The Anti-Diet Approach to Health and Weight Loss
By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
The New Diet Fad: “Intuitive Eating”
It seems like trending diets change as fast as style trends, and with so many fad diets out there, it can be hard to know which ones are all hype and which ones are legit. Diets are rarely a sustainable long term option. The “diets” I recommend to my patients are ways of eating that promote a healthy and balanced lifestyle that can be sustained without feeling like you’re missing out.
The hottest diet right now is “Intuitive Eating.” There are many great things about intuitive eating, which is a mind-body health approach with 10 founding principles. This way of eating depends upon listening to your body to meet your physical and psychological needs. Honing into the messages your body gives you–eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full–is something we rarely do these days in the age of instant foods. Additionally, intuitive eating has no ‘right’ or ‘wrong,’ only what feels right to you. This reduces diet-related anxiety and stress, which is a major win! Stressing about what you eat can throw your hormones out of whack and ultimately, in some cases, can do more harm that the diet does good.
The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating:
- Reject the Diet Mentality
- Honor Your Hunger
- Make Peace with Food
- Challenge the Food Police
- Discover the Satisfaction Factor
- Feel Your Fullness
- Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness
- Respect Your Body
- Movement—Feel the Difference
- Honor Your Health—Gentle Nutrition
Where Does Intuitive Eating Fail?
Intuitive eating has many pros: it requires you to learn to listen to your body to respect its needs, and takes away the guilt and stress of dieting. However, a big part of intuitive eating is that there is no counting of calories, carbs, points, or macros, and no foods are off limits. While the lack of restrictions are enticing and a great way of reducing confusion over what is “allowed” or not, there are better and worse food choices.
Technically, an intuitive eater could choose to eat donuts, fast food, and alcohol in a day, but filling up on a carb-heavy diet of sugar, alcohol, gluten, chemical additives, food coloring, and processed foods wouldn’t be doing their body any good in the long term. However, there is a way to take the best parts of intuitive eating and mix them with a healthy diet. I like to call this “mindful eating.”
Mindful Eating As A Balanced Approach
Mindful eating is being aware of the entire eating experience, from the food you eat to the process of eating. Like intuitive eating, mindful eating is not a diet and has no rules of what you can or cannot eat.
Mindful eating can change and grow with you and your needs. When you eat mindfully, you are choosing foods that feed and nourish you, while also employing intuitive eating concepts of listening to your body and following hunger cues. When you eat mindfully, you eat with purpose. The foods you chose are mindfully chosen, and even the act of eating becomes a more mindful experience. The phone goes away–work emails or social media can wait– and your attention turns to the nourishing food in front of you.
While the two ways of eating share a lot of experiences, an important aspect of mindful eating is though there is no judgement, the foods you eat are chosen purposefully to optimize your health and wellbeing. This may mean eating lower carb (like the keto diet) or a paleo-based diet, and it may mean avoiding certain foods that you have an allergy or intolerance to. Of course, I recommend choosing high quality foods (like organic produce, grass-fed meat, and pastured eggs), as these are important aspects of picking the food that help you become as healthy and happy as you can be!
How to Start Mindful Eating
Learn which foods work best for you. If you are suffering from health issues, you may want to start off with an elimination diet to learn your triggers. An elimination diet requires a lot of mindfulness as you have to listen to your body to learn which foods cause a reaction!
Mindful eating is easy–you can start today! When you are cooking, ask yourself if the foods you are using are serving you or hurting you. By choosing foods that will make you feel great physically, and you will feel good mentally! When you sit down to eat, lose the distractions. Turn off the TV, put your phone on silent, and really enjoy the experience of eating.
Nutrition is Science-Backed Medicine
By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
Nutrient: “a substance that provides nourishment
essential for growth and the maintenance of life.”
You Are What You Eat
Why do people change their diet? While popular answers are to lose weight (fat), or to get in better shape (adding muscle), good nutrition is in fact about so much more than changing your physical appearance. Proper nutrition–diet and supplementation–is a science-backed way to improve your health. “You are what you eat,” and everyday you have the power to decide how the foods you consume will serve you. Let food be thy medicine: heal your gut, balance your hormones, improve your mood, boost your energy, and more.
Nutrition as Medicine
As kids, many of us were told to eat our vegetables–why? ”Because they’re good for you.”
As adults, we are told to eat our vegetables–why? “To shed some weight.”
Neither of these answers demonstrates the true healing nature of what we put in our bodies, so, without further ado, here are some of the most powerful science-backed healing properties of a healthy diet!
