true.Do what you did before having the problem that has been borne out from every person that ever lived in every culture ever versus counting calories.
Yeah, like, that’s self-evident. But it hasn’t become self-evident because we’ve been led down this rabbit hole of calories are all that matter and they’re not and it becomes extremely complicated when you think they are — because it’s wrong. It would be like trying to avoid lung cancer if someone told you that smoking was harmless. It’s really hard to not get lung cancer if you continue to smoke.
And it’s really hard to avoid obesity and diabetes if you continue to eat non-food that is packed with unnatural starches and sweets and Transfats because those foods, independent of their caloric content, cause obesity and diabetes. That is not my opinion. There is actually a study done earlier this year that showed as strong of a correlation between sugar consumption and diabetes as has been shown for smoking and lung cancer.
In other words, with as much confidence as we know that smoking causes lung cancer, we know sugar causes diabetes. So just like we don’t say, “Smoke, just do it in moderation,” we might not want to say, “Eat sugar, just to it in moderation.” Will eating a little bit of sugar every once in a while give you diabetes? No, just like smoking one cigarette a month won’t give you lung cancer. But the fact is that the quality of food is what we need to focus on, not the quantity of calories.
Faith: True, that’s really powerful information. I appreciate you sharing it with us.I know it’s going to make a big difference for people. I also know that we often struggle with putting new information into action, even if we know it’s going to change our lives in a really positive way.
And one of the other quotes that you have on the site is that, “Obesity is shortening the average lifespan more than accidents, homicides and suicides combined,” so we have to take action but old habits die hard as they say, so hopefully that’s another myth. Could you give us one small or immediate step that we could take today so that we can change this bad habit of eating in a way that’s INSANE?
Jonathan: First and foremost, just do everything you can to eat more of the good stuff. It’s not about depravation, it’s about eating half of your plate full of delicious, non-starchy vegetables. If you want to eat them raw, that’s great, but they don’t have to be because natural fats aren’t bad for you. So sauté them in a delicious, natural fat and add some salt, because the research is actually pretty clear about salt, that salt consumed in the quantities in that we would consume it if we weren’t eating packaged food is not going to harm you;it’s delicious.
Make that half your plate, just delicious, non-starchy vegetables. Make a third of your plate succulent, nutrient-dense protein. Thinkgrass-fed beef, think any kind of seafood. Enjoy that, enjoy eggs, and enjoy lower sugar fruits like berries and citrus and nuts and seeds. Just eat so much of that stuff, in the order I basically just described — so non-starchy vegetables first, think lots, half your plate; think a third of your plate, nutrient dense protein, these are primarily seafood and meats that are non-toxic and non-processed and then enjoy lower fructose fruits and nuts and seeds as snacks and desserts.
If you just do that in abundance, like eat so much of that stuff that you’re too full for everything else, you’ll be shocked. Right now, it’s really hard to avoid these toxic edible products because we’re told to live in a constant state of hunger and when you’re hungry, your brain’s like, Ah, I just need energy, so it seeks out the poisonous energy-dense products. But when you’re full and satisfied… Like, imagine always being too full for dessert. Not that you should never eat dessert, in fact if you go to thecaloriemythbook.com we’ll show you how to make SANE cakes, cookies, pies, even ice cream.
The point is more, imagine if you had just a sense of satiation, you were whole and satisfied constantly, you were too full for dessert. You wouldn’t have these cravings anymore. You can do that. You can change your biology by stopping fearing food because you’re counting calories and rather celebrating and enjoying in abundance of the right kinds of food and putting so much positivity in your life that you just don’t have the room for the negativity. Pursue the positive rather than attacking the negative.
One quick anecdote as an example of this from one of the world’sbest teachers, Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa was once asked if she would march against the war in Vietnam. And Mother Teresa said no, and the person who asked her was shocked because they were like, “Oh my God, Mother Teresa. One would think you would be against war.”And Mother Teresa’s response was, “I will never march against war.But if you have a march for peace, I will be there.”
And that’s what we need to do. It’s not about fearing calories and starving ourselves and having this negative, scarcity relationship with food. It’s about celebrating the foods that have been proven clinically and have been proven over hundreds of thousands of years of human existence and freedom from diabetes and obesity. Just eat so much of the good stuff that you’re too full for the bad stuff.
Faith: It really makes so much sense.I think it’s life changing information that you’ve shared with us today, Jonathan, so thank you very much for that. I know your Calorie Myth book has already been receiving incredible reviews and they’re from medial doctors and health experts so we know that this is the truth and this is going to really change our lives. I think the book is a great way for people to follow up on the things that you’ve shared today.
Also available for people on your site thebailorgroup.com/freeprogram is a Twenty-Eight Day Quick Start Program. So people can go there and they can look up information and get started today. It’s going to have a link so that people make sure they get there T-H-E-B-A-I-L-O-R-G-R-O-U-P.com and can you tell us a little bit just about that program that they’ll receive, Jonathan, when they go there?
Jonathan: It’s a curriculum. It’s teaching you this modern science. So you’re going to get two things.You’re going to get a checklist of resources, videos, texts, and images that will teach you how to think about food and exercise. Again, we can look at top ten lists till we’re blue in the face, but that’s a bit like trying to function in a world by multiplying or by memorizing the sum of any possible combination of numbers. So that’s not how the human mind works.
The way the human mind works is you learn principles and then you apply them. That’s how we can all add any set of numbers together because we understand the laws of algebra. We’re not trying to memorize things. So we will teach you the proven laws of nutrition and exercise and in addition we’ll also provide you with daily tips. And these are going to be much more motivational, much more inspirational. We’re going to get you that scientific side so that you’re empowered to do this for yourself and to do this for your family and friends, and then we’re going to give you a little bit of that heart and emotional side of the daily inspirational tips. It’s a really an unparalleled free resource.
That’s bailorgroup.com/freeprogram. Of course, the book is fifteen years of my life, over thirteen hundred research studies endorsed by and thepreface is written by the Chair of the Brigham’sWomen’s Hospital at the Harvard Medical School in addition to wonderful luminaries in the field such as Dr. William Davis ofWheat Belly, Mark Hyman, Daniel Amen, J.J.Virgin, Mike Moreno, Sara Gottfried — basically a Who’s Who of this field. It will change your life. Check it out at caloriemythbook.com. Again, that’s caloriemythbook.com.
Faith: Thanks, Jonathan. I love how everyone is coming together to support your book. I think that says a lot about the value that you have to offer and I just want to say thank you again and stay SANE.
Jonathan: Thank you, Faith, have a wonderful year.
Faith: Thanks, I will. Bye bye, Jonathan.
Jonathan: Bye bye.