Are Artificial Sweeteners Safe?
By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose are low- or zero-calorie alternatives to natural sweeteners. Without much other information, this sounds like a great option for those trying to lose weight or improve their health, but there are actually many hidden dangers and side effects that stem from the consumption of artificial sweeteners.
How Artificial Sweeteners Affect Your Health
Time and time again studies have shown that artificial sweeteners negatively impact your health. Researchers were astonished to discover that regular drinkers of diet soda were three times more likely to develop stroke and dementia. Consuming artificial sweeteners has also been linked to higher rates of depression, kidney damage, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, headaches and migraines, hyperthyroidism, lupus, brain tumors, low blood sugar, and cardiovascular disease!
When you consume diet or sugar-free products, the zero-calorie artificial sweeteners play tricks on your taste buds and on your brain. Your brain senses sweetness, and our bodies expect the calories that usually follow with the sweet signal. Studies show your body can still produce an insulin spike, hence the relationship between sugar-free sweeteners and diabetes.
In addition to an unwarranted insulin spike, the lack of calories in artificial sweeteners leaves you very unsatisfied, and research shows people fill the calorie gap with other foods in order to become satiated. And since artificial sweeteners range from 200-20,000 times sweeter than sugar, they are addictive. Consumers of these sweeteners literally become addicted and crave more and sweeter foods.
Another large contributor to the dangers of artificial sweeteners is the effect that they have on the microbiome. Artificial sweeteners disturb the bacteria in your gut, which can cause glucose intolerance even in healthy people, and tampers with the gut-brain connection.
Where to Find Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners are often hiding in plain sight. Most products labeled “diet,” “sugar-free,” and “low-sugar” will contain artificial sweeteners. Use the following chart to identify common artificial sweeteners and their brand names:
Other sources of artificial sweeteners include:
- Diet soda
- Sugar-free desserts (ice cream, sugar-free baked goods)
- Low-sugar/Sugar-free fruit juice
- Flavored water
- Diet iced tea
- Flavored coffee syrups
- Toothpaste and mouthwash
- Salad dressing
- Packaged Meats
- Sugar-free gum and mints
- Sports and nutrition bars
- Meal replacement shakes and snacks
- Sports drinks
- Sugar-free candy
If you are reducing your sugar intake but still want to sweeten your meal or drink, opt for one of these healthier options instead:
Stevia: Stevia is a plant, and is temperature-stable, meaning you can safely add it to both hot and cold foods and drinks. It is zero-calorie and zero-carb, and has zero of the side effects associated with artificial sweeteners.
*Tip: liquid versions of stevia are easiest to dose.
Organic dates: Dates are another great option. While high in sugar, using dates in moderation provides you with vitamin B, manganese, magnesium, copper, iron, and potassium!
Honey: Raw and local is best! Local honey can help with allergies. Raw honey contains enzymes, antioxidants, iron, zinc, and many other vitamins and minerals that promote healthy gut bacteria. To retain the health benefits of raw honey, keep it away from heat. If you want to use it to flavor a warm beverage, rather than adding it in right after boil, wait until your tea or coffee cools down.
Coconut sugar: Coconut sugar has a low glycemic load, which makes it a great choice as an alternative to sugar. It is also rich in minerals, polyphenols, and antioxidants!
Maple syrup: A sweetener rich in antioxidants and minerals, maple syrup is a simple and natural choice, straight from the tree!
Try swapping diet soda for kombucha, a delicious fermented tea packed with probiotics! They even make kombucha that is flavored to taste like popular types of soda, only the kombucha versions are actually beneficial for your health. If you’re going to have dessert, avoid ‘sugar-free’, ‘diet’, and ‘low-sugar’ packaged foods. While cooking at home, rather than feeling constrained because you are avoiding artificial sweeteners, have fun and experiment with the abundance of natural options available!
Reasons Why Diets Don’t Work – Yoyo Dieting
By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
Watch this video and learn more about Yoyo dieting, its immediate and long-term effects on our body.
Yoyo dieting is essentially is going on a low-calorie, some kind of extreme diet usually it involves cutting out certain macronutrients. Whether you’d be cutting way down on proteins or fats and essentially restricting calories.
Why Yoyo Dieting Doesn’t Work
The first thing that happens is that any time you restrict calories from the body, the first thing your body says is, “Whoa, what’s going on?” – it’s thinking genetics are hardwired for famine. Something is happening in the environment we got to be really careful, we got to conserve our energy. So the first thing when we send that scarcity signal to our genetics, the first thing our body thinks is famine. And it’s going to turn down our thyroid hormone. So our thyroid again, this is essentially the thermostat of our body. So we turn it down a little bit, it’s going to basically run a little less energy, run a little colder, maybe a little less brainpower. It’s trying to conserve energy. And then we start to hard wire the metabolism, instead of it to burn fat and fuel efficiently and easy, we start to tell our body, “Know what, store that energy in the fat cell for a rainy day. We’re okay for a little fatigue. You rather have that reservoir or fuel so that if we need it, we got it.”
So again, the first thing we really always want to do when we’re trying to trying to lose weight is never do Yoyo dieting.
How to stop Yoyo Dieting
So the call is we do not want to alter our thyroid hormone for the negative. We actually want to make a lasting change. So its taking into an anti-inflammatory diet, avoiding the most inflammatory foods, essentially grains, dairy and legumes. And eating every 3 to 5 hours. It really is a good way to stabilize blood sugar and send signals to your metabolism, “Hey, burn fat for fuel, have lots of energy, use it all up, feel good, perform well.” It gives us the signals to be vital and not to go into a scarcity mode.
I hope this talk benefited you. For any questions, feel free and visit http://justinhealth.com and/or email the office.
Fine tuning your diet for your body type – Podcast #87
Dr. Justin Marchegiani and Evan Brand dig in deeper into calories today where they talk about calorie consumption and some diet stuff. They discuss about the different diets like the Keto and whether to go low carb or high carb. Find out what cutting carbohydrates really does and how your body type should be considered when going on a diet.
Learn about the mechanism of insulin resistance and inflammation and how that affects your body. Discover the various approaches when it comes to choosing a particular diet. Listen to this podcast to know when exactly counting calories does matter and also how you can do an intermittent fast easily. Get the actions steps and a very concise summary on fine tuning your diet in this interview.
In this episode, topics include:
02:44 Calories and the diet piece
13:21 Body types
20:00 Adrenal issues and diet
31:03 Counting calories
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Evan Brand, what is up? It is Friday.
Evan Brand: Yes, sir! Ready to dig into a topic that I’ve had this discussion all week, and now I’m gonna have this discussion again about counting things and how it’s a waste of time, so I’m excited about it.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Me, too. Me, too. And a couple of things I wanted to chat about—we were gonna talk about calories today, calorie consumption and some diet stuff. Also man, this new Apple thing came out—the iOS update, I think it’s called Shift or Shift Work. It’s a new app that knocks out the blue light.
Evan Brand: I saw—yeah, I saw–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Night Shift.
Evan Brand: An article. Yeah.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Night Shift. It’s phenomenal.