We all know that changing our diet can help us lose weight, but did you know that a healthy diet can improve the appearance of your skin and hair too? B-vitamins, like biotin, have been shown to improve the appearance of skin and nails. Collagen also supports healthy hair, skin, and joints!
A poor diet lacking in healthy macro and micronutrients–paired with a diet high in sugar, alcohol, and processed foods–can lead to headaches, brain fog, and fatigue. On the other hand, eating grass fed meat, healthy fats, and lots of fresh vegetables will give your body the fuel it needs to function optimally.
The Standard American Diet (“SAD” – a fitting acronym) is full of inflammatory processed foods and refined carbs & sugar which deplete the immune system, increase the rate of cancer, and increase the risk of developing autoimmune disease.
Inflammation is the root cause of most diseases: but a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods is the best gift you can give yourself to feel and function at your best!
Poor sleep–whether you’re lacking hours, or your sleep quality is not that good– can increase your risk of diabetes, decrease your immune system, and accelerate aging.
Alcohol and caffeine both impair sleep quality. Caffeine has a half-life of around 6 hours, so ideally you want to have your last cup by 2pm. Alcohol robs you of restorative REM sleep, which in addition to its dehydrating effects, lead to the next day’s dreaded hangover.
Food that positively affect sleep include veggies, grass-fed beef, chia seeds, sweet potato, wild-caught salmon, and those rich in magnesium. On the other hand, simple carbs and sugar negatively affect blood sugar and sleep–especially if consumed in the evening.
Your body *needs* fat! Fat is required for your body to produce various hormones and keep inflammation low. Carbs, especially simple carbs, can actually increase inflammation and disrupt the delicate balance of your hormones.
If you suffer from leaky gut or other gut issues, you may be deficient in gut bacteria. Probiotics, like those from fermented foods–like sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha– provide your gut with beneficial bacteria which can help keep your hormones in balance.
Did you know that dairy, sugar, and gluten are linked to depression? While the Mediterranean diet, rich in saturated fat, fish, and vegetables is associated with both decreased rates of depression *and* a longer lifespan!
Ready to Take Charge?
By now, you should have all the motivation you need to make a change for the healthier. Here are some resources to help you get started:
- The JustInHealth Eating Plan
- How to Eat, What to Eat, and the Healthy Meal Matrix
- Nutrient Support
- If you or your diet is deficient in certain nutrients, supplementing with high quality supplements shouldn’t be overlooked!
- Iron Supreme: Hypothyroidism, anemia, and iron deficiency are all linked. Many women are iron-deficient, which can be remedied by eating red meat and supplementing with a high-quality iron supplement, like Iron Supreme.
- Magnesium Supreme: Magnesium is essential for proper function of over 300 enzymatic reactions and for the performance of many vital physiological functions. A magnesium deficiency can lead to osteoporosis, blood sugar problems, poor sleep, muscle cramps, and more.
- Multi-Nutrient Supreme: Your daily all-in-one for general nutrient support! Vitamins A, B, C, D, E and so much more!
- If you or your diet is deficient in certain nutrients, supplementing with high quality supplements shouldn’t be overlooked!
Jun S Lai, Sarah Hiles, Alessandra Bisquera, Alexis J Hure, Mark McEvoy, John Attia; A systematic review and meta-analysis of dietary patterns and depression in community-dwelling adults, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2014;99(1):181–197
Other strategies to lose weight and reduce stress – Podcast #92
Dr. Justin Marchegiani and Evan Brand talk about weight loss secrets and weight loss mindset in this podcast episode. They discuss about weight loss being the effect of good health. Get educated about your body so you can effectively lose weight.
Discover why weight loss is more challenging for women and how hormones affect it. Learn about how excessive exercise and/or cutting calories can send stress signals to the body. Find out why you need to get nutrients 100% dialed in and eating organic and grass-fed or pasture-fed as much as possible, avoiding hormones and pesticides and GMOs. Learn about forest bathing, the Nature Pyramid, breathing exercises, body fat percentage and body water content, as well as the waist and hip circumference when you listen to this interview.
In this episode, topics include:
02:00 Female hormones
03:50 Stress in women vs stress in men
10:23 Diet and quality of the macronutrients
13:47 Forest bathing and Nature Pyramid
21:42 Breathing exercises
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Evan, what’s going on? It’s a fabulous Monday. How you doin’?
Evan Brand: Hey!
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: How’s your weekend?
Evan Brand: Oh, I’m doing great. Our weather was just incredible. I was outside probably 23 out of 24 hours throughout the weekend and it was just a blast. What about you?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Same here. I was—went for a little hike on Saturday, went on the boat yesterday, did some water skiing, and then went to Whole Foods and get some shopping done. So I’m ready for my week, man.
