[00:00] Introduction/Ample & Marc Pro
[05:44] About Laura Schoenfield
[08:36] Why Laura Doesn't Want Abs
[13:14] Laura's Training Routine
[18:00] Women on Weightlifting
[24:26] Fearless Diet
[28:01] Why Fruit Is Good For You
[33:31] On Red Meat
[41:16] Kimera Koffee
[44:26] What is the “Daniel Fast”
[1:00:43] About NutraHacker
[1:09:52] Vitamin A & Vitamin D
[1:14:37] End of the Podcast
Ben: Hey folks, what's up? It's Ben Greenfield. I'm in Bulgaria, Sofia, Bulgaria. I'm about to go climb a giant mountain outside of town. I came here to speak to a group of men about how to be healthy, wealthy and wise. It was for an Infinite Man Summit over here in Eastern Europe. So I'm been eating plenty of lamb and rice and unidentified cheese-shaped objects. If you want to join me on any of my adventures, go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/calendar, and if you go there, you'll be able to see where I'm speaking, come race a Spartan race with me. The next one I'm doing is a Spartan Race Monterey. I'm flying straight from Bulgaria back over to Monterey, so shout out to those of you who are going to be there, and then onto Boise, I believe is where I'll be racing after taking the family on a quick vacation to seaside Oregon. So plenty going on.
Anyways, today's podcast is with a friend of mine. I'm going to keep her in mystery just because I feel like being mysterious right now. I'm going to keep her a mystery, but you're going to learn about how to conquer your fear of fruit, how to lift heavy stuff, how to get shredded for a wedding, how to eat fried pickles, and a whole lot more.
Now today's podcast is brought to you by a food product that does not include said pickles. This is actually something that I have been using every morning when I am at home and I have access to my blender to make myself morning chocolate ice cream. I dump a big bottle of this in with ice into my blender. I press go, it's got healthy fats from coconut and macadamia. It's got fiber and prebiotics for your digestive health to keep you full. It's got probiotics for immune and gut microbiome health. It's soy-free, it's gluten-free, and it’s GMO-free. It's got no artificial flavors, it's totally BPA-free, and it tastes really good. You don't have to have a blender. I also take it when I travel. For example when I'm travelling to Bulgaria on Turkish Airlines, and I don't feel like eating their Turkish Airlines microwaved eggs and two-year-old potatoes, I opt for this stuff instead. It's called Ample, Ample Meal. And it's perfect for just about anything you need it for, post-workout, breakfast, travelling on the go. I did an epic podcast with the dude that invented it. Comes in 400 or 600 calorie meal bottles, amazing stuff, and even more amazingly tastes good, guilt-free. Use code “Greenfield” for 15% off any order at amplemeal.com. That's “Greenfield” for 15% off any order at amplemeal.com.
This podcast is also brought to you by something that I use quite a bit recently on my big toe which I sprained while doing hill sprints up a hill with two cinder blocks slung over each of my shoulders because that's what I do. I've got two cinder blocks on chains on a hill behind my house, and when I go back there and run hills, I grab those cinder blocks. I drag them down the hill, then I pick up the chains to work my grip strength, and I walk them back down the hill. But I sprained my toe, so what I use on that toe is a special form of electrical muscle stimulation that uses what's called a dynamic decaying waveform, and this is the type of electrical muscle stimulation that is not that made for TV or I’ve seen on TVs, the six-pack ab muscle controlling unit which is kind of cool and it does work, but this one is for recovery. It's for conditioning, it's for performance, it's for massage it's for warm-up, and it actually can knock injuries out of the ball park. I actually surround the area that hurts with the electrodes that come with this bad boy. Flip it on for twenty minutes, and I heal up incredibly fast.
So it's called a MarcPro. It's the only major recovery product that's FDA cleared for pain relief. MarcPro, and you get promo code, I don't know why I told you that. By the way I'm not sure if you really care that it was FDA cleared for pain relief, but it is. So you could use promo code “Ben” at marcpro.com. That's promo code “Ben”, saves you 5% which actually saves you a lot at Marc Pro, MARCpro.com.
In this episode of The Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:
“If I'm on a super restricted diet or if I'm not getting enough calories, that's going to drive me to be a lot more neurotic around food that if I'm eating enough and eating a balanced diet that's well nourishing.” “There's really no evidence that eating a lot of whole fruit has any sort of long term health effects. Now if somebody's diabetic or they're trying to be on a ketogenic diet, yeah, eating fruit is not necessarily going to support their goals in the short term.” “A lot of my mental space have taken up my thoughts about my diet and fitness routine which is an ideal, but that mental space gets blown out of the water if I'm under eating or if I'm hungry all the time.”
Ben: Hey folks, welcome back to The Ben Greenfield Fitness Show, and I have on the podcast with me today the individual who actually first introduced me to eating fried pickles, ironically at a Weston A. Price Conference, and her name is Doctor, not Doctor. You're not a doctor are you, Laura?
Laura: No, probably never will be.
Ben: Yeah, you're an RD, not an MD, but regardless Laura, who I actually met, I'm going to make the Weston A. Price Conference on really unhealthy. I met her on a cocktail line drinking alcoholic beverages, and then like I mentioned, later on we found ourselves along with Laura's mom eating fried pickles at a little Southern joint next door to the Weston A Price Conference, but I think aside from fried pickles and alcohol, we pretty much ate very healthy for the rest of the time. Right, Laura?
Laura: Yeah, you're going to make me sound like the worst nutritionist ever, but.
Ben: The thing fried pickles and martinis. No, actually I got to know Laura a bit down there at the conference and realize that she actually a really good wealth of knowledge on things like ancestral diets and principles of biochemistry, and she has a lot of clinical experience working with a lot of people on things like overly restrictive eating, and inappropriate exercise and inadequate attention to sleep and stress management, and she actually is I guess very much like myself, kind of into this whole holistic approach to living life in a very healthy way without being overly orthorexic about every single bite that you put into your mouth as can be evidenced by the fried pickles and martinis. And you're about to get married, right Laura?
Laura: Yeah, it's I guess for a little under seven weeks from the day I'm recording, so getting there.
Ben: Nice. I think one of the things that we're going to be talking about later on is how you're getting shredded for your wedding 'cause I know you wrote a blog post about that recently, and I want to delve into some of your ideas.
Laura: And I literally just published on a blog post called “You Don't Really Want Abs”, so that'll play in too.
Ben: I may just ask you here in just a second about that. By the way, I'll put a link to Laura's website. She also has a podcast called “The Ancestral RDs” which you can find over on iTunes or wherever fine podcasts are sold. Go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/fearless, bengreenfieldfitness.com/fearless if you would like to access the show notes, Laura's website, her podcast, and everything else because Laura talks about having a fear free or fearless diet. We'll delve into that in just a second, but first, Laura, since you opened this can of worms, why don't you want abs?
Laura: Well, I think the title is something a little bit controversial, but the gist of the post without reading it from beginning to end is about how the desire to look a certain way or have a certain physical appearance is usually rooted in deeper issues of value and self-worth. Just a caveat, I'm not saying that people who have abs are that. If you're working towards getting abs, it's not necessarily a problem, and not everyone who's going towards that appearance is doing it for that deeper issue that I'm talking about in this post, but I work with a lot of people, and I've been through it myself where that desire to look a certain way to have a certain level of physical appearance and fitness can actually be driven by feelings of unworthiness or feelings that if we could just accomplish that goal of looking perfectly that we would finally be confident, feel accepted by others and really truly be happy, and I just don't see that happening for people usually, and I didn't see that for myself when I was at my lowest weight and my leanest in college. Like I said, it's kind of a super vulnerable post I was just thinking as I was publishing it. You know it's a good post if you have a little bit of a panic attack after you push publish.
Ben: So basically you're just saying you don't want your physique goals tied to your sense of value or worth, basically rather than just wanting abs or any other element of a perfect body, that's ultimately not going to bring you true happiness versus pursuing something perhaps a little more meaningful.
Ben: But abs are pretty fun.
Laura: Speaking from a man who has abs, right?
Ben: Yeah. I mean honestly when we come at this from a functional standpoint before all the physical therapists and the chiropractors come leaping through the microphones and throttle us, I think that if you can do bottoms-up kettlebell exercises and bird dogs and a few different manners of twisting, and core planking, and abdominal stability or bracing exercises, you are going to have abs. They might be covered up with a slight layer of healthy fat which I think for most people, offers more pros than cons if it really is a slight layer of subcutaneous, not like visceral, heart attack inducing fat or inflammation producing fat. But ultimately, I think there's a difference between having a strong functional core versus having I guess what you're talking about, ripped abs.
Laura: Yeah, definitely. The photo that I used on the website is one that probably has been used by many fitness professionals trying to sell their products. So yeah, it's not about being strong or having functionally healthy core. Obviously, I think a lot of people can develop strength in their core, in strong bodies and in fit bodies, but they're not going to necessarily look like they belong in the cover of Sports Illustrated or something, so.
Ben: Actually, yeah. I mean some of the strongest people you see or know, you take like I think probably a guy who has an extremely strong core, Pavel Tsatsouline, who's written “The Naked Warrior” and all these functional training books. He doesn't look like a shredded men's health model, but the dude is freaking strong like a bull in a very functional way.
Laura: Exactly, so it's more like the appearance side of things for this post, and that's kind of where I work with a lot of my clients on hooking their ideas of self-worth from the physical appearance stuff. Because at the end of the day, there's a lot of people out there like you said that are super healthy, they're eating well, exercising regularly, really strong, functionally very strong and they feel good, but they have this sense of inadequacy because they don't feel like they look like they should be able to deadlift 300 pounds or something, and it can cause a lot of problems. I mean I just see it in my clients a lot where they're just never satisfied, and they're never happy, and there's a difference between working towards goals and still living your life and still enjoying your life versus the issue that I see with a lot of my clients where their whole enjoyment of life is hinging whether or not they can lose the last 10 to 20 pound or something. I just think it's really unfortunate because it ends up causing a lot of emotional stress, and ultimately it can actually backfire on your actual physique goals.
Ben: What does your training program actually look like? Are you a heavy lifter? Are you a crossfitter? How do you train?
Laura: Well, it's changed a decent amount over the last ten plus years. I was a D3 volleyball player for a couple years in college, so in college I was working out all the time 'cause I literally had nothing else to do. College was very easy.
Ben: I don't remember if we talked about that. So you played volleyball in college?
Laura: Yeah, just a little bit.
Ben: Nice, me too. I played middle, University of Idaho.
Laura: Oh, I played outside hitter at Gettysburg College for a year and a half, so it was a big increase in my training from high school going from normal practice after school to morning workouts with the football team and then afternoon training with the volleyball team and then weekend tournaments. So I essentially went from a normal fitness approach to really high intensity fitness athlete type of approach in college. And then after I graduated college and life got busy, obviously learning how to incorporate fitness into a busy schedule. You're not able to go to the gym for three hours a day like you can when you have a couple of classes a week. I've kind of balanced a lot. I'd say the last two years that I've been working with a strength and conditioning coach, most of my workouts tend to be pretty strength focused, like normal powerlifting, deadlifts, squats, bench presses, overhead presses, thinks like that. And then a decent amount of high intensity stuff like kettlebell swings, sled pushes, rowing. That kind of stuff that's a little lighter in weight, but more reps, higher intensity, and I have been doing about twice a week on average with that, and then just walking those other days.
Just coming up to my wedding, I figured I would just try to kick it up a little bit, and I moved to more of three or four days a week approach with three of the days working with my coach and then just throwing in an extra day of hit training with the group program at his gym. So, that has only been in the last couple of weeks that I started adding a little extra just to finish the last few months of my engagement with a little extra exercise, but generally I only train two to three days a week. And ironically, I mean I was definitely “fitter” in college 'cause I was so low stress and exercising all the time, but I'm a lot stronger now than I ever was, and I actually in the two years that I've been training with my coach, I actually lost twenty pounds that I've gained during grad school, and that's only working out two to three times a week. So I tend to be kind of lazy, and I don't like to train a ton, so it's really nice to be able to maintain a good level of fitness, and hit some PRs that I would have never expected, and this isn't bragging, so I'm sure there's lots of people that listen to your podcast that would listen to this and be like she's super weak, but I couldn't do a chin up before. I think my PR is seven in a row at this point, and then my max deadlift got up to 250. I'm kind of more at the 225 now after having lost weight, but these were things that I never thought I could ever do back when I was training five, six, seven days a week, and it's just kind of amazing that I'm able to accomplish these things.
Ben: You have long arms and long legs too. You're a tall person, so seven pull-ups, and pulling that for a dead, it's pretty good. It's not like you're a short squatty girl.
Laura: Yeah, no I'm 5'9, so got a decent amount of length to move a deadlift through, so which I definitely complain to my coach about, but I'd say it's really cool to just see the progress that's come from not killing myself in the gym like I used to do when I was younger.
Ben: Okay, so you used to train in a way that you would consider to be unhealthy before you got into this scenario?
Laura: Yeah, I mean, I don't think I ever had like an exercise bulimia-type issue, like I would never be on a treadmill for two hours at a time or something, but I used to spend a lot of time in the gym, and I used to go most days during the week, and then also when I was doing the more high intensity, crossfit boot camp kind of stuff, I would always be so, so sore after those workouts to the point where it was like I could hardly even walk down stairs, and truthfully, I don't think I was gaining a ton of strength. I think I was just crushing myself and thinking that was effective, so it's just been really cool to see the progress that I've made in this training program I'm doing now because honestly even though the workouts are tough, I rarely feel that sore. I feel a little soreness, but when I'm talking about can't walk up and down stairs sore that was what I thought was necessary in the past to really get results. So it's kind of cool to not have to deal with that 'cause it really sucks to not be able to sit on the toilet without wincing in pain.