Evan Brand: So I saw an—I saw an article about it that says that it’s garbage though and that someone tested—I don’t know how they used it, if it was an imaging device or what they did to find it or figure it out, but that it’s not actually reducing the spectrums of blue that you need to reduce. It looks like it does but they say it’s actually not, and they’re still saying, you know, and F.lux and the blue blocker glasses are still superior to it. I don’t have an iPhone. I have Android, so I’m not sure.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right. Yeah, I mean if you look at it, there’s some customization on it so you can—you can kind of like tweak and have it do more blue light but I mean it looks, like if you, you know, compare it like your laptop screen when you have F.lux on to this, it—it looks pretty similar so.
Evan Brand: Wow.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: The nice thing about Apple is they’ll probably just keep on tweaking it to make it better over time.
Evan Brand: Well, I think the–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: But I like it.
Evan Brand: The—well, that is a cool thing to hit on the bigger picture is that this stuff has actually entered the mainstream. I mean Apple is a huge company and so for them to have the thought of “Hey, we need to help people block blue light at nighttime,” that’s pretty amazing.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Exactly. I think it’s great and I notice the difference on my eyes. Could it be better? Maybe, but it’s something that we can at least be using and it’s gonna be better than not.
Evan Brand: Yup, I use Twilight on my Android. So anybody has Android, Twilight’s the app I use from the Playstore and you’re able to tweak the intensity where you can basically turn your screen almost full red and remove all the blue and white and colors and then you can also change the brightness of the screen, too. So definitely–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.
Evan Brand: If you’re breaking the rules and using your phone at nighttime, then that’s what you wanna do.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, same with mine, too. You can do like more warm or less warm for color temperature and you can almost make it kinda just showing you on the screen now like pretty red—I think it looks really red. So there’s less blue light there.
Evan Brand: Yeah.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So it’s kinda cool. So I like that we’re working on our circadian rhythms here today a bit and I know you’ve written a book on sleep so everyone should go to your site, NotJustPaleo.com, and check out your book on sleep.
Evan Brand: Yes, sir.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Cool. Well, we talked earlier about—chatting about calories today. Many people are hyped up and—and focused on calories. We’ve done previous podcasts or I did. I think my first podcast ever like 2 years ago was on calories. So let’s kinda revisit this topic and give it a Dr. J-Evan spin to it. What do you think?
Evan Brand: Definitely, yeah. So I mean, calories—that’s definitely one thing that people are counting. Carbs, I think are another that people are counting that they really don’t have to especially people doing maybe a Keto style diet or a cyclical carb diet. I don’t have to call out these people. They know who they are, creating diets where they’re keeping people at 30g of carbs or less, assuming that they’re just gonna be able to adapt to it if they have adrenal stress. I personally don’t think that it’s a good idea, so I’m curious to hear what your experience is, too, with patients that if they’re wrecked adrenally, I mean, we can’t just throw them into a keto plan successfully, can we?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So regarding with diet piece—so ketosis, there’s like nutritional ketosis where you’re cutting your carbs down significantly where you’re starting to rely on ketones, these fatty acid esters for fuel. Now for a lot of people who are insulin-resistant, this is actually a great thing, because when you’re insulin-resistant, your cells are numb to insulin, that means it’s very difficult to utilize fats for fuel. So imagine the see-saw, right? As insulin levels go up, your body wants to be a sugar burner, okay? So it’s actually gonna rely more on sugar for burning for fuel while at the same thing though, when you burn sugar for fuel, high levels of insulin also make your tired. So it’s this conundrum, right? As insulin goes up, you get more tired, and you rely more on sugar for fuel. And if that sugar is not being burned because of that high level of insulin, it’s escorting things into your cell to be stored as fat. High levels of insulin make you tired, so when people eat certain foods that dry up insulin, you have less energy a lot of times. When you have less energy, you’re more likely to not use that energy for activity, so then it goes into fat and it can be stored as fat and actually make you fatter. That’s why insulin and fat is a strong, strong connection with it. So kinda moving on with my story here, when there’s insulin resistance, going lower carbohydrate and even ketogenic for some people can be a game changer, because you’re sensitizing those receptor sites to insulin so now insulin works better meaning they’re no longer numb because you’re not pouring a whole bunch of insulin on to the receptor site. So it’s kinda like ringing your neighbor’s doorbell if you wanna go to see your neighbor and have a conversation with them, you ring the doorbell, they open up the door, and you guys chat. But if you and you ring in the doorbell every day, and like maybe you’re playing ding dong ditch like when you were a kid, they’re just gonna say, “I’m not opening up the door.” And the same thing happens—the same thing happens with sugar and all that sugar stays in the bloodstream instead of going in the cell and eventually gets stored as fat.
Evan Brand: So let me ask you this then. So let’s say we take someone that is pretty insulin-resistant. People say, “Well, how do you know if I’m insulin-resistant?” Just look in the mirror. If you have some excess weight, we can assume that you have some level of insulin resistance. Now if we take them and we say, we throw them on a ketogenic or a super low carb diet for a while, is that someone that you would keep in place? Would you keep that person at that ultra-low carb or are you gonna do it the sort of jumpstart the spark plugs if you will to increase the sensitivity like you mentioned and then maybe you’ll add more back in? Because for me, I find that when people go super low and then let’s say we investigate their adrenals and their adrenals are real low as well, they start to feel like crap and they honestly kinda tank out and then they feel almost even more tired on that super low carb diet. So I usually tell people to add in, you know, the sweet potato or the rice or something to fuel them back up.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, that’s a great point. So a lot of times when people go low carbohydrate, a couple of things happen to derail them, okay? And we’re talking about calories, right? Calories are attached to nutrients and your body really runs off of nutrients not off of calories. What I mean is you could just give plain white sugar that has no nutrients in it and you know, you’d probably develop lots of malnutrition and disease, scurvy, beriberi, because you have plenty of calories but you have no nutrients. So when we talk about calories, we’re really inferring nutrient-dense calories. So that’s kind of the assumption we’re moving forward on. So regarding the carbohydrate piece, when people start cutting the carbs, a couple of things happen. A lot times they’re already carboholic so when they are changing their diet, now 50-60% of their calories, if we’re talking the food pyramid, now magically go away. Now the question is, do they replace those calories with other high nutrient-dense foods that aren’t of the super high carbohydrate variety? And that’s the question. So a lot of people that start going low carb, they actually start cutting their calories by accident, and many will even start going lower fat by accident, too. So if we do go lower carb, meaning we cut out calories—our carb calories to about 10%, we have to make sure we have adequate amount of high quality fat to create satiation and to replace the calories that we’re missing from the carbs.
Evan Brand: So basically, there’s never gonna be a cookie cutter program for people because depending on your activity level, like me, I mean, maybe I could. Right now I don’t go ketogenic because I don’t feel as well, even though I’ve stuck for it for several weeks, I don’t feel as well especially with my activity level, hiking and biking and long boarding and working out in the gym, I don’t feel as well. So maybe I’m—just didn’t want a long—long enough until I was adapted but for me, it just—it hasn’t worked 100% yet.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And I think it also depends how you’re measuring it. How are you measuring your ketones back then?
Evan Brand: I was using the breath, the Ketonix. I would always have, I think it was the yellow maybe on the Ketonix breath meter. It was like a light ketones. It wasn’t like a lot. It was just a tiny piece, so maybe that–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: There you go. That—that could be enough for you. Now typically Jimmy Moore, he’s—I’m a big fan of Jimmy. I’m friends with him, too, personally. I spoke at his low carb cruise last year. He talks about being around 1, I think the—is the 1 millimoles and that’s on the Abbot meter. It’s on the Abbot one. I think it’s the—it’ll come to me. I have it on my desk here on the corner. I’ll dig it up–
Evan Brand: Is that blood?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That measures—yeah, it’s a blood—it’s a blood one. Yeah.
Evan Brand: Oh.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So he likes it around 1 millimoles, that’s a pretty good place to be. Now even if you’re a little bit less, that can be a big—that can still be helpful and people are increasing ketone esters just in their diet therapeutically whether they’re taking caprilic acid or MCT oil because of the benefits that it has cognitively on increasing brain function and also on reducing cancer because ketones don’t really fuel cancer. So anyone that has any cancer issues or history or past, or ones that prevent getting extra ketones in there is a great way to fuel the body and not have it fuel any cancer cells. So when we go back, looking at carbohydrate, my default always is a low carbohydrate diet, okay? I have a very non-dogmatic approach, very like macronutrient agnostic when it comes to diet, but I default to, where I’m a little dogmatic on—and I shouldn’t say dogmatic—it’s just what I—what we see out there is most people are insulin-resistant and overweight, right? The research kinda says what, 60-80% of people are overweight. So we know if they’re overweight, part of what’s driving that metabolically is the mechanism of insulin resistance and inflammation. So if we know insulin resistance and inflammation’s part of that underlying mechanism, doesn’t it make sense to cut out the foods that are driving inflammation and cut out the foods that are driving insulin secretion, right? Does that make sense?
Evan Brand: Yup.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Okay, so we’re on the same page here. So if we can cut out the foods that are driving extra insulin secretion and cut out the foods that are driving inflammation, right? Omega 6 fatty acids like from refined vegetable oils, grains, processed grains, processed sugar. We can even look at autoimmune foods that are higher in lectins and glycoalkaloids and things like that that could be more inflammatory. If we can do that, now we get people back to baseline and then from there, we can figure out where people feel better. So I tell patients, imagine you got three knobs in front of you. You have the protein, the carbs, and the fat knob, right? These are your three major macronutrients, and again the assumption already is—I don’t want any—any comments on this afterwards—well, you gotta be organic, of course. We’re—you’re assuming organic, pasture-fed, high quality, no antibiotics, you know, no hormones, we’re assuming the highest quality with all these macronutrients. You get these three levers now and we can move these levers up and down, back and forth according to how you feel. So my default position for these levers is gonna be lower carbohydrate, probably closer to 50g of carbohydrates. Now if you’re just doing your carbs and you’re just doing non-starchy vegetables, you’ll be somewhere around 20-30g of carbohydrates if your only carbs are non-starchy veggies like broccoli, spinach, kale, asparagus, as long as you’re getting enough protein and fat. If you’re doing—getting enough fat, 50-60% fat, maybe 15-25% protein, you’ll be somewhere around 20-30g of carbohydrate if you’re just doing veggies for the most part, okay? Now from there we can dial up some starchy veggies, some safe starches to start. And then we can always dial up a little bit of low glycemic fruit, but we start there and then we can move these levers back and forth, and we can see how do you feel, how do you look, how do you perform and if you’re having this adrenal fatigue stuff like you’re mentioning then we definitely can adjust that according to how you feel.
Evan Brand: Yup. See? So that’s—I knew that was the conclusion that we would eventually circle back to, is that it’s gonna be a spectrum. I can’t tell you how tough it is to convey that to people because we’re always having this lens of almost like biodiversity. You know, everything, everyone’s different—individuality if you will. And a lot of people, they want something super concrete, just write it out for me, show me the pie graph of exactly what I need, but that’s gonna—that’s gonna depend and so I know sometimes that’s not the answer that people want to hear, you know, which that was kind of a long answer you gave which basically says everyone’s different and we’re gonna have to look at your hormones, we’re gonna have to look at how you feel, how you’re performing in the gym and then we’re going to adjust accordingly but generally speaking, yeah, lower carb is getting. I probably eat 100g of carbs if not more, maybe even 150g and I feel good that way. So it’s just gonna depend. That’s—that’s the long answer made short.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, and there’s a couple of things we can look at, too. What’s your body type? Are you an ectomorph, an endomorph or a mesomorph?
Evan Brand: I’m a complete ecto.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, ecto are gonna be the leaner, skinnier people, just super hard to even put on muscle, right? They are a hard gainer for muscle but it’s also hard for them to gain fat as well. So these are like the basketball players. People that are—are leaner, a little more lankier. Then you have the mesomorph that are kinda in between. It’s hard for them—they can kinda gain a little bit of gain, but they can also kind of gain a little bit of muscle. They’re kinda like a hybrid. These are like your NFL kinda linebacker people. I’m kind of closer to a meso. I can put on muscle pretty good. But it’s a little bit harder for me to gain weight, but I am still carb-sensitive. So meaning I can’t do too much carbs, so I keep my carbs in that 50-100g level, because I feel good there. Alright, and then you have the endomorph. These are the people that just—they gain weight very easily. Alright, they’re more carb-sensitive, even more than me where they just a little bit higher carbs and they’ll put on weight. These are people that are just thicker. These are like obviously the people that are gonna be your NFL linemen, like that’s the one extreme, right? But then you have people on—in everyday life, they’re kinda like that. So off the bat, if you are an ectomorph and you have metabolic issues, you’re gonna probably be one of these people that goes down to a lower carb diet, gets their stuff straight, get their body more keto adapted and then gradually shift out of it, and find out where their carbohydrates are best. So kinda looking at the Paleo world, this would be someone like a Chris Kresser or a like a Paul Jaminet. People that are like, “Oh, yeah, you know, going too low carb is bad, so we gotta up the carbs a bit,” and you get people that project their own bias because that’s how they feel.
Evan Brand: Right.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That’s how they perform. So you gotta look at people who are espousing these things. Say, okay what kind of body type do they have? Look at Chris Kresser. He’s a pretty lean, lanky guy, right? Paul Jaminet. These people are espousing 100-150g of carbohydrate a day. They’re talking about glucose being essential nutrient and safe starches and that’s the reason why. So you gotta know what they’re talking about. Number two, you got the endomorph. This would be like a Jimmy Moore. Jimmy Moore has gained a lot of weight in the pre—in the past and he lost 180-190 pounds going on an—an Atkins type of diet. Now the issue with Jimmy is he started gaining weight recently but people say, “Well, you’re gaining weight. This low carb thing doesn’t work,” and here’s the problem. When you’ve gotten to over 400 pounds, you created metabolic damage. Your metabolism is damaged so the ability for your body to be able to stay lean is gonna be harder. So the question is, if you weren’t on that lower carbohydrate diet, how much more would you weigh? So the questions isn’t is it causing it? Is it—the question is, if you weren’t doing that, how much more would be than what you are now?
Evan Brand: Right.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Makes sense?
Evan Brand: Oh, yeah. That makes sense. And yeah, so to clarify in the beginning I was saying, “Yeah, don’t count. Don’t count.” And here we are throwing out numbers. But just to clarify, I do not anything. I don’t weight anything. I don’t measure anything. I don’t look at nutrition facts and see how much is a half cup of rice in terms of carbs? Until the point now I don’t think about it. I don’t worry about it. I just eat and if I feel good and I’ve kinda tuned in and I close my eyes and kinda meditate for a minute. I feel good. Okay, good. And if I don’t, then okay, what do I need to do? Maybe I need to up my fat a little bit. I’m gonna add some extra butter to this. Oh, maybe I need to add a little bit more broccoli or maybe I need some rice, or oh, maybe I need a sweet potato tonight. I tune in. So I don’t count anything. So we’re throwing the numbers out there just to help you. If you are in that kinda number phase but eventually I want every single person listening to put minimal RAM, you know, just like your computer, minimal resources of your brain—I want minimal resources to be dedicated to worrying and focusing on this stuff, because I want it to be something that just goes on the backburner and you just do it almost subconsciously it makes people neurotic. And I think it makes people sick when they’re just freaking out and their counting and weighing and measuring. It just gets—I think it’s a whole another type of eating disorder almost.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, there’s a couple of different schools of thought, right? There’s like that that bodybuilder’s school of thought where you’re weighing everything and measuring everything, but then there’s kind of my—my approach is a little bit more practical when it comes to this stuff, is just have a good idea of what you’re eating. One, appetite is gonna almost always give you enough, within reason. We can talk about some of the exceptions here in a bit. Appetite will almost always give you enough. The key things where I think it’s helpful to look is if you are sick or if you were unhealthy, I try to get my patients to that lower carbohydrate level which is somewhere around 50 and it’s pretty simple. You’re just eating non-starchy vegetables, that’ll get you around 30 baseline. Now you don’t even have to count. Really simple, just take a couple of days, plug in all the vegetables that you’re eating, minus out the net carbs. You’ll probably be somewhere around 20-30. It’s just the way it is. It’s just how nature works. You’re not gonna be able to do too much more because you can only eat so many servings of broccoli a day before just the fiber alone fills you up and then if you’re eating enough fats along with that, because remember if you’re not eating carbs, you’re—that means you’re eating more protein and fat which are very satiating and filling. So you’re gonna be more full. So from there, then you can dial that up and add how much? Well, you can do a palm size of sweet potato. How many carbs is that? Probably around 15-25. So you can easily just eye things by saying, “Well, how many palms is it or how many fists is it?” So it’s not a neurotic thing, it’s just like, “Oh, yeah, I’m gonna have 2 fists of, you know, broccoli. I’m gonna have maybe a fist worth of grass-fed meat and I’m gonna put a half of avocado on there.” Now I can tell you off the bat that you probably got about 10g of carbohydrate in that meal. It’s probably about 40-50% fat, maybe about 15-20% protein. Because when we’re eating real foods, these ratios can’t get distorted that much. They’re kinda locked in unless you’re adding a whole bunch of starch or fruit or sugar or bread in there. If we’re eating real whole Paleo kind of template foods, you’re gonna be locked in to that ratio unless you’re dumping in a whole bunch of safe starches on there. So we have this ratio and then we can kinda taper it up and down by either adding in lots of safe starches and more fruit, or we can pull that out and do more veggies. The protein will kinda be the same, right around 15-25, and the fats will be the same unless we’re doing a whole bunch of protein powders and we’re doing a whole bunch of lean cuts of meat. So if we’re doing—if we’re avoiding the lean cuts of meat and we’re doing coconut oil and avocado and full fat, 76% grass-fed meat then the fat will be closer to 40 to 50% and then if we do Bulletproof coffee or add in extra butter or coconut oil on our veggies, then we can bump it up a little bit more into that keto platform.
Evan Brand: Did you wanna talk for a couple of minutes about how or why you may adjust things if someone does have some adrenal issues?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, so as we get people—so off the bat, right? We talked about the ectomorphs, those are people that are gonna do better with higher carbohydrate. If they have health issues to begin with, let’s dip back down to that lower carbohydrate place around 50 or so for a few weeks, and see how we feel and then we can gently push them back up, so now when we’re dialing that in, the question is, how do you feel? How’s your temperature? Is your temperature dropping to low 97s, up or 96s? How does your hair look? Do you have drier eyes? Do you have more fatigue during the day? Case in point, a patient last night, we started getting her on a lower carbohydrate diet. She has Hashimoto’s. We dropped the carbs down. She was doing good for a while. She was losing weight and then we hit a plateau and we said, “Okay, let’s take that carb lever and let’s just add one serving of sweet potatoes at night.” She did it. She felt a little better. Great! Let’s add one serving to lunch. We increased it a little bit, move that lever up and she feels even better.
Evan Brand: Yup.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And she’s sleeping better as well. So better sleep, better hair, less dry eyes, better mood, and the key to it is if we do too much carbs after a meal, guess what happens? Well, that post prandial blood glucose dip, because the blood sugar goes up from the carbs and then we have this reactive hypoglycemic drop. It’s kinda like in a tug of war, I pull and then you pull back harder, and that’s what happens with our pancreas and insulin and cortisol when we’re too carb-sensitive. Meaning we can’t tolerate too much carbs. We take too much in and boom—we get tired afterwards. So this girl, this patient did much better adding in carbohydrates even once to twice a day. So she did well. So we can take that meter and we can kinda, you know, dial it up, dial it down. It’s simple. You know, I’m just doing palm-sized servings, so it’s really easy. You can eye it—there’s not this kind of analness of like pulling out your scale like when I used to do when I was, you know, more of my bodybuilding days where I do that stuff, and now it’s just—you’re eyeing it. It’s really simple.
Evan Brand: Yup, that was a good example.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, you wanna make any comments on that?
Evan Brand: Does she have adrenals issues as well on top of the Hashimoto’s?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yes, so this person does have adrenal issues and Hashimoto’s. So when we have adrenal issues, I’m a big fan of for the most part doing relatively no carbohydrates in the morning because that’s where cortisol’s the highest throughout the day. So we’re already mobilizing blood sugar at a more optimal rate because cortisol is a glucocorticosteroid, so it’s already mobilizing sugar in the morning. So why add more to it? So I try to just do veggies, or none in the morning and just do protein and fat, and I’m much more a fan of carb backloading. Do more of your carbs at night because that’s where cortisol’s the lowest and there’s lots of studies that find people that just eat their carbs at night versus spreading them out throughout the day actually lose weight and do better metabolically.
