Jonathan: Hey everybody, Jonathan Bailor, back with another bonus SANE show, and very excited to bring you now, a long-time friend of the show, someone who I have known and loved for a very long time, and someone who I know you know and love, and has some exciting stuff coming out. J.J. Virgin, welcome back to the show!
J.J.: I think you just like saying that name, Jonathan.
Jonathan: J.J., it is a pleasure to have you here. It was really nice meeting you in person finally a few months back.
J.J.: I know, it is about time, man.
Jonathan: J.J., the reason I wanted to bring you on the show, specifically, this time, though I know you have been on a couple of times, is to focus on one subject that I know is near and dear to both of our hearts. That is the subject of a whole book you are putting out, and that is, sugar. Sugar, sugar, sugar. What inspires you to really take all that you have been doing and focus it in on sugar?
J.J.: I sort of had to. It was interesting, the number one question on the Virgin Diet was sugar. It seemed like people were either totally confused. Can I have agave? What about artificial sweeteners? Or they were controlled by it. They knew they were supposed to be getting it out of their diet, yet the cravings just overtook them. And I thought, all right, I am taking it on. And it was interesting because I was not that excited about sugar as I started working with it, because I do not have a sweet tooth, so to me it was just like: “Just stop eating it. Put the cookie down. What’s the problem?” But as I got into it, I am now obsessed with it; obsessed with it. And what I am most obsessed with is the absolute B.S. crap out there that is being reported.
You know, I was just reading something. The American Pediatric Association recommends that you shouldn’t have juice more than six ounces if you are six years old or less, but if you are seven years old, limit it to 12 ounces a day. And I am thinking, “That is 37 grams of sugar, people!” Are you kidding? Apple juice is worse than a Coke. This is the kind of stuff that I have been reading, and thinking, “Wow. This is our number one drug of choice, worldwide. It is taking down our health, and we are using the wrong lens to look at it, and it has to change.”
Jonathan: What do you mean by wrong lens? I could imagine it is this whole idea of, “Well, you could drink up to 12 ounces of it,” because we don’t say, “You can smoke up to three cigarettes per day, and chances are you won’t get lung cancer.” You probably won’t, but why do we have that lens?
J.J.: We have that lens because we have been using this ridiculous idea of the glycemic index, and that has left us just fat, tired and aging, because the glycemic index makes two massive boo-boos. Number one, it doesn’t look at the amount of foods, so it makes you think that carrots are the same as a potato. I mean, how ridiculous is that? And number two, it makes fructose look like it is a great thing because it reads low on the glycemic index. I kept looking at this thinking, “Why hasn’t anyone addressed this?” Finally, I decided, “I am just going to make up a new scale.”
So, I looked at glycemic loads, how much of something you actually ate, and I took fructose grams, because fructose, as we both know, is the worst sugar of all, and fiber and phytonutrient density, and then I put them all together. Then I also took things in there like artificial sweeteners, which have their own special hall of shame. And when you look at it that way, it honestly makes perfect sense, and you would never think, “Oh, okay. I can have that strawberry low fat yogurt with the 26 grams of sugar that is like having an ice cream cone-and-a-half.” Or the American Pediatric Association – I am calling you out, American Pediatric Association, yes I am, for the 37 grams of sugar in the 12 ounces of juice, which, if you are having apple juice, it is higher in fructose than a Coke. And that is over two ice cream cones’ worth of sugar you just told a little kid that they were good to have. No wonder we have kids having fatty liver. Ridiculous, right?
Jonathan: But it is inspired by fruit, so it has vitamins and minerals in it, so it is okay then, right?
J.J.: It must be okay, it is from fruit. You know what is sick, too? You want to hear another one? You can tell I am so flipped out. As I started looking at this, I thought, “This couldn’t possibly be.” I wish I had this right here. It is the Green Machine Drink. First of all, on the front of the Green Machine Drink it says, “No sugar added.” And you turn it around and it says there are ten different greens in there. Well, yes there are miniscule amounts of these ten little greens, enough to make it look green and call it Green Machine, when in reality it is mango puree, and pineapple, and apple juice concentrate; it is all of this crap. It is 56 grams of sugar. It is more sugar than a soda, and you are thinking you did something great for yourself, and you are stirring the pot of diabetes. It is no wonder 86 million of us are pre-diabetic now. It is crazy.
Jonathan: If you were to sit down with Joe the Juicer, or this guy from fat/secondarily dead, what would you say to him?
J.J.: Isn’t it funny? “I am juicing now.” And I’m thinking, “Stop the juicing.” Here is the thing. Here is what you should do. If you are juicing kale, cucumbers, celery, cilantro, you are putting it all in your juicer and you are having all of that, including the pulp, and maybe throwing in some chia seeds, too? Awesome. But you are not, are you? You are actually putting those things in, but you are also throwing in an apple, and you are throwing in some carrots and some beets, and then you are just taking the juice, none of the fiber, so it goes, Boom! Pow! It hits your blood sugar.
So, you have two things going on; very bad for these two to happen at once. You have the regular sugar, because it is not just straight fructose. As we know, fruit is not just straight fructose, you have some glucose and fructose in there. The glucose elevates your blood sugar, raises your insulin, and the fructose goes straight to your liver and tells your body to start making fat, so it is a double whammy of bad stuff happening. I would tell that juicing person that if they want to put it all in the Vitamix and just make a veggie puree of just vegetables and only the nonstarchy, low glycemic ones, cool. But people won’t drink that, because it is nasty.
And, even just straight green drinks, if you were just to drink a green drink without the fiber and sip on that all throughout the day, you are still raising your blood sugar. So, we have to look at these things. And by the way, are we really supposed to be eating all day long? Do we really need to do that? We don’t need to be doing that. If you are eating all day long, you are raising your blood sugar, raising your insulin. Do you need to access your stored fat for fuel? No, you do not, because you just ate. Now you are a sugar-burner all day long, so it makes no sense anyway. We have to really retire this whole juicing notion, it is just crazy.
And can I blow this green smoothie cleanse up, too? Please, while we are at it? Just to make a lot of enemies fast? There are those green smoothie cleanses out there that are loaded with fruit, that have you drinking these things all day long and then snacking on fruit. That is horrific. That is making us diabetic. You can’t release toxins without protein, so the idea of having of no complete amino acid spectrum, doing all this juicing, freeing up and the toxins, and then not getting them out of your body, and wondering why you feel so hypoglycemic and crappy? Well, that’s why.
We have to look at these things and wonder when someone is calling it a health food, what is really behind it? What is the marketing behind it? And there is a big difference between eating a whole apple and drinking apple juice. The other side of it is to have this USDA My Plate that recommends five servings of fruits and vegetables as if a quarter cup of raisins is the same as kale. I just got a nice note from the Ocean Spray Cranberry people, because I attacked their Craisins. They said, “You know, they have the same calorie content and sugar content as raisins.” And I am thinking, “Yeah, and those are bad, too.” “And we had to use some sugar on them because otherwise they are not very sweet.” And I am thinking, “You cannot justify this to me. The email you just sent out, I am so tempted to post to my Facebook page. Everything I tell people not to do, you just somehow tried to say is good in this email.” But, if you give people the choice between fruits and vegetables and they think they could have a potato or they could have kale, or they could have ketchup or they could have broccoli, or they could have apple juice, or they could have asparagus, what are they going to choose? Come on.
Jonathan: It is a travesty that they will equivalence-class the fruits and the vegetables. This is an over-simplification, but you could imagine defining fruits as vegetables with way more sugar. Basically, they are just sugary vegetables.
J.J.: That is a great way to put it. I guess we could take our broccoli, pour on some apple juice concentrate, and turn it into fruit. That’s a great way to put it. I just had a client email this the other day – he’s new, he didn’t know yet, and unfortunately he asked me two questions and got in trouble for both of them. He asked me what I thought about cheat days, splurge days. And I was thinking, “You know, people who are dialed in, who aren’t food addicts, never ask me about a cheat day.” And then he said he had just been keeping fruit around, so he had just been snacking on fruit, because it is a free food, right? No.
Jonathan: I love that you brought up cheat days, J.J., and I am curious what you think about this, because I am sure you talk about sugar addiction in the Sugar Impact Diet, as well. Sometimes people will ask me about cheat days and I say, “Well, do you know anyone who has quit smoking?” They usually say yes. And I say, “Well, I will tell you what. Why don’t you go tell them to have a cheat day, AKA, smoke all of your cigarettes on one day, and then don’t smoke any cigarettes for the rest of the week.” Because the more we are learning about sugar, the more we are seeing it is almost the equivalent to something like nicotine or cigarettes, correct?