Ben: (laughs) I hear it. A lot of women are afraid of heavy lifting though. How did you overcome that fear? You talk a lot about fear on your blog post. That's why I'm throwing around this word and asking you that specifically. Was it hard for you, especially I think women tend to deal with this more than men. Some men who are into running and endurance training, marathoning, who don't want to say put on mass or have to cheetah-print unitard. They also are not into the heavy lifting scene. But how did you make that shift mentally to be able to just start lifting heavy stuff, not crucify yourself metabolically with every workout and instead just start to move bigger things around?
Laura: Well, I'd say the biggest mental shift for me was going from thinking about exercise as purely a weight loss strategy or looking a certain way strategy to more of a performance and enjoyment perspective, so there's something super fun about being able to do something you weren't able to do before. I remember getting my first chin-up and just being, “oh my gosh. This is amazing, I can't believe I just did a chin up. I didn't think I'd ever be able to do a chin-up”. So just having that excitement over accomplishing something physically that I really never thought I'd be able to do combined with the idea that performance in the gym is more important to me than losing weight or constantly seeing progress on the scale, or my clothing size, or whatever that more aesthetic goal setting that would force me to do with exercise, and I know this is so cliché, but I feel like the ironic part is that focusing on performance and strength objectively has gotten my physique significantly better than it ever was when I was focusing on weight loss, so I know that people say that all the time, and I don't think I truly believed it when people were saying it before, and it's not like this happened overnight.
Like I said, I've been training this way for about two years at this point, so it definitely has taken awhile to get to the level that I feel like my physique is where I want it to be and where I feel I would have had a goal to get here at that one point, but I never really was looking at training as being a weight loss purpose. It was more I want to get fit, I want to get strong, I want to feel good, I want to not have back pain or weird pains that are happening because I'm not moving enough. That kind of happened in grad school in my first year of business when I was kind of on the computer way too much and that kind of thing. So just the goal of feeling good and accomplishing things that are fun really took it to the next level for me, and it prevented me from overdoing things 'cause it's not fun to work out when you don't feel good. It's not fun to work out when you're so sore, so I never forced myself to do anything that was uncomfortable or caused pain.
Ben: It's actually a really good point and I see this a lot, people who wind up signing in for a competition or let's say a Spartan race, or a triathlon, or a marathon, or anything else that would be different than just an aesthetic goal, and they start training for that, wind up being happier with their training than people who are just training like you mentioned, for the abs or for the glutes. For me when I work out, and I know that my workout for that specific day is designed to allow me to climb a rope better, carry something heavy up a hill and get my mile time down. It gives me a ton of direction in my training and makes me far happier when it’s goal-based like that versus me just saying oh, I got to burn off last night's cheesecake.
Laura: Right, and actually speaking about the food, I think that performance mindset leads people, myself included, to eat in a way that actually supports your health as opposed to constantly being in this restrictive, low-calorie mindset because when you're trying to do a 250-pound deadlift, you can't go in without having eaten that day. So a lot of my clients, especially the women, but I guess there are some men that want to lose weight that do this as well, but when they're focused so much on weight loss, they are training fasted all the time.
They're trying to minimize their carb intake, they're avoiding foods that are high calorie, and they're just trying to cut, cut, and cut as far as their diet is concerned, and their performance goes to crap, and then they actually end up gaining weight 'cause they're not supporting their body's optimal performance. So when you have that fat loss mentality non-stop, I mean it's okay to have periods of time where your goal is fat loss, and you're manipulating things to try to accomplish that. But over the long run, if you're eating and training to perform well, I find that the food choices tend to really support good body composition changes as opposed to stuff that going to cause HPA Access Dysregulation, and high cortisol, and catabolic-type of hormonal balance.
Ben: Right, that or, and I see this in I think probably more men than women, but I see it in both people. Other than just training to lose weight or training to beat one's body up so you feel really good about yourself or training for just the metabolic aspect, training to eat and eating to train. Right, you see that a lot too? Where people literally are just on the treadmill an hour a day just so they can eat a big meal that night then rinse, wash and repeat the next day.
Laura: Yeah, I think you were mentioning on our podcast that you were facilitating that experience back in, I don't know if it was high school or college when you were training people and also working in a French bakery?
Ben: Oh yeah. Back in college, I literally worked at a French bakery where I was making croquet monsieur and chocolate croissant and all sorts of things like that in the morning, stirring them to this big lineup of people, and then across the street was the gym that I work out in the evening, and I'd see the same people at the gym in the evening, right, who'd been buying my baked goodies in the morning, and then they'd show up at the gym in the evening and basically train it all off, and then show up at the French bakery the next morning, and it was a perfect little cycle for me financially.
Laura: Maybe not for them, for their health though.
Ben: Yeah, probably not serving their health that well. So that's probably a perfect transition point for us to talk a little bit about foods because you talk about having a fear-free diet, and I'm curious. When you say there's foods or maybe food issues that people are afraid of, what exactly do you mean by that? Like what are some examples of being fearful of food?
Laura: Well, and just to give a caveat, I tend to work with people that are coming from the Paleo ancestral health kind of approach, so the ones that I see are going to be different than maybe…
Ben: They're not obsessed with food at all.
Laura: (laughs) No, they don't care about food. It's totally just whatever. So my clients I would say typically are going to have a fear around sugar. They're going to have a fear around carbs in general. Gluten is definitely one of those specific food items that people tend to be afraid of, and sometimes there's other things like dairy is sometimes a fear, but it's not… I don't know, dairy doesn't seem to create the same level of anxiety as things like sugar, and carbs, and gluten do. We have had some questions on our podcast. We actually just answered a question recently about iron status where somebody was asking how they could safely increase their red meat intake, and so I think there's still some fear around red meat for people who probably don't need to worry about how much red meat they're eating.
I would say that really any food could drive some level of fear depending on what background the person's coming from. If they're vegan, I'm sure they're afraid of things like butter and red meat. If you're Paleo, you might be afraid of sugar and gluten. If you're ketogenic, you might be afraid of carbs, but I think this fear around these foods are causing a lot of problems for people not only from an emotional health perspective, but I do think it drives a lot of health issues when somebody has a lot of anxiety and fear around the food that they're eating, and for me what a fear-free diet means is not that you're eating whatever, and that you don't have any food avoidances or any decision-making heuristics for your diet, so I think people assume that if they’re not paying attention to their diet that they're just going to be eating Krispy Kreme for every meal or fried pickles and martinis as we were eating at the Weston Price Foundation Conference. But there's a difference between being afraid of something like sugar versus recognizing that eating a lot of sugar may not be the healthiest choice, and it's probably not something you want to do a ton of, but having some here and there is not the end of the world, and it's not going to cause your body harms.
So in my work with clients, my goal is to get them on a diet that does make them feel their best physically but doesn't revolve around this fear or shame-based decision making process. So either they're afraid of something causing physical harm to themselves or they're afraid that if they eat something, it's going to cause them to gain weight or get fat, or they just talk really negatively to themselves about their food choices and then maybe end up eating the food later. So I see fear around food causing a lot of disordered eating. I see it causing a lot of binging and restricting. Avoidance of foods that aren't actually unhealthy in moderation.