Evan Brand: Definitely, yeah. That’s exactly what I found, too. The morning getting people whether it’s some leftovers, you know, like sometimes I’ll do some leftover steak, maybe a little bit of broccoli or something in the morning just depending. If not, maybe some sausage. Some—I don’t do eggs. You know, some bacon, something like that, but just the good meats, good fats, some proteins in the morning. You’re gonna feel the best. Some people may say they feel better if they do more carbs in the morning, like let’s say you’re getting a like, I don’t know, a gluten-free toast or something, you may feel better but it’s gonna be kind of an artificial better. And I find that you’re gonna crash by lunch or 10 or 11AM and you’re gonna be setting up yourself for more cravings and then you’re gonna be more driven to eat a more poor choice that’s gonna make you feel even worse at lunch and then you just get in this vicious cycle. So that’s why you and I both stick to just more fat and protein and then as the day goes on, slowly working in more carbs. I sleep better, too. I feel so good. Like I had some rice for dinner last night. We did steak. We did some rice and then we did some mixed vegetables with a bunch of butter on them and I slept so good and all—earlier this week, we were doing mostly just vegetables, not many carbs and potatoes or anything like that, my sleep wasn’t as good those days. Last night, I slept like a rock with the additional of that rice. So this stuff does work.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That’s great. And I’ll put this awesome article on ecto, mesomorph, and endomorph from precisionnutrition.com. I don’t agree with some of their carbs. They do a lot of beans and rice and some grain stuff. Not a big fan of that. I much rather default to safer starches, plantains, yucca, sweet potato, squash. I had a nice little dish the other night where it was just grass-fed, some cut-up onions, and it was a hollowed out squash and we just put it in the squash and a little bit of coconut milk mixed in there and it was phenomenal, and you can get a little bit of carbs that way. So I try to because I’m—I have an autoimmune thyroid condition, I try to stay away from grains at all cost. Sometimes a white rice, like a white mochi rice that has the lowest amylase or amylose amount and that’s a starch that people do people do better on that, but if we have autoimmune I try to keep it to the safe starches.
Evan Brand: Uh-hmm.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Now a couple of things, so talked about who’s gonna do better on these types of diets. So the ectomorphs will probably do better with a little bit more carbs, probably 100-150, maybe more if they’re doing exercise. So look at your body. If you’re that longer, lanky, harder to gain weight but harder to gain muscle, you’re gonna be the ecto category. If you’re a meso, right? Mesomorph is gonna be someone in the middle, right? They can gain weight but they can also gain muscle. They’re kinda in between, then you gotta figure it out, maybe 50-100, maybe 100-150 on your more stressful days. And if you’re an endomorph, bigger, harder to—to lose weight, very easy to gain weight, then we want—wanna be a little bit more lower carbs. So look at your body types. We’ll attach a link in the post here so you can take a look at that. And then also lab work. So if you have a fasting insulin greater than 7, we probably have some insulin resistance and you probably want to go lower carb. There was a great study called the A to Z Study, and it was done by Christopher Gardner over at Stanford. And what Gardner did was he took these different diets, the Atkins diet, the Zone diet, the Ornish diet and the standard American diet. He put people in different groups and he found the Atkins group did the best overall with all markers, right? They lost weight, blood pressure, cholesterol improvements, which wrap your head around that—they’re eating more fat and cholesterol but their cholesterol improves—that’s a podcast for different time—and overall they’re better. Now what he did was, he took the same people in the Atkins group and put them in—and put—took the people in the Ornish group, the higher carb group and see which ones did better on it on each. Now we found the people in the Ornish group that lost weight, lost weight in the Atkins group as well. And the people that lost weight in the Atkins group—actually some of them actually gained weight in the Ornish group. So the deciding factor was if your insulin was greater than 7 or 8 in the Atkins group, that you actually would gain weight in the Ornish. And if you were in the Ornish group and you lost weight, but your insulin as less than 7 or 8, you could still lose weight in the Atkins group. So the whole idea was if your insulin levels were low, you lost weight in either group. If your insulin levels were higher, you lost weight only in the Atkins group. So what does this mean? You get people that have lower levels of insulin, they’re more insulin-sensitive. That’s means they’re not most apt to store sugar and carbs as fat, they’ll do better on all diets together. So these are the people that are out there that are eating crap, like the guy you mentioned last week with the Rice Crispy treats in his—in his smoothie or the Cocoa Puffs, right? These are the people that will do better on anything, right? And then they go and they—they taut whatever it is and this is the magic key, and it’s like, no. You just got a body type and a hormonal profile that allows you to get results doing anything. And then you get people that are more hormonally sensitive and they don’t have the ability to go up in the higher inflammatory and higher carb foods. So we have to dial that in and we have to know who is our audience and why is that person getting results over the other and if someone who is getting results on a higher carb diet, that’s not gonna be, you know, the gold standard for everyone. So we gotta know the differentiating factors in blood sugar and insulin levels are kind of big thing.
Evan Brand: This may be a good new intake question. Please read this article. Are you an ecto, a meso, or an endo? And then we’ll have our patients tell us that way we can dial in a little bit more specifically faster.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, I agree. And so I don’t think we have to be neurotic on calories, but one of the big things that I do find with patients is because most patients come to me with 50% of their diet being crap to begin with–
Evan Brand: Yeah.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That do you replace the 50% of the calories that are now pulled out? Do you replace that with enough Paleo template calories? That’s the question. And so if patients start feeling tired, one of the first things we’ll do is we’ll throw their food diary into a MyFitnessPal just to one, get a look at their macros, but two, to make they’re getting enough calories in because no matter what you’re doing, with the mitochondrial, adrenal, or thyroid support, if you’re doing low calorie, you’re telling your epigenome that you are in a—a famine, starvation, let’s tone down the energy, let’s tone down the—the fuel going out because we gotta—we gotta conserve.
Evan Brand: It’s a lot more common than people think to undereat on a whole foods diet.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yes.
Evan Brand: I mean, if you look at some of the stuff, I mean, you could be less than—some of the times like if you go to a restaurant and you see something, say they have like Healthy Menu and it’s like 600 calories, it would be an amazing meal. Like it could be something like a good steak and veggies, but it’s gonna be like 600 calories, and if you just eat that and let’s say you did a shake for breakfast because you were busy or you didn’t feel like eating in the morning, I mean, hell, you may only be at 1200 calories a day or something, which I don’t count, but that’s low so–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That’s low. I call that Auschwitz diet.
Evan Brand: Yeah.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I have patients coming into me that are like, “Yeah, I’m–” and we look at their diet and then I’m like, “Okay, so like how long have you been doing the Auschwitz diet for?” And they look at me, they’re like, “What?” Well, Auschwitz is a concentration camp, I think it was—I think it was in Poland or Austria. I think it was Austria during World War 2, they’re pretty famous. But the amount of calories they would serve their prisoners at the camp were 1200 calories. And everyone can remember back in our history books, right? The pictures of those con—those poor concentration camp victims, they were—they were skin and bones, right? Well, people are doing that daily. The only issue is these people didn’t have a fridge or a restaurant they could go to when they got their cravings or they were stuck eating that way for years on end. So they got emaciated, but we’ll do it, what’s called a yo-yo fashion. We’ll do it for a few days or a few weeks, come out of it, a whole bunch of carbs, and then go back to it, and then come out it. That’s the Yo-Yo Diet.
Evan Brand: Yes.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That’s why we gain 5% when you come off it, because these people—willpower was out of the equation because they didn’t have a choice, right? They were prisoners, but we aren’t.
Evan Brand: Yes, that’s great.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So now one more other topic I wanna touch upon is when does counting calories matter? Now this is really interesting. So we know if we’re eating good clean proteins and fats that stimulates a whole bunch of appestatic compounds that help tell us we’re full, right? Peptide YY, adiponectin, cholecystokinin—these are all good feedback loops that go tell the—the transverse nucleus of the hypothalamus, right? That part of the brain that controls the—the appetite is called the appestat center that we’re full. Now we don’t quite get that feedback loop with carbs, right? So that’s why we can eat a whole thing of Pringles, right? Remember the commercial in the 90s, once you pop—how does it go?
Evan Brand: Yeah, you can’t stop. Yeah.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: There you go—ah, see! Look at that, you got it right in your head.
Evan Brand: I know, it’s brainwash.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And then you know, think about people in their college days have ordered a whole pizza and ate it to their—to themselves.
Evan Brand: Well, yeah, Lay’s, too. I mean their slogan is “Bet you can’t just eat one” or something.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: There you go. So these food companies know this and they understand that there’s a delay kind of feedback loop with carbs and our appetite, right? They know that. So that’s why carbohydrates is super easy to overconsume, so if we choose real foods, we get this really good feedback loop of satiation and also ketones, right? When we make more ketones from keeping the carbs lower and the fat—the fat higher and the protein moderate, that’s actually an appetite suppressant as well. So a lot of people on these types of diets will actually keep their calories in check and maybe even go just a little bit lower because their appetite’s lower. So now here’s the exception. I see it more in women is that if they start gaining weight after a period of time on a Paleo type of template, and we look their carbs and fats and protein ratio, let’s say their carbs are maybe 50-100. They’ve tried tweaking the macros up or down, their proteins right around 15-25%,a and their fats is somewhere between 40-60, and we kinda—we tweak it up and down and we’re still not losing weight, and let’s say the exercise is dialed in, too. The exercise is appropriate. We’ll look at how many calories they’re eating, and then what we’ll do is we’ll drop our calories by 100 calories, and the goal is do you still feel satiated and full throughout the day? Because there’s a lot of people I find that they can drop their calories just a touch, but they don’t get hungry. Now we can go maybe 100 more and they—they don’t feel hungry. So sometimes with people, I find that they may overeat just a touch, and if they were to cut off maybe 1 or 2 or 300 calories, they wouldn’t feel hungry. So the goal of our type of approach is can we cut the calories without creating that starvation feedback loop, because as soon as we start feeling hungry then we’re telling our epigenome, starvation, famine, decreased energy reserves, right? Get colder, have issues like that, conserve energy which will affect our hormones and thyroid, so can we cut the calories just a touch and still feel satiated and full and not like we’re depriving ourselves?
Evan Brand: Yeah, I personally never tired that. I did see something interesting.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Well, the thing is, you wouldn’t need to. You’re an ectomorph.
Evan Brand: Yeah.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: This wouldn’t apply to you.
Evan Brand: Totally. I saw something yesterday in which it’s—it’s a mice study, so I don’t know how direct it’ll apply to humans, but that the cooler the mice were, like their blood temperature, the cooler they were, the longer they lived. So I don’t know though, it’s hard to say, like if you’re in that starvation mode and your body temperature is cooler, would you actually live longer? You know, maybe you’re not burning through things as much because you’re in reserve mode? I don’t know. It’s a good question. But then how is your energy level? I mean, if I can live 5 more years but my energy level is horrible, my whole life is not worth it, you know, so–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, and a lot of that research on like the fasting or the super low calorie, some of that comes from the benefits that you get from maybe an intermittent fast with the cellular autophagy recycling, and I think you can get some of that by doing a little bit of intermittent fasting on non-stressful days to help get that anti-aging benefit. That’s one piece. Also some of it’s on the glycation piece, right? When we glycate, when we sugarcoat our proteins, we create basically a free radical magnet in our body where those proteins attract free radicals and create damage to our DNA and oxidative stress. So if we can keep the carbs under control we’ll have less glycation, right? Well, basically the glycation—what happens on our crème brulee when we go eat it, right? That’s that browning that happens in our arteries and then our cells, that’s inflammation, and if we can—if we can get that dialed in and maybe add in a little bit of intermittent fasting and increase ketones, we may be able to get that same kind of benefit without the, you know, all of the negative effects like you said, the—the fatigue and obviously you’re—you’re starving yourself and remember if you’re eating less calories, that means you’re eating less nutrients.
Evan Brand: Yeah.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: We know the more stressed you are and the more you wanna do and achieve and become in life, you need the fuel to get there, right?
Evan Brand: Yup. I feel like we have said a lot so do you wanna bring us home, give us a good nutshell?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, what I’m—let’s do this. Let me kind of have you outline your nutshell first, because you have a different perspective on things. I wanna hear your nutshell first.
Evan Brand: Yeah, so my nutshell is prioritizing eating in general, 3 meals a day at least, not skipping meals. If you do have some issues going on where you’re trying to fix your adrenal issues or we’re working together right now, and we’re fixing your adrenals, sometimes with some of those hypoglycemia issues, I may recommend even a snack or two which will total you basically eating 5 meals per day and some of those maybe full meals, some of those maybe small meals. Now those snacks are not bananas and cookies, gluten-free brownies, anything like that. The snacks are still real food—real food, so it could look like something like almond butter. It could look like something that is a shake like a coconut oil, you know, with some grass-fed protein or some type of shake. So we’re still supporting fat and protein but minimum 3 square meals per day because a lot of people including myself today, I haven’t eaten breakfast yet so I can feel my blood sugar getting a little bit low and I likely have some adrenal stuff that I’m still getting back into the perfect rhythm, you don’t wanna skip those meals. So—so that’s kinda my—my main nutshell. If people just eat real food 3 times a day, most of the time they’re gonna have pretty good success overall, and then obviously there are some of the levers that I’ll tweak, too. Yeah, you need more carbs in the evening. This will help you with sleep. This will help with post-workout recovery, this is will help with weight loss, etc. But to me the skipping meals, that’s the biggest thing that I have to hit on and that’s probably my biggest thing in a nutshell is don’t do that just because a lot of these are broken and they assume that if they just don’t eat, that things will get better. But I think some signal to this whole system you’ve talked about is better than no signal, which is just eating nothing.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Totally agree. Get healthy first before you play with intermittent fasting, get healthy first, especially my female patients. Female’s hormonal fluctuations, they’re more like a symphony in the orchestra, right? And it doesn’t take more than just like the strings being off, or the flute’s being off, right? And that beautiful orchestra sounding like noise. So get healthy is a female first, especially the females because of all the things I mentioned, and then you can tweak around with a little bit of IF, intermittent fasting, on a non-stressful day. If you’re an executive or a teacher or even a stay-at-home and you have a stressful Monday, don’t intermittent fast on Monday.
