A SANE Approach to Supplements


Jonathon: Hey everybody, Jonathon Bailor and Carrie Brown back with another Calorie Myth and Smarter Science of Slim show. Carrie, how are you doing today?

Carrie: Hello lovely listeners, how are you?

Jonathon: Lovely listeners, you should never, ever, ever feel bad about yourself, because we all make silly mistakes.

Carrie: I’m particularly, yes, used to doing that.

Jonathon: Let me give a quick example of a silly mistake. Dear Carrie and I are here in the recording studio, and we have our lovely audio set up. Actually, we went out of our way here in the new year to buy some new audio equipment so that we’ll have better sounding podcasts for you. Then come to find out that the last two episodes that you very kindly listened to despite their crappy audio quality were recorded using a different piece of equipment, so thank you so much for hanging in there. These sound better, hopefully, and cheers to that. Yay.

Carrie: Yay, and goodbye to [indiscernible 01:26] because we’re now on the good stuff.

Jonathon: We are on the good stuff. Carrie, you had a really awesome question around supplements, I believe.

Carrie: Well, I just thought, because a lot of people ask about this. So I just thought it would be useful if we did an episode on nutritional supplements, which ones would be good, if any, that we need to focus on. What can’t we get from eating a SANE diet? Just general — what’s the deal with vitamins and supplements, because a lot of people — there’s a lot of ads that bamboozle people into buying things that they maybe don’t need. Or there are some genuine cases where a supplementation would be useful. I thought it would be handy to have a little cheat sheet from you on what that might look like.

Jonathon: Excellent, Carrie. I love the way you phrase that because the big macro disclaimer — and we covered this in one our non-optimally recorded episodes — was that before we worry about supplements at all — before we spend any time thinking about supplementing, we have to ensure we have the baseline correct.

The definition of a supplement is to supplement. Until we’ve gotten — from our previous episode — at least seven hours per sleep — at least, I need to get seven hours of sleep — at least double-digit servings of non-starchy vegetables, at least three high-quality, thirty-gram servings of protein per day and that we’re exercising intelligently, smartly, consistently. Those four things are our focus before any supplements, fair?

Carrie: Got it.

Jonathon: Okay, but then if we do get those four things right — those are a habit. We’ve done them consistently for twenty-one days and we’re ready. Those are habits, so we don’t even have to think about them anymore. We’re able to think about some other things.

The first supplement I would recommend anyone take — well, first I would change the definition of supplements to be more of convenient, SANE foods. Let me give you an example of what I mean. Cod liver oil is considered by some to be a supplement, but we don’t consider olive oil to be a supplement. We just consider it to be a food. So cod liver oil is just an oil, but people call it a supplement. So I like supplements that are actually food, such as cod liver oil, which is a fabulous source of the most [indiscernible 04:00] available forms of [delightful 04:02] anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, as well as vitamin D.

Carrie: All right.

Jonathon: So that’s fabulous. Cod liver oil.

Carrie: Do you take it with a spoon or do you take it in capsules? What do you do?

Jonathon: I would highly recommend taking it with a spoon simply because trying to get the amount of cod liver oil that will make a difference to your life and health from pills is incredibly expensive and requires swallowing more pillows than most people are willing to tolerate.

Carrie: Got it. So, oil it is.

Jonathon: I would say if you’re eating — I don’t know if anyone in the world other than me eats fatty fish, and my wife, every single day — but I would like, based on the research out there, you to be getting at least, let’s call it, two to three servings of optimal omega-3 fat sources per day.

For example, hypothetically, if you were to eat lox for breakfast and salmon for dinner, there would be no need to take any cod liver oil. But if you eat nothing but, let’s say, grass-fed beef as your protein source and maybe some shea seeds — not that those are bad for you, they’re great for you — but they’re not going to provide you with an optimal level of the best omega-3 fats. In that case, I would say at least a tablespoon of cod liver oil, potentially upwards of two, but depending on your size and activity level, I would start with certainly one per day, as high as two per day. That’s way more cod liver oil than you’re going to economically get from capsules.