Ben: Right. It think what you just pointed out is a very, very good point, like foods in moderation. So for example like fruit, or even like fructose, right? People give fructose a bad rep. Robert Lustig has certainly said that fructose is the bane of modern living and how it causes obesity worldwide. When in fact most of the studies are based off of giving the amount of over a dozen Coca-Colas to rodents in the lab and then saying, oh hey look, the fructose have seemed to have caused an issue when in fact there was a recent study just last week that showed a serving of fruit each day lowers the risk of Type-2 Diabetes. There's a lot of reasons not to be afraid of fructose, but I have this supplement that I take. It's like a Chinese adaptogenic herb. It's called Tian Chi. It's this little power packet of all sorts of great little herbs like ashwagandha, and club moss, and beet root, in there, a whole bunch of cool things, but it has… I believe it comes out to about two or three grams of fructose in it which is nothing. It's like a drop in the bucket.
Laura: Like three blueberries or something.
Ben: It is, it’s like three blueberries. You would be shocked that the number of people who e-mail me and say Ben, how on earth can you promote a supplement that has on its label near the top of the label, near the beginning of the label which it's still again three, four grams maybe, fructose? I can't eat this. I'm in ketosis. I'm an Ironman athlete in ketosis, I cannot have these three to four grams of fructose from this blend. My response to them is this is a complete speed bump. You have so much bigger fish to fry than trace amounts of fructose in a daily piece of fruit, or a tiny little packet that has raw honey or fructose or agave or something like that in it. That's a huge one to you people, just the word fructose period. no matter what amount, people run for the hills when in fact, all of the studies that have been done on it, you're basically like mainlining high fructose corn syrup into the bloodstream, not like having a pair or a supplement with a few grams of fructose in it.
Laura: Right. Well, and fruit I think gets this unfair bad rep because of the whole fructose controversy, and like you were saying with these studies, they're mainlining fructose essentially in consuming extremely high amounts with no micronutrients associated with them, and regardless of the micronutrition of fruit, the amount that they're using is the equivalent if you were going to have five bananas in one sitting or something like that. So I think fear around fruit is super common in the Paleo community, and it's really ridiculous. There's really no evidence that a high consumption of fruit in your diet has any negative outcomes, and really most of the evidence that exists for a high quantity and variety of fruit intake actually shows a reduced incidence of Type-2 Diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
So fruit is not just this water balloon full of coke or something. It's not just fructose, it does have lots of prebiotics in it, it has lots of polyphenols in it, lots of micronutrients in it. So just to look at fruit as being this fructose bomb I think is super inaccurate and not really serving people, and for most of my clients especially the ones that need more carbs to support the kind of exercise choices that they're doing. So if they're doing things like crossfit or high-intensity interval training or powerlifting and they need a higher carb intake, fruits have really easy convenient source of that, and to be afraid of fruit, not only is unnecessary, but it can actually cause problems for them because they end up not getting enough carbs, and then that causes lots of different hormonal issues, HP Access Dysregulation and all that stuff that comes from an imbalanced carb intake with the type of training that they're doing.
So I actually have an article and a podcast about fruit 'cause I have so many clients that are like oh I eat lots of fruit, I had like half a banana and half a cup of blueberries today. I'm like so, you had one serving or maybe two servings if we counted half a banana as a serving, so I'm very pro-fruit. I think there's really no evidence that eating a lot of whole fruit has any sort of long term health effects.
Now if somebody's diabetic or they're trying to be in a ketogenic diet, yeah, eating fruit's not necessarily going to support their goals in the short term, but there's no evidence that fruit causes diabetes, and there's no evidence that eating fruit for the average person is going to cause problems.
Ben: Right, exactly, and there are some people granted, who do have full blown fructose intolerance which a lot of times is related to issues with tight junctions and a leaky gut and things that need to be repaired before someone can have high amounts of fruit. And then some people have small intestine bacterial overgrowth where something that responds really well to a low food map diet where you eliminate a lot of fructans and fermentable things like fruit and many cases, those people who get away with some stone fruits like apples and pears do rest well with some of the more fermentable fruits like melons and things like that, but it's a pretty small number of people that fall into that category and need to do complete fruit elimination or who have some kind of massive fructose intolerance. But yeah, for the most part, I think fruit is a biggie.
Now you also mention red meat, and I want to call you out on that just a little bit and find out your perspective on this because I personally am a little bit, I guess, afraid of red meat. I'm a hunter, you know. I hunt wild game, I eat giant rib-eye steaks. I like my meat, but at the same time based on some of the research I've seen on insulin-like growth factor, and growth hormone, and constant activation of mTOR pathways, and its effect on longevity, even like good grass-fed, grass-finished meat. I actually do limit, especially my red meat intake. So I have meat once every three days or so, and for most of my protein in between those days is some eggs, some seeds, some nuts, some types of fish, things like that, but I am pretty careful with things like red meat. Can you make an argument that it is prudent in some cases to have moderation of some of these foods or to have a healthy fear of them?
Laura: Well, I don't consider fear around food to be healthy no matter what the circumstances are, so having fear around red meat versus choosing to avoid it because you have a health goal that you're working to. I think there's a distinction between the motivational factors there. But as far as a healthy avoidance of red meat, there are definitely some populations that would benefit from keeping red meat intake to a minimum. There are people that do have certain types of genetics that make them more sensitive to saturated fat and having higher levels of cholesterol which I think there's this assumption that high cholesterol is not a problem at all, and even though it maybe not be as much of a problem as people think it is, having super high LDL or LDL particle sizes, or I'm sorry, particle number is not really a good long term situation for people to be in. So anyone who's super sensitive to saturated fat, certainly just the quantity of red meat, so if you're having a four ounce portion of steak versus a fourteen ounce portion of steak, I'm going to look at that as very different. So somebody having a couple of meals a week where it's a four ounce portion is totally different than someone who's slamming a ten ounce ribeye five nights a week or something like that.
Ben: Right. So what you're referring to would be people who have familial hypercholesterolemia or I believe would be, is it like a…
Laura: Epo E?
Ben: Yeah, like a GG copy of the Epo E. Like if you've done 23andMe, you can easily go in, and you can look at the snip responsible for cholesterol, or high cholesterol specifically, actually being atherosclerotic, and usually what you'll see is really high. At least what I've seen, like really high LDL cholesterol and people who are doing a bulletproof or a high fat diet, like a 300, 400 plus, and off the charts applebee levels and off the charts particle counts, and those are the people who you say, you may want to check out your genes. You may want to be that person who eats, I believe our mutual friend, Chris Masterjohn, did an entire podcast on this. I'll train and hunt it down and put it in the show notes, but about how those people would do really well in what’s called a Kitavan diet where the dietary staples are tubers, and yam, and sweet potato, and taro, fish, coconut, fruit, and you're actually doing 70 to 80% carbohydrate in that case, and there was a lady who I did a nutrition consult with a couple of days ago, and her LDL was 400 plus. She was doing a ketonic-based diet. Her applebee levels were through the roof, and she had her 23andMe data, so I downloaded her raw data, and I looked at that snip, and sure enough, she had full blown familial hypercholesterolemia, and I told her, “hey, you should stop doing butter in your coffee tomorrow and switch to a Kitavan-based diet”.
So yeah, what you're saying make sense. There are certain people who, maybe fear isn't the right word, but I guess intelligent choice when it comes to some of these foods does have to come into play.
Laura: Yeah, and again there are certain conditions like hemochromatosis, for example, if you have high iron levels which is again a genetic condition. Eating a lot of red meat probably isn't a good idea, or for example, my father has very low-grade prostate cancer, and there's a lot of research about prostate cancer risk and red meat. And from the research that we looked at, lower red meat intake is better for someone with either a risk of prostate cancer or active prostate cancer, and over the last few years that he had that diagnosis, he's actually had a reduction in his PSA number because of the diet and supplement changes that he's made. My mom's an RD as well. As you mentioned earlier in the podcast, luckily he's got a living nutritionist that are making these decisions for him. I wouldn't say he's afraid of red meat, but he's definitely significantly reduced his red meat intake, and his cholesterol is lower and he also, like I said, had a lower PSA account the last couple of times it's been checked.
So, there's definitely certain conditions where a lower intake of red meat is a good idea. However, a general fear of red meat as something that causes cancer in any quantity or anything like that, I think, is definitely excessive. So usually my approach with diet is variety in all areas of the diet is always better than overeating on any certain thing too much. So maybe that's too much red meat, too many sweet potatoes, too much butter, anything that you're eating in really high quantities as a large proportion of your diet has the potential to cause problems, so variety is definitely super important. I think the quantity of the food you're eating matching the amount of exercise you're doing is important. So someone's training as a triathlete or a private-day-a-week crossfitter's going to have a different response to high intake of proteins and that kind of stuff than someone who's a couch potato.
And then also with meat and cancer risk, there's a lot of good stuff that a woman named Denise Minger has written about methionine versus glycine balance which I'm sure a lot of your listeners are familiar with, but there's some thought that just eating the super lean meats and not getting the connective tissue is something that contributes to cancer risks. So I think nutrition is really complicated unfortunately, but we also over complicate it, and we pick certain foods that we say don't eat that or this is a never food or this is a eat everyday food, and I think it tends to over simplify things and demonize foods that really aren't that big of the deal, so even a little sugar here and there, I think in the context of a nourishing, well-balanced diet, having some sugar is not going to cause problems for most people.
So think just approaching it from a perspective that you want to feed yourself well, so that way your body is functioning optimally. You're supporting the type of workout that you enjoy doing. You're not undereating, you're not overeating. You're not eating things that make you feel super bloated or cause GI disturbance. You're not eating things that are directly counter negated with your particular genetics, but you're not taking it so seriously that if you accidentally, or not even accidentally, but if you chose to have that some gluten even if you know that really gluten in a frequent basis in your diet doesn't feel so goods, choosing to have it once a while is not the end of the world, and it's not something that needs to cause anxiety or guilt tail spin.
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Ben: Now speaking of diets and things like that, you did a diet that I personally find fascinating 'cause I've heard about it before, and it's based on the Bible which is really interesting. Are you familiar by the way with AJ Jacob? I think it's AJ Jacobs? And the guy that wrote the book about how he did the year of living biblically? Have you heard of them before?
Laura: Have not, I haven't.
Ben: Okay, so AJ Jacobs is freaking hilarious. I'll link to this book in the show notes over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/fearless for men who want to follow it, but he tried to follow every biblical law that existed. So he didn't shave his beard at all, and he wore special clothing, and he would, I think it was in front of strip clubs or areas where there were prostitutes or strippers or whatever. He would, because the Bible says to do this, throw stones at adulterers. Meaning he would literally take tiny pebbles, and he would throw them at men who were with hookers and stuff like that as he walked down the streets or women who were dressed provocatively, and hilarious guy. It's called “The Year of Living Biblically”. I'll put a link to the book again in the show notes, but you didn't throw stones at adulterers, but you did this thing called the Daniel Fast. Can you fill me in on what this Daniel Fast thing is?
Laura: Yeah, so the Daniel Fast is based on two books of the Bible. Oh right, I shouldn't say two books, two areas in the Bible of the book of Daniel where the prophet Daniel chose to abstain from pleasurable food or from meat or anything that was considered not kosher, to just be obedient to God and to not allow His personal suffering to cause him to do things that would be against kosher law at that time. So for example, there's a lot of guidelines around meat in the Bible, and I'm not going to get into details but basically he was saying well instead of eating this meat that is not kosher, I'm just going to skip it, and I'm just going to eat vegetables for 10 days or three weeks or however long the specific chapter of the book was.
So it was a decision to abstain based on the desire to be obedient to God even in the face of suffering. I know that sounds a little intense, but essentially we were doing it as a church to realign our focus and our decision making to not necessarily be using food for comfort or for numbing any sort of negative emotions or looking for food to make us feel better when we should really be prioritizing our relationship with God in that situation instead, so I figured I would try it. I wasn't super stoked about it 'cause essentially it's a pretty strict vegan diet. It's like if you combined Paleo with vegan where you're not allowed to do anything that's processed. Basically it was just beans, and greens, and fruit and stuff.
Ben: Yeah. Which granted for people who have been eating a really toxic unhealthy diet which sadly, and I'm actually getting a guy named Joel Solano on my podcast to talk about this. A lot of Christians ironically who are supposed to be taking care of their bodies and treating them as temples of God and things like that. You go to youth groups and church meetings. The kids are eating GMO, corn-based Twinkies, and nasty burgers from commercial feed lock cattle where you got a bunch of cows being abused in barns that you'd think Christians would care about, but they don't seem to.
In many cases, I would say that switching to a plant-based, meat-free diet like that would detox you a little bit if you are living, I guess. Not to throw Christians under the bus, but I am a Christian. I know you are as well, but kind of like that typical Christian diet where you're spiritual, so you don't have to care about your body. I think there's something we said for cleaning up the body like that.
Laura: Yeah, there's a level of, I would say disregard for physical health that is common in the American Christian church. It's unfortunate 'cause I think there is a lot of benefits taking care of yourself from a spiritual perspective.
Ben: Or taking care of the planet, right? Like taking into consideration when you're eating a chicken wing at a Christian whatever, like the local Super Bowl party at your church. You may want to actually consider whether or not that came from a farm where they're raping the soil and keeping a bunch of chickens basically cooped up in a giant pen and abusing God's creatures versus free-range, pastured animals exposed to rotational grazing and taking care of the soil and taking care of the planet. In my opinion, not to go down too deep of a rabbit hole. That's the way that we should be treating the planet, and that's the way we should be treating God's creatures.