Evan Brand: Yup.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Choose that Sunday or that Saturday, and you know, stop, have your dinner the night before at 6 and then don’t eat again ‘til 2, right? That’s a really easy way to do it, and if you wanna have some fat in there, so it’s more of a protein fast, that’s still great, too, in the meantime. Make sure you look at your macronutrient levers. Get down to a baseline if you’re unhealthy. Get to that lower carbohydrate-Paleo template to start and then we can move those levers in a non-dogmatic, non-analytical way like I mentioned weighing stuff, right? You can just use your fist or your palm or that decker cards mentality to up your carbs. And then also if you’re having a hard time we can also look at portion control, but there’s other things that we need to talk about on the functional medicine side and we’ll go in other podcast on this. I know Evan lost 20 or 30 pounds and you had a parasitic infection. I think you had Giardia and Crypto, right? Two infections. So if you’re having a hard time gaining weight or losing weight, there could be an inflammatory component, either with the microbiome, the gut, or an infection or a hormone issue that may need to be looked at. So we can only do so much with diet, it’s the foundation. And Evan and I pride ourselves in—and rocking and dialing in the diet first, and then going up to the next level second. So if you’re having an issue, you’re tweaking the diet, you’re listening and you’re applying all the things we’re talking about, the next step would be the functional medicine component where we, you know, look underneath those rocks and see what’s there.
Evan Brand: Yeah, that–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Any—anything on the functional medicine component you wanna touch upon?
Evan Brand: Well, that’s—that’s just a good—that’s a good intro to that idea because a lot of what we talked about, people make their entire life, their entire career, their entire business model just tweaking and adjusting the things that you and I talked about today, but that’s literally just the first rock that we’re looking under. There’s so much more to the picture. I mean, no matter what I did with my diet, I was unable to put on weight, and now I found out I had those two parasitic infections and now you and I talked about it and came up with a protocol and now we’re treating them, and I’ve already put on a few pounds. It could just be because I’m eating more, too, because I’m working out more, but I’ve already gained, you know, almost 5 pounds over the last 6 weeks, which makes me feel really good. My strength’s coming back. My hands and feet are a little less cold than they were. So these are the deeper pieces and man, I tell you how good it feels to actually find a reason of why something went crazy. Oh, it’s a good—it’s a relief!
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I knew you were looking better on Skype for some reason this morning.
Evan Brand: Yeah.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: There’s something about Evan today. I don’t know what it is.
Evan Brand: Good.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And just so everyone knows at home, Evan’s giving me a big flex right now. He’s looking extra studly, I love it. And then also like one thing, right? When we look at the diet component, if you’re just looking at the diet, that’s like just looking at the flat tire, okay? So let me give you this analogy. So the diet—the diet, right? If we have a poor diet, so many other things can happen metabolically to our gut and to our hormones and to our thyroid from long-term poor diet, right? Inflammation. Well, the same thing. Imagine you’re driving around on a flat tire, for a long period of time, okay? Well, the axle, the front end, the whole suspension system, right? All these things can get screwed up in the car. Now if we just go and we just change that tire, let’s say a year later, well, all of the collateral damage that happened over the last year doesn’t go away. That’s the key thing. So now let’s take that analogy, interject it back to nutrition. Great. You have this poor diet, your thyroid, your adrenals, your gut’s all screwed up. Great. You changed the diet, but just like changing the tire, you still had to have the mechanic go in and fix all the other parts of the carb that got damaged in the meantime. And it’s the same thing. Just because you changed the diet which is the foundational key underlying cause, you may have to go deeper and have other systems worked on and fixed because of that collateral damage was still on motion.
Evan Brand: Yeah, and I had a guy that just started working with me last week, and he said—he said, “Evan, when you and Justin said, ‘Everybody needs a coach,’” he said that finally clicked with me because I’ve been doing this thing alone for so long and I know so many people out there listening are doing this thing alone and it’s like I don’t even do this thing alone, you don’t do this thing alone, we consult with each other, we help each other, it’s like if you are doing this thing alone, you’re sacrificing your results and you’re lengthening the time or even reducing the possibility of you getting the type of results that you want if you aren’t working with someone because you can only see what you can only see. So really this is just a pitch for, you know, working with either one of us, but if—if you don’t like us, then fine, but I don’t know why you’ve listened this long but if—if you don’t and you’re going with somebody else, then make sure they know what they’re talking about. Make sure that you’re asking the right questions. Make sure that you’re not just—I had a—Justin, I haven’t told you this. A lady that just started work with me, she hired a naturopath and she paid him a huge amount of money. Let’s just say you could buy a car with this amount of money that she paid him upfront and she has Hashimoto’s–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Mmm.
Evan Brand: And he told her to go eat peppers because he ran a blood test that showed she had a deficiency in some minerals or vitamins or something and that she can get a lot of really good vitamins or minerals from peppers, but yeah, she’s got Hashimoto’s and–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Ooohh.
Evan Brand: And she’s like, “Are you sure?” And he goes, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’ll—you’ll be fine. Just eat some more peppers.” And so if there’s like crazy stuff that coming out of your practitioner’s mouth, don’t hesitate to get rid of them because hey, you—you and I—Justin and I, we’ll take you on and we’re gonna give you something that actually makes sense. So that’s my pitch for—for this podcast.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That’s great and I wanna make one more comment. I have some staff staying with me or they’re visiting in from California at my house over here in Austin and I was making dinner for them the other night and they saw what I was doing at home with my food, nutrition, and supplement plan, and they looked at me. They’re like, “Wow, you—you really practice what you preach, what you tell your patients.” I’m like, “Yeah!” I’m like, “This is it! You gotta own this stuff. If you don’t own it, people can smell it a mile away. People can smell it in—inauthenticity a mile away.” So it’s important that your practitioner lives it and practice it, and you should know because you’ll hear them talk about things and you’ll be able to tell if it’s a smokescreen or not, so you wanna make sure the person that you are working with and I know Evan, I’ve seen—we’ve eaten together, too. You practice what you preach, too, and that comes through in the communication because everyone knows when someone’s smoking it, right? Or you know, faking it. That—that BS detector, that Spidey sense kinda comes off.
Evan Brand: Yeah, and I just watched a video about that the other day, since the Internet has taken off so much, people’s BS detectors are a lot more sensitive now. So you’ll know it and something in your gut’s gonna click. So if your gut feeling just feels weird with your practitioner and they’re telling you to eat peppers when you have an autoimmune disease or something similar—I don’t have any other examples for today—then speak up because that’s just crazy and ultimately, you’re in charge. We’re just here to guide you in the right direction.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Love it, Evan. Great show today, man. High fives all around!
Evan Brand: High five!
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Alright, man, you have a great weekend.
Evan Brand: Take care.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Take care.
Evan Brand: Bye.
Paleo Diet: Top 3 Biggest Mistakes
By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
Have you gone Paleo but still aren’t feeling better? Even when you think you are eating better, subconsciously you may still be making choices that are setting you up for failure. Here are some common mistakes that could be preventing your body from healing.
Going Too Low Fat
Most people who transition to a Paleo diet have been exposed to the typical brainwashing of the standard American diet (SAD). Even in the Paleo community, it’s difficult to talk about meat without referring to it as “healthy lean meat.” What I find with my patients who are newly embarking on a Paleo diet is that they are going too low fat. I always recommend organic, pasture-fed, high-quality meats. If for some reason they can’t avoid the lean meats, I urge them to at least keep the skin on.
The darker meats tend to keep blood sugar more stable and sweet cravings at bay. And there are also more fat-soluble nutrients (vitamins A, D, E, K) in these fattier cuts of meat.
When I purchase my grass-fed beef, I make sure I get the 76% kind. I still see most people getting 90% to 95%, and when the meat’s cooked up, the fat is left in the frying pan. My recommendation is to use that liquid fat as a topping on your vegetables. Never let any good nutrition go to waste.
Not Enough Calories
When having my patients complete a food diary, what they eat looks really good on paper. Once I dig a little deeper and run the stats through a nutritional calculator, significant calorie deficits sometimes come up. Now, calories aren’t the be-all and end-all, especially if you’re so-called “overeating.” When you’re eating whole foods (real foods), calories are a direct marker of nutrition. If you are eating more calories from healthy foods, it’s safe to assume that you’re also getting more nutrition.
If you have an adrenal or thyroid, issue it can be harder to stabilize your blood sugar with fewer calories. Research shows that low-calorie eating can cause the thyroid to down-regulate or decrease its production of thyroid hormone (1). To have a healthy metabolism, you need to make sure you are at least consuming enough calories for your metabolic needs. This is most important for people who have already been diagnosed with adrenal and thyroid conditions.
Low-calorie eating can also lead to hypoglycemia, which can cause surges of cortisol and insulin (2). These hormone swings may increase your chance of getting polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) (3). If you have any female hormone symptoms, it’s important you make sure you aren’t going too low calorie. Use the free online app “Lose it” to calculate your minimum caloric needs.
Too Many Paleo Treats
There are lots of good Paleo treats out there, and there are also lots of bad ones. I’m a big fan of the ones you can make at home so you have full control over the ingredients. If you have an autoimmune condition, you need to be careful as these treats may have a lot of almond, potato, and gluten-free flour in them. Many Paleo treats can still be higher in sugar with a low protein-to-fat ratio, and this can really set you up for a series of blood-sugar swings. If you have digestion issues, these treats may be enough to feed your bacterial or fungal overgrowth and prevent your gut from healing (4). If you choose a Paleo treat, try to make sure it has adequate amounts of healthy fat and protein first. The fat and protein will decrease the glycemic load of the treat and will also prevent blood sugar and mood swings from occurring an hour or two later.
Some of my favorite treats are those Hail Merry miracle tarts (found at Whole Foods). They have a good amount of protein and fat with a little bit of sugar as well. High-quality dark chocolate can be an excellent treat, too (greater than 75% cacao).
If you converted over to a Paleo diet because you already had some type of health condition, like adrenal fatigue, thyroid imbalance, or a digestive problem, it’s important that you make your treats few and far between and that you avoid desserts that will derail your health.
My Personal Favorite Paleo Treats
- Paleo Apple Crisp with stevia sweetened coconut ice cream
- Paleo chocolate pudding
- Fresh organic berries with heavy grass-fed whipped cream (sweetened with stevia and vanilla)
I also like a steamed sweet potato with grass-fed butter and cinnamon on top. I know it sounds weird, but don’t knock it till you try it. This is higher in carbs, so make sure it’s not too much for your blood sugar and adrenals to handle.
Why I Am Getting Fat and Calorie Partitioning
By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
What’s causing us to get fat? Why is the food that I’m eating going into my fat cells versus going into building my muscles?
This is an important concept known as calorie partitioning. Essentially, it’s about how are body divvy’s up calories into fuel (immediate energy used by the muscle) or storage into your fat cells. It all comes down to hormones… I’ll explain below.
This is a great concept and I have an excellent animated video that I will attach with in the post to help make this concept clearer. In the end it all comes down to hormones. So first things’ first, what’s a hormone? A hormone is, essentially, a chemical messenger (these hormones float throughout our body, we have thyroid hormone, we have glucagon, insulin, testosterone, growth hormone). All of these hormones float throughout the body and they bind to receptor sites.
Think of a hormone, maybe, as a baseball and the receptor’s site as the catcher’s mitt. The hormone, essentially, does not necessarily have a response until it binds to a receptor. So, basically, a baseball in a catcher’s mitt (receptor; hormone) and then we have what’s called a response, our proteomic response, which creates a metabolic reaction in the body.
When certain hormones like estrogen hit a receptor, we have a different response than maybe when testosterone hits a receptor. Different hormones have different roles, that’s why our goal is to stimulate the hormones that keep us healthy and allow us to look, feel and perform at our best!
Everything that I recommend to help change body composition and help increase your metabolism (and all metabolism means is help burn more energy ideally from fat sources for fuel) addresses diet, lifestyle, and the exercise side of health. When your hormones are in order this gives your body the best possible scenario to burn more fat for fuel.
One of the things that we see, essentially, is when patients eat certain foods that are more inflammatory or refined or higher sugars, we are dumping more of our calories into our fat cell. If the fat cells are storing these calories we’ll see them accumulate in size and get bigger and bigger and bigger. When our fat calls are accumulating in size this means our mitochondria (or the furnace in our cells) don’t really have access to burn these fuels for energy.
One of the most common things we see as we’re storing fat, we’re actually becoming very fatigued, tired, and we don’t feel too well. And we definitely don’t wanna exercise because we’d rather be sitting’ on the couch watching a movie and doing nothing at all. When you’re tired, it takes energy to want to go out and go work out. When eat more food like that, we’re going to making more insulin, we’re going to be making more cortisol, we’re going to be making an excessive amount of leptin. Over time, we see these cells become numb to these hormones, the fancy word is known as receptor down regulation or receptor resistance, maybe you’ve heard of insulin resistance or lepton resistance before?All that means is our cells become numb to the hormone and the fuel substrate goes into that fat cell and not to our furnace to get burnt up.
On the other side of things, we have calories floating in our blood stream. When we make specific hormones such as glucagon, lipoprotein lipase, hormone sensitive lipase, and epinephrine, we’re able to drive more of our calories into our mitochondria. By that hormone response our mitochondria can burn those calories up for energy and we feel good. When our metabolism is revved up, we have more energy and we’re more likely to exercise. I see a healthy body composition as a byproduct of doing the right things in your diet and lifestyle to provide healthy hormonal response.
It takes a lot of willpower to exercise when you’re tired. If we create the right environment regarding what we eat and how our lifestyle is, we’re going to have more energy, more of our calories are gonna go into our mitochondria to get burned up and our metabolism is gonna be healthier, we’re gonna burn more fat for fuel, and we’ll be able to put more muscle on our body and look leaner and more tone.