J.J.: It is worse. In fact, if you look at that study they did at the Connecticut college on Oreos and morphine, they found that Oreos and morphine triggered the same reward center in the brain. They were both addictive, except when the rats were given a choice between the morphine and the Oreos, they picked the Oreos. If you then say sugar is a drug, because clearly it is, if you were a drug addict, if you were an alcoholic, would you say, “You know, today is going to be a cheat day?” People aren’t cheating and thinking, “You know what? I am going to have a cheat day. I am going to eat a huge grass-fed rib-eye.” Cheat days are dairy, gluten and sugar, and that is the Trifecta of our drug of choice, right? There it is.
Jonathan: It is a terrible Trifecta. J.J., does this mean that that if we read The Sugar Impact Diet, we are going to come away saying that we can never have the taste of sweet ever again?
J.J.: That book wouldn’t sell well, would it? Here is the deal. First of all, when I decided to take this on, I am very realistic, and the idea that we are never going to eat sugar again is ridiculous. But the real answer there is that not all sugar is created equal. It is knowing which to choose and which to lose, which is why I made these brand new scales, looking at fructose, glycemic load, and nutrient-dense fiber. I rated foods high, medium, and low sugar impact. What happens is, people say, “Okay, I am not going to eat any more sugar.” Then they go cold turkey, and a day or two later, they have totally lost their minds and they are nose-diving into cookies.
I don’t do that. The first thing I do is have you look at all the places it is sneaking in, because even for you and I, who are into this, I found that there were things sneaking in that I really actually didn’t even have any idea about, like balsamic vinegar. You find all the places they are sneaking in, and then you taper down over at least a week, depending on your symptoms. And then at that point, for two weeks I have you go total low impact, and remove all the fruit, because the more fructose we eat the better we get at transporting it. we elevate something called the gluc-5 transport system, so I take it all out.
I tried it with 700 people who were my rough cases, they were my problem children, they were the ones saying, “I can’t get off the sugar!” I did not make it easy on any of us. I wanted to show that in two weeks you could get rid of your sweet tooth, whether it was genetic, whether it was acquired, whether it was due to stress, whether it was due to Candida, whatever the heck it was. So, that happened. In two weeks, the average person lost ten pounds, 2-4 inches off their waist – insane – and lost their sweet tooth, more importantly.
And then we would go back and say, “Let’s start putting some medium sugar impact foods back in your diet, because some of them have a place, like a sweet potato. And then, let’s do a high-sugar impact challenge, and let’s see how you feel that week, so you know where you can be on the scale. Do you need to stay low all the time? Can you do low and medium? Can you have the occasional high? How do you feel?” When you connect the dots with people, you change the conversation. It is not just, “Oh, I am just going to have a cheat day.” They say, “You know, I feel like crap when I eat that; I don’t want it. My energy dumps; I get gassy and bloated.” What I found was that people actually didn’t even want it at that point. They had broken through that addiction; they had broken the triggers. It tasted too sweet; it tasted disgusting. That is what I was setting out to prove, that you can just get rid of this so it is not an issue for you anymore.
And then learn what are the best choices so you will not dupe yourself into thinking that Jamba Juice smoothie, or that Skinny Latte – yes, I am talking Skinny Latte and all that crap over there at Starbucks, those muffins that are like Hostess Cupcakes. And that is not to say that there are not great choices at those places; there are. But you need to know, so that you don’t get duped by the marketing and think you are doing everything right and still struggling with all these symptoms.
Jonathan: Resetting that sensitivity, J.J., is such a compelling and empowering point, because I think the message that people like you and I are trying to communicate is not that we are anti-sweet, or that you will never taste anything sweet, but if you have lived in America, or any western culture for the past 40 years, you have been subject to a food supply which has created a supra-tolerance. It is like someone who could drink a 24-pack of beer and not get a buzz, and then they wonder why they have liver cancer. Once you do this reset, once you have that experience, I kid you not, J.J., and you may have had this experience, where you eat a raw almond and you can taste sweet in a raw almond. When you get that level of sensitivity, you still get sweets, but you don’t need a dose that will kill you to have that enjoyment. Right?
J.J.: Right, because right now we are eating foods that are so overly sweet. As we know, the reason the food companies like fructose is that it is sweeter, and we’re putting artificial sweeteners, which is another whole issue, into things, so we are making things so uber-sweet that we have desensitized our sweet tooth, and the more sweet you eat, the more sweet you want. And honestly, you do get to the point where a sweet potato is so sweet, cinnamon is sweet, vanilla is sweet. And that is really normal, right?
Jonathan: When you get that sensitivity to sweet back, it also makes some other aspects of a healthy lifestyle good. For example, if you are conditioned to super-sweet and you try kale, you will think it is bitter and disgusting, versus if you have a more sensitive palate, let’s call it, if you have that appreciation for sweet, you try things like super-dark chocolate. You try things like green, leafy vegetables, and they taste significantly different because you are actually able to taste the little bit of sweetness that is in those foods. Does that make sense?
J.J.: Absolutely. It is retraining people to really appreciate savory, and spicy, and sour. In fact, sour is one of the best ways to get your sweet tooth under control, because it actually crashes your sweet tooth. Donna Gates taught me that one. A really good way to start doing this is just even some lemon water. And of course, as we know, a bunch of lemon juice and water can help control blood sugar when you are eating, too, so double-win.
Jonathan: And mix a little green tea in there and you have a super Trifecta of health goodness. Well, J.J., I know you are absolutely slammed, so I know we have to cut it short a little bit on time today, but can you tell us a little bit about, obviously we have covered a little bit about the Sugar Impact Diet book so far, but where can we get it, what are some of the key reasons we are going to enjoy it, and where can we go to learn more?
J.J.: Thank you. I think the biggest thing about it is that it is going to show you a brand new framework for looking at sugar that makes so much sense, I don’t know why it hasn’t been out there before. By looking at fructose grams, which was hard to do, by the way, and glycemic load, and nutrient-dense fiber, it is really going to give you this idea of, “Hey where should I focus eating the most from?” Because, as we know, we don’t focus on calories, we focus on where those calories come from. I divided that into seven different categories. And then, what should you be careful with? What are the yellows, and what are the real caution foods. And then, also, looking at a framework that can help you taper down and get off of sugar so it really isn’t an issue for you anymore so you will be able to be transformed to connect the dots in what you are eating and how you feel and what you weigh.
You can pre-order right now at Barnes and Noble for 50% off, but November 4th it is out. I wanted it to come out right after Halloween when everybody is thinking, “Enough!” To have some really good strategies going into the holidays so that the holidays don’t take you down again. And then, of course, you can get info at sugarimpactdiet.com.
Jonathan: I love it. It is always good to have a macro take on things, but there are these things like sugar which sometimes we just need a dedicated, isolated focus on, to really kick that. I think this will be a great resource for folks who need that focused effort, to once and for all, not get rid of sweets, but to take that control back, and to ensure that your enjoyment of sweets doesn’t kill you, or compromise your life in other ways, right?
J.J.: Exactly. Here is the thing. Even if you think you are doing everything right, if you don’t have energy, you have gas and bloating, you are not losing weight, your waistline is not going down, maybe your focus isn’t there, your mood, what I found with the healthiest people, they are still surprised by some of the things in this book that they never realized were medium or high-sugar impact. So, wherever you are, it is this great little spring cleaning for your body to really get it back under control, because let’s face it, the lower you can keep your insulin, and the more blood sugar control you have, the longer you live well, because that is the best way to slow down aging. Sugar in any form is the most aging thing that we can do, and that includes artificial sweeteners.
Jonathan: Brilliant. Well, J.J., we didn’t even have time to talk about artificial sweeteners, but I am sure you do much justice to them in the book, and again, the book’s title, folks, is the Sugar Impact Diet. Of course, the author is the always insightful, and beautiful, and lovely, J.J. Virgin. Thank you so much for joining us again today, J.J.
J.J.: Thank you. Good seeing you.
Jonathan: Viewers and listeners, I hope you enjoyed this chat as much as I did. Again, J.J.’s new book: Sugar Impact Diet. Check it out. And remember, stay SANE. Chat with you soon.