Evan Brand: Sweet.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Very cool. Well, we talked pre-show that were gonna touch upon some weight loss secrets and weight loss mindset issues because we have so many patients that come in to us initially really wanting to focus on weight loss and weight loss really is the effect of good health and all the things we’re doing and it may not be the cause. Essentially, we don’t lose weight and then we get healthy. We get healthy and then we lose weight. The problem is a) which is getting healthy and then b) the effect of losing weight, it can be different for some people. Especially women, there can be a lot of lag time between a) getting healthy and b) losing weight. And we have to make sure we have the right mindset so we can stay the course.
Evan Brand: Definitely, then that’s something that it’s on our Top 5 list for most of the people that we work with, weight loss is a goal, and a lot of times it’s just really an education process for you and I to really tell them, “Look, with this type of adrenal health or with this type of thyroid health, or with this gut infection, etc., it’s gonna be hard for you to lose weight, if not impossible.” And so a lot of times it’s just patience, honestly, and sometimes if people try to bail out too early and they don’t stick through their program to fully get better, the weight loss may never come. So sometimes it does take 3 to 6 months, and that’s pretty good if it took you 40 years to become overweight, if it only takes you six months to start turning, to dial the other way, then that’s pretty good.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Absolutely and I would say with a lot of my female patients, because females tend to have a harder time losing weight if they’ve gained weight just because of the fact that hormonally there’s fluctuations that happen throughout the month, especially if they’re still cycling, meaning they’re progesterone and estrogen’s falling, they’re having a period every month or ovulating, it’s gonna be a little more difficult because excessive exercise and/or cutting calories can send stress signals to the body. And when those stress signals happen to the body, that can throw off the hormones, that can cause increase in PMS, lower thyroid function, and just more metabolic stress on the body. With guys, guys can kind of up exercise a bit, maybe even tweak calories down a little bit, maybe even lessen fat a little bit and then really drive weight loss in a more non-sustainable way per se, meaning it’s nothing that you do forever, and they will have less ramifications because of the fertility and the hormonal fluctuations. Men’s hormones are kind of like a foghorn. It just kinda goes, “Eeeee” throughout the month; where women you kinda get this orchestra going on and anything who listens to an orchestra, you know, you have the strings, and you have the—the percussion instruments and the horns and if one of these things is off, that orchestra can really go and sound like noise pretty fast.
Evan Brand: Yeah, so that’s a good point that you already hit on is there are a lot of sources of stress that women honestly may not be aware of in terms—in terms of the obesogens for example, the hormone-disrupting chemicals that are out there that can cause you to gain weight. Some of the skincare products, that’s something that I always try to get to, maybe it’s not top of the food chain issue, but if you’re somebody listening, maybe you’re working with one of us with a program already, take a look at your skincare products and make sure that all the parabens and all of the thalates and all these other chemicals are gone because that can be roadblock. Maybe not a huge one, but definitely one that I’ve seen.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Absolutely and in stress affects women and men differently, right? You know we also talk about women and men they’re equal but not the same, and by—when you mean not the same, there’s different biology and biochemistry happening. So Dr. John Gray talked about this at a lecture I attended recently. He talked about men under stress—and again obviously prolonged stress is gonna affect person. It’s gonna lower their hormones. It’s gonna create a more catabolic environment, meaning more stress hormones and that will eventually drop down their anabolic, they’re rebuilding hormones. So they’re more catabolic, they’re breaking down faster, with less anabolic hormones where they—they don’t heal and repair as fast. So men under stress, they actually can get a bump in testosterone from a little bit of stress. So you get actually a little bit of a boost of their repairing hormones and in the same lecture, Dr. John Gray talked about women under a little bit of stress like that, that can actually drop down their testosterone and may make them a little bit harder to recover and can also decrease their libido and such as well. So we just gotta be careful. There’s a fine balance in which women will be under so much stress where it may start dropping down their anabolic hormones, and again some—with different women, it’s gonna be, you know, different for each. Like I have—my wife for instance is an executive. She runs a massive company and she—when she’s under stress, it affects her just a little bit. It affects her a little bit. Now in the beginning after a vacation, after more meditations and more lifestyle strategies, she can deal with it better but that anabolic hormone definitely declines, her ability to exercise and repair is less. Now I have some women that are attorneys and they work hundred-hour weeks and they can do it up to a period of time. So because of the fluctuations in hormones with women, not everyone is gonna handle that stress the same. So we gotta be careful of how much stress that we’re under at work, and we also have to make sure that the harder we’re working, the harder we’re resting. So there’s that old analogy like “work hard, play hard”. I don’t like that. It’s—it’s “work hard, rest hard, play a little”. So if you’re working hard, especially as a female, because of the hormonal fluctuations you’re under, we just have to be very careful of that. Men don’t have quite the same issues. They do—I mean I see a lot of men who are stressed out but because their hormones aren’t fluctuating as much and because fertility is a little bit easier for a man, because the main goal of fertility is just having good sperm that—that have good shape and a good amount and good movement. Outside of that, we don’t have this beautiful flow of hormones that need to be present to have that—that sperm fertilize that egg and to have it stick. So we gotta be very careful of women and gotta make sure stress is dialed in and the constitution, meaning how much stress we can handle, is different for each person. I see women who are attorneys who work hundred hours a week and their adrenals actually look pretty good, and some women working 40 hours a week and their adrenals look like crap. So it’s different for each person.
Evan Brand: Yeah, or stay-at-home moms. I’ve seen it both ways–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh!
Evan Brand: Being completely wrecked or being pretty good.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Being a stay-at-home mom is—is a full-time job especially in the beginning when their sleep is declined. That is like—you might as well be, you know, an executive working a hundred hours a week, because when you’re getting up like that—you might as well be a doctor on call, right? You know, getting called in, because your sleep’s getting interrupted which is gonna throw off your blood sugar and you may not have the time to exercise and move because the baby needs to be fed all the time. So we kinda have a couple of different aspects there. That’s why I said, the harder you’re working, and being a stay-at-home mom especially in that first year, it’s super stressful. We gotta make sure the diet is 100% dialed in and we can’t use the excuse of eating for two is a reason to eat junk food. We gotta make sure you’re like a prized fighter, getting all of the nutrients in that you can.
Evan Brand: Yup. So that was the first good piece there is—is the stress component, how that could a stall in weight loss, the different sources of stress, the chemicals, etc. Maybe we should talk about some of the nutrients that are helpful, too. You know, some of the zincs and the seleniums and the other, you know, trace minerals that are imp for the thyroid because every time you hear some woman that thinks that they’re overweight, they think, “Oh, there’s something wrong with my thyroid. Do I need to put—be put on thyroid meds?” And a lot of times, that’s not—that’s not the answer, right?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: We wanna make sure the nutrients, they’re 100%. So when it comes to that fat-soluble nutrients, especially vitamin A are gonna be really important for the thyroid, especially with the thyroid receptor sites. Zinc’s gonna be vitally important so if we have issues with losing our taste, I find a lot of people that are really craving a whole bunch of sugar. What’s happened is their taste buds have downregulated because of deficiencies in zinc and poor digestion and poor HCl and the higher amounts of sugar foods, they don’t even notice the overpowering sugar. Like if I engage in some kind of refined sugar ingestion, I’m just like, “Whoa! What the heck is this? This is so overstimulating, just from a taste perspective, forget a hormone perspective.” And some people I find their taste buds have really downregulated. We get them off of a lot of that sugar and we get them on a good high quality multivitamin with 20-30 mg of zinc in there per day and we get their diet full of really good zinc rich foods, high quality meats, etc. that their taste buds get more sensitive and they need less sugar to have the same type of mouth-feel response.
Evan Brand: Yup.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So we talked about zinc. Selenium is gonna be a big one especially for the thyroid and thyroid conversion, and a lot of women have autoimmune thyroid antibodies, so getting this—the selenium out there where it’s 1-2 Brazil nuts a day is a pretty good backbone. Good quality organ meats, oyster, seafoods are gonna be very helpful to get the selenium and get some of the nutrients in there. Iodine’s helpful but we don’t wanna go too high and if you are autoimmune currently active, we wanna be careful at boosting it up, you know, outside of 500mcg because we don’t wanna stimulate more autoimmune reaction. So the thyroid’s really important for fat loss and energy and the nutrients that connect and help with thyroid function, to name a few are gonna be zinc, to name a few are gonna be magnesium, selenium, vitamin A. We can even throw in copper as long as we’re not getting an excess. Typically, if we’re getting enough selenium, that will help balance the copper out as well.
Evan Brand: Yup, so what comes next? I mean, is it the nutrition piece? Is it watching out for too many carbs? Is it the exercise, not too intense? Not too long duration, like what’s the next keystone for you?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Well, I always look at the diet piece first. And we’re always starting with a Paleo template and most people in their head, I say the word Paleo, they go to meat—meat diