PODCAST: How To Choose A Gym And Personal Trainer (Part 1)

Thanks for joining us for episode 105 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 answering the following question from a listener:

“I would love your criteria or recommendations for choosing a gym and a personal trainer. I don’t have much knowledge in this area and I’m intimated by and typically avoid the gym though I think it could be a benefit to me. At this point it’s been years since I worked out in a gym, so I feel like I’d be starting at ground zero.”

Have you been wanting to begin to improve your fitness level, but are intimidated by the process of finding the right gym and personal trainer that will work for your needs?

We’ve got you covered! In this two part episode, we will be discussing how to choose a gym and personal trainer that’s right for you.

Join us for part one today as we walk you through the factors to consider when choosing a gym such as identifying you goals and determining which activities will help you reach them. We even begin to delve into the benefits of having a personal trainer.

Be sure to join us next week for part two!

Here’s what Laura and Kelsey will be discussing in this episode:

  • The importance of determining what type of activities you enjoy when choosing a gym
  • Why you should try new and different activities regardless of preconceived notions
  • The balancing act of adding variety while maintaining consistency with activities in your workouts
  • The importance of time, frequency, and consistency when looking for results from workouts
  • Why it’s crucial to determine your fitness goals and identify what type of activities will help you accomplish them
  • How considering your strengths and weaknesses will help you determine workout goals
  • The important role a personal trainer plays in determining and coaching your through your strengths and weaknesses

Links Discussed:


Kelsey: Hi everyone! Welcome to episode 105 of The Ancestral RDs podcast. I’m Kelsey Kinney and with me as always is my cohost Laura Schoenfeld.

Laura: Hey everybody!

Kelsey: We are Registered Dietitians with a passion for ancestral health, real food nutrition, and sharing evidence-based guidance that combines science with common sense. You can find me, Kelsey, at KelseyKinney.com and Laura at LauraSchoenfeldRD.com.

Over the next 45 minutes we’ll answering your questions about health and nutrition, and providing our insight into solving health challenges with practical tips and real food.

Laura: If you’re enjoying the show, subscribe on iTunes so that way you never miss an episode. While you’re over there, you can leave us a positive review so that others can discover the show as well! And remember, we want to answer your question on the show, so head over to TheAncestralRDs.com to submit your health-related question that we can answer on an upcoming show.

Kelsey: Today on the show we’re going to discuss how to find a gym and a personal trainer that really works for you. This will be a two part episode and part two will be released next week. Before we get into our question for the day, here’s a quick word from our sponsor:

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Laura:Welcome back everyone! Here’s our question for today’s show:

“I would love your criteria or recommendations for choosing a gym and a personal trainer. I don’t have much knowledge in this area and I’m intimated by and typically avoid the gym though I think it could be a benefit to me. At this point it’s been years since I worked out in a gym, so I feel like I’d be starting at ground zero.”

Laura:I feel like this kind of asks two separate questions because finding a gym versus finding a trainer I think there’s going to be different things that you look for. When we talk about finding a gym, we really have to think about the different types of gyms and what kind of activities this person wants to be doing because I think when people think about gyms and personal trainers, they’re thinking about weight lifting or doing some kind of cardio machine like a bike, or an elliptical machine, or a treadmill. There’s a lot of different types of gyms out there that do a lot of different types of movement. For you and me, I think we’re really kind of focusing on the strength training side of things right now.


Laura:We can talk a little bit more about how we found our personal places that we workout or people that we train with, but I think we need to establish the fact that gyms don’t have to be weight training. There’s a lot of people out there that really hate weight training and don’t want to do it and then will avoid exercise because that’s what they associate with the gym.

There’s a lot of different things that people can do to be active or to work out that are not weight training related and may still be at a gym or maybe at some kind of studio type of thing like a barre class, or Pilates, or something like that that’s not really the same type of gym but may actually be a really fit for the person.

Ultimately my feeling is just to start when you’re thinking about this question is to think about what do you actually enjoy doing because if you don’t like working out with weights, you can try it, you can experiment with things that maybe you’re not sure about or you’re not sure if you enjoy, but generally for most of my clients I would say not to get into something that you don’t actually like doing because it’s probably not going to be enjoyable over the long run and you may or may not be very willing to stick to it. That would be the absolute starting point for most people.

Kelsey:Yeah, I was just going to add that granted if you‘ve tried something you know you don’t like it, then yeah, of course, I agree, I wouldn’t’ recommend trying to do something just because you hear it’s healthy or whatever, but you personally just don’t really like it.

But I do think that a lot of people have preconceived notions about certain types of activities and they sort of just decide not to pursue a kind of activity because of what they think about it or what they think it’s going to be like. Along the lines of what you just said before, certainly try something out if you’re not sure if you’re going to like it. I would really encourage people to do that if there is something that you have maybe heard a lot about and you think it’s probably a really great fit for you in terms of your actual goals but you’re not sure about the activity itself or what kind of people you’d be surrounded by.

Just for strength training for example, I think a lot of people think about those weight lifting bros in a gym and they’re like I don’t really want to be a part of that or that’s just not my scene. And there are a lot of gyms that do strength training and weight lifting that are nothing like that.

I think it’s really important to just open your mind up, toss out those preconceived notions and maybe try a few different places if there’s a specific type of activity that you are interested in but maybe a little bit hesitant about.

Laura:If you had experience with certain types of workouts that you know you really just don’t enjoy as a consistent thing, then again not forcing yourself to do it just because somebody says it’s good for you is I think a reasonable thing to do.


Laura:Just as an example, I had a couple of times in my life where I’ve tried to get into running as a consistent workout and I think the only time I ever actually enjoyed it was when I was living in Australia after I graduated from college and I was living on a beach called Bondi beach. If anyone has been to Australia, I’m sure they have heard of Bondi Beach. Or if you live in Australia, I know you’ve heard of it.

It was this really beautiful kind of built up beach area where there was a path that went from Bondi to a beach called Coogee and it was a couple miles long, I don’t remember exactly how long it was. But it essentially went from right around where I lived up in north Bondi past a bunch of really amazingly beautiful beaches and then up around these cliffs, not like a dangerous cliff, but enough that you can see a lot of things when you’re out there. Sometimes I would see dolphins in the ocean, or whales, or people were surfing.

It was just like a really cool experience and that was the one time I ever really enjoyed running as a workout because it was just so beautiful and half the time I would stop in the middle of a run and just watch dolphins or something.


Laura:Every other time I’ve tried to get into running on a consistent basis at least, I really just don’t like it. I don’t usually feel very good when I’m done. I usually tend to get a lot more sore than my current workout routine. Nowadays I’ll occasionally go for a run if it’s really nice out or if I want to go somewhere…I like to run on the beach so that’s one place that I will do running if I’m at the beach, like when I’m at The Perfect Health Retreat once a year or so. But otherwise generally running as part of my actual weekly routine never worked out because I just don’t have enough desire or interest in it.

It’s kind of an example of a workout where maybe you do it once in a while or maybe it’s like I do it on vacation because I can go run on the beach and it’s nice. But if it’s not something that you actually really enjoy, it’s probably not going to be something you stick with.

Kelsey:Yeah, I feel the same way about running. There’s been points in my life where it was fun for a while, but it’s never something that I have stuck with long term and I think it’s just because it’s not for me. I don’t really like it that much compared to all the other types of activities out there.

Laura:I think another thing that people tend to not consider when they’re thinking about joining a gym or changing their workout routine, this person that asked the question says that it’s been years since he or she worked out. Maybe this isn’t an issue for them, but I would say if you are somewhat active already and you’re looking to change things, one thing people need to think about is whether or not their workout routine could benefit from either more variety or more consistency.

What I mean by that is in variety maybe you’re doing the same thing every day that you go to the gym and you’re just getting really bored and maybe you’re not getting new results or you’re not really seeing any changes to your body that you used to see when you were doing that workout. If you’re in that situation and you want to start experimenting with different types of gyms or different workout routines, that variety that you can add will keep things a little bit interesting. You may find yourself more motivated because it’s more fun when you’re starting something new.

You may keep your current routine, so let’s say you’re doing a strength training routine, but then you figure you want to throw something else interesting in like acroyoga, like just something random that maybe you want to try out. Maybe you’re not going to just full on acroyoga as every workout that you do, but having that variety will help keep things interesting in your schedule and maybe just increase the likelihood that you’re enjoying yourself and not feeling bored.

But there’s a flipside to variety in your workouts and that is that if you’re doing too much variety you’re probably not going to see any significant results from a strength or a big body change because if you’re not doing things consistently, you’re just not doing it enough to actually see progress.

If you’re on the other end of the spectrum and you keep bouncing around between one day you do barre, and then another day you do yoga, and then you do weight lifting one day, and then you go for a run another day, it’s not that that’s bad. You’re not going to hurt yourself if you’re being super diverse with your activity choices.

But I will say that from a results perspective, and this is something I’ve experienced in the last couple years from training consistently, is that you really only start to see results when you are doing something more frequent and in a consistent way where you’re doing it week in and week out for a long time. I think people will kind of get all gung ho about a certain type of workout and they’ll do it for like a month and say I don’t see results, I’m just going to do something else.

I’ll say that a lot of the results that I’ve experienced, and I don’t know if you can agree this this, but the results I’ve seen in the gym personally a lot of them took months if not close to a year to actually accomplish. Just as an example, being able to do a chin up was one of my original goals for weight training and I think it took me somewhere in the 8 to 10 months range to even just get one chin up in the 2 to 3 times a week I was working out.

I know a lot of women that I work with have a goal to get a chin up and the problem is that if you’re not training for chin ups at least once or twice a week every week for months, you’re probably not going to get one.


Laura:That’s fine, getting chin up is not like some miraculous life changer. But if you do have goals like that, you can’t just be bouncing around between a bunch of different workouts every time that you go to the gym. You really do need some level of consistency.

I think depending on where you’re starting, if you’re just square one, not doing anything, I would say find at least one thing to get consistent in before you start bouncing around a lot. But then if you’ve been doing one thing for months and you’re getting a little bored, then you can say okay, what kind of variety might that be? For some people, it might be going from normal powerlifting to Olympic lifting. I’m not making a huge change, but just doing something a little bit different to keep it interesting. Or it might mean adding in something that’s totally different from what you’re used to doing, but it just gives you a little bit of variety.

Kelsey:Yeah and I would say with consistency, that doesn’t mean you have to do something like 5 or 6 times a week to be consistent with it.


Kelsey: I think probably for most activities I’d say twice a week is probably the minimum to really feel like you’re going to progress the longer you do that. Once a week I’m sure you would make some progress overtime, but it might just take you a lot longer. Or just thinking from a strength perspective here, I think if you only did that once a week and you’re doing other things the other days, you may not build the strength that you were hoping to by adding in strength training. I’d say twice a week is probably the minimum that you want to do something to be really consistent with it and really see improvements overtime.

Laura, I completely agree and I had the same experience with strength training. And I haven’t been doing it for nearly as long as you at this point. I’m trying to think of how long it’s been for me, maybe 9 months, something like that.

Laura:When you say nearly as long, I’ve only been doing it for 2 years, so that’s not super long in the grand scheme of things.


Laura:I know a lot of women that they’re like in their tenth year of training and they’re my age. It’s all relative.

Kelsey:It is, it is. I definitely didn’t see really major improvements in anything until I’d say at least four months where I was like noticing, wow, I feel like I have maybe a little bit more muscle or just feel generally stronger.

If you’re giving something a month long try, while you might see some improvement, it’s generally not enough time to notice a major difference in either body composition, or just your general strength, or your general ability to move around differently than you could before. You really do have to give these things some time and certainly some consistency to really see results.

Laura:If you’re going to try something out for a month, it would be more to figure out if you actually enjoy it as opposed to saying whether or not it’s going to be what you want to get the results that you’re looking for. I think if you’re starting from ground zero like this person that asked the question is, you may see faster results in the beginning.

I think that was something I experienced at the gym because I had just come off a couple of months of not working out at all because of my car accident and so I was very out of shape. I think you get that kind of initial bump in fitness from going from nothing to working out somewhat consistently. But then I found that there was a little bit of improvements for a while, but it kind of started to build on itself, and then eventually several months in, that’s was when I started to see more results.

The trial thing, you can definitely figure out if you enjoy something from just an activity perspective. But just to use yoga as an example, if you go into a class twice a week and then by the end of the month you’re like I should be able to do a handstand by now and I can’t, a lot of these things take many months if not years to actually be able to do.

I remember when I was doing yoga, it used to be like I just want to be able to hold crow for a period of time. I wasn’t doing it consistently enough to actually see that happen. I started to feel a little frustrated, but then I was also kind of realistically thinking well if I’m only doing it once a week, I’m probably not going to see miraculous crow just emerge from once a week of doing yoga.


Laura:I think it’s one of those things people can feel a little discouraged especially if you’re in a group class and there’s someone there that’s been going for years and you keep comparing yourself to them. That’s one thing I really like about personal training because there’s nobody to compare yourself to except to your previous self.

But it’s important to remember that you will get fitness benefits from doing things that are not consistent. I don’t want people to feel like if I can’t do something twice a week, I might as well not even do it. There are good reasons to do yoga once a week, or take a run once a week, or a hike once a week. But if you’re trying to accomplish anything beyond just maintenance fitness, then you need to do it more than once a week.

Kelsey:Yeah, absolutely. That’s probably a good segue into talking about what are your goals, what do you want to get out of wherever you’re going to go?

I know for me, I think I’ve talked about this on the podcast before that I tend to go through these phases of what type of activity I’m doing. I was doing yoga for a while, and then I was doing kickboxing, now I’m doing strength training. Strength training has actually been the longest one for me I think.

The reason I ended up starting that was because I truly just felt kind of weak. Like many of our listeners know, I was dealing with a health condition that I couldn’t really exercise for a long period of time. At the end of that once I started feeling better I was just like, man, I feel really weak. I just want to feel strong. My goal was to put on muscle and I wanted to change my body composition as well and adding more muscle was a big part of that.

Of course you started strength training a little bit before me and so I was hearing about your experience as well and that certainly led me more along that path I think. I was just really excited to start that. My goals definitely fit within what strength training would provide. Not that I couldn’t have gotten stronger from other activities, but I knew that that was my biggest priority and I definitely felt like strength training would be the activity that would get me there the fastest.

I think it’s important to think about what you actually want to accomplish whether that’s a body composition change, or a strength change, or maybe you’re going on a trip soon and it’s a heavy hiking trip and so you really feel like you need to have the ability to hike up steep hills. All these different types of things that you can train your body to do better, you need to think about what kind of activities are actually going to get you there.

Laura:I think with strength and I’d say mobility as well, some of that can just be general life preparedness, which I know is a big Cross Fit thing where it’s like you’re basically prepared for all situations and everything that could ever happen. Which not everyone is going to be able to be that level of fitness where it’s like I could climb a building if I had to get away from a zombie or something. But just generally feeling like you can function in daily life, for a lot of people that is their goal.

Just thinking about with strength training how that affects, especially as a woman I feel like it’s really nice to be able to do things physically that give a level of independence, which maybe sounds a little sexist, but I think whatever, that’s my experience that if I can do something that requires strength, I feel like I can take care of myself a little bit better. Or even just something silly as carrying all your groceries into the house in one trip, or moving furniture by yourself, that kind of stuff.

It might not be that you have some strength goal as far as being able to compete in a powerlifting tournament, or deadlift 200 pounds, or whatever these goals might be, it may just be that you want to feel like you can handle whatever life throws at you better and there are some certain types of exercise that’s going to improve that. Whether that’s walking or jogging to build your cardiovascular strength, or weight lifting to increase your muscle strength, or maybe you have a history osteoporosis in your family and you want to avoid that, so that’s where strength training can help.

The goals don’t have to be performance related from athletic perspective. Or when we talk about body composition, it doesn’t just have to be like I want to be sub 20% body fat as a woman or something which would be pretty lean. I think there’s a lot of benefit that can come that maybe won’t leave you looking like a power lifter, or a bodybuilder, or something. And that’s okay. It may just be that you’re a little bit overweight and you want to try to get into a more healthy weight category and that might be the goal that once you hit you don’t really feel like you have to keep pushing a lower weight or anything like that.

Just getting really clear about your goals I think is super important. Or there may be some things that you want to accomplish like running a marathon, which that’s something I probably will never want to do. Maybe a half marathon. I’ve done a 10 mile race before, but running a marathon to me sounds awful. But for some people that’s like that’s a great goal and I want to do that before I die. I have friends that are like ultra-marathoners that have run 50 miles.

Kelsey: Oh my gosh!

Laura:Yeah, so everyone’s going to have their own desires as far as what they want to accomplish and that’s going to impact what you do. Because if you want to run a marathon, doing powerlifting 3 times a week probably won’t get you there. It might give you a little bit of a boost, but you shouldn’t be training for a marathon by weight lifting. And vice versa, if your goal is to get strong, then running 100 miles a week and not doing anything else may not be the best training strategy for you.

If your overall goal is just wellness, which it sounds like this person, they said that going to the gym could be a benefit to them. Whatever the benefit is, whether that’s just health or energy, or being able to handle life challenges or anything like that, I’d say something that’s fairly rounded between strength training and cardio type movement. And cardio doesn’t mean going on the elliptical for an hour. Cardio could literally mean a hike or something, or swimming, or something that just is lower intensity but kind of gets your heart rate up just to build your cardiovascular capacity. Those two things combined I would say are generally good for overall fitness.


Laura:If you’re literally looking to be fitter, then doing something like that is fine. You don’t have to do anything crazy to just get generally fit. I think what you and I do is probably a little bit beyond what we would need for general fitness.

Kelsey:Yeah, I would agree.

Laura:I’m not saying it’s extreme by any means, but it’s definitely more than what we would need if our goal was just overall health.


Laura:It really just depends. And then the other thing that could be taken into consideration here is when you’re thinking about your goals, because I think a lot of people will say I don’t know what my goals are, and I don’t want to lose weight necessarily, and I don’t really care about getting super strong, so what should I set a goal for because that’s the only thing people will think about.

I think there’s two things you can look at when you’re setting goals. One you can look at what you’re good at get better at it. Let’s say you’re pretty strong but you want to get stronger, then focusing on building strength could be more fun because it’s something you’re good at. Whereas like we were saying running, we’re not really that good at running and we don’t enjoy it that much so trying to get better at running may not really actually be a good goal for us.


Laura:The other side of the coin would be if there’s something that you’re bad at and you want to improve, like for example if you’re really inflexible and you can’t even touch your toes and you want to be able to do that, then working on your flexibility for a while might make sense.

I know for me, depending on what I’m good at versus not so good at will somewhat affect my workout goals and it will affect how I work with my trainer. An example is I’m just a very naturally flexible person. I don’t really have to work at it. I mean I’m not like a Cirque du Soleil artist or something, but I am very flexible.

Building more flexibility for me actually doesn’t really make sense or make me any healthier because I’ve actually found that my hyper-flexibility has almost caused some problems like with some back pain and that kind of thing. With yoga and stuff, I was finding that I was injuring my back from doing lots of sun salutations, or just a lot of bending and kind of back and forth forward folds, back bends, that kind of thing. I was realizing that that actually wasn’t making me feel good because I just had too much flexibility and pushing more flexibility was causing some problems.

Whereas we’ve established in my training that one of the things that is a limitation for building strength at this point for me is my core. I tend to have a weaker core. I think some of that is from the over-flexibility and some of that is also from sitting as much as I do unfortunately.

Kelsey:Laura, we’re the same person. You’re stating all of my problems as well.

Laura:Yeah. For me with the training that I’m doing with my coach, a lot of what we do is focused on core strength. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m doing sit ups all day or planks for hours, but a lot of the stuff like heavier squats, or deadlifts, that kind of thing that can definitely involve the core and the heavier things get, the more strength you need to go up in the weight. Focusing on that actually has helping with my overall fitness and physical function on a daily basis because I have more core strength and then I don’t hurt myself doing things as much because my core is more activated.

That’s an example of where if you are too dominant in one area and you keep pushing that dominance, you could actually cause problems. And then if you’re weak in an area, working on building that weakness a little bit can make you stronger elsewhere.

That’s just something to think about with goals because again with core strength, I know everyone is like I want abs and visible abs is like everyone’s goal for whatever reason. But core strength isn’t just about what you’re abs look like, it’s also about how they function. I’d say it’s even more about how they function and thus building core strength for most people is a good goal. It may not make them look any different in a bathing suit necessarily, but they’ll feel better, and they’ll feel stronger, and they won’t throw out their back as easily when they’re moving or whatever happens in life.

This is the kind of goal that maybe is a little bit less obvious compared to something like weight loss or achieving a certain time in race or something like that, but I think it’s a really important goal for people that want to just generally be healthier.

Kelsey:Yeah. You were talking before about that you can push something you’re good at further if you enjoy it because most people of course enjoy things that they’re good at more than doing things that they’re bad at. But what I have found to be helpful for myself is to basically combine what I am good at and what I’m bad at.

For me for example, strength training is actually a really good mix of things that I feel like I’m good at and bad at. The flexibility piece, like you were saying you’re almost hyper-flexible, as am I. That at first was a good thing because a lot of people aren’t flexible enough for example to do a normal squat position. Their ankles aren’t very flexible and so they can’t get into the right position. At first I was very motivated by the fact that my coach was like, oh you actually have all this flexibility so you can kind of get into these positions that for a lot of people that’s what holds them back in the beginning.

I was able to actually build strength a little bit I guess I’d say more quickly from the beginning because I didn’t have to worry about that flexibility piece of it. And now the flexibility piece of it its almost what’s holding me back at this point and what I have to work on and why I have to work on building core strength because I can kind of get into these almost weird positions that cause my core not to be as activated and not to hold me up as much.

It’s kind of a mix of things that I’m good and bad at. And at different times during my lifting career thus far, those things have been a benefit to me or a detriment to me. All this to say basically is that I feel like that mixture of incorporating things that you’re good at and that you’re bad at is for most people going to give them that right amount of motivation to continue with things because you feel like you’re getting better at the things that you’re bad at while you’re also not totally neglecting the things that you’re good at. You’re still pushing things forward that you’re already good at so that feels good of course, and then combine that with the fact that you’re improving things that maybe you were bad at before also motivates you.

Laura:I think just generally being balanced with different areas of fitness is going to just help everything be easier. Like you were saying if you aren’t flexible, it’s going to make it hard for you to do certain movements. But then if you’re too flexible, it’s going to make it hard as well. That’s something that it can be really challenging to figure that out on your own. We’ll talk about this in a second, but this person was asking about finding a personal trainer and that’s where I think getting a trainer can actually really be helpful because you may not be aware of what your weakness are.

If you’re not good at squatting, you may think that that’s because your legs aren’t strong. But you may work with a trainer who points out the fact that you just either can’t get the ankle mobility, and maybe you’ll raise up your heels or something to help with that and then start to build more strength. Or maybe you, again like me and Kelsey have some issues with core strength that once the weight gets heavy you start to lose your tightness and then that makes it hard to stay in the squat position.

Having somebody to actually coach you through the areas that you are struggling with and then also help you build the areas that you are good at and kind of mixing that in so that you don’t just go through a workout and just hate life the whole time because you’re just like this is too hard and I hate this!

Having some stuff that you’re good at can make the workout a lot more fun. That’s where having a trainer or a coach actually can be super helpful to make sure you’re balancing things. Because I think a lot of people when they’re working out on their own if they don’t have a plan, they’ll end up just doing that they are doing because it’s less hard and less uncomfortable. Which it’s not the end of the world if you go and do the same thing all the time, but you’re really not going to make any progress if you’re just focusing on increasing the things that you’re good at.

It can be really hard not only be objective about what you’re not good at, but then also push through the discomfort of not being good at something to get better at it and that’s where having a coach I think actually really comes in handy because if they’re the ones that are putting together the routine for you, you’ll have a little bit more balance across that spectrum of building things that you’re good at as well as improving things that you’re not so good at.

Kelsey:Right, yeah. I have to say that I have loved having a coach. I had started doing weightlifting on my own kind of, or at least sort of in the beginning I had for a period of time done it on my own. And boy, there is such a big difference when you actually have somebody coaching you and making your programing for you. I just wasn’t making really any progress on my own and I think that’s because really I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know how to program the right kind of workout schedule and I didn’t know what things I wasn’t doing right necessarily.

Having that coach really allowed me to see things objectively. Like you were saying before, there were things in my squats that I can’t notice on my own when I’m just doing it, but somebody else watching me can certainly notice. That objective eye is really helpful as is of course somebody who knows how to make a workout program that’s going to address you’re weaknesses and also improve what you’re already good at.

Laura:Definitely. That’s not the only benefit of a coach. It’s definitely one of the bigger ones, but as I found in the last couple of months as life has gotten kind of crazy, and tiring and stuff, that for me I think I’m at the point where I could probably do a pretty good balanced workout routine and I know generally what I need to focus on to improve certain things.

I think there’s still benefit of having the coach, but because I’ve been doing it for two years I’m probably at the point where I could do my own workout if I wanted to. However for me the real benefit at this point seems to be coming from the motivation piece because right now at least because of how busy I am and there’s so many things that I have to do that it would be super easy to just not go to the gym on a certain day if I’m tired or if I have a lot of stuff that I have to get done. Right now having my sessions scheduled with my trainer means that I’m not going to skip it because I paid for and I can’t just bail. I mean I could, but then I would lose money and it’s not a cheap session, so it’s not like I’m like oh it’s just 10 bucks, I’ll just skip it.

We have a lot to talk about with this episode. What we’re going to do is actually cut this one into two different parts. If you were enjoying what we were talking about today, just tune in next week and we’ll be finishing our conversation about how to pick a gym and a personal trainer if you’re starting from scratch. We hope you’ll join us next time and we’ll see you around.

PODCAST: Is Late Night Eating Unhealthy?

Thanks for joining us for episode 104 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 answering the following question from a listener:

“I recently read an article in a major newspaper stating that eating late at night has again been found to be bad for you. According to the article, it can raise risk of cardiovascular disease, weight gain, and deteriorate sleep quality. Personally, I find it very hard to avoid eating at night. If I don’t, I tend to feel hungry when going to bed or I wake up too early because I’m hungry.Sometimes this happens even if I eat rather close to bedtime. I wonder if this might be from some metabolic problem like issues with insulin, leptin, melatonin, or something else. What foods would you recommend to avoid waking up hungry? What’s your take on whether it is actually bad to eat late at night? I found contradicting information when trying to research the topic.”

We keep hearing the warnings to curb late night snacking, but many of us can relate to the familiar hunger pangs of the nighttime munchies. Is hunger at night really a problem that can lead to negative health outcomes?

On today’s show we’ll be discussing whether or not nighttime snacking is detrimental to health and the reasons why you may experience late night hunger. You’ll come away with fresh insight into this controversial topic as well as practical tips on how to promote healthy hunger signaling.

Here’s what Laura and Kelsey will be discussing in this episode:

  • Effects of circadian rhythm disruption on hunger signals
  • Situations where eating before bed is not harmful and can even can be beneficial
  • Why appetite may not be regulated simply by the concept of calories in and calories out
  • Research that suggests increased hunger at night is normal and based on circadian rhythms
  • How the time you eat dinner can affect appetite level before bed
  • The effect under eating calories during the day has on nighttime appetite and waking up hungry during sleep
  • The importance of maintaining blood sugar balance in regulating hunger
  • The effects of stress on cortisol levels, blood sugar, and emotional eating
  • The prevalence and possible causes of night eating syndrome
  • How consistent meal timing and macronutirent balance throughout the day can help balance hunger signals
  • The importance of a nutrient dense diet in supporting healthy hunger signaling
  • Tips on how to support healthy circadian rhythms

Links Discussed:


Laura: Hi everyone! Welcome to episode 104 of The Ancestral RDs podcast. I’m Laura Schoenfeld and with me as always is my cohost Kelsey Kinney.

Kelsey: Hey everyone!

Laura: We’re Registered Dietitians with a passion for ancestral health, real food nutrition, and sharing evidence-based guidance that combines science with common sense. You can find me, Laura, at LauraSchoenfeldRD.com, and Kelsey at KelseyKinney.com.

Over the next 30 to 45 minutes, we’ll answering your questions about health and nutrition and providing our insight into solving health challenges with practical tips and real food. Stick around until the end of the show where we will be sharing updates about our businesses and our personal lives.

Kelsey: If you’re enjoying the show, subscribe on iTunes so that you never miss an episode. While you’re there, leave us a positive review so that others can discover the show as well! And remember, we want to answer your question, so head over to TheAncestralRDs.com to submit a health-related question that we can answer on an upcoming show.

Laura: Today on the show we’re going to be discussing the causes of hunger late at night and how to solve your night eating habits if they’re truly contributing to poor health. Before we get into our interview, let’s hear a quick word from our sponsor:

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Laura: Welcome back everyone! Here is our question for today’s show:

“I recently read an article in a major newspaper stating that eating late at night has again been found to be bad for you. According to the article, it can raise risk of cardiovascular disease, weight gain, and deteriorate sleep quality. Personally, I find it very hard to avoid eating at night. If I don’t, I tend to feel hungry when going to bed or I wake up too early because I’m hungry. Sometimes this happens even if I eat rather close to bedtime. I wonder if this might be from some metabolic problem like issues with insulin, leptin, melatonin, or something else. What foods would you recommend to avoid waking up hungry? What’s your take on whether it is actually bad to eat late at night? I found contradicting information when trying to research the topic.”

Laura: I think what I would like to do is first talk about the controversial suggestion that eating at night is bad for you because I think when we talk about that kind of research, of course just keep in mind that newspapers and magazines like to be a little bit sensational with research information.

This study, I don’t know what study they’re referring to, but it could have been something that said people who eat later than 10:00 at night tend to have obesity, heart disease, poor sleep, blah, blah, blah. A lot of these studies are correlational. I would not be surprised if there was a correlation between people who eat late at night and these health issues. However we have to think about why that correlation would exist and not just say well if there’s a correlation, it must mean eating late at night is bad for you.

There’s a couple of different things that I feel like could lead to late night eating at least in the west, maybe not in third world countries, but in the western modernized cultures. A lot of people tend to stay up a lot later than they maybe should. You and I might go to bed at like 10:00 or something on a normal night, but I’d say the average American is probably not going to bed that early unless they’re super committed to good bedtimes.


Laura: There’s a lot people that stay up late watching TV, or doing work, or just playing around on the internet, or whatever. But a lot of people are going to bed 11-12, 1:00 in the morning later. If you are staying up that late, first of all it just adds extra time awake compared to when you have dinner. If you’re eating dinner at let’s say like 6:00 or 7:00 and then you don’t go to bed until midnight, you’re going to have a 5 or 6 hour gap between eating dinner and going to bed. It’s no wonder that you’d be hungry because a five or six hour break between eating, you’re generally going to be ready for another meal.

A lot of people, they’ll stay up late and then they end up eating before they go to bed. That lack of sleep the next day can affect their hunger, maybe it affects their caffeine intake. If they’re staying up late and then they wake up in the morning and they’re tired, and then they need caffeine, and then that kind of triggers some sugar cravings, and then they may end up just eating more food in general.

If they’re already eating breakfast and then they’re eating a fourth meal at 10:00 or 11:00 at night, then overeating in general is going to lead to weight gain, and metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease especially if it’s overeating of junk food. Which again, most American’s if they’re eating late at night, they’re not going to be eating a steak and sweet potato. They’re going to eating packaged foods, or desserts, that kind of thing, or ice cream. Ice cream in moderation, not a big deal. But if you’re eating ice cream on top of an overly junky diet, then that might not be so helpful.

Then the other thing that I’m thinking could contribute to poor health outcomes is if you’re chronically staying up late and eating late at night, that could disrupt your body’s natural circadian rhythms which then would negatively impact sleep. If you’re just overall not supporting circadian rhythm entrainment, that can make you sleep more poorly, or have weird wake up times, or just generally not having a normal pattern of sleeping. And then those circadian rhythm disruptions can also lead to things like inflammation, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, that kind of thing. That could potentially be causing some problems too.

I also don’t particularly associate these affects with someone who’s eating a healthy diet and they just have a little extra food before going to bed to make sure that they’re not hungry and they sleep better. I think this is something that you and I recommend for a lot of people to have a little bit of food right before bed if they’re struggling with not sleeping well, or if they’re super active, or maybe they’re just having a hard time getting enough calories in at their normal meals and they need a little extra before going to bed to make sure that they sleep well.

Even if you are sleeping well, I don’t really think there’s any problem with having a bedtime snack. I don’t think there’s going to be an increased risk of obesity or heart disease if you have a little food before going to bed. I would imagine you’re on the same page there, Kelsey?

Kelsey: Yeah. I think there’s a big difference between what you were talking about, that overconsumption where if that is leading you to over consume calories consistently, then yeah, that might cause a problem. But if it’s within your overall caloric expenditure and you’re eating part of those calories at night, I certainly don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

Laura: Even just the food quality, I mean we don’t like to be overly consumed with calories, but if you’re food quality is better it’s going to affect your calorie intake.


Laura: If you have a banana and some almond butter right before bed, you’re probably not going to eat as much as if you had Doritos or something.


Laura: There’s a lot to be said for palatability and the processed junk food versus something that’s fairly healthy and it’s just another part of your diet. It’s funny because we just last week talked about the person who was potentially under eating and this would be a situation where maybe having a bedtime snack is actually helpful because she was eating 1,800 calories and we thought she needed at least 2-300 more. She could throw in a banana with a tablespoon of almond butter and easily get that 200 calories right before bed and that could end up just overall making her feel better, helping her sleep better so that way she wakes up more refreshed in the morning. There are some people out there that late night eating might actually be helpful.

There are some reasons that people might be hungrier at night that we’re going to cover, but one issue that I wanted to discuss was the question of whether or not being hungry at night is actually abnormal because from this question we’re assuming she feels that eating late at night is – or actually I should say he or she, we don’t know the gender – but eating late at night is unhealthy and associated with some kind of metabolic problem or having that drive to eat late at night. But when I was doing research to just look into that topic and see is that weird, is that abnormal, is that unhealthy to have a higher hunger level at night, there’s actually some research from the last couple years that suggests that having a higher amount of hunger in the evening is actually normal and based on circadian rhythms.

We may think that your overall appetite is generally regulated by your calorie balance, so if you haven’t had enough food, you’re going to be hungry. If you had too much food, you’re going to be full. Which it does, I mean that definitely impacts your hunger signals if you’re overeating or under eating. But the problem with that being the only thing that’s going to drive appetite is that if it truly was just based on calorie surplus versus deficit, it would make more sense for us to be the hungriest in the morning because we’ve gone 8 to 12 hours without eating, minimum. If you did that during the day, if you went 12 hours without eating, you’d probably be a lot hungrier.


Laura: But we do it overnight just fine. That to me and the research that I saw indicates that it’s not just about calories in and calories out, it’s also about the time of the day and the type of hormones that are released at different times of the day to stimulate or suppress appetite.

Appetite is actually generally the lowest in the morning for most people. The research that they’ve done, most people only get about 16 to 18% of their daily calories at breakfast. A lot of people skip breakfast all together. A lot of the intermittent fasting type recommendations play off that lower appetite and have you do the fasting in the morning when you’re really actually not that hungry for the most part. I mean some people wake up super hungry. I know I tend to get hungry about an hour after waking up.

Kelsey:Yeah, same here.

Laura: But a lot of people, they’re not even hungry at all and intermittent fasting actually works well because they don’t have to worry about eating. But that would like I said indicate that there’s something happening that makes our bodies crave less food in the morning and more food at night potentially.

The research that I looked at was from 2013, and I’ll link to this paper in the show notes just so you guys can check out the study too. But it was from Oregon Health and Science University and Harvard University and their research found that the body’s internal clock, which is that circadian rhythm system, actually could be the cause of having late night cravings or having hunger in the evening.

What they did with this study is they took a bunch of participants and they essentially reset their internal clocks. All of our internal clock systems are based on light and dark exposure, eating, exercise. There’s a lot of different things that affect our circadian rhythms. I don’t remember exactly how they did this, but they basically got everyone on the same schedule to make sure that they were waking up the same time, going to bed at the same time, eating meals at the same time, just basically trying to reset their internal clocks. And then what they did for two weeks is they put the volunteers in a lab suite like a hotel room where they turned the lights really dim so that the person could never really tell what time of the day it was or even what day of the week it was. This actually sounds like kind of torture in my opinion.

Kelsey:Yeah, it does.

Laura: They didn’t have any TV, internet, phones, or visitors for two weeks. Oh my gosh, I’m like who the heck would volunteer to do that?


Laura: You better be paying a lot of money. I don’t know, maybe you would feel like super refreshed after.

Kelsey:Maybe, yeah like after camping or something.

Laura: Only just being in the dark room alone. That’s actually really bad. Well anyway, that was the study. They put them in this dim room for two weeks and the light never changed and then the researchers varied what time each participant ate and slept. And then so that affected each volunteer’s body clock. Even if they went to sleep at 2:00 in the afternoon, it felt like nighttime to them and basically they just had no idea what time it was. If they were going to bed at 2, it’s almost like they were in another country and they had that jet lag experience where all of a sudden you’re like oh it’s 2:00 with my body’s time, but it’s dark out so I’m going to go to bed.


Laura: But the people ate all the same amount of food and it was regular intervals. They tested their hunger and just had the participants rate how hungry they were. Even though they had totally phase shifted everyone’s circadian rhythms so that they were in different time zones essentially, everyone was the hungriest when their body’s internal clock thought it was evening no matter what they were doing. It didn’t really matter if they were awake, or asleep, or if they were doing any sort of activity or anything. The hunger really came on the strongest in the evening.

They identified the circadian peak in hunger to be occurring at about 8 pm and the circadian trough, which is the opposite of the peak in hunger occurred at 8 am. Essentially if people just have no concept of what time it is and their bodies just start to get into the somewhat arbitrary 24 hour rhythm, their hunger is highest at 8 pm and lowest 8 am.

Kelsey:I’m trying to clarify here a little bit. Is that 8 am 8 pm based on the actual time or what the researchers were making them think the time was basically?

Laura: It was based on what the researchers were making the person’s body think it was.

Kelsey:Okay, got it.

Laura: It’s kind of like when you travel, let’s say you fly to Europe and they are 5 hours or 6 hours later than us, and then you readjust to that Europe time, you’d still be getting that trigger of hunger at 8pm in Europe time even though your body came from the United States where it was only 3:00 in the afternoon technically.

Kelsey:Okay, got it.

Laura: Your body kind of adjusts to that new 24 hour cycle. If they’re going to bed at 2:00 in the afternoon, it felt like it was maybe 10:00 for that person.

Kelsey:I see.

Laura: They were having their hunger peak at noon because they thought noon was 8 pm and 2:00 was 10 pm. Does that make more sense?

Kelsey:Yes, that makes more sense. Got it.

Laura: It’s obviously very complicated, but I think the interesting thing was just finding that once people got into this phase shifted 24 hour cycle that they just had no idea what time it was, their body still had that peak and trough in hunger that averaged around a peak at 8 pm and a trough at 8 am.

Hypothetically if that applies to all people, you should be basically at your hungriest around 8:00 at night and at your least hungry at 8:00 in the morning. That’s with the assumption that somebody’s got a 24 cycle of circadian rhythm that’s fairly consistent and doesn’t change a lot, and their not staying up really late one night and then going to bed earlier the next night.


Laura: But generally if you’re going to bed and waking up at the same time most days, you should be experiencing your highest hunger amount at 8:00. That’s not super late, but you can imagine if somebody’s eating dinner at like 6 or 7 and then they have that hunger peak later, they may experience some hunger right before going to bed. And then if they unfortunately believe that eating anything before bed is going to cause health problems, they may avoid it and then they will wake up hungry and not feel good. That’s just exacerbated if they didn’t eat enough during the day. My point of going over this research is to suggest that being hungry at night is not abnormal.


Laura: There’s a lot of different things that can contribute to late night hunger that we’ll go over in a second, but if you are feeling the most hungry at say like somewhere between 7 or 9 pm, that’s not bad, or unhealthy, or abnormal. I just want people to keep that in mind because again I think there’s a lot of random crappy recommendations out there that are like don’t eat past 5 or don’t eat right before going to bed because it’s going to be stored as fat. It’s like no, that’s only going to be stored as fat if you overeat that day.

Assuming you’re not in a major calorie surplus, depending on what time of the day you eat, it shouldn’t really affect your health that much. If your circadian rhythms are messed up because you’re staying up too late, that could be a different story. But the actual time that you’re eating shouldn’t really make a huge difference.

Kelsey:Yeah, and I think that piece about the circadian rhythm is really important because a lot of us have messed up circadian rhythms. Maybe we are getting hungry at weird times or we’re just like adding on another four hours of being awake that maybe we shouldn’t be awake if we’re staying up till midnight or even later than that. I think there’s a lot to be said about making sure your circadian rhythm is on target and you’re consistently going to be and waking up at the same time.

But one thing that I was thinking as you were talking through this is that I think culturally in the U.S. we tend to eat pretty early for dinner, which having just come back from Europe, I tended to eat a lot later there because a lot of restaurants don’t even open until 7 or 7:30. Honestly, I think I like that better. I tend to be a later eater at night and apparently from this research that seems to make more sense just by biologically that around that 8 pm time would be when most people are going to be generally the most hungry.

I think that may play a role in it too. If this person is from the U.S., if you’re eating at 5 or 6 pm, your body is just going to be hungry later. Even if you’re going to bed at 10 pm which is a totally normal time to go to bed, that still is quite a long time before you would eat again. I would imagine that by 10 pm you might start to be getting a little hungry.

Laura: Yeah, it’s kind of funny, I had a friend in high school who was French, his family was from France. He used to eat dinner at like 11:00 at night, which to me is just outrageous. I’m like if I’m eating at 11:00 at night, there is something that went seriously wrong that day. It’s just funny because it is such a cultural thing.


Laura: I know in Europe they tend to do afternoon naps, maybe not all of them but there is that siesta type of thing.

Kelsey:And they’ll also tend to have a snack at that evening time. Maybe like 5 or 6 they’ll eat a little something, have a drink, and then they’ll eat way later for their real dinner meal.

Laura: Right. It’s not that we’re suggesting people should eat dinner at 11, but what we’re suggesting is that if you’re eating dinner super early, it’s not that weird that you’d be hungry before bed.

Kelsey:Right, exactly. Let’s talk a little bit more about some of the reasons why you might be hungry late at night. One of them of course is just that if you’re eating at 5 or 6, being hungry four hours later is completely normal and to be expected I would think.

Another thing that I would say that I see very, very commonly in my own practice and Laura, I ‘m sure this is the same for you, is that a lot of our clients will tend to just not eat enough over the course of the day. This is because maybe they’re stressed out at work, they don’t have time to eat to like sit down and have a full meal at work, they’re just sort of working throughout their meals. They’re not paying a lot of attention to their hunger signals necessarily and so they may not be eating enough as they move through their day. Maybe they’re skipping breakfast because they’re trying to rush to work.

There’s a lot of reasons why somebody may not be eating enough during the day. And then when dinnertime comes around, maybe they’re eating more of a normal amount but because they haven’t eaten a lot for breakfast and lunch, by the time after dinnertime rolls around, 8-9pm, they’re still hungry. Dinner didn’t fill them up enough so they will still feel like they need to eat something at night in order to not go to bed hungry or wake up hungry.

Like I said, for me this is probably the number one cause of why somebody who feels, like this person is explaining, that they have to eat at night because otherwise they’re not going to sleep well because they’re waking up hungry maybe even in the middle of the night or they can’t fall asleep because they’re hungry, but they feel like they shouldn’t eat because they’ve heard that it’s bad for them or whatever.

What I would highly recommend that this person does is use an online calorie calculator. We’ll try to link to one here. There’s a lot of them out there where you can just put in your height, your weight, your age, your activity level and it will spit out a calorie recommendation for you. Just track for a couple days and see how close or not you are to that target because chances are you’re probably going to be under eating fairly significantly from what that number comes out as.

Once I have people who are experiencing what this person is talking about, once they start to eat that number of calories overall and it’s coming from real whole food sources, they find that they’re not as hungry at night or they don’t feel like they absolutely need a snack before going to bed as long as they’re getting all of those calories that they needed between their three meals in the day.

Even if you do want to have a nighttime snack and that’s part of your overall calories, that’s fine too, but you won’t be waking up hungry or feeling like you’re hungry when you’re going to bed. You’re going to be perfectly satisfied.

That is a really, really common reason why somebody might feel like they absolutely have to have something to eat before they go to bed otherwise they’ll wake up hungry. Laura, I assume you see this very often as well.

Laura: Yeah, I mean I can say that I even have had that issue for myself, which is kind of annoying because anytime I’ve tried to purposefully lean out a little bit this tends to happen. Even if I’m just a couple hundred calories below what my needs are during the day, I’ll end up feeling super hungry right before bed and then I usually end up needing a snack.


Laura: I’ve definitely experienced that before and it kind of stinks because it’s like on one hand you’re like I have this deficit I’m supposed to be doing. But then you’re like I need to sleep so I’m just going to eat. I always err on the side of eating. But it’s very, very common.

Kelsey:Yeah, absolutely. Another thing that can play into that too is just having low blood sugar. Sometimes you can get enough calories but your blood sugar ends up being too low because for example, and this may not be the case for this person, but maybe they’re eating a lot of processed carbs or something and that’s spiking and lowering their blood sugar, or they’ve got something like adrenal fatigue which is causing blood sugar imbalance.

There’s a lot of things with blood sugar that can happen that make you feel hungrier at times even if you are eating enough calories. One of those things just to consider is exercise. If you do a lot of exercise during the day, sometimes that will end up tanking your blood sugar later in the evening. And of course when you’re blood sugar is low, your body says okay, it’s time to eat. It’s going to turn on those hunger signals for you.

Even if you do that calculation, you see that you’re eating enough, but you’re still having some of these issues, think about the other health conditions going on, think about your lifestyle factors that may be playing into getting low blood sugar and work on those. You may find that that fixes the problem too.

One of those lifestyle factors in addition to exercising is also stress because of course that’s going to mess with your cortisol levels which really plays a controlling factor in your blood sugar. Anytime your blood sugar gets too low, your cortisol is going to raise to help break down proteins and other things to create glucose. Basically when you’re cortisol is out of whack, oftentimes your blood sugar is going to be out of whack. You really need to make sure that your stress levels are under control so that you’re cortisol is normal which will help you to maintain a more normal blood sugar level so you won’t get those really strong hunger feelings when you’re under a lot of stress.

Even outside of the cortisol aspect of stress, I think that just stress in general as I’m sure many of you can relate to, when you’re stressed out, a lot of us tend to reach for comfort foods or just eat from an emotional eating perspective where when we eat it tends to relax us and helps us to cope with the stressors in our life.

This is something that like I said, I’m sure a lot of us have experienced when you have a stressful day, a lot of times you’re just like I just want to go sit down and eat something or grab a sugary snack because it’s going to just give me that little boost that I need to help me get through whatever is going on. That’s a really common thing to experience especially at night because your day is over, a lot of the stressors are over, but a lot of times they’re still taking their toll on us and we just want to relax at that point at night and so we’re going to do anything even if it’s subconsciously to help reduce that stressor and eating can certainly be one of those things.

I think along with this, a lot of us when we watch TV, it’s pretty typical at least in American culture to associate TV or movie watching with snacking. I think that this goes along with the stress piece but it can also be outside of stress too, just that association of watching TV or watching a movie and having something to munch on while you do that, your brain just kind of associates the two. Again, it’s this unconscious sort of reaction that your body does and you just reach for a snack or you want to have a snack when you’re watching TV.

Again, I think this can play into that stress piece because we watch TV as a way to relax at the end of the day and then adding the snacking on top of that is another way to reduce the stressors from our daily lives.

If you notice that that is you, you feel like you’re just eating while you’re watching TV at night, or you’re just eating as a way to kind of cope with stressors in your life, definitely pay action to those stressors and try to reduce them, do some stress management techniques, deep breathing, yoga, that kind of thing to help to manage those stress levels in a way that doesn’t involve eating because you may be triggering a hunger reaction when you’re not really hungry but your body just wants some way of reducing that stress.

Another thing to think about is sleep deprivation. Of course when you are sleep deprived, this is going to raise your stress level again. As a way to reduce that stress level or to get a boost to push through a sleep deprived state, your body is going to want to eat some food. A lot of times it’s not great food either, it’s the sugary stuff, the processed stuff, the comfort foods that we’re going to want to reach for at that point again to either reduce that stress level of having a lot of things to do when you’re sleep deprived or to help boost your energy to get through that sleep deprived state.

Laura: I feel like stress and sleep deprivation are often connected as I’ve been experiencing recently. It’s funny because I don’t know which one comes first. Sometimes I think it can be they just play off each other. I know for me if I am sleep deprived, for example if I’m traveling late and I get home at 12:00, and I don’t get to bed until super late, and then I feel exhausted the next day, I know that my stress resilience is a lot lower when I’m tired.

Kelsey:For sure.

Laura: And then on the other hand, if I’m super stressed during the day, that tends to make me a little bit more amped up at night and then I can’t fall asleep.

Kelsey:A vicious cycle.

Laura: Yeah, so I think stress and sleep deprivation can definitely play off each other. Then like you said, eating, especially sugar and fat basically, is going to be an easy way for your body to feel comforted, but assuming you’re eating enough during the day, maybe isn’t the best solution.

Kelsey:Right, it’s just adding on calories as a way to comfort the body, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing in the short term, but if that’s consistently happening overtime, that’s when you get into trouble.

Laura: I think that also takes us back to the whole circadian rhythm disruption issue because if you’re not going to bed, even if you’re sleeping 8 hours, if you’re not going to be until super late, that’s going to affect the 24 hour cycle that you’re in, kind of like what we talked about with that study. If your circadian rhythms are messed up, you may just have this hunger that comes at night for that reason that we talked about before that has nothing to do with how much you’ve eaten, what you’re stress levels are, things that are a little bit more fixable. In that situation, you definitely need to focus on getting your 24 hour clock to a more normal state, which definitely going to bed on time, and minimizing stress in the evening, and not doing things that are going to disrupt your circadian rhythms right before bed is good. We’ll talk about some strategies for that later.

But I wanted to just quickly mention there is an actual eating disorder called night eating syndrome. It’s not very common. Experts estimate that about 1 to 1 ½ % of the general population and then 6 to 16% of patients in weight reduction programs, and then 8 to 42% of bariatric surgery candidates experience night eating syndrome.


Laura: I’ll mention why that might be in a second, but the average population around 1 to 1 ½ %, so not very common in the typical person. Night eating syndrome is characterized by a lack of appetite in the morning which then leads to overeating at night and then often times waking up in the middle of the night to eat as well. Sometimes there’s people who they don’t even remember getting up to eat so they’ll have almost this, I don’t want to say narcoleptic kind of experience, but it’s like they’re sleeping – not narcoleptic….


Laura: Yeah, sleepwalking but sleep eating when they get up and go downstairs and eat and they don’t even remember that they’ve done this.

Kelsey:I feel like I watched a science class video about this way back when.

Laura: Yeah, possibly.

Kelsey:Where somebody would get up in the middle of the night and they were eating spoonfuls of mayonnaise and wouldn’t remember it at all.

Laura: Ugh, gross! I’m just imagining eating mayonnaise on a spoon. But yeah, it can be like seriously I guess a disorder as opposed to just making decisions to eat that way. For those people, there is definitely a lot of evidence that there’s either an imbalance in neurotransmitters or their hunger signaling hormones like leptin and ghrelin.

There’s been some brain scans of these people with night eating syndrome that show that they typically have an elevation of serotonin transporters. What that means is that their serotonin ends up getting up taken out of the synaptic, I forget what it’s called. Basically where serotonin is supposed to hang out and be active, it gets taken back into the neurons and then it’s not active. So then basically you’re having less serotonin activity and that actually ends up impairing both the circadian rhythms and boost satiety as well as mood so they can have a lot of depression and anxiety, that kind of thing because they are having lower serotonin.