Carrie: I remember you saying to me when I last did my blood work and I got all my results, and you were cheering because my lipid panel was perfect. I remember saying to you, “Is there anything I could do to make it even better?” You said to me, “Really, the only way you could make that better was cod liver oil.” That’s kind of the purpose.

Jonathon: In the spirit of focusing on the big things, remember it’s always better — before you buy cod liver oil, eat more salmon. Eat more sardines. Eat more anchovies. If you don’t want to do that, then get cod liver oil. If you don’t want to do that consistently and cod liver oil helps you to be consistent, that’s when you can use it.

The reason I stress this one, first and foremost, is these omega-3 fats found in fish and cod liver oil have been shown in clinical trials on mice and rats, for example, to literally treat the neurological inflammation that is at the heart of obesity. We talk about how our brain — it’s not that calories don’t matter. It’s that our brain is designed to balance them appropriately. In rat studies, these omega-3 fats literally address and ameliorate the inflammation that causes your set point to rise in your brain.

We’ve already covered the fact that food is medicine. But omega-3 fats — specifically the kinds found in fish, not in flax or shea seeds, not that those are bad for you, it’s just not an optimal source — from a purity perspective, are literally therapeutic.

Carrie: Got it. Thank you. Cod liver oil.

Jonathon: Boom — cod liver oil. Next on the list would be a — we’ve talked about this before and people love how it sounds — desiccated beef liver. So again, it’s considered a supplement, but it’s actually just a whole food. It’s beef liver, which is one of the most — beef liver is basically a multivitamin. If you look at the vitamins and minerals found in liver, it is phenomenal. It is on par with a multi-vitamin if not surpassing a multivitamin, and it’s in no way synthetic. It’s just a whole, incredible food for you.

A lot of folks don’t have easy access to beef liver. Even if they do, they might not be fans of the taste, so you can buy dried-up beef liver in either power or pill form. If you do that, it’s very easy to incorporate into your diet. I personally use Carlson’s cod liver oil. These are all available on the same store, on the Calorie Myth website as well as the Smarterscienceofslim.com. These are just the brands that I use that are always a balance between quality and economical efficacy. So Carlson’s for cod liver oil, and then for the desiccated beef liver tablets, I use a product called Ultra 40 by a brand called Beverly International.

Carrie: All right.

Jonathon: It’s cute, because they are these little pills, but each pill is two grams of protein. It’s food. It’s like astronaut ice cream or MREs that the military uses.

Carrie: I was going to say MREs.

Jonathon: So you have your desiccated beef liver tablets — yum, yum, yum. But if you think about it, Carrie, so far we’ve said an optimal source of fat — cod liver oil. An optimal source of protein — desiccated beef liver tablets.

Now we’re going to go — this is just sanity in convenience form. Then we’re going to say, “Well, what is the most SANE source of carbohydrate?” Well, it’s non-starchy vegetables, and you can get dehydrated, non-starchy vegetables, such as these spirulina powders or such as blue-green algae or such as wheat grass.

Carrie: All right. Let’s talk about those.

Jonathon: Those are, again, whole foods. It’s a super — you can even get powdered spinach. You can get powdered kale. All of them, again, on the same store. The key thing is they’re super nutrient-dense whole foods that you would use to supplement an otherwise SANE diet.

People say, “Well Jonathon, what do you think about multivitamins?” Multi-vitamins are coming up next on the list. But remember, food in its natural state — especially if they’re these super foods that have been dehydrated, had excess sugars taken out of them — are just phenomenal for you.

Also in this category are going to be these super fruits, such as like powdered acai berries and goji berries and things like that, where they’re just saying take these fruits that are otherwise very hard to come by. Take all the sugar out, powder them so they’re convenient, and then mix them in with your smoothie.

Carrie: Got it.

Jonathon: But consistent with sanity. We have our optimal fats, we have our optimal proteins and we have our optimal carbohydrates. Once we’ve tackled all those things, next on the list would be a multivitamin. I’m going to give a big high-five to my friends the Caltons. Jayson and Mira Calton, who are dear friends of mine and are wonderful researchers, actually reinvented the multivitamin. They actually have a patent on this really cool approach to vitamins. Vitamins, like everything else in nutrition, are actually hugely complicated because different vitamins and minerals have different receptor sites in your body.

For example, I don’t know if this is true, but hypothetically let’s say vitamin C and vitamin E have the same receptor site. If you eat them at the same time, one of them doesn’t get absorbed. So what they have done is identified all the competing vitamins and minerals and they split them out. So you take, basically, a powdered multivitamin in the morning and one in the evening, and you don’t take them with food, to avoid any sort of competition.

Carrie: Wow. That’s clever.

Jonathon: It’s very clever. So props to them. Carrie nor I are getting any money for these recommendations. They’re just products we use. The thing that’s really neat, I noticed, about the Caltons’ multivitamin, which is called nutreince — again, available on the same store — is that if anyone’s ever taken a standard over-the-counter vitamin before, you experience what I like to call neon urine.

Carrie: Oh yes, that.

Jonathon: Neon urine. It sounds like a rock band.

Carrie: It’s just normal for me, so I hadn’t even thought to mention that.

Jonathon: That’s simply because a lot of those vitamins and minerals are not getting absorbed and are getting excreted out through your urine. I notice that when I take nutrients, my urine is not neon.

Carrie: Well, we’re happy to know that, Jonathon.

Jonathon: It’s cool. The supplement industry in general is sketchy as heck, talking to someone who has been deeply involved in the supplement industry for over a decade. It is really, really sketchy. I know Jayson and Mira personally. They are amazingly integrity-driven people and they’re very, very smart. Having met them and shaken their hands in person, like, they care a lot about this. I’m not sure the multinational conglomerate that puts out Centrum Silver gives a crap about whether or not their vitamin actually works. So that’s another reason I’m a fan.

Carrie: Okay.

Jonathon: So we have multivitamin.

Carrie: We are hitting them out of here.

Jonathon: We are hitting them out. The next one — me personally, Carrie, I — this isn’t a supplement. But I’m going to say powdered egg whites.

Carrie: All right.

Jonathon: Do you need to get powder? I mean, you can just eat eggs. You can eat regular egg whites. You can eat liquid egg whites. But using the powdered egg whites in things like smoothies, in baked goods, is just phenomenal. People are like, “Why aren’t you eating the whole egg?” Remember, we’re not talking — eggs are super food. They’re fabulous for you. We’re just talking about if you want a concentrated protein source rather than trying to find a whey protein or a casein protein that doesn’t have a bunch of other garbage added to it. Not that whey or casein is bad for you — they can be phenomenal for you — but they can also have a bunch of things like sucralose in them, which I’m not 100 percent sucralose free. I’ll be the first to admit it, because it’s delicious, but I digress. It’s very easy to get pure powdered egg whites and to use those to supplement your protein intake.

Carrie: I actually just added some smoothie recipes to my new book, which is Eat Smarter! Smoothies and Sides. I added recipes to the smoothies, and all of those use powdered egg white instead of whey protein.

Jonathon: Boom. So next on the list would be another form of protein powder, so casein or whey or pea or hemp or rice for the vegan and vegetarian crowd. If you’re not a vegan or vegetarian, you should be using whey or casein. You should be using casein if you’re just drinking it throughout the day because it’s a slower absorbing protein. You should be using whey before, during and after workouts because it’s a faster absorbing protein.

But personally, I think food sources of protein are delicious. Meat and fish and eggs are great, so get your nutrient-dense sources of protein. But if you’re in a time pinch and you want to have a green smoothie for breakfast, throw in some casein in there. Throw in some egg whites in there. It’s good stuff.