Laura: And I hate to be the devil's advocate, but my fiancée comes from a family of pig farmers who are contract pig farmers or the stereotypical kayfo-style of pig farming. So I think that I do need to just say that it's really easy to demonize choices like that from looking from the outside, but when that's your livelihood, I think it's really hard to… Basically they don't even own the pigs, they're just taking care of them. If they were to try to do it differently, nobody would give them pigs, so I will say like I said. I definitely agree. I've been to Joel's farm multiple times. I love it, and I love seeing the way that he takes care of his animals and the planet and all that. I just have to say I've also seen the other side of it with my fiancée’s family, and they're good people. So I think it's really tough to say whether it's Christian or not. Like you said, we don't want to get down too much of a rabbit trail there, but I had similar beliefs before I met my fiancée’s family, and I really feel like they're doing the best that they can with what they have available and what they know. You can't get out of that system and just start a pastured pig farm because they don't have the means to do that.
Ben: Alright, so you're saying you have to face reality and survive before you make that switch into turning all the pigs loose out in the pasture, something like that.
Laura: Right, and the pigs that they have are actually pretty aggressive, so they're kind of dangerous if they're running around loose like that.
Ben: It's pretty dangerous, yeah. I had a pig as a pet growing up. My parents bought one to kill the snakes. It was a little pot-bellied pig named Wilma, and it wasn't really dangerous, but I remembered it used to wake me up by sitting its giant, fat ass pig butt on my chest, and I'd wake up in morning with a pig sitting on me. So I do remember that, but yeah. It was aggressive against the snakes.
Laura: Long story short, it's a systemic issue, and I think choosing to buy the meat that's been raised in a better way I think is the first step. So we as consumers have that choice to get better products and put our money into the things that are going to support the Earth and hopefully see some bigger systemic changes, but I just would hate to blame the people who are raising the food because they really can't get out of their situation the way it is currently. Anyway, with the Daniel Fast.
Ben: Back to the Daniel Diet, yeah what happened with that?
Laura: So it was just funny because like you said, a lot of people that will do this fast are used to eating lots of sugar, lots of greens, lots of junk food. A lot of my friends that were doing the fast were like, I miss Oreos or I just want a cookie, and I'm like I just want meat. I just want chicken, I just want eggs. Literally I had to cave in have an egg one of the nights that I was doing it. I was like, “oh my god, this is the best egg I've ever had in my life.” So it's just kind of funny because it's supposed to clear you from dependence on junk food and sugar and stuff like that and coffee and everything that's like the same thing that's doing a whole thirty or something would be breaking your dependency on. But for me it was very obvious that there would be no way that I would be able to survive as a vegan. I just felt awful. My fiancée was doing that the same time, and he's like six foot four and probably has to eat three to four thousand calories a day, and he was like, “I had a potato for dinner.” I was like, “babe, you need to eat more than that”, so we were both starving the whole time.
And so, it was really interesting to see what happened with my mental state on this diet because I work with a lot of clients with things like binge eating tendencies and “sugar cravings” which I honestly believe most people that are having sugar cravings are just struggling with malnutrition, and if you're well-nourished that sugar cravings are pretty much non-existent. And it was hilarious because I had these chocolates in my pantry that had been there, I want to say like two months at that point. My fiancée bought them for me for Christmas, and this was I think February that we were doing this, and I hadn't thought about those chocolates for at least a month at that point. And as soon as I did this Daniel Fast, I would open the pantry to look for whatever beans I was going to eat for dinner something, and I was like, oh my gosh, I want this chocolate so bad and I'm craving it and I just want it, and it needs to be like I have to be able to have it, and I was struggling.
Ben: I feel the same way. So once a week, starting in January, I started doing 24-hour fasts where on Saturday night, I'll stop eating, and then I'll have a big family dinner with the family on Sunday, and not eat between Saturday when I go to bed and then Sunday dinner. And I find myself at about lunch time on Sunday beginning to plan Sunday night's dinner, like I'm taking steaks out and thawing it. I'm walking to the pantry and stroking my chin and saying okay, this is going to taste really good, so I'd should set that out, and God forbid I should look at a chocolate bar because my stomach will start to flip.
So it is interesting, you learn a great deal of self-denial and a great deal of delayed gratification when you begin to throw in these fasts. And granted when we look at something like the modern version of the Mediterranean diet, it's kind of bastardized, right? Because it's a whole bunch of people buying the giant blocks of feta cheese from Costco and drinking copious amounts of olive oil and shoving handfuls and handfuls of seed and nuts down their throats when in fact if you look at a true Mediterranean diet, they're not only eating a lot of organ meats for example, Colin Champ. I don't know if you know Colin, he's an MD, he's usually at like Paleo effects. He's a good guy in the Functional Medicine Movement, and he wrote an entire article about this in addition to all of these elements of a Mediterranean diet that we don't see in the popular Westernized version of it. They also do a lot of fasting and a lot of periods of meat restriction, and a lot of these things that probably contribute just as much to the heart-healthy nature of the Mediterranean diet as sucking down copious amounts of olive oil.
Laura: Yeah, and I think it's with the Daniel Fast that I did. One issue is that in the Mediterranean, they're not doing powerlifting for the most part. So I think if I hadn't been training, I probably would have been okay, but training on top of that was pretty rough and then just stress of running a business and being hungry at the same time. I think I could've been a little bit more tolerant of some hunger had I not had to work 10 hours with clients and have my brain functioning optimally. So I think the lifestyle mismatch there is also a problem, so I wouldn't recommend trying to do cross fit and Daniel Fast at the same time, but my real experience was just I realized that a lot of my mental space gets taking up by thoughts about my diet and fitness routine which is an ideal, but that mental space gets just blown out the water if I'm undereating or if I'm hungry all the time. So if I'm on a super restricted diet or if I'm not getting enough calories, that' going to drive me to be a lot more neurotic around food than if I'm eating enough and eating a balanced diet that's well-nourishing.
So that I would say was my big take home point, and not that I was necessarily unconvinced of that fact, but I had never experienced it before, and it just gave me a lot more empathy for my clients who are dealing with these sugar cravings and feeling neurotic around food because they're on such a restrictive plan and they just feel they either can't eat anything or they end up being a thousand calories short everyday 'cause they avoid so many different foods. So it was an interesting experience, I also turned into kind of a butt head during that time. I already struggled with some impatience and I was just fully impatient with everything, and my poor fiancée was just tolerating my meanness during that time, and he was tired himself from the fast, so I just thought it was interesting to see what kind of negative mood or mental effects happen when you're malnourished.
Ben: Yeah, I hear you. And the other thing I think that you just highlighted is the fact that maybe ancient man was looking at some powerlifting. When I'm trying to follow what you hear a lot of trickled down advice in the ketogenic community, right? Eat 20 to 30 grams of carbohydrates per day only or have an 8-hour compress feeding window, and fast for the other sixteen hours of the day. When you try and combine that with Spartan training or Ironman training or marathon training or powerlifting, you have to realize you're trying to marry a natural “ancestral” diet with a modern, kind of unnatural form of movement which is crushing oneself by fighting a battle or running from a lion every day or multiple times a day. So you have to put that in the back of your head. You can’t marry unnatural exercise with a natural diet, and expect for things to just flourish. You got to pick your battles wisely.