The other problem that adds to this, which I think you probably get a handful of people who have this serotonin transporter imbalance that affects their risk of this, but then there’s that extra level of kind of the more neurological, cognitive problem where either the person is dieting to lose weight and the restriction of the calories during the day makes their brain increase their hunger signals, and then they’re trying to starve themselves all day, and then they end up overeating at night, and then they feel a lot of guilt and shame around that. It’s kind of this cycle of behavioral decisions that just keeps them in that pattern. Especially if you’re eating a ton at night, you’re not going to be hungry in the morning.


Laura: Even if you’re a normal eater, if you go out to a big dinner the night before a lot of times you’ll wake up like I’m not even hungry, I’ll just have some coffee or something. But if it’s happening every night that the person is not eating anything in the morning and then they’re eating ton at night, they might not have that hunger in the morning and then that is just a self-fulfilling prophecy.

But then the other problem especially if somebody is overweight or obese is that there’s that shame factor of eating a lot a night so then probably it turns into more neurological disorder as opposed to a physiological disorder. It’s kind of more like the typical eating disorder that comes from body image issues, or negative emotions, or control, and that kind of thing. But basically the person feels all this shame around eating. I think it ends up being they end up just bingeing because they feel guilt and then they are almost trying to self-medicate with the food.


Laura: Again, it can kind of be more of that cognitive behavioral problem. But I do think that there could be some more biological triggers that are happening. Again serotonin deficiency or transporter issues, or if the person’s circadian rhythms are super screwed up, that could start the behavior and then it’s kind of like a cognitive behavioral response where they feel guilt and shame around the behavior and then that triggers more of it.


Laura: It’s a very complicated issue and the research that I was looking at shows that it’s very difficult to treat and a lot of people just don’t feel capable of overcoming it.  But I would say we have a couple of thoughts about how to reduce hunger at night. So if you do feel like the hunger and the eating at night is actually contributing to some health problems, like let’s say you are bingeing at night and then not being hungry in the morning and kind of stuck in this cycle, assuming you don’t have a severe serotonin issue, then there are some behavior changes that can help.

I do want people to remember, we’re going to talk about how to avoid late night hunger and eating too late if that is something that is causing problems, but I do want people to just keep in mind that eating food just before going to bed, like having a snack or maybe having a later dinner, it’s not really that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. A lot of people can really benefit from having a bedtime snack, having a little food before they go to bed. Other people like to have their dinner later like you were saying. It’s culturally more acceptable certain places to eat late at night. So don’t necessarily think if you’re hungry at 9:00 that that’s weird. It’s not weird in other countries.

Also, if you’re eating breakfast in the morning, that can sometimes affect how much you need to eat at night. If you’re doing things like intermittent fasting or just accidently skipping meals, that’s going to make you more hungry at night. Eating consistent meals across the day and eating in the morning may help shift your overall food intake earlier. And then it can also can actually promote a shift in those circadian rhythms that may move your hunger signaling closer to what that 8 pm biological norm is. If you’re finding that you’re getting these strong hunger signals at 10:00 at night, it might be that your circadian rhythms are just shifted a little bit.


Laura: Getting your meals earlier in the day will you move it a little bit more to the normal 24 hour cycle that you’d be on. And then just making sure that your food is balanced, a lot of times when people eat breakfast, they’ll maybe just do one major macronutrient. The typical American diet is going to be very carb based breakfast which that can also kind of set people up for blood sugar dysregulation and hunger during the day, and then that can lead to hunger at night.

I’d say the more common thing we see in our Paleo type clients is that they’re doing very low carb breakfast or maybe they’re doing something like bullet proof coffee in the morning which is all fat. If you’re not getting carbs in the morning that might trigger some carb craving at night, which whether or not you indulge in those cravings, I don’t think it really affects how you crave them. If you’re overall low carb or if you tend to do more of the carb back loading where you have a lot of carbs at night, just be aware that’s actually causing you to have hunger in the evening.

And then protein obviously a lot of our Paleo clients don’t have trouble getting enough protein, but if you are not eating much protein, that’s going to affect how well you control blood sugar as well and that could cause hunger not only in general during the day, but then especially at night.

Kelsey:Yeah, absolutely. And then just considering that you really should be eating a nutrient dense diet. Regardless of how your macronutrient balance is split up and how many calories you’re eating overall, all that kind of stuff, you do need to be eating a nutrient dense diet because simply being deficient in some nutrients, your body is going to at that point be searching for those micronutrients in your food. You may end up eating more because your body is like, okay, eat this, eat this, eat this, let me see if I can get some of the micronutrients that I need from any of these foods. It can kind of make you more hungry than you might be otherwise if you’re eating a nutrient dense diet and you’re getting all the micronutrients that you need.

I’m sure this is not a necessary statement for this audience, but in case there’s somebody who is at the beginning of your whole food journey, this can really, really help with reducing some of the hunger signals that you might get that even if you’re eating an adequate amount of calories is still there.

And then you also within that idea try to focus on higher fiber carbohydrates like potatoes, and sweet potatoes, and plantains and really limit your refined grains and sugar especially if you tend to get low blood sugar a few hours after eating them. Because of course if you’re a fairly typical American and you’re eating a refined grain or refined type snack late at night and then a few hours later you’re about to go to bed and your blood sugar is tanking at that point, you’re going to feel hungry and you’re possibly not going to feel like you could go to sleep at that point because maybe your cortisol goes up because you don’t have enough blood sugar at that point.

This can certainly make that cycle continue a little bit more easily if you’re not eating things that would balance your blood sugar very well. Again, this goes along the lines of that nutrient dense diet. But for blood sugar issues specifically, you really want to pay attention to not eating a lot of refined grains and sugar and focusing more on those higher fiber carbohydrates.

If you do eat refined grains, just make use that you’re eating them as part of a whole meal rather than eating your refined grains as a snack on their own. If you’re eating a bag of chips for example, essentially on its own it’s not going to balance blood sugar as well as if you ate a bit of white rice with a meal that has fat and it has protein. That’s going to make your blood sugar a lot more stable than if you ate it on its own.

And then also don’t go to bed too late. As you guys know we’ve talked about circadian rhythm a lot in this episode and how a lack of sleep can raise your stress levels as well. Making sure that you get not only enough sleep but that you also are sleeping at a relatively normal time, paying attention to when it gets light out and when it gets dark out and sort of trying to follow that pattern as much as you can, that’s really going to help make sure your circadian rhythm is on target.

Along those lines too, you want to make sure that you’re not getting a lot of light exposure at night. Turn off your overhead lights, use lamps or turn off your TV, or use orange goggles to reduce the amount of blue light that you’re being exposed to from a TV, or from your iPhone, your computer, any of those things. And then make sure you get sunlight exposure when you wake up so that you are getting that blue light when you’re supposed to get it. That’s going to help set your circadian rhythms in a more normal manner.

And as you can imagine, if you’re going to bed really late because your circadian rhythm is off, like we talked about before, you’re going to be hungrier because if you ate at 5 or 6 and then you’re going to bed at 11 or 12, that’s a good amount of time that you have in between when you’re eating and when you’re going to bed. It’s perfectly normal to be hungry at that time. But of course if you went to be maybe a couple hours earlier, you wouldn’t feel as hungry.

Or if you know that for you 8:00 is about when you’re getting most hungry, you may want to actually consider moving your dinner a little bit later potentially if you’re going to bed at like 10 or so. So think about that, don’t go to bed midnight, 1:00. Really try to get your circadian rhythm on a good schedule and that hungriness that you’re feeling at night should hopefully not be as much of a problem.

And then another thing to consider of course is to focus on your stress management. As we discussed, stress is huge when it comes to eating at times when we aren’t really hungry or promoting hunger signals that aren’t necessary because those comfort foods or just eating in general is going to reduce stress levels, help us to cope with stressors in our daily lives. Don’t ignore stress as a trigger for your hunger levels especially if you know overall that you’re eating enough calories. Implement some stress management techniques like deep breathing, yoga, tai chi, mediation. Anything that you personally like and enjoy, make sure you’re incorporating that on a regular basis.

Laura: Alright. Well, that was a lot of information.

Kelsey:It was.

Laura: It’s funny, when we were researching that I was like we could probably talk about that for 20-30 minutes. And now I’m like, wow, actually it’s like 45.

It’s funny because she asked what foods would you recommend. I think that individual food is not so much of the issue as much as it is timing and macronutrient balance. I don’t think it’s helpful to tell you what food to eat. I think everyone is going to have a different experience with what foods make them feel the best and what their general preferences are. At the end of the day, the timing and the balance is really more important than the individual foods that you’re eating.


Laura: Cool! Well, that does it for the question. Now we’re going to get into some personal updates in a moment. But if you have a question that you’d like us to answer, please go to TheAncestralRDs.com. Click the contact tab and you can submit your question there and we will hopefully answer it on an upcoming show. But otherwise, we are going to just chat a little bit about personal life stuff. If you’re jumping off, then we’re excited to see you next week!

Kelsey:Welcome to the updates section of our new and improved Ancestral RDs podcast which we’re trying out.

Laura: Hopefully improved.

Kelsey:Hopefully improved, we’ll see. You guys can always submit your comments, hopefully nice comments or at least semi nice.

Laura: Constructive.

Kelsey:Yeah, constructive would be a better word. Laura, what’s going on with you these days?

Laura: Goodness! I feel like the last couple weeks have just kind of been a ramp up into wedding planning, which at this point when this podcast is aired it will be a little over a month away.


Laura: It’s weird because it’s like I feel with wedding planning you have this kind of big bump in the beginning where you have to make all the decisions about all the major things like your venue, and your photographers, and your caterers, and all this stuff that’s like these big decisions. There’s a lot of checks that come out of your checkbook for four figure sums.


Laura: And then there’s this lag. There’s this kind of low point in between then and the kind of crunch time where you might be making some decisions about things, but otherwise it’s a lot of just kind of daydreaming about what is my hair going to look like? Those little things that you really don’t have to decide about, you’re just kind of like on Pinterest for way too much time. And then you get into this period, I want to say it’s like the two to three mark depending on how long you’ve been engaged because for me my engagement is going to be fourteen months long and…or no, not fourteen. Fourteen is how long we’ve been together before we got engaged.

Kelsey:Got it.

Laura: I think it’s nine months for the engagement.


Laura: I don’t even remember.

Kelsey:I was like God, time has flown!

Laura: Yeah, seriously. Fourteen months from first date to wedding day basically. It’s funny because for some people that sounds really long and then for other people…one of Josh’s cousins got married three months after he met his wife and they’ve been married for fifteen years.


Laura: Yeah, it’s like different strokes for different folks. But for me a nine month engagement is fairly quick and a fourteen month relationship before getting married is fairly quick. I feel like for me the speed of the engagement maybe affects those amount of stress times. Then the fact that I have a long distance relationship probably impacts that as well because at the time of this recording I’m only going to see my fiancé maybe five or six total days before the wedding weekend.


Laura: We still have two months at this point. It’s kind of getting to the point of our long distance that we’re barely get to see each other, so that’s been a  little stressful.


Laura: But it’s been really interesting because I know with wedding planning there’s a lot of logistics and I guess expectation management that has to happen with family and friends and all that. That’s normal I think for everybody. But then there’s been this weird experience that I’ve had that all of a sudden I have been dealing with some pretty unpleasant emotions about the whole thing. I don’t know if you had this experience at all. I know you and your husband were together for what, like ten years?

Kelsey:Ten years, yeah.

Laura: I don’t know if you had kind of just felt pretty comfortable about everything. But for me the wedding is going to be 180 degree shift in my life. I think I mentioned this before. At first the first couple of months, super excited, everything was very fairytale, like it’s wedding planning, and Pinterest, and all that stuff. And then I don’t know what happened, but in the last couple weeks, I think part of it is the distance but part of it I think is just the proximity of the date. All of a sudden all that excitement kind of shifted into anxiety and kind of unhealthy fear about things.

Kelsey:About the wedding itself or just that your life is going to change so much?

Laura: Probably a combination. I have the wedding itself being this kind of expensive, intense event that there’s a lot of expectations around for myself and for my family. My fiancé is kind of like he’s just happy to be marrying me, so he could do a city hall event and he wouldn’t even care. Which at this point I’m like, dang it! Why didn’t I do that? There’s all the expectations around the weekend itself and then there’s the life shift that’s going to happen.

It’s funny because at first I was like not sure why I was feeling so nervous, and stressed out, and literally having waking up in the middle of the night with my heart racing and panic attacks. Not like a legit panic attack, but like feeling very cranked up emotionally and stressed. It’s funny because I was thinking about it, I’m like what is wrong with me? Nothing in my relationship with my fiancé has changed. There’s been definitely some challenges with the whole distance piece which that I think creates an extra level of stress that isn’t necessarily normal.

Kelsey:Of course.

Laura: We both deal with it differently. His tendency is to totally shut down when we’re stressed about that. My typical reaction is to just word vomit it and cry.


Laura: It’s totally opposite, just be telling him everything that I’m sad about and crying. Luckily he’s totally cool with that otherwise we probably wouldn’t be getting married because he would not want to be married to me.

But it’s just been really interesting because like I said it’s almost this weird, I don’t call it this, this is what it is, is cognitive dissonance where it’s like you believe you should feel just happy, and joyful, and excited and just blissful leading up to your wedding, at the wedding, post wedding, everything. And then there’s this underlying sense of, honestly the way I describe it is dread which sounds like really bad, but the more I’ve been digging into it in the last week or two because I really want to figure out what the heck is going on, and if there’s something wrong with me, and why am I feeling this way, it turns out that this is actually super common.

I feel like the reason I’m sharing this is because just in case anyone listening to the podcast is getting married or will get married at some point. Just take it from me, it’s very normal to feel these experiences, these emotions, these negative feelings even if you are in an amazing relationship. I think a lot of times people think if they’re freaked out about getting married it’s because they are not marrying the right person.

For me I’m like 100% confident logically that I am marrying the right person, but I think there’s just that level of life change and going from being single and living alone, and kind of running my own schedule, and being self-employed where I’ll be working some days on the weekends, or working at 7:00 in the morning, or 9:00 at night, not having anyone else’s schedule that I have to worry about, cooking my own food and not worrying about feeding somebody else. There’s just a lot of things that are going to change once I’m married.

I feel like just recently it’s all kind of been, I guess I’ve been realizing it. I hadn’t really thought about it and then I was like, oh crap! Everything is really going to be very different all at once. It’s going to change within 24 hours between the day of the wedding and the day after.


Laura: It’s funny because at first I was feeling a lot of guilt around the anxiety because I felt bad that my fiancé was seeing how freaked out I was, and I was like I promise it’s not because of you! You’re not doing anything wrong! You could imagine how if you’re getting married to someone and they’re freaking out, you’re like uhh…

Kelsey:Oh gosh! Yeah.

Laura: Maybe there’s something wrong here! But I spent the weekend kind of digging into some things about why I was feeling that way. I think it helped a lot. I’m probably going to write a blog post about it because again I feel like a lot of women probably have this experience of panic even if they’re in a really good relationship before marriage.


Laura: What was your experience?

Kelsey:I was just thinking about that as you were talking about this. I think for me, because I know exactly that feeling that you’re talking about where it does feel like this dread which sounds like a terrible word, but it is sort of that feeling. But I think it was a little different for me in that because we had been together for so long at that point, the deep fear for me was that oh my God, what if this life change of being married now changes what we have for the worse?

For some reason that just little mindset shift changes things in a bad way because things are great now and they’ve been great for ten years, what if this one thing changes everything? Which is totally silly when you think about it, but it is that cognitive dissonance where you’re really happy about what’s going to happen, but at the same time there’s a lot of fear and anxiety surrounding that decision seemingly for no real logical reason.

Laura: I think the fear of marriage changing the relationship, I’ve definitely experienced that too. Like I said I’m in a different situation than you are, but I have that kind of anxiety too feeling like once we’re married it’s just going to be boring and we’re not going to put any effort in.

Right now with the distance the way it is we have to put a lot of effort into connecting with each other and talking a lot, and it’s good. It’s funny, I feel like I kind of hate that I’m saying this, but the distance has kind of forced us to learn how to talk to each other which is a good thing. It sucks right now, but it’s a good thing for the long run. But then there’s that little fear in my head that once we’re together all the time, we’re just not going to talk anymore because there’s not going to be that need to, and then our relationship will get stale, and we won’t have the level of romanticness.

It’s funny, I wrote this list of all the things that I would be potentially nervous about with the wedding and it’s like almost two pages typed.

Kelsey:Oh my gosh!

Laura: I told my fiancé about that and he’s like, wait, you have two pages of a list? I’m like well I’m just being very through. I’m trying to figure out all the different things I’ll be afraid of. It’s just funny because he’s like so the opposite of me. He copes by getting super chill and not letting anything bother him. I’m just like here’s all the 50 different things that I’m potentially a little bit nervous about that’s all compounding into this anxiety situation.

It doesn’t help that I also was like maybe I’ll try to lean out a little bit in the next month or two. Then I start to get into the mild under eating state and my body is like, no, screw that, you need to eat right now otherwise I’m going to keep you up all night.

The last couple of weeks have been really interesting because on one hand feeling the anxiety and nervousness…like anxiety and depression obviously there’s the clinical experience of those that are different than just the short term mood dysregulation.


Laura: But it’s just funny to have those feelings and I’m like I don’t understand why I’m not happy right now. I should be excited, it’s getting closer. I don’t know, it really took a lot of sitting with the emotions and not judging myself for the emotions because I think when you think that that’s abnormal, it’s very easy to judge yourself and say what’s wrong with me? Why am I feeling this way? I’ve been experiencing the emotions mindfully as best as possible and then trying to dig into why I feel this way. I think it’s been good. I feel like as much as I hate experiencing this, I think it’s good because I won’t go into the marriage being completely blindsided by the changes that are going to happen.


Laura: But also want to be mindful of not having low expectations or poor expectations, expecting things to be bad. It’s kind of balancing losing the fantasy of what things are going to be like because I think a lot of girls have that experience that it’s like being married is going to be this wonderful, amazing, perfect, love story like The Notebook or something.

I think when you have those expectations obviously you’re going to get disappointed. But then you also don’t want to be going in thinking this is going to suck, our relationship is going to go down the toilet because then I think that can affect how you act.

I feel like for me it’s been this process of finding the balance between not having these expectations of it being a fairytale, but also not believing that being married is going to negatively change our relationship and kind of going into it saying I’m going to keep my expectations low enough that I don’t get disappointed, but not so low that I end up acting in a way that is stemming from those beliefs, if that makes sense.

Kelsey:Yeah, makes total sense. I think one thing that at least for me when I have a lot going on in my life, which certainly two months out from your wedding that second wind of a lot of things that you need to do, and approve, and all that kind of stuff is probably at least started by now. For me when I have that sort of time in my life where a lot of things are going on, I have to make a lot of decisions, it’s just like you feel really busy all the time, it almost seems to trigger some of that anxiety too.

It’s almost like you think more about these things because your body is just in this state of overwhelm too where I would maybe wake up in the morning like with my heart racing or just kind of like not sleeping as well because my mind is racing as well. I feel like it almost forces you to think about these things more than you would otherwise even though you have a lot of other things going on that you could be thinking about.

I don’t know if that’s completely just me, but that was definitely my experience as well. I feel like that happens not only just with wedding planning, but any time in my life where I have a lot of things going on, my brain is just on overdrive I think.

Laura: My business I’d say is definitely busy. This year has been a lot busier than other years have been from a client perspective and then I’ve been doing some things to try to build it from a marketing perspective, so it’s been slightly more busy.

But you’re right, I feel like being an entrepreneur and self-employed you’re always busy unless you’re purposefully taking a break. I think that can compound the stress of the wedding planning. You’re probably like me where you’re somewhat of a perfectionist and you want to do things the right way.

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: It’s funny because with the wedding it’s like yeah, it’s a really important day and it would be good to have it go as smoothly as possible and also be what you want it to be. You put all this effort in for months and it’s like I want it turn out the way I want it to.


Laura: But at the end of the day, one, it’s probably there’s going to be things that don’t go the way that you expected. And two, I don’t really think anything that bad is going to happen that it could ruin the whole day. I mean I guess some people can have that experience, but realistically most people get through their wedding and they have a great time and they’re really happy with it. I think there’s just that level of anxiety that I have to make sure everything is perfectly set up so that there’s nothing that happens that’s bad.


Laura: It’s that level of perfectionism that definitely adds a layer of stress. I’m trying to manage that. I’m trying to be more laid back about it. It’s funny, I feel like I’m really not that type A of a person, but this wedding planning thing as turned me into one. I don’t like having to be this organized. I don’t like having to have all these balls that I’m juggling. Once the wedding is over, the honeymoon is going to be probably a total crash which is good because I’ll have unlimited food and sleeping.

Kelsey:Sounds great.

Laura: Yeah and just don’t have to pay for anything so if I feel like having tacos at 1:00 in the morning, I can have tacos. It’ll be nice and then after that I’ll have to figure out if I need to take a little…it’s not like a break, but almost just kind of like slow the hustle a little bit after the wedding and just kind of chill out and not be on this overdrive mode because I feel like I’ve been on it basically since September and I’m just like I can’t wait to not be thinking about this stuff anymore.

Kelsey:Yeah, and you’re going to have a husband at home at that point too.

Laura: I know, it’s crazy!

Kelsey:Give your body a little bit of a break from maybe some other things going on in your life.

Laura: Let him do everything.


Laura: Let him just do all the chores.

Kelsey: Exactly.

Laura: It’s just kind of funny, it’s just like so weird. The whole long distance thing from day one, like its fine, we’re doing fine with it. But it’s just so weird to think about one day he’s actually going to be in my house all the time. That’ so weird!

Kelsey:Yeah, I bet that’s weird. I can imagine.

Laura: It’ll be good.

Kelsey:I’m sure it will.

Laura: But I’m like I hope I have some alone time. If I need to I can always leave the house.

Kelsey:Well I am very excited for you, Laura. I hope everything goes as planned and it’s all as great as you imaged it to be with a dash of realistic expectations.

Laura: Perfect.

Kelsey: Which it sounds like exactly what you’re going for.

Laura: Well, that’s the hope. Hopefully by the time this podcast airs I’m not in a total panic attack mode all the time.

Kelsey:Let’s hope.

Laura: Yeah. Right now I’m like this better not be the next two months because I really need to be sleeping.

Kelsey:Yeah. Well, I’m wishing you good sleep from here on out.

Laura: Thank you.

PODCAST: What To Do When Increasing Carbohydrates Causes Fatigue

Thanks for joining us for episode 103 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 answering the following question from a listener:

“Another carb question (shocker!) but basically the opposite of everyone else’s! What does it mean if increasing whole food carbs mostly from potatoes and sweet potatoes made my fatigue worse instead of better?

Background: I’m a 36 old female with low progesterone, adrenal dysfunction, and hypothyroid, which I’m on Armour for. I’m 5’ 7” eating about 1,800 calories a day. I do light exercise three times a week, mostly 15 to 20 minutes of body weight exercises getting my heart rate up a little bit, but not too much, and I walk the dog every day for 30 to 45 minutes.

I went from a carb/fat/protein macro ratio of about 28/40/32 to 40/25/35 to see if I could increase energy and felt awesome for about 48 hours and then crashed hard, like can’t get out of bed hard. I tried more of a 40/30/30 approach and that didn’t work either. I didn’t make a huge change. It’s not like I went from zero carbs to 300 grams a day. What do you think gives?”

To clarify, I’m a 36 year old 5’7”, 133 to 135 pounds last time I checked. Also by light workout/body weight exercise I mean I get my heart rate up a little bit but I could still hold a conversation and take breaks when I start feeling too out of breath. Okay, that’s it. Thanks for humoring me and I hope you can answer my question! You two are the bee’s knees.”

Often fatigue can be a consequence of low carb dieting and adjusting macronutrient levels is usually what it takes to restore energy. But what happens if this strategy backfires and increasing your carbohydrate intake makes you more tired than before?

Today we share insight into the reasons why adjusting macronutirient ratios to increase carbohydrates from whole food cause an increase in fatigue. Join us as we discuss why under eating is often an overlooked factor with wide ranging effects, the importance of varying carbohydrate sources, and why too much protein can make it hard to reach appropriate caloric intake.

Here’s what Laura and Kelsey will be discussing in this episode:

  • The role that under eating plays in developing symptoms while adjusting macronutrient ratios
  • The effect of under eating on the HPA axis and hormone secreting organs
  • The reasons why increasing carbs while under eating can cause fatigue
  • How switching to a higher carbohydrate diet from a calorie deficient low carb diet can affect cortisol regulation
  • Common short term symptoms associated with the transition period when increasing caloric or carbohydrate intake
  • The effect that a diet too high in protein has on appetite and ability to eat enough calories
  • The importance of varying carbohydrate sources from whole foods when increasing carbs
  • Why you may want to consider evaluating gut health when dealing with adrenal fatigue

Links Discussed:


Kelsey: Hi everyone! Welcome to episode 103 of The Ancestral RDs podcast. I’m Kelsey Kinney and with me as always is my cohost Laura Schoenfeld.

Laura: Hey everybody!

Kelsey: We are Registered Dietitians with a passion for ancestral health, real food nutrition, and sharing evidence-based guidance that combines science with common sense. You can find me, Kelsey, at KelseyKinney.com, and Laura at LauraSchoenfeldRD.com.

Over the next thirty to forty five minutes, we’ll be answering your questions about health and nutrition and share our insights into solving your health challenges with practical tips and real food. Stick around till the end of the show when we’ll be sharing updates about our businesses and personal lives.

Laura: If you’re enjoying the show, subscribe on iTunes so that you never miss an episode. While you’re in iTunes, leave us a positive review so that others can discover the show as well! And remember, we want to answer your question on the show, so head over to theancestralrds.com to submit a health-related question that we can answer on an upcoming show.

Kelsey: Today on the show we’re going to be talking about what to do if adding whole food carbs back into your diet makes you feel more fatigued than you were before. But before we get into our question for the day here’s a quick word from our sponsor:

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Kelsey: Welcome back everybody! Here’s our question for today’s show:

“Another carb question (shocker!) but basically the opposite of everyone else’s! What does it mean if increasing whole food carbs mostly from potatoes and sweet potatoes made my fatigue worse instead of better? Background: I’m a 36 old female with low progesterone, adrenal dysfunction, and hypothyroid, which I’m on Armour for. I’m 5’ 7” eating about 1,800 calories a day. I do light exercise three times a week, mostly fifteen to twenty minutes of body weight exercises getting my heart rate up a little bit, but not too much, and I walk the dog every day for thirty to forty five minutes. I went from a carb/fat/protein macro ratio of about 28/40/32 to 40/25/35 to see if I could increase energy and felt awesome for about 48 hours and then crashed hard, like can’t get out of bed hard. I tried more of a 40/30/30 approach and that didn’t work either. I didn’t make a huge change. It’s not like I went from zero carbs to 300 grams a day. What do you think gives?”

Kelsey: And then this person actually put in another piece of her question here to say that she could just hear us saying, “Well we’re not sure about X, Y, Z” So to clarify she says:

“To clarify, I’m a 36 year old 5’7”, 133 to 135 pounds last time I checked. Also by light workout/body weight exercise I mean I get my heart rate up a little bit but I could still hold a conversation and take breaks when I start feeling too out of breath. Okay, that’s it. Thanks for humoring me and I hope you can answer my question! You two are the bee’s knees.”

Kelsey: Very cute.

Laura: I always wonder where that bee’s knees phrase came from.

Kelsey: Yeah, I don’t know. It is an odd one.

Laura: But I like it.

Kelsey: I do too.

Laura: Do you want to start with your thoughts?

Kelsey: Yeah. I think we both thought, we kind of went to the same underlying root issue here which is that she probably isn’t eating enough. And this is outside of the carb question, so don’t worry I will touch on the carb piece of this is well. But both Laura and I kind of did our calculations and found that 1,800 given what she’s describing for her age, her activity level, her height, her current weight, it seemed a little bit low.

I’d put her more on like a 2,000 to 2,100 calorie diet, probably starting on that higher end of things and see how she does because I think just the under eating aspect of everything going on is certainly not going to help her situation and it’s probably just kind of keeping her in adrenal fatigue, not helping out her thyroid, and all of that. I think that that’s sort of what we both found was a root underlying cause of some of the problems she might be experiencing. Right, Laura?

Laura: Yeah. I mean it’s kind of funny how simple it can be sometimes. But I don’t know where, like for example this 1,800 calories, I don’t know where she got that number from as far as why that would be appropriate. And at 5’7” somewhere in the low 130s, it doesn’t sound like she has weight to lose. I don’t know if she’s trying to lose weight, but that weight for height ratio is pretty much right on target, so I would hope that she’s not trying to lose a lot of weight.  If she is eating 200-300 calories per day less than what she needs, and that’s assuming she’s really not working out a whole lot because I’m sure you did the same thing where you put her at a fairly sedentary activity level.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: If she was doing anything harder than what she explained to us, then she’s going to need more than that. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the primary issue that she’s experiencing and contributing to, basically she’s experiencing a very significant hypothalamic/pituitary organ dysfunction.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: I say that because the progesterone is made by the ovaries, the adrenal dysfunction obviously the adrenal glands, and the thyroid not working, well I shouldn’t say not working as well, but not producing as much hormone as it should. All three of those hormone producing glands or organs are basically controlled by the hypothalamic/pituitary axis. If you’re under eating basically every day, even if you’re not losing weight, if you’re chronically under eating that’s going to impair all of those hormone secreting organs. Like I said, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if that was like eighty percent of her problem.

Kelsey: I agree, I totally agree. I think that’s why we sort of needed to get that out of the way first because I truly believe that if she increases her overall caloric intake that a lot of these symptoms might get better and she may not really have as much of the underlying dysfunction that might be contributing to why an increase in carbs might be causing the problems she’s having here.

Now I know that, Laura, you work with a lot of people who are normal weight but underfed and they go through this experience a lot. I think it might make sense for you to explain why that higher carb piece might be playing a role in the symptoms she’s experiencing, and then I’m going to go into kind of the other factors that came to mind for me afterwards. But I think that what you were talking about to me, I think that’s probably again more of this bigger underlying factor of what might be going on here.

Laura: Just to keep in mind, a lot of this is theory and clinical experience. I don’t have a randomized control trial to explain what’s going on. I think that can sometimes frustrate people when they have these symptoms and they want to know why. I mean there’s some good educated guesses that we can make, but everyone’s going to be different. So the stuff that that I’m theorizing about it, it could be completely wrong. I don’t want this person as to take what I’m saying as like absolute gospel, but just keep in mind that a lot of this stuff is based on the research we’ve done for our adrenal fatigue program and then also the work we’ve done with clients.

My guess is that when she’s going higher carb as a percentage of her calorie intake with the understanding that her calorie intake is too low, there’s probably one or both of two things happening. The first thing is if she is still in that calorie deficit and she’s going higher carb, she’s going to be using more glucose to fuel her daily function than if she was a lower carb dieter because people that are lower carb tend to run a little bit more on fat.

If you’re running on carbs primarily as your fuel, your body wants more carbs when you’re doing things. Exercise, walking around, walking your dog, just living, you do use glucose, but your brain and your red blood cells especially use glucose all the time, but your muscles do use glucose during the day just to function.

If you’re not eating enough total, you’re going to be having low blood sugar swings more often. If you have too much of I guess a period of time without eating, or if you’re under eating in general, you’re not going to have the glucose storage in your liver to keep your blood sugar study in between meals. She’s probably having more frequent blood sugar drops. For a lot of people that manifests as fatigue especially in the morning. If you’re not eating enough and then you sleep overnight, and obviously you’re not eating overnight, you’re waking up in a pretty much fully fasted/partially depleted state. A lot of times not only does that affect how well you sleep, but then it also affects your energy in the morning. Waking up feeling super tired may have something to do with not getting enough total calories throughout the day and having more of that carb burning metabolism and having low blood sugar either during the day or overnight.

Then the second potential thing that’s happening, and this is a little bit more theoretical than the first thought that I had. The first thought that I had I think is fairly evidence based just knowing how our body’s physiology works. But the second thing could be that if she has been having this underfed, low carb diet for a long time, she may be generally running at a higher cortisol level because if you’re not getting enough calories and not getting the carbs that your body needs, you’re going to have to use cortisol to break down stored proteins or consumed proteins to burn fat for fuel. She may just have this higher baseline of cortisol to kind of manage that calorie deficit that she’s always in.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: And then if she suddenly switches to a higher carb intake, carbs tend to lower cortisol mostly because cortisol is a glucocorticoid hormone which means that it will help bring our blood sugar up when it’s low. If you eat carbs, then you no longer need that cortisol bump to get your blood sugar up. So you could be having this drop in cortisol which then to her since she’s running on high cortisol more regularly, it feels low even if it’s technically normal.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: That could be potentially from cortisol resistance. If you’re always in a high cortisol state, you’re going to be a little less sensitive to cortisol which means if it drops down to normal, that may not be enough cortisol for you to get the physical response that your body would normally have to cortisol levels. And then just if she has her cortisol drop lower, if she’s not having good cortisol regulation, then that could be an issue too.

Like I said, that’s kind of like the more theoretical potential that’s happening. But I do actually see this happening fairly frequently with my under eating clients especially if they’ve been low carb for a long time. They’ll have this couple of days right after they start adding carbs back in that they feel really tired and they kind of freak out a little bit because they’re like, I don’t understand if I’m eating more why am I more tired?

I feel like a lot of that has to do with the stress hormone piece and kind of if you’re running at this slightly stressed out state all the time and then a sudden you are not stressed or the stressor is removed, I think that can sometimes cause the rebound of exhaustion. To me, I feel like that’s the body’s way of saying okay, you’ve been super stressed and now you’re not, you need to chill out and like recover from what you were stressed out from. Because in the in the natural world, the reason you’d be under eating and low carb most of the time is because of famine and the food not being available. Then if you suddenly start eating enough and eating enough carbs, your body is thinking okay, I’m getting this energy that I need from a food perspective, but I want to really recover from that stress period, so it almost like drops into a deeper level of fatigue to promote rest.

So again, kind of theoretical, but since I see it happening so often and I think it makes sense from a from an evolutionary perspective, that’s what I perceive as to be the issue with this person’s energy drop from going lower or higher carb. Those are my two theories and feel free to contribute what you think about that.

Kelsey: I was just going to ask you because I think you work with more of these kind of clients than I do probably. But this person, she said that for the first couple days of adding the carbs in she felt really energetic. One thing that I was thinking is that, because this is something I see sometimes with my clients is that they change something, and this is with adrenal fatigue clients specifically, they’ll change something with their supplements, or their diet, or whatever and it starts to make them feel better. And all of a sudden without them even realizing it they start to do more, whether that means expending more energy by being more active without really realizing it, or taking on more things in their life that maybe cause stress, or just not something that they’re thinking like, oh yeah, this is a stressful thing that I’m taking on. But it’s just something that they do because they have more energy now and they may not even realize that it’s kind of stressing their body out a little bit.

One of my theories was that potentially, and I know it’s a short amount of time, two days, but sometimes if you feel really energetic in those first couple days, maybe you started to do something more without even realizing it. That stress can trigger a reaction in the body that where like you were talking about, Laura, where it’s just saying all of a sudden okay, you need to rest, I’m not ready for this. I know we were feeling really good for a couple minutes there, but this is too much and I need you to sort of tone it down.

Have you had clients where that sort of pattern happens where for the first couple days they do feel really energetic but then they crash, or is the crash pretty immediate?

Laura: I’d say more often than not the crash happens pretty quickly, but it could be like you said this short term boost in energy that leads them to be overactive. I mean just from an evolutionary perspective, if you’re thinking about what purpose that would have in the natural world, I would think that if you’re in a slightly underfed state and you’re struggling to find food, and then all of a sudden you find food, there may be this burst of energy that comes from the drive to continue finding that food.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: That would be my guess as far as if there is some kind of hormonal response to the sudden change.  You have a couple days of eating more and then all the sudden you’re, okay, I need to rest now. But it could also be like you said that you get a little more energy and then all a sudden you start doing more because you have more energy and then it kind of causes a crash. I’ve definitely seen that before where people that had low energy that started to get it back and then they overdid the exercise, or some people who are sicker will be like I just spent an extra hour out doing errands and that seemed to make me exhausted.

Kelsey: Right, it doesn’t have to be a lot like that.

Laura: Right, and like I said, I don’t know if the energy was from the food itself or if it was from like a hormonal shift that happened to kind of kick her into like a drive to find more food.

Under eating recovery, not eating disorder recovery, but like just mild chronic under eating recovery is a really weird situation because first of all, there’s not a lot of evidence about people who are just kind of under eating but they’re eating healthy because most of the research is in people with actual eating disorders, anorexia nervosa, so that kind of thing.  But the people who are just like under eating by a couple hundred calories a day for months or years that are developing these issues hormonally, I don’t really think there’s a lot of research to support what actually is causing these symptoms.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: But it’s a very common pattern that I see in the people that I work with. It’s funny because sometimes I have clients that they feel amazing right away when they start eating more and they’re just like why didn’t I figure this out of my own before? And then I have other clients that they have all these weird symptoms, the energy changes are definitely one of them.  I get a lot of people with water retention, which I’ve gotten into the habit of just warning my clients, I’m like we’re going to put more food in and you’re probably going to gain a couple pounds of water weight in the first month. I’ve even had people that it was like physically uncomfortable because their boots were getting tight from the water retention. It goes away eventually.

But it’s just kind of funny because some people react really well and some people react poorly, but usually everyone gets to a point where they’re feeling better after a couple of months of doing it. It can just be really hard to get through that short period of not feeling good or being like water logged or however you want to describe it.

Kelsey: Yeah. I was just going to say that working with a lot of digestive health clients, I also end up seeing people who are under eating just because they are often restricting things from a digestive standpoint that then makes them under eat. I see the same thing where there’s just like this month long period where people generally don’t feel great when they start to add things back in. And then you of course add on the digestive piece to that too because when you start to eat more food in general, that digestively can be a little bit tough for people.

But yeah, I see the same kind of thing happen, and you’re right, some people respond to it really well. They do it and things just clear up almost immediately seemingly and they feel great. But there is this subsection of people that it just is a little rough on their body it seems. But it does dissipate, it does go away, it just can take some time.

When I was thinking about this question, because it’s a very interesting question. And this person that sent it in, she’s right, it is a little bit of the opposite kind of question that we normally get because she’s having a negative response to adding these carbs back in. When I was thinking about this, my first thought of course was that she was under eating. But from the carb perspective, the first thing I thought about was the other pieces of her lifestyle that might be playing a role.

Like I talked about, when you add more carbs in, and she said she got that more energetic feeling, she possibly just did too much, took on too much stress, did too much activity without really noticing much of a change. For somebody who is chronically ill who has adrenal fatigue, who has hypothyroidism and is fatigued, these things aren’t resolved for this person as far as I can tell and so she is actively having fatigue every day. When you even start to get a little bit more energy, like Laura mentioned something as simple as staying out for an extra hour doing errands which might not seem like anything at the time, that little bit can cause a reaction where the person will end up crashing a bit the day after or a few days after. That was my first thought as to what might be going on here.

Along those lines I would ask her did you do anything different those first couple days when you were feeling good? Was there a different activity level? Did you do more errands? Did you take a longer walk with your dog by accident without realizing it? Anything like that that could have contributed to this crash that she’s describing.

Along with that too, I would also ask because it’s a little unclear from what she’s written to us, and she’s going to laugh because she even sent in extra clarification for us, but one thing I would ask her right off the bat would be did you go back to your original macronutrient ratio to see if the symptoms went away? Because from what I can tell she tried a couple different macronutrient ratios, but as far as I can tell didn’t go back to the original macro ratio. If she didn’t do it already, I’d want to put her back on that original macronutrient ratio possibly to see what happens to her symptoms. Does her energy come back or she still crashed? Because if her energy came back then I would say okay, maybe it is more related to the actual carb increase rather than something else that was going on.  I’d really want to know that as something to look at right off the bat so I can see what I really should be paying attention to.

These are the kind of clues that Laura I try to suss out when working with clients because as you can imagine, this stuff is complicated and there’s no one answer for everybody when they describe a situation like this as to what’s going on necessarily. I would definitely want to see what happened to her when she went back to that original macronutrient ratio.

Possibly like we talked about since she’s under eating I would maybe just want to…I think I would have her go back on the original macronutrient ratio at 1,800 calories just for a couple days to see if her symptoms go away and then I would keep her at that macronutrient ratio while increasing her calories to that 2,100 level and see how her symptoms change when that happens.

I do think Laura makes a very good point about that typical kind of reaction that happens when you’re either increasing carbs or increasing calories in general that you just sort of have to get through for some people. That’s something I would talk to her about as we start to increase those calories.

Laura: I don’t know if you are done, but with the macro percentage that she’s doing, I thought maybe her protein was a little high.

Kelsey: Yeah, it does look high.

Laura: She started at 32, and went up to 35, and then down to 30, which 30 or higher is fairly high. Really I don’t end up putting anyone on more than a 25 percent of calories from protein diet unless they’re in a purposeful deficit for weight loss.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: And then that higher percentage is mostly because the calories are lower. I think when you’re eating that much protein, one, it affects your appetite. When you’re on a high protein diet you tend to have a lower appetite.  She may be under eating because she’s not hungry because of all the protein. Which if you’re trying to lose weight is helpful, but if you aren’t then that’s not necessarily a good thing to do chronically.

My other thought is that with protein it takes a lot of energy to digest protein. There is a level of thermogenesis from the actual processing of protein for energy. Having that high of a protein intake even at 1,800 calories you may actually really only be…I don’t know if I would say netting lower amount of calories, but if you have to burn a bunch of calories to digest the protein if you’re eating a high protein diet, that lower calorie intake it’s going to be even bigger of a deficit. Does that make sense? I feel like I’m not explaining that super well.

Kelsey: I think you’re explaining it well. I don’t know if I would necessarily agree though.  I agree, she might be burning a little bit more calories trying to digest that, but in the scheme of things I’m not sure if it makes like a huge difference in her overall caloric intake.

Laura: The thermic effect of protein is 20 to 35 percent.

Kelsey: Okay.

Laura: Even at a low end of the range, 20 percent of the protein that you eat gets burned for energy just to digest that protein.  I mean my thought is if it’s a way higher protein intake, like if we’re talking about like 10 percent of her calories from protein that she doesn’t really need….It’s 180 calories that she’s getting from protein, and let’s say 30 percent of that is getting used for energy, I mean it’s like 50 calories. Again, it’s not a huge difference, but it could make a difference if she’s eating tons of protein and her body is expending more energy than even that 2,100 to digest that stuff. It could make a little bit of a difference if she’s going from like a 35 percent of calories from protein diet down to like a 20 percent.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: Like you said, it’s probably not a huge difference. But I would say that if you’re struggling with under eating, then doing 30 plus percent of your calories from protein isn’t going to be helpful there.

Kelsey: Yeah, for sure. I definitely agree with that. And I’m on the same page, I’m really not putting anybody on more than 25 percent typically unless they’re eating at a lower calorie intake on purpose so that they are losing weight in which case a higher protein intake can be useful. But for somebody who’s a normal weight, and hopefully she’ll start to eat a more adequate caloric intake, doing a protein intake that high is like you said just going to decrease your appetite and just make it harder for you to eat more. She may feel like 1,800 is the top of where she can eat right now, like she can’t even imagine eating more than that. But I bet if she lowered her protein intake, eating more calories overall would seem a lot more feasible to her.

Laura: Yeah. Even if she didn’t change her grams of protein intake and just increased her total calories to the 2,100 per day, that would drop her percentage of calories from protein down to somewhere in like the 25 to 28 range. It’s not like she has to stop eating that much protein total, it’s just she would have to eat more of the other things and it would change the percentage.

Kelsey: Exactly, yeah. Definitely the macronutrient ratios seem a little bit off too specifically in terms of protein. You may find it a lot easier to eat more. I would even probably have her decrease the percentage a little bit rather than keeping the grams exactly the same because I just think it might make it easier for her to eat more.  I think that could definitely be helpful to help you get up to that 2,100 level and see how that does for you.

It’s funny because she asked specifically about carbs and of course we’re sort of talking about a lot of other things. But again, that to us certainly seems like more of the root underlying cause here so we want to make sure that we’re conveying that to this person so that they don’t try a bunch of other more superficial things that may not really help or may not have anything to do with what’s truly going on and that she’s focusing more on this underlying cause.

But I will say a couple other things about some possibilities, some theories that I had about what might be going on if it’s more of truly a carb only issue, which again I doubt. I do think that the overall calorie intake is going to play a big role here, but I do want to touch on this stuff.

One thing that I was thinking because she does mention that most of her carb intake is coming from potatoes and sweet potatoes, when you start to get up there with your carbs that you are eating as an overall gram amount and you’re only really eating it from two main sources, sometimes I do see that at a certain level of intake just really focusing on something like sweet potatoes and potatoes can be fine. But as you start to increase your overall carb intake and you are consistently eating larger amounts of just those two carb sources, some people can have problems with that at the higher levels.

That’s a possibility to think about as well. It could be some sort of sensitivity or intolerance even. Specifically with sweet potatoes, there could be a bit of FODMAP tolerance. Some people I find do actually just get fatigue as a symptom of FODMAP intolerance, which I know sounds a little weird because normally that type of reaction is more of a bloating reaction or a digestive reaction. But some people do respond a little bit strangely to a FODMAP intolerance.

Just something to throw out there to think about, you definitely want to try to vary your intake of your carbohydrates because as you get up there like I said in the overall grand level of carbohydrates, you really don’t want to be focusing on just two sources of carbs. I would try adding in some fruit, adding in things like yucca or taro, other starchy tuber vegetables rather than just focusing on the sweet potatoes and potatoes.

I completely get those are the most conventional, they’re most widely available in terms of starchy tubers. Fruits are definitely quite widely available as well. So I get why a lot of people focus on those, but once you start to eat more carbs and you’re not eating those processed carbs, it’s really important to try to vary your intake.

The other thing to think about, again I don’t hear anything about digestive problems in her question, so I’m just throwing it out there as something to think about after you get your calories up, get your carb ratio or your macronutrient ratios to a normal level, get that protein intake down little bit, then I would maybe think about gut health a little bit. Because again, that fatigue, it can be related to some degree of FODMAP intolerance which is related to SIBO. Sometimes if you just have a pathogen or a parasite in your gut and you start feeding it more carbohydrate, a lot of people will get fatigue as a symptom of that bacteria kind of growing a lot, replicating a lot, overgrowing to a larger extent because it’s getting more food.

One thing I would consider down the road too after you’ve dived into maybe some of these other things we’ve talked about is to just get some gut testing done. This is especially important if there is some degree of digestive health issue going on, which again I don’t hear from this question, but I just want to throw it out there in case that was something that is going on but didn’t seem necessarily relevant to the question because a lot of times adrenal fatigue does go hand in hand with gut issues. So definitely think about this if there’s any degree of digestive issues that you’re having or if you’ve ruled out all these other things that we’re talking about, you’re still having this issue, you may want to think about testing.

Laura: Yeah, I mean I think what we talked about the beginning would be the first place to start. And then if that wasn’t helping, then certainly diving deeper and testing and stuff would make sense. I think I tend to be a little bit conservative with testing especially because it can get kind of expensive. If the issue is she’s just eating 300 calories per day two little every day and that’s all it takes to fix it, then that’s awesome. But then certainly there’s the chance that that wouldn’t fix it and then that’s where that testing and getting a little deeper into what could be contributing to those symptoms would make sense.

Kelsey: Yeah and I certainly would leave that towards the end of the road here.  It very well may be just as simple as increasing your calories. Like we’ve talked about too, you may have this crash feeling for a few weeks as you start to increase your calories and increase your carbs. It is something that we do see. Not everybody just feels totally awesome as soon as they increase their carbs or calories.

I know it may seem that way sometimes from the way we talk about it because it is really amazing for a lot of people that that can solve a lot of their issues very quickly, but that doesn’t mean it’s like the next day that that happens. It does for some people, but for others like we said there’s this transition period that people need to go through sometimes to get to that point of really feeling better. So don’t feel bad if that’s you. It is somewhat normal, it does happen and you just need to let your body rest for a while as it gets used to this new normal.

Laura: Definitely. Well I think that covers everything that I was thinking.

Kelsey: Yeah, me too.

Laura: Like we said, there are so many different things that can cause those kind of symptoms, so these are just some guesses and you might need to do some deeper digging. But otherwise I feel like this calorie issue is super, super common and people don’t realize that what they’re doing every day with their diet is just keeping them in this chronic deficit. That can cause a lot of stress on your body, so don’t underestimate the power of eating enough.

Kelsey: Absolutely.

Laura: Okay. We’re trying something a little bit different for this episode. As many of you who have been listening to our podcast for the last couple years may have realized, we haven’t been doing any updates in the beginning anymore. The main reason for that is because we had gotten some feedback from listeners saying that they wanted us to maybe have less chitchat in the beginning, which was balanced by the number of people who also said they really like our updates.

Kelsey: We can’t win.

Laura: I know. We’re trying to figure out how to make everybody happy, which is probably a moot point. But we wanted to see if having updates at the end would be a good kind of middle ground to hit because that way the people that just want the information of the podcast will be able to hear that and then may turn it off by this point. And then if you’re the kind of person that likes to hear our updates, we’ll be able to talk about those at the end of the show.

If you are still on the episode and you want to let us know how this format works for you, please go to TheAncestralRDs.com and go to the contact tab and just send us a note and let us know if this is something that you like or if you hate it.

Because at the end of the day we really want to provide what our ideal audience is looking for. We’re not trying to change to make random people happy we, but we do want to make sure that the people who are actively listening and listening every week are getting what they want.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: If that’s you and you have an opinion, please feel free to share your constructive feedback and we will continue to make adjustments as time goes on. Hopefully this podcast will just continue to improve. But on that note, Kelsey, you were just on an adventure.

Kelsey: Yes.

Laura: Let’s hear about it.

Kelsey: I was in both France and Portugal for the last I think it was eight days which was really awesome. It was actually the first time that I’ve travelled only with a friend. Usually I either travel with my family or my husband, and so this was a girls’ trip. The flight was a gift from my longtime childhood best friend.

We flew into Paris and we had decided since we both have already been to Paris, we wanted to go somewhere else as well. We couldn’t decide where we wanted to go for the longest time. We were thinking maybe Barcelona, somewhere that was a little bit warm possibly at this time of year. We had actually both already been to Barcelona as well.

When we were looking at cheap flights from Paris, we saw that Lisbon was a cheaper destination. Shockingly now after having been there, Lisbon or Portugal in general has never really been on my travel list. Of course being an avid traveler, I have a big travel list. That wasn’t on it, but once I started looking into it, I was like oh my God, how this has never been on my list before? This looks amazing!

We spent a night in Paris, in the Montmartre region of Paris, and we didn’t really do much that night other than eat and drink, and kind of relax a little bit after our flight, and then explored a bit of the neighborhood the next day. Then that night we flew to Lisbon. Lisbon is a really cool city. Laura, have you ever been to Portugal?

Laura: No. I mean I was only in Europe, gosh I can’t remember how long ago that was. My dad worked in London for about a year or so.

Kelsey: Really? Mine did too!

Laura: Oh yeah?  That was like back in the day when businesses were like flying families over business class and stuff like that.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: But yeah, I got to say that I was like twelve. I haven’t been to Europe as an adult.

Kelsey: Oh wow, okay.  Well add Portugal to your list because it was really fun.  We flew into Lisbon and spent a couple days exploring Lisbon which is a really cool city. I mean the architecture is just really stunning. It’s just a very beautiful, beautiful city. I would say it’s kind of like a hip city. That sounds really lame when I say it like that, but it just has a really young vibe to it and I think it’s because it’s probably become a little bit more popular in the last few years as a travel destination, and kind of like and expat destination, and digital nomad destination. There’s a lot of like a lot of young people, a lot of hostels, and a lot of nightlife.

It was really fun to just explore.  Really you can just walk around. It’s built on several different hills, so essentially you just kind of walk up these big hills and you have beautiful views of the rest of the city or the ocean. It was really, really fun.

From there we went to Sintra which is a short train ride away from Lisbon, which oh my gosh, that place was amazing!  If anybody has been following my Instagram, you’ve probably seen some of my pictures. But there’s just beautiful castles and there’s a place called Pena Palace which is just, I mean it honestly looks like Disney World in real life, just this absolutely gorgeous place. All those sites are basically on top of a giant mountain and so we hiked up the mountain, which was really fun, but exhausting. I looked on my iPhone to see how many flights of stairs we climbed up and it was like a hundred something.

Laura: Oh, wow!

Kelsey: Yeah, it was a lot of a lot of walking uphill, but it was really beautiful, really fun to explore. That was probably the highlight of the trip for me at least because I really like the outdoor kind of sights that you can go to. I just find them more exciting. Not that I don’t like the cities at all, but for me just that aspect of nature is much more interesting to me.  Along with those older castles and all that kind of stuff is just really, really cool to explore. I had a field day taking photos there of course because everything was fascinating.

Laura: Did you have a nice camera?

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: Oh, okay.

Kelsey: Yeah, I have a nice camera. I have a DSLR.  I got a new lens for Christmas.

Laura: Nice.

Kelsey: This was like a big trip to use that on.

Laura: I was going to say I was looking at your photos and I’m like is that what an iPhone does? If so, then I need to get one.

Kelsey: No that is not what an iPhone does, sadly. I wish. I had a good camera that I lugged around with me which was definitely worth it I think for some of the photos that I was able to get.

We stayed in Sintra for a night again eating and drinking our way through everywhere. We ate very, very well in Portugal I will say because it’s a cheap destination for Europe. It’s not as expensive as some of the bigger cities like Paris or London so you can eat very, very well. Of course the seafood is incredibly fresh there because you’re right on the ocean so that was absolutely delicious. And the wine of Portugal is really, really good too. We ate and drank very well while we were there which was awesome.

Actually after Sintra we went to Cabo da Roca which is the edge of Europe, so the westernmost point of Europe. It’s just like beautiful cliffs and a really nice view of the ocean of course.  I actually got a sunburn which has been amazing because it’s like not that great in New York right now. It’s getting warmer, but being in Portugal the weather there is really, really awesome. We had one day of rain when we first arrived, but after that it was absolutely gorgeous. The weather was something else and now I’m regretting and back in New York.

After Portugal, we flew back to Paris and we spent one day, one night in the Champagne region of France and did some champagne tours, which were interesting, but honestly for me I would say I probably could’ve skipped it, but my friend was really interested in the Champagne tours and everything. They were cool, but I wouldn’t say anything that I….

Laura: Blown away by?

Kelsey: Yeah, I wasn’t blown away by it and I probably wouldn’t go back necessarily, but it was cool to be out in a different region of France for sure. I had never been there before so the towns where the champagne houses are are very cute and quaint so that was really nice to be there.

And then we went back to Paris for one night before we flew out and we saw the famous Moulin Rouge show which was really incredible. I wasn’t sure how I would like it and it. It was a little bit different from what I thought it would be, but very cool like an amazing spectacle of crazy costumes and different acts where people just did all these sort of acrobatic type things which was really cool to see and it was a good audience, a good show. I liked it more than I thought it would, so that was really, really fun.

Laura: Was it like the movie?

Kelsey: You know I haven’t seen the movie in a long time, but I kind of feel like it was not like the movie.

Laura: Yeah.

Kelsey: Maybe if I watch it again, I’ll take that back. But from what I remember from that movie, I’m not sure it’s quite like that.

Laura: That was my favorite movie in high school. Although that was more for the love story and the singing more than anything else.

Kelsey: Of course, of course. Who didn’t love that movie when it came out?

After that the next day we flew back to New York. But it was a whirlwind trip. We were in a lot of different places obviously. I think we max stayed out one hotel for like two nights. We had our backpacks, we were little backpackers going all over the place which is tiring of course, but you get to see a lot more. I think I’ve talked about this on the show before that I don’t go on vacation, I go on trips so often I come back more exhausted than when I left.  Sadly, I will say that is the case still.

Traveling with different people is a very different experience. My husband and I are very much the trip kind of people where if we’re somewhere new, we want to make sure we see as much as possible. We don’t kill ourselves trying to see everything, but we probably do more than the average person would do.

Actually traveling with my best friend, it was a little bit more of a relaxing experience and that was partially because we were a little bit disorganized going into it. Normally I do a lot more planning for a trip, but because I was working on my gut health course I just had like a lot of things going on before I left. I didn’t really have much time to really plan a lot of it in advance. We kind of just went with the with the flow a lot of the time, bought train tickets as we went, we even booked some of the hotels as we went along so it was definitely more laid back than usual or less planned I would say. In a way, that was cool. I definitely feel like there was a lot more to see that I didn’t get to see, but at the same time it was kind of fun to just fly by the seat of your pants a little bit.

Laura: Yeah. I think one thing that’s nice about not having your whole trip completely intinerized or whatever you want to call it is you can kind of decide if you want to do something at the spur of the moment.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: If it’s like beautiful weather and you’re like let’s do a hike over here today versus if it’s raining you can say let’s go do this indoors activity. I know a lot of times when I travel at least in the past I’ve had a lot of like very organized this is the day I’m getting there, this is the day that I’m leaving, these are the things that I’m doing. But more recently when I’ve traveled they’ve been pretty open ended which has been cool because then I’m like what do I want to do today? And then I just do it.

I’m definitely feeling a little jealous. Basically all my traveling since, I’m trying to think when the last time actually took like a legitimate trip that wasn’t just to see my fiancé.

Kelsey: Yeah, it’s probably been a while at this point.

Laura: Honestly I think in the last year there’s been one trip to Nashville.  That was for a bachelorette party that was super fun and my fiancé ended up meeting me down there.  It was a really fun trip, but I’m pretty sure that was the last time we did any sort of… I mean we’ve done like little weekend things like we did a trip to Indianapolis to see a concert, but I wouldn’t really call that a vacation. It was one night in Indianapolis.

Kelsey: But you guys are going on your honeymoon soon, right?

Laura: Yeah, and that’s honestly going to be like we’re not going to leave the resort.

Kelsey: Yeah, fair.

Laura: It’s an all-inclusive so I feel like I’m going to be exhausted. I’m already kind of exhausted and by the time the wedding actually happens I feel like I’m just going to want to lay around and do nothing with my then husband. It will be fun.

Kelsey: There’s nothing wrong with that.

Laura: I wouldn’t normally travel to Mexico in an all-inclusive resort but I feel like if there’s ever a time to do that, then the honeymoon is that time.

Kelsey: Totally.

Laura: But it’s funny because I used to do a lot of traveling actually. Last year in January I was in Costa Rica and the year before that I think I went to Nicaragua, or maybe it was a year and a half or so. It’s funny because I just finished my taxes and I didn’t owe anywhere near as much as I thought I was going to owe. So I was like now I have all this money, maybe I should go do something other than just fly to Ohio. I mean it’s not like I wouldn’t fly to Ohio, but my fiancé is so busy right now that it’s like the weekends that we have scheduled are basically the only times we can really do. I’m like maybe I should go somewhere fun by myself and just chill out by myself.

Kelsey: You should!

Laura: We’ll see. I don’t think I’m going to go to Europe because I have two months until the wedding and I need to calm down. But I don’t know. Maybe I could go to like Florida or something just to go do something a little different and go to the beach or something.

Kelsey: Yeah, you should. It sounds like you’re overdue for a vacation, for sure.

Laura: Yeah. Me and my fiancé kind of joke about the fact that we’re spending at least a thousand a month right now to visit each other. Maybe it’s a little less at this point because we’re not seeing each other as frequently. But I’m like I can’t wait until all that travel money can actually go towards fun vacations and not like oh this is just to see my fiancé for three days or something. I’m excited. I’m listening to you explain that, I’m like oh we should go to Europe. Maybe we’ll go next year.

Kelsey: You should! Well definitely I would highly recommend Portugal. It’s really, really fun. I knew I was going to like it just based on the things I was reading, but it kind of blew me away even more than I thought.

Laura: Cool.

Kelsey: I would definitely add that to your list if it’s not already there.

Laura: Awesome! Well if anyone is still listening, we may have like two people left on the on the podcast, but hopefully you enjoyed the show today. And like I said, if you like this end of episode update situation, just please let us know so that way we continue doing that to make everyone as happy as possible. Otherwise we will see you next week. Have a good rest of your day, Kelsey. Hope you recover soon!

Kelsey: Yeah, I hope so too. You take care, Laura.

PODCAST: Incorporating Gray Area Foods Into A Paleo Diet With Russ Crandall

Thanks for joining us for episode 102 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 thrilled to be interviewing Russ Crandall!

Russ Crandall is the talented home chef behind The Domestic Man, a leading food blog in the Paleo, gluten free, and whole foods community. He’s The New York Times bestselling author of The Ancestral Table and Paleo Takeout: Restaurant Favorites Without The Junk.

Many that follow Paleo diet strictly stick to the list of approved and forbidden foods, but there are controversial gray area foods that people find they can tolerate and even thrive on. While the debate on these foods such as white rice and potatoes continues, deciding what foods meet your own needs is key to maintaining a healthy ancestral type diet long term.

Today Russ Crandall talks with us about incorporating gray area foods into your Paleo diet plan. As Russ discusses his philosophy on gray area foods, he shares his personal health story and  journey finding what foods work best for him.

Russ also shares how he decides what recipes he creates for his blog and gives practical, simple tips on how to take your cooking to the next level with basic whole food ingredients and techniques.

Here are some of the questions we discussed with Russ:

  • How did you end up becoming a Paleo and ancestral nutrition blogger and recipe developer?
  • What is the significance behind the name of your blog, The Domestic Man?
  • What is your personal philosophy on gray area foods?
  • How did you figure out what was okay for you to reintroduce? Were there any foods you tried reintroducing that didn’t work at all for you?
  • How does your philosophy on gray area foods affect your decisions about what kind of food you create for your blog?
  • Do you ever get any push-back from people for using gray area ingredients?
  • Why don’t you include dessert recipes on your blog?
  • What do you think about a ketogenic or very low carb, high fat diet from an ancestral health context?
  • How do you decide what kind of foods you want to make for your blog?
  • What motivated you to create The Safe Starch Cookbook? What do you consider a safe starch?
  • Do you have any tips for listeners who are struggling with creativity in the kitchen when they’re on a Paleo diet?
  • Are there any simple things that you can do with basic ingredients to make it taste a little bit more gourmet?
  • Are there any sauces like that that you like to use regularly?
  • How do you decide what you’re going to get at the grocery store?
  • What’s your philosophy on spice blends?

Links Discussed:


Laura: Hi everyone! Welcome to episode 102 of The Ancestral RDs podcast. I’m Laura Schoenfeld and with me as always is my cohost Kelsey Kinney.

Kelsey: Hey guys!

Laura: If you don’t know us, we’re Registered Dietitians with a passion for ancestral health, real food nutrition, and sharing evidence-based guidance that combines science with common sense. You can find me, Laura, at LauraSchoenfeldRD.com, and Kelsey at www.KelseyKinney.com.

We’ve have a great guest on our show today who is going to be talking all about how to successfully and deliciously incorporate gray areas foods into an otherwise Paleo diet. We’re really glad he’s joining us and we hope you’ll enjoy this episode.

Kelsey: If you’re enjoying our show, subscribe on iTunes so that you never miss an episode. While you’re there, leave us a positive review so that others can discover the show as well! And remember, we want to answer your question, so head over to TheAncestralRDs.com to submit a health-related question that we can answer or suggest a guest you’d love for us to interview on an upcoming show.

Laura: Before we get into our interview, let’s hear a quick word from our sponsor:

Today’s podcast is sponsored by Maty’s Healthy Products. Maty’s started simply as a mom determined to help her daughter heal and turned into an amazing company that makes all natural and organic cough syrups, vapor rubs, and now even an Acid Indigestion Relief product. Maty’s All Natural Acid Indigestion Relief works quickly to relieve heartburn and indigestion while promoting healthy stomach acid levels. It aids digestion and promotes your body’s natural healing abilities. Made with whole food ingredients you know and recognize like apple cider vinegar, ginger, honey, and turmeric, Maty’s All Natural Acid Indigestion Relief is safe and drug free. Maty’s natural and organic remedies have powerful healing properties to support your body and improve your health. Try them today by visiting Maty’sHealthyProducts.com. You can also find Maty’s at Walmart, CVS, Target, Rite Aid, and a grocery near you.

Laura: We’re back and we have an awesome guest with us today! This is Russ Crandall. He’s the talented home chef behind The Domestic Man, a leading food blog in the Paleo, gluten free, and whole foods community. He’s The New York Times bestselling author of The Ancestral Table and Paleo Takeout: Restaurant Favorites Without The Junk. Thanks for coming on the show Russ!

Russ: Thanks for having me. I’m really looking forward to this interview.

Laura: I remember I had known about your stuff for a while because I felt like you were one of the few paleo blogs, or I guess recipe blogs that really focused on actual meals and kind of more macronutriently complete meals. I was sending a lot of clients to look for recipes there. Then I ended up meeting you at the Perfect Health Retreat back in, did you say it was 2014?

Russ: Yeah, I think it was Fall of 2014.

Laura: Wow, that was a while ago. What have you been up to since then?

Russ: We moved down to Florida right after that Perfect Health Retreat. We’ve been living there ever since. We’re in Pensacola. Since then I published the second cookbook, Paleo Takeout, which was a lot of fun to write and went on a book tour for that. It’s been about it, just trying to keeping the blog up to date, and making healthy food, and having fun doing it.

Laura: I still have the chopsticks that came with that.

Russ: That’s funny. I’ve got like 1,000 of them here at the house. If you ever need any extras, just let me know.

Laura: I might have to since I tend to use the ones that just come with the takeout.

You have a really interesting backstory as to how you got into the paleo and ancestral health movement. If you don’t mind just sharing a little bit about your story with our listeners that don’t know about your history, mostly about how did you get into this work? How did you end up becoming a paleo and ancestral nutrition blogger and recipe developer? What’s been the progression that you’ve gone through?

Russ: Sure. I’ve always been interested in cooking. My first couple jobs after I turned of age was cooking in restaurants. After that I ended up joining the Navy, this was about 17 years ago now. But then about 10 years ago, 11 years ago now actually, I ended up having a stroke. I was just sitting at home, a very healthy guy, working out all the time and doing everything else. But then all of a sudden the left side of my body just didn’t work. I went into the hospital and said yeah, sure enough you’re having a stroke on the right side of my pons so that was affecting my left side of my fine motor function.

Being left handed, that really was not very fun because I had to learn how to write again and how to hold a fork, and learn how to walk again even. I’m 25 at this point. The nice thing about having a stroke when you’re really young is that you end up bouncing back from it pretty quickly. After a few months of physical therapy, I basically was back to normal. But we had no understanding of why I had had a stroke. I was a healthy guy all of a sudden just couldn’t walk anymore. Honestly I just kind of moved on from there and thought that was just a weird thing that happened to me.

Then about a year later, so I’m 26 at this point, I was getting out of breath all the time to the point where even just standing up and walking I was getting winded. It didn’t feel normal for me. I was a former long distance runner and it wasn’t matching up. I thought I was out of shape, but it was getting worse and worse. I’m back to the doctor and they didn’t know what to do and so I ended up living in a hospital for about a month just kind of getting poked and prodded, tested.

Eventually they figured out that I was having some sort of an inflammation that was focused only in my pulmonary arteries and my arteries were getting so inflamed that I wasn’t getting enough blood to and from my lungs so I was getting out of breath all the time. They immediately just put me on a course of steroids, and then a couple other immunosuppressant drugs, and then blood thinners to just try to help with the blood flow.

I did that and it helped, I was able to walk around without getting out of breath. I couldn’t run or anything. I couldn’t exercise but at least I was walking around. It was really kind of a big deal being 26 years old and kind of feeling like I was elderly.

About a year after that I went back to the doctor and said hey, I really hate taking all these medications all the time. Is there any way I can do something else to fix this? They said, yeah, we can try to do surgery and to try to fix that inflamed tissue and just kind of scrape all that tissue out and make it a normal size again.

I agreed to do that so at age 27 I went through what they call a pulmonary re-sectioning surgery. They went in, had to reroute my organs through a machine and kind of drain a lot of the blood out of my chest and my body and then make me hypothermic, so about 50 degrees or so, then basically just operated on me and scraped all that inflamed tissue and then put it all back together and added a couple cow parts in there just to kind of make it the right size again.

It was very complicated surgery, about a 10 percent chance of dying right there on the table. But I made it out okay and then I ended up waking up and going through all the therapy to kind of get over that again only to find out that I was just as out of breath as I had been before and I had to go right back on all those medications again. Because at the end of the day, I hadn’t fixed any of that inflammation.

As you can image I was not happy about my situation at that point, but I didn’t know what else to do. The doctor said you can just kind of keep at it and kind of gave me a prognosis of about 20-25 years living life. Here I was late 20’s and basically feeling elderly.

Then when I was around age 30, so about 6 or 7 years ago now, I just happened to come across a random blog article and it was right when Robb Wolf’s book came out, The Paleo Solution. It was a promotional kind of blog post on it and it was from a food blog and it mentioned, have you thought about the history behind the way we eat, and how that affects how we’re eating today, and how we’re kind of out of sync with a lot of our heritage?

It all just kind of resonated with me. My Bachelor Degree is in history and I never really put two and two together like that. But it was kind of an epiphany. I went out and bought all this new food and got rid of all the junk that was in our house. It really wasn’t junk but it was just all those bad things, a lot of flours and breads, and pastas, and processed oils, and all of that. I got rid of all that and kind of went back to making everything from scratch and really focusing on what I was eating. I felt great within a week so I kept at it. Then about a few weeks later, I was feeling normal again, not just not sick, but to the point where I was feeling healthy again.

Laura: Wow!

Russ: It was incredible and it was just in a span in about a month or less. I went back to the doctor and said, hey, I think I’m doing really well from a symptomatic standpoint. Can you guys take my blood and just see how my labs look whether or not I have a lot of inflammation? They took the labs and they came back and said, yeah, you look normal for some reason. We’re not sure. The drugs are finally worked. You’re in a drug induced remission. I said I don’t think it’s the drugs. I think that there’s something to the way I’ve changed my diet. You always get the same complaints, well you’re not going to get any vitamins if you’re not eating whole grain bread and all that other stuff. I said well I’m going to keep on this diet and see how it works.

Overtime it’s just gotten better, and better, and better to the point now where I’m able to exercise. In the Navy we have a semiannual PT test, physical test, which includes a cardio portion. For yeas I’ve not been able to do that. But just in this past year alone, I’ve now been able to take that test and pass it pretty well too. It’s just continuing to kind of improve as I go along.

Laura: That’s awesome!

Russ: It was really great. I’d say after a month or so of really annoying all my friends and coworkers about this new diet, I decided to start a blog so that way I could annoy the internet instead. That’s when I started TheDomesticMan.com and really started focusing on one, keeping myself accountable by making food that was in line with kind of the research I was doing about health and everything as well as to share those with the public. I’ve always kind of had a flair for cooking and photography, so I kind of just married all those skills together and that’s how everything was born.

Laura: You do have pretty awesome photos as well. I’m always a little jealous of people that can take picture s like that.

Kelsey: I know, right.

Russ: It’s a lot of trial and error.

Laura: Yeah, I know, you just get better over time by doing it. It’s kind of crazy how the doctors were worried about your diet causing problems. I just think it’s crazy how they basically were like you’re going to live like an old person. It sounded like you were saying that they didn’t expect you to live much past the age of 50 or 60. Is that right?

Russ: Correct, yeah. Because of the side effects, I was on a real high dose of prednisone, I was osteoporotic already, I was having memory issues. It was getting pretty bad.

Laura: Wow. It just amazes me that you tell them that you’re feeling back to normal and all of your health problems are gone and they’re like, well, you might get nutritionally deficient on this new approach. It just kind of crazy.

Russ: Right.

Laura: I’ve actually never asked you this. What is the meaning or the significance behind the name of your blog, The Domestic Man?

Russ: It’s a great question. It’s something I forget about overtime too. The funny trivia is that I actually started the blog before I changed my diet. Initially it was supposed to be I wanted to start a food and gardening blog because I liked the idea of us recapturing kind of the land that we occupy. For me we had just moved into a new home that we owned. It was the first home owner experience and I thought I’m going to tame my backyard by gardening and I’m going to start owning my kitchen by cooking.

It’s kind of a play on words in the idea that mankind has become somewhat domesticated and that we don’t really know some of these basic skills anymore. But at the same time I want to kind of recapture that spirit by relearning those skills myself.

Laura: Nice.

Russ: That’s the idea behind it.

Laura: I always wondered if it had something to do with the domestic arts as they are called, like cooking and that kind of thing. Cool to know what the actual reason was.

We have noticed that a lot of your recipes include many of the commonly excluded paleo foods like rice, white potatoes, dairy. It’s interesting because with the health issues that you overcame with your diet, a lot of times people think you have to be really, really strict and never touch anything that’s not perfectly strict paleo to be able to maintain those results. But it sounds like you’re actually doing a lot better even now than you were before eating those foods. What is your personal philosophy on those gray area foods? How did you figure out what was okay for you to reintroduce?

Russ: For me when I first changed my diet, there was not a lot of resources available at the time, so I really didn’t know where to start. I started with Robb Wolf’s book and then kind of broke off from there. I found The Whole 30 and kind of tried that a little bit. Really what it came down to was I was eating a very strict paleo diet, something based on a eat list and a do not eat list.

I tried that in that first month, but after that first month I really started crashing. I wasn’t feeling great. I was losing energy and I just kind of happened to fall into the idea of balancing my own needs by adding in new ingredients. That came from a moment of weakness honestly where I was running out of energy and my wife who is of Japanese heritage was kind of lamenting the fact that we weren’t really eating rice anymore in the house. I said alright, well I’m going to make a pot of rice and maybe I’ll try a little bit. I ate some and I felt great, I felt so much better and it was incredible.

I thought that after reading a bunch of low carb kind of paleo blogs at the time, I thought that I was going to keel over and die because my glycemic load would be so high. And I didn’t. At that point, I had to make a decision and the decision was that well, regardless of what I’ve read, I’m going to follow the way I feel. If I’ve already gone this far basically kind of listening to my body, I’m going to continue to do that.

Rice and white potatoes were kind of a first introduction to that. Finding out that the way I prepare them really changed things. I stopped eating French fries and potato chips, but more like boiled and mashed potatoes. Those made me feel great. I kind of kept along those lines and then dairy was just something I kept experimenting with and starting with butter, then yogurt, and heavy cream, and things like that.

I basically just found what kind of worked for me. To this day I can’t eat yogurt more than twice a week. It just makes me breakout. Anything less than that and I’m fine. It’s just a matter to kind of figuring out that as I went. It wasn’t an overnight thing. It wasn’t a single decision I had made, but more around the lines of just kind of really feeling things out as I went along.

Laura: Were there any foods you tried reintroducing that didn’t work at all for you?

Russ: Yeah, in the past year specifically I went and traveled in Europe. I thought this is going to be a time where I really have avoided wheat this entire time, but I’ve always heard kind of anecdotally that people have been able to eat some wheat products in Europe and been fine. Whether or not that comes from the freshness of the ingredients or how they grind the flour, there’s all sorts of kind of factors involved in that. I was in Italy of all places and I’m like well I’m going to go to this place that has homemade pasta and everything else. Sure enough, that didn’t work out for me. I had a pretty bad stomachache and headache afterwards. Definitely not perfect in the fact that some foods don’t work very well for me.

For the most part I’ve found that reintroducing everything except for some of those really bad characters, those really high omega 6 oils have really kind of affected me over time, and then any wheat product has really kind of hurt as well. Overall, we’ve just kind of gotten out of the idea of frying food. That’s something we do like once every six months, if that. We’ve really gotten back to the basics of kind of cooking in a much more kind of tender and nuanced way as opposed to frying everything.

Laura: How does that philosophy on gray area foods affect your decisions about what kind of food you create for your blog?

Russ: That’s a good question. I kind of made my own rules of the blog because I knew I wanted to send a very clear message when it came to the blog. For example, if I am out at Mexican restaurant and they serve beans and rice together, I’m usually going to eat the beans with the rice. One, because I love the taste. And two, because I might get a little bit of gas afterwards, but that’s something I’m willing to kind of take. It’s a decision that I make. At home sometimes we’ll soak beans overnight and cook them as well just every once and a while.

But that’s not something I’m comfortable putting on the blog because I’m not willing to kind of have that discussion and debate from a guy who’s not an RD at all in terms of whether or not someone should be eating those other things. I made a kind of hard and fast rule that I’ll include white rice, I’ll include potatoes, and I’ll include diary, as well as fermented soy, usually just miso and tamari. I include those ingredients which are kind of gray area foods.

I think there’s enough research out there to let people kind of make their own decisions. I never kind of push it on them. I always try to give alternatives to anything. Somebody who has a severe allergy to any of those items, I usually will include a substitution like coconut milk for dairy and things like that.

Laura: It was always interesting to me because I feel like when you look at paleo recipe blogs there’s an expectation of what it’s going to include as far as the ingredients go. Do you ever get any pushback from people that are angry that you’re using those ingredients?

Russ: Yeah, all the time. It’s funny, every once and a while I’ll monitor, for example, my reviews on Amazon. And I’ll tell you, 95% of the negative reviews I get are from people who say this has the word paleo in it but then he used tamari. Even though he gave a substitution for coconut aminos or whatever, that’s not paleo, therefore this book isn’t paleo, therefore one star. I don’t typically agree with that, but I think that everybody kind of has their own decisions to make.

Yeah, I definitely have been aware over the years that if I just maybe stuck with a very strict paleo, like maybe a Whole 30 style paleo, or an autoimmune style paleo, or for example posted paleo cupcakes, all of those things probably would have gotten me lots of followers. But at some point I kind of had to draw the line and say well this is the image that I want to make and I’m willing to kind of take some of that flack along the way.

Laura: I actually think it’s really important to have a blog like yours because for Kelsey and I, a lot of our clients don’t need to be eating strict paleo. It’s a little tough especially when we’re trying to get people to be eating higher carb diets when they’re going to these recipe sites that their version of carbs is cauliflower rice for example.

Russ: Right.

Laura: It’s nice that there’s your blog that actually offers those gray area foods because things like rice and potatoes are a big source of carbs for a lot of our clients and your recipes are one of the only ones that can both offer that and then also avoid those things like the vegetable oils, and gluten, that kind of stuff that might be really causing people problems.

Russ: Absolutely. I think that it’s important too to kind of look at historically how we’ve already been eating these foods. I think a lot of them kind of work in compatibility with each other and I think they complement one another. Because my blog is so based on different historical recipes, I think that it just comes naturally. It would be a little bit disingenuous if I used cauliflower rice instead of regular rice.

Laura: Yeah. You mentioned about paleo cupcakes as being a way to get more traffic and more five star ratings on Amazon. But this is another thing I’ve noticed on your site that most of your recipes seem to center around more of those hearty main meals and veggie sides. Have you ever done a dessert on your blog?

Russ: Zero. There are zero deserts on it.

Laura: Oh, I was going to say I rarely see them. But I was like maybe I actually never see them, I should probably double check. Is that more because you don’t enjoy creating desserts or is there another reason that you don’t include dessert recipes on your blog?

Russ: There’s kind of two schools of thought with that. Number one is that I think that desserts should be spontaneous so I think that a bowl of fruit, and a little bit of cream, and maybe some honey on top doesn’t need a recipe. I think that’s something that you would eat seasonally when it’s available. That’s one big part of it is that I don’t want to kind of develop those recipes and encourage people to do that when I think it just should be something that’s a little bit part of your life, but only once and a while.

And the second is I’m real big on effort barriers so I like the idea that you have to sometimes work for things. Only in one of my cookbooks, in Ancestral Table, is there any desserts and every single dessert is not a two minute dessert. Everything takes hours upon hours because I like idea that if you really want something, then maybe you would put in the time and effort to really be conscious about what you’re putting into you as opposed to thinking about what’s convenient.

Those are kind of the two things. I want to make it difficult for people to eat desserts and then at the same time I want it to be this kind of natural spontaneous thing that happens.

Laura: That’s funny, it’s such a dichotomy. It’s like it’s either got to be so hard that you don’t want to do it, or so easy that you don’t need a recipe.

Kelsey: Your one star reviews are like, why is this guy trying to make me take five hours to make this dessert?

Russ: Yeah, I mean that’s always kind of in my philosophy is that you’ve got to be really conscious about what you’re making. I think we take things for granted when you take a bottle of olive oil and start cooking with it. You’ve got to think about all the work that went to that bottle of olive oil. I think that with desserts in particular, it’s so easy to just go to the store and buy some cupcakes when you have to really think about all the processes that went into growing and processing that wheat and everything else in order to make that. That’s why I like that idea.

Laura: I think that’s interesting if you think about the amount of work that goes into providing some of those foods and how that actually impacts the ingredients that you use. I hate to rag on low carb or ketogenic diets because I know that they have therapeutic uses, but a lot of times when I see what people can eat on a ketogenic or very low carb high fat diet, my question would be in what culture would that much fat be available that they wouldn’t have starches, or fruit, or other things that were not 80% percent of the diet coming from fat? Getting that isolated oil or things like MCT oils, those didn’t even exist. The thought that that could be a typical “paleo diet” from an ancestral health context seems a little odd. What do you think about that?

Russ: I would completely agree. One of the ideas behind that too, and again for me being very mindful kind of recipe developer is there’s kind of two spectrums. It’s great that we have this opportunity to use it in a therapeutic way, but at the same time we have to acknowledge the fact that for the first time in history are we able to these kind of choices.

Think about a vegetarian. There’s no vegetarian societies in history and that’s because they didn’t really have the choice. They were just trying to survive and they were eating the foods available to them. But now we’re in a point where people are allowed to make that choice of being a vegetarian. Whether or not that’s optimal is a whole other debate. But the fact is that we’re at a new kind of decision point in history where we’re able to make decisions of whether they want to live on a ketogenic diet, or a vegetarian diet, or things like that. It’s all a very new kind of thing that we’re dealing with. Being a guy who’s very grounded in history and historical recipes, I like to kind of stick with what we’ve been doing for a long time.

Laura: Yeah, I love that. A lot of your recipes seem to be I would say multicultural where you’re kind of trying different types of ethnic recipes and maybe tweaking them so that they fit into that gluten free and more paleo kind of context. How do you decide what kind of foods you want to make for your blog?

Russ: That’s an ongoing question. I’ll tell you the first thing I do usually is I solicit for suggestions from readers. About once a month every couple months I’ll go on my Facebook page or one of the other pages and say, hey if there’s anything you’re specifically missing from your childhood or something like that, some traditional recipes that you’d love to see me tackle, then I’d be happy to try it. Most of the time I get people wanting me to tackle bread recipes and that’s not really my forte. I usually skip those. But for the most part I solicit from just my general readers.

The other side is that it just kind of happens. Being a guy who’s into history and into food, I just kind of stumble upon all of these kind of new dishes that I hadn’t thought of. I kind of go on these deep Wikipedia dives and end up in a place I never thought I’d be. I have this running list of recipes and that’s basically what I’ll pull from when I’m looking for inspiration.

Then the second part of that is I love watching cooking videos. YouTube is great especially if you watch it in another language. What I’ll do is I’ll find the original name of a recipe and then I’ll search for that usually playing around with Google translate and kind of find what I’m looking for. And then I will paste that into YouTube and just kind of start watching. I don’t really need to hear what they’re saying or understand what they’re saying, just kind of watch what they’re doing between the ingredients and the methods and just try to emulate that as well. I think it’s something that we’re losing overtime is kind of original way of cooking.

Laura: Yeah, that’s sounds like a lot of work. I’m like I can barely put a recipe together in English, let alone another language.

Russ: My job in the Navy is a translator. I’m a Russian and Indonesian translator so I’m very comfortable in kind of playing around in the gray area of unknown languages. For me it’s part hobby, part work. It just kind of all is pushing together in one way.

Laura: That’s cool. One of your cookbooks that you have is an e-book actually and it’s called The Safe Starch Cookbook. What motivated you to create a recipe book that was so focused on carbs?

Russ: A lot that came from my own experience in just trying to figure out how to incorporate starches into my diet after a period of not eating them and kind of developing a bit of fear of, oh no, I’m going to keel over and die if I eat any of these. Initially I was as using Paul Jaminet’s work on the Perfect Health Diet and kind of looking at his blog. He had some recipes, but at the end of the day I thought well I’m going to have to tackle this myself.

I started throwing all of these recipes on the blog and I got to the point where I was like you know what, I have enough of these recipes to create a small e-book to kind of use as a resource for everybody else. That kind of was the target audience I was looking for was people who are maybe coming off of a low carb diet or have just found that they need a little more carbs in their diet and where to kind of make them as delicious as possible. That’s when I started The Safe Starch Cookbook which came out about two years ago. Then I just recently updated it a couple months ago with a new 2017 edition and adding in new recipes from the blog and whatnot.

Laura: What do you consider a safe starch?

Russ: I kind of break it up. In the book I break it into four categories. I start with potatoes, and that includes sweet and white potatoes, and different cooking methods. There’s a couple of roasted potatoes and things like that, but the most part it’s going to be your typical boiled, and mashed, and all the different types of incorporation you can make with that. That’s the first side. And then I’m a fan of white rice so that’s also one.

I have the third category which is going to be noodles. That’s all different types of noodles between spiralized sweet potatoes, or using sweet potato noodles which are made of sweet potato starch, or rice noodles which are made with rice flour and water.

The fourth category was basically any really starchy vegetable. That was like roasted parsnips and beets as well as any foods that incorporate a large amount of starches themselves in terms of tapioca starch, or arrowroot starch, or potato starch. For example I have a pizza crust that’s made out of mostly tapioca starch, and some parmesan cheese, and a little bit of cream. Those kind of recipes also went into the book.

Laura: Does the “safe” word have anything to do with the way that they’re cooked?

Russ: A little bit. It’s not something I really am explicit about. In my coking I just kind of do it through practice. 90% of what I make is usually through very gentle cooking methods as opposed to frying. A lot of that has to do with just the way that I react to fried foods. But at the same time, there’s some pretty good compelling articles about how a gentle cooking method helps to preserve nutrients a little bit better and then oxidizing oils and saturated fats can sometimes lead to issues as well. Rather than try to tackle that myself and not being a guy who’s in the nutritional realm, I decided to kind of just do that through practice.

That’s part of it. For the most part when I take about safe starches, I’m really talking about the amount of or the lack of anti-nutrients or toxins that are found in that starch.

Laura: Okay. I think that’s something again it’s unusual for a lot of the paleo blogs to have such carb heavy recipes. It definitely comes from that belief that carbs are going to hurt you or that you’re going to die from diabetes if you’re eating carbs at all.

Russ: Right.

Laura: It’s really great that there’s that resource to actually give people ideas on not only how to cook things, but then what other type of options that they might not have even thought of, things like the sweet potato noodles or some of those root vegetables that they would have never tried before. It’s cool that you have that resource to guide people’s decisions there.

I know when I’m working with clients, and Kelsey, I assume you have this issue too when you’re trying to get people to increase their carb intake and they’re just like I don’t know what else to do besides sweet potatoes and rice.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: It’s kind of like it almost seems like sweet potatoes are the only thing that people really feel comfortable with and rice is just easy.

Russ: Right.

Laura: The other stuff tends to be a little bit scary for a lot of people.

Russ: Yeah, I agree and I think that it is a bit of an unknown world especially when you’ve been told to remove it from your diet. People are very hesitant to kind of try it again. I found that people really appreciate just having somebody say, hey it’s okay, you’re going to come out fine, try some of these recipes. It usually works out pretty well for everyone.

Laura: Yeah, generally. We like to be somewhat practical and help people make changes to what they’re currently doing on this podcast. You’re obviously a recipe and kitchen expert. It sounds like you are really good at knowing how to throw things together that don’t necessarily require a recipe, but there are some basic cooking techniques that can make food taste more interesting or just get a little variety. Do you have any tips for your listeners who are struggling with creativity in the kitchen when they’re on a paleo diet, and any ideas on how to work around certain restrictions when creating meals?

Russ: Sure. I’ll tell you the way that we kind of build our meals here at the house. I’m not developing 24/7. It is really something I do on the weekends. During the week what we typically will do, and I think a lot of people in the paleo world do this already is they kind of base everything based on the meat. I’ll go into he freezer and look at what I have available, I’ll put it into a bowl, and I’ll thaw it out in the fridge. I usually try to balance immediately just based on the meats that I have available. Some sort of seafood, some beef, pork, and chicken and just kind of make it a little bit diverse that way I’m not going to get bored.  From there I just kind of build everything out from there. Usually what I’ll do is depending on the cut, I’ll look at some of the best cooking methods, if this is going to be low and slow, or do I want to try and grill this, and things like that.

Typically I’ll honestly I’d say 90% of what we do usually has a recipe already for it. A lot of that actually just comes from the fact that having developed recipes for six, seven years now, I have such a library of recipes, it’s hard for me to try to invent something new when I feel like I’ve at many times done it all already.

But I’ll say the number one thing that I usually try to tell people when they’re trying to find some sort of way of balancing flavors, making it unique and interesting to themselves, is that the seasoning at the end of a dish will make it or break it. Number one I always check for salt level, so I usually don’t salt with table salt until the very end and try to figure out specifically what’s going to be the right balance because the worst thing you can do is over salt something. I usually try to get the salt right. And then pepper, if it’s already included in the recipe and it tastes okay, I usually leave that as is.

Then the third component that I always add in at the end is going to be some sort of acid. Usually that’ll be vinegar, or fish sauce, or something like that that I’ll usually add right at the end. Not to the point where it tastes acidic or where you can taste that ingredient, but I found that really will elevate the flavor and it’s kind of an under represented seasoning at the end and not really using as much as we should.

Kelsey: Yeah, I recently started doing that. I had kind of never really heard that before about the acid piece and I started including more acids in my cooking because I was getting for a while Sun Basket delivered to my house and they have a lot of acid in the recipes that they use. I was like, hmm, there must be something to this. I started to do that in my own cooking now and it makes such a big difference.

Russ: Yeah, absolutely. I think that we in general just as much as we have garlic, and onions, and potatoes in the house for any random recipe we’re going to do, we have lemon and lime as well. Those are just kind of typical things that we’ll add along with like I mentioned vinegar and fish sauce, things like that just to kind of brighten that dish right at the end. Sometimes that’ll turn a dish from being just everyday same kind of thing to being a brand new kind of experience. I really like that idea.

Laura: I think, Kelsey, what you just mentioned about doing Sun Basket, because I was doing it for a while too and I may again once I’m married just because doing it for one person is a little boring, but doing it with somebody is a little more fun. But one thing I noticed, and I had maybe a different experience but similar where all of the meat recipes were recommending to pat the meat dry with a paper towel. I was like maybe I should do this all the time when I’m cooking. I found that it makes the meat a lot less soggy or just kind of allows it to sear better.

Russ: Absolutely.

Laura: I think people don’t obviously have to do Sun Basket to have that experience. Russ, I don’t know if you agree with this, but if they’re doing recipes from a cookbook like one of your cookbooks or something, maybe they won’t do that recipe to a tee next time but they’ll learn a new skill or they’ll learn a way that an ingredient can be used and then experiment with it later. Is that kind of how you approach your non recipe meals?

Russ: Absolutely. The easiest examples for those are going to be any time that as we’re preparing rice, a lot of times we make like a risotto or a paella. We’re throwing it all together at some point, but really the basis of it at the end of the day is really going to be cooking an onion or a shallot, then adding the rice, toasting it a little bit, then adding the broth, and then all the other ingredients. It’s amazing how much diversity you can have in those meals just by kind of following that construct, which is also the same historical way that people have been preparing that dish for hundreds of years.

Kelsey: You’re saying we should toast our rice before we cook it.

Russ: When it comes to those two rices in particular, paella and risotto, yeah toasting them ahead of time will help to evenly cook them because they’re not going to be cooked in the water covered like the way you would typically cook a rice.

Kelsey: Gotcha.

Russ: Those in particular in order to get them to cook evenly, it’s better to toast them.

Kelsey: Got it. I was terrified that I’d been cooking rice wrong all this time.

Laura: I feel like family dinners at your house must be really fun, Russ.

Russ: They are and my kids are little foodies. They just eat everything. It’s pretty fun. Sometimes it doesn’t work out. If it’s too complex of a flavor profile, if there’s some bitter flavors involved in it if I’m using a green or whatever, kids aren’t hardwired to enjoy bitter foods at all. In that sense, yeah, sometimes they hate my meals. But for the most part they like what I make.

Laura: For our listeners who don’t have a ton of time to cook or maybe they’re single and they don’t feel like doing any sort of really complicated recipe every time they’re cooking, are there any really simple things that you can do with really basic ingredients to make it taste a little bit more gourmet as opposed to just grilling something or steaming vegetables? Are there any really easy kind of go-to, can go on a variety of different food options?

Russ: Yeah. I think, Laura, you already kind of touched on it a little bit with the idea of drying out your meats before you cook them. The little things like that I think really can kind of elevate the cooking. Sometimes I will pat my meat dry and then put it back in the fridge uncovered just out there in cold air for a half hour before I do anything else with it. That’s seems to really help as well.

For the most part we actually eat very simply throughout the week. One of the big things we do is we like to roast a chicken every week. That’s actually what we’re having for dinner tonight. All we do with that, the only difference we do with most roasted chicken recipes is that we tie it with kitchen twine around the legs and around the front of it with that same piece of twine. You basically turn that chicken into one ball of meat. And then you can crank up the heat to about 425, throw it in a skillet or whatever you have and throw it into the oven. It takes about an hour and it comes our perfect every single time. You can throw salt and pepper on it. You don’t need to, you can do whatever you want with it really. Just don’t stuff it full of stuff in the middle because that’s going make it take longer to cook. For most part that’s the most simple recipe we have.

We take that chicken, we break it down, we’ll eat some of it that night, and then we eat it with leftovers with salads or with anything else throughout the rest of the week. That’s a really easy way that we really enjoy doing that. All that came from the fact that we were looking at a lot of people are buying these rotisserie chickens at grocery stores, but you can make it at home and have it just as good and for a little bit cheaper sometimes too and with better ingredients.

Laura: I will say when I’m at Whole Foods the rotisserie chickens that are precooked are probably a third of the cost of a whole raw chicken.

Russ: Oh, really?

Laura: My theory is that those are the chickens that were about to expire so they cooked them and they want to get them moving.

Russ: Good point.

Laura: But it was funny because the first meal that I made for my fiancé when he was visiting was a roasted chicken. I was like I want to make this from scratch, it’s going to be awesome! I went to buy the chicken and it was like $20 for the whole chicken.

Russ: Oh my goodness!

Laura: The rotisserie chickens were like $8 each. I don’t know what the story is there, but that’s why I end up using a lot of the precooked rotisserie chickens because I‘m like I don’t know why I’m getting a cheaper item that’s already been cooked and it’s the same thing as if I just bought it raw.

Russ: Yeah, that’s interesting.

Laura: I know. It’s just amazing. You would maybe see them be the same price, but it’s so much cheaper at the Whole Foods where I shop.

Russ: Wow. That’s interesting.

Laura: I know, it’s crazy. Do you guys use a lot of leftovers at your house?

Russ: We do. What we end up doing is we only cook once a day so that’s dinner. Lunch is going to be leftovers everyday. Breakfast for us is usually kind of spontaneous and just depending on how we feel. Sometimes I skip breakfast and try to kind of have a 16 hour fast in between. I’ll do that from time and time and then just have two meals during the day. It really depends on how I’m feeling. For us most of the time we are going to do cooking one dinner, lunch is going to be leftovers, then breakfast is going to be some fruit, maybe a little bit of oatmeal, l or whatever we feel like eating right then.

Laura: I feel like the cooking more at dinner and then having it for leftovers for lunch the next day is the easiest way to not have to cook every meal because it’s like all you have to do is add a little extra ingredients to that dinner and then you’ll have lunch for the next day.

Russ: Right. Because I’m cooking on the weekends and kind of developing recipes, I always freeze everything. We have a vacuum sealer so we seal it up, we freeze it. Probably two nights a week we’re pulling out those premade meals and eating those as opposed to having to cook from scratch every single night.

Laura: I can imagine especially with the way that you cook being a little bit more complicated than maybe the average person, it could get a little time consuming to be doing that every single night.

Russ: Absolutely, yeah. We usually just do like I had mentioned, we base our meals on the meat first. Say we have a bunch of chicken thighs or something, then we’ll go and we’ll cook those on the grill, at the same time I’ll make a pot of rice, and then we’ll cook up some vegetables like Brussels sprouts or something. And then that’s our meal right there. That’s typically our everyday weeknight meals or something like that.

Kelsey: When you’re vacuum sealing the things that you make on the weekend, is that just meat or are you vacuum sealing other types like side vegetables or anything else?

Russ: It’s usually just the meat dish so the meat course itself. Unless it’s like a stew or something we’ll put that in a mason jar and freeze that. For the most part, if it’s just a roast that we’re making we’ll throw in if there were potatoes with it we’ll put it all together. But really what I’m talking about is any sort of meat. And then the vegetable because they’re so quick to throw together, we usually just kind of keep a full vegetable bin and then we will cook that right then and there right before the meal.

Kelsey: Got it, okay. I was curious because I was like that’s actually a genius idea if you could do a whole freezer meal all in one little vacuum pack.

Russ: Yeah, the nice thing about those too is they’re food grade plastic so you can actually heat them in that. And I’m not saying crank it up in the microwave, but if you take some simmering water and you drop that in the simmering water and just kind of let it sit there in the basically hot water for about 20 minutes, it cooks the meal without having to degrade it further by microwaving it when the texture gets all weird, or trying to roast it when it’s going to stick to the bottom of the pan. All of those things, as opposed to doing any of that, we just kind of avoid that by heating it up in that food grade bag.

Kelsey: Yeah, that’s smart especially coming from me with my New York City size freezer. I’m like anything I can do to not have these giant Tupperware containers that make no sense in a small freezer. I’m going to look into buying one of those now. Thanks for that tip.

Russ: Yeah, no worries.

Laura: I was just curious, is that what sous vide is, or is that something totally different?

Russ: Sous vide is a little different. That’s a method of cooking. What you do with that is you do vacuum seal it or you can actually just use a zip lock bag if you get all the air out of it, you put it in water that’s at a specific temperature. So say for example you want to have a medium rare steak, you would put the steak in the bag with maybe a little bit of seasonings, you put it in the sous vide machine which is a water bath at 125 degrees, and then you let it sit there for hours so that way the whole meat gets thoroughly at that temperature. And you pull it out, pat it dry, and sear it so you get some nice crust on it. Then you have a perfectly medium rare steak without having to deal with that kind of the gray area that you get sometimes when you’re blasting something at a high heat sometimes it’ll cook more of the inside than you’d like. This sous vide method allows you to really have it perfect.

Laura: Yeah, I think I always err on the side of things being undercooked, which may or may not be gross to some people but I’m like as long as it’s not..I think beef for example I’d rather eat my meat where the middle isn’t even cooked at all then if it was over cooked.

Russ: Right. Yeah, I’m a big fan of using a thermometer. They have these Bluetooth thermometers for 50 bucks on Amazon which you stick it in and it’s like a little probe and then that connects to your phone. Say I’m cooking a steak, or a pork chop, or something, I’ll put it to about 10 degrees less than I’d want and I just put it in an oven for at like a lower temperate like 250, like something that’s kind of low and slow, let it slowly kind of reach that optimal temperature and then I’ll sear it right there at the end. That usually comes out perfect every single time without having to kind of worry about undercooked or overcooked or things like that. That’s usually my kind of rule of thumb with that.

Kelsey: Cool. I would love to jump back for a second to those quick little tips that we were talking about because, Laura, I agree, I had the same experience with Sun Basket stuff about patting my meat dry. It’s made such a big difference along with the acids. Any other tips like that that you can think of off the top of your head, Russ, that can really up level somebody’s cooking just from a very, very easy standpoint?

Russ: Sure. A lot times when it comes to a meal when I’m putting something together, I’ll usually do it in stages. The first thing I’ll do is I’ll take a little bit of bacon and I’ll cook that.

Laura: I love how that’s just starting with bacon.

Russ: That’s not a lot, it’s maybe two or three slices out of the fridge. It’s not a lot but, it’s enough to generate some cooking fat as well as to have something that I can use as a garnish. I will pre-chop that bacon ahead of time, I’ll just cut it up raw and just throw it in the pan. As that’s heating up I will then cut up an onion. Then I will pull out the bacon out of the pan, then I’ll throw an onion in. Then I’ll let that cook in that bacon fat. And then usually at that point I figured out what I’m going to do with the rest of the meal.

Typically if it’s something like say I have some chicken breasts for example, then I will take those chicken breasts and I will give them a little bit of seasoning, whatever I have on hand. If it’s just salt or pepper, I want to add a couple little other, things it’s fine. I’ll pat it dry ahead of time and then I’ll put on those seasonings, let it sit for a little bit just to kind of warm up a little bit. By the time the onion is ready, then I’m going to throw the meat in there and I’m going to brown the meat a little bit. Then from there it’s just a matter of adding some sort of sauce, or maybe a little bit of broth, a little bit of vegetables and then just serving that with rice.

At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter what meat you’re using or what kind of vegetables you’re adding in, but when you start with that bacon, when you start with that onion, you’re already 50% of the way there in terms of getting good flavor in there. That’s coming from a guy who really doesn’t like onions.

Laura: I was going to say I thought you hated onions. That’s for me the way that I cook liver. It has to have bacon and onions because it’s the only way it tastes good to me. I feel like if it can make liver taste good, it can make anything taste good.

Russ: Absolutely. It’s just kind of one of the basic things that we end up starting with. Sometimes I won’t use onions, I’ll use mushrooms. It really just depends on what I kind of got in my refrigerator at the moment. For the most part when it comes down to it, a really good meal is just about cooking at the right temperature and for the right period of time. As long as you kind of add a little bit of crispiness to things, maybe crank it up right at the end, it’s just a matter of kind of watching that and kind of figuring it out as you go.

Laura: I actually have two questions. One, this is kind of related to this topic of easy options, are there any sauces that you use? I’ve heard people recommend picking a sauce and just making that from scratch, and then adding that to your meat, and vegetables, and starches and kind of just blending it all together, and that actually can take the meal from being boring to interesting. Are there any sauces like that that you like to use regularly?

Russ: We’re big on curries. Immediately you think of a curry as something as exotic and very hard to put together, but if you take for example an Indian curry, it’s really not very different from what you’re expecting. If you just take a basic korma or a masala sauce, that’s really going to be like I had mentioned before, you’re going to cook up some onions, and then usually they add a little bit of ginger and some hot peppers either jalapeño peppers or whatever you have available. Even bell peppers work okay.

You cook that up a little bit and then you add tomatoes as just a matter of a can of tomatoes or whatever. You cook that down and then add a little bit of seasonings depending on what you’re specifically going for between all of the different Indian spices that are available, kind of putting it all together, and then you just blend it. That’s all they’re really doing. They throw it in a blender, they blend it. Putting that together though it takes just a second. I could put together one of those curry sauces in 20 minutes and then add the meat to that and just kind of simmer that in its own liquid for another 20 minutes and you’ve got an incredible meal that really didn’t take that much time.

But it’s just a matter of kind of just looking at the ingredients that are there and kind of not being turned off by the idea of they’ve this one seasoning that I’ve never heard of before. You can just grab it at the grocery store and you’ll have it for the next year, you’ll have it in a jar. That’s one of the big things that I like to do is looking at curry sauces and kind of putting those together. Between Thai curries and Indian curries, there’s a lot to work with there.

Laura: My second question kind of goes along with that buying the spices at the grocery store. How do you decide what you’re going to get at the grocery store? Do you plan out what you’re going to cook that week and then get the ingredients? Or do you have a different method of picking what you’re buying at the store?

Russ: We will typically, it’s gotten to the point where we don’t really build menus so much as we really just kind of just play it by ear. A lot of that is because we have a pretty full spice cabinet. Over the years we’ve just collected all of these things. When you want some dried chilies, I’ve got 15 different kinds at the house here. That’s probably not your typical set up for people.

My recommendation would be mostly just to kind of until you can really figure out what works best for you and what you really like, then sticking to some sort of recipe initially and saying well maybe once a week I’m going to tackle a Domestic Man recipe or somebody else’s recipe, and then seeing how that works for you, what you did and didn’t like from it. Along the way you’re probably going to pick up new ingredients that you may not have in your pantry. Then just kind of playing around from there I think is probably the best advice.

Laura: When it comes to spices, what’s your philosophy on those spice blends that they create that are kind of a bunch of things mixed together?

Russ: We don’t really use them. I will typically use a barbeque blend if I’m smoking meats or something like that. I will usually either make my own, or if I’m lazy I’ll use a premade one. But when it comes to some of the premade ones, I personally don’t use it just because I love the versatility of saying, okay, well this really is just four different spices I already have in my cabinet so I’m just going to use those instead. I don’t think there’s any harm in it.

When it comes to grilling foods, for example I mentioned earlier about grilling some chicken thighs, we actually will use a lot of those premade spices because a lot of times when we’re at the point where we’re grilling something, it’s usually going to be a weeknight thing where we’re going to go hang out outside anyway and I don’t want to turn it into a coking adventure. I’d rather just kind of get some food on the plate. I think they have their use, but at the same time I love the feeling that comes with developing my own kind of spice palate.

Laura: It’s not necessarily going to make the food taste awful, it’s just not your preference.

Russ: Right. I don’t think that those spice blends in particular are bad or anything like that. It’s just for me in being really kind of obsessed with the effort that goes into making food, I like the idea of really understanding and getting a feel for how those spice blends work too.

Laura: It’s funny because I’ll just grab a blend out of my pantry and be like, alright, well I have chicken and I’m just going to use that spice mix.

Russ: Yeah.

Laura: I mean it’s not that I don’t enjoy cooking, but like I said when you’re cooking for yourself and you’re really busy, it’s like I’d rather use this time to read or something.

Russ: Absolutely.

Laura: It can be hard to make those choices.

Russ: My wife is from Hawaii originally and she’ll go back home every couple of years for about a month or so. I’m a bachelor for a month or so and those are actually the times that I usually will pull out the spice blends and just try something new. Like you mentioned, if I don’t have anybody to impress, then it really makes it I end up using those spice blends or kind of taking the easy way out. Not the easy way in the sense that it’s worse, but just in the fact that I kind of enjoy just doing things very simply sometimes too.

Laura: Kelsey, did you have any other question for your next mealtime?

Kelsey: I know, I’m like sitting here salivating over this entire conversation. For those of you listening, we’re recording this on a weeknight at 7 pm. I think we’re all sitting here like hmmm, when’s it dinner time? I’m ready.

Laura: I think I got to try some of your stuff right, Russ? At The Perfect Health Retreat you actually cooked some things, didn’t you?

Russ: I did. I’m trying to think what I cooked. I definitely did a curry night. I don’t know if you were there for that night. But I basically said, basically the whole philosophy I went over. I’m like, look, we’re going to make two different curries, a Thai curry and an Indian curry. We’re going to make them at the same time. We’re going to add the same meats to them and you’re going to see how easy it is to make two completely different flavors using an exact same method. We did that one night. I’m trying to think. That’s the one that really sticks out for me. I think I had coked three or four dinners when I was there.

Laura: Yeah, and then a lot of our lunches are leftovers or something kind of easy.

Russ: Right.

Laura: They do fasting there. We don’t have breakfast, which I kind of like figured out that I need to bring some food because I don’t know why I can never eat enough at those two meals. Part of it I think is because I wait until all the guests have had their food and then a lot of times I’ll go up there and be like all the meat is gone so I’m going to be starving tomorrow. I’ve learned to bring some snacks just in case.

But the food ends up being really good. It’s kind of very similar to the way that you make recipes. Maybe not quite so complex because I think part of it is that they’re trying to teach people how to do it and if it’s too complex, it’s like people get discouraged. But I think experimenting and trying things that are hard, if nothing else you might learn a little technique that you can use for something else more simple even if you don’t feel like going to that level of effort every time.

Russ: Absolutely. I look at cooking as, I definitely don’t make these world class meals every night. For me cooking is a hobby and something that’s a little bit therapeutic for me too. At the end of the day, it may only be once or twice a week that I really am going to sit down and try to really play around with cooking.

That’s the way I kind of encourage people to approach it too. As opposed to thinking that you have to make something elaborate at every meal, maybe just set aside one a week or two a week where you’re like you know what, I’m going to spend two hours in the kitchen. I‘m going to really kind of play around with it. I’m going to be mentally prepared for the fact that this isn’t going to be a quick and fast thing, but it’s going to be a learning experience. Maybe put on some good music and just kind of enjoy the time in the kitchen because I think that throughout history has kind of been the way we’ve operated. We’ve spent time in the kitchen, it’s been a place that we’ve associated with warm feelings, and family, and things like that. I like recapturing that spirit sometimes.

Laura: I think it’s nice to get your kids involved, your significant other, maybe have a glass of wine with your spouse while you’re doing it.

Russ: Absolutely.

Laura: It doesn’t just have to be this completely utilitarian approach.

Russ: Right. If you ever look at some of my recipes that call for wine, I never call for a full bottle of wine. It’ll always be half a bottle of wine that way you can enjoy the other half while you’re cooking.

Kelsey: You’re looking out for your readers.

Russ: Right, right.

Laura: Do you have anything on the horizon that you want to share with our listeners?

Russ: I am in the middle of developing my third cookbook. It’s going to be a ways away. It’s probably going to be a year from now that it actually publishes. But at the same time, I’m going to continue working on blog posts. I post a new recipe every Tuesday. I’m actually going to switch up some of the things that I do that I do with that soon in that I’m going to start actually sharing recipes from the new cookbook on the blog over the next year so that way people can try it out ahead of time, kind of give me feedback and things like that. I’ll be kind of a community project as we’re going through the recipe testing stage. I’m hoping people will tune in for that.

Laura: Very cool! We will have to try some of those out and give you feedback. I feel like I’m definitely not that kind of person who’s going to get mad at you if something doesn’t come out perfectly.

Russ: I appreciate that. Thank you.

Laura: I’ll usually try to be like what did I do wrong because this was probably supposed to be better.

Laura: Anyway, we really appreciated having you on, Russ. I know you’re a busy guy with a full time job and a very active food blog. I know that it was a little bit tough for us to find a time that would work. I think our original plan was sometime around Christmas. I’m glad it finally happened. It’s always a pleasure to talk to you. Thanks again!

We’ll share your information on the page for this podcast. Is it just TheDomesticMan.com that people should go to?

Russ: Yes, that would be perfect. That has links to everything else. If you find that one spot, it will get you everywhere else you need to go.

Laura: Okay, cool. Thanks again. We will have everyone here next time!

Russ: Thank you for having me on.

Laura: Our pleasure.

Kelsey: Bye, Russ.

PODCAST: Fueling Athletic Performance With Dr. Marc Bubbs

Thanks for joining us for episode 101 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 super excited to be interviewing Dr. Marc Bubbs!

Dr. Marc Bubbs is a board-certified Naturopathic Doctor, Author, Speaker, Director of Nutrition for the Canadian Men’s National Basketball Team, and Strength Coach. He’s been working with athletes, active people, and those striving to improve their health for over a decade and is passionate that diet, exercise, and lifestyle are the most important tools for improving your overall health, body composition, and performance.

He’s the author of the Paleo Project: The 21st Century Guide To Looking Leaner, Getting Stronger, and Living Longer, a regular contributor to Breaking Muscle, PaleoDiet.com, and Healthier Talks, as well as the nutrition advisory board member for Strong Magazine. He regularly presents at health, fitness, and medical conferences across North America and Europe, consults with the NBA, NHL, and MLB teams, and sees patients in downtown Toronto.

If you’ve tuned in to our podcast for any length of time, you know that one diet certainly does not fit all. When it comes to nutrition to fuel and recover from exercise though, it’s common for many to follow generalized recommendations whether a weekend warrior or an elite athlete.

You won’t want to miss a minute of today’s conversation as Dr. Marc Bubbs shares insight into maximizing athletic performance using a personalized, real food diet. Just some of what you’ll hear about is meal timing, carbohydrate intake, crucial nutrients for athletes and where to find them in food, and tools you can implement to aid in recovery after exercise.

Here are some of the questions we discussed with Dr. Marc Bubbs:

  • What made you interested in naturopathy and nutrition?
  • How do you find that the athlete population is a little bit different from working with some of your other types of patients?
  • Can you tell us your opinion on carbs for athletes and for the general public?
  • How can somebody determine what their goals are?
  • What is the benefit to eating carbohydrates around exercise?
  • Depending on the type of exercise, how much carbohydrate should people try to start with before or after exercise?
  • Do you have a general meal timing strategy?
  • What is your opinion about intermittent fasting for athletes? Are there types of intermittent fasting that work a little bit better between weekend warriors and elite athletes?
  • Are there super important nutrients that an elite athlete or the weekend warrior should focus on? Where are those nutrients found in food?
  • Where do you stand on supplements such as BCAAs or protein powders?
  • What factors play into how well somebody is going to recover from exercise?
  • What types of tools can people can use to recover and how do they impact recovery?

Links Discussed:


Kelsey: Hi everyone! Welcome to episode 101 of The Ancestral RDs podcast. I’m Kelsey Kinney and with me as always is my cohost Laura Schoenfeld.

Laura: Hi everyone!

Kelsey: We are Registered Dietitians with a passion for ancestral health, real food nutrition, and sharing evidence-based guidance that combines science with common sense. You can find me at www.KelseyKinney.com, and Laura at www.LauraSchoenfeldRD.com.

We’ve got a great guest on our show today who’s going share his insight into maximizing athletic performance on an ancestral real food diet. We’re so happy he’s joining us and we think you’ll enjoy this episode.

Laura: If you’re enjoying the show, remember to subscribe on iTunes so that way you never miss an episode. While you’re in iTunes, you can leave us a positive review so that others can discover the show as well! And remember, we do want to answer your question, so head over to theancestralrds.com to submit a health-related question that we can answer or suggest a guest that you’d love for us to interview on an upcoming show.

Kelsey: Before we get into our interview for today, here’s a quick word from our sponsor:

Today’s podcast is sponsored by Maty’s Healthy Products. Maty’s started simply as a mom determined to help her daughter heal and turned into an amazing company that makes all natural and organic cough syrups, vapor rubs, and now even an Acid Indigestion Relief product. Maty’s All Natural Acid Indigestion Relief works quickly to relieve heartburn and indigestion while promoting healthy stomach acid levels. It aids digestion and promotes your body’s natural healing abilities. Made with whole food ingredients you know and recognize like apple cider vinegar, ginger, honey, and turmeric, Maty’s All Natural Acid Indigestion Relief is safe and drug free. Maty’s natural and organic remedies have powerful healing properties to support your body and improve your health. Try them today by visiting Maty’sHealthyProducts.com. You can also find Maty’s at Walmart, CVS, Target, Rite Aid, and a grocery near you.

Kelsey: We’ve got a really exiting guest today. Dr. Marc Bubbs….actually, I hope I pronounced that right. Is that how you pronounce your last name?

Dr. Marc Bubbs: Yeah, Bubbs, just like bubble. There you go.

Kelsey: Okay. Dr. Marc Bubbs is a board-certified Naturopathic Doctor, Author, Speaker, Director of Nutrition for the Canadian Men’s National Basketball Team, and Strength Coach. He’s been working with athletes, active people, and those striving to improve their health for over a decade and is passionate that diet, exercise, and lifestyle are the most important tools for improving your overall health, body composition, and performance. He’s the author of the Paleo Project: The 21st Century Guide To Looking Leaner, Getting Stronger, and Living Longer, a regular contributor to Breaking Muscle, PaleoDiet.com, and Healthier Talks, as well as the nutrition advisory board member for Strong Magazine. He regularly presents at health, fitness, and medical conferences across North America and Europe, consults with the NBA, NHL, and MLB teams, and sees patients in downtown Toronto.

Welcome! You’ve got quite a lot going on there!

Dr. Marc Bubbs: Wow, yeah, I need a shorter intro I think.

Kelsey: It’s a lot of important stuff, so that’s great.

Dr. Marc Bubbs: Thanks for having me on the show. I appreciate it guys.

Kelsey: We’re super excited! You are a Naturopathic Doctor. Why don’t you first just tell our audience how you got started with Naturopathy. What made you interested in it and nutrition?

Dr. Marc Bubbs: Absolutely. I think with a lot of people’s professions, they sort of end up finding you versus you seeking them out. For me it was playing a lot of sports in high school and getting into more serious competitive level in terms of basketball and other sports. I’m a classic sort of ectomorph. It was time to add some pounds onto my body so I just started consuming a high calorie diet following the general recommendations of the time. This is like the early 90’s, I’m going to date myself here. Lots of breads, and grains, and milk, and cheese, and ice cream, and just calorically dense foods.

I definitely gained the weight, but I all of a sudden I was just sick all the time, rundown, all sorts of things going on. This is where in my last year of high school I got quite sick with repetitive viral infections. Finally someone said to me, go check out this Naturopathic Doctor, which I didn’t know what the heck that was. But I was amazed because I’d been down the medical route and hadn’t had much success. Then this gentleman had told me to avoid certain foods, to add other ones in, and within 10 days I felt like brand new person. I thought to myself, there’s something to this, the food that you eat really does impact your health. That was a big eye opener to me and I was probably only 17 or 18 at the time so that definitely forge my future path.

Kelsey: They got you young!

Dr. Marc Bubbs: They did, yeah. I went to UBC of Vancouver and premedical studies was sort of the idea. As I was going through, I was shadowing in terms of docs and whatnot and seeing what it’s like in day to day practice. They’re doing as best they can in terms of diagnosis and treating pathologies, but this idea that in 15 minutes you can patch everyone up, and typically there wouldn’t be any diet, or exercise, or even lifestyle suggestions. For me that’s when the bell went off and I thought to myself for supporting these chronic diseases, there’s got to be a better way. I ended up taking some time off and that’s when I knew getting up into this Naturopathic approach is going to be the way for me.

Kelsey: Interesting. You work with a lot of athletes, obviously. From your bio we know that. How do you find that this population is a little bit different from working with some of your other types of patients?

Dr. Marc Bubbs: I think it depends on even the sport of the athlete even with your sort of executives or weekend warriors athletes as well who are working and also engaging in various sports. It really gets down to the context because things change if we’re talking about a football player, or a hockey player, or a basketball player, or somebody who’s working 9-5 and also doing Ironmans, or triathlons, or mountain biking, or whatever it might be on the weekends.

I think it’s tricky for people to really contextualize because we read an article where it says for example, a runner might fuel a certain way to achieve a personal best or an Olympic qualifier. Then you might get a weekend warrior deciding to do the same thing, which we obviously see frequently which is the carbs, carbs, more carbs approach to training.

On the clinical side, you start running lab tests on people and you see we get some really high blood sugar levels and some inflammatory markers in someone who’s supposed to be “really healthy.” That’s when the lights go off and say maybe there’s a better approach for that person. Of course when we get into that elite athlete, this is when we say if their livelihood depends on it and their paycheck depends on it, then we have to figure out the best way to perform the best and fuel the best.

Kelsey: Right, interesting. I love that you talk about that difference between a weekend warrior and somebody who’s trying to fuel for a marathon and get a personal best because there is such a big difference between those two populations. Yet what people are seeing online when they’re reading articles and everything is geared probably more toward somebody who is a serious athlete. And then taking those kind of recommendations and applying them to somebody who is just working out on the weekends is kind of a recipe for disaster. I’m sure that’s what you see in your practice as well.

Dr. Marc Bubbs: Yeah, it’s a tricky one because I get a lot of that with even my day to day clients who are working downtown in Toronto here, they were ex athletes. For them it’s tough because when you use the term athlete, myself included, we still identify with this, but it’s been a lot of years since I was a competing athlete.

Competiive athletes, the idea of this multiple meal frequency absolutely is important. Eating every sort of 3 or 4 hours, getting a certain dose of protein, and ensuring caloric intake. But ironically when we transfer that exact same approach to what you’re mentioning which is that person who is really fit and active but working 9 to 5 mainly, we can start to get into a lot of problems in blood sugar levels being elevated, or even insulin levels elevated more than what we would expect, more little bouts of inflammation or inflammatory issues coming up.

Fueling appropriately to what you’re doing the majority of time…and I understand a lot of people they push themselves even though they’re 9 to 5 workers, the fact that you are at your desk for 8 or 9 or 10 hours a day, that’s going to really define where you should start your context from. And then from there you can really start to build your best fueling strategy.

Kelsey: I think a lot of people, and this includes weekend warriors and serious athletes, are confused about the whole carb topic. And you just brought that up which is why I want to talk about it a little bit. Can you tell us your opinion on carbs for athletes and for just the general public? Where do you stand on the whole carb debate?

Dr. Marc Bubbs: It’s a great question. I think we tend to get into trouble when we start to think of things, it’s almost like they take on very passionate almost like talking religion or politics when we talk about food.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Dr. Marc Bubbs: For me, I try to use everything as if it’s a tool and figuring out what is the best tool for what we need to apply in situations. That’s why I always ask athletes to be very specific with their goals. You need to have real clarity with your goals. I think this is one the weekend warriors can really make sure they take a moment to reflect on these because everybody wants to be lean, and strong, and perform their best. While you can achieve those three things, if you really direct your emphasis on one of those three knowing that you’re likely to get cross benefit, you’ll tend to get best bang for your buck.

When we talk about carbohydrates, it really depends on the events that you’re training for especially in terms really glycolytic sports, things like hockey, and basketball, and soccer that carbohydrates play a very key role in terms of your performance at high intensity as well as endurance sports, Olympic endurance sports, marathons, things like that. This becomes a real crux of the equation because we see a lot of things online where we can obviously preform really well on a low carbohydrate diet or a ketogenic diet because we become better fat adapted.

Where does all that sit? Well it’s definitely advantageous to become more fat adapted especially for the weekend warrior when we think that health is actually still a huge component of what should be the overall goals. Training in these types of states, you can do longer bouts of low carb or ketogenic diet to increase that fat adaptation, you can dive right down into the ketogenic type approach for a period of time to increase that.

But again you have to get really specific with your goals because if you become more and more keto adapted, we see from the more current research that your ability to really utilize carbohydrates, that efficiency at the top gear starts to decrease a little bit. A lot of people want sort of the best of both worlds which is terrific and I think the old school way of really over consuming carbohydrate and not timing it around exercise, especially simple carbohydrates, is one that these days you can really pay close attention to.

Of course it really depends on your athlete as well. I deal a lot with basketball players so you get ectomorphs who after two months of an off season come in at 6 1/2 percent body fat after eating whatever they want for a few months, versus an offensive lineman in football, versus a runner or a cyclist.

I think really dialing in again the clarity of your goals, being specific to what the sport it is that you practice, but I think in terms of even the conventional approach, we see now that training low, sleep low strategies where we purposely omit carbohydrate before training or after training into sleeping overnight is really now commonly accepted. I think for that keto low carb group, it’s still a major, major win. Some people have sort of a black or white approach that everyone should be eating a keto approach to perform their best and I think there’s going to be some limitations there for sure.

Kelsey: Yeah. I like that where there’s just different populations and different goals and you need to really think about that before you can truly decide on where a best level of carbohydrate would be for that person.

Speaking of those goals, what would be some examples? Are you talking about just differences in if your goals are more performance related versus health related? Because often truly those two things don’t go hand and hand if we’re being perfectly honest. Tell us a little bit about what you mean by those goals and how somebody can determine what their goals are.

Dr. Marc Bubbs: Starting with the weekend warrior, this is where if we keep asking our clients or patients the question why, we tend to dig a little bit deeper into really what the goals are going to be. Because people want to perform well, especially for type A people coming in who are doing these terrific activities in their spare time. But at the end of the day, when you dig a little deeper, it might actually be sort of body composition that’s their number one goal and they also want perform well. Or it might just be that overall health is their number one goal.

This is where for me working downtown Toronto, I see a lot of male and female clients, but in this setting a lot of male clients who are cyclists. That 40, 50, or 60 year old who maybe used to run but now the joints a little bit sore. They fuel typically, and it’s classical method of a lot carbohydrate before, a lot of sugary gels during, and then higher carbohydrate meal after the training.

The problem is often they are 20, 25-30 overweight. You start to ask yourself, well wait a minute, if I’m overweight and I’m putting all this fuel in but I’m still logging hundreds of kilometers a week on my bike, why is it that I’m not losing any weight? That’s when you start to run some labs around blood sugar function, HA1C. You start to see these high end normal HA1C levels, inflammatory levels, your CRP tend to be more elevated than what we’d like.

Like these little lights on the dashboard of the car, you start to highlight these to clients and start to say you know what, I think there’s a bit better approach here, and then start to tweak their intake. The tricky part for people is that normally when you change someone’s plan, people like to feel better immediately. As you guys would know, if you have a carb adapted athlete and you say we’re going to train in a low carb state for a little while, they’re not going to feel the best when you start that protocol.

Kelsey: Right.

Dr. Marc Bubbs: People don’t like that, they’re going to get a little bit worried, a little bit scared and you have to obviously preempt the fact that their performance will suffer short term.  But what I try to tell all my clients is that it’s just information. It’s not nice that you don’t feel good, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s telling us information and it’s also it’s also telling us information that your body will then have to adapt to this new stimulus.

I find that people who do really struggle with it in the initial term, most of those really carb dependent, in this case we’ll keep it with endurance athletes, they struggle in the short term, but in that back end of four weeks, six weeks, they really start to hit their stride.

I think for any clinicians or nutritionist, or doctors out there, just being really clear with them about the whole sort of journey will be important. Otherwise, the first sign of nervousness or all of a sudden if they’re at the back of the pack with all their friends when they’re normally at the front of the pack, they’re going to get very nervous to the new approach and probably go back to their old behaviors, right?

Kelsey: Yeah, for sure. Just to get a little bit more clarification around carb levels, and of course like we were talking about before this is going to vary from group to group, but do you have any sort of general starting places that different populations can try out? We just were talking about this example of a middle age cyclist who is overweight, putting a lot of fuel in, and you wanted to transition him to a lower carb diet. Where would you generally start off with a person like that if we can generalize here?

Dr. Marc Bubbs: Great example. For myself I’m always trying to build habits in my clients so that six months down the road, two years down the road, five years down the road when perhaps I’m no longer still seeing them, they can still fall back on these things where they ingrain these correct habits.

In general what we want to see people doing, especially for the weekend warrior, is this idea of carbohydrates are going to be more around exercise. And then away from exercise we’re going to be reducing the amount of carbohydrate in the meal. If someone trains in the evening, then the breakfast meal they have, if they’re typical sort of North American it might be like toast, or muesli, or some of these things, we’re going to now switch that over and try to get more into the low carb approach with proteins and fats and pulling down the starchy carbs, etc. That’s kind of a great first place to start.

I’d say the next spot for me would be the fueling during exercise. I think there’s far too much emphasis on, especially in this person we’re talking about here, the weekend warrior, the carbohydrates and simple carbs during exercise especially when the bouts are typically 60 or 90 minutes max for most people unless you’re doing longer rides on the weekends. That’s another place where people have been told, as you guys know, they’ve been told for so long that they’ve got to keep taking these gels or sugars to go through or else they’ll all just going to collapse. It’s really ingrained and a lot of them are a bit fearful of taking that away.

Kelsey: Yeah. I’m sure once you take it out, they’re like oh, I actually can function just fine during this 90 minute ride, no big deal. At least once that sort of initial period of getting used to maybe a lower carb diet they go through that.

Dr. Marc Bubbs: For sure. I think for a lot of people, especially endurance athletes, they tend to struggle with digestive distress, gas, and bloating, and discomfort, and all these things. For a lot of people, the big ah-ha moment is wow, if I actually run with just water, and we’ll save the conversation around other types of amino acids for a little bit late if you want, but if they just have water, all of a sudden they feel a lot better and after their runs they feel a lot better.

That’s kind of one to keep your eyes out for if you’re someone listening in and you do struggle with digestion in terms of the fuels that you’re putting in because that’ll be a big sign. If you start to feel a heck of a lot better on a digestive front, you’re likely on the right track in terms of the best protocol for you.

Kelsey: That makes sense. Let’s talk a little bit more about timing which you brought up a little bit in terms of when you’re eating carbs and how that plays a role in performance. You mentioned that carbs should be eaten, I think you said around exercise I guess is what you said, and then maybe thinking about whether or not eating carbs during exercise is appropriate or not. What is the benefit to eating carbs around exercise? Why is that your recommendation?

Dr. Marc Bubbs: There’s multiple ways to do it. If we talk about before versus after versus before and after, Dr. Mauro Di Pasquale is a world renowned power lifter and medical doctor up here in Toronto and for him, timing carbohydrates before exercise is a really valuable strategy. He would actually recommend mitigating the amounts after exercise. He cites things like growth hormone response and hormonal response afterwards as one of the reasons why he would do that.

For some that can be a great approach. Again depending on your sport or whether you’re lifting or playing a team sport, that’s one thing. There are others who prefer to have a lower carb approach prior to the exercise because they want to let their bodies determine how intensely they train for the day. Sometimes if you decide that you’re a pre-carb person and perhaps you put in some simple carbs like 40, 60, 80 grams before you train, then you’re almost dictating how hard you should train that day. If you don’t feel as robust, or if you’re run down or tired, then all of a sudden you may sort of force yourself to achieve that certain intensity.

For others, this idea of limiting even beforehand and having more in the after period, then post training I would typically prefer just real food source of starchier carbs. The leaner somebody gets, then that’s when we’re going to start to add, you can think about both areas like before and after.

For the weekend warrior, unless we’re getting into competitions, and then we could touch on how we may want to fuel during competition, but most of the time during training I think water is a good spot to stay in until people get through a certain body composition, until they get lean would be my recommendation. If they did want to have something then we’ve got some nice supplement supports that are basically amino acids and electrolytes would be my first go-to after that.

Kelsey: Got it, okay. Going back again to that question of how many carbs is enough, how much are we talking here? You had just mentioned I think you said 60, 70, 80 grams of carbs before exercise. I want to get a sense of where does somebody start? Again, it’s going to depend on what kind of exercise they’re doing. But maybe we could just run though a few different types of exercises whether that’s something like endurance exercise, or strength training, things like that and how much people should maybe try to start with before or after exercise and see if that makes them feel any better or perform any better.

Dr. Marc Bubbs: There’s a lot of good points there in that question. One of them that we have to watch is the feeling better because sometimes we want that but sometimes that doesn’t tell us the information. Because again, if we’re going to adopt that lower carb approach we’re going to expect them to be not feeling so hot.

But definitely starting on the lower end like 10 grams 20 of carbohydrate. If you are more on the very active and lean level then that could be in the form of simple carbs even 10, 15, or 20 minutes before you start exercising. Depending on the bouts of exercise, if you’re getting into longer Ironman type trainings and marathons, I wouldn’t say you need to always have a very large dose beforehand.

It’s going to depend on what you’re doing in your training cycle. If you’re doing more aerobic base building versus more highly glycolytic and interval based type work. We know at intensity carbohydrates are going to be a limiting factor, glycogen use is going to be a limiting factor, so we just want to account for that. We don’t want to have that be the limiting factor in terms of creating that adaptation stimulus from the intense training. The more elite the person would get, then there could be more carbohydrate there to help perform at that level. But again it would really depend on if today is a sprints day or if today is a long, steady state day.

Kelsey: Gotcha.

Dr. Marc Bubbs: For the average person dipping their toe in just going slowly through that, and if you train first thing in the morning, I’m a big fan of fasted training in the morning. I know the evidence is still equivocal at the moment in terms of benefit or not benefit.

For simplicity sake, a lot of people do train in the morning. It’s quite nice to just sort of get up and get your training in and then fuel afterwards. Again, as you get more into the elite crowd you can then decide on whether or not you want to add in a little bit of carbohydrate or not. But I think for the average kind of weekend warrior that’s a nice place to just get up, get your exercise in, and then all of sudden you’re into fueling. I know a lot of people can struggle with I have to get up earlier now to get the food in and it becomes a tricky question for them.

Kelsey: Right. I agree. I think there’s nothing inherently wrong with fasted exercise provided that your recovery is really good and you’re eating an appropriate meal afterwards to fuel up again. What I’m getting is it definitely depends obviously on what kind of exercise you’re doing, what the intensity of that exercise is, and what kind of athlete you are in general. But it’s best for the average person who’s not necessarily an elite athlete to start on the lower end of carbohydrate and work their way up.

Dr. Marc Bubbs: For sure. That’s a great place to start with if you’re that type of person. And even like you mentioned in terms of the exercise bouts, if it’s more of a light intensity side, then definitely it should be on the lower end. If it’s more on the higher intensity side, then you could increase to a higher end. Ultimately that higher end really depends the level and the leanness of the person.

Just to add on to your point there as well, 24 hour recovery really is what the elite athlete is going to be experiencing with their food intake. I think a lot of people are still stuck in this idea of just that one meal in the hour afterwards is going to really make or break for them versus just having the idea that you need to have good practices throughout the day.

Kelsey: Let’s talk about meal timing in general then. I think that’s a good segue into this because I agree, think the evidence certainly suggests that that one hour after exercise is not going to make or break you. It’s really over that 24 hour period that these things are going to make a bigger difference. Do you have a general meal timing strategy that you recommend to most average weekend warrior type of clients that you see?

Dr. Marc Bubbs: Again for the weekend warriors, it can be a little bit more individualized because you get some that still need to lose weight versus some that are already very lean. In general for me I try to come at things from this idea of three square meals per day versus what we’ve kind of ended up in in the 21st century model. If you ask the average person how to you lose weight, they say well you increase your meal frequency to five or six meals. Then you say well what does that do? They tell you it increases your metabolism.

Kelsey: Right.

Dr. Marc Bubbs: The fortunate part is that we don’t have the research to show that. In fact the research shows the opposite. Which isn’t to say that you can’t ever do that, but it’s to show that for me having these sort of three square meals is a really nice way for people as their starting point.

I definitely find people pecking at their desks a lot.  If you have that client who has the drawer full of snacks, sometimes that’s perhaps not the best strategy. We know from a sports psychology standpoint…Dr. Stephen Guyenet touched on this quite a bit, when the snacks are right next to you your brain knows that and they’re going to want them pretty quickly versus if you have to walk down the hall versus if you have to leave your building and go across the street to a coffee shop or a restaurant or whatnot.

I do like people to go with the three square meals a day and then if they do want to add some more in, then it would be around exercise. For the person training in the morning, maybe it’s a shake before they train or after they train. Someone training in the afternoon sometimes have these big gaps between lunch and even when they train before dinner so that could be a spot to add something in there as well, or a small meal for that matter.

I’m always amazed at the cost, people spend all this money on a protein bar, or a super bar, or whatever it might be. A good can of sardines is under $2.00 at virtually every grocery store, corner store, whatever you like. You can get really creative with your nutrition. It’s pretty cost effective too.

Kelsey: Yeah, for sure. You had mentioned fasting in the morning as an option for some people and that that tends to work pretty well for a lot of people. I assume that your answer to is intermittent fasting okay for athletes is yes, correct?

Dr. Marc Bubbs: This goes back to this question of what are the goals? The shortest way to answer that is basically for the average weekend warrior athlete I would say yes, it can work well. For the really elite, professional Olympic level athlete I would say no, or it would be a case by case basis. Because effectively with those athletes you do want them eating every three hours of a certain dose, about a 20 grams of protein dose or thereabout to maintain muscle protein synthesis.

We have to sort of watch a little bit because we’re seeing some newer research come out around intermittent fasting in that elite client again with lower free testosterone levels, low free T3 thyroid levels indicating things that we would see in athletes who are over trained.

I think you could use periods of that if your athlete needed to improve body composition or if you’re using it basically for certain days of the week versus a stand-alone approach where you have these longer periods of fasting for your athletes.

For me that’s one that gets a little bit confused because again I’m a big fan of intermittent fasting, I think it can do a lot of fantastic things. I think when we’re looking in the research now even with circadian rhythm function and breakfast being so key for setting that function, again with athletes, especially professional team sport athletes, who are taking flights overnight, there’s time zone changes, there’s all of these things. Mitigating some of those ambient stressors with regular meal patterns would be my bias.

But again for that weekend warrior, I think you’re right on there’s some great spots where you could add in intermittent fasting. For me the baseline for intermittent fasting is really three square meals. I’m asking people to fast between those meals rather than the constant snacking that they’re sort of used to.

Kelsey: Right. It depends on where you’re starting from too, what you would consider fasting. For many people, you’re absolutely right, they’re going to consider those times in between meals as the beginning of fasting for them.

That brings up a good point which is that there’s a lot of different types of intermittent fasting out there. There’s types where you don’t eat on certain days or you’re eating a really, really small amount on a couple days a week. There’s the type of intermittent fasting where you’re just not eating after dinner until maybe 11 or 12 the next morning.

Again we can talk about it in these two different populations that we keep coming back to like the weekend warrior and an elite athlete. Are there types of intermittent fasting that maybe work a little bit better between those two groups?

Dr. Marc Bubbs: I think we’re seeing a lot of benefit from the research coming out of the west coast around even just not eating after 6 pm has a lot of the benefits of fully fasting or even intermittent fasting without as much buy in. Even keeping it to a 12 hour window, which seems really reasonable when you think about it. If you’re sleeping for 8, a 12 hour window is pretty straightforward. The biggest mismatch, this is what we see with circadian mismatch is this idea that most people just eat later in the evening. Unless you’ve got young kids and you’re eating at 5:30, most people are going to eat at 7, 7:30, 8, later in the evening, athletes especially. I think the low hanging fruit there might be just stopping to eat earlier in the evening.

But again for the elite, elite athlete I really have to be convinced of a certain situation to really go strongly with intermittent fasting versus just versions of that would be this idea of train low or sleep low strategies where you change carbohydrate intake around before and/or after training. Those would be some things that I think we see a lot of benefit. I know Trent Stellingwerff, our head physiologist out in The Canadian Sport Institute on west coast does a lot of work in that. His wife was an elite Olympic runner as well. They use very small periods even three, four days of those types of approaches to elicit a lot of gains. I think people can dip their toe into it and get a lot of benefit.

I’m always worried with the elite performers. They tend to push themselves so hard that this idea of recovery becomes the key component. Having too many periods of restricted eating might compromise some of that performance. However, that said, in the off season I think is a great time.

There’s so many benefits as you mentioned. I’m huge fan of fasting especially in the general population. Two thirds of the population now are overweight or obese, one out of two pre-diabetic or diabetic. There’s just huge dysfunctions going on and fasting is a great way to really hammer down blood sugar and insulin levels. I know experts like Dr. Jason Fung here in Toronto who works with diabetics, it’s a preferred protocol from him.

The really cool thing from an implementation if you’re a clinician, or a doctor, or dietitian, nutritionist is it’s really hard to get wrong when you tell someone to eat nothing. There’s no getting the message wrong. I always find that’s a tricky one with clients. You say one thing and then clients hear a different thing. Keeping things very simple and straightforward, and it’s really tough to mix up the don’t eat anything at all until this time or at all on that day is really straightforward.

Kelsey: Absolutely. I really like that you are very clear about differentiating between these different populations because Laura and I really feel strongly about personalizing everything. While we agree that there’s a lot of great things that can happen because of intermittent fasting, it happens in a very specific population and that population is people who are overweight, maybe they have some kind of metabolic dysfunctional already.

But for somebody who’s an elite athlete, what you’re going to get out of intermittent fasting in terms of benefits is going to be so much smaller than somebody who’s got metabolic dysfunction already, and potentially can be harmful I would say.

Dr. Marc Bubbs: Absolutely. You’re very right. I’m giving a whole talk in London, UK at the end of June at the National Congress of Naturopathic Medicine. Part of it is on that idea of just you can use versions of it in athletes, but all of a sudden you’ve got to really ask yourself, what is the cost/benefit? If I’m getting this little benefit but I might be having this huge cost, then all of a sudden the intervention becomes less appealing.

Whereas as you mentioned in clients who are just struggling to maintain weight and there’s dysglycemia, and hyperinsulinemia, and dyslipidemia, all these issues in terms of cardiac health and all of a sudden we’re thinking, hey, this is a pretty straightforward approach. The benefits are massive and the costs are just very minimal if any. You’re dead on there, just having that context.

I know it’s always great on these podcasts to get some real tangible things, but sometime people can run in the wrong direction. I think it’s great that you’re really making that distinction.

Kelsey: I think this brings us to an important question which is about recovery. You mentioned that before that eating in a sense is a way that an athlete recovers. If you’re restricting food too much, that’s inhibiting the amount of recovery that somebody is able to do. Let’s talk a little about recovery, what exactly that means to you.

Dr. Marc Bubbs: There’s a lot of different aspects of recovery. The Canada Basketball, with the Men’s Olympic Basketball team we use a variety of different devices and parameters to assess that. That’s quite helpful on that front because there’s so many metrics from whether it’s lab testing to various devices that we use with the guys. We can get a lot of good inputs to assess what’s going on.

I think for the average person or the weekend warrior, it can get a little bit tricky because they don’t have as many of those little lights on dashboard of their car. A lot of them tend to be really type A personalities, which is great for getting stuff done and really pushing yourself hard, but often times the default for them is just pushing through everything.

I think this is a great chance for if you work with athletes, if you’re a doc, nutritionist, etc., to really start to look at what they’re doing around exercise. The meals after exercise are obviously really important. I’m always a real food first approach which is one of the reasons why this ancestral approach works so well for me because I think it keeps me really honest. I think it would keep any doc or nutritionist because we always have to come back to real food versus just throwing on all these supplements to meet someone’s needs.

Kelsey: Right.

Dr. Marc Bubbs: The classic idea would be to achieve a certain amount of carbohydrate, obviously caloric intake, 20 grams of protein, sort of that minimum effective dose to mitigate muscle protein breakdown. I just had a doctor Tyler Churchward-Venne, he’s a world expert in protein research, on my podcast. We had some good conversations around the amounts of protein. That could increase depending on the athlete in terms of the serving sizes.

As you guys know, the micronutrients that we’re also going to get especially in female athletes who are trying to get things like iron and B12, or in men and women – zinc. These are important micronutrients for recovery that we tend to, in sport oftentimes we just think of them as…people will just say well I’ll just take a supplement for magnesium, I’ll just take a supplement for zinc. We’ve got to get back to that idea of what foods have the most of those in them and let’s start eating more of those.

Kelsey: Yeah, got it. Essentially nutrition is a huge piece of that. Let’s talk a little bit about that before we move on to the other pieces of recovery because I think it’s a question a lot of people have. I like that you focus on that real food aspect of it rather than throwing a bunch of supplements at everybody.

Let’s dive into I guess what you would consider the most important nutrients for both of these populations. It might be the same, it might be different. But I’m curious to hear your thoughts. Are there super important nutrients that either an elite athlete should focus on or the weekend warrior type person should focus on? Where are those nutrients found in food?

Dr. Marc Bubbs: We’re talking just micronutrients now versus the macro balance?

Kelsey: Yeah.

Dr. Marc Bubbs: I think the research is pretty clear that in terms of things that are required for so many functions like for example magnesium. To make ATP, we use magnesium. It tends to be lesser found obviously when we cook. There’s a good deal in meats, but when we cook them we start to lose that in the juices. Always making sure that you kind of reuse those juices in your gravies and etc. But leafy greens, avocados, fish are going to be great sources of magnesium. Ensuring that you’re getting those in.

You see a lot of people, especially younger athletes…we go all the way down to 13 year olds and while they know a lot more than I do when I was 13, things like fish, or avocados and whatnot, and leafy greens might be on the lower end for some of those people. Ensuring that you’re getting decent amounts of those in is going to be crucial.

Zinc is another common one. Obviously really key for not only recovery, but hormone balance, and immunity is a big one. I think anybody who’s trained really hard for something, once you get past that peaking phase and you’re toning it down before competition, there’s nothing worse for preparing four months and then catching a cold or flu three or four days before you’re event especially if you trained four years for the Olympics.

I’m a huge fan of seafood. Oysters and mussels are just so nutrient dense. Again obviously you can get them fresh, that’s fantastic. For me if you’re getting them canned two, three times a week is totally acceptable on my end. Try to get them from environmentally friendly sources or whatnot. Fish is obviously great as well. Most of the time in people’s diets there’s not enough of some of these things.

The last point I’ll make on the zinc front is obviously the darker cuts of meat, and grass-fed beef, and wild game…I still hear people even who are cognizant of this will still say I only eat red meat a certain amount of times a week, still fully believing that it’s highly related to a lot of cardiovascular disease risk or mortality, or cause mortality. Really when we look at the fat distribution, I just had Dr. Loren Cordain on my podcast as well, and oleic acid is the prominent fat in grass-fed beef which is what we find in olive oil. If the cardiologists are loving olive oil, then surely the grass-fed beef is going to be high on that list as well.

I think for the athletes and weekend warriors, some of things, and I’m sure people listening in to this podcast are already on board, but for people who are newer to it, I think it’s a really important thing to reinforce especially in female athletes when we know that the iron and the B12 play such a crucial role in not only energy production and their ability to perform, but in terms of overall health.

Kelsey: Absolutely. Diving into supplements a little bit here, what about things like BCAAs? You hear a lot about that being helpful, protein powders. Where do you stand on all of that?

Dr. Marc Bubbs: I think supplements should be supplemental to the diet, which sounds funny to say but sometimes clients and athletes will come in and they’ve got fourteen tubs and bottles of stuff. You start to say wait a minute, what’s going on here?

I think the more elite you are, you have to eat so many times in the day that this is where things like shakes can be really handy because it’s not easy to eat six 20-30 gram portions of protein through the day. If people can digest it well, we see whey proteins can be a terrific option. We see some research around incretin which is a type of digestive hormone that may help to support in terms of supporting microbial balance in the gut. Like everything in life, there’s a flipside. If I don’t do that well with whey protein, so if you struggle with digestion you have to find a different source, hemp, pea whatever it might be. But that can be a nice way to get that protein dose up. I would lean that way initially.

For the elite athletes, BCAAs during exercise or even time before is adequate, looking for that about 3 gram dose of Leucine is a really nice one. Especially for those endurance athletes that are used to taking gels, or Gatorades, or whatever it might be, just switching to a formula that’s got some essential amino acids or BCAAs as well as some electrolytes is a really nice way to get a similar sensation but without the big blood sugar, insulin response that you get from that 40, 50, 60 gram dose of a Gatorade or whatever that you might be drinking.

Kelsey: Right, makes perfect sense. Supplements are supplemental, what a concept, right?

Dr. Marc Bubbs: What a novel concept. I think there’s some interesting things around various herbs that are quite nice in terms of some supplemental support because obviously trying to eat the herbs, we wouldn’t really get that much of a benefit. There’s certain things that people can explore there with their doc, or naturopath, or whomever.

I think as a place to start, that’s a pretty good place to go. Things around digestive health as well. If you’re busy and always on the run and on the go, digestive health is huge. Things like a probiotic can be helpful at various times as well because it gives you that immune protection as well as inflammatory protection.

Kelsey: Yeah, absolutely. Let’s dive back into the recovery question here. Obviously nutrition is one piece of overall recovery. What other factors play into how well somebody is going to recover from the exercise they are doing?

Dr. Marc Bubbs: The major, major, one of the biggest hammers so to speak if you want to use that analogy is sleep. It really is just massively important in terms of hormone balance. I see a lot of male clients who think they need to go on, who’s doctors who have said well your testosterone levels are low, you need to go on a gel or a cream. When really eating appropriately, correcting blood sugar dysfunction, training the right way, and literally just getting sleep is a phenomenal way to support that. Even in female athletes as well in terms of having that right balance.

When you look at what an athlete really needs for sleep, which is 70 hours a week, which would be 10 hour per day, this is when you start to realize if you’re working a desk job, you’re not going for that 3 hour nap between 2:00 and 5:00 before your next ride. You’re not going to be able to nearly recover as much as elite athletes who even train twice a day. They wake up in the morning, they train, let’s say 10:00 they go home for a 3 hour nap, they come back, they train again. It’s a totally different ballgame.

I think sometimes that sleep front is one that highlights to people, okay, maybe I’m more on that weekend warrior side than athlete side. But also, you don’t have to carve out necessarily the three hours. Sleep architecture is those little 90 minute waves we go through. Even a 20 minute nap where you just literally close your eyes, you might even be at your office, or in transit, or something. You just close your eyes, you start to increase alpha brain wave activity which is really therapeutic for supporting cognitive function, and memory, and sort of rebooting the computer if you will. That’s a nice place to start. If you do have a chance, 30 minutes or 60 minutes can be a good naptime, ideally 90 minutes if you can go through a full sleep cycle on the weekends.

But that’s some pretty low hanging fruit. People like to watch their box sets or whatever else in the evening. Maybe you start to carve out two nights of the week or three nights of the week where all of a sudden you go to bed at 10 instead of 11 or 11:30. That can be a huge one especially the more athletic you are and the more you are performance driven. It’s amazing. It’s free, it doesn’t cost anything. People are so ready to spend money on tests, and labs, and supplements, and all these other things. That low hanging fruit sometimes is the one that’s going to yield the greatest rewards.

Kelsey: Yeah. This is something that I see a lot in my own practice and I think Laura does too, is that we see these people that they train almost like an elite athlete, but again, they’re working a desk job, they’re certainly not getting 10 hours of sleep every day. They’re getting like 6 or 7 and they’re wondering why they’re performance isn’t as good as it should be. They’re wondering why they have all these hormonal problems now or they’re just fatigued all the time.

It’s like, hmm, let’s think about this for a second here. I think there’s some low hanging fruit, as you said, that we can really focus on to make your recovery equal the activity that you’re doing. I like to think about it as that balance of activity to recovery and they really have to be on the same page in order to get optimal performance and for that person to be as healthy as possible.

Dr. Marc Bubbs: 100% I agree. I think it’s nice if we can almost turn the tables on our clients a little bit and get them to program in these periods of recovery. Recovery is a whole umbrella term. You could be taking a nap or resting, you could be taking an ice bath or a sauna, you could be doing some light stretching. You could incorporate all sort of different tools so that your client is somewhat mentally stimulated by this idea of adding more into their routine.

I think where a lot of the weekend warriors, if I can just touch on exercise for one minute here, where they go wrong is they tend to stay stuck in this glycolytic, lactic acid, everything’s burning type of energy systems in their workouts and they really push those pathways. They sometimes don’t get up enough into these sort of true power work intensities, so much shorter duration and increased power, or even down in the very low end of really building aerobic base.

I think if you notice your clients are always, or if you’re listening out there, if you notice your workouts are always in that in between stage, let’s say you do lots of classes or spin classes or whatnot, you tend to hang out in that middle range, that can definitely burn people out pretty quick. That’s one to watch out for.

Kelsey: Interesting. You mentioned a few other types of tools that people can use to recover. Obviously sleep is a tool. I would add stress to that list as well, not as a tool, but focusing on stress levels and reducing stress as a way to recover. Then you mentioned things like ice baths. Let’s run through maybe just a couple of those tools that you mentioned and how they impact recovery. For example, why does an ice bath help somebody recover?

Dr. Marc Bubbs: There’s a lot of different tools that you could use. Ice baths in general, they’re helpful on a couple of fronts. In terms of overall inflammation, we can get a lot of support. Even for clients who are trying to improve body composition, we get some interesting new research showing that it can be very helpful for body composition as well. The tricky part with that one is it’s obviously not easy to get people to go buy three bags of ice, and put them in their bath tub, and then dive right in, right?

Kelsey: Yeah.

Dr. Marc Bubbs: An easier way to start might just be some contrast showers. You get in the shower and it’s warm, you turn it a little colder for 15, 20, 30 seconds, then go back to warm, and kind of alternate trying to increase the difference between the hot and the cold. It’s sort of an easy, practical way of jumping in there.

One of the really nice ways as well beyond sleep is just breathing. I used to call this meditation with my clients but it sounds more intimidating so now I just call it breathing. Most of us to that on a daily basis, right?

Kelsey: We all know how to do that.

Dr. Marc Bubbs: Breath work, especially the type As, people who are busy and pushing themselves hard, as you guys well know, they’re stuck into this sympathetic drive, this fight or flight state and that can really wear out an athlete. The breath is the best way to really connect to your parasympathetic and activate those pathways.

Some simple inhaling for four seconds, exhaling for four seconds, doing that for four minutes is one that’s commonly used. Even little things like humming. It sounds kind of funny but just a low hum like you might see in things like yoga. They use ohm and whatnot, but you can pick your own word or you can just hum.

That’s a phenomenal way to reduce sympathetic nervous activity. You’ll see professional tennis players doing that before they serve, professional golfers before they hit a tee shot, even military, things like snipers that are having to just relax at over excitation. It’s actually really, really beneficial. Now your colleagues at work might start to know when you’re a little bit bent out of shape if they hear you humming all the time. You can keep that perhaps more silent.

But they are actually pretty cool little hacks that you can start to use and all of a sudden you just feel better, more relaxed, etc. Start small, program in maybe two, three, five minutes of some of these things a few times a week. If you can stick to it for a couple of weeks, what happens is you’ll really start to feel the benefits and people tend to increase the durations by themselves going up to ten, fifteen minutes at a time.

Kelsey: Interesting. Cool! Let’s do a quick little recap of what we discussed today before we end becuase I think talked about a lot of really interesting stuff. I’m going to give my recap and you correct me if I’m giving any bad information here.

In terms of carbohydrate intake, it can be really a big range for people in terms of what might be most useful for them and it depends on which type of population you’re in. Are you a weekend warrior or somebody that’s just casually exercising? Or are you somebody who is an elite athlete and you’re exercising maybe every day or sometimes multiple times a day?

Dr. Marc Bubbs: Perfect.

Kelsey: It’s usually best to start off low and move up to higher levels of carbohydrates in relation to the exercise you’re doing.

Dr. Marc Bubbs: Absolutely. The more beginner you are or the more it’s just health and weekend warrior, then definitely starting on a lower carb side you going to do well. The more elite you are, then yeah, you can get away with greater amounts even if you are keto adapted, which is pretty cool.

Kelsey: Perfect. As for meal timing, generally people should start off with three meals a day, cut out those snacks in between meals that you probably don’t need necessarily. And then you can always add those snacks back if you you’re doing exercise. I think you had an example in the middle if the afternoon when you have maybe a longer time period before you’re going to eat again and you just ate lunch, you’re not going to eat dinner for a  few hours later.

Dr. Marc Bubbs: For sure. That’s definitely for that weekend warrior in keeping the snacks to things that are protein based or fiber based is a good way to go. For that elite athlete or professional athlete, then definitely erring on the side of six meals a day every three or four hours and 20 grams of protein per dose is where I would start.

Kelsey: Awesome. Then when it comes to nutrients, a couple that you mentioned were magnesium, and zinc, and then of course fatty acids from grass-fed meats and high quality animal fats I think is really important. Generally a real food, Paleo, ancestral type of diet is where I would classify the best diet for an athlete or just anybody really. Would you agree with that?

Dr. Marc Bubbs: 100%. We didn’t touch on it here, but I assume obviously with your show, yeah the industrial seed oils, the omega 6s, we’re getting far too many of those. Definitely just pulling those right out. It’s just amazing how people get the benefits on the inflammatory side in pretty quick short order.

Kelsey: Yeah, absolutely. And then recovery, super important! I would say often overlooked. I think it sounds like a lot of your clients maybe have the same problem that they’re not thinking about that. Because I think it’s just easy to not think about recovery especially if you are somebody who is working a desk job, you’ve got a lot of other things going in your life. Exercise happens to be one of the things in your life, but you’re not necessarily optimizing your recovery to match the amount of activity you’re doing.

Making sure you’re using some of those tools that we talked about like breathing, making sure you’re sleeping a lot, or taking even short, small naps, anything you can fit in in terms of sleep, maybe trying those contrasting temperature showers, saunas. Any of those tools to implement and help you recover better is going to optimize your performance and your health.

Dr. Marc Bubbs: Absolutely. I say if you pick one, just make sure you schedule in for three or four minutes, four to five times, three to five times a week and then give yourself a couple weeks. If you schedule it in, you’ll do it. All of sudden you’ll notice after a couple weeks, people look back and say all of a sudden I’m feeling a little bit better, energy is better, joints are less sore.

Kelsey: Excellent! Thank you so much for being here, Marc. I want people to be able to find you if they’ve enjoyed this episode. Where can people find you online?

Dr. Marc Bubbs: They can head over to DrBubbs.com. That’s my website all my posting, writing is on there as well as my new podcast The Dr. Bubbs Performance podcast. You can check out our new guests. We just had Dr. Cordain on and Robb Wolf is coming on as well. You can definitely check those out. I’m on social media @Dr.Bubbs on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Kelsey: Perfect. We’ll link to all that as well in the show notes so if people want to find you they can just click that link as well.

Thank you so, so much for being here! I think this was really helpful especially for again differentiating between those two, and there’s more within those two groups too. But I think it’s really, really great that you think about the different populations in terms of athletes and personalize the advice you give based on that because I think there’s a lot of generalized advice out there. And as you’ve seen I’m sure, that can be really problematic for a lot of people when they start following generalized advice.

Dr. Marc Bubbs: Definitely. I mean it will take them to a certain place, but if you’re out there listening and you’re hitting a plateau, you’re hitting a roadblock, then it’s likely because you’re just following generalized advice and you haven’t sought out someone like Kelsey, or Laura, or myself to take it a step further to really figure out what’s best for them.

Kelsey: Absolutely. Thank you so much again, Marc. This was wonderful! Hopefully we’ll have you on again sometime soon.

Dr. Marc Bubbs: Awesome! I appreciate it. Thanks so much, guys.

PODCAST: 100th Episode Celebration

Thanks for joining us for episode 100 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.

It’s the 100th episode of the Ancestral RDs podcast! Today we have a special show in honor of our 100th. We’re very happy to celebrate with you by sharing stories of how our podcast and businesses have evolved since the first episode.

Join us for a laid back show where you can get to know more about us and our experiences.  As we recount the trials and triumphs during the last 100 episodes, you’ll hear what we’ve learned and how it has impacted us professionally and personally.

We’re thrilled to have you with us as we journey to the 200th!

Here’s what Laura and Kelsey will be discussing in this episode:

  • How Laura and Kelsey’s perception of criticism and how they react to it has changed
  • The importance of the practitioner/client relationship in the experience and outcome for both
  • Experiences that helped to inform which client population Laura and Kelsey choose to serve
  • How learning to set boundaries in business has carried over into personal life
  • How running a business has been the best lesson in personal development
  • The pressure in the health field to live up to images of perfection
  • Balancing the professional and personal side of the blogs
  • Experience with sharing personal stories and struggles

Links Discussed:


Laura: Hi everyone! Welcome to episode 100 of The Ancestral RDs podcast. I’m Laura Schoenfeld and with me as always is my cohost Kelsey Kinney.

Kelsey: Hey everyone!

Laura: If you don’t know us, we’re Registered Dietitians with a passion for ancestral health, real food nutrition, and sharing evidence-based guidance that combines science with common sense. You can find me, Laura, at www.LauraSchoenfeldRD.com and Kelsey at www.KelseyKinney.com.

This is a special episode in honor of our 100th show. We’ll be sharing how our nutrition philosophy, businesses, and even our podcast have changed since we first started in 2013. We are so thrilled that you have been enjoying our show for 100 episodes and we can’t wait to share many, many more with you!

Kelsey: If you’re enjoying the show, subscribe on iTunes so that you never miss an episode. While you’re there, leave us a positive review so that others can discover the show as well! And remember, we want to answer your question, so head over to TheAncestralRDs.com to submit a health-related question that we can answer on an upcoming show.

Laura: Before we get into our interview, here’s a quick word from our sponsor:

Today’s podcast is sponsored by Maty’s Healthy Products. Maty’s started simply as a mom determined to help her daughter heal and turned into an amazing company that makes all natural and organic cough syrups, vapor rubs, and now even an Acid Indigestion Relief product. Maty’s All Natural Acid Indigestion Relief works quickly to relieve heartburn and indigestion while promoting healthy stomach acid levels. It aids digestion and promotes your body’s natural healing abilities. Made with whole food ingredients you know and recognize like apple cider vinegar, ginger, honey, and turmeric, Maty’s All Natural Acid Indigestion Relief is safe and drug free. Maty’s natural and organic remedies have powerful healing properties to support your body and improve your health. Try them today by visiting Maty’sHealthyProducts.com. You can also find Maty’s at Walmart, CVS, Target, Rite Aid, and a grocery near you.

Laura:We’re back everybody and this is going to be a show that if you’re listening to get nutrition information, you should probably turn it off because we’re not going to be doing any sort of nutrition Q&As or anything today. This is really going to be more of a where are we now kind of episode. We’ve been podcasting together since, I think we discovered it was October of 2013 when we started.

Kelsey:Yeah, October 22, 2013 to be exact.

Laura:That was when we started our original podcast called Ask The RD, which ironically I wasn’t even an RD when we started that. It was ask the singular RD and not the double RD.

Kelsey:And a graduate student.

Laura:I think I was a couple of months away from becoming an RD so it wasn’t crazy really.

Kelsey:I was just reading the transcript of it and you say that you will have your RD by the end of 2013. It was at the end of October. So yeah, you were a couple months away.

Laura:Yeah, technically I got it in February 2014. But, shhh! Don’t tell anybody.

We’ve been changing the format of the podcast a little bit in the last couple weeks as am I’m sure a lot of you have noticed. We’re trying to figure out a strategy that works for everyone. Of course that’s not possible, but we’re trying to get as many happy listeners as possible.

I know a lot of you listening right now are probably of the mindset that you’re listening to our show partially for nutrition information, partially for information about what’s going on in me and Kelsey’s lives which lately has been a little bit one track minded. But we’re thinking about moving our updates to the end of episodes if we are actually going to be doing that since I know a lot of the last couple of episodes we didn’t do any updates because we had really good interviews.

But we want to hear back from you guys before we talk a little bit about how our business and podcast have changed. That’s one way that’s it’s changed in the last month or two. We’d love to hear your feedback. If you’re one of our loyal listeners that’s been listening for a long time, maybe even since 2013, then we want to know what you guys think about putting the updates at the end. At the end of the day, we really want to make you guys happy. We’re trying to make as many people happy as possible, but we always like to make sure our loyal listeners are the ones getting what they want.

Feel free to contact us in the contact tab on TheAncestralRDs.com to let us know what you guys like and if you’re okay with us putting the updates at the end, or if you really want them in the beginning. It’s good for us to get some feedback.

Speaking of updates, Kelsey, what are you up to lately?

Kelsey:We’re recording this earlier than when this will publish, so I guess this might be a little out of order depending when you listen to this. Last week, or the beginning of this week I guess, I launched the beta of my gut health program which is super exciting!

I originally was going to offer 30 spots for it. There was enough demand that I decided to up that to 50 spots. I’ve got 50 students in the Build Your Biome beta program. They have just gone through their first week now. It started on Monday and they’re loving it so far. I did the first Q&A session yesterday which was really fun.

I’m still working on content for the end of the program as they’re going through the beginning of the program. At first I was like, hmm, I wonder if I should really just finish everything before I launch it at all. But it’s an 8 week program so it’s pretty long and I had so many people emailing me like I want to get started, I’m so excited! I just decided since I had at least half of the program completely ready and then the rest of the program was at least mostly written that I was just going to launch it and have people go through it as I was still working on the last half.

Actually I think it’s worked out really well so far. Granted we’re only a week into it, but I feel like I’m able to get some feedback and hear people’s questions so that that can guide how I’m shaping the content for the last half of that program.

But it’s so awesome to have finally gotten this out into the world because I’ve been working on it, I mean I’ve had the idea for it for a really long time and I just never got around to it because, Laura, as I’m sure you know, creating an online program is a huge project that sucks up all your time. We made Paleo Rehab together and of course that was nice because we were splitting the work there. But doing it all on your own, let me tell you, feels like a whole other ballgame. It took me a while to really feel like I could sit down and do that. But once I started, it all kind of just came pouring out of me, which was great.


Kelsey:I’m super excited that that’s actually out there now. Honestly, it was really scary for me because when we were doing Paleo Rehab together, at least you feel like you’re in it together. If it fails, you fail together. If it succeeds, you succeed together.

Laura:If it fails, you just blame the other person.

Kelsey:Exactly! Right. Doing it on your own, I felt like I would be the one to blame. It’s my fault if it doesn’t do well. But I’ve been really, really happy with the turnout for the beta and it gives me hope that this program will be really help a lot of other people too once I offer it to the world at large, I guess.

Laura:That’s really exciting. I’m impressed that you got 50 people for your beta because I think not having any testimonials makes it hard to sell a program.


Laura:I’m sure that’s part of the benefit of getting that many people to go through it. You can build some testimonials and make sure that it is actually doing what you set out to.

I think from a business perspective, it is actually a good idea to not finish the whole program unless you have the opportunity to rewrite parts of it before people have done it. It’s actually kind of a good business strategy to not finish the whole thing before people started. Because then like you said, you can make changes and make sure that you’re covering topics that people are asking about that maybe you didn’t realize were going to be such big questions or maybe not as clear from the original work that you did.


Laura:It kind of puts a little extra pressure on you that you have this due date that if the content is not ready by then, you can’t just put it off. You really have to do it. In some ways that makes it nice because it’s like an accountability thing, but it does make it a little bit more of high pressure to get it done.

Kelsey:For sure.

Laura:That’s really cool! I’ll be really excited to hear how that goes. Maybe I’ll even be able to send some people through that because I get a lot of people who they’re interested in working with me, but then either the budget is not there or I just don’t really feel like working one on one with someone is necessarily what they need. It’ll be cool to have that kind of program to send people to.

Kelsey:Cool! I hope it’s helpful for some of your potential clients that maybe can’t afford or don’t need that one on one help necessarily.

Laura:Even if they do, I feel like a lot of the stuff that you’re going to teach probably helps people get the basics down. Even if they wanted one on one help later, you’re not starting from scratch, so that’s kind of nice.

Kelsey:That’s basically why I decided to make this program. I found that talking to so many of my clients I was literally saying the same thing over and over again. I was like, okay, this is telling me that there is a market for this and people have generally the same questions and the same process that they go through. I felt like even if I am working with people one on one, I actually want them to go through this program as well either while we’re working together, or like you said, prior to working together.

Laura:That’ll be really cool and then you’ll have to tell me how it goes or make an announcement about it when the full program is available to the public.

Kelsey:Will do! What about you? What’s going on with you these days?

Laura:Other than wedding planning for the rest of my life?


Laura:It’s funny, when I say wedding planning, I think people probably assume it’s just the actual planning of the wedding itself. Even though that is a challenge, I’m sure a lot of people are like why is that so hard? It doesn’t make any sense.

The thing with what’s going on in my personal life is that it’s not just the wedding that’s going to change. My fiancé lives in Ohio and he’s going to be moving down here basically, I want to say three days, four days before the wedding.


Laura:We’ve never lived in the same area so we’re basically going from seeing each other once every two to four weeks to seeing each other 24/7. Which I’m excited about, but it’s obviously going to be a massive change.

There’s that and then there’s the actual event of the wedding itself which the planning piece is enough stress, but then there’s also the financial side of things. Then when that’s going on I’m actually working my butt off in my business to make sure I can afford all the stuff that I’ve stupidly agreed to. Thank you, Pinterest. It’s like you plan all this stuff and you’re like this is going to be awesome! And then all the budget goes to together and you’re like, oh my gosh, why am I doing this?

Kelsey:Right, of course.

Laura:I think for me it’s partially the actual planning of the event which is stressful in itself because we have all these family and friends and trying to organize everything and make sure everyone is as happy as possible while still wanting it to be what you want and not making anyone feel like you’re stepping on their toes. There’s that and then there’s the actual paying for everything.

And then like I said, just anticipating the amount that my fiancé and my relationship will change in June. It’s just like part of me is really excited and the other part of me is a little scared like, oh my gosh! This is going to be so crazy, this change! I have no idea what to expect. I think it’s overall going to be positive, but obviously that’s just a very 180 degree change from basically like the first day of June until mid-June.

Kelsey:Yeah, no kidding.

Laura:The word stress, I hate it because it’s making it sound like I’m not excited or something. I’m super excited, I’m very happy with my relationship and I can’t wait to be married. It’s just I really think the long distance thing is kind of adding to the stress never of the whole wedding planning experience. Based on our Christian faith, we just wouldn’t move in together before our wedding.


Laura:We were like, well there’s no point in your moving down here and then us waiting a couple months and you’re renting a place. Might as well do it as soon as you’re ready to move down. It’s all happening very fast.

But then I decided that that wasn’t enough stress, so I also signed up for business coaching with Jordan and Steve from SCD Lifestyle. They had approached me last year about it and I had considered it, but my business last year wasn’t quite as strong. And I had just met my fiancé, and we were just dating then, and I knew that there was going to be a lot of time I wanted to spend getting to know him, and visiting, and traveling, and seeing each other.

I decided not to do it last year because it just didn’t feel right. I tend to be very intuition heavy when it comes to making decisions. If I feel like something’s a bad idea, I usually choose not to do it. If I ever go against that intuition, I’m like that was right, I shouldn’t have done that.

This year when Jordan re-approached me I had talked to a couple people that did it last year. Then this year on one hand was a little freaked out because I was like let’s add another massive bill to my next six months or whatever. But the other way that I was thinking about it was I have all these things I want to get done with my business and without having any accountability or a plan, it makes it really hard and I feel like I just start to tread water essentially.

I’m happy to do clients on a weekly basis and just kind of have that rolling and I have somewhere between one to two waiting list right now, which isn’t crazy, but it never feels like I’m running out of clients, which is great. As a business owner, I don’t feel like I have to be really working super hard to get clients other than what we do with the podcast, and blogging, and all that stuff.

Kelsey:Oh yeah, just those little things that we work on all the time!

Laura:I know. But it’s funny because I think people when they see that I only take clients on Tuesdays and Thursdays, they’re like, well that’s nice, you only work two days a week? I’m like no, all the stuff I don’t get paid for is happening on the other days.


Laura:Anyway, it’s kind of got to the point where I kind of feel like I was ready to “level up.” I was like okay, I need to start doing stuff that’s more branching out and not just relying on client income, and maybe doing a program.

We’ve been working on getting our Paleo Rehab program to be available year round, so that’s coming soon hopefully. But that’s been a big thing that we’ve been focusing on.

I have an e-book that’s TBD with a pretty well-known person, so I’m excited about that if we ever really get any work done on that. It’s been a little hard to do that plus all of the other stuff I’m doing.

Kelsey:I’m curious with that actually, when you say e-book, I never know how long that means. Is that full book size, or would you say it’s going to be shorter that what you’d pick up in the store?

Laura:I think it would be shorter than your typical physical book, but I think it’s hard to say because we want to be really comprehensive in covering the topic. I’m not ready to share details about it yet, but we want to cover the science and the practicality. It’s hard to say how long it’ll be because on one hand the practicality shouldn’t take that much time to explain, but we need to have the science behind it too, so that could end up taking a lot of space.

I honestly have no idea. I think we want to create information that’s enough information so that people understand why we’re telling them to do what we’re doing, but then not so much that they’re just overwhelmed, or information overload, or anything like that. It’s kind of up in the air.

Writing is interesting. I feel like writing is sometimes harder than either podcasting or creating presentations.

Kelsey:I agree, yeah.

Laura:Just because I feel like it has to be so much more detailed and it has to be more grabby, if that makes sense. It has to get people’s attention better. That’s been a little challenging, but I am hoping that once some of these other projects get finished that that’ll get worked towards. Again, I kind of have some ideas about my own group program that I want to do, but that’s probably not going to happen until the second half of the year.

The coaching with Jordan and Steve has been great because it’s been giving me a lot of really good to-do’s and very action oriented recommendations. Part of it I think is also to make sure that the second half of the year I don’t just get totally distracted by being married and having my fiancé/husband around all the time. Part of why I signed up for that is because I was like, alright, I’m going to need something keeping me focused. That was part of the reason. That’s definitely been another thing keeping me pretty busy is trying to move all those pieces forward. That’s kind of what I’ve been up to.

Kelsey:Just a million different things.

Laura:I know. This podcast is publishing I want to say April 13th. I might be wrong. Sometimes we get a little off schedule. But it should be publishing April 13th. If that is the case, tomorrow or April 14, I’m turning 30.


Laura:It’s funny, I was talking to my trainer today about that and I don’t know if he said like uh-oh or something like that. I was like, no, I’m actually really stoked to be 30! My feeling is the 20s were very tumultuous. I think early first half of my 20s I was very unsure of myself. I really got serious about Christianity I think in 2012, so I would have been 25. The first half of the 20s I was just doing kind of my normal thing, not really thinking about that piece. That’s been a really big change in the second half of my 20s.

And then just being in grad school, and I was traveling in Australia. I was just very all over the place. Part of me likes being a little adventurous, and doing things that are fun, and taking risks, and that kind of thing. But I feel like I really appreciate stability to balance that. The first half of my 20s there was not much stability which wasn’t my ideal.

But I feel like my 30s, I just feel like I’m really getting clear about what I want my life to look like, what relationships are important to me, what type of hobbies I really enjoy, what my lifestyle habits should be. I have my community in Raleigh that has been really great that I’ve been developing and making close relationships.

There’s something about being 30 that I feel like as a woman, assuming you don’t put all your stock in your appearance because I definitely think it was a little easier to look good when I was 22 than now that I’m 29. But otherwise, I feel like everything else is just better, and I’m more confident, and just more sure of what’s important to me, and I’m able to say no and set boundaries better. My work just seems to flow a lot easier because I know what kind of clients I like to take.

It’s funny, I feel like a lot of women, they think about turning 30 and they’re like, oh no, I’m turning 30, I’m getting old! I’m kind of seeing my 30s as being this is when I know what I want and I’m going to do the things that make me happy and focus on the things that are important. I’m excited about it! I think it’s going to be great. Luckily since my birthday falls on Easter weekend, my fiancé is going to be able to come down and visit.

Kelsey:That’s nice.

Laura:It’ll be a nice birthday weekend. I feel like everything is happening this year. It’s like I’m turning 30 and my life is literally turning upside down, but in a good way.

Kelsey:Right. In a way that you know you want. I think what you were saying about stability, and knowing exactly the kind of clients you want to work with, the kind of lifestyle habits that work well for you, the hobbies that you enjoy, getting into your Christianity, you spent your 20s it sounds like learning what works for you and what you want out of life. I think that’s a great way to think about going into a new decade. You know exactly what you want that to look like, and that’s awesome!

Laura:I’m sure there will be things that are challenging and marriage I’m sure isn’t exactly the easiest thing, but I think that’s all going to be a big improvement from my current situation with not being able to see my significant other more than once or twice a month. I’m excited about it.

Maybe this is TMI but it’s like I feel like, and I know you just got married a couple of months ago, but I feel like right now I’m so focused on June being like what’s going to happen? And I have to have everything ready for it, and even thinking, okay, I’m going on my honeymoon to Mexico, I better make sure I have bathing suits that fit me because I haven’t gone bathing suit shopping in two years. It’s just like literally my whole day is either work or thinking about June basically.

I’m just really excited to get to the point where I’m like, okay, we can just hang out and chill, and get some takeout, and watch a movie, and not have to cram all this amazingness into a 48 hour period, and just relax. I’m super excited to just calm down in the second half of the year and kind of just reassess what my life is going to look like. It’s all exciting, it’s just kind of like I’m impatient and patience is not my strong suit. But everything is going well.

I think you and I have been getting a lot more organized with the podcast and that’s been nice because I feel like for a while we were very off the cuff. Now that we’ve gotten a lot more regimented about how we record, it kind of takes a little of the stress out of that.

Kelsey:For sure.

Laura:I think we actually end up doing a better job with our podcast when we’re more prepared.

Kelsey:We’d like to think.

Laura:This one we didn’t prepare for hardly at all. If you think you’re like, why are you guys rambling on? It’s because we had no preparation.

Kelsey:We figured that this is the kind of podcast, like Laura was saying earlier, that if you want to know more about us, and our personalities, and how we think and everything, you’re the person that is going to listen to this episode. You don’t need that strict organization I guess that we’ve tried to bring into some of our other episodes lately. This is more get to know more about Laura and Kelsey.

Laura:It’s funny because I feel like when we started, and honestly I almost want to say even the first year or two that we were doing this, I don’t think either of us felt super confident about what we were doing. It’s not that we didn’t trust our knowledge, it’s that podcasting when you first start is almost like public speaking. It’s not quite as intense, but it’s pretty nerve wracking. I think that came out in the way that we talked and in our voices. This hasn’t happened in a while and maybe that’s because we’re better at it, but we used to get a lot of complaints from people. I shouldn’t say a lot, it was a peppering of complaints here and there.

Kelsey:But you take them to heart when you first start.

Laura:I know, you get kind of traumatized by it. But people would say that we sounded dumb because we spoke, like we finished our sentences with up-talk.

Kelsey:I think it was valley girl is how they described it.

Laura:Or some people complained that we had something called vocal fry, which if you think about the way the Kardashian’s talk, that’s very hardcore vocal fry. Honestly, I have no idea, maybe we still have it. I haven’t really paid attention, but nobody’s complained about it for a while.

Kelsey:I was just thinking about it because I think after somebody had complained about it, I saw some article, and I can’t remember if we had talked about it at any point about how for women you’re more likely to have vocal fry and it’s not something that you can necessarily do anything about. I guess you could really train yourself out of it and talk in a different register than is natural for you I suppose. But I feel like l saw something about that and I was like that makes me feel so much better!

Laura:I wonder if part of it is that we have a much more professional mic setup now than we used to.


Laura:That could help because we’re not talking into a cheap…well we didn’t have cheap mics, but they weren’t as good as the one’s we have now. I think some of that might have affected our sound. I also think when both of us, well I know that when I get nervous I start to get squeaky.

Kelsey:I start to yell.

Laura:I think that might have changed, like our confidence in talking and just our ability to be relaxed on these kind of shows has changed. Maybe I’m just getting old turning 30 and I don’t talk like a valley girl anymore. But I might, I don’t know. It probably depends on the situation.

Kelsey:Also I think we’re at the point that we’re just like, who cares? To a certain degree of course we want to hear everybody’s feedback on what we’re doing and we always want to be improving. But at the same time, if you want the information that we’re providing and we’re doing a decent enough job and we’re trying super hard over here, I think at a certain point you just have to say, okay, I’m doing my best right now and of course I’m going to try to improve things overtime, but I’m also not going to beat myself up about it.


Kelsey:I think we’ve finally gotten to that point where we don’t take those comments to heart and really get hurt by them as much as we did when we first started.

Laura:Yeah, I think it’s been interesting because it’s not like the criticism ever stops.


Laura:There’s always people that don’t like what you’re doing. But I think as time has gone on and we’ve just gotten exposed to that stuff more regularly, it’s almost like you get to the point where you’re like, eh, whatever. Honestly because it’s like I feel pretty good about most of the feedback we get and also just working one on one with people I think we probably get a lot of happy clients that are glad that they worked with us.

Having that one on one connection is nice, but I think in general I’ve also been hearing a lot of positive things from people via social media and via our contact tab on the website that they’re just like thank you so much, that information really helped change my life! We’ve had people that said that because of us that they have basically eliminated certain health problems, which is awesome because this is free information. Being able to make that big of an impact on someone’s life without them having to pay for anything or sacrifice anything to be able to make that change other than the actual diet and lifestyle recommendations, I think that’s really cool.

For every person that we get that’s annoyed that we don’t sound like professional voiceover people, we get another couple of really happy people that tell us that the information really made a huge difference in their health. I think as time has gone on, we have gotten to the point where the criticism is just kind of rolling off a little easier. It’s not always going to roll off. I think sometimes you work really hard and you want to make a positive impact. I know I’m a people pleaser by nature and it’s something I’ve worked on.

Kelsey:Yeah, same here.

Laura:If somebody is upset with me, I get really hurt even if I don’t even know the person. That can be really tough when you’re the face of your business, which both of us are, because you’re just getting all the negative feedback that people feel like throwing at you if they’re that kind of person. But I just feel like overtime I guess I’ve lost interest in stranger’s opinions of me.


Laura:It’s a little easier to ignore that stuff. For me, having my fiancé, I guess the day that this publishes it’ll be right around our one year anniversary of dating, which is a little confusing because we didn’t really meet in person until May but we started talking in April. I’m like I don’t know what our technical one year anniversary is. I’ll have to figure that out. But I think that was a huge shift for me.

I’m not advocating dating someone to feel better about yourself, but what I’m saying is that having that totally unconditional support and love on a daily basis, I’ve kind of gotten to the point where I’m like I don’t really care about what other people think because I have someone in my life that loves me in spite of anything that I do that’s annoying, which is all the time. It kind of makes it easier.

I feel like you and your husband have been together for so long, I don’t know if you can remember a time that you two were like not in that situation.

Kelsey:I know, it’s hard. I think it makes a huge difference because you know at the end of the day there’s somebody there waiting for you with unconditional love that can not only kind of just almost tell you that the people that are criticizing you are not worth listening to, but can also just be there to comfort you and get you through that.

I remember when I first started my business, and even now if I’m being perfectly honest, those kind of comments are hurtful. They roll off my back a lot easier now, but when I first started, they were really hurtful and I would get very freaked out any time I got an email like that from somebody. It’s so nice to be able to just go someone and have them comfort you, talk to you through it and say why do you care about this random person? Or even if it was a client or something and some weird thing happened where they were upset about something, it just helps to have that person to go to and talk through it.

Laura:I think the other way that I’ve tried to look at criticism lately which has been helpful is how can I use that information to improve my business or my approach? For example, our podcast, I think even though we don’t care if people don’t like it because we’re doing this for free, so it’s like if somebody really hates it, I’m not super upset about it. But if we get some criticism, we were getting a lot of…I shouldn’t say a lot. I always say a lot, but it’s like maybe five to ten over the course of a year or something of people saying that they didn’t care for the “banter” in the beginning, with is little tough because we actually had probably just as many people saying that they enjoy it.

But we could have been offended by that, but instead we were like well maybe we should try changing it a little so that the people that don’t care for that that they get the information faster. And then people that like it can still hear it, but maybe they just wait until the end of the show to hear it.

It sometimes can be annoying because on one hand you’re like, alright, well if you don’t like what I’m doing, you don’t have to expose yourself to it. But you can also kind of take the perspective of is there any truth to what this person is saying even if they’re not saying it in a very kind or constructive way, and is that something that I’m interested in changing about my business?

For me, sometimes if I have an uncomfortable experience with a client either on my end or on their end, that might actually affect who I decide to work with in the future. It’s not that I’m changing who I am or changing how I work with my clients, but I might be a little bit more cautious about taking on certain conditions or taking on certain personality types because my experience will tell me that didn’t turnout so great last time.


Laura:It’s helping inform my business approach so that I don’t get as much negative experiences and that other people don’t get as much negative experiences. Because if it’s not a good fit to work with someone one on one, I don’t want them to pay me. I don’t want to take their money and then them not have a good experience.

That doesn’t happen that often, but I think it’s happening a lot less than it ever used to be in the last couple months because I’ve been so much more strict about who I choose to work with. I’ve made the process of signing up to work with me so much more, I don’t want to say challenging, but people have to put a little effort into it.

I think the ones that end up getting to the point that we’re about to book a session, they’re super bought in and they really want to work with me. Usually they’re actually a really good fit. It’s just taken a lot of stress off of me trying to make everybody happy and work with people that probably actually not a good fit for me and I’m not a good fit for them.

Kelsey:I love that. I think I’ve gone through the same process as well. Especially with one on one clients, you realize pretty quickly once you start which kind of clients are going to be good fits and which ones aren’t. But I think it takes a long time to actually put that into practice and have it inform who you end up taking. When you’re first starting, you have to pay your bills too.


Kelsey:You end up taking probably some clients that, and maybe you just don’t have a process like we do now where they’re going through a process where they’re putting their information in, we’re reading the information, potentially talking to them via email or phone, and then they’re booking. Before the way I did it, I would just have a little book button on my website and somebody could just book a call with me. I have no idea going into it who they are, what kind of personality they have, what health conditions they have. I’ve learned quickly that that wasn’t necessarily the best approach, but I think it took me a lot longer to actually have a different kind of process in place.

Laura:I’m laughing because I feel like both of us are at the stage where anytime that happens accidently, we’re like wait, how did this person get booked with me? I still work with the person unless if I go through their information and I think it’s a terrible fit, I’ll give them a refund and just be like I don’t think I’m the right person for you. Whenever that happens, I’m just like, dang it! Where are people finding this?

I think I’ve fully fixed everything so that everyone has to go through the process to book through the application as opposed to just clicking and then just paying for it. For a while there it was like somehow there was people slipping through the cracks. It’s not like all of them are bad situations. Most of them were just fine. It’s just when get into the habit of having a very specific system for taking on clients and you get to meet them before you work together, when you don’t get that opportunity it makes me very nervous.

It’s hard to imagine that that’s what I was doing all the time before because now I really, really like to me people before we work together because it just makes me feel so much more prepared, if that makes sense. Even though I spend the same about of time going over everybody’s information before the call, I just feel like there’s something about having that thirty minute free consult with them before we talk that I can get to know what they’re overall situation is that just makes me feel a lot more prepared even before I start reading their information.

Kelsey:Interesting. I don’t do the thirty minute calls, but I do have them fill out an application and then I will email back and forth with them a little bit before they book. Maybe I will change that because I do think here is something to be said for that. You can’t really tell what kind of person someone is without speaking to them. Email gives you a sense, but it’s certainly as good as talking one on one. Maybe that’ll change, but right now I at least talk with them a little bit. I think even that is so helpful.

I at least give them a little form to fill out with what kind of health issues they are having, and what their goals are, and why they want to work with me specifically. I find that that last question, which is why are you coming to me to help you? I find that really eye opening and that’s helped me to better choose the type of clients that I want to work with.

It’s funny that I’m talking about this on the podcast because my favorite clients always end up being the ones that are like, I love your podcast! I’m so excited to work with you! That’s how I found you or that’s how I really feel like I know you! I think the podcast is great in that regard because they do get to know me by listening to us every week. I think that helps for them to know exactly what to expect when they’re going to talk to me. There can be personality clashes that even if you could help somebody from a health standpoint, just the fact that your personalities don’t mesh very well can really impede that process.

Laura:Yeah. It’s not like there’s a wrong personality or something, it’s more just how they line up.


Laura:I know for me…I feel like I’m professional, but I’m not super serious, if that makes sense. People who want someone who’s very, very serious and professional, they probably wouldn’t really enjoy working with me. I can kind of get that vibe when I’m talking to someone in a free consult that they’re very intense and they want all the testing, and the labs, and all this stuff. I’m just like I like to work with people who, yeah, they want the information and I think that’s one of the reasons that we’re good at what we do is we actually know what we’re doing with that kind of stuff. But when you have a long-term relationship with a client, I want to make sure that they enjoy the sessions, that they enjoy talking with me and that they trust me more than just because I have some letters after my name or because I’ve written evidence based articles about such and such topics. I want them to actually enjoy the conversation because they maybe would be friends with me in real life or something like that.


Laura:I would say that’s a personal preference because if I have a day that all my clients are that kind of person that I’m happy to talk to and excited about, my day goes so much easier than if there’s people that I feel like we are not connecting. It’s hard when you’re on the computer, or on Skype, or whatever, it’s very emotionally draining to be counseling and supporting people on the phone for like eight hours a day. If I have people who are not connecting very well, and I’m trying so hard to help them, and for whatever reason it’s just not happening or whatever, it just stresses me out.

I think that’s a big reason why I do the free calls not only to help answer questions and stuff, but also to kind of gauge the connection with the person. Because if we have that connection, it just makes everything so much easier and I feel like I can do my job without being anxious about whether or not the person is happy.

Kelsey:Absolutely. I agree. It makes such a big difference.

Laura: Everyone is getting all the backdoor information about our nutrition practices.

Kelsey: I think it’s helpful because I think we have a lot of listeners who are RDs or other health professionals that are in the midst of either starting their business, or they’re new business owners, or even ones that have been doing this for a long time. But I think it’s really interesting from my own perspective to hear how other people deal with their business or set up their business. I think that is just very eye opening. If you are a nutrition professional, hopefully that was helpful to you or at least intriguing.

Laura:I think anyone who runs their own business has to get really clear about who they want to serve and that’s a huge piece. We both did Marie Forleo’s B-School a couple of years ago. It feels like it was forever ago.

Kelsey:I know.

Laura:But one of the big first steps there is to figure out who your ideal client is. That doesn’t necessarily you’re only serving that type of person. But if you don’t even know who you want to serve, then you end up really not making anybody super happy because you’re not really meeting the needs of any specific type of person.

With nutrition, I don’t know if you had this experience, but I think what went maybe not so great for me when I first started was having been working with Chris Kresser for so long, I just had this mindset of I have to help everybody with every health condition.


Laura:I think when you’re in an RD program because you basically learn how to help everybody with every health condition, it’s very hard to really specialize. Some people do better than others, but I think I was kind of just like I’m going to help everyone! It was a good learning experience because I learned a lot about what kind of health conditions can be solved using the kind of approaches that I like to use, and then which ones maybe can’t, or which ones I enjoy working with. There’s some kind of health conditions that I just don’t really like to work with. That doesn’t mean that the person doesn’t need help, it’s just maybe not my forte for whatever reason.

Overtime I think I had to give myself permission to only take on certain health conditions when it came to clients as well. I’ve had some people that we did the free consults with and I heard what they would be saying and they were super nice people, I would have gotten along with them, we would have been fine as far as our personalities were concerned. But once I heard how complicated their health issues were, I was like I don’t really think I should the one that’s helping this person because it’s so complicated.

Even though I know of certain strategies to help with that kind of stuff, I really like to focus on the diet, and lifestyle, and maybe some supplements, but I don’t like to do tons of testing. I don’t call myself a functional medicine practitioner because I don’t feel comfortable using the term medicine. I’ll say I’m a functional medical nutrition therapist. That’s a little different. I’ll talk to somebody and their health condition will be super crazy, just so many different things going on and I’m just like, I’m really sorry, I just don’t think I’m the right person for you. It’s so hard to turn people down.

Kelsey:It is.

Laura:I’ve been doing it more lately because my business coaches are telling me that I have to say no more often, but it’s so terrible. I feel so bad especially when the person is so nice and I’m like I really want to help you but I can’t, I’m sorry.

Kelsey:It feels worse too when I’ve had people where I don’t think I could help them very well, but I also don’t have a great recommendation to refer them to. I think that feels way worse. If I can’t even tell you where to look, but I can’t help you or don’t feel like I’m the best fit for you, then I feel like I can hear their disappointment in the email.

Laura:I know. It’s always the worst when someone starts begging you to help.I guess there aren’t that many people available doing this kind of stuff. Not that I’m doing anything super advanced like mold toxicity or something like that, but like you said, sometimes you just don’t know who could help the person.


Laura:But you’re aware that you can’t or that you don’t want to try. Because for me, I’m like if I’m charging someone a bunch of money to work with me and then I can’t even help them, I don’t feel good about that obviously. I try to make sure that people are getting really good value for what they’re paying me. I don’t even want to risk that potential that they would be wasting their money on me.


Laura:It’s really tough. I used to be very incapable of turning people down, more so about just financially not feeling secure when I first started. Eventually it turned into more of a people pleasing thing. Now I’m at the point where I’m like, alright, It’s not like I’m lacking in clients, so it’s not like I have to do something that I feel comfortable with. It’s kind of like just teaching myself to be okay with turning people down and realizing that I’m actually doing them the best that I can.


Laura:Turning them down might mean that they’re going to work with someone that’s a better fit, or they’re going to actually be able to put that money towards something that’s going to help them, or they just won’t waste their time and money working with someone who’s not going to really make an impact on their health. It’s hard to do it, but I definitely have tried to take the mindset that my best for that person is actually saying no, which is really hard.

Kelsey:So hard. It’s one of the hardest lessons I’ve learned in business I think. Learning to say no, so difficult.

Laura:I think life in general. It’s funny because Steve of the SCD Lifestyle duo, he’s helping me work on my practice to make that a little bit more time efficient and maybe get help in some way like a virtual assistant. But it was funny because the last conversation we had was all about boundaries and how if you can’t set boundaries in your business, you probably aren’t doing a good job of setting boundaries in your life. I was like, Steve, why are you digging into my soul here?

It’s so funny I feel like it’s come to such a head with the wedding planning because so many different people have their opinions about how it should go. Part of me wants to be like this is my wedding. I’m allowed to do whatever I want and you guys just have to suck it up.


Laura:But then the other part of me is like but I want everyone to be happy and have a good time. This isn’t all about me, even though it kind of is. It’s just so funny because I feel like boundaries in general have been really challenging for me and they’re all sort of coming to a head in the last few months.

I was kind of joking with my fiancé that he’s the only person I feel totally comfortable setting boundaries with because I know that he respects them 100% and his opinion of me doesn’t change based on those so I’m comfortable with it. It’s really hard and boundaries are one of those things that once you get some good solid ones and you get really dedicated to sustaining them and not letting people trample on them, it actually makes a huge difference in your life in general.

I love Brenè Brown’s work on all that stuff. It’s so funny because she talks about boundaries, but then she also talks about vulnerability which it seems like those would be two things that don’t really work together, but they’re actually really important for relationships, for your health, your mental health, your emotional health, physical health, that kind of thing. It’s just been interesting learning how to set those in my business then kind of pushes me to set it in my life. It’s a little easier for the business though.

Kelsey:I agree, first of all. I feel like running a business in general is the best lesson in personal development that you can ever get.

Laura:Oh, yeah.

Kelsey:I feel like I learned so much about myself by my first instinct in business. Then when you kind of dig into those thoughts and beliefs that form those kind of thoughts and beliefs about business, you then realize, wow, there’s  a lot of underlying layers here that are affecting the way not only that I run my business, but how I run my life. When you start to change the way that you run your business, it’s hard for that not to seep over into your life. Almost always it’s a good thing, whatever you’re implementing in your business is probably also something that can be implemented in your life.

That’s one thing that I have really, really loved about entrepreneurship is just the fact that it doesn’t just feel like I’m working on my business, it feels like I’m working on myself.

Laura:It’s funny because I think sometimes that can make other people uncomfortable.


Laura:When I say other people, I mostly mean people who are in your personal life. I don’t think most people, and maybe I’m wrong, maybe people listening to this episode and like why are you guys telling us all this stuff? But I feel like in general the kind of people that I like to attract to my business actually enjoy hearing what’s going on in our lives, and what we’re struggling with, or what we were struggling with but we overcame, that kind of thing.

I know the people that I like follow, I’ll do that. I really like people like Neghar Fonooni, and Molly Galbraith, and just people who they share their struggles, and they really humanize themselves, and they make it okay to have challenges, and they don’t act like they have it all together.

I personally appreciate that in a business owner and I think that’s how I want to be. I want to be very open and honest about things and as vulnerable as is…

Kelsey:Socially acceptable?

Laura:Not even socially acceptable. I don’t want to be spilling my guts to the world like a dear diary kind of blog. It’s more sharing the things that I struggle with and then maybe things that are successful for dealing with it.

That’s something that Neghar Fonooni always talks about with her business where it’s like she doesn’t ever want to share something that she hasn’t really resolved yet because that’s not helpful. It’s more just, I forget the term that she uses. But it’s basically just leaving all this negativity with her followers and not really giving them any sort of game plan or advice or anything. She’ll always wait until she’s worked through something to share it and talk about what she was dealing with and then how she overcame it. I try to take that approach too. I think she used the term “self-indulgent” or something if she shares that without having any sort of message or lesson that she can share as well.

Kelsey:Got it.

Laura:As a business owner you don’t want to be just like I said doing a dear diary kind of blog where you’re like, today I had this happen, and it was terrible, and I was so upset about it. Then it was like, okay, that’s it, that’s all you’re sharing. When you’re doing a professional business type blog, but you’re also trying to infuse that with personal experience, you have to be careful that you’re not just like I said being self-indulgent and sharing stuff for no reason.

But there are things that I share that some people in my personal life are kind of like, why are you putting that on the internet? That’s really inappropriate, or you shouldn’t be sharing that kind of stuff. It’s sometimes hard because it’s like I have a lot of people who will message me about things and they’ll be like, I’m so glad you shared that, I really needed that, and that was so helpful! It’s just funny because I get those responses from my listeners or readers. And it’s funny because again, my fiancé, I’ll ask him like is okay that I shared this? He’s like yeah, that’s fine. He doesn’t care at all. But some people in my personal life will not be happy about it.

It’s a very interesting experience to try to feel comfortable putting that stuff out there to be vulnerable and to be relatable to your audience, and then have people being like that’s too much information, that’s on the internet. It’s weird. Maybe it’ll come back to bite me. Maybe I’ll regret it in the future, but I don’t think so. If I’m sharing a struggle that I’m having in my life, I’m not sure how that would necessarily come back to hurt me at some point. I just think it’s helpful for people and I know I really like when other people share that kind of stuff. Like I said, hopefully people find it helpful and not just self-indulgent.

Some of the stuff I share just being very honest is because of my faith. I feel like it’s important to be very clear about things. One of the things that I got a little flack about recently was the fact that I was talking about the fact that my fiancé and I are waiting until marriage to have sex. I wrote very briefly, I don’t even know if I used the term sex. I think I just said like we’re not using this yet. It was very subtle. But I remember one of my family members was complaining about it because they thought it was being really inappropriate.


Laura:I’m like I’m pretty sure that’s not that big of a deal. The main reason why I shared it is because I want to normalize that for people that feel like that they don’t feel like it’s okay to do that. That’s an example of something where it’s like yeah, maybe I didn’t have to share it and it didn’t necessarily make a difference in the overall theme of blog post that I wrote. But I think being very clear about values and things that I think are important, it can help somebody. Maybe there’s one person out there that will read that blog post that’s debating about whether they want to do the whole waiting until marriage thing. Maybe if they see it they’ll say, oh she’s doing it, that’s cool, maybe I’ll try it too.


Laura:Maybe I’m an over-sharer, and I think this podcast is probably teetering on the edge of oversharing, but I feel like there’s enough pressure in the world to be fake and to pretend like everything’s perfect. Especially in our field, nutrition and health, there is so much pressure on us to not ever do anything wrong, or to have the perfect bodies, or perfect skin, or always feel energetic, never get sick, blah, blah, blah. I really actually feel like that kind of philosophy is really damaging on people to be exposed to that all the time.

I’m kind of like I’m going to be the opposite and make sure everyone knows that I am a totally normal person, I get sick, I don’t have the exact body fat percentage that maybe would be “optimal” from a fitness perspective, or whatever it is. I thin, for me, if someone is turned off by that, then they’re probably not going to enjoy working with me, especially for how frequently I talk about poop and stuff when I’m working with somebody.

It’s just funny, it’s like on one hand there’s a little fear about being vulnerable in that way in a public setting. But I honestly feel like the more I do that, the more I get positive feedback that people really benefitted from it. I think I’m going to continue pushing the boundaries.

Kelsey:Yeah, I think that too.

Laura:What about you?

Kelsey:I guess the first big thing that I would say that I’ve shared that I was really nervous about was that I was struggling with pretty major health issues for a while. For a long time I felt like I couldn’t share anything about it because I don’t have it all figured out. But what I realized through thinking about that was that there are certain aspects of it that I in a sense at least have figured out, or at the time when I shared this I had figured out.

I knew that stress was a big part of it and I shared an article about how I think about stress and how I use stress management to help manage a chronic health condition. I guess that’s the thing with chronic health conditions is that they may not completely go away ever and that’s something that I think it’s hard to not feel a little bit indulgent when you share that kind of stuff because I don’t have it all figured out and I may never have it all figured out. That’s not necessarily my fault, but at the same time it can make you feel like should I even be sharing this?

That’s something I personally struggle with a lot is being open and vulnerable in a public setting. I’m a really private person in general unless I know someone pretty well, in which case I’m completely open. If I don’t know you really well, then there’s a lot of things that I’m going to keep to myself. That’s really hard to combine with a very outward facing, public facing kind of business where it is useful even from a business perspective to be open and vulnerable with your audience because people do dig that. That makes somebody get to know you. Even though you don’t know them, they get to know you and they want to follow your journey and they potentially maybe want to work with you or join a program that you’re running.

It’s very useful from a business perspective, but that’s something I struggle with personally just on my own level is getting comfortable with sharing things that with an acquaintance I wouldn’t share. That’s something I’ve been working on and it’s something I’m sure I’ll continue to work on. I have kind of the opposite problem. I don’t have to think about controlling what I want to share. I have to push myself to share things that I wouldn’t necessarily share with an acquaintance.

Laura:There’s probably a balance to be struck between what I do and what you do. I think when you talk about being nervous about sharing about a chronic illness that you’re not sure will ever go away, honestly my impression of that is that that’s reality.


Laura:I actually think one of the really problematic things about the Paleo and alternative health sphere is that the only stories that get shared are the total success stories. You don’t often hear about people who are relapsing or maybe they only got 80% of the way back to normal and they still have issues. There are some people that do that. Don’t get me wrong, there’s lots people out there that share their struggles and are open about the chronic issues that they have not solved yet and may never solve. Just being realistic, some things can’t get better.


Laura:That may sound negative, but I think in some ways it’s almost liberating for people because it’s like they don’t think they’re not trying hard enough if they haven’t got it 100% figured out. I really feel like that kind of story is important because otherwise people with chronic issues that maybe they’ve gotten a significant improvement from, but they haven’t totally finished getting back to 100% normal and they may never get there, I feel like they need to know that it’s okay and they need to know that that’s normal and it’s not that they’re a failure at fixing themselves or something.


Laura:Because I really feel like the majority of the stories that are out there, which are great and I think a great example is Russ Crandall who we’ve interviewed and I think that one is coming out after this episode so you guys will hear his story. But he had a really severe autoimmune issue that for all intents and purposes he looks totally normal now. That’s an amazing miraculous story, but it’s not always the experience that everyone has.


Laura:They might have an 80% improvement, but they still can’t really exercise very much because they have a health problem. I feel like being honest about that, and I am not pressuring you into doing anything. I’m doing it very publicly, so you’re probably cringing right now. But I really feel like sharing that kind of stuff maybe it doesn’t feel as inspirational as, oh I fixed all my problems and now I’m super healthy! But it’s also I think really helpful for people who are dealing with relapses or are still dealing with the symptoms that maybe they feel somewhat better, but they don’t feel totally better.

I’ve had a lot of people come to me that are crying on the phone because they feel like they’re failing. It’s like you’re not failing, you’re doing a great job and you’ve made so much progress. You have to enjoy your life. You can’t necessarily be stuck in this mindset that you have to be so focused on your health because you’re like 20% away from perfect health. I’m not saying give up, but I’m also saying take a break. Take a little pressure off yourself.

I think sharing that actually in my personal opinion would be a good thing. Like you said, it might just be something you have to practice being a little bit more open and vulnerable in public. I’m not saying you have to, but it might be a way to stretch yourself a little bit and you don’t have to necessarily talk about your sex life on a podcast like me, but maybe talking about your struggles wouldn’t be so scary if you do it a couple times.

Kelsey:Yeah. I think writing that article I really saw that because whenever we send that out to people that are interested in our adrenal fatigue program, I’ll always get a good amount of replies being like, oh this is so helpful, and I’m really happy to hear this, and it really makes me feel better about moving forward with the healing process and knowing I don’t have to be perfect. I could certainly do a better job of sharing more of that, but it’s going to take some pushing I think.

Laura:I’m just going to have to push you because I’m a pusher. Just ask my fiancé, I push him all the time. I’m just kidding. Well, I might.

Kelsey:You might.

Laura:He’s very tolerant. He’s the most tolerant person I’ve ever met which is why I’m marrying him because I don’t think I could convince any else to be around me 24/7.

Well, hopefully people are still here. We might have two people listening at this point but we’re hoping that makes up for all the non update episodes that you guys are about to get the next couple weeks.

Kelsey:Yeah, this was like an hour long update I feel like.

Laura:Yeah, definitely. But I feel like episode 100 is kind of a celebration of the trials that we’ve gone through and the triumphs of the last 100 episodes. We have no plans on stopping this anytime soon. Maybe next time we do an update like this it will be episode 200!

Kelsey:Yeah, crazy!

Laura:Which will be two years from now.

Kelsey:This has been such a fun journey. It’s actually funny because it almost feels like wait, this is only episode 100? We’ve been doing this since 2013. But we did start doing it every other week.


Kelsey:Yeah. We’re only now reaching episode 100. But it’s been a long journey and it’s been a super fun journey to be on with you, Laura!

Laura:You too, Kelsey! Gosh, we’ve been working together since 2012.

Kelsey:I know.

Laura:Almost I guess five years at this point.


Laura:More than five years.

Kelsey: Yeah, it’s insane.

Laura:Time is flying. You’ll be 30 soon next time we have a celebration episode.


Laura:Cool. Well, we are so glad that you guys have been with us for the last 100 episodes and maybe you’ll be with us for the next 100 too!

But if you want to hear any specific topics or interviews that you’d us to cover, go to TheAncestralRDs.com and click the contact tab. There’s a form that you can fill out to suggest an interview guest or if you have a specific question that you want us to answer. That’s basically where we get all our podcast topics from. If you want your topic covered, then that’s the way to do it.

We’re so glad that you’ve been with us and we hope that we will see you here next week!

Kelsey:Alright. You take care, Laura.

PODCAST: The Ethics of The Dietary Guidelines And Food Politics In America With Adele Hite

Thanks for joining us for episode 99 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 excited to be interviewing Adele Hite !

Adele Hite is a Ph.D. candidate in communication, rhetoric, and digital media at North Carolina State University, as well as a Registered Dietitian with a master’s in public health nutrition. Her work encompasses the rhetorical and cultural studies of food politics, nutrition science, and public health; science-based policy controversy; and the ethics of dietary guidance.

Information abounds about what foods to eat and not eat in what we learn from conventional nutrition experts. But did you ever wonder what the basis is for this dietary guidance that forms people’s views about food and America’s public health policy?

Adele Hite joins us today to discuss what she’s learned throughout her research and experience about the effects of the Dietary Guidelines and food politics. Adele also shares insight into the state of nutrition knowledge and what the future holds for the Dietary Guidelines and public health policy.

Here are some of the questions we discussed with Adele:

  • What got you interested in studying the Dietary Guidelines?
  • What’s your perspective on whether or not people are actually are following the Dietary Guidelines?
  • Do you think that the Dietary Guidelines are having an actual damaging effect in real-time? Or do you feel like it’s mostly the overall changes in the food environment that have led people to eat a different way?
  • You say that there are many oversimplified narratives about nutrition, health, and “the obesity crisis” that deserve more critical examination. What are some of those narratives that you find to be the most pervasive?
  • Do you think that there is a theory that explains the bulk of what causes obesity? If not, why is it so hard to figure out what’s causing it?
  • What’s your opinion about the state of nutrition knowledge? Do you feel like there is much that we actually have factual knowledge about?
  • What have you learned in the last several years of doing this deep dive research that either surprised you, was unexpected, or ended up actually changing your personal beliefs?
  • What is your experience been as a dietitian who is not supportive of the Dietary Guidelines as they currently stand? Do you have any advice for listeners who don’t know how to blend their dissension with their career?
  • What is your hope for the future of the Dietary Guidelines and public health policy in general?

Links Discussed:


Laura: Hi everyone. Welcome to episode 99 of The Ancestral RDs podcast. I’m Laura Schoenfeld and with me as always is my cohost Kelsey Kinney.

Kelsey: Hey everyone!

Laura: If you don’t know us, we’re Registered Dietitians with a passion for ancestral health, real food nutrition, and sharing evidence-based guidance that combine science with common sense. You can find me at www.LauraSchoenfeldRD.com and Kelsey at www.KelseyKinney.com.

We have an awesome guest on our show today who is going to be sharing her research about the ethics of the Dietary Guidelines and the food politics rhetoric that drives our nation’s food choices. I’m so happy she’s joining us. She’s a friend of mine and I think you’re really going to enjoy this episode.

Kelsey: If you’re enjoying the show, subscribe on iTunes so that you never miss an episode. While you’re there, leave us a positive review so that others can discover the show as well! And remember, we want to answer your question, so head over to theancestralrds.com to submit a health-related question that we can answer or suggest a guest that you’d love for us to interview on an upcoming show.

Laura: Before we get into our interview, here’s a quick word from our sponsor:

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Laura: Our guest today is someone who I consider a personal friend. Her name is Adele Hite. She is a Ph.D. candidate in communication, rhetoric, and digital media at North Carolina State University, as well as a Registered Dietitian with a master’s in public health nutrition. Her work encompasses the rhetorical and cultural studies of food politics, nutrition science, and public health; science-based policy controversy; and the ethics of dietary guidance.

Welcome, Adele! We’re so glad to finally have you on the show.

Kelsey: Yeah!

Adele: Thanks so much for having me. This is terrific!

Laura: It’s very strange. I feel like you and me have such a long history. I don’t know when you met my mom, but I think I met you in 2011 because you were finishing your program at UNC and I was just starting mine and we had our mom in common. That was six years ago at this point. Now you’re off at NC State and hopefully finishing your dissertation at some point this year.

Adele: Soon, yes.

Laura: That’s the hope. I know you very well. I know your back story very well, but I don’t know if our listeners do. If you don’t mind to just tell us your story in a nutshell and then just what got you interested in studying the Dietary Guidelines since they’re quite the beast.

Adele: The shortest answer to that is your mother, Laura, because she’s the one who told me about it. She swears that it’s not true, but I actually remember the exact moment that it happened. She went, well you do know that there’s these Dietary Goals that happened before the Guidelines. And I was just like, what?!

That got me started down that whole rabbit hole of the McGovern committees. There’s a lot of talk about how there was this moment in 1977 where the Dietary Goals were created, but the McGovern’s committee had really been playing around with the issues of nutrition and where nutrition fit in the political picture for almost the entire decade of the 1970s.

This fits in with my own personal story because I became a vegetarian in the 1980s, in the early 1980s. I got a copy of Diet For a Small Planet and I read it and I believed every single word. I really thought that I was doing the very best thing for my body, for the world, for the global hunger, and all of these issues in addition to being a college student and being a little bit on the rebellious side. And this was my way of sort of pushing back at my parents’ meat and two vegetables sort of lifestyle. It worked great when I was in my 20s, but the older I got, the less successful this particular eating pattern was for me.

I think this is a very common thing is that we think that we found the one perfect diet. And it is perfect for a while, and then it’s not anymore. Instead of rethinking our diet, we look for a lot things outside of ourselves that we want to blame.

Here I was gaining weight and not feeling well on a low calorie, low fat, vegetarian, home cooked, all the things that it was supposed to be, and not doing well. I eventually through some research, and reading, and basically giving up dieting for a long time, I stumbled across the Mike and Mary Dan Eades Protein Power and it resonated with some things that some healthcare providers had been telling me. When I tried it, my body felt very right on it.

But even with that, I still sort of felt like I was the problem, like I must have this weird metabolism and that’s why that best diet ever didn’t work for me. But then when I started working with Eric Westman at the Duke Lifestyle Medicine Clinic, I met a lot of people whose story was very, very similar to mine. I realized that it wasn’t me and that there wasn’t just one path to good health, which is what we’ve been told, the only path to good health, the only path to prevention of chronic disease was to eat this low fat, low calorie plant based diet.

Seeing person after person come through the clinic who were really trying to be healthy, not everybody was, but most of these people had been dieting and trying to work to a healthier state through dietary changes for a very long time. To see their struggle match my own, I realized that there was something really wrong with the system and something wrong with what we’d been told.

That’s how I ended up sort of following this down the strange path through back to school to become an RD and the MPH program that, Laura, you were in; and then nutrition epidemiology which I thought was going to give me answers to why we had this disconnect between biochemistry and public health practices, but it didn’t; then into communication and rhetoric and digital media because I did realize that some point that we were dealing with politics and not with science.

Laura: That’s funny, you would think nutrition epidemiology would be the complete middle man between biochemistry and public policy, but apparently not.

Adele: That is what I thought and I thought it was going to give me the answers. The longer I studied it, it was sort of like this bad relationship. You’re dating someone and you’re like let me just change myself a little bit more and see if this works out, and let me just change myself a little bit more and see if this works out. I kept thinking it was me. I’m like well you’re just being really dense about this and when they tell you divide this continuous variable like French fry consumption or salt consumption up into quintiles or quartiles, and that doesn’t really make sense because it’s not like something dramatic happens in between French fry number four and French fry number five. I just kept thinking, well you’re just not wrapping your brain around this. Then finally I realized as you do in any dysfunctional relationship, I was like it’s not me, it’s you nutrition epidemiology. You’re messed up and I have to go. That’s what happened.

Laura: That’s so funny. I know that you’ve been doing this stuff for years and there’s been a lot of things that you’ve learned and maybe some myths that you’ve busted or myths that you had that you realized weren’t accurate.

I think one of the common myths that I hear from the Paleo community and even just I guess as an RD and going through UNC I think this was one of the main assumptions as well, that the Dietary Guidelines were perfectly fine and that they’re not the problem because nobody listens to them anyway. I don’t know if the Paleo community would say that they’re not a problem, but I don’t think most people think that the Dietary Guidelines really impact anybody and they’re not really the best way to change what’s going in this country.

What’s your perspective on whether or not people are actually are following the Dietary Guidelines?

Adele: I think we all first have to admit that we don’t really know what people eat. I think that’s the main thing. But there are other parameters that we can look at. We can look at what people tell us that they eat. Even that doesn’t represent what they actually eat, it certainly represents what they think they should be eating. It certainly represents what they wish they were eating. It represents what I like to call the dietary imaginary. It is their sort of idealized idea of a healthy diet.

In that regard, the NHANES data and The Nurses’ Health Study data tell us that, yeah, even if people aren’t in real life actually following it the way that they say they are, certainly they know what a healthy diet consists of. In terms of food availability, the shifts in food availability certainly reflect dietary guideline precepts. We’ve increased the amount of flour and cereal products that are available and we’ve increased the amount of vegetable oil that’s available in the food supply. Increases in meat, and dairy, and butter, and even increases in sugar are not that dramatic compared to the increases in flour, and cereal, and vegetable oils.

I think the other things that we have to understand that an attempt to follow the guidelines is not necessarily going to result in actually meeting the Dietary Guidelines goalposts. We have to understanding that there’s a real body involved.

We have on the one hand, and this is one of these things that just really gets on my nerves, we have mainstream nutrition experts that are claiming victory for over the past 35 years we’ve seen trends in lower blood pressure, we’ve seen trends in lower cholesterol, and we’ve seen reductions in heart disease mortality. These experts will say, look, people have followed the Dietary Guidelines and reduced their intake of saturated fat and cholesterol and that’s why all these wonderful healthful things have happened. Then they turn around and say but the increase in diabetes and obesity is related to the fact that individuals don’t follow the Dietary Guidelines and they just eat too much.

Here’s my take is I don’t care which way you want to say it, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t claim the good stuff for the Dietary Guidelines and then blame the bad stuff on individuals. It removes the notion that when you did the things like remove saturated fat or remove cholesterol form the diet… What are those in real foods? Well that’s meat, that’s eggs, that’s cheese, things that satiate and nourish us. Maybe that’s what caused people to start eating more food because they’re trying to recapture those nutrients that were lost when we took those other things out of our diet. But they just completely disconnect those things and that really bothers me.

Laura: I know that my mom, one of the reasons she’s super interested in the Dietary Guidelines is because of the way that they inform a lot of the policies for childcare facilities, and school lunches, and older adult care facilities.

Do you think that the Dietary Guidelines are having an actual damaging effect in real-time? Or do you feel like it’s mostly the overall changes in the food environment that have led people to eat a different way?

Adele: I think it’s a combination. And I think a lot of it is rhetoric, I think a lot of it is discourse. I think this this something that I’ve learned in my program that I wasn’t really thinking about last time when I was looking at nutrition epidemiology.

I think your mom is very right in it’s changed our intake of essential nutrition without a doubt because it’s moved that priority, which was our priority in feeding the public for many years was just to make sure everybody has adequate essential nutrition. That moved off the agenda and was replaced by a focus on preventing chronic disease.

But unfortunately I what happens is a lot of times when you’re try to prevent chronic disease is you end up causing nutrition deficiencies that would actually help prevent chronic disease. Particularly in terms of feeding pregnant women and feeding small children, I think what we’re doing is setting up long term health repercussions that don’t have anything to do with chronic disease per se, but have to do with nutrient deficiencies that occur during pregnancy into childhood that we’re then battling against for the rest of our lives metabolically.

We don’t know a whole lot about this yet, but I think we’re going to find in the future that epigenetic effects are really critical and those have to do with a fetus being malnourished in terms of mostly inadequate protein. I think that’s really, really critical and we know that about 40% the young adult female population gets inadequate protein, and those are the people having babies. And what does that tell us about those babies?

Laura: That inadequate protein, is that based on the RDA for protein? Or What is defined as inadequate?

Adele: Sadly it is based on the RDA and the RDA is woefully low. The RDA is the minimum needed to prevent sort of overt diseases of deficiency. That’s not the minimum needed to create another body inside your own. I think it’s really, really critical. I think the RDA for protein is far too low and I think that’s borne out by the fact that across populations and across time if we have more protein than that available to us, we eat it. It’s probably about half of what it should be.

Kelsey: Can you tell our audience what the RDA is right now for protein?

Adele: It’s right around 50. It’s a little bit lower for women and it’s a little bit higher for men. But it’s about 50 grams of protein per day.

Kelsey: Wow.

Adele: What we’ve seen across time and across populations is that we eat more like in a range between 70 to 100 grams. The range is based on body size. If you’re a smaller person, you need less protein.

I think the critical aspect of this and the thing that gets forgotten, you hear (speaking of those myths) oh American’s eat plenty of protein, we don’t need to worry about protein, American’s eat plenty of it. Nobody is thinking maybe we eat plenty of protein because our bodies require plenty of protein so we eat until we get plenty of protein. It’s not like Americans go, I’m going to make sure that I get plenty of protein today! Maybe they’re doing that now because you really it being pushed more, but I don’t think that that’s actually something that we set out to do consciously. But our bodies set out to do it and they don’t tell us about it. Our bodies are pretty intent on getting adequate protein and I think that’s borne out by these across time and across population figures for protein intake.

Laura: I just can’t believe that so many young women would be not even getting 50 grams of protein a day. That’s like 10% of calories on a 2,000 calorie diet. It’s just amazing.

You say that there are many oversimplified narratives about nutrition, health, and “the obesity crisis” that deserve more critical examination. What are some of those narratives that you find to be the most pervasive?

Adele: I think the overarching one is that the Dietary Guidelines have nothing to do with the changes that we’ve seen in American’s health. Here’s where I get that from; we know that people have increased their caloric increased in the past 35 years by about 150 – 200 calories on average. But nobody can explain why except to go back and say that you as an individual are doing something wrong. We hear fat people eat too much. But then that raises the question of what is too much and why? Do fat people just not care? I mean we just don’t care! We’re just going to eat all the food! That doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Why would as a population like in ’78 we were okay? But in ’85 all of a sudden we were like to hell with thinking about how we look or what our health is like! We’ll just eat whatever we want! Something changed and the DGAs were a part of that.

I think another thing is this idea that we eat more food because food is cheap. What else has changed in the environment? Well, we have this big income disparity. Maybe people have to eat cheaper food because people relatively speaking have less money now than they used to have. We know that the cheapest food in the grocery store are the highly processed grains and cereal products. Those are the cheap foods.

We instituted this really radical notion and I don’t mean radical in terms of dietary changes. I mean radical in terms of we divided the world of food up into food that is good that you should eat and food that is bad that you are a bad person if you eat. That’s the radical part. The diet itself, not so much. Although it wasn’t the diet that I would have picked.  But dividing the world of food up into these sorts of categories, it’s actually very sort of like religion, it’s dogma.

Prior to that really the idea was eat food that gives you adequate and essential nutrition, and then we really actually had public health guidance that said this, eat whatever you want after that. Can you imagine if a public health person said that nowadays, like how crazy that would sound if we said make sure that you get adequate essential nutrition and that your body is fully nourished and replete with everything that it needs, and then you can eat whatever else you want. You’d be just carried away, tarred and feathered, and rode on the rails out of town. But that’s how we used to talk to people and it really does make me wonder if we changed something dramatically with our relationship to food as well as in our bodies when we divided the world of food up into good food and bad food.

I think that this idea of essential adequate nutrition is really part of that because one of the things that we see is when people are not adequately nourished with regards to essential nutrients, they do have a tendency to eat foods they don’t need, consume more sugar, consume more refined carbohydrate, consume more alcohol because our bodies are in sort of a state of weakness and desperation maybe even. We’re just consuming to be consuming at this point.

Laura: I think from a clinical perspective a lot of times when I have clients that crave sugar, there’s two things that are typically going on in their diet. One is the protein question. A lot of my clients that don’t eat enough protein, once their eating higher protein diet, and we’re not talking about anything like insanely high. We’re talking about maybe 10 ounces of some kind of protein food a day total. All of a sudden they don’t have the sugar cravings anymore and they’re just like I don’t understand. They thought they just had poor willpower or that they ate too much sugar and that’s why they craved it, which certainly makes if a little harder, but it was really more about that they weren’t getting enough protein. Then in the more Paleo minded clients, a lot of times those are ones that aren’t eating enough carbs for their activity levels.

Adele: Right.

Laura: If they’re eating enough whole food carbs, and fruit, and maybe some sweeteners too, maybe some sugars in there, they don’t actually crave it. I think a lot of these cravings that the average person has for sugar, and salt, and the packaged foods, that kind of thing is because they’re not getting actually the basic needs that their body has. The body is like well sugar is a really quick way to get the carbs that I need and if you’re not getting enough protein you tend to need more carbs.

It’s just like you said, people have this belief that they’re getting enough protein and if they have a sweet potato a day, that’s enough carbs. It’s just interesting how much misinformation exists everywhere in nutrition. I feel like you maybe feel that same way that the information is not actually that solid.

Adele: Oh yeah. I think that this is one of the other real issues with the whole sort of nutrition discourse. The whole landscape is that we swing from one extreme to the other. The reality is we don’t know much about much of it. Our most solid foundation in terms of knowledge is in the essential nutrition department. Steven Zeisel at UNC found some time in the past thirty years another essential nutrient, which is the one your mom studies, choline. Forty years ago, we didn’t consider it essential. Now we understand that for some people in some points in their lives, it is absolutely an essential nutrient and you have to get it from your diet because your body doesn’t make enough of it.

It’s these gaps in our knowledge that I think have gotten wider and deeper because we’ve been so focused on trying to create these links between diet and chronic disease, which I just want to point out to everybody out there listening, the only way that we have been able to make any claims about diet/chronic disease relationships are through observations studies. They are never cause and effect. They are always association. They’re hypothesis, they’re theories. This goes from the low fat people to the low sugar people.

I don’t care which way you’re looking at it, you’re talking about epidemiology. Are there better and worse ways of using epidemiology? Absolutely. But we can’t make those relationships through experimental trials, or we can’t make them very well through experimental trials because you’re always going to have these specialized circumstances and specialized populations. People who participate in clinical trials are different from people in the general population. If you’ve ever been in a clinical trial, you know this. It’s not easy to be a participant. It requires a lot of you.

It’s sort of ridiculous to say that we know much of anything about diet and chronic disease links. We know that alcohol and liver disease, we feel pretty good about one. And we feel pretty good about the sugar and cavities or dental caries relationship. It sounds a little weird to say this because people are like, cavities! It’s so superficial. But I think that link is actually a lot more interesting than it seems on the surface because there are so many other things that we are beginning to learn that are associated with dental caries; higher levels of heart disease, and ulcers, and all of these other things. But it’s not just the sugar. It’s the sugar interacting with the bacteria in our bodies and other things like that.

Again, blaming these single nutrients for long term chronic disease, it’s a red herring. It’s misleading and I think it just really lends itself toward this sort of dogmatic approach to health where you have a shiny little talisman that you carry. I only eat gluten free food! I only eat local food! I only plant food! You think your little shiny good luck charm is going to save from eventually being dead, and it isn’t. Let me just be blunt about this. You’re going to die and it’s not necessarily going to be because of yiour food.

Laura: I think with chronic disease in general, it’s a little tough because there’s so many different ideas about too much of certain foods or not enough of certain foods or certain nutrients that leads to those chronic diseases. But I feel like obesity is one of those that the general nutrition expertise in this country really pins on the whole eating too much and not exercising enough, like the eat less/move more approach to weight loss.

I know there’s been a lot of research done in the field of obesity in epidemiology and more of a physiology approach. When you’ve looked at this, do you actually think anyone knows what causes obesity? We’re not talking about gaining 10 to 20 pounds or something, we’re talking about actual obesity where it’s BMI above 30, significant metabolic factors involved as well. Is it just about people are eating too much and not exercising enough? Do you think that there is a theory out there that explains the bulk of it? If not, why is it so hard to figure out what’s causing it?

Adele: You said something really interesting in there which is not just obesity but obesity and metabolic factors. I think that’s the first part of the conversation we have to tease apart which is that there’s more than one kind of obesity. Even with regards to high BMIs, there’s more than one kind of obesity.

The first two patients that we saw at Duke Lifestyle Medicine Clinic had two very, very different kinds of obesity. One gentleman was probably about as big around as he was tall and he really had no metabolic issues. He had joint pain because of his weight and part of his reason for being with us was to lose weight so that he could have, I forget whether it was hips or knees operated on. That was one kind of obesity. Our next patient was a man who was sort of normal looking from about mid chest up, but then had a big belly. He was on a bagful of medications and had all kinds of metabolic issues going on.

Those were very, very different kinds of obesity. The kind that the first patient had, yeah, eventually it’ll impact joints simply because of body mechanics. Other than that, this is not a metabolic issue. That may very well be an eat less, move more kind of situation. We put him on a low carb diet and it worked great, but we probably could have put him on… low carb diets do work to lower caloric intake. You can’t point your finger and go “well it was the carbs” in this case because calories get reduced as well.

What we saw in clinic over and over again is that when you took carbs out of people’s diet, they didn’t increase their other foods dramatically, unless it was women, as you pointed out, who weren’t eating enough protein to begin with in which case they would start eating more protein up to a point and then it would stop. Once they became sort of protein replete, it would just level off.

I think we first have to tease that apart. There’s metabolic issues, and you don’t have to be obese to have them, that are associated with obesity. But then we have to ask do the metabolic issues cause the obesity, or does obesity cause the metabolic issues? Observational studies don’t tell us that.

I don’t think that we know specifically what causes those metabolic issues. Personally, I don’t think that obesity causes metabolic issues. I think metabolic issues cause obesity. I think I can make that assumption because we see thin people with diabetes. I’m not talking about type 1. We see thin people with type 2 diabetes and not everybody who is obese becomes metabolically dysregulated.

If there’s a cause and effect, one of the things that is true about cause/effect situations is that the cause should equal the effect. Every time you have an obese person, you should have metabolic dysregulation. If you have metabolic dysregualtion, you should have obesity. We don’t have that.

I think first of all we need to focus on the metabolic dysregulation, and I think there’s culprit underneath it all, and there’s a lot of nuance to this that I think we’ve looked too long at lipid factors and we need to look at insulin. This is another situation where it was simply a matter of sort of the fate of technology that we were able to measure cholesterol easily and so we focused on it and it became our biomarker of choice. We’re still not able to measure insulin sort of quickly and easily and therefore it’s frequently ignored. But you can see by the way that I’m presenting this that this is not we found the best biomarker and that’s why we use it. No, we had an accident of technology happen and that’s why we use it.

These sort of coincidences are not us deliberately choosing the best way to think about the human body. I think that insulin has been overlooked and it’s probably part of a larger more complicated picture. I don’t think it’s simply, and nothing is simple when it comes to the human body, but we just have focused on a particular set of biomarkers because we could measure them. But that doesn’t mean they are the most important ones.

Laura: I feel like you’ve been in so many different educational environments related to nutrition, and health, and biochemistry, and epidemiology, and all that. What’s your opinion about the state of nutrition knowledge? I know science in general there’s a lot of things that we feel very confident that are scientific fact. To be fair, most science is still theoretical until disproven essentially. But do you feel like there is much that we actually have factual knowledge about when it comes nutrition? Or do you think most of it is just untested theory that could easily be debunked if you dug into it?

Adele: With regards to diet/chronic disease relationships, I think most of it is theory. I don’t know how much of it will be debunked, but it is theory because that’s the only way we can establish it currently is through a methodology that is really very, very weak, very weak, so weak it’s just not going to hold up under close scrutiny at all.

We are never able to reproduce these observational diet/chronic disease relationships in experimental settings. We just simply haven’t been able to do it. There’s all kinds of excuses for that, but the realty of it is that this may not be something that we can ever prove on a population wide basis.

This brings me back to something that I think is just, it’s been overlooked. I’m interested in how we end up down one path rather than another. I told you the cholesterol versus insulin story and that’s a matter of technology. Back when we were sort of trying to figure out what the best diet to prevent chronic disease was, the initial question was not what’s the best diet to prevent chronic disease? The initial question was do we have enough science, period, to determine whether or not there’s a link between and chronic disease? There’s a question that happens before the which diet is the best diet and that is there even a way to know what diet is linked to chronic disease?

There was a pretty prominent theory at the time, Roger Williams is sort of the mastermind behind this about biochemical individuality, which is that we are all so different from each other along all of these different parameters that the idea of having a…and it sounds ridiculous when I say it…we have one diet for all adults over the age of two that is meant to reduce your risk of every single chronic disease that we know of. Doesn’t that sound just ridiculous? It sounds absurd on the surface. How is it that we could have one diet for all humans that fixes everything? It makes no sense.

When Roger Williams was coming along with his idea of biochemical individuality, on the other hand we had people like Ancel Keys and Yudkin had different theories about these sort of one size fits all diets. Roger Williams was just sort of a quiet..he’s a biochemist. He’s much happier in the lab than arguing in front of a congressional hearing and things like that. He just didn’t push his agenda. But at the same time, his agenda also did not fit into a political agenda which was we are going to fix everything with one diet. His approach required nuance, and it required paying attention to individuals, and it required thinking about these complex systems in complex ways. That is the antithesis of a public health agenda.

It got sort of left by the wayside, but I highly recommend reading his book. It’s written by a biochemist, but it’s actually very, very readable to anyone who’s interested in these matters, especially if you’re a dietitian because like you just said, we don’t have a lot to hang our hats on otherwise. But the theories behind his book I think are extremely valuable. He says the kinds of things that you’re finding in clinic which is that if you’re not replete with the things that your body actually needs, it’s more problematic with regards to consuming foods that you don’t need.

Laura: What’s the name of his book?

Adele: It’s called Biochemical Individuality and his name is Roger Williams.

Laura: Great. We’ll link to that in the show notes so people can check that out if they’re interested.

You’ve obviously been studying this topic for years. I know that from my interactions with you, it seems like your perspective on the Dietary Guidelines, public health, chronic disease, that kind of thing has changed.

Adele: Yeah.

Laura: What have you learned in the last several years of doing this really deep dive research that either surprised you, or was unexpected, or ended up actually changing your personal beliefs?

Adele: I came into this at first thinking that the low fat diet must have had a lot of science behind it and a reduced carbohydrate diet didn’t so that my goal was to go out and create that science. Well, my first lesson in Amanda’s class, my first year in that program was that the low fat diet didn’t have a lot of science behind it. That was my first lesson. Then the next lesson was that there weren’t any real good ways to acquire this information, that really the science was not up to the task that we were sort of putting to it.

Then I was really wondering well then how did this idea of the low fat, low calorie, eat less/move more notion become so embedded in our national consciousness as well as our policy, and healthcare education, and all of that?

What I found that really surprised me is the role of politics in it. By politics I don’t just mean McGovern and the Dietary Goals. I mean the role of women. Women were at the heart of The Nurses’ Health Study which is what a lot of these initial forays into nutritional epidemiology were built on were those studies. They picked the women for The Nurses’ Health Study, the picked this group to follow because they were compliant, because they were educated, and because they were health conscious.

You’re talking about a way that women are socialized to food that became then a part of the scientific process. I thought that was so fascinating. They didn’t pick people who didn’t care about their health, or didn’t care about how they looked, or otherwise just were sort of random eaters. They picked a group of people that they knew were socialized to complying with rules that they were given. To me this is just fascinating.

Dietitians as a 97% female population, dietitians. So we are again socialized as women and as dietitians to follow rules which makes us very different from say doctors who are socialized to think independently. When we get into that area with I’m a dietitian, how do I go against the Dietary Guidelines? Do you think that doctors think that way? If they felt that a different diet was better for their patients, they would just say so. They would have no compunction about going against our national health policy. They would just offer another diet. The socialization of women is really central to how all of this got impacted.

Race is critical to it. The simple fact that we don’t recognize metabolic dysfunction in African American people because we look at them through a lens of how metabolic dysfunction occurs in white people and it doesn’t occur the same way in black people. So we go well you’re not really metabolically dysregulated, you’re just fat.

The example is if you have insulin dysregulation, in white folks there’s a tendency for that to cause low HDL and high triglycerides. In a lot of black people and in some other ethnicities, you don’t see that lipid dysregulation. But those lipid dysregulations are markers for metabolic syndrome. If you don’t have them, they go well you’re not metabolically dysregulated, you’re just a lazy glutton. Then when these same individuals end up with a metabolic disease, diabetes or heart disease later on, they go well it’s because well it’s because of your obesity. It wasn’t because of your insulin or something like that because you didn’t have these other markers.

That’s straight up to do with race because we didn’t study these populations. Now that we’re starting to study these populations and see things differently, we’re still just getting this sort of dug in entrenched notion, umm, well, we don’t really need to look at those things because those populations are not our populations of concern. That’s tragic and pretty horrible that that’s also a reality.

Laura: Yeah, that makes sense. You had mentioned a few ago that dietitians tend to be rule followers and afraid to step away from what the national policies are for nutrition. I know we both, and I should say Kelsey as well, being dietitians we’ve seen that not only in our education but in people who contact us for advice.

There’s a lot of people out there that even though they know different information and they’re exposed to some of this ancestral health kind of stuff, or low carb, or whatever they’re looking at, they’re still afraid to go against these Guidelines because of the potential for repercussions in their career. What is your experience been as a dietitian who is not supportive of the Guidelines as they currently stand? Do you have any advice for listeners who don’t know how to blend their dissension with their career?

Adele: Yeah. In terms of my own experience, it was kind of painful, but I was beating my head against the system. When my PhD program in nutrition epidemiology sort of imploded on me, a lot of that had to do with the questions that I was asking about the Dietary Guidelines. I was taking a direct aim at them.

For RDs in practice, your responsibility is to your clients and your patients. Your responsibility is not to the Dietary Guidelines. Period. Exclamation point. End of story. You don’t have any responsibility to those policy guidelines at all. There’s no requirement that an RD be part of or adhere to AND principles or DGA principles.

In fact if you look at the ethics that the AND puts out, they assert that you should number one personalize the diet to the patient.  You should do that and whatever that means. You use your clinical judgment to do that. The other thing is that you should know the science. Again, you’re using your clinical judgment to apply the science to a particular individual, not a statistical entity. This is a real person in your office that you have to deal with.

The RD ethics also say that we have to acknowledge that there are legitimate differences with regards to interpreting the science. I think that that’s where our clinical judgment comes in, our clinical experience comes in, and also something that I want to point out to everyone that I hope makes them feel better, something called standard of care. Standard of care is defined as providing healthcare in accordance with the standards of practice among the members of the same healthcare profession. This is where we feel as RDs like that’s where we’re going to get in trouble because the standards of care for RDs are like so and we’re practicing differently.

Well, I’m here to tell you by virtue of your podcast and the community that you represent, Ancestral RDs, that’s a standard of care. To compare a dietitian who practices that sort of care to a dietitian who practices vegetarian and vegan nutrition, that’s not the same standard of care. We have a community that has its standards for caring for patients and the vegan and vegetarian RDs have a different community and a different standard of care.

I think that anytime you have clinicians that come together around a particular practice or intervention to treat particular patients, they create. Standard of care is not a guideline, it’s not written down. Standard of care is a practice. I think that we can feel good about knowing that we are part of a community that has standards of care with regards to our patient population that we treat as a community. I think we have to keep that in mind.

I also have to say that the AND is beginning to shift its position. There was a suggestion from the Academy that the DGA not consider saturated fat a nutrient of concern. All of our jaws collectively dropped when we saw that. But if we wanted to reclaim legitimacy for our profession, and I think that’s what that was a move for, is to reclaim that legitimacy and to say we’re not just sort of mindless followers of the DGA, we need to follow the science.

Here’s the other thing that we need to do, okay, read Roger Williams, treat your patients as individuals, and then this is key: collect data. Track, track, track. The AND would love for its RDs out there to do that and then share the information with them. They haven’t made that really easy to do just yet, but if we do it in our community, in the ancestral health RD community and we can show….so despite what you read on the internet, the plural of anecdote is data. It really is because where do you think all this data comes from? All of the data that we collect from the Nurses’ Health Study, from The Women’s Health Initiative, from the Health Professionals Follow Up Study, all of these studies come from individual bodies. That’s an anecdote.

What we need to do is we need to collect and track our interventions with our clients and patients and show how the things that we do with them are leading to health improvements along specific measurable parameters. And we can include things like quality of life, we can include things like hunger and energy levels. It doesn’t have to be the same old fashioned weight and lipid levels.

Laura: I know, people just love the numbers because they’re so much easier to measure and have more statistically analytical type data.

Adele: And those are good and I’m not saying don’t track those. I’m saying in addition to that, because that’s not all there is to our lives. We’re not just nutrition eating machines. We have a social life where we want to go out and eat. We have busy schedules and cooking these fabulous meals all the time isn’t always possible.

What are the ways that we can help people teach them how to eat, teach them how to be adequately nourished in ways that fit into their lifestyle and help them reach the goals that they have for themselves? We need to put this all together in a picture about a person and collect that data, and then track, and track, and track. And then share that with our professional organizations so we can say, look, we’re having success this way.

Because the truth of the matter is when I was working with the Academy up in Washington D.C. and actually spending my days looking up dietitian interventions and how they impacted health, one of the reasons that it was really, really difficult to justify paying registered dietitians for obesity interventions is that we don’t data that supports that this is helpful.

Kelsey: Right.

Adele: If we collect it as ancestral health nutritionists and we show that oh yeah, it is helpful, but not the way the Dietary Guidelines say it’s helpful, then we have a really, really powerful tool.

Laura: Right. It would be so cool to have some kind of app that you could put that data into and even maybe have self-reporting happening with the clients. I feel like when you’re in the trenches as a dietitian doing the work, it’s almost like you have some much that you have to do to make sure that you’re giving correct information to your patients that the idea of then figuring out how to do effective tracking and analysis of it is just so much extra thought. I could imagine that a lot of people wouldn’t be super motivated to do that even though it would be really helpful.

Adele: I have some good news for you.

Laura: Oh good!

Adele: I have some good news for you. There is a team up in Canada right now that are putting together an app that does exactly this.

Laura: Sweet!

Kelsey: Cool!

Adele: On the surface it looks just sort of like your basic fitness app. You plug in your calories in, you plug in your food, you plug in your activity levels, how much water you drank, all the rest of that stuff. The beauty part about this is it’s got two wonderful features. One is that it interfaces with a provider app so that the input that the patient is giving can be shared with the provider automatically. It’s almost like a health record between the patient and provider. That set up can be established.

The guys who are creating this are trying to create it so it is really, really low impact on the provider so that it integrates well with all of the rest of the information that you’re collecting about a patient and things like that. It’s not like some separate thing that you have to do.

The other beautiful part about this is that the guys building this are these data wiz’s. While the patient interface platform sort of doesn’t look like all that, behind that platform is this giant interlocking data system where they can put together all of this information in so many different ways and look at different parameters and track them differently.

One of the things that they’re really interested in doing is sort of grouping people by common features. You know as dietitians that the body of a post-menopausal female is very different from the body of a child bearing age female or a 20 year old active male. These are different bodies. And in fact probably different places in the world, and different socioeconomic levels, and different access to different environments whether food, or activity, or whatever, all of these are ways that we could cluster people and go, what works for these kinds of people in these circumstances?

You could find a way to help people sort of find their similar folks and what ways of eating or interacting with the environment or whatever are working for those people under those circumstances. That way as your body changes, as your circumstance change, you can migrate from group to group and begin to see different dietary patterns that might work at different times and places.

This is the kind of nuance that we need. These guys are working on it and I’m so fascinated with it. This is one of the things that I want to study going forward. Their ultimate goal is to upset the applecart and democratize nutrition so that this information is available to you and to the public in general so that you can begin to make far more nuanced decisions about the people that you see in front of you.

Laura: It’s almost like creating an app that gives you clinical experience in a very short amount of time.

Adele: Yeah, I think that that’s actually that’s a really brilliant way of putting it because it’s using the power of big data to not to make sweeping generalizations, which is how we’ve been using big data. Everybody is average! I mean that’s so not true. But it’s using the power of big data to do the opposite, to say how can I find the most particular nuanced individualized way of looking at you without having you have to do trial and error, trial and error, trial and error sort of indefinitely. Yeah, I think that’s actually a really smart way of thinking about it. It is like a big batch of clinical experience behind the scenes.

Laura: Right, it’s a faster way of not having to work for 20 years and see thousands of people and then decide okay, when I’ve seen someone like you, this is what worked.

Adele: That’s actually really smart.

Laura: Thanks, Adele! We have one last question for you for our interview today because I think a lot of what we talk about when we talk about public health policy, and health guidance, and standard of care, and all that is kind of frustration with how things are and irritation about well this was all this political stuff going on that caused this to happen and now we’re kind of not able to steer the ship in another direction. But I do think that there’s been a lot of changes like you said about saturated fat change with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. We’ve seen some small changes in the overall discussion.

What is your hope for the future of the Dietary Guidelines and public health policy in general? Do you have any ideas about how they might change for the better? Should they be abolished and just start from scratch, or not have any sort of public health policy? Do you have any thoughts about where the future could head?

Adele: I think it has to do with just what we were talking about. I don’t think the Dietary Guidelines are going to go away on their own because that is a giant system that is self-perpetuating. It’s great for nutrition scientists to have them there because they can say, oh look, we fed people this healthy diet and their bodies didn’t do what they were supposed to do so they are lying sacks of nonsense.

It’s really powerful for nutrition scientists because it keeps them in the role of expert. It’s really powerful to the food industry because it allows them to say, look, we made these healthy foods for you! And when you get sick of them, look, we made some unhealthy foods over here and you can be bad and eat these foods! The food industry wins either way. Nutrition scientists and experts win either way. The only people who lose are the public.

I think what’s going to really happen is that we’re going to make them irrelevant. We’re going to start collecting our own data on our own bodies, and this group up in Canada are going to help us put all that data together, and the Dietary Guidelines are simply just not going to be relevant to anybody expect the food industry and nutrition experts. They’re eventually going to figure out, okay, you’ve been saying for years that nobody listens to you, well guess what, nobody really is listening to you. That’s what’s going to change.

Basically if you think about it, the Dietary Guidelines were instituted when computers were mainframe IBMs housed in universities. They were these big giant things that required a room and a dozen people to operate. Now we carry more powerful computers around in our pockets. The world has changed around these Dietary Guidelines. The Dietary Guidelines have not changed. I think that we’re going to continue to see more of that same thing where the world changes around the Dietary Guidelines and they become less and less relevant to any human being who is interested in relationships between diet and health. They’re going to become sort of like, you could still go in downtowns in small town America and see hitching posts for horses for a very long time. They’re going to be like that. They’re going to be an artifact. They’re going to be an antique. They’re going to be something for us to point at and sort of snicker.

Laura: Remember when…?

Adele: Yeah, remember when people thought that was a thing? They may persist for indefinitely because they do serve these other purposes for these other groups, but they’re not going to serve that purpose for individuals. When I am going through the grocery store line or something like that and the cashier is there rolling their eyeballs as someone is buying stuff and going on about how they’re trying to be gluten free, and this free, and that free, and blah, blah, blah, and the poor cashier is just standing there with this blank look on their face. I come through and I’m like, yeah, I know how you feel. They’ll look at me and say the same thing every time, but isn’t everybody’s body a little different? That’s what they say. So people know this. You just have to give them permission to know it. That’s what I think is our job is that we need to give people the permission to know this.

Laura: Nice. I like that. Adele, it’s been awesome. I always enjoy having conversations with you. This is our first recorded one, maybe not the last. If our listeners are interesting in hearing more of what you have to say about nutrition and public health, where can they find you?

Adele: I have a blog or as my kids call it, a blob, called Eathropology. It’s like eat and anthropology together squished together because that’s what I think we’re really looking at. We talk a lot about food, and this food and that food, but we’re really talking about behavior. We’re talking about eating. That’s what I try to pay attention to in my world is thinking about this process of how we go through our lives. We have to eat and eating is central to who we are as humans. What does that mean to us when somebody tells us that there’s one diet to rule them all? How does that interact with our eating bodies?

Laura: Nice. We’ll link to that in the show notes. I know I’ll always be keeping an eye out for when your book comes out. You have to write a book at some point.

Adele: I do, I do.

Laura: You can’t get out of it! We really enjoyed having you on, Adele. Thank you so much for your time. We wish you the best with your dissertation. I hope that goes well.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Adele: Thanks so much. This was so much fun. Thanks for inviting me to do this. I love talking to you. Those were great questions for me to think about and try to work my way around.

Laura: Nice.

Adele: Yeah, let’s stay in touch.

Laura: Take care, Adele. We’ll see everyone here next week.

Adele: Okay, bye.

PODCAST: Naturally Boosting Your Immune System To Prevent Colds And Flu

Thanks for joining us for episode 98 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 answering the following question from a listener:

“I was wondering if you can talk about your recommendations around natural cold care, boosting your immune system, and the best way to support yourself after you’ve been sick? Everyone around me seems to have the flu or a cold and I’ve been trying really hard to keep my immune system up. Any suggestions would be great!”

During cold and flu season it seems there is always someone around us that’s sick. But trying to keep our immune system healthy is no small task in our hectic world and eventually at some point we all find ourselves scrambling to find relief from the symptoms.

Today’s information packed episode is all about natural strategies to prevent colds and flu and and the best ways to recover if you do become sick. Join us as we discuss immunity boosting foods and nutrients, share specific probiotic and supplement recommendations, and remind you of the vital role rest plays in recovering from illness.

Here’s what Laura and Kelsey will be discussing in this episode:

  • How chicken soup and broth can prevent and treat upper respiratory illnesses
  • How the allicin compound found in garlic and onions is effective against viruses and bacteria
  • The three teas that have anti-inflammatory, mucus inhibiting, and antiviral effects
  • Why honey should be included in a cold and flu recovery plan
  • The importance of Vitamin A and zinc to your immune system and which foods are good sources
  • Three specific strains of probiotic bacteria that research has shown useful in preventing illness
  • How prebiotics prevent infections as well as maintain gut health
  • The role of vitamin C in reducing severity of colds
  • The specific type of zinc and recommended product to take to actually treat a cold
  • Supplements helpful for recovering from cold and flu
  • The vital role of rest in recovering from illness

Links Discussed:


Laura: Hi everyone, welcome to episode 98 of The Ancestral RDs podcast. I’m Laura Schoenfeld and with me as always is Kelsey Kinney.

Kelsey: Hi guys!

Laura: We’re Registered Dietitians with a passion for ancestral health, real food nutrition, and sharing evidence-based guidelines that combine science with common sense. You can find me at LauraSchoenfeldRD.com and Kelsey at KelseyKinney.com

Over the next 30 to 45 minutes we’ll be answering your questions about health and nutrition, and share our insights into solving your health challenges with practical tips and real food.

We’ve recently changed the format of the show so that any updates we have to share will happen at the end of the episode. If you do enjoy our updates, be sure to listen through to the end in case we have anything to share with you. Let us know if you like this new format by contacting us through the contact tab on our website, theancestralrds.com.

Kelsey:If you’re enjoying the show, subscribe on iTunes so that you never miss an episode. While you’re in there, leave us a positive review so that others can discover the show as well! And remember, we want to answer your question, so head over to theancestralrds.com to submit a health-related question that we can answer on an upcoming show.

Laura: Today on the show we’re going to be discussing natural cold care.

Before we get into our question for the day, here’s a quick word from our sponsor:

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Laura:Welcome back everyone. Here’s our question for today’s show:

“I was wondering if you can talk about your recommendations around natural cold care, boosting your immune system, and the best way to support yourself after you’ve been sick? Everyone around me seems to have the flu or a cold and I’ve been trying really hard to keep my immune system up. Any suggestions would be great!”

Laura:I feel like everybody has been sick this year. I don’t know what it is. It’s funny because we’ve had such nice weather. I really don’t understand why everyone has had either the flu, either a stomach flu or some kind of upper respiratory thing. You were just sick just very recently. I know I was sick a couple of…I almost want to say it was a week and a half ago or two weeks ago. I’ve been sick a lot this year. I think a lot of that has to do with stress, but for some reason it seems like everybody has been super sick.

I feel like this is a relevant question. Hopefully by the time this episode publishes it’s still relevant to people. But either way it’s something that we hope will help you prepare for next year’s cold season as well.

When we talk about colds, I think it’s important to understand what a cold is because that will affect the way that you actually go about treating it. Colds are typically caused by transient infections at the mucosa of the upper respiratory tract which is usually your nasal passages, your sinuses, maybe it gets into your lungs, but that’s usually going to be something more like bronchitis.

Colds are caused by viruses. Flu which is another type of significant illness that people are getting right now, that’s a specific virus called influenza. Generally when we’re talking about cold and flu, we’re talking about viruses. There could be some type of bacterial infection that people misinterpret as colds, but I don’t think that’s as common as you might think.

Most people that are getting sick if they go to the clinic or doctor’s office they’ll find out that it’s a viral issue and that they can’t do anything really to treat it. That can be a little frustrating when you’re feeling really sick and you want something that will make you get better quickly. But things like antibiotics which is a treatment for bacterial infections won’t help with a flu.

When we’re looking at things to help you get over and prevent colds and flus, we want to try to focus on things that are antiviral specifically, anti-inflammatory as well since most of the symptoms that come during these upper respiratory tract viral infections most of the symptoms that you’re having for that are from the inflammatory response. Even though you want to have some inflammation since that’s how our immune system works, if you modulate it will help cut down on some of the more severe symptoms and help you feel better faster. Antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and then anything that’s specifically promotes mucosal immunity will help with both the recovery from colds and flus and prevention.

Kelsey do you think it was a cold that you are just recently getting over?

Kelsey:Yeah, for sure. You guys might be able to hear it a little bit in my voice and certainly in my sinuses. I’m still a little bit stuffed up. Just like you in the last probably six months I’ve been sick quite often which is really, really unusual for me actually. I used to be one of those people that I just never got colds at all really. For some reason this past year my body has decided to turn on me and now I get every cold that I come in contact with.

Yeah, I think it was a cold, certainty not a flu. But my husband at the beginning of the year got some stomach virus and I was so happy to not have gotten that because it did not look fun. But this time around it was a cold and I did some things actually which we’ll talk about a little bit later that I feel like cut down a little bit on the severity and the amount of time that I was stuck sitting around with symptoms.

The last few times I’ve had a cold like this, and actually it’s been pretty much the exact same type of cold the last couple times I’ve gotten sick, I was kind of laid out at least feeling some type of symptom from it for maybe a week and a half, which is I feel like a long time for a cold.

Laura:I’m going to blame our weddings for why we’re getting sick this year.

Kelsey:Yeah, seriously.

Laura:I don’t think it’s an age thing since you’re younger than me. I think that’s the really only common factor that we have is that we’re both stressed about planning a wedding. You’re not anymore, so now you have no excuse.

Kelsey:I’ve got a program I’m building. That’s what I’m blaming this time around, for sure. I’ve been working way, way too much.

Laura:Yeah and the joys of self-employment is nobody telling you to stop when you’re not feeling well.


Laura:Let’s start by talking about what kind of foods you can focus on for boosting your immune system. Again we’re looking at treating colds and flu when they’re happening as well as preventing these things from occurring. Either if you are around someone that’s sick, if your significant other, spouse, roommate, anyone who’s around you is sick and you’re trying to prevent getting what they have, or if you start to feel something coming on and you want to kick it really fast without getting the symptoms, all of these foods are appropriate for that.

The first thing I feel like everyone always thinks of when we think of food that is immune boosting is chicken soup, or chicken broth, or broth in general. Broth has been a remedy for infections for hundreds if not thousands of years. There’s a lot very ancient writings about broth as being a treatment for illnesses.

It’s something that I think has this kind of folklore type atmosphere around it when people think of chicken soup, they’re like that’s just an old wives’ tale that that actually is what you should do for a cold. But it’s cool because there’s actually a lot of research that exists that supports the use of chicken soup and chicken broth specifically for preventing and treating upper respiratory infections.

Chicken soup, there’s a couple of research studies that we’ll link to in the show notes, but there’s two things that it seems to help with more so than just the nutrients found in chicken or the vegetables in the soup. They’ve actually tried to separate the different ingredients to see if it’s specific ingredients or it’s the soup itself, and it does turn out to be that the soup itself has some special extra benefit.

Basically chicken soup reduces upper respiratory inflammation by inhibiting neutrophil migration in the mucosa. Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell that attack infections and when they get overly migrated into the mucosa, that’s when you get a lot of those symptoms of congestion, and pain, and inflammation, and all of that. That’s one thing that chicken soup helps with.

It also appears to increase something called mucus velocity which actually helps clear out congestion and stuffiness. If you think about when you’re stuffed up and you’re not really producing mucus that’s being cleared, you’re just kind of super congested and not able to really get rid of it, a lot of times you think about taking nasal decongestants or different medications that are mucus thinners, like I think Mucinex is a mucus thinner. Chicken broth actually has a similar effect where it will thin out and help get rid of that congestion. When they actually compared chicken broth to other hot beverages, which drinking hot beverages actually does help with that somewhat, but the chicken broth seemed to actually increase the mucus velocity even more.

Hot chicken broth and chicken soup would probably be one of the best things to eat when you’re getting sick. I’d say generally making that yourself is better than getting a store bought can or box of chicken broth. A lot of those chicken broths that are sold on the self are not really the same thing as a homemade bone broth from chicken carcasses.

The one product I think that could actually be a good substitute for if you can’t make it yourself or if you’re sick and you don’t feel like making bone broth is Kettle and Fire the company that we had sponsor our show a couple months ago. They actually have a chicken broth that they have just come out with. I haven’t tried it yet, I have a box that’s going to be delivered. But I’ve heard that it’s actually very similar if not even better sometimes than homemade chicken broth. If you are getting sick or if you want to have some chicken broth on hand because their product is shelf stable, you can get that and have it available just in case you do start to get sick and that way you don’t have to run out and get chicken carcasses to make chicken broth.

Kelsey:Right. That’s the last thing I want to do when I’m sick. I’m thinking about it.

Laura:I barely like making broth when I’m well let alone being sick.

Kelsey:Yeah, right? I tend to get ramen from a local place which I think has two benefits. One is that I think it’s the real deal kind of broth because when I put it in the fridge it gelatinizes and it totally looks like it when you make it at home. I don’t think it’s chicken broth. I assume it’s a pork broth just because there’s pork in it as well, but I’m not entirely sure. And then it’s also kind of spicy, which I think for a lot of people helps to clear out a lot of that congestion and mucus. I find that combination to be especially helpful.

Laura:I think the spiciness is definitely something that helps with congestion. I’m not sure if it has any sort of immune boosting properties.And it also just tastes good. I remember I was sick a couple months ago and I was having Pho from a Vietnamese place. I might have not said that right, but I really tried.

Kelsey:You did, I think you did.

Laura:Oh is it? Okay. But I just remember eating a ton of it and ordering more from the restaurant because I was like this is literally the only thing I can taste right now because I’m so congested.


Laura:If nothing else, it makes it actually have a flavor when you’re super stuffy. But I do think chicken broth is one of those things that it is, even though it’s kind of old wives’ tale type wisdom, it actually does show benefit in the research. I like to recommend that as a food, or a beverage, or kind of both. You can drink chicken broth on its own or you can make the soup as a meal and it’s a little bit easier to eat than maybe if you’re not feeling up to chewing a lot of stuff.


Laura:The soup kind of makes everything a little softer.

Something else to add to your soup or your broth would be garlic and onions. Garlic and onions contain a…I guess it’s a compound. I don’t know if it’s a fat or what kind of thing it is. It’s an antimicrobial called allicin. Not like the name Allison, but the compound allicin. It’s in garlic and onions and there’s a lot of research that shows that it has an ability to slow and also kill a variety of viruses and bacteria.

Those research studies are done in vitro. In vitro just means basically in a test tube. But there is some evidence that it could actually show efficacy in vivo, which means in people or animals, just in life basically.

The clinical trial in vivo that I saw was using a high dose of extracted allicin which is about 20 times the amount in a single garlic clove. That was helpful to prevent colds. That’s not something you’re going to be able to really do with just fresh garlic. But I would say a combination of using some fresh garlic and onion chopped up or crushed in your soup would be a good thing to get some natural allicin.

And then if you really want to pump up the potency you can actually get allicin as a supplement and use that to get that really high dose that you’d be getting from the 20 times the amount of a single clove. Unless you’re the kind of person that can tolerate 20 cloves of garlic, which I don’t think most people can, you’d really want to use a supplement for that.

Kelsey:Do you know off the top of your head, because I don’t actually, if allicin is only in raw when you chop it up or crush it? I’m wondering what the effect of putting in a hot soup would have on that compound. I just don’t know.

Laura:I’m not totally sure about the heat sensitivity of allicin. I know that from a fresh garlic or onion bulb, you need to crush or slice it because the allicin is formed by the enzyme that’s released when the plant cells get crushed.

As far as fresh garlic is concerned, I know some people suggest swallowing whole cloves of garlic, which whether or not that’s a good idea, I think depends a lot of different things. But if you do that, you would want to crush the garlic first and leave it out a little bit so that enzyme can have some time to work and to create the allicin.

It’s the enzyme itself has some sensitivity to heat that I’m seeing. That’s why you want to wait a little bit before you put the crushed garlic into the soup. I wouldn’t do it right away, like crush it and throw it in the soup. I would crush it and leave it out for a little bit before you put it in.

Whether or not the allicin itself is heat sensitive, some people are saying it is, some people are saying it’s not. Maybe if you want to have the most efficacy, you don’t boil the allicin and just put it in to some warm chicken broth. The main thing that I’m seeing is just trying to avoid heating either uncrushed cloves or crushing it and then throwing it in super hot soup right away.

Kelsey:Got it, yeah. Even if you are cooking it and let’s say it destroys all the allicin, I think there’s still a lot to be said about garlic and onions outside of that one compound that is still very helpful to your immune system and inflammation markers. Even if you’re getting rid of all that allicin, there’s a lot of other great things about garlic and onions. But I was just curious about that because a lot of those kind of beneficial compounds either can be activated by heat or destroyed by heat so it’s good to know that.

Laura:Right. Like I said, it’s a little confusing because I think most people are just talking about the heat sensitivity of the enzyme that triggers the conversion.


Laura:There’s an enzyme that called alliinase which converts something called alliin into allicin in the chopped or crushed garlic and that’s the enzyme that you need to give some time to have an effect.

Honestly if somebody is really super sick, I would say taking the allicin supplement might be worth doing because of its potency. But again, putting it into your soup or the broth that you’re making is always a good extra to do, as long as you’re not garlic or onion sensitive. Or if you’re super FODMAP sensitive, you might not want to do that. But otherwise, it should be something that’s helpful.


Laura:We had mentioned hot beverages in general being helpful so you can imagine that lots of different types of teas would be useful. There are some antioxidants in black and green tea that could be helpful. However, the teas that I’m going to focus on are the ones that kind of have more of that combination anti-inflammatory, mucus inhibiting, and kind of antiviral effect.

The three that I would say to try out would be fresh ginger tea. Ginger root has anti-inflammatory compounds in it that help with relieving inflammation. If you have a sore throat or just overall inflammation, it should be helpful. It does inhibit mucus production so if you’re super congested, taking some fresh ginger tea would be helpful. Fresh ginger also has antiviral activity as demonstrated by research. Unfortunately this research found that powdered or dried ginger didn’t have that same activity so that’s why I’m mentioning fresh ginger tea as being the necessity.

There’s lots of tea bags out there that have ginger in them, which there’s nothing wrong with that, I just don’t know if it would be as effective as if you got some fresh root ginger and boiled it in water. You can also shred it up to make it even more potent and then put that into some hot water and make a fresh tea out of it. You probably want to strain it since it does tend to be kind of hairy if you use the shredded root itself. But that would be something that has that antiviral, mucus inhibiting, and anti-inflammatory benefit.

Peppermint is another tea type that would be helpful. Menthol is one of the compounds in peppermint that actually thins mucus and works as a mucus expectorant so it loosens up phlegm and it breaks up your cough. It also is soothing and calming for a sore throat and for dry coughs as well. That’s maybe not going to have the same level antiviral activity as ginger, but peppermint is another good one for just that upper respiratory type symptoms.

Then the third one which is a little bit unusual, I don’t want to say unusual as in it’s hard to find, it’s just ne that maybe isn’t talked about as much, but licorice actually has a lot of antiviral and anti-inflammatory benefit. I think it could have some direct anti-inflammatory benefits and then it helps covert cortisone into cortisol, and cortisol is an anti-inflammatory. It could have a twofold benefit there. But it actually does act directly on viruses as an antiviral as well as boosting the immune system by activating T-lymphocyte proliferation which is another type of white blood cell. It suppresses post cell apoptosis which is basically programmed cell death. It would make more T lymphocyte cells and then also prevent those ones from dying as they’re trying to fight off the virus.

Licorice is one of those ones that there is a word of caution if you have high blood pressure or any sort of HPA dysregulation, be care with it. I don’t think a little licorice tea is going to send anyone into a hypertensive crisis or anything like that, but they do sell licorice extracts that are promoted as antiviral or kind of immune boosters that you would want to be careful with if you have any reason to suspect high cortisol levels or like I said high blood pressure. It can make your blood pressure go up again.

Kelsey:Yeah, I think you’re definitely better off going for the tea version of this versus a major supplement that got probably a lot more licorice or it’s highly concentrated in some way. You can buy licorice root just on its own. I’ve bought licorice just off amazon before and it’s kind of like crushed up and I’ve put that in a tea bag or one of those tea balls that has the strainer. That works really, really well.

I think like Yogi Tea makes a licorice tea. There’s definitely tea companies out there that include at least some licorice in their tea. It may not be the only ingredient in it but it’s a good base. Actually some people might think of licorice as the black licorice flavor which is really I think it’s anise seed is what you’re tasting when you think about black licorice. But licorice root itself it a pretty tasting herb. It’s actually sweet so it’s sometimes used just as a sweetener in a lot of different herbal teas. I think that’s why it’s often included in those kind of tea combinations.

But like I said, you can use one of those tea combinations with licorice or you can just buy licorice root on its own. If you’re thinking eww, I don’t want to drink licorice tea because I hate black licorice, you should give it try because it’s actually quite a delicious tea I have to say.

Laura:It’s got kind of like a sweet flavor. Certainly if you hate licorice in general, you might not like it, but it’s not the same flavor. You might find that it’s better or more enjoyable. I personally love licorice. I was the weird kid that really liked “Good & Plenty” when I was growing up.


Laura:Yeah, I don’t know, I’m weird.

Another thing to think about adding to your tea is honey. Honey in general, but there’s a specific type of honey that’s even more beneficial called Manuka Honey. All honeys have been shown to demonstrate inhibitory activity against the influenza virus, so the flu causing virus. Basically they combine honey with the flu virus and they actually see that it’s deactivated by honey.

I know there’s a lot of question about honey because it’s a sugar and there’s a lot of anti-sugar type beliefs out there, but honey actually would be something really good to include in a cold or flu recovery plan. It also can be an effective cough suppressant. They’ve done studies in children to see how it works and it not only helps suppress the cough but it also helps them sleep better.

Just a caveat, I’m pretty sure children under the age of one are not supposed to have honey. I may have to double check that. It may be either one or two. I’m positive at least under the age of one should not be given honey. But older children and adults can benefit from using honey.

Actually our sponsor today, Maty’s Healthy Products has an all-natural cough syrup made primarily with buckwheat honey and other immune supportive ingredients. You can either use these type of honey based cough suppressant or anti-cough products. Or if you just want to put honey into your hot tea, that’s a great way to get it in. You can just take spoonfuls of honey. I know that might sound weird to some people, but it is a great way to just get the honey directly without getting any heat damage to it.

If you do use especially raw honey, don’t put it into the boiling water. Let the tea cool down somewhat before you add it because some of those beneficial properties of raw honey will get destroyed by heat. But again, if you want you can just take the raw honey by the spoonful. I know they sell Manuka honey to be taken that way, which it’s a very expensive honey, but you’re not supposed to use it as a sweetener. It’s really meant to be more of a medicinal type product.

Kelsey:Mm hmm.

Laura:As far as just some other foods to throw in there, I know that this is probably the last thing people want to eat when they’re sick, but liver is really something that could at least be good to eat to prevent getting sick if not good when you’re sick to eat to get some extra vitamin A as well as other nutrients.

The reason that vitamin A is so important is because it’s actually required for both innate and adaptive immunity. It enhances the immune system and allows it to have an appropriate antibody response to infectious agents. It also helps maintain and restore the integrity and function of all mucosal surfaces. That includes your gut barrier, that includes the lining of the lungs, anything that you would consider a mucosal lining is going to be benefitted by getting enough Vitamin A.

If you’re able to eat liver when you’re sick, it’s great to help enhance the immune function. Otherwise we can talk in a minute about some supplement options, but I would say liver is one of this things that eating regularly should help with your immune function in general.

Then other foods might beef and shellfish. Those are very high in zinc and zinc is important for a variety of different factor and immune function so it can affect the barrier function of those mucosal linings again. Vitamin A and zinc really work together there. Then it also regulates the genes in the lymphocytes to help them replicate and function optimally.

There’s a lot of research out there that shows that zinc deficiency actually increases susceptibility to lots of different pathogens including viruses. If you don’t get enough zinc you’re going to be much more prone to those illnesses. That’s mainly because zinc is required for normal development and function of the cells that mediate that immunity such as the neutrophils and natural killer cells, different white blood cells that actually impact your recovery from those illnesses. You might get a little bit stronger of symptoms because of those being more effective, but you’ll get over it a lot faster.

Another food to consider adding would be mushrooms. There’s been antimicrobial and antiviral effects discovered for both whole mushrooms that you would eat and also the isolated compounds that have been extracted from mushrooms. Mushrooms are able to stimulate the immune response against the viral invasion.

Basically eating mushrooms or using mushroom extracts would be a great idea to do when you’re sick or if you’re trying to prevent getting sick. A lot of times it’s these more exotic type of mushrooms that have the most benefit, things like cordyceps, shitake, reishi, enoki, maitake, those ones that are little bit more bizarre than button mushrooms or something. Those would be ones that would be more beneficial. You can find in extracts supplemental form as well.

Kelsey:Cool. I think this is probably a good time to talk about the microbiome a little bit because we can eat probiotics in fermented foods. I think that’s a really important thing to do especially from a preventative perspective. We can also think about probiotics and prebiotics in supplemental form too. This will be a good segue into our supplement section as well.

To speak about the food side of it a little bit first, obviously we are big promoters of fermented foods in general and doing anything to promote good gut health because a healthy microbiome is going to help your immune system work better. That means that you really should be doing things on a regular basis that help to promote a diverse microbiome.

We’ve seen that a diverse microbiome leads to essentially less risk of all types of diseases and I would argue that any type of an infection would fall into that category as well. You definitely want to make sure that you have a diverse microbiome, that you don’t have a lot of pathogens hanging around, that you’re gut lining is tight and that it’s not becoming leaky all of the time because you have an unhealthy microbiome. Anything that you can do to take care of your gut on a regular basis is going to be a big help in preventing an infection.

Along those lines, fermented foods definitely fit in there. I would say that foods that contain prebiotics, so high FODMAP foods if you tolerate them, would also be a good addition. I’m going to talk a little bit about some specific strains that can be very, very useful. But just know that in general as well any type of prebiotic or probiotic is going to help rather than hurt the situation whether you actively have a cold or flu or just during cold or flu season you want to try to prevent it as much as possible.

A couple strains of bacteria that we can talk about here, I think I have three that I want to discuss. A quick note before I jump into them is that these are very specific strains so this is not something you can apply and just say I’m going to just take this random probiotic that I already have or that I’m just going to buy at CVS or whatever. It’s not going to be the same effect, or at least we don’t know that it would be the same effect. It’s possible that it could, but these are very specific strains that have been studied for this purpose and so we don’t know if strains outside of this are going to have the same effect.

I know we talked about this a really long time ago. In fact I think it may have been back in the “Ask The RDs” days. But when you’re talking about probiotics in general and you want to see what the specific strain is, like if you’re looking on the back of a probiotic bottle and you want to see what the strains it contains are, you want to look for something that has three different names and/or numbers. For example, one of the strains that we’re going to talk about today is called Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG. That’s got three separate sections there. The lactobacillus is one, rhamnosus is two, and then GG is the third.

A lot of probiotics will only tell you the first two and it means it can be any other strain of this type of bacteria. Again, it’s not going to necessarily give you the same effects that are seen in some of the studies that I’m going to talk about. Just make sure if you’re looking for a specific probiotic that you actually find exactly the strain that we’re going to talk about.

I will recommend the products that I know of that have these strains, but a lot of times it’s a particular company that makes a specific strain and then people that make a supplement can buy that strain to use in their product. It’s not like only one supplement company can use that strain. Typically more than one company can use it if they want to purchase it for use in their product. It’s possible it’s in other products, but I’m going to recommend at least one that has each of these strains.

For Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, that strain has been shown to reduce the number of infections in children in daycare. That ended up meaning that these kids had fewer antibiotic treatments, which is great of course, which is interesting too because this may have been done a little bit of time ago. I can’t remember what year the study was done in, but certainly our ideas about antibiotic treatment of viruses in the first place have changed. A lot of times years ago doctors would just give antibiotics for pretty much anything including the common cold. Now I think we’re starting to realize that that’s not a great idea.

But regardless, when this was done fewer antibiotic treatments were given to these kids because they weren’t getting sick as much. It also showed that there was 34% reduced risk of respiratory infections in children and a 43% reduced risk of infections lasting longer than three days, which is pretty cool. 43% reduced risk of infection lasting longer than three days is pretty awesome. I certainly would sign up for that if I knew I could have a cold that lasted less than three days.

This was done in kids obviously. There’s actually a couple different studies that I’m getting these numbers from. But they were all done in kids. A lot of this stuff that you’ll see if you’re looking into the research on the common cold is done in kids just because they tend to get it more than adults do because they’re surrounding by germs all day. But I think this applies to adults as well and I would certainly recommend that if you want to prevent getting sick that the Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG strain is a good choice.

That particular strain is found in a lot of the Culturelle products. Those you can buy in pretty much any drug store at least I see them in pretty much every drug store. I typically just buy, I think it’s just called Culturelle, it’s nothing specific. That one definitely has it, but I think they make a kid version. They have a couple other versions. But whichever one you buy, just make sure you look on the back and see that it contains the Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG strain.

I like that product for a lot of other reasons too. It’s a really good strain. It’s also quite effective for antibiotic associated diarrhea as well. It’s got a few different great uses, but one of them apparently is to prevent the common cold. Definitely you could use that.

Another strain is Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM which reduced fever incidence by 53% and coughing incidence by 41%. Again, this was in children, and it reduced the use of antibiotics by 68%. Again, really good results here done on children but I still think it is applicable to adults certainly. I don’t see any reason why it could hurt to take a bacterial strain that has been shown to have these great results on kids. That one is found in Garden of Life RAW Probiotics Colon Care. Again actually another strain that I like a lot and that I use for a lot of my patients. I think that one again works really well for antibiotic associated diarrhea too.

It seems to be that these kind of I would say general strain probiotics meaning that they tend to work well for a lot of different conditions also seem to be effective against the common cold. This is more, as you can tell, it’s more from a preventative perspective that these would be useful. I’m not sure if taking these during an active cold would do a lot at least from the research I’ve seen. I don’t know that that would be the case. Again I say I don’t think it could really hurt to take it, but I think with the research that we have right now on these strains, they’re definitely looking at it from a preventative perspective.

The last one I’ll talk about here is Lactobacillus fermentum VRI-003. Aren’t these names fun? That one was shown to reduce the number of days of respiratory illness symptoms in endurance athletes. These were adults, which is good to see. And it also reduced the severity of symptoms compared to a placebo.

Again I’d say this is a little bit more focused on prevention, but it also seemed to show that if you’re taking it consistently and you do end up getting sick that your symptoms won’t be as severe as somebody who isn’t taking it. This would be one that I would probably say at least you’d have maybe a bit of better luck if you’re taking it as you get sick to reduce the symptoms, but we don’t know of course based on this research if you would have had to been taking it for months at that point to get any benefit of reduction of symptoms or severity of symptoms, or if you could just start taking it as soon as you get sick and it would help reduce symptoms. But again, can’t hurt certainly.

That one is found in a product called Pharmanex ProBio PCC. We can link to all of these as well. I would say the Culturelle product is certainly the most widely available product. The other two you don’t see them in any drug store. Laura, do you see Culturelle in every drug store where you are?



Laura:I’d say that’s probably one of the ones that’s almost always available.


Laura:Garden of Life is fairly popular I think at least at Whole Foods and different types of health food stores.

Kelsey:Yeah, definitely.

Laura:But yeah, Culturelle is all over the place.

Kelsey:Worst case scenario, if you actively are sick, you just got sick, you have a drug store around the corner, I would say it can’t hurt to go and grab a box of that and start taking it. But I would say it’s probably more useful if you can either just take something like this all the time, or at least eat fermented foods all the time and maybe ramp this up during cold and flu season. Maybe add on one or two of these additional specific strains that have shown to be helpful during the time where you have an increased risk of getting cold or flu.

Prebiotics are also really useful in preventing infections. Of course they’re awesome for your gut bacteria and for gut health in general. It’s one of those things that if you can tolerate FODMAPs like I was talking about before, it’s great to include some of those high FODMAP veggies because they’re chock full of prebiotics which are great for your gut.

Again, if you can tolerate them, then it could be something that you ramp up during cold and flu season. Maybe you start taking a supplement during cold and flu season that you don’t normally. That can be something like a FOS power, GOS powder, maybe something like Sunfiber, any of these prebiotics that are out there. Personally I really like FOS just because it tastes the best. I find that most people will take it most consistently. GOS tends to be a little bit more easier digest for people that have FODMAP issues, but it’s not entirely without problems. It just tends to be the one that’s better tolerated between FOS and GOS, but both are great.

If you are like me and you know that if something tastes bad and you have to take it as a powder, I would recommend going for FOS. It tastes like cotton candy, which I’m sure I’ve mentioned before. It’s a really great, easy supplement to take. You can get it in capsules. You can get either of these in capsules, but it ends up being a lot more expensive to take it in encapsulated form than it is to take it as a powder form. If you can tolerate the FOS and you like the flavor, I would say go for that. But otherwise, if you’re worried about some kind of digestive issues with taking prebiotics, you might want to start with the GOS and just see how it tastes. It’s not terrible, but it’s not great either. See how you like it. If you absolutely hate it, you could do the encapsulated form as an alternative.

These are mostly studied in kids again and they’re very, very useful for preventing infection. I don’t see any reason why that wouldn’t apply adults as well. We’ve certainly seen the benefits of prebiotics outside of infection prevention in adults as well as children. I don’t see any reason why the common cold prevention would be any different here.

Again for both of these things, for probiotic and prebiotics, there’s certainly things that you could take year round. I consider them to be just maintenance supplements in some form whether that’s an actual supplement form or whether it’s a supplement to your diet like fermented foods or high FODMAP vegetables where you’re really making a conscious effort to include those things on a regular basis. But in some way, they should be a part of your everyday diet and then you can just ramp them up when cold and flu season comes around if you tend to be somebody who gets a lot of these things.

Laura:Cool. That’s all you need to know about probiotics and prebiotics for cold prevention, right?


Laura:We were just talking about supplements in general, I think one thing that came up in what you just shared and then in general what comes up is the difference between something that’s helpful for preventing colds and flu versus treating it, and then also versus reducing the severity. Because I think there’s like three different functions of a lot of these supplements and sometimes people think that because that’s helpful to prevent cold and flu it must help with healing from cold and flu. It doesn’t necessarily work that way.

Kelsey:Mm hmm.

Laura:Some of the more popular supplements that are discussed with cold and flu care would be things like vitamin C. Vitamin C is something that does not actually reduce the frequency of colds so taking it on a regular basis isn’t necessarily going to stop you from getting sick. But there is some evidence that can actually reduce the severity and duration of a cold. It would be worth taking when you’re getting sick or if you just want to take it around cold and flu season. It’s not going to kill you to take a little bit extra, but it’s not necessarily going to be some amazing cold preventative technique.

Zinc is another nutrient that has two different functions. It does depend on the type of zinc for what function it’s going to have. Zinc in general helps prevent illness and boots your immune function and just generally supports good immunity, but it’s not actually going to treat a cold unless you get the right type of zinc.

I’m going to link in the show notes to Chris Masterjohn’s podcast on this topic. He has a whole episode on zinc for colds and basically explaining what you need to look for in a zinc product for it to actually do anything against an active cold virus. I’m going to kind of summarize what he says and the recommendations, but there’s a lot of information in there about why he chose this particular product. For example, he said that it has to be a lozenge and it can’t be one that you swallow because it has to be dissolved in your mouth. Also the specific type of zinc need to be either zinc gluconate or zinc acetate with zinc acetate being twice as effective as gluconate.

Ultimately with all the different factors that Chris did research on and to determine what the most appropriate type is, he discovered that the only product that actually fits all these criteria is something by Life Extension called Enhanced Zinc Lozenges. That’s something that we can link to in the show notes if people want to check that out. They also sell it on Fullscript which is the dispensary company that Kelsey and I use for our patients. If you’re a patient of ours listening to this and you want to order that, it is available on Fullscript.

You would want to be taking it every two hours while you’re either fighting an active cold that you think you’re getting, or if you’re full blown sick it can actually help you get better. The thing about this is you really need to order it before you get sick because by the time you get it in the mail if you’re ordering it now if you are already sick, you’ll probably be mostly over it anyway. It really needs to be while the virus is active and you’re either in the beginning stages of getting sick or you had just gotten sick. That product would be a lozenge that you let dissolve in your mouth and do that every two hours while fighting off an active cold.

Other types of zinc are fine to take other times or just in general to promote good immune function, but it’s not going to treat a cold the way that the zinc acetate lozenge will.

Kelsey:Yeah, I was kicking myself for not ordering that lozenge earlier. I ended up getting something just from the drug store which I do think helped. Certainty I would say the length of my cold is definitely shorter this time around that it has in the past and that’s one of the main differences that I did was take that every few hours which is what they recommend. It is a lozenge, it does dissolve in the mouth. I don’t think the type is perfect, but I tried to get something that sounded sort of like it was acetate related. I don’t know if it actually is, but it sounded like it was. I just decided why not? It can’t hurt. I do think it helped at least a little bit.

Laura:There’s nothing wrong with taking zinc if you have it, but I would say if you’re preparing for a cold season, having this Life Extension product would probably be a good thing to have available when you think you’re getting sick.

Kelsey:For sure.

Laura:That way you’re not scrambling to fix it later.

Then Vitamin A and D are two that would definitely good to take both around cold season and then also when you’re sick. The vitamin A as I described before is really important for mucosal immunity.

Vitamin D is one of those that I don’t know if it helps in the short term. I heard a lot of people recommend taking high doses when you’re actually sick. I honestly don’t know if there’s any research to support that. I didn’t see anything. The only research I really saw was that deficiency could increase susceptibility to infection. If you have low vitamin D levels, yeah that’s going to make you more likely to get sick. But if you already have good vitamin D levels, I don’t know if taking a lot extra is really going to impact getting healthy faster. Questionable whether that would help.  I do think getting the extra vitamin A both in cold season and when you’re actually sick would be super healthful.

There’s a lot of other products that I’ve use with clients and even in myself with cold recovery. We were mentioning mushrooms before. They sell some mushroom extracts, specifically a company called Host Defense. I really like their products. They have a product called Mycommunity. That is some mushroom extracts specifically for immune boosting.

Then there’s some other herbs like Elderberry. I guess Elderberry isn’t quite an herb, it’s more of a fruit. But elderberry liquid, Astragalus root is an herb, Echinacea is an herb. That can all potentially help the immune system. I think the evidence for these are a little bit weaker than some of the stuff we just talked about, but again probably not going to do you any harm to take some elderberry or Echinacea during a cold.

I’d say Astragalus and Echinacea being herbs, anytime you’re playing around with herbs you do want to run that by your doctor in case you’re on any medication or if you have any conditions that might get exacerbated by it. Any of these recommendations really should be taken with caution from someone who has an autoimmune disease because some of these things boost immunity and if you’re dealing with an autoimmune condition you want to be careful about over boosting it. Most of the food recommendations are really going to be pretty applicable to most people.

Kelsey:I think before we wrap up that we would be leaving out a big piece of this puzzle if we didn’t a little bit about resting and making time to rest when you’re sick. This is something that I think everybody struggles with.

I was watching some show on Hulu the other day. Of course they make you watch commercials even though you’re paying for the service. But anyway, there was some commercial for a cold remedy of some sort. I can’t even remember what it was, but basically it was encouraging you to just go through your life as normal and just take this medication so that you could do so even when you’re dying of all these horrible cold symptoms and you feel like you just need to lay in bed. I was like wow! I get it from a commercial perspective and certainty that is appealing to be able to go through your day even when you’re sick, but man, is that the wrong approach.

I think it’s really important to remember that if you’re sick, you really, really need to rest. This is something that’s hard for me too. I’m sure you guys know I’ve been working really, really hard on my gut health program lately and I’ve been working too much on it obviously because I got sick. I do really blame it on working too much and just kind of it being a huge part of my life right now. My husband had to tell me, Kelsey, you really need to just take a day off and not even think about your program and just watch TV and….(throat clear) Excuse me. Now I can’t talk, I’m talking too much today.

Laura:Not record podcasts.

Kelsey:Yeah, not record podcasts, right, exactly. I pushed back a little bit at first because I was like I have so much to do. I can’t just take a day off and not do anything. I really want to get this out and I have so much to do to do that. Of course he’s like no, I’m taking your computer away, you can’t do this. I relented.


Kelsey:Yeah, exactly. I just laid on the bed all day and watched TV, slept. I do think that’s the other piece of this that really shortened the duration of me feeling really terrible. I felt bad that day and I felt pretty bad the next day, but it was really those two days of feeling pretty sick and then the next day I really felt like I had a good amount of my energy back. I’m still stuffed up and stuff, but I feel okay. That’s a really good sign to me that I’m at least on the right path here.

I think as much as possible you need to rest. I know that’s hard if you’ve got work to do, you’ve got a job, you’ve got kids to take care of, whatever. All of that of course makes it difficult. I do think that you need to delegate anything that you can whether that’s in your work or whether that’s in your home life. If your husband, or your wife, or roommate, or whoever can take over some of the daily chores to make your life a little bit easier, anything that you can do to just leave as much time as possible open to you just relaxing and laying on the couch, laying on the bed, watching TV, reading, sleeping, just doing nothing that is stressful, even if it’s just for one day, I think can make a huge difference.

Laura:Unfortunately it seems like a lot of people just, there’s so many things going on in life that prevent them from being able to rest and I think that’s what that commercial was trying to hit at like you’re a mom, you don’t take a sick day as a mom, obviously you need to just keep working through it.

Even though I’m sure that’s true in certain circumstances that you literally cannot rest for whatever reason, but anytime that’s an option I think a lot of people tend to just not…it’s almost like they don’t take the option even though it’s there. They don’t ask for help, they don’t take a day off from work.

Kelsey:They don’t think it’s an option. I was like I have so much to do, I don’t have an option to just take a day off. But then when I really sat down and thought about it I was like okay, I can give some of these tasks to somebody else and it’s not going to be the end of the world if I do this tomorrow or something. I think a lot of times it’s that mental barrier of thinking that it’s impossible to take time off too.

Laura:Yeah. It’s funny, I know my fiancé gets unlimited…well unlimited I guess is a strong word, but there’s no limits to sick days. There’s not a certain number that he gets that after that he’s not allowed to take a sick day. But I think he’s taken like one and a half sick days this year and this is the first year he’s ever taken a sick day as a teacher in the last 10 years that he’s worked as one.


Laura:It’s funny, I’m like you’re really sick, you need to stay home. He’s like, I can handle it. I’m like, no! First of all, you shouldn’t be around kids when you’re sick.


Laura:This is why people get sick because nobody will stay home. It’s like you don’t have to go to work because you can take a day off to recover.

It’s just funny because I do similar stuff. I’ll still work with clients even if I’m sick, and luckily with the virtual setup it doesn’t really affect them very much. But there are some times that I’m like man, I really probably shouldn’t take clients today because I’m just my brain isn’t even functioning optimally. There have been a couple days this year that I did reschedule people just because I was like okay, first of all I need to sleep, and rest, and recover. Then also it’s not really fair to them that I’m not working at my best for them.


Laura:It can be tough to take the time, but I feel like if you don’t take the time when you can, then the recovery is just going to take so much longer and then you’re ending up being less productive the next few days. I almost feel like it’s almost like six in one hand, half a dozen in the other.

But that’s a personal decision. People obviously need to have support structures. If you live with a significant other and they’re able to take up some of the slack for you and let you rest, that’s always helpful. I think ultimately if that is available to you, you definitely want to ask for it and not be a martyr and try to say I can handle it, they don’t need to help me. Because I think in any good relationship they’re going to want to help you and want to take care of you when you’re sick. You just have to let them do it.

Kelsey:Yeah, I know. Sometimes that’s hard for people, but you’ve got to do it. It’s worth it. I really feel like I probably ended up wasting less time by just taking a full day off because I would have slogged through the day and then I would have been sick longer I think. I would have just extended the misery and probably gotten the same amount done anyway. I think it just makes a whole lot sense to just take the day off.

Laura:Well, we promised 30-45 minutes. You guys got close to an hour.


Laura:Sorry about going a little over. We had a lot of information share. Hopefully what we shared today was helpful. If you have any follow up questions or want to get more information about anything we talked about, or if you just have your own question that you want to ask, head over to TheAncestralRDs.com and click the contact tab and you can submit a question to us that way. We might answer it on a future show.

Anyway, thanks for joining us. We’re always happy to have you here and will look forward to seeing you all next time.

PODCAST: “Wired To Eat” With Robb Wolf

Thanks for joining us for episode 97 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 thrilled to be interviewing Robb Wolf!

Robb Wolf is a former research biochemist, health expert, and author of the New York Times bestseller The Paleo Solution and has written the eagerly anticipated Wired To Eat. He has been a review editor for the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism and Journal of Evolutionary Health; serves on the board of directors of Specialty Health medical clinic in Reno, Nevada; and is a consultant for the Naval Special Warfare Resilience Program. Robb is also a former California State powerlifting champion and holds the rank of blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He lives in Reno, Nevada with his wife Nicki, and daughters Zoe and Sagan.

We constantly hear the advice that we must eat less and move more, but our attempt usually leads us to fall short of reaching our health goals.  Tune in today to hear Robb Wolf’s eye opening explanation about why this hasn’t proven to be an effective strategy.

Join us as Robb shares the compelling reasons why he wrote his new book Wired To Eat. Robb explains how our genetic disposition to eat more and move less combined with our modern environment and engineered foods is a force fighting against our attempts to achieve our health goals.

Robb also shares his controversial opinion on our desire to create a healthy relationship with food and why social connection and community are vital to our health. You won’t want to miss a minute of our discussion!

Here are some of the questions we discussed with Robb:

  • What made you feel like you needed to write another book after the The Paleo Solution?
  • Can you tell our listeners about the theory of hyper palatability and the neuroregulation of appetite, and how they can use this information in a practical way?
  • How do you feel like this theory can apply to people that are doing more of a Paleo/primal type diet?
  • Can you share a little bit about what your perspective is on the topic of a healthy relationship with food and how that plays into the neurobiology factor?
  • Why did you focus so heavily on community and relationships instead of just food in your book? How important do you think it is?

Links Discussed:


Laura: Hi everyone. Welcome episode 97 of The Ancestral RDs Podcast. I’m Laura Schoenfeld and with me as always is my cohost Kelsey Kinney.

Kelsey: Hey guys.

Laura: If you don’t know us, we’re Registered Dietitians with a passion for ancestral health, real food nutrition, and sharing evidence based guidance that combines science with common sense. You can find me, Laura, at LauraSchoenfledRD.com, and Kelsey over at KelseyKinney.com.

We have a great guest on our show today who is going to be telling all about his brand new book on how humans are wired to eat. We’re really excited that he’s joining us and we think that you’ll enjoy this episode.

If you are enjoying the show, subscribe on iTunes so that you never miss an episode. While you’re over in iTunes, leave us a positive review so that others can discover the show as well. Remember, we do want to answer your questions on the show. Head on over to TheAncestralRDs.com to submit a health related question that we can answer, or suggest another guest that you’d love for us to interview on an upcoming show.

Before we get into our interview, here’s a quick word from our sponsor:

Today’s podcast is sponsored by Maty’s Healthy Products. Maty’s started simply as a mom determined to help her daughter heal and turned into an amazing company that makes all natural and organic cough syrups, vapor rubs, and now even an acid indigestion relief product. Maty’s All Natural Acid Indigestion Relief works quickly to relieve heartburn and indigestion while promoting healthy stomach acid levels. It aids digestion and promotes your body’s natural healing abilities. Made with whole food ingredients you know and recognize like apple cider vinegar, ginger, honey, and turmeric, Maty’s All Natural Acid Indigestion Relief is safe and drug free. Maty’s natural and organic remedies have powerful healing properties to support your body and improve your health. Try them today by visiting Maty’sHealthyProducts.com. You can also find Maty’s at Walmart, CVS, Target, Rite Aid, and a grocery near you.

Laura: Welcome back everyone. Our guest today needs no introduction, but I’ll introduce him anyway. Robb Wolf is a former research biochemist, health expert, and author of the New York Times bestseller The Paleo Solution and has written the eagerly anticipated Wired To Eat. He has been a review editor for the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism and Journal of Evolutionary Health; serves on the board of directors of Specialty Health medical clinic in Reno, Nevada; and is a consultant for the Naval Special Warfare Resilience Program. Robb is also a former California State powerlifting champion and holds the rank of blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He lives in Reno, Nevada with his wife Nicki, and daughters Zoe and Sagan.

Did I pronounce her name right, Sagan?

Robb: That’s perfect. Just like Carl Sagan. Perfect.

Laura: That’s what I thought. How are you doing, Robb? It’s been a while.

Robb: Fantastic! I’m putting my pop guard on my thing because I get all fired up talking to you two.

Laura: Do you spit like a camel on podcasts?

Robb: Yeah.

Kelsey: Perfect. That’s what we like we.

Laura: We like we like passion. We are really excited that you have a new book coming out. How long we’ve been working on this one?

Robb: In some ways for three years, three and a half years. I’ve been collecting, researching, kind of doing an outline a little bit. I really wasn’t sure if I was going to do another kind of protein, carbs, fat diet-esque book. But some pieces came together where I felt like I had something relevant to say and might have a little bit of insight on it. But it was a good solid year of writing, or I guess six months of writing/writing and another six months of editing as it turned out. It’s been a pretty long slog. I’m ready for this thing to hatch and be out there, but we’re getting close.

Laura: I always hear that book writing is kind of an intense process. What made you feel like you needed to write another book after the The Paleo Solution?

Robb: It’s a little bit like having kids in that you have one kid and this certain period of time goes by and you’re like that wasn’t that bad, this seems like a good idea.

Kelsey: You forget how it was.

Robb: You forget how terrible it is for your physical body and all the rest of that. I don’t know if you remember, I did a talk at Paleo (f)x two years ago, three years ago on brain development and the omnivore’s real dilemma. It was really digging into the neuroregulation of appetite and how we’re basically wired to eat more, move less. It was a really amazing paper. Unfortunately the professor who was the primary investigator on writing this review paper, he died not that long ago. He was at Emory University and I was really hoping to interview the guy.

But it was just a profound experience for me reading this and then putting together that talk because I felt like if people could really get their arms around what the implications were in understanding the neuroregulation of appetite in the way that our genetics are kind of forged for a different lifeway, that all the emotionality, and guilt, and drama that goes into behavior change particularly as it relates to kind of diet, and lifestyle, and all that type of stuff that hopefully we could exercise a bunch of those kind of demons and it would get us at a spot where the change is still challenging, but it’s doable.

Since writing my first book, I noticed that a lot of people would motor along. They look like they’re doing great and then they just kind of spin out. It’s like they hit black ice and are just off in a cornfield. When you pull up to talk to them, you’re like so you look like you were doing good. What’s happening? The story that emerged in talking to lots of people over the last six or seven years was that folks would start motoring along and then they would start kind of comparing themselves to other people and in particular their sense of what was going on social media. And they would have this sense that it was really harder for them to affect this change than what they thought was occurring with other people. And because it was difficult, they felt like there was something wrong with them, something broken and so they might as well give up.

My insight on that was that for some people it does come pretty easy. I mean that that’s maybe ten percent. But there’s just some work, and there’s some change, and some challenge. In particular when we start dealing with maybe some of the emotional aspects of this whole story and when we really understand that the food system, social media, all this stuff is set up to play against us really.  It plays off of our desire for novelty and new experiences and it bypasses our off switches. That stuff is really powerful and if you don’t give it some credence, then it’s kind of like going into a MMA fight or something and not really knowing your opponent and assuming that you’re well prepared, and in fact you’re not.

It’s a super long, meandering, possibly over caffeinated response as to why I wrote the book. It’s super steeped in this ancestral health kind of evolutionary biology framework, but I’m not starting the conversation from this whole, hey, hunter gatherers were healthy, maybe we should emulate some elements of their lifeway.

Although I talk about that a little bit, but I’m really starting the whole conversation around how is the neuroregulation of appetite developed in all organisms? What are the implications then we understand that when we look at the way that our modern world has changed? If we’re able to get some insight on that, maybe we can kind of decouple some of the emotionality around all this stuff.

Laura: Awesome. Let’s talk a little bit about one of the major topics of the book is, the neuroregulation of appetite and also how hyper palatable foods can bypass our brains off switch which causes us to eat more than we otherwise would.

I was just mentioning before we got on the call that I thought it was kind of funny that both you and Stephen Guyenet both have a book covering this theory that have just published this year. I know that this is kind of a hot topic for nutrition in general, not just the ancestral health community. But can you tell our listeners a little bit more about this theory of hyper palatability, and the neuroregulation of appetite, and how our listeners can actually use this information in a practical way?

Robb: Yeah. I have to give huge props and hat tip to Stephan. He really for me was kind of the first person to put a lot of this stuff on my radar. He was really articulating this message of the neuroregulation of appetite in both a high level, but also an accessible level. He’s actually the first person that put the notion of low grade intestinal permeability leading to systemic inflammation, and insulin resistance, and maybe some implications about glycoproteins on my radar ages ago. I can’t say enough thank you’s and kudo’s to Stephan about all that stuff.

But I have tried to tackle everything that I do. I’m not actually that smart of a person. To the degree I do well, it’s because I get these big picture concepts and then I let those things guide my process. Instead of getting super enmeshed in the details, then again I take these macro level concepts.

When we think about organisms motoring around the planet and trying to eke out their existence, there’s kind of a thermodynamics or an economics story here. It basically boils down to anything, particularly if it moves, it’s got to obtain more calories and nutrition out of its environment than what it burns in the acquisition of that stuff. When you say that people are like, well yeah, duh, I totally get that.

But then when you look at the actual environment that most organisms lived in throughout most of history, that was a not insignificant task to get enough calories while also fending off predators, and staying reproductively relevant, and all these other things. This is where this concept of optimum foraging strategy comes.

Again, if you run a business, if you just pay attention your own personal finances, you’ve got to have more coming in than going out or else you end up with problems. In a biological system if you consistently burn more energy than what you bring in, you’re dead.

On the one hand, we have this tendency to eat more, move less just baked in the cake, woven into our genetics and really can’t be any other way. It’s only in our modern environment where we can order food to our front door, sit in our underwear all day, microwave the food, never leave the house, that we’re able to kind of max out this optimum foraging strategy gig. We literally can burn virtually no calories throughout the day and just kind of maximize our caloric intake, which from an evolutionary biology perspective is kind of like winning until you look at Type 2 diabetes, and Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s, and obesity, and all that stuff. We basically are able to take that whole story and push it to a place where it becomes unhealthy.

And then we have another kind of dueling banjo element to this story which is called palate fatigue. Even though we want to eat everything that’s not nailed down and then go lay down and relax so that we spare the energy that that we just consumed, we also get bored of stuff. This is again kind of baked into the cake for two reasons. If we have a lot of a food that is arguably tasty, arguably nutritious, it’s still that one thing may not provide all the nutrition that we need and so we’re encouraged to go seek out other things. Then also particularly if this particular food is of plant nature, all plants have antipredatation chemicals in them and you can develop a toxicity to certain foods that we’re over consuming.

We have these kind of dueling banjos of the optimum foraging strategy occurring encouraging us to eat more, move less. Then the background of that is this palate fatigue which is goosing us to always seek out something new. And now we overlay that story with our modern environment where we have foods that are engineered to maximally release dopamine to make them effectively addictive. They come in for all intents and purposes an infinite variety of options. Again we can order this stuff to our front door, we don’t have to expend any energy in in acquiring them, or very, very little, and so we have this kind of perfect storm that is developed. We can easily eat more, move less and when we get bored of the stuff that we’re currently eating, then we can just kind of shift gears and go to something else.

I know I’m getting super long winded here, but I have a kind of cool example of this in the book. There’s a guy Adam Richman. He had a show Man v. Food. He does these crazy food eating challenges. One of the challenges is this thing called the kitchen sink challenge where he tries to eat an eight pound ice cream sundae which includes the sprinkles and the hot fudge in this eight pound ice cream sundae. He starts motoring through this thing, gets maybe like a third of the way through, and he just totally bogs down. He starts turning green. In the video clips it shows him, he’s actually gagging at certain points.

He’s taken this optimum foraging deal to the point that his palate fatigue is saying no more, just we’re done. Anybody could make a very credible case that an ice cream sundae tastes pretty damn good. It’s probably hyper palatable. But even despite that, at some point your brain will say enough.

What he does to finish this challenge is really fascinating.  He orders a plate of extra salty, extra crunchy French fries. He starts eating a fry or two and then he has a scoop of ice cream and he’s able to finish the ice cream sundae.

This is what’s fascinating I think for most mainstream dieticians or health care providers just blows their mind. He would have failed to eat the ice cream sundae were it not for eating probably like another thousand or fifteen hundred calories of French fries. Eating more food allowed him to complete the ice cream sundae challenge. I mention that in my book. Really the whole book should be basically like a video clip of that and it’s like don’t eat like this. You’ll be okay, but I just find that such a powerful soup to nuts explanation of this optimum foraging strategy, palate fatigue and how it can go horribly wrong in our modern environment.

Laura: It’s not so much about calories and getting to a certain point where you don’t need any more food. It’s actually that the taste is what kind of stops you from overeating. Well I shouldn’t say it stops you from overeating. I think two and a half pounds of an ice cream sundae is probably still overeating, but it would prevent the full eight pounds from being consumed. That’s really interesting.

Robb: I think it’s fascinating. If we then look at the way that we both construct our meals and the things that we keep on hand in our house, like we’ll have fifteen different kind of snacky items. And if you get bored with one, oh man, look at that, there’s another one. You don’t have to expend any energy to get these things and people are surprised that this is a challenging thing to deal with.

Kelsey: Right.

Robb: They feel bad that because they’ve got a couple of different dessert options, a couple of different salty, crunchy options like potato chips or corn chips, and they’re surprised that like, oh gee, I should be able to just say no to this stuff. It’s like no, you shouldn’t.

Kelsey: Yeah. Even thinking about the different kinds of potato chips. But on their own, you can get so many different flavors. You get sick of one, you just move to the another.

Robb: Exactly.

Kelsey: You’re still essentially eating the same thing, but it tastes so different. It’s new to your brain.

Robb: Exactly. Most people, and again particularly within the mainstream medical scene in particular, and also the media, they float these two concepts of all you need to do is eat less, move more, and everything in moderation. This is almost this kind of like Southern folk wisdom. I would expect my grandmother to chirp this stuff. She’d say if you want to lose weight, just do push away’s.  You’re like what’s a push away? Push away from the table.

That all sounds great until you find yourself living in this modern food environment and then you stock up the house with a bunch of different options. All of them are quite tasty, all of them tasty in a different way. And then you find yourself surprised that you have problems saying no to this stuff, and that’s kind of crazy.

In these fundamental notions of eat less, move more, everything in moderation, the eat less move more is in direct opposition to our basic biology. Just Alpha, Omega, done. It sounds great, but it is patently wrong. And then this notion of everything in moderation, again that sounds great, but what does moderation mean when you’re walking down the snack aisle of the supermarket? There’s a very small group of people, the folks, if it fits your macros kind of crowd that manages to kind of pull this stuff off I guess for at least a while. But for the vast majority of people, if you get an overly complex food environment, you will face problems.

It’s interesting, it doesn’t matter whether we’re talking Paleo, or vegan, or low carb, or what have you. All of these different dietary approaches when compared head to head with this kind of ADA, everything in moderation approach, the everything in moderation approach fails horrifically. These other approaches, all of them work better and all of them have an interesting feature in that they are to some degree limiting palette options. If you go vegan, then you’re limiting usually some fatty type palate options. If you go low carb or kind of Paleo, then you’re limiting some of these sweet options and particularly the crunchy carb type options. To some degree you’re kind of limiting your palette options more often than not.

It doesn’t matter which one of those avenues that folks go down, it works better than attempting to do the everything in moderation. The everything in moderation is…the best analogy I have for it is kind of like the young, well intentioned male college student who gets invited the Playboy mansion and all the sudden he discovers he’s drinking beer and taking ecstasy. It’s like is this guy going to have any good decision making here? No, not at all. The deck has been stacked so immeasurably against him that shenanigans are going to ensue. This is basically our modern food situation.

Laura: How do you feel like this theory can apply to people that are doing more of that Paleo/ primal type diet? Do you think that that’s something that they should be paying attention to or do you feel like those diets solve that problem?

Robb: In large part they address a lot of it, but there’s a lot of drama around the Paleo/primal land about people doing these gluten free desserts. I still don’t really like call them Paleo desserts. I think gluten free would probably cut it. But you can take these things that are otherwise not….they are tasty foods, they are nicely palatable, but not hyper palatable per se. You can start mixing them together in flavor combinations that can definitely cause you some problems.

I think just having some awareness around that is very powerful. If you aren’t quite where you want to be and you’re really kicking your heels up a lot with these Paleo, primal, gluten free desserts in particular, or just these very complex meals, then we might need to simplify that palette experience and then you’ll get entrained better to just consume the amount of food that you actually need.

Laura: I think it’s interesting because Kelsey and I work with a lot of people who are probably on the opposite end of the spectrum of who you’re talking to in this book where we have people that are really just overly restrictive and not allowing themselves to enjoy anything. When Kelsey and I talk about a healthy relationship with food, a lot of times we’re trying to teach people it’s okay to enjoy your food a little bit. It’s not a bad thing to have a treat or to relax a little bit. That’s not really going to apply to the the large majority of the population in this country obviously. In your book you take a different angle on this “healthy relationship with food” topic. Can you share a little bit about what your perspective is and how that plays into this neurobiology factor?

Robb: Yeah. If get any death threats or somebody throwing a mustard gas cake at me, it’s going to be because of this topic. I’ve had people hopping mad at me. But in working with people over the course of time, I’ve just kind of come to this spot where people will kind of let drop what’s going on with them. Certain people, they retain you for personal training, or nutrition consulting, or what have you, and you’re maybe thirty seconds into the process and they ask you, so what are my cheat days going to look like?

Initially when I first started getting into this and I didn’t have a lot of experience, I was kind of like this is a reasonable question. I’m recommending this kind of Paleo deal, this person’s wondering if they’re ever in their life going to have a chocolate chip cookie again. It’s like yeah, we can figure out how to how to work that in.  But over the course of time I figured out it wasn’t so much in a matter of is it a reasonable or unreasonable question. The person asking the question was going to be a huge pain in the ass. They were leading into this thing already trying to figure out how much they can go crazy on the whole process.

There’s kind of these interrelated elements of this notion of cheating on food and then having a healthy relationship with food. The cheating part is interesting because legitimately for humans there is a really profound sense of mortality and right and wrong in the way that we caretake each other. All primates interestingly have these really highly developed senses of justice. If one individual’s getting taken advantage of, the whole group notices this and there’s some really heavy repercussions. It’s particularly powerful and humans.

This idea of cheating is really a big deal. But the word cheat itself and what it means is to gain an unfair advantage on another particularly at another’s expense. If you think about that, gain an unfair advantage particularly at someone else’s expense, and then we start talking about cheating on whatever diet de jour that we’re talking about, is that even possible? Are you gaining an unfair advantage with the food that you’re eating? No, not really. There’s consequences to the food and you just need to figure out where are you in that story and to what degree do you want to deal with the various consequences that lie there. I’m super gluten intolerant to the point that there’s just no gluten containing item that is remotely worth the days of agony I’m going to have after this. There’s enough gluten free options that I’m totally good with that.

But if people get in this mode that they start beating themselves up when they go off rails, they’re supposed to be eating Paleo and they’ve been doing great for three weeks, and then they have like some gluten free pancakes or whatever, and then they freak out like I cheated on my diet. It’s like no, you didn’t. You had one thing that wasn’t necessarily specifically on the plan.  You’re one meal away from getting back on the plan. We can either turn this into like a big moral failing piece, or we can recognize it for what it is which is one meal off of an otherwise established plan.

But the interesting thing is if people start using terminology like cheating, then they get the morality in the sense of guilt of actually cheating. They’re taking something that really has no features of a cheat, you’re not victimizing anybody, you’re not hurting anybody, you’re not taking unfair advantage of them, but you’re experiencing the guilt of having done something bad to someone. That will get people trapped because they start focusing on a way of getting out of that. There’s really no way out because you’ve misplaced a psychological state with a physiological process and it creates all the drama.

And then this notion around the healthy relationship with food is kind of an extension of all this stuff. I noticed early on that the folks who would come to me and they’re like I’m working towards a healthy relationship with food. And I’m like okay, again this sounds like great folk wisdom. We need healthy relationships in our lives, this sounds really good. But what I found was that this attainment of the healthy relationship with food was like calculating the final digit of Pi. It just kept going, and going, and going, and it was an infinite process. People never got anywhere.

I detail a story in the book where I work with a guy who is a billionaire entrepreneur, incredibly talented, and the guy was over four hundred pounds when I first started working with him. The guy is brilliant, but he had really odd relationships with everybody including his family. The only people that I saw him have any amount of real…not intimacy…that also, but where he would show any vulnerability was with his children, and even that kind of changed the kids got older. When they were younger he was a little more open and vulnerable, and then as they got older he kind of closed himself off.

We had these back and forth kind of spy versus spy deal. He hired me to basically be a strength coach and nutritionist. I traveled around the world with him, got paid really, really well, and it was just kind of crazy. One event that I detail in the book, I’m cruising through the house pretty late at night, I had to get up to pee or something like that and I smelled something. I’m like this smells like donuts. I went and knocked on his door and sure enough he’s in there crushing a bag of the Krispy Kreme donuts.

I’m like, here did you get those? And I’m able to get out of him this story that he paid part of his house staff to go out, go get him a dozen donuts. They drove near the security fence, threw the bag over the security fence, and then other people intercepted the bag and brought it in. I’m like, okay.

Kelsey: Wow!

Robb: Yeah. And I’m looking at him and I’m like so what am I doing here? He’s like it’s not my job to make your job easy. I’m like, okay. I went to his wife and I basically said I need a budget for like a counter espionage deal. This is what your husband did, I need a budget to pay it. It became this bidding war deal where I would find out what he had agreed to pay to house staff.

This was another thing, he was very successful and he would use money to control and manipulate people. The wife also controlled a lot of purse strings and so there was kind of this bidding war back and forth. Then eventually he just dropped the hammer and said okay, enough. Anybody that doesn’t follow what I tell him to do, I’ll fire you. Then that whole thing was kind of done. But he was really enjoying this cat and mouse game. He was enjoying it more than me trying to save the guy’s life because he was having like diabetic blackouts and stuff like that.

I was really noodling on this and I was trying to think of how to help this guy and then I just had this this insight. I was like it’s not about food, there is something else. I looked at him one day, we were having this back and forth, and I just said to him, hey man, who didn’t love you? And he looked at me, and he’s a big guy, he’s not an unimposing character. And he’s like, what did you say? I said somebody didn’t love you, who was it? Who didn’t love you? I mean he got angry, like smashing stuff. Not throwing things at me, but I mean pretty darn close. It was almost like that Good Will Hunting scene where it’s like, it’s not your fault, it’s not your fault. It’s like who didn’t love you?

He finally was like, he just kind of like sat down just defeated and he said my parents were really high achievers and they basically emotionally abandoned him. He was a super brilliant precocious kid. He had a nanny who cared caretook him and she saw that there was this precocious kid that needed love and who had been abandoned. What she would do is cook him these really amazing meals and they would sing, and play, and eat this food. What he came to associate with love was food. And he also, because of that abandonment stuff, he really had some serious problems with the intimacy between himself and other people.

When all this stuff came out I looked at him and I said, okay, today is my last day because your needs exceed my capabilities. I’m willing to still consult to help you a little bit here and there, but you need to find someone to work with on a therapy level and it needs to be about the relationship you have with other people. This is not about achieving some healthy relationship with food. Food is a symptom, it is not the cause.

I’ll point out a couple of things there. I was getting paid really, really well to do this. I’m traveling all over the world, I’m getting paid ridiculously well. But in that moment I knew that this guy’s needs were beyond what I could provide. For me to continue doing that would have been cheating him. It would have been taking unfair advantage of this person and profiteering from his suffering. That’s legitimate cheating. Having a donut when you’re supposed to be following a “diet” is not cheating. I just really want people to get the difference there. Let’s really understand that.

And then this other part of it was that even though there was all this focus on food within this house, that was the symptom. That was not the root issue. The root issue was that this guy didn’t feel loved. He felt like he needed to control people via money and intimidation. It took some time and he very nearly went through a divorce. This was a very tumultuous part of his life, but he’s doing really well. He went from over four hundred pounds and now he’s kind of low two hundreds and pretty darn healthy. He has up and down days, but he is overall much, much better.

But again I know that that was a long, long winded deal to throw out there but the vast majority of folks that I see who are making some statement about like I need a healthy relationship with food, in my opinion it’s generally not food. It is something else. I think that we’re all in a similar enough kind of framework that when we look at mainstream medicine, what’s one of our primary criticisms of it? It treats symptoms. I think that this whole I need a healthy relationship with food is a symptom that people never get their hands around and it keeps them distracted from actually doing the hard work that they need to do. Maybe food has filled a gap there. I’m not saying that there aren’t some entangling issues, but it’s not the issue.

Laura: I feel like what’s coming to mind as you’re sharing that story, which I’m glad you shared it because I think it’s really important to have that kind of solid anecdotal experience to share, it’s almost like when people want to have a healthy relationship with food, having a relationship with an inanimate object just seems like a bizarre concept in the first place.

Robb: Yes, yes.

Laura: I would say that what you’re arguing is that you need to separate the focus on having a healthy relationship and then the food piece. You want to work on having healthy relationships with people. And then with food, you don’t really need to have a relationship with it so much as you just need to kind of know what the basics of human nutrition are so you can feed yourself appropriately.

Robb: Yeah. The weird thing about it, if you look out again kind of like mainstream media and the main messaging that we get out of the bulk of medicine, they really play up this whole healthy relationship with food. These guys are really good at basically keeping us in a codependent state. These are not people who are really that focused on providing this path to personal liberation.

I have had violent responses from this stuff and then after people go and noodle, and think, and kind of processes this, they’re like okay, I get what you’re saying. They take it as some sort of an attack or it really flies in the face of what they’ve potentially been putting years of effort into so then there’s this anger around the sunk costs of chasing something that really didn’t provide a return. We tend to kill the messenger in those situations.

I mean it’s kind of like do you need a healthy relationship with your car? It’s great if you like your car, but your car is not actually providing love, or support, or anything like that. I could argue animals into human relationship is where we get that stuff.

Kelsey: Yeah, I can see why you would get yelled at a lot, Robb, with that sort of comment that it’s not about the relationship with food. It’s always something else. That’s a symptom. I think especially being nutritionists and coaches that deal with people that come to us saying that they want a healthy relationship with food…and honestly, that’s something that I do try to get people to have, but it’s more of that you’re giving them what they think they need while really actually diving at the root problem.

Robb: Right.

Kelsey: Or selling them what they what they think they need and giving them what they actually need.

Robb: Right.

Kelsey: I can see why you’d get in trouble with that kind of statement. But I totally see where you’re coming from and I think it’s a really powerful thing to say. I think anybody out there who’s listening that thinks that they need to have this healthy relationship with food needs to recognize that that is very separate. You don’t need to have that relationship with food. You need to fix all of these underlying psychological aspects that then turn into a symptom which is this eating food and you don’t want to, or not eating enough because you feel like that’s the way you control your life. All of those things are symptoms of these underlying psychological factors.

Robb: Right. In my opinion, again I’m not a therapist, I’m not a psychiatrist or psychologist, but my experience of this is that at some point folks have experienced moment of vulnerability and that has caused an injury to them and then that injury gets kind of papered over with food. And to your point again, some people avoid food intake as a means of feeling control over that situation. Some people overeat to get the dopamine release from the food and all that type of stuff. But it’s still the food ends up being kind of a secondary element to this and not the primary element.

And again my greasy used car salesman pitch with this is just maybe float the notion that it’s not specifically about the food and just try that on. Try it on like a sweater, see if you like it. Maybe initially you don’t like it. Maybe I’m wrong about that, but I’ve been doing this stuff a long time and again it seems to fly a completely counter to most of what we get out of the mainstream, and not to say that we just need to be contrarians by nature to somehow move the conversation forward, but it’s interesting, I just would throw it out there. It’s interesting.

Kelsey: Yeah, and I think it’s hard for people to admit that kind of stuff. That psychological stuff is not easy and I think that’s why you probably get that pushback a lot.

Robb: It’s core of your being stuff. I mean the reason why they are in the state that they’re in is because they were hurt, they were wounded on the most fundamental exposed element of themselves.

Kelsey: Right.

Robb: It’s really understandable, but if we can again kind of diffuse that stuff, it can also be possibly one of the most profound experience of their life. It can really move a lot of stuff forward. This guy that I did to work with, he has wonderful relationships with his kids. He has much better relationships with the people who work for him now. He can still be a dick sometimes, but he’s a really different person in the energy that he experiences in his life and I would say the love that he garners out of his life. It’s two different lives. One of them was largely devoid of love and connection, and one is now quite full of that. He had to go through the crucible to get to that other side though. It wasn’t the easiest thing in the world.

But he was able to be rational enough and also I think that it really took him aback that I was willing to just pull the ripcord on this and basically saying I would be taking unfair advantage of you to continue working with you because he knew that I was making more money with him that I had ever made in my life. What he would usually do then is create a state of dependency on people. But I liked this guy enough and I was grateful enough to him for the opportunity that I had already had that I couldn’t morally continue doing what I was doing because I felt like it would continue to foster his dysfunction in this area.

Laura: I bet you could also apply some of the stuff to the concept of body image and the relationship with your body. I feel like I work with a lot of people, especially women, but I think both genders can fall into this pattern where they’re focusing so heavily on their physical fitness, or their body fat percentage, or their weight, or anything like that. There’s nothing morally wrong with wanting to lose weight, or to be a healthy body weight, or to get to a certain level of fitness. But I work with a lot of people who that fitness I think is what they believe that’s what’s holding them back from relationships is their level of fitness.

I do think a lot of women tend to fall into this with significant other type relationships where they are single and they feel like if I just could lose fifteen pounds I would be more confident and then I’d meet someone, and blah, blah, blah. Which we know from an objective perspective, that’s not true. But it is such a deeply ingrained belief in our culture that their appearance is what makes them valuable that I feel like this this topic that you’ve covered on food could easily apply to just overall physical appearance and the obsession with leanness and body fat percentage that I think it’s super rampant in the Paleo community.

Robb: Let me ask you gals a question on that. When we were running our gym full time, it started off as a Cross Fit gym and we continued to do Cross Fit-esque stuff, but we really scaled it, and modified it, and changed quite a lot. But to me that performance orientation tended to result in less wacky eating behaviors then what I saw when I was in situations where it was purely an anesthetics type gym like the fitness competitor, bodybuilding type scene.

If you skip a meal in a Cross Fit scenario, if you binge and purge in a Cross Fit scenario, the next workout that you do you’re going to suck at it, you’re just going to blow. There’s that immediate feedback. Although people get very body composition focused and stuff like that, I would almost from my perspective argue that that performance orientation kind of keeps people in a little more healthy space. Have you guys seen that? Do you think I’m nuts? What do you think about that?

Laura: I would definitely say that from a practical perspective it keeps people from doing unhealthy behavior, so things like starving themselves or restricting certain types of foods. I do strength and conditioning with a coach one on one. It’s not super expensive for what it is, but it is a pretty good investment. That’s enough for me to be like alright, I need to take a break and eat lunch because I’m going to train today and if I don’t eat lunch I’m going to crash and pay this money to work out and not even get anything out of it. It’s almost like an economics question for me as opposed to performance or like a body image thing.

But I will say that the clients that I have that focus on their performance and their enjoyment of the workouts, because I think that’s a huge piece of it too…If you feel like crap when you’re working out, that’s not fun. Whereas if you’re performing well and you’re doing things that you are challenging yourself and accomplishing new things, I feel like that’s an actual enjoyable process. The actual having fun piece of working out really does require adequate food intake as well. I feel like the clients that tend to focus on either just the pure enjoyment of the workouts or the performance element are way better at eating in a way that’s healthy than the ones that are super weight or body composition conscious.

Robb: That makes sense.

Kelsey: I’ll add that I’ve definitely had some clients where they seem to be in the crosshairs of wanting excellent performance along with an amazing aesthetic, whatever that means to them. Those I find are the people that kind of have the most problems because they won’t typically eat to fuel what they’re doing because they’re also trying to be super, super lean which doesn’t tend to go hand in hand with the best performance.

Robb: Right.

Kelsey: Those are the people that I find that have the most trouble and they have a hard time getting out of that mindset and into more of that performance mindset and feeling good and having fun while exercising mindset.

Robb: Right. I totally agree. I’ve been there before. If I just do some gymnastics and lift a little weights, then I can run at a body comp that’s lower and look better I guess, better being a very relative deal. But then if I’m doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or some Thai boxing or something, I need to be a couple of body fat percentages higher for me to really have my best performance doing that stuff and not feel like I’m just beat to death all the time.

Kelsey: Right.

Robb: That was a not insignificant thing to fully wrap my head around. And theoretically I’m an “expert” on this stuff and there was still some come to Jesus conversations in my head about like what am I up to with all this.

Laura: Well especially in your position, I’m sure you have a pretty unusual amount of attention paid to your body composition. It’s like God forbid you have an extra couple percentage and then people are like Paleo doesn’t work. Just look at Robb Wolf, he’s nine percent body fat instead of five. I feel like people in your position even if you don’t want to think about it it’s almost like you almost have to make a public declaration that you’re not worried about it so that people don’t criticize you.

Robb: Right.

Laura: It’s definitely tough.

I want to make sure that we get to talk a little bit about the rest of your book. I mean it sounds like you go into this relationship question pretty deeply in the book.

Robb: Yes.

Laura: I feel like one thing I’d love to talk to you a little bit about is the concept of community. Because I know that you cover topics like sleep, and exercise, and diet, and how to figure out the right diet. We could go into that, but I feel like people kind of want to see the other side of things than just the diet piece because it gets a little bit repetitive to always be talking about nutrition. I think you do a good job of explaining personalized nutrition and how to figure out what works best for you in the book, so we won’t go into super deep, deep detail. If people want more on that they can read Wired To Eat.

But I want to talk a little bit about the community aspect because it sounds like that’s related to the story you just told us. Why did you focus so heavily on community and relationships instead of just food? Is it something that you feel like is the main problem that people need to focus on when they’re trying to fix this stuff, or is it just a side piece of this whole approach? How important do you think it is? And is it something that people should start with or do they just kind of add it in as they’re focusing on the palatable foods, and the carb and fat ratios, and all of that?

Robb: Those are really good questions and I doubt I’m going to do as good justice to the answer on it. In the book I lay out this idea of the four pillars of health. It’s sleep and photoperiod, food, movement, and community. I wish and my publisher desperately wishes that it could have just been food or maybe just food and sleep. Those things are really, really important….And even though I’ve been couching this conversation pretty heavily in body composition, and fat loss, and whatnot, in the book I talk about everything from the development of autoimmune disease to neurodegenerative diseases. I mean it’s a big rangy book. We go really deep into the gut microbiota and the implications there.

But this community piece, it’s very well understood that people who lack adequate social connectivity, they see an increase in their morbidity and mortality, their death and illness rates that are on par with a pack a day smoking habit. How many people are running around and they’re debating am I doing the organic almonds versus conventional because I’m worried about pesticide residue, but I’m going to go smoke a pack of cigarettes today? Nobody. This is what we’re talking about on that community piece.

It’s interesting, again our modern world has changed so much. We now live in an environment which is amazing from an economic opportunity perspective. lf you have a specific skill set, and in the area that you work say that skill set kind of gets phased out and you’re faced with either learning something new or you could potentially move somewhere to get work in that area of your expertise. And that’s great, but it tends to really fragment our social circles.

And then we have this kind of interesting phenomenon of social media where we can burn a lot of time and a lot of energy feeling like we’re connected to people, but we’re really not. The people who develop these social media platforms really understand evolutionary psychology on a deep level. They really understand the addictive processes that we need to stimulate to make something really, really sticky and that we want to go back to it again and again.

We have this interesting scenario where we tend to have very little outside of work social connectivity and then we have this easily accessible, essentially the junk food of community, which is social media and it just leaves us desperately wanting. It’s an unfilled need that is up there with sunlight, and exercise, and vitamin D. It’s a non-negotiable feature of our existence if we really want to experience life maximally. I go through and talk about that, talk about the implications of stress and our inadequate or maybe unhealthy relationships. If you’re in kind of a codependent scenario or something like that, it’s probably better to cut the ties and go do something else.

I do make a pretty heavy case for trying to multitask on this front. And this is where something that looks kind of like a Cross Fit type gym is really kind of interesting. I think a large reason why that phenomenon has been so successful, a well-run gym that’s kind of in this Cross Fit orientation, the coaches will talk about sleep and photoperiod, they clearly talk about nutrition, the exercise is baked in the cake, that’s why you go there. But also there’s this amazing community piece to it. People will lose a job and they figure out some way to continue going to their Cross Fit gym because that’s their third place.

People used to do a lot more kind of religious communities and civic service stuff, and now it’s either a bar or Cross Fit gym. The Cross Fit gym has possibly some upsides to it that the bar doesn’t. It’s kind of unique in that regard. I really like martial arts, and yoga, and stuff like that too, which they tick a number of the boxes, but not all of them in the same way that a really well run Cross Fit gym does.

Laura: I did see a sign at my local whiskey bar saying it was like Cross Fit for your liver. I don’t know if that’s part of this whole community on this that.

Robb: Very honest.

Laura: Yeah, it’s funny. I feel like this is been something for me that I have really focused on in the last couple of years to the point of having to make some tough decisions about my business. I commit to a weekly small group meeting with a couple people from my church and that’s been really important for building deeper relationships especially as up a work from home, self-employed person which I feel like in that situation you absolutely have to make it a priority otherwise you’ll never see humans for an entire week.

Robb: You can never leave the house.

Laura: Right.

Kelsey: Seriously.

Laura: That actually has kind of caused me a little stress sometimes when I’m like, oh man, I have all this work I have to get done, but I have my small group at six o’clock on Wednesdays and there’s like a thirty minute drive. It ends up being basically after five o’clock I have to stop everything that I’m doing to go do it. And there are days where I’m like, oh man, I wish I had this extra time to finish my work, or maybe go the gym, or whatever. But at the end of the day, the benefit of having that community, and seeing those people on a regular basis, and having that really strong social connection piece that I think was missing in my life for a long time after having moved around, and done a lot of traveling, and all that, it’s basically non-negotiable at this point for me.

Robb: Right.

Laura: I feel like a lot of people don’t look at the social connection piece as a non-negotiable. I know people who will skip doing things with friends because either they want to go to the gym, or because the friends want to go out to eat and they don’t want to eat that food so they’re like I’m just not going to go because I can’t eat. It ends up being very socially isolating when people are way too focused on the more kind of behavioral choices of health.

I’m really glad that you cover that because I feel like this whole question about relationship with food and personalized nutrition, it can get kind of in the weeds and make people forget that there are equally, if not possibly more important factors that are going to affect their health. Obviously the sleep, and the photoperiod, and the exercise, that’s all important too. But for whatever reason, the community aspect I think is just now getting the attention that it really deserves. I’m pleased to hear that you cover that so effectively because if you hadn’t it might kind of leave the book a little bit incomplete and not really looking at the whole picture.

Robb: Right, which my publisher would have loved because they felt like it was way too long as it was. But it’s something that for us, my wife and I largely work from home, it’s remote, we have two kids, we live out on a little farm. We literally could not see another human being for weeks at a time. That’s where I really encourage her to go to yoga a couple of times a week. I go to Jiu-Jitsu.

And then something else that we’ve done, our girls just wake up early, they wake up at like 5:30 or 6 A.M. everyday. It doesn’t matter what time they go to bed. We just actually have a good circadian rhythm deal for them, so they wake up when the sun starts coming up. But what we’ve done because the evenings are kind of challenging for us to go out, and hang out with people, and get babysitters, and all that, every Sunday we’ve been putting together a brunch and we do a little bit of a potluck deal. We just ping our circle of friends and we’re like okay, we’re hosting it, we’re providing X, Y, Z, we need these other things filled in, commit to what you’re going to bring and we’ll make it happen.

We don’t make it too early, but we also don’t make it too late so you can still relax that Sunday morning, but then you can do some stuff afterwards. It’s not going to chew up your whole day. Everybody’s been loving it. The girls love it, Nicki and I love it. It’s just really a shot in the arm whereas normally these Sundays, it’s just kind of a lonely day. It’s like okay, we have the kids, Nicki and I are looking at each other like, wow, you again?

Laura: Especially Nicki, right?

Robb: Especially Nicki, yeah. I mean I’m not a whole lot to look at so it’s particularly challenging for her. But doing this dedicated we’re going to get together just about every week on a Sunday brunch, it’s been a total game changer for us.

Kelsey: That sounds so fun. I love that idea. I’m thinking about how I could implement that in my life. I love it.

Robb: It’s easier for me than doing a dinner party because people don’t get off work until later and then our girls are ready to go to bed and so they don’t really get to have as much fun interacting with people. So we’re like okay, we’ll do a brunch. And then everybody’s bright eyed and bushy tailed. We’re doing coffee instead of booze. Although we have been putting in some NorCal Margaritas and some Bloody Marys, so we are doing some stims and some depressants at these meals.

Laura: Just to be well balanced, right?

Robb: Just to be well balanced, yeah.

Laura: Well we really appreciated this interview. I feel like we could have talked for another hour on some of the more controversial nutrition topics. I had a couple questions listed about carbs, and keto, and all that, but might have to save that for another interview because people have their lives to live and they can’t listen to a two hour podcast.

But we really appreciate your time. I like I said might have to invite you on again to talk about macro since I know that you have some pretty well thought out and maybe some strong opinions about that portion of the nutrition game. I know that you mention if it fits your macros a lot, which I think the typical way of doing that is very junk food oriented.

Robb:  Right.

Laura: But I know there’s been a lot of people in the Paleo community that kind of take it to like okay, let’s use that effectiveness but also use real food so we’re not killing ourselves.

Robb: Right.

Laura: But anyway, I think generally our audience knows where to find you. I don’t think we’re introducing you to anyone that’s listening right now. But just in case there’s some person that just discovered the internet, where can people find you?

Robb: At RobbWolf.com. The book goes on sale officially March 21st.  It’s available for preorder everywhere books are sold. And then leading up to the launch of the book, we have a bunch of really cool bonuses. We have a workbook that helps people navigate the 30 Day Reset and the 7 Day Carb Test which is a really critical feature of the book.

I pulled out a chapter that used to be Chapter One of the book called “Lies, Damn Lies And Statistics” and it basically lays out the historical kind of perspective of how we’ve arrived at the modern situation of farm subsidies, junk food, bad academic “research” and whatnot and I kind of tie all that together. It’s actually my favorite chapter of the book, but the book was already so huge that the publishers freaked out and they were like, no, we’re not including that, so it’s a bonus chapter.

I do an interview with Dr. William Cromwell who is a world famous lipidologist. He’s the guy that we consult with with our clinic here in Reno doing the Reno Risk Assessment Program. We talk about the blood work that I recommend in the book. We compare and contrast like what you get out of a standard limpid panel versus what we kind of recommend with regards to advanced testing.

Laura: Nice.

Kelsey: Cool.

Laura: We appreciate that. Anyway, thank you so much for your time, Robb. It was a pleasure as always. It’s always fun to talk to you and hear what you’re up to. I hope that I’ll get to read this book sometime soon. I think both Kelsey and I are so busy that reading of any book at this point is difficult, but your sounds like it would be really interesting especially from a coaching perspective just being able to tackle that healthy relationship with food question in a different way.

Robb: Thank you.

Laura: Again, thank you for coming on. We really enjoyed our time with you. We’ll see everyone around here next week.

PODCAST: Stress Management And Ancestral Connection With Kendall Kendrick

Thanks for joining us for episode 96 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 happy to be interviewing Kendall Kendrick.

Kendall Kendrick is a motivational speaker and Nutritional Therapy Practitioner specializing in stress management through ancestral health. She uses her experience and education to teach others how to live a stress managed life through ancestral connection, nutrition, lifestyle, mindfulness, and empowerment. Kendall’s other passions include working with recovering addicts using a holistic approach to sobriety and bringing mindfulness programs into inner city schools with at risk youth in her community.

We know stress is a part of life, but neither powering though stress nor shying away from having a full life are effective ways to manage it. So then how can we manage stress in our modern lives?

Kendall Kendrick knows firsthand the effects of unmanaged stress after it nearly took her life. Today Kendall shares her story being given a second chance at life and her journey from self-medicating to self-care and sustainable stress management practices.

You won’t want to miss today’s discussion filled with motivation, practical tips, and insight into how to manage stress through ancestral connection, self-care, mindfulness.

Here are some of the questions we discussed with Kendall:

  • Can you tell our audience a little bit about kind of how you got into the field of stress management and how you view an ancestral lifestyle and diet fitting into your idea of stress management?
  • Would you say that the chronic conditions that we face today, are those mostly related to poorly managed stress and then the diet and lifestyle that’s not the same as our ancestors? Or are there other big problems that you kind of see come up as a result of unmanaged stress?
  • What can somebody do to help control their stress level? What are your favorite techniques?
  • When you sit down to write up a self-care plan, how do you determine how much is necessary? What does that plan end up looking like?

Links Discussed:


Kelsey: Welcome to episode 96 of The Ancestral RDs Podcast. I’m Kelsey Kinney and with me as always is my cohost Laura Schoenfeld.

Laura: Hi everybody.

Kelsey: We are Registered Dietitians with a passion for ancestral health, real food nutrition, and sharing evidence based guidance that combines science with common sense. You can find me at KelseyKinney.com and Laura at LauraSchoenfeldrd.com.

We have a great guest on our show today who is going to share her insight into how to manage stress through ancestral connection, mindfulness, and empowerment. We’re so glad she’s joining us and we think you’ll really enjoy this episode.

Laura: And if you’re enjoying the show, you can subscribe on iTunes so that way you never miss an episode. And while you’re in there leave us a positive review so that other people can discover the show as well. And remember we do want to answer your questions, so head on over to TheAncestralRDs.com to submit a health related question that we can answer or if you have a guest suggestion that you’d love for us to interview on an upcoming show.

Kelsey: Before we get into our interview, here’s a quick word from our sponsor:

Today’s podcast is sponsored by Maty’s Healthy Products. Maty’s started simply as a mom determined to help her daughter heal and turned into an amazing company that makes all natural and organic cough syrups, vapor rubs, and now even an acid indigestion relief product. Maty’s All Natural Acid Indigestion Relief works quickly to relieve heartburn and indigestion while promoting healthy stomach acid levels. It aids digestion and promotes your body’s natural healing abilities. Made with whole food ingredients you know and recognize like apple cider vinegar, ginger, honey, and turmeric, Maty’s All Natural Acid Indigestion Relief is safe and drug free. Maty’s natural and organic remedies have powerful healing properties to support your body and improve your health. Try them today by visiting Maty’sHealthyProducts.com. You can also find Maty’s at Walmart, CVS, Target, Rite Aid, and a grocery near you.

Kelsey: Welcome back everybody. We are so pleased to have with us today Kendall Kendrick. She is a motivational speaker and Nutritional Therapy Practitioner specializing in stress management through ancestral health. She uses her experience and education to teach others how to live a stress managed life through ancestral connection, nutrition, lifestyle, mindfulness, and empowerment. Kendall’s other passions include working with recovering addicts using a holistic approach to sobriety and brining mindfulness programs into inner city schools with at risk youth in her community.

Welcome to the show, Kendall.

Kendall: Thank you so much for having me. It’s such a pleasure to be here with you ladies today.

Kelsey: We are super excited. Since you are all about stress management, I think that’s sort of what we’ll focus on for today. Can you tell our audience a little bit about kind of how you got into the field of stress management and how you view an ancestral lifestyle and diet fitting into your idea of stress management?

Kendall: Absolutely.

Kelsey: Big story, right?

Kendall: Well first of all I’ll say I’ll try to keep it to the Cliffs Notes version here. But the Reader’s Digest, I was the opposite of stress managed. I was a hurricane, a tornado. What was that cartoon character that would spin really fast when we were little and we would watch? I can’t remember.

Laura: The Tasmanian devil?

Kendall: That’s it! Thank you. I was the Tasmanian devil. I do remember that. But I really did just live this intense always stressed, stressed life and it came from trauma in childhood where I just created these behaviors to get by, to survive. I didn’t learn until I was much older to change those behaviors, to heal that past, that I didn’t have to live like that. I didn’t have to live in the sympathetic fight, flight, freeze life. I just didn’t have to do it. I didn’t know any better.

I have experienced so many incredible health problems as a result of living in that perpetual stress. I really was a stress addict, a drama addict. I fed on it and had no ability to sit still, no ability to be mindful, no real ability to every just enjoy life’s experiences and the things that were right in front of me. I was always in yesterday or tomorrow and creating more problems for myself.

The short story is that the beginning of this journey that I’m in specifically now started almost seven years ago when I was in a hospital bed in the emergency room dying at 1 a.m. I had a miscarriage and it went wrong, very, very quickly. Unfortunately I was neglected in emergency room in the middle of that. While it didn’t need to go as bad as it did, I am able to have a lot of gratitude now that it went the way that it did because it is because of that experience that I have the beautiful life that I live today.

What is miscarriage and dying in a hospital bed have to do with now being a motivational speaker the stress management world? It has everything to do with it because I lost that pregnancy because of stress. I created that. I know that a lot of times when women go through miscarriage and go into doctors’ offices when you kind of get that dreadful ultrasound and they say the baby doesn’t have a heartbeat and this happens all the time, and honestly it does. Miscarriages are such a normal part of life. But I knew the stress that I was going through, I was in the middle of a child custody case, a battle with my three older daughters and their father and I knew the anger and the stress, and the inability to manage any of that was what created the loss of my baby.

When I did live and I came out of it knowing that I had been given a beautiful second chance, this was a wakeup call for me. I was about I think 32 or 33 years old and I knew that things had to change. I didn’t have a single clue where to begin. I had no idea how to start, how to be happier, how to figure out what a peaceful life just going with the flow would look like. I was so envious of people like that. I was married to one. I am married to a man who just doesn’t get all bent out of shape about anything. He just sits and waits for the facts and makes these mindful decisions. And I’m like what is wrong with you? Why don’t you get mad and crazy like me? I think that’s just why we are so great for each other because we balance each other out now.

About a year after my loss of my miscarriage I was sort of going down this bucket list of things that a lot of people I think do when they have a near death experience and they have this second chance at life. One of those was starting ballet again. I grew up dancing, had intended to be a professional ballerina and got injured at 16, and the injury of that is what led to my drug addiction that I had in my late teens and early 20s. I wanted to come back to that and find that part of me that’s just never gone away, that love of dancing, and being on stage, and the freedom of ballet.

As a woman who’s had four babies and is in this different stage in her life, it was just such an interesting experience. I think about three months before we were going to do a recital and I was going to be on stage, my daughters were going to be in the recital as well, and there was going to be all this family there. I was like I am not going on stage in this red leotard. I had that mama/baby weight. Now I’m in a totally different place. I would have absolutely owned how I looked and all that and been on stage. I had to heal a lot of my own body shaming issues that I had had. And that has happened now and I think that’s a big part of stress management as well.

But I met this girl and she started talking to me about this diet, this thing that she was doing where she wasn’t eating grains, and she wasn’t doing dairy, and she wasn’t doing beans. I was just like well how do you have corn chips with salsa every afternoon if you’re eating like this? Because that’s how I lived. I was like I don’t know. But the year before I had been vegan and I knew that that had done some serious damage for me. I ended up with pneumonia. Any of my forays into vegetarianism or veganism, they just never ever ended well. Our family was already gluten free at that point because we had some really huge miraculous shifts with our twins and their health and healing by cutting out gluten and diary, so it wasn’t that much of a stretch to go to this next level.

It was just crazy how quickly we felt the shift. My husband and I, we did start losing fat right away, we did feel better. I had not been able to get my iron levels back to normal after my miscarriage. The thing is when you lose a lot of blood and they give you a transfusion, they only give you enough to keep you alive because there really is a shortage. I am Rh negative, so it’s a little more complicated. I could not get back to where I needed to be with my levels. All of a sudden honestly the first time in my life I wasn’t anemic, and that blew my mind. I went and had all my numbers checked and my cholesterol was perfect. I just keep seeing these incredible results happening.

At that point I did lose all the fat that I wanted to lose, but then at that point it was like that didn’t even matter to me anymore. I started to focus on my mental health which I always, always struggled with. I had always been manic depressed and dealt with imbalances in anxiety and all these things. It put the spotlight on those things. It’s what I realized started happening is that these neurotransmitters were getting healed and allowing me to work on what I really needed to work on, to see this focus for the first time in my life, start understating what mindfulness might actually mean and this holistic lifestyle that I had been trying to attain for years, and years, and years since my first daughter was born which now has been almost 16 years ago.

I want to say it’s kind of a journey and things has just evolved into what they are now. When I joined this community and I started my blog about 5 1/2 years ago, it wasn’t like I was thinking oh I’m going to go talk to everybody about stress. I was not stress managed at that point by any means. In fact it even got worse. Once I started feeling better, and feeling more balanced, and feeling healthier, and getting my hormones under control, I actually took on more than I could handle. I went to school for nutritional therapy, I was working locally in food policy, working in our school district to try to help bring food from the gardens into the cafeteria. I was just taking on more than I could handle. I was again dealing with child custody issues.

It was so much that I found myself going, wait a minute, perfectionism. That’s when it all started to click for me. I was like it’s perfectionism. That is what’s eating me up. That is what’s causing me to continue this cycle of unhealthy living and why I want to self-medicate.

At that point I found myself…like I said earlier, I quit doing drugs 19 years ago. I was clean off of drugs when I was 21. But eventually over the years I did start drinking again and I found myself self-medicating with wine at a level that I wasn’t comfortable with, at a level that I saw was causing problems in my marriage, with my children. It was keeping me from being present. I was sharing this information about perfectionism and stress management stuff at conferences and then I was feeling like I was self-medicating with wine or whatever to not feel I guess present.

Kelsey: Right.

Kendall: Then I went back into recovery almost three years ago and that really just gave me that next kind of push, it was that stepping stone to say okay now, now really pull it all together and not self-medicating any longer in my life, like learning that food is not appropriate for me to self-medicate with, that wine or anything that I ever used, even like binging Netflix.

I see if I’m doing it, I know now because of my mindful practice, if I’m binging Netflix and nothing on TV of any of my multiple internet TV options isn’t making me feel better, then I know I need to slow down. I need to go figure out what is going on with me. Why am I so uncomfortable? What does it all mean? And again, pulling that perfectionism piece to say well don’t be a perfectionist about it, don’t beat yourself up. If you end up face down in a pile of cookies, it’s not the end of the world. You’re not a horrible person.

It has just been a lot of work about balance and figuring out how to have peace. Overcoming all of these obstacles that I’ve experienced in my life and truly, truly knowing that today no matter what happens in my life, I don’t have to go self-medicate with something destructive for me like alcohol. Not everybody has that problem, but I am an alcoholic, and I am a drug addict, I am all those things if I’m using those things. Knowing that there are these other answers for me personally like spirituality, and meditation, and truly connecting to my ancestors which is something that I’ve been on this just incredible journey lately on really connecting with who my past is and what all of that means for my life.

And then to really just circle back to what you asked initially about stress management, why it’s so crucial. Well number one I think for women primarily, we are told from the very beginning of our lives that A.- we’re not good enough, and B.- the other flipside of that is that we can do everything. And neither of those things are true. They’re just not. The pressure that’s put on us that we should be able to balance it all, that we should be able to balance work and families, and we should be happy doing it, and we just should be. It’s a should machine. We should all over ourselves. We should be doing all this.

Kelsey: Right.

Kendall: And it’s not appropriate. It’s not giving us the peace because we live in boxes, we drive boxes, we work in boxes. We are not a tribe, we are not a community.

I was fortunate enough that in my late 20s when I had my first daughter and then I had my twins a couple of years later, I did have this community of women who also we were just kind of these super crunchy granola moms, all home birthing and being hippies. But we had each other. We were there holding each other in our labors. And very few people get to experience that feminine connection, that sort of divine what that really feels like and looks like because we live so isolated.

I think about it often, I don’t even interact with the people on my street everyday and I think that’s crazy because I’m so isolated in my home with my children, and my husband, and our lives and we’re so busy. That’s that piece for me when it comes to this big part of stress management is it takes a tribe. We have to work on this perfectionism piece that we’re living in. I know men deal with these things, it’s just that my specialty tends to be with women because of that female connection that I feel really called to work with.

Also I think just looking back at our ancestors and what we know about their lives, we can go back to our hunter gatherer ancestors, we can go back a couple hundred years ago. We don’t even necessarily have to go that far back. I can go back to my farming grandparents. I can look at what community meant. And maybe in that time community was the church down the road and the couple of times a week that you connected there. Or we go back to our hunter gatherer ancestors and we look at the mindfulness component that it must have taken. They couldn’t have had ADD, it’s not even possible.

Kelsey: Right.

Kendall: And here I am fighting my ADD everyday to not do 100 things at once and a mindful practice. We want to run off to ashrams, we want to go to do meditation weekends. Well our ancestors, that’s just how they lived, it’s just what they did.

Kelsey: Right.

Kendall: We know a lot about their mental health and their capacity, they’re physical health. The food piece is really important for this because like I said earlier in my own story that once I started to put the appropriate foods that were anti-inflammatory to my system, that’s when things started to heal for me and I could really focus on the things, the healing, the trauma. And all of us have trauma. It doesn’t matter how good our lives are. Somewhere in our lives something has happened that’s taught us some things about ourselves and it might not be so good.

Kelsey: Right. Would you say that the chronic conditions that we face today, are those mostly related to poorly managed stress and then the diet and lifestyle that’s not the same as our ancestors? Or are there other big problems that you kind of see come up as a result of unmanaged stress?

Kendall: Yeah, that’s such a good question. Yes to all of that. I think it’s so complicated, but then it’s also just super simple. When I’m working with women, and I’ve been doing some workshops and stuff lately to really deal with stress, and now I’m actually teaching mindfulness to very at risk youth in my local neighborhood elementary school, and so I’m seeing this variation of these vast differences in people. Women who have privilege in their lives, who have these jobs that they feel kind of married to, these jobs that are everything to them, and they are working 40-60 hours a week, and then they feel like they owe these things to family members, these relationships that might not be so healthy. There’s a huge stress right there.

Kelsey: Right.

Kendall: We know we can go on and on and say that we can be genetically wired, like a lot of us have done our 23andMe or whatever, and so we know that we can be genetically have the predisposition to cancer, to diabetes, to all these things. But we know that lifestyle, and stress, and diet can be the things that really bring those things on. I think it’s this holistic way of looking at it and saying…I mean we’re getting angry and people are getting killed in traffic over anger. I just look at that and I just go…like there was another police officer shooting here in Charlotte where I live a couple of weeks ago and it was a road rage incident, at least that’s what the media’s reporting. But even just thinking about that that we hear that all the time. If we’re a society who is so angry that just how someone is driving can send us over the edge, I think that just says a lot about how we’re living and we’re taught from a young age.

That’s a big part of why it was so important for me and I felt called to go work with youth who do have really stressful lives and live in really complicated situations. I had a fifth grader tell me last week that his stress is he’s got to make money, he’s got to work.

Kelsey: Wow.

Kendall: I just thought to myself, as I’m raising…I have a third grader, I have two seventh graders, and a tenth grader, and my tenth grader doesn’t have to have a job. She doesn’t have to work. And I’m thinking, what fifth grader has to figure out how to make money? Right?

Kelsey: Yeah.

Kendall: I grew up poor and I wasn’t figuring that out in fifth grade. I think that just gives me a lot of perspective as to this vast problem in modern day life, problems that we’re facing to figure out what managing our stress looks like and how it is so desperately affecting our existence, our lives. I mean just look at the state of politics, what we all just went through the last year too. The stress that that caused on us, the stress that it’s still causing on our nation, on the world. And then what do we do about it? What are we doing to take care of ourselves?

Self-care is always the foundation of everything for me. People get sick of talking to me because I’m a broken record because I say what did you do for yourself today? Or you’re going through a really hard time. Even my kids, my kids are just so over it.

Kelsey: I could see that, yeah. Like whatever, mom.

Kendall: Like I’m not going to practice self-care today. My 15 year old is going through some pretty tough stuff and everyday she’s like what’s the answer? And I’m like take a bath, go for a walk, take care of yourself, do something that nurtures you.

And honestly that’s been the number one thing. When I learned I couldn’t love myself at first, but I learned about self-care, I found that self-care is the road to self-love. If you practice self-care and enough, you’re going to learn how to love yourself.

Kelsey: Right. We all have these stressors that we deal with on a daily basis and I love the idea of doing self-care as a piece of our stress management. What are some other ways that people can deal with stress? I know you mentioned community being a big piece of that before too, so I’d love to touch a little bit on that and then anything else that you feel like can really help people manage their stress effectively.

Kendall: Why I think community is so important is because it’s so important to have that support. I live in a place where I don’t have much family. My dad, for the first time ever since I’ve had children, I have a parent who lives nearby. My dad lives in the same city that I live in, but he’s in Florida for the winter. So I’m like oh my gosh, I miss him, I need his help! I had forgotten what that was like because I didn’t have family nearby for all the early years of raising my children, I want to say for probably 13 years because he hasn’t been nearby for very long. And now I am so incredibly spoiled by him and his wife because they just take such good care of us. I can just be like, hey can the kids spend the night? And they just love it. We don’t all get to have that. We’re not all that fortunate to have family.

This community piece, we can find it in all sorts of places. A lot of people find it in their spiritual places. They find it in churches, they find it in temples. For me, I really find it in the rooms of recovery. I find it within the recovery community because for me and those of us who are recovering addicts and alcoholics, we have hit a bottom that brings us all together. Sometimes it takes knowing someone else has gone through what you’ve gone through, and they’ve done the things that you’ve done, and they remind you that you are no longer that person and you don’t have to feel shame about all the bad things that you did in your addiction, that you were sick, and here’s the path that you can do to be healed of that and to forgive yourself and just start asking other people to forgive you.

For me that’s a big part. That’s where I find most of my community, but now I’m expanding. In fact I’m inviting many, many women to come to my home in March to come join me for the full moon and just celebrate with fire and food in my backyard and let’s just be women together. Let’s just celebrate the feminine, and embrace who we are, and know that we are deserving and that we are good enough. It’s that simple stuff, or inviting your neighbors over for a potluck. We just had two new sets of neighbors move in on our block and so that’s my next step is like hey let’s have everybody over. There’s so many different ways to find this community.

I want to say that I know there’s a lot of people who are really, really stressed out and having a hard time with their stress and they do have great communities. I don’t want to have somebody listening and they say well I do have a community and I’m still having a really hard time. Maybe it’s just about tapping into that community for even more support.

Kelsey: Right.

Kendall: Maybe it’s going it’s going even deeper into that. But also know that that’s not the only thing that’s important. For me it’s this pie chart. It’s just saying here’s all these things, it’s nutrition, and it’s digestion, and it’s movement, and play, and it’s sleep. There’s nothing more important than sleep honestly because if you aren’t sleeping, you’re stress will not be managed.

Kelsey: Right.

Kendall: It’s just not even possible with those cortisol levels. And then understanding if there’s more going on with you, do you have autoimmune disease? Are your hormones completely imbalanced?

I have fought endometriosis and ovarian cysts since I was a teenager. I had another spell with it last summer. And you know why? Because I was in a huge amount of stress again with child custody stuff. For me, there’s always sort of an underlying thing that I’m always going through in my life that’s unavoidable. But I love this saying, I use it all the time. I heard I think it was the FSU coach in Florida who said it. I hate sports, I’ve never liked sports in my life, but I love empowering sports coach talks in those movies that they play where there’s good music, and the losers win, and all that. But this coach in Florida said “control the controllable” to his team. I was like, boom! Yes!

When we can get to that place where we can just let go of the things that we cannot control, that is where the freedom is, that is where the peace is. I know it’s really, really easy for me to sit here and say let go of what you can’t control. I know that everyone’s going right now, like are you kidding me? How do you do that? Through a lot of work, through acceptance, understanding that acceptance is not judgment. Acceptance is not something that you say someone is wrong or right, or a situation is wrong or right. It just means that you accept that this is where you are in this moment and then you start that process that comes after that of figuring out what is in my control? What do I just need to give over to the universe, or God, or whatever I believe in? Give it over to your light bulb, whatever to get some freedom and some peace, and also just knowing that we have this moment that we’re in right now.

Laura: I had written a post recently about something similar to that and I think it even can go beyond what can you and can’t you control to actually like what needs to be controlled. Because I think there are some things like in my own life where yeah, I have a lot of influence over it, and I can do more, and I can be very focused on making that the best that it can be. But then the question is first of all, what’s the benefit? Second of all, does it turn it into something that I’m not even enjoying it anymore because I’m trying to control it and manipulate it so much?

Kendall: Right!

Laura: And it’s just funny because I’m looking at this stuff, like in my post I mention my relationship with my fiancé and I’m like why am I making this so hard? My relationship is amazing and I’m turning it into something that’s stressful because I feel like it must be better and there’s got to be ways to make it better even though it’s great. It’s just kind of funny because it’s like it doesn’t even have to be something that you literally have no control over. Sometimes I think we, especially if you’re a perfectionist type, it’s almost like well it could be better so I better put more control into it because it’s not 100% perfect right now.

Kendall: Right, I agree. I’m ten years into my second marriage and we have just been on a roller coaster. There’s a lot of times where I struggle to accept where it is whether it’s in a tough place, whether it’s in an amazing place. I can tell you that for me personally, one of the things that comes from my childhood trauma is I’m always sort of waiting for the bottom to drop out. I’m waiting for people to leave me, to abandon me. So sometimes, oftentimes, in my adult life I have created those scenarios. I have pushed people to abandon me because that’s what feels normal to me.

I had to learn to stop pushing people away. I had to learn to stop creating the stress of that. A big part of my recovery and being this person that I choose to be today is being comfortable in the discomfort. That means that when I don’t feel so good and when thing are tough, not jumping in there to fix them, not jumping in there and taking action necessarily, just sitting with it and letting those feelings happen and not running from them, not drinking them away, not eating them away, not watching them away, just being there with them.

The other side of this is that I never knew that I was allowed to experience joy and happiness. I didn’t know that that was okay. I had to learn that being happy is okay, that it’s a good thing. They’re all emotions, we experience all of them, we should. None of them are better than the others. Sometimes we think that. We think something isn’t right. This isn’t right. Again, it should be something. It is exactly what it is. That’s given me a lot of peace now to even be okay with myself and not beat myself up, just sort of put the bat down and pick the feather up when things are really, really great and I’m stressed, I’m wondering when does this fall apart? I don’t deserve this. I’ve been a bad person, I’ve done bad things.

All that shame, it’s such a relationship with shame and understanding that relationship and then just telling shame okay, I hear you, get lost now, I don’t need you. I have a lot of peace now with whatever I’m feeling. Then understating that when I am trying to control, when I do want to make things better, that that’s not what I should be doing. It’s not what I’m supposed to be doing.

Kelsey: Right. If somebody’s got a lot of stress going on in their life, they’ve identified pieces of it that are uncontrollable, they’ve accepted it, let’s talk about the controlling side of things. What can somebody do to help control their stress level? What are your favorite techniques? What do you recommend to somebody?

Kendall: The self-care plan is my absolute go-to anytime I do a workshop, a class. I’ll be putting some of this out on my website actually soon in a free guide. But we create self-care plans and what that includes, and you can just make one yourself, what that includes is talking about how are you going to take care of yourself? What are your favorite things to do?

I actually surveyed 50 women recently and I said, what are your favorite self-care things to do? The list was pretty typical, it was like hiking, or taking baths, or getting massages. I do think that there are these different categories of self-care. I think that there is necessary self-care and then there’s indulgent self-care. For me necessary self-care looks like I need to meditate every day, I need to take my supplements, I need to eat well, what well means for me personally. I would never suggest what eating well looks like for anybody else if they’re not my client. Those are some important things. I need to walk. Then what I call indulgent is like an Epsom salt bath with essential oils, something that just feels really good. Or spending money, if you want to get a massage.

You do not have to spend money to perform really great self-care for yourself. I always make that really clear upfront. I get that kind of push back of well I don’t have any money. Well that’s not an excuse. There are too many things that we can do to take care of ourselves. Take an hour of your day that you wouldn’t normally have allowed yourself and go read a book, go knit, go color, go do something that you want to do and you think that you shouldn’t be doing it because you think that you should be doing things for other people.

Kelsey: Right. I feel like people have that idea that self-care has to be that indulgent type of self-care.

Kendall: That’s funny because of the women that I surveyed, my final question was if you could have any day of your ideal self-care, what would it look like? And 90% said a spa day.

Kelsey: Fair enough.

Kendall: But I have to look at that like why…and I’m the same way. We have this beautiful spa in the mountains in Asheville North Carolina called the Grove Park Inn and it really is my happy place. I try to go twice a year and it’s magical. When I leave I just feel like a brand new person. But I’m thinking like why in our society are we thinking that’s where we need to go? Are we that overwhelmed and exhausted that we need that getaway and that escape to feel better?

Laura: I wonder if part of it is that it’s actually someone else taking care of you in that situation?

Kendall: Absolutely.

Laura: We don’t know how to do it for ourselves, so we’re like let me go pay someone to put their hands all over me for two hours.

Kendall: Yeah, or not be needed. To not be needed, especially for moms. I am a mom of four and I have a daughter who has Asperger’s, so high functioning Autism. Life is pretty intense for us and I know what it’s like to just feel like you hit that wall. For me I start being really mean to everyone. I get really grouchy and that’s now my cue because I’m so in tune, that’s my cue to go, whoa, self-care time. What are you going to do for yourself? Get out of the house, get away. Go do something for just yourself.

Like you said, these women who also talked about wanting the spa, they talked about wanting someone to cook for them. It was a lot of women who were moms. We sacrifice so much for other people. We don’t have to be moms to experience that sacrifice, but moms definitely, definitely experience it in a way. And I think that because of that guilt that moms tend to feel, we just feel like oh this is our responsibility and to be a good mom I have to sacrifice myself and be a martyr. That is just not true. I want every mom who’s listening right now to recognize that you do not need to be a martyr to be a good mom.

Kelsey: Boom. That’s perfect, awesome. Jumping back for a second to the necessary self-care, I think that’s what you called it, and the indulgent self-care and creating this plan for yourself, what does that look like? When you sit down to write up a plan, how do you determine how much is necessary? What is the right amount of self-care for everybody? Or is it different for each person? What does that plan end up looking like?

Kendall: Typically I’ll just say, let’s say I’m working with a group of women or talking to someone and I’ll say just like write down all the things, don’t put barriers on it. Just write down the things you would love to do, the things that you know bring you pleasure. One of the things when I first went back into recovery, I was working with a therapist and he was like well what do you like to do? I was like, uh what? What do you mean? Like what do I like to do? He said Kendall, you are going to have to figure out what makes you happy and what you enjoy doing. That was that beginning of that self-care to self-love process for me. I started writing down the things like ballet and knitting, or going to a movie. I wrote this list of things that fit me and made me happy.

I’ll ask people to do that same thing. Write your list and we don’t have to figure out necessary or indulgent. Generally I’ll offer them some ideas if they’re struggling of what looks like self-care for them. Then we will go to what are the barriers? What are the things that are keep me from doing this? Then we’ll figure out well how are we going to overcome those barriers? How are we going to not allow those things…like how many of us said we’re going to meditate everyday? And then three days in for some reason it falls off, and then what happened?

What are those things that we’re going to do to do our very best, not be a perfectionist about it, but to do our very best to say I’m going to stay on top of this. I’m going to keep doing this because it’s important to me because I need to put myself first because I can’t be there for anybody else if I don’t, because I have to put my oxygen mask on first. That whole mentally just really kind of drilling that in to women that we absolutely have to put our self-care and our needs first and there’s not a single thing selfish about it. In fact it’s the opposite of selfishness.

Kelsey: Right.

Kendall: And so we do that, and then what I also insist on is an emergency kit self-care plan. We have these emergency kits for ourselves when we get hurt, we have Band-Aid’s and we have ointments and maybe we keep them in our cars, and maybe we keep them in our cabinets in our kitchen. But we don’t have emotional emergency kits when you’re at work and your boss drops a bomb on you, or you’re in traffic and you’re so stressed out and you’re late, or whatever millions of things that we all go through every single day that cause us great deals of stress.

In the emergency self-care plan, it might go something like, what’s the best compliment you’ve ever gotten from somebody? And you write that down on there. What thing can you do right now in this moment of this intense stress to take care of yourself? We have to make this emergency care plan before we’re in stress because we need to just go to it.

There’s these typical questions that go in with that that you can kind of look at, that can just calm you down, bring you back to that parasympathetic, that rested state of calm, get those cortisol levels to chill out a little bit, let you get out of that panicky state, and to be able to be like okay, this isn’t the end of the world. You make this emergency kit.

And then what I often give advice about is have an actual little box of things that make you happy. Maybe you have some essential oils in there, like some lavender or something, or one of those little lavender sachets that’s nice to smell that you would put in your clothes or pillow. Have that in there. For my teenager, we use Rescue Remedy lozenges which is a Bach Flower Remedy if you’re not familiar with that. That calms her down immediately when she gets into that panicky place. I’ll say, keep some rescue Remedy. I’ve been using that in my life and with my children since they were babies. That’s really great.

Then just anything you know just makes you…maybe you put a picture of something. Like at a workshop recently, one of the attendees said seeing a picture of her dog makes her really happy. Not that you just have on your phone, but it’s in this little kit so you go to it and go oh, and you can stop and you can think about all the fun times you have with your pup, and it’s going to be great when you get home and you can snuggle. Anything that can really take you out of that cortisol induced moment that you’re in and get your nervous system calmed down enough. And we just sort of do need to turn our mind, even if it’s just momentarily to go to this place where we can calm down and then we can deal with whatever is going on in a more mindful state, which we know is going to have a more productive outcome than if you go and we react.

We want to respond to whatever we’re facing versus react. Reacting is typically something we do, it’s not mindful, we haven’t thought about it, it can be impulsive. Like shooting off that email to your boss that you really shouldn’t send off, or your coworker, or a boyfriend, or a spouse, or whatever that text message that you know is going to be hurtful. Taking a breather, doing your emergency self-care plan, and then being able to figure out what is the best response for this situation.

Kelsey: Yeah. I love that idea of a physical little box. There’s something about holding something, having a physical representation of something that calms you down, something that makes you happy that I feel like is so different from, for example you were talking about having a picture of your dog on your phone. It’s just different holding that picture of him or her. It feels different to your body and I think there’s a history too of our ancestors having objects that represent other things. I kind of feel like this is a piece of that, taking from that idea which is really useful.

Kendall: Yeah. I’ve done a lot of genealogy work over the years and I have an area on my mantle in my bedroom where I have pictures of my ancestors, like my relatives going back even like two to four generations back. Some of them are really, really old. But I have these things on there. When I had my miscarriage, I knitted this little tiny hat just kind of as a symbolism of the baby who I named Bright. I have Bright’s ultrasound, so I have those. You would think going and looking at that would be bring me sadness, but it doesn’t because of the experience, or the way that that experience changed my life.

For me simply going and sitting in front of my ancestors and this little ultrasound of the baby I had, and all of that, it makes me still. It makes me pause. It makes me connected to these people who came before me and thinking about what they might have faced in their lives and how they got through it. I like to think of their power inside of me. I like to think that they passed that on and so I think of this kind of ancestral fire that comes from every ancestor I’ve ever had and it’s just burning inside of me to help me through my life and help me manage whatever I’m facing.

Like you said, there is this connection. Our ancestors had so much ritual no matter whether they came from Africa, or Europe, or wherever, they had ritual. That’s not something that we practice every day.

Kelsey: Right.

Kendall: I have really started incorporated that into my life because it does make me feel more connected and that always comes back to that connectedness.

Kelsey: Amazing, I love that. Kendall, where can people find you and what you’re working on? Anything you want to share that is coming up for you to our audience?

Kendall: Yeah. I blog at primal-balance.com and you can basically find me anywhere on social media using Primal Balance or Kendal Kendrick. I am working on two projects right now that I’m so excited about. I have a book that I’m working on right now that is actually some transcripts of my podcast, Born Primal: Conversations With The Ancestral Health Community. I’ve taken some of my favorite conversations about this connection to our ancestors and the ancestral health community and compiled them and I’m compiling them into a story.

Kelsey: Cool.

Kendall: Hopefully that will be out within the next couple of months. Then I’m also writing my memoir. That will be out later in 2017. Those are two things that I’m just really excited to finally be able to share with our community. Those are two kind of big things.

Kelsey: Very big.

Kendall: I’m trying to keep my priorities in the right place. I do tend to have this bouncing all over the place, so I’ve just made this real commitment to get these things out there and then we’ll see where we go from there.

Kelsey: That’s awesome. Good luck with all that.

Kendall: Thank you.

Kelsey: It sounds like a lot of work, but worthwhile.

Kendall: It is, it is.  I’m heading out for a week vacation in Florida so I’m putting it all out of my mind and I am just going to soak up every second of sunshine that I can.

Kelsey: Perfect. Well you enjoy that and thank you so much for joining us today. This was really interesting and I hope our audience will love it.

Kendall: Thank you so much ladies. I really, really appreciate it. And I also wish you both he best in all of your endeavors, love following you.

Kelsey: Thank you.