Personally, do you need protein supplements? I think there’s plenty of delicious whole-food protein, but I personally take whey protein before and after my workouts. I sometimes make recipes that call for casein-based protein — a product called UMP. Again, by that company Beverly International, which bakes incredibly well and is delicious. I sometimes use egg whites in smoothies.

Carrie: You’re covered.

Jonathon: Boom. And then finally, this is going to get more into the — I think for general health and wellbeing, that’s it; you’re pretty much covered. For athletic performance, things like creatine. If you’re trying to get stronger, creatine is one of the most deeply studied substances out there. It’s good stuff.

Actually, for general health and wellbeing, a garlic supplement is a great idea because a lot of people do not eat raw garlic consistently. Garlic is one of these whole foods that is therapeutically good for you. If you go on Amazon, for example, there are these garlic tablets which are, basically again, dehydrated garlic — raw garlic — that you can just take like a pill.

Carrie: Which is why Jonathon always is gargling mouthwash when I show up at the recording studio. Because he eats so much garlic, he thinks he will be antisocial if he doesn’t.

Jonathon: It is true. There are other things the paleo community is awesome at that are — bone broth, for example. I guess you could consider bone broth to be a supplement. But again, before you go out and spend a bunch of money on supplements, make bone broth. It’s incredibly nutrient dense, and it’s wonderful for you, and it’s a food, so that’s great.

Like we said, again, for athletic performance — things like creatine are going to be good options. If we would want to do a podcast about athletic performance, I’m not hugely an expert in that area, but there are a bunch of rabbit holes we could go down for that as well.

Carrie: Let’s not do rabbit holes today.

Jonathon: No rabbit holes for today. So Carrie, what were your thoughts on some of that supplement overview?

Carrie: I think it was very concise. For me, it cuts out a lot of the noise on should I be doing this? Should I be doing that? Raspberry ketones — our favorite anti-supplement. There’s so much noise, especially on the Internet about this supplement and that supplement, and this will do that for you and that will do this for you. It can become so confusing. I think to have that list of however many it was — five or six things that we can do to supplement — makes it very simple, very easy to know what we should be doing, where we should be focusing if we want to, and keep us away from all the noise of these other miracle supplements that really aren’t.

Jonathon: And we said this on an earlier podcast. It’s worth bearing in mind, again, nobody — nobody — in the world who is struggling with overweight or diabetes is struggling with those things because they’re not taking a certain supplement. That can’t be the cause of obesity and diabetes as evidenced by the fact that those supplements didn’t exist prior to the obesity and diabetes epidemics.

Nobody, and I mean nobody — you are not struggling because you are not taking a supplement. Write that in big giant letters on a sticky note and stick it to the face of your credit card, because before you give your credit card to anyone who is selling you a supplement, the cause of your struggles is not a shortage of that which you are about to buy. The only reason to supplement is to take an already brilliant lifestyle and to make it even better as we’ve described here, or in cases like if you’re traveling or you just circumstantially can’t do a giant green leafy salad.

For example, when I travel, I have — it’s not actually cod liver oil. It’s powdered fish oil, which is foul. That’s why not a lot of people use it. But I have a little container of powdered fish oil. I have a little container of my desiccated beef liver tablets, and I have a little container of my greens. So I literally have my fat, protein and carbohydrates.

Carrie: It’s like you’re going to the moon.

Jonathon: It’s like I’m going to the moon. Again, are those supplements? Of course, I have my multivitamins with me. But, again, you are not struggling if you are struggling because you have a supplement deficiency. Please keep that in mind.

If you do want a consolidated list of the things Carrie and I just mentioned, they can all be found on Thecaloriemythbook.com as well as Thesmarterscienceofslim.com. None of them are produced by us. Again, these are just brands we use and we link to their sites, so you can get a consolidated list from those sites.

Carrie: Jonathon goes hard-core again.

Jonathon: Boom — I love it. Well Carrie, thank you as always for the lovely question. Listeners, remember, this week and every week after, eat smarter, exercise smarter, and live better. Chat with you soon.

Carrie: See ya.

This week we cover what role supplements play in a SANE lifestyle.