And what I tell people is if you really truly want to live a long time and optimize nutrient density, and optimize recovery, and optimize hormonal status, you really would just garden and engage in light physical movement during the day, and maybe once a week or a couple times a week, you'd have a little bit of a battle where you're building a rock wall or running from a lion or something like that, but you're certainly not going to do it every evening at 5 p.m. at the crossfit logs. And if you are going to do that, you got to change up your nutrition just a little bit from maybe what our ancestors would have done.
Laura: Yeah, I mean I'm all for real food and ancestral health and the whole idea of eating the way that our bodies were designed to eat, but I also, like you said, recognize that the kind of fitness that we are doing nowadays is really not natural, and that doesn't mean it's bad, but you can't just expect a low carb Paleo diet with intermittent fasting every day to support doing crossfit five days a week. And I think there's this myth in the Paleo community that that's normal and that's healthy and yeah, maybe you can function on that for a couple months, but I get all the people that have done it for several months are now in my office working with me because they just crash and they feel awful. Hopefully this'll help people avoid that, but if you haven't avoided it, come to me, I will help you get out of that situation cause it's not a good one to be in.
Ben: Now we've already established the fact that you're okay with fried pickles here and there. Even though I was a little bit shocked I thought that the fried pickle that we had we going to be a giant fried pickle, like an actual pickle that was fried or likely broiled.
Laura: Like a massive, like Amish culture.
Ben: Yeah, like a giant fried Twinkie but it was sliced pickles, like french fries which I was okay with. They were okay, but it ruined my fantasies of what a fried pickle actually would be or could be.
Laura: Well, listen. I can't apologize for you having inaccurate expectations, but I will say the pickles we had were not the best ones I've ever had. Just putting it out there, I don't want that to be you’re only. It's like I had my first dirty martini at a bar in Hicksville, Ohio, and it was awful.
Ben: There's a town named Hicksville?
Laura: Yes, and I had a dirty martini there because they ran out of dark beer, and it was horrible, and I'm like you know what, maybe I'm not into dirty martinis, but I'll probably try one more in a nice restaurant at some point just to see if I'm really not, so don't knock the pickles just from the one experience you had. I have had some pretty good ones before, but to be fair when I had fried pickles, I usually have five slices and then I'm done. I don't eat the whole basket.
Ben: Yeah, I don't think we ate the whole basket.
Laura: And I think you offended the waitress because she was like you didn't like them, and you're like you said these were lightly breaded, and they're mostly breading.
Ben: Yeah, it was mostly bread with the tiny little pickle particle on the inside. However, so we know you're okay with fried pickles and booze, but do you use supplements, and or drugs? In your own nutritional philosophy and as a nutritionist, you know you've got a podcast called “The Ancestral RD”, what's your take on supps or gear, as they say in the Pro-science world?
Laura: Well as for me, I'm a very heavy cocaine user. No I'm just kidding, that's how I stay so perky, no I'm just kidding. Supplement, you know honestly, I'm kind of inconsistent with my supplement use, and that's just 'cause I get lazy, but there are some micronutrients that I tend to try to supplement with because of some genetic SNPs or snips that I personally have that make me need a little bit more of those, so obviously there's the 23andMe thing.
Ben: And feel free to expound on that by the way.
Laura: Yes, I will, so the 23andMe test will analyze your DNA from your saliva. There's a couple of different ways that you can get to analyze, and one of the ways is something called NutraHacker. Now the caveat is that this is all very hypothetical.
Ben: NutraHacker? Is that like a website, and it just sounds like nutrahacker.com?
Laura: Yes, and they will do an analysis of your SNPs which is basically just your particular genetic code and the different possible combinations of genes that people can have.
Ben: I see it now. NutraHacker spelled with an A, not an I.
Laura: Yes, NutraHacker.
Ben: I'll link to this in the show notes, people who want to check it out.
Laura: Again it's kind of a theoretical and more new concept that you can look at your genes and identify things that you may have problems with, but there are some stronger evidence for different types of micronutrients that either were sensitive to or need more of than the average person. And some of this is based on clinical experience or just the particular health issues that I struggle with, so I tend to get really prone to something called keratosis pilaris, especially during the summer when I'm getting a lot of sun, and keratosis pilaris is normally a Vitamin A deficiency, and so I've done the NutraHacker thing, and I've seen that I'm heterozygous for all of the genes that convert beta-carotene into pre-formed or I guess [1:04:32] ______ Vitamin A.
So that just supports my experience that if I'm not either eating liver or using liver supplements or supplementing with Vitamin A on a regular basis, I tend to get things like the keratosis pilaris, acne, hormonal imbalances, that kind of thing. So there are some nutritional stuff that I use. I also use some, I don't know if I would call them adaptogens. They're more like amino acids that support HPA Access Function and GABA production because again this NutraHacker report as well as my personal experience has shown that I tend to be an anxious person and I tend to, I would say probably produce the excitatory neurotransmitters and under produce the inhibitory ones like GABA.
So I lately have been training more consistently take L-Theanine and Phosphatidylserine which can help with the excessive symptoms of anxiety and over-stimulation from either stress or…
Ben: Yeah, that's really good for lowering nighttime cortisol and things like that too, right?
Laura: Yeah, so I don't use a ton. I don't know if this would ever get to the point where it would totally zonk someone out, but I just use a little bit to take the edge off of the stress that I'm under right now 'cause I run my own business, I'm planning a wedding. My fiancee's living in another state. We're doing a long distance relationship, and he's going to move in right around the wedding, so I'm under a decent amount of stress right now. And so I think I'm a little bit more stress intolerant than I would even normally be which is I tend to be fairly stress sensitive anyway, so I've been using these to keep my neurotransmitters a little bit balanced while also incorporating stress management practices, getting a lot of sleep, not overtraining, eating enough, eating carbs, that kind of stuff.
So I wouldn't say I use anything that's like super fancy or really making some sort of night and day difference. I just try to make sure that my micronutrient status is balanced if I'm not eating liver again, I really want to make sure that I'm taking Vitamin A and some of the B-Vitamins based on my personal [1:06:43] ______-type mutations. And then like I said, those stress supporting products that, and once in a while, I use there's something called Lavela which is lavender oil which is supposed to have similar efficacy to… I don't know if it's Xanax or just some anti-anxiety medication in general, but that can sometimes help prevent extra stress.
Ben: I'm a huge fan of lavender. I smear it on my upper lip, and I also go to my kids before they go to bed at night. It's in my go-to travel kit. It's just one of those natural things that you can use. I mean sure you can pop whatever, like CBD and microdose melatonin and GABA and all these relaxing things, but lavender just seems natural, right? It's just a completely natural thing. Easy to travel with, I love that for diffusing for example and for relaxation.
It's an interesting model though, so basically what you'll do is you'll use NutraHacker, you'll feed someone's genetics or your own genetics into that. I assume you could just download your raw data from something like 23andMe, and then you choose your supplements based on the specific things that you might have deficits in or difficulty producing.
Laura: Well, I would say it was more of a confirmation-type approach to my personal supplement use, so a lot of the supplements that I've been using in the past couple of years were more based on research of certain symptoms and things that I was struggling with. So again, I tend to struggle with that keratosis pilaris occasionally, and doing the research showed me that Vitamin A is an issue, and I just use the NutraHacker to confirm what I was doing which ironically most of the stuff I was already taking from my own clinical understanding and experience ended up winding up pretty well with the NutraHacker stuff.
So, I wouldn't say it's to the level of working with someone one-on-one where they can look at your symptoms and look at what you're currently doing. Look at your diet 'cause you may eat liver, and then you don't want to be supplementing with Vitamin A on top of that necessarily. So your diet is going to affect what you're going to need to supplement with. Your symptoms are going to affect what you need to use. Your lifestyle's going to affect it. So for me again being under all this stress and being a little bit more conscientious about using the stress management-type supplements, but when I'm pretty chill or if I'm not feeling super stressed, I'll just skip them 'cause it really is not that big of a deal. So I would say most of my decisions are based on my knowledge of nutrition and supplementation that I've developed over the last several years of study and working with clients and all that, but then the NutraHacker thing was just kind of a confirmation and just gave me a little bit more to look into as far as what else could help me feel better, what else could benefit my skin health which tends to get screwed up when I'm stressed, what else could potentially help with athletic performance. And at the end of the day, I highly focus on balanced nutrition intake first, and then use supplements as a bonus safety net essentially.
Ben: Gotcha. Is there, and we're getting towards the end of this show, but is there one specific, not to turn this into a supplements sales podcast or anything like that, but one specific supplement or nutrient that you find based on these analyses a crap load of people are deficient in or a lot of people benefit from?
Laura: I wouldn't say based on the NutraHacker thing 'cause I've only had a couple of clients that had that data to work with, but I would say from a clinical and food intake perspective, Vitamin A is really one that I see a lot of people not getting in their diet or their supplements, and I think it's a problem especially in the atmosphere of Vitamin D being the hot vitamin lately 'cause Vitamin D and Vitamin A balance each other, and if you take a ton of Vitamin D and you're not getting free form Vitamin A in your diet or your supplements, and you actually are at risk for overdosing on Vitamin D and developing Vitamin A deficiency-type symptoms. So a lot of my clients that I work with, I end up putting on some level of either Vitamin A or liver intake to make sure that they're getting Vitamin A, and a lot of people do benefit from that particular nutrients. The one downside is it's potentially toxic in very high quantities, so I'd be careful with that.
Ben: Yeah, I was going to say you got to be careful with supplementation. It would be best to have pastured eggs and liver and foods that naturally have fat sort of vitamins in them, right?
Laura: Yeah, I do believe there's a little bit of an excessive fear around toxicity of Vitamin A, and if you look into some of the work that Chris Masterjohn has done, he shows how Vitamin A, D, and K2 actually balance each other out and protect against toxicity of any of those nutrients. So if your Vitamin D status is good, the risk of Vitamin A toxicity is actually quite low, and you can go a pretty high dose in your Vitamin A for a period of time, but when I say high dose, I'm talking 50,000 IUs or higher every day, not 5 or 10,000 which should be a more normal physiological intake, so it's just something to be careful about if you're dealing with any sort of Vitamin D deficiency, or you have any sort of symptoms of excess Vitamin A intake which I think is a lot less common than people would think it is.
Ben: Yeah, I think the Thorne multivitamin that I personally use. That’s the one I endorse or promote or use or whatever. It's got decent amounts of Vitamin A in it, and then it's got of course Vitamin D, Vitamin K. Vitamin A it's got 5,000.
Laura: Which multi do you do?
Ben: I do the multivitamin Elite by Thorne, and the three morning capsules that you take have 5,000. So they have 3,000 IU as beta-carotene, and then another 2,000 as palmitate, so two different forms of Vitamin A, and then you take three in the evening too, and there's another thousands of Vitamin A, like 600 is beta-carotene and then 400 is palmitate, and that's got Vitamin D and Vitamin K and everything as well.
Laura: So yeah, Thorne tends to be a good company in general. I see a lot of multi’s that have just a ton of beta-carotene in them and no preform Vitamin A’s. You just want to be careful with multi’s that you're not getting 15,000 IU of beta-carotene 'cause that can actually, potentially increase cancer risk to have that much beta-carotene, but this could be its own podcast talking about Vitamin A 'cause it's pretty complicated. I do have an article on Vitamin A if people are interested on my blog, just talking about what kind of conditions can benefit from Vitamin A and what kind of issues can come up when you're deficient. So that might be a better way for people to get some more information about that.
Ben: Gotcha, okay cool. And I'm going to link to your blog and everything else that we talked about, I'll link to that “Year of Living Biblically” book and Chris Masterjohn's podcast on familial hypercholesterolemia and the Colin Champ's article on the modern Mediterranean diet, and all the other little things that we mentioned in the show notes. And if you're listening in, you can access those over at bengreendfieldfitness.com/fearless. That's bengreendfieldfitness.com/fearless, and also go and check out Laura's podcast and her blog.
Ben: So Laura, thanks for coming on the show, I solemnly look forward to the next conference where you and I can dine on properly constructed fried pickles and perhaps a martini or two, and I really appreciate your time in sharing all this stuff with us.
Laura: Thanks, Ben. Well thanks for having me on, it's been really great getting to meet you this year, and like you said, hopefully we'll see each other at a conference in the future.
Ben: Awesome, alright folks. Well until next time, I'm Ben Greenfield signing out from bengreendfieldfitness.com. Have a healthy week.
Laura Schoenfeld, in addition to officially being the individual who introduced me to “fried pickles” at a recent Weston A. Price Foundation conference, is a registered dietitian trained in functional medical nutrition therapy.
Her philosophy on nutrition is influenced by ancestral diets, principles of biochemistry, current research, and clinical experience. Through working with hundreds of clients, she has found that under-eating, overly restrictive dieting, inappropriate exercise, and inadequate attention to sleep and stress management is rampant in those trying to solve their health concerns through functional medicine and real food. Addressing these common but overlooked diet and lifestyle issues allows her clients to live their healthiest, fittest, symptom-free life, without being consumed by thoughts of food and exercise. Her work has been featured in magazines such as Prevention, Women's Health, and Reader's Digest. You can find her at lauraschoenfeldrd.com or listen to her podcast, “The Ancestral RDs“, over on iTunes.
During our discussion, you'll discover:
-Why you shouldn't want “abs”…[8:35]
-How Laura completely changed her training routine from “burning calories” to “lifting heavy stuff”…[18:00]
-Why it's silly for people to be afraid of fruit and fructose…[24:45]
-Why Ben personally moderates his red meat intake to just once every 2-3 days…[33:30]
-What populations benefit from keeping red meat to a minimum and switching to a high-carb, high-fiber diet…[36:45]
-What Laura learned from eating a Biblical “Daniel Fast” (and why the modern Mediterranean Diet is flawed)…[45:50 & 55:10]
-The tool Laura uses to choose supplements and medications based on personal genetics…[63:13]
-The one vitamin most people tend to be deficient in…[70:00]
-And much more!
Resources from this episode: