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Thanks for joining us for episode 72 of The Ancestral RDs podcast. If you want to keep up with our podcasts, subscribe in iTunes and never miss an episode! Remember, please send us your question if you’d like us to answer it on the show!
Today we are very excited to be interviewing Chris Masterjohn, Ph.D.
Chris Masterjohn earned his Ph.D. in Nutritional Science in 2012 from the University of Connecticut at Storrs. He served as a Postdoctoral Research Associate from 2012 to 2014 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he studied interactions between vitamins A, D, and K.
He is now Assistant Professor of Health and Nutrition Sciences at Brooklyn College in Brooklyn, New York where he is continuing his research on fat soluble vitamins.
He has authored or co-authored 10 peer reviewed publications, and he writes an awesome blog called “The Daily Lipid” and produces a podcast by the same name. You can also follow his work on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, You Tube, and Snapchat.
The amount of research, viewpoints, and tips flooding our minds about nutrition is overwhelming to say the least. If you’ve been wondering how you can possibly make sense of it all, don’t miss today’s podcast!
Today Chris Masterjohn connects the science to our everyday life so we can make practical changes to positively affect our health and well being. Join us as we discuss the hot topics of carbohydrates and sugar and how you can intuitively figure out your appropriate intake in the context of your lifestyle. As a bonus, be ready to be inspired and equipped to approach weight loss by connecting to your body instead of fighting against it as Chris shares his personal weight loss story.
Here are some of the questions we discussed with Chris:
- What do you think about the low carb bent that seems to be so prevalent in the Paleo and ancestral health community?
- What’s your take on sugar as a part of the diet?
- Do you have any thoughts about a percentage of calories from carbs that works well for most people, or even a range?
- Are there any take home tips for our listeners who want to lose weight but are struggling? Is there anything that worked super well for you that you feel like is important to share?
- The Daily Lipid Podcast
- Chris’ 2012 Ancestral Health Symposium presentiaton “Oxidative Stress and Carbohydrate Intolerance”
- Episode 23 of The Daily Lipid Podcast: “How I Lost 30 Pounds in Four Months, And How I Knew It Was Time”
- Men’s Health article: “6 Guys With Ripped Abs Tell You Why It’s Not Worth It“
- Danny Lennon’s interveiw with Melissa Davis
- Follow Chris on Facebook, Instagram, You Tube, Twitter, and Snapchat
Laura: Hi everyone. Welcome to episode 72 of the Ancestral RDs podcast. I’m Laura Schoenfeld and with me as always is Kelsey Kinney.
Kelsey: Hey guys.
Laura: We’re going to skip the intros again this week because we have a really awesome but quite long interview with a really awesome guest today, so I don’t want to waste any time blabbing on about our boring lives. But before we get to that interview, let’s hear a quick word from our sponsor.
I’m really excited to have our guest on with us today. Chris Masterjohn earned his Ph.D. in Nutritional Science in 2012 from the University of Connecticut at Storrs. He served as a Postdoctoral Research Associate from 2012 to 2014 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign…I actually don’t know how to pronounce that location…
Chris: Yeah, that’s Champaign.
Laura: …where he studied interactions between vitamins A, D, and K. He is now Assistant Professor of Health and Nutrition Sciences at Brooklyn College in Brooklyn, New York where he is continuing his research on fat soluble vitamins. He has authored or co-authored 10 peer reviewed publications, and he writes an awesome blog called “The Daily Lipid” and produces a podcast by the same name. You can also follow his work on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, You Tube, and Snapchat. Wow, you’re really getting a lot of social media going on here, Chris.
Chris: I’m not on Pinterest!
Laura: Oh, not yet. Just you wait, you will get sucked in one day.
Laura: But anyway, welcome to the show, Chris. We’re glad to finally have you on here.
Chris: Thank you so much, Laura. Thank you, Kelsey. It’s great to be here.
Laura: I know a lot of our audience knows who you are and certainty have been following your work for many years. I think you and I met in like, I want to say 2011 at one of Weston Price conferences that my mom dragged me to. I remember specifically it was like the last day, the Sunday getting dinner where they do that buffet style just to finish all the food. And it was you, Stephan Guyenet, and my mom talking about God knows what because at that point I hadn’t been in nutrition school and I was just like, what is going on? And I just remember sitting there feeling like completely out of my league with the way that you guys were talking.
Chris: I remember talking about potatoes. I remember talking about whether all humans were related to one another regardless of whether you’re looking at evolution or the Bible. I remember your mom saying that she wanted to read all of Stephen’s blog posts. Stephen was like there’s over 300, good luck with that. I don’t really remember much else from that dinner. I also don’t remember what year it was, but 2011 sounds right.
Laura: I think it was 2011. I want to say it was, or maybe it was 2010. It was either 2010 or 2011. But I remember me being totally just like confused and bewildered.
Kelsey: I can’t believe you went to that before you even started nutrition school, Laura. I can imagine that look of overwhelm during the conversation.
Chris: It would be easy to find out because it was the one Weston A. Price conference where Stephan had presented.
Laura: Well it was in Pennsylvania. It was the King of Prussia one.
Chris: Oh, okay.
Laura: I only remember that because we drove because it was only an hour and half or something from our house in New Jersey. My mom has been going to the conferences since I believe the first one, right Chris? I think you and her used to carpool or something to the conferences, which bless your heart. I don’t know how you handled that. No, I love my mom.
Chris: Used to carpool is exaggerating. The first conference that I went to, I drove her home from it and dropped her off.
Laura: Oh, okay.
Chris: So it was a one-time thing.
Laura: Oh, it was only one time?
Laura: I don’t know why I had thought you had done it more than once. But that’s how I first met you guys. I’m not surprised you were talking about potatoes. That’s very typical of Stephen Guyenet.
Chris: Well, actually this is a great memory to bring up because Stephan’s presentation was on carbs and he looked at carb intake across different populations. I think one of the most fascinating things was looking at the traditional diet of the Tukisenta, and they estimated their carb intake at 96% of their calories.
Chris: I think that’s the one case where from the data that Stephan presented, it looked like they managed on it but they started growing late and they eventually caught up, but most other populations would have had their growth spurt 5 or 10 years before they did. I think that was because they weren’t consuming enough protein and maybe some other nutrients. But also, 96% was probably an exaggeration because they only looked at what they ate in the camp and they didn’t look at what they were collecting when they were out about.
Laura: Oh, okay.
Chris: So they were probably eating a lot of insects and stuff when they were out gathering food that wasn’t accounted for. But yeah, I mean that talk was I think if we’re going to talk more about carbs today, that’s sort of a perfect memory to recall.
Laura: And carbs are definitely continue to be a hot topic in the Paleo community. We were joking before we got on the call today that we don’t really know why they’re still so controversial, but I think it’s because of all the conflicting information out there on the internet.
It’ll be so funny, like I’ll be scrolling though Facebook and see Dave Asprey share something like how to get bulletproof with intermittent fasting, and then literally the next thing I see posted is Stephanie Ruper being like here’s why intermittent fasting is bad for women. And I’m just like now I see why everyone is so confused because literally you scroll half an inch on your phone and you’re seeing two different, completely different recommendations for nutrition.
Chris: Part of the reason these things never get reconciled is because people are always looking for what the good things are and the bad things are. So right from the get-go, they’re asking the wrong question. The question isn’t is intermittent fasting good for women, or bad for women, or is it good for men and bad for women, or whatever. Intermittent fasting can be a useful tool and depending on the context, intermittent fasting can be good for you. That’s true for men and for women, and maybe there’s probably biological differences and also social differences because women are subject to different kinds of stress and maybe a different cumulative stress burden on average than men are and that’s probably age dependent as well.
But there are a variety of reasons where if you were to group all men together and you were to group all women together, you could come up with a few reasons to say that it’s not good women. But would you mean by that is that in the average context on average with the average intermittent fasting protocol, you have a greater probability of seeing negative effects instead of positive effects when done in women compared to men. But it’s still comes down to what is the individual context for this particular person and it useful to them or not?
I think that we’re always trying to reduce this down to…and that doesn’t meant that everything has to be overwhelmingly complex, it’s just the way that we simply things. We need to move away from simplifying things down to these absolute statements about whether something is good or bad, and start trying to simply them down to a few intuitive tools that people can use to determine if it’s right for them in the context that they’re currently operating in. So we can still simplify it, but we need to make the questions more about context and less about good and evil debates.
Laura: That’s perfect because we want to talk about carbs and sugar, and are carbs and sugar bad? Like you just said, obviously context is a huge piece to answer that question for an individual. I know this is such a huge topic so it’s almost hard to ask the question, to start narrowing it down to what we actually want to talk about. But what do you think about the low carb…I don’t know if it’s accidental or if it’s still purposeful at this point, but just generally the low carb bent that seems to be so prevalent in the Paleo and ancestral health community?
Chris: Well, I think there’s a lot of different flavors of that low carb bent. I think there are some people in the Paleo community who just view low carbohydrate diets as a particular tool that are useful for a lot of people. I don’t really see any problem with that at all. However, there’s also certain mythologies about carbohydrates that have been developed in the low carbohydrate community. When I say the low carbohydrate community, I don’t mean to cast this blanket over everyone who identifies as a low carb researcher or something. You’re going to get some people who have a more nuanced, and sophisticated, and scientific viewpoint. But you also get a lot of material that tries to simplify reasons to eat low carb in ways that grossly sacrifice the accuracies.
I’m not saying that someone who is a scientist studying low carbohydrate research would promote this idea, but people have heard things like…well let’s take one example that was popularized by Barry Sears. There are essential fats, there are essential amino acids, but there’s no essential carbohydrate. That’s true, but number one, it’s sort meaningless because we have this really weird terminology in nutrition where we define essential as meaning the body cannot synthesize that thing in sufficient quantities to be able to completely restrict it from the diet. And it’s really academic and totally not practical in the way that we use that terminology. Quite often it has no correspondence to the things we actually need in our bodies.
So there is no essential carbohydrate because carbohydrate is so physiologically essential to the body that we have this very robust capacity to be able to make it when we don’t have enough in the diet. But that doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily optimal to be making it because when we start relying on the process to make carbohydrate, gluconeogenesis, that comes at the expense of increased stress hormones because one of the things that governs gluconeogenesis or the production of new glucose when we don’t have enough is cortisol. If you’re getting into the point where you’re increasing gluconeogenesis, you’re probably relying more on cortisol and that probably has negative effects in terms of governing how you’re spending your energy, and what your cumulative stress burden is, and things like that. There are also costs, for example when you’re engaging in gluconeogenesis, you’re also taking energy out of other places that could be used for antioxidant support, and nutrient recycling, and things like that.
The idea that there’s no essential carbohydrate, it’s true when you’re using the theoretical academic concept of what is essential, but it doesn’t have any practical meaning. So the problem is the people who take that simple phrase impute practical meaning to it and then they take away from that statement okay, it’s important that I eat protein, it’s important that I eat fat, but it’s not important that I eat carbohydrate. And that is taken grossly out of the context in which the original statement was made.
Then there are other things like did you know that there’s only one teaspoon of sugar that’s circulating in your blood at any given moment? That’s true and so profoundly irrelevant to anything practical that just saying it is likely to massively mislead anyone who hears it. Because when you think about that, it’s sort of like…first of all, I would say that… and this kind of goes back to even in science.
To take a break for a moment, even when we’re not talking about lay people and we’re just talking about scientists, so many scientific conclusions have been misleading because people assume that the concentration of something in the blood reflects the amount of that thing in the body or reflects what’s happening, when in fact everything in the body is dynamic. Things are always going in and out of the blood. So whenever you’re trying to understand what’s happening in the body, you’re taking these static snapshots and you have to sort of take a lot of information to try to construct what’s actually going on.
But on a practical level, when people hear that, they calibrate their sense of what is a little bit of carbohydrate and what is a lot of carbohydrate to this idea that a teaspoon is what you need. And did you know that if it were two teaspoons, you would be dead because you’d be in a diabetic coma? It’s sort of like, okay, but that’s completely irrelevant because if you eat two teaspoons of carbohydrate, your body is going to allocate that, no matter glucose intolerant you are, your body is going to take that and allocate it so that you don’t go into a coma. You would have to be in the most inconceivable profound of disease to be able to not tolerate two teaspoons of carbohydrate and put that carbohydrate where it needs to go so you don’t have a coma. I think that because of these things, we have a lot of people who are just calibrating their sense of what is a little and what is a lot of carbohydrate to these very kind of misleading ideas.
Even if we back away from some of those things, and I’m sure you’ve observed this, the same thing happens when people are not enticed by these misleading ideas and they are just starting to say remove dairy products, and remove legumes, and remove grains, and remove this and that. Automatically because they’ve removed so many things that have carbohydrates, they’re spontaneously eating less carbohydrate, they’re probably spontaneously eating less calories, and then they calibrate what is a lot or a little carbohydrate according to whatever their new intake is that they’ve gotten used to. So they may cut out without even trying to, they may cut out 100 grams of carbohydrates and then suddenly they think that if they add in 30, they’ve made a big increase to their carbohydrate intake, but actually they’re nowhere near what they used to be eating.
Also I think just when people are around a lot of other people who are restricting carbohydrates, they start to think they’re eating a lot. So when I was at AHS, I was talking to someone over lunch, I won’t give their name, but who’s popular in the community, and been a speaker, and so on. And we were sitting down and talking about this person’s carbohydrate intake and they said, I think I’m eating a lot of carbohydrate because all the low carb people around me are like astonished at how much carbohydrate I’m eating. I said do you realize that you just defined your carbohydrate intake based on what all the low carbohydrate people are eating? Once you move your reference point to what other people are doing in the low carbohydrate community or to what ketogenic dieters are eating, you lose your reference point to the reality of true carbohydrate distribution in healthy diets.
Laura: Mm hmm.
Chris: The reference point should be globally in people who are in good health, who are eating traditional diets, who don’t have a lot of disease. What is the range of carbohydrate intake that you see? If you’re using that metric, even if you’re excluding diets that are built on modern refined carbohydrates, but if you just use that metric, suddenly the idea of what is the average carbohydrate intake that I should measure myself against as the reference point is moving upwards into the hundreds of grams instead of like 60 grams.
Laura: Right. I was actually just talking to some friends yesterday. I ran into them at Whole Foods and they were really low carb for a couple of years and then they’ve been saying, oh because of your Instagram posts and stuff we’ve been adding carbs back in and now we’re not really low carb anymore. It was funny because the wife was like well, I feel like you’re still low carb to the husband. The husband’s like, I don’t know, I eat like 120 grams per day. I was thinking to myself, I’m like yeah, that’s still kind of low carb in the grand scheme of things.
Laura: It is funny, like it’s not even just about what other people are doing. It’s even if you yourself have this mindset around carbs that you cut out so much for a long time, even doubling what you were doing before, if you were only eating 50 grams before, you’re still only eating 100 and that’s for most people from a percentage of calories, still in that low carb zone.
That’s something I know Kelsey and I both see a lot of clients where we have to retrain them to what an appropriate amount of carbs looks like. Because if they’re not actually weighing and measuring their carb intake, or sweet potatoes, or bananas, or whatever, they’re like oh I had a whole cup of sweet potatoes today, it was so much. It’s like, yeah, that was like 40 grams of carbs. Where else are you getting carbs from?
That’s something at least on social media I’ve tried to show my meals. Which, Chris, I know you’re like that’s hardly any food at all! But just to be like here’s all the carbs I’m eating and this still isn’t that much. I feel like there’s so much…I don’t even know how to describe it. Even in the real food community, let alone Paleo, it’s just people just have no concept of what an appropriate amount of food looks like when you cut out processed foods that are high calorie.
Chris: I think that’s a good segue to share the story that I was sharing before with my mom. I don’t think she’ll mind.
Laura: I hope not.
Chris: My mom was recently running a lot and focusing on losing weight, and her hair started falling out and she started developing skin problems, and actually all these experiences motivated her to become a health coach. Anyway, about a year ago, all these things were happening and her TSH had sky rocketed. And we were talking through this and I was saying one of the thinks she should try doing is eating more carbohydrates. She started more carbohydrates, and it wasn’t working. It wasn’t until I took the time to think about it and then had her start tracking her calories for a couple days to actually look at what she eating until we realized that she was eating so little food, that to her maybe for a meal she would have a broth based soup, and maybe it had some carrots or some this or that, and then she would add potatoes into it.
If you imagine cutting up a medium size potato and adding it in, if you’re baseline is very little food and very little carbohydrate, that can feel like oh yeah, I’m adding a lot of starch to this meal. Then you calculate it up and you see that you’re eating 900 or 1000 calories a day and you’re eating like 50 grams of carbohydrate a day.
Chris: It’s not until you actually counted that you can even get a sense of what you are eating, let alone what is your reference point. I remember somewhere on social media, I remember, Laura, you had made this point I think it was maybe on a Twitter debate about tracking calories and you were making the point that you need to track your calories sometimes to make sure that you’re eating enough.
Chris: I think that’s a perfect example of this. I think most people would probably not be good with tracking calories most of the time. But very often, tracking what you’re doing for even if it’s for 2 or 3 days or a week can open your eyes to what the numbers actually are. Because it’s very easy to be so calibrated to your habits, that you really have no vantage point.
Laura: Right. I mean this something I’ll even sometimes check in and say, oh my gosh, I only ate 1700 calories today. I thought I had eaten a lot because I was eating lots of fruit, and lots sweet potatoes, and that kind of high volume, high water content carb sources. I’ll get to the end of the day and be like, wow, I should probably eat more because I don’t think I’m going to sleep well I f I don’t get at least 18-1900 today. Even people like me who are educated in this can sometimes unintentionally fall short because of the nature of a whole foods plant heavy diet. Kelsey and I see this day in and day out with both our individual clients and our group clients with our “adrenal fatigue” program. That’s something that we’ve been working really hard to try to change people’s perspective on because it is insanely common.
One thing about carbs that I’d like to get your opinion on, Chris, is it’s easy to convince people that eating sweet potatoes, and fruit, and maybe even God forbid a potato once and a while, like a white potato, or white rice, or something here and there is okay became those are whole foods. People see them as being approved by the ancestral health community. What’s your take on sugar as a part of the diet?
Chris: When you say sugar, do you mean natural sugar? Or do you mean refined sugar?
Laura: Well, I guess maybe we can talk about if there is a difference, but things like honey, maple syrup, actual sugar either like raw sugar or white sugar. I’m sure there’s people out there that follow the work of Ray Peat and that kind of stuff that think actual white sugar is a good to have.
Chris: Yeah, I would say I probably on a typical day I take in somewhere between 30 and 60 grams of raw honey. I’d prefer to put more maple syrup into my diet just because that’s a really good source of manganese, but it’s so slippery. I have raw honey on top of cheese as a dessert and maple syrup will just drip off the cheese.
Laura: Oh, when you slip slippery slope, I thought you meant like you couldn’t handle not drinking half the bottle or something.
Chris: Oh, no, no, no. It’s a traction issue.
Laura: Like literally slippery.
Chris: It’s just a traction issue. Anyway, I think a good vantage point to talk about sugar is Weston Price’s research because I think understanding the detrimental impact of refined foods, really anyone who is aware of the history would go back to Weston Price who documented this so comprehensively and extensively at this unique window of time that wasn’t available to anyone outside of the 1920s and 30s.
I’m guessing that your audience probably is mostly familiar with Price, so I won’t go into great detail. But basically Price was a pioneer in nutritional anthropology. He was operating in the 20s, 30s, and 40s and he explored initially looking for freedom from tooth decay but eventually documenting all kinds of physical degeneration happening across the globe on different continents and different cultures, people with different genetic backgrounds, and climates, and altitudes, and all kind of things like that.
He documented that as people would move from their traditional diets that were based on whole foods to what he called the displacing foods of modern commerce, which was white flour, white sugar, syrups, and canned goods, and white rice that they would not only get only get tooth decay, and not only get dental deformities of the dental arch, but they would become vulnerable to all kinds of all other infectious, cancer, etc. degenerative diseases that we associate with modern society. I think the key thing there is that Price called these white foods, he called them the displacing foods of modern commerce because his theory about why they were so harmful was that they displaced, they were foods that didn’t have nutrients and they displaced the foods in the diet that did have nutrients.
What is really informative is looking at what Price did with that information. He had his own clinic where he was treating dental patients, and actually his clinical experience is very rich with other things that he was able to resolve like seizures, and learning problems, and all kinds of things like that. But he would take people who had rampant tooth decay…and this was during the Depression as well.
Basically the time period is one in which we had discovered how to refine foods, but we didn’t know about nutrients. So we were just starting to learn about vitamins and we were totally oblivious to the fact that refining the foods was getting rid of all of the nutrition. Then in Price’s time, other pioneers were discovering the vitamins and promoting people eating things like egg yolks, and organ meats, and leafy greens, and whole grains, and things like that. But it was also the case that we heading into the Depression now and so many people didn’t have the economic resources to do that. I remember my grandmother during the Depression would eat white bread covered with lard and sugar. Eventually that lard got replaced by Crisco.
These people that he’s dealing with were eating all of their meals at home except the one meal that they came in and ate with Price. Those other meals were loaded with coffee, and sugar, and refined crap at least 2 meals of the day. Then they came in for the meal with Weston Price and he would fill them with as much nutrient dense food as he could possibly find. He would give them cod liver oil, he would give them this butter oil extract that he made from cream that he was importing from Texas that had really great soil so it had really super nutrient dense butterfat. Then he would rotate different kinds of stews with bone broths, and with meat, and fish, and organ meats, and eggs. And then he would grind his own whole wheat and he would give them whole wheat rolls that he would top with butter, and then he would give them several glasses of milk. Then that would be one course and then he would allow them to take as much food as they wanted after that.
First of all, the primary thing he was investigating was dental health so the main thing he documented was that he didn’t have to do oral surgery on their cavities because their cavities would just refill themselves. But he also documented things like teachers would say this kid can’t learn anything. Probably we would label them with at least learning disorders or if not autism or something like that. They would miraculously recover. One kid was having seizures and probably the kid’s seizures were hypokalemic seizures because the nutrient density of the diet was so poor, and they just went away when Price started treating them.
What is I think fascinatingly informative of that in this context is they were eating a bunch of refined foods. Price’s model was refined foods are a problem because you displace the traditional nutrient dense foods. So I’ll take them in with me for one meal a day and I will fatten them up with so much nutrient dense food that there’s no way that displacement can happen. If anything, he was letting them eat so much food with him, he didn’t document it, but probably they went home and they weren’t as hungry for the sugar loaf or whatever they were eating in the morning because they ate so much good food with him that night. He didn’t need to remove all of the sugar from the rest of their diets.
I actually think Price was right on. I think a lot of people, and we can go into the science of why if you want, but in summary I think that most of the other ideas about why sugar is so bad that have come after Price were more or less wrong. If you look at some of Stephen Guyenet’s blogging, he talked about an old study where obese people started consuming a liquid diet where all of the carbohydrate came from sugar, but there was nothing palatable in the diet because of the way that it was mixed together. It was just straight nutrients. Their calorie intake spontaneously decreased to 600 calories a day even though they were eating as much as they wanted. They lost all this weight and etc., etc. But you take sugar and you put it in the context of something that is designed to make you eat more of it, then of course you’re going to get fat eating that diet.
I think that’s important, but I think that in terms of the intrinsic properties of refined sugar, that Price was pretty much spot on. Whether refined sugar is bad for you or not is dependent on how displacing is it to the other nutrients in the diet? If you’re eating 20% of your diet as a diversity of organ meats and you’re eating like 20% of the volume of your food as the most nutrient dense plant foods you can think of like dark greens, and leafy greens, and assuming that you tolerate all these foods digestively and otherwise, you could probably get away with quite a bit of refined sugar. But if your main sources of nutrients are eggs, and meat, and thin fish, and whole grains, and whatever, these sort of things that have a lot of nutrients but they’re not super foods as some might call them, then I think it becomes important to make 80 or 90% of your diet be things that are relatively nutritious. Because you’re operating so marginally that if you start having sugar take up 30 or 40% of that diet, you may not be getting enough zinc, or you may not be getting enough calcium, or this or that. It’s not about the amount of sugar in that sense, it’s about the total nutrition of the diet.
Laura: Mm hmm.
Chris: Different people depending on what else they’re eating are going to be able to tolerate a little bit of refined sugar or maybe quite a bit of refined sugar if the rest of their diet is so top notch. But it’s still the case that if you look at honey, and maple syrup, and unrefined cane sugar, you have a lot of nutrients in those. Unrefined cane sugar is a great source of chromium, maple syrup is a great source of manganese, and honey has hundreds of compounds in it. Some of them are nutrients, but there’s a lot of fibers and stuff that are good for the gut in honey. There are so many things going on in these foods that I eat almost zero refined sugar, but I eat quite a bit of sugar from natural fruit, and natural honey, and things like that.
Laura: Yeah, it’s funny because sometimes I’ll make recommendations to my clients who are struggling to get enough carbs in because of either fullness or digestive discomfort. Especially if you go from a very low carb diet to one where you start adding in a bunch of high fiber carb sources like fruit, and sweet potatoes, and stuff like that, it can be hard to get the volume in. I’ll say, oh well why don’t you put some maple syrup on the sweet potato to add some carbs and not have to get two cups because that’s a lot of volume. It’s just funny because I feel people are so, I hate to use the word brainwashed, but like there’s so much rhetoric around sugar being like a toxin, and it being addictive as cocaine, and all this stuff, or heroin I guess maybe, that people are so afraid of having sugar in their diet that even things the like you were saying honey, maple syrup, unrefined sugar that they’re just like that’s bad for you let alone looking at the rest of the diet or even what the person’s carb needs might be. It’s kind of cool hear you say that you’re eating that much of it.
Chris: The cocaine thing is silly because I’m pretty sure that’s referring to the dopamine rush that you can get. But dopamine plays an essential role in motivation and goal orientated behavior and the last thing that you want to do is try to flatten out your dopamine spikes. In an animal experiment, anything that’s palatable in the diet, or anything that’s novel, if you just expose a rat to something new, they’ll get a dopamine rush from that.
Dopamine has gotten this bad wrap as the thing that mediates pleasure, and reward, and addiction. I think people ignore the fact that dopamine plays a really essential role in motivation. A lot of people who are just in a bad slump could probably deal with a lot of more dopamine shots in their brain. In humans, I would be quite sure that those dopamine spikes are probably regulated by the things that excite us in life as much as they are by what we eat.
Laura: Yeah. It’s like tell someone you shouldn’t go on any dates because if you fall in love, you might have too much dopamine and that’s just like heroin. It’s just funny how people can kind of latch onto these ideas that are promoted in the diet community. It’s almost like what you were saying before about oh there’s only essential protein and fat, but no essential carbs. Well, that doesn’t really explain why someone would eat a high saturated fat diet because saturated fats are not essential. It’s just kind of like picking the things that sell or that are easy to market.
Chris: If you go back to that essential idea, it’s sort of like if you use that as the guiding principle of how you construct it to your diet, you’d be eating this purified, reconstituted diet that had nothing but linoleic acid, alpha linolenic acid, and the essential amino acids. Man, that would taste really bad. But it probably wouldn’t be healthy either.
Laura: And you probably only need a couple hundred calories to get you to the point of covering your essentials.
Chris: The things that are not essential are generally not essential because they’re so essential physiologically that we’ve evolved in this context where we had to be able to make those things because we wouldn’t be able to survive and replicate if we didn’t. So to say that something is not important because it’s not dietary essential is almost backwards.
Laura: Right. I would think that things that we can make, like that’s what your body wants. If your body would go into a coma if your blood sugar gets too low, then obviously sugar is somehow necessary. Even if it’s not necessary to have a liter of Coke every day, it’s still necessary to have some kind of sugar production or consumption. Like you were saying before, just because your body can produce something, doesn’t meant that’s optimal.
I think that’s something a lot of people don’t understand about carbs is that yeah, you’re not going to die from not eating carbs. Obviously there’s people out there that are on very low carb if not almost zero carb diets and they’re not keeling over. But is that optimal? Is that supporting health goals? Maybe not.
I wonder with the carb question, I know caveat here is that you tend to be very gray area, no single recommendations for anybody, but do you have any thoughts about a percentage of calories from carbs that works well for most people, or even a range?
Chris: I actually don’t think of that percentage of calories is very useful for carbohydrate. It’s definitely not useful for protein. I think protein needs should be expressed grams per kilogram, or per pound lean mass, or simplified to per pound bodyweight, or something like that. I think that’s also true of carbohydrate, it’s just that whereas protein needs are going to be largely determined by your lean body mass or whatever your target lean body mass is, your carbohydrate needs, they’re quite a bit more flexible and they’re going to depend on other contextual factors that have a lot more to do with what you’re doing and the context that you operating in rather than what you are.
So protein, if you’re 150 pounds, and you’re X percent body fat, and you’re this many pounds lean mass, it’s relatively straightforward to say this many grams is what you should be eating for protein each day. Maybe change it if you’re doing this type of exercise or if you’re having X body composition goal. But for carbohydrates, it’s more complicated. It’s not that you can’t make recommendations, it’s just it becomes more complicated to take those contextual factors into account and there are grey areas. But we can talk about how do you intuitively and simply navigate the gray areas.
One thing that we can start out pointing out is that probably in most people it would be fair to say that your liver is going to contain maybe 90 grams of glycogen and probably your skeletal muscles are going to store somewhere around 200 grams of glycogen. That can change, but that’s a decent baseline to say. So you probably have 300 to 400 grams of carbohydrate in your body when your glycogen stores are replete, somewhere around there.
I would say that for someone who is sedentary, who is not placing any demand on their muscular glycogen supply, I think it’s a very good idea to make sure that your liver’s glycogens stores are full by the time you go to bed. It’s better to overshoot that than to undershoot that. One of the things that I see in cases where people are restricting carbohydrate is a lot of times these people seem to have trouble staying asleep at night and sometimes they wake up either a few hours after falling asleep or a few hours too early in the morning.
I had a consulting client once who was eating 60 grams of carbohydrates a day doing Cross Fit I think 5 times a week and was waking up three hours earlier than he wanted to with his heart pounding, and sweating, and had to pee real bad. That’s an extreme example, but I would say there’s a lot of people who have more moderate examples of that where they just wake up at 4 or 5 in morning even though they want to wake up at 7, and even though they feel they should be sleeping until 7 or 8, or they fall asleep easily but then a couple hours later they’re waking up. It’s really common for those signs to be associated with a pretty low carbohydrate intake.
My working idea to understand what’s going on is I think by and large, these are people who are not repleting their hepatic glycogen stores, meaning the carbohydrate supply in their liver at night. Either they’re running out, or more likely as they’re using…just to clarify, in between meals it’s your liver’s glycogen supply that’s used to sustain your blood sugar. If you need to tap into your liver’s glycogen supply, you basically mediate that in a few different ways. The first stage is that insulin falls. And if that helps your normalize your blood sugar with no extra help, the second stage is that glucagon rises. Glucagon is a hormone that antagonizes insulin. Then the third stage is that the adrenals, particularly cortisol, are going to rise. And all those things will stimulate greater glycogen breakdown in the liver, but as the further into those stages that you get, particularly with the rise in cortisol, that’s going to have a greater impact in increasing gluconeogenesis, which is the conversion of other precursors to glucose.
I don’t think your hepatic glycogen stores need to get empty for that to happen. It’s just that the more and more you go through that supply, the more you have a proportional increase or decrease in these other hormones that mediate that response. So the lower the hepatic glycogen stores are, the greater the probability that you’re going have a cortisol spike. Your cortisol is supposed to spike once you get up and you’re exposed to sunlight. But if your cortisol is spiking three hours earlier than that because your hepatic glycogen stores are not being repleted, then you have a real problem because homeostatically your brain is saying that you need to be sleeping, but then you have all these counteracting hormones that are supposed to rise when you’re waking, and they’re just popping up a few hours early.
I don’t think it’s easy to see that on say a blood test because how are you going to measure say your salivary or urinary cortisol while you’re sleeping? I think a lot of the tests that you would promote are useful, but there’s a certain point when you have to infer what’s going on just based on the symptoms the person is experiencing. You could catch urinary cortisol immediately after the person wakes up, but all the sudden that’s confounded by the fact that when you wake up, you turn the light on, that should rise your cortisol. There’s no way to look at what it was before you woke up.
Laura: Mm hmm.
Chris: Another piece of this puzzle is I think if you’re peeing a lot more than is justified by the water intake that you had been having, then that also I would regard as a sign of increased cortisol. Because ordinarily you have this hormone vasopressin that’s preventing you from peeing, and when cortisol rises, it suppress vasopressin so increased cortisol response makes you pee. Of course if you’re drinking a lot of water, you’re going to have to pee that out. But if you’re waking up to pee in the middle of the night and you’re like wow, there’s no way that the amount I drank yesterday can justify all this, I would regard that as sign of increased nighttime cortisol as well.
Chris: I said 100 grams is going to replete the hepatic glycogen, but that’s for a person who’s not active. No one should be totally sedentary. If you‘re adding in light walking, or you’re adding in yoga, or something like that, I don’t think that you’re going to have a major tax on your muscular glycogen. But you are going to start taxing your muscular glycogen if…I don’t know exactly where the line is, but once you get to say 65% of your VO2 max, which is your maximal oxygen consumption…so we could say that if you’re operating over 50% intensity, you’re probably tapping into a lot of your muscular glycogen.
Even though your muscular glycogen is supporting exercise and you’re liver glycogen is supporting normalizing your blood sugar between meals, it’s still the case that if you have a limited carbohydrate supply coming in, and you’re doing exercise that has a high demand on muscular glycogen, you’re basically telling your body, take that limited carbohydrate supply and stuff it into the muscles. That exercise still will tax your liver’s glycogen indirectly because if you don’t have enough carbohydrate to support both, and you’re biasing it to the muscle, that’s going to potentially leave your liver left over into the point where you can’t sustain your blood sugar between meals particularly in an overnight fast where you’re going 10, 12, 13 hours without a meal.
So I think saying 100 grams for a sedentary person, and maybe 200 grams for someone who’s doing a moderate amount of half or more than half maximal intensity exercise, and then maybe like 300 grams for someone who’s mostly doing high intensity exercise and is doing it for 3 to 5 hours a week or something, then you could go way higher than that when you’re talking about elite athletes, but I think that sort of 200-300 gram range is covering most people as a starting point. But then I think what you need to do is titrate your dose up or down based on the signs and symptoms that you’re experiencing.
If you are ordering tests and you’re looking at it from a clinical data perspective, then looking all of those things that you talk about all the time with your HPA axis makes a lot of sense. But again, I still think you need to sort of also on top of that infer the things that are going on that you can’t really test, like is this person having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep? Does this person have other signs of stress? Maybe they have low thyroid symptoms, but the thyroid numbers don’t explain that. Maybe stress hormones explain that. Maybe they’re peeing too much, sleeping troubles, all of these other potential things that we can look at. I think if anyone is experiencing that, then you need to titrate it up.
I’m not saying that people should eat 500 grams of carbohydrates a day, but I do want to point out that what happens when you eat 500 grams of carbohydrates in a day is, as long as that’s not over supplying your calories, is you just shift into carbohydrate burning. I’m not saying people should eat that much as a starting point by any means. Probably most people shouldn’t be eating that much, but I think we need to sort of set the record straight that unless you have an extremely severe profound disease state, you eat 500 grams of carbohydrates in a day, what you’re going to do is mostly burn carbohydrate for energy and you’re not going to go into a coma.
Laura: Yeah, but Chris, wouldn’t that put more than 2 teaspoons of sugar in your blood?
Chris: (Laughing) Yeah, it would. I want to make one more point.
Chris: There are a lot people who…and actually this goes to a point about sugar. There are a lot of people who have genetics for salivary amylase that produce relatively low levels compared to other people. Salivary amylase is an enzyme that is as its name suggests is present in the saliva and it breaks down starch into sugar. You may ask the question like why is that even important because why don’t we just break that down in the intestines?
It turns out that probably the primary function of that enzyme is to let your body know when you’re consuming starch so that you can prepare to allow an influx of starch sourced sugar into the blood and be able to accommodate it and allocate it correctly. In people with low salivary amylase, they are less starch tolerate than they are sugar tolerant. So you can you give those people glucose and their glucose curve will remain relatively stable if they don’t have diabetes or something like that. In otherwise healthy people, it will remain relatively stable. People with low salivary amylase, you give them starch, and they’ll get a spike in their blood sugar and then a drop in their blood sugar.
A lot of people who feel that they can’t tolerate starch without blood sugar swings, I would say one of the first things that they should try doing is consuming like one or two teaspoons of honey before they eat the starch because what the sugar in the mouth does is tell your body that a carbohydrate load is coming in and that allows your body to accommodate it. I think it’s an important point to make because I think it’s probably counter-intuitive to most people. Most people who want to think about increasing their carbohydrate intake are going to think about increasing their starch because if they’ve been immersed in the low carbohydrate idea, they’ve probably been immersed in this particular idea that sugar is worse than everything, so probably the last thing that they would want to put in their mouth is a natural sugar. But that may be the key to helping some people who can’t seem to tolerate starch to actually tolerate the starch.
Laura: Do you have any estimates with how many, like what percentage of the population that would apply to?
Chris: Off the top of my head, I don’t. I will say that in the show notes, it would be helpful to link to my AHS presentation “Oxidative Stress and Carbohydrate Intolerance.” In that presentation, I actually show data from one of the studies and I think there’s’ probably data in the paper that that was derived from about what proportion of the population it would be. But I don’t remember. So that was I think that was from 2014. In any case, we can link to that.
Laura: Yeah, definitely.
Chris: But basically there’s a lot variation in that. If you look at people who are taken from cultures that have a history of eating a lot of starch, then they have a lot more salivary amylase then people who don’t who come from cultures where they weren’t ancestrally eating a lot of starch. But even within those cultures, there’s a lot of variation and it’s driven by duplications of the genes. I think it’s tough to say what the cut off would be also because it’s not like there’s a single nucleotide polymorphism and you can say 20% of this population has this single nucleotide polymorphism. It’s like within this population, there are people who have 2 copies, 4 copies, 6 copies, 8 copies, 10, 12, 14 copies of this gene.
Laura: It’s more like a spectrum.
Chris: Yeah, it’s more like a spectrum so I don’t know where the cut off would be. I think the practical thing to do is to base it on signs and symptoms. A lot of people moving from a low carbohydrate diet to a higher carbohydrate diet are going have this problem anyway just because they’ve been on the low carbohydrate diet. Obviously just like if you eat fat, you become fat adapted, if you eat carbohydrate, you become carbohydrate adapted. You’ve talked about this in past podcasts and it just takes some time to adapt.
Laura: Mm hmm.
Chris: But there’s also the issue of if someone’s not adapting, or even as a preemptive move, if someone’s not sort of etiologically opposed to consuming a little bit of natural sugar, I think that it makes sense just to try it and see what the response is. If you can try it a few different permutations and you find that you do better when you include some sugar at the beginning of the meal, then it’s sort I don’t see why you need to measure someone’s salivary amylase genetics to just sort of take what works and go with it.
Laura: Right. I feel like that can apply to a lot of these questions. People always want to have a test that supports exactly what they’re doing. I feel like 9 times out 10, you can use your personal experience to guide these things way better than any single test is going help answer that questions.
Well, I was going to say we have so many things that we could talk to you about, Chris. And I don’t want to hold you to long since I know you’re a busy guy and certainly don’t need to do a two hour marathon podcast or anything like that.
One thing I did want to ask you about real quickly since this is pretty relevant to recent events or recent stuff that you’ve published, you went through a bit of a kind of fat loss journey in the last couple months or the last year or so where you had a couple different approaches and ended up being able to get in pretty good shape based on the photos and stuff that you shared. Obviously, a very effective protocol that you went through. Any like top three take home tips for our listeners who want to lose weight but are struggling? Anything that worked super well for you that you feel like is important to share?
Chris: Yeah. Number one would be shut out all of noise both from other people and from yourself about what your body composition should be. I think the only reason that I was able to effectively lose the body fat that I wanted to was because I spent the proper time de-stressing and actually moving myself to a position where I was able to do that. Actually there were a lot of things that I didn’t talk about in my post that were psychological. I spent months just studying my own psychology and understanding why I was feeling the way I was, why I was burnt out. Some of those things were about environmental factors that I needed to take under control.
I think one of the things that in sort of the ancestral health community and in the general health and wellness community, I think we are increasing our consciousness about how your thoughts determine your reality. I think sometimes we can go to the extreme and say it’s not about what’s happening in your life, it’s about how you cope with it and how your perceiving it, and as long as you get up in the morning and make a list of things that you’re grateful for, everything’s fine. I think that’s super important and think that’s it’s really to important to emphasize that, but I think we have to not lose sight of the fact that it’s also the case that like if you are under a lot of financial stress, or you’re in an abusive relationship, or you’re in a job you don’t like, all of the many different problems that we can say about people’s situations, there are all kinds of them. Practicing gratitude, and mindfulness, and all of those things can be really helpful in helping your understanding how you need to fix your situation, but I don’t think we should ignore the fact that some situations just need to be fixed before someone can actually fully get the most out of mindfulness and gratitude.
Chris: For me, part of what I had to do was just rearranging my priorities in life, and figuring out how to fix the problems that I was experiencing, and how to fix the psychological patterns, and all of that. I had to do all of that and I had to spend time de-stressing. To be honest, the reason I was able to lose so much fat is because I had just accepted the fact that if eating ice cream was going to fall asleep at night, I was going to eat the ice cream, and I was going to get a little bit fatter, and I was going to get good sleep. If you look at maybe half of people respond to stress by eating more, and as a result they get fatter.
I think that we really have to appreciate the fact that if your body is packing on the pounds at a particular time when you’re under a lot of stress, it’s probably because your body is “worried” that it’s not going to have the energy supply needed to get through that stress. Putting on those pounds by listening to your body is maybe not the best thing in the long term, but in the short term it may be what your body needs to be able to reach the point where it isn’t worrying about whether it’s going to make it through this stress, it’s like a form of self-assurance.
I think there’s two cases. There are people who are in stress, and they’re gaining weight, and they’re trying to force their bodies to stop. Or there are people who just lost 30 or 40 pounds and they can’t get off the last 10 or 15. They’re trying to force it and it’s not happening. I think in both of those of cases what you need to do is put your psychological and your physical wellbeing, like your whole body health, mental, and physical, and emotional health above the concern about losing weight. Stop being concerned about it and fix these other factors about your health.
For me it was once I got to the point where I could take a breather and feel like my life was kind of sorted out, feel like I had the time to take off from work and just experience other things, then I felt a natural motivation to start getting fit again. When I started lifting weights, I really didn’t have much of…I used to be really muscular back in my early 20s and so once you build a lot of muscle, your body remembers that muscle. So I really didn’t have a choice except to eat 3500 or 4500 a day to pack on muscle during that period. I kind of just had to ride the wave and listen to what my body was needing. Then I got to the point where it just became natural to lose that weight. I would encourage people to listen to my story because my story is unique to me, but when people listen to the full story, they’ll really be able to realize what does and doesn’t apply to them and find some inspiration for that. To find that, it was episode 23 of my podcast. You can go to ChrisMasterjohnPhd.com/23.
Kelsey: We’ll link to that too.
Chris: Yeah, for sure in the show notes. But anyway, I think number one is put your psychological, emotional, and physical wellbeing in terms of being able to sleep well, being able to get through the work day without feeling like you’re hangry, put all of those things above your physique. And just if there’s a voice in your head telling you need to look this certain way, or you feel there’s pressure from other people, just first find a psychological mechanism to block all that noise out because all it is is noise and all it is is just noise that is going to scramble your ability to actually know what your priorities are. And then wait until you feel naturally motivated to lose weight and you feel like it’s relatively easy to do so. If your weight loss is healthy, it shouldn’t feel effortless in a sense that you don’t need to think about what you’re doing, but it should feel effortless in the sense that your body is not fighting you off in losing that weight.
So for me, the limiting factor to be able to sustainably lose weight was that judging by my own body’s senses, I wasn’t precise enough to be able to find the amount of food to eat that would allow me to sleep at night, but would still allow me to lose weight. So tracking calories was super useful for me, but I don’t think there’s one method that’s appropriate for everyone. Maybe for some people, a low carbohydrate diet is the easiest intuitive principal that allows them to induce a spontaneous caloric deficit. At the end of the day, what’s going to be an effective weight loss tool is going to be whatever leaves you feeling satiated, and leaves you feeling energetic, and yet allows a caloric deficit that you can sustain relatively effortlessly over the course of 3 to 4 four months.
And then the other thing is don’t push it further than that. I think many people are exposed to excess moderation. We put moderation on this pedestal. It’s not just in diet, but it’s also in our lives. For example, in America we work X number of hours a week, and maybe we get 2 weeks vacation, and we have pressure not to use the vacation. It’s like we’re doing the same thing all the time and it sort of defies the natural rhythms and seasonality. There are monthly rhythms, and there are seasonal rhythms, and there daily rhythms that are built into nature. I feel like we invented clocks and watches and then we were like okay let’s standardize everything.
I think particularly in alternative health communities and ancestral health communities and whatever, there is this idea that you shouldn’t go on a diet, you should just find the right lifestyle and your pounds will melt off. I actually think that’s kind of silly. Yes, if you go to Kitava, the Kitavans there was no obesity in the Kitava until someone left the island and got fat somewhere else and came back, and then there was one obese person or whatever. So yeah, they didn’t have to think about weight loss. But number one, they never got fat so of course they didn’t have to think about weight loss. But number two, they weren’t eating the same thing all the time day in and day out, and they weren’t doing the same work all the time throughout the year because they lived in a natural environment where they were in touch with the rhythms of nature.
I feel like for weight loss, number one, we have a problem so we have to have a strategy to fix it. But number two, it’s just there’s a time to work real hard and there’s a time to take a vacation and totally forget about work. Likewise, there’s a time to eat intuitively. And if you need to lose weight, there’s a time to come to lose that weight. I think that for people who are actually going to strategize about losing weight, you really can’t push your body more than 3 or 4 months. A lot of these people who are saying I spent the last three months losing weight and I can’t get off this last 10 or 15 pounds, I think the answer to that is you’re done. You lost weight for 3 months. Go do something else, totally forget about it, do things that instead of removing things from your body are actually nourishing your body. Focus on getting more sleep. Find some other health goal that is actually building your body up and then next year find another 3 months where maybe you’ll try to lose that 10 or 15 pounds. But don’t do it now because you just lost 30 pounds, so quit while you’re ahead, and take your gains, and then use those gains. Enjoy the pounds that you lost and come back to it some other time when your body is ready again.
Laura: With the calorie deficit piece like you were saying before, we know that a calorie deficit is required to lose weight. But being in an indefinite calorie deficit is not good for long term health and may actually severely affect the metabolism in a way that causes weight regain.
Chris: Yeah, absolutely. I don’t know what the composition of your audience is like, but I have a couple links that I put in my weight loss post that I think would be good to link to in the show notes. One of these is more geared toward men, one’s more geared toward women, but I actually think both of them illustrate the principal that anyone should be able to get insight from them. But one of them was an article that was on Men’s Fitness, maybe it was Men’s Health. But it was like “6 Guys Tell You Why Ripped Abs Aren’t Worth It,” or something like that. And it talks about they experienced this weight loss and then when they actually get to the point where they want to get a six pack so they can be on the fitness magazine cover. Keep in mind that these are people who because of their unique circumstances can even get down that low for body fat. But personally they talk about the stress that they experience and sacrifices that they make to actually get that six pack. You can read that and be like clearly this person is sort of fighting with their body to get to that point.
Another one is an interview with someone who, her name is Melissa Davis, I think, who works with female athletes and she talks about how do you cycle through losing weight, and building muscle, and things like that. I don’t think you need to be a female athlete to get important points out of that so I think we should link to it. But basically in working with all these athletes, she’s finding that…and on the science out there…but basically there’s a limit to 3 or 4 months where you can actually sustain that caloric deficit before it starts taking those tolls on you.
I experienced the exact same things. At the end of my 4 months, I got down to 143 pounds. And no one would put me on the cover of a fitness magazine, but like 90% of the time I had a pretty good six pack. Right at that time was when I found my baseline anxiety level rising, and I started craving snacks, and stuff like that. I just decided at that point that my body was clearly telling me that my period of weight loss had ended, so I just put 500 calories back into my diet. And now maybe I have kind of a blurry six pack, or right at the right time I might look like I have a six pack like after you’ve worked out and didn’t eat again or something like that. But it’s like I bounced up, maybe I regained 2 or 3 pounds, and then for the last 3 months, I’ve just stayed stable at 145-146 pounds because maybe next year I can get to a lower percent body fat. But it’s really obvious that if I stop and listen to my body, my body is very clearly telling me that that percent body fat that you wanted is not for you, but I’ll give you this one that’s 2 or 3% higher. And you’re abs don’t look as good, but you feel a lot a better, don’t you, Chris? And I’m like, yeah I do.
Laura: Is that the conversation that went down with you and your body recently?
Chris: Yeah. I was like come on body, you can do this, you can do this. And body was like, you got to be kidding me, whatever, I’ll show you what happens.
Chris: I got down to that body fat and my body was like yeah, see what I told you, Chris, and kind of laughing at me. Anyway we made it work. We’re on good terms now.
Laura: Well that’s good. I’m glad you guys are working it out. But I think it’s always really important to remind people that this is a process that involves a lot of self-reflection and paying attention to how you’re responding. Even as much as we all three know about nutrition combined, there’s no way to ever give someone a prescription that will fit them without their input and their experience.
Chris: I want to make one last point on that. I think that there are some things that people can do that have nothing to do with weight loss that might help them get more in touch with their bodies. I’m speculating a little bit here and kind of using personal experience, but I really think that if someone can find a physical practice that helps improve their mind/body connection whether it’s yoga, or dance, or tai chi, or martial arts, or anything like that, I feel like if you develop the greater mind/physical body connection, in doing so you’ll develop a greater connection between your mind and physiology as well.
I feel that a lot of us are kind of operating on autopilot. I tell this story like this is what my body was telling me. I feel like there are probably a lot people who will listen to that and be like, I don’t know what my body is telling me. How the hell would I know what m y body is telling me? I think having a physical practice that involves some sort mind/body control like any of those can be really helpful. And just as you were saying, reflection. If you have some sort of spiritual practice or some sort of psychological wellbeing practice that involves kind of reflecting on your life thinking about your life to the point that you get out of autopilot, it doesn’t have to be so targeted to weight loss like reflecting on what are the things that make me overeat? Just practicing the reflection in general like why am I doing the things that I’m doing in life and what are my motivations?
All these things that we tend to do out of habit, we do it because we were doing it yesterday. I think all of those things can help people get much more in touch with what their body is actually saying to them. And then listen to your body become something that is intuitive instead of something that gets thrown about in advice columns and internet and podcasts and there’s this missing link of how do you listen to your body. I think just any of those things can really help out a lot.
Laura: Definitely. Well, Chris, I feel like we could probably get you talking for hours, which we won’t because I know you’re a busy guy and I’m going to have to throw some carbs down before I go lift in a few minutes. But anyway, thank you so much for coming on. This was great. I feel like I learned a lot and I hope the rest of our audience felt like they learned a lot as well.
I think it’s really good to have someone like you who has such a deep scientific knowledge about this stuff talk about these practical tips because a lot of times that’s where the translation piece gets lost where it’s like well there’s all this data about what’s the right thing to do, and then here’s what all the practical tip people are saying, and how does that connect and what’s actually true and what’s based on science. So it’s always great to have you put your spin on what is a practical way to approach carb intake, and sugar intake, and weight loss and all that stuff. So thanks so much.
Chris: Yeah, thanks for having me on. It’s been fun.
Laura: We’ll definitely be sharing your social media, and blogs links, and all that with our audience if they want to get in touch with you. But you guys can find Chris at ChrisMasterjohnPhd.com. Just check out the show notes for some of those links that Chris mentioned. Hopefully we’ll have you on again in the future
Laura: Because we have a lot that we’d love to talk to you about, so we might have to plan for a few more interviews. But thanks again, Chris.
Chris: You’re welcome, and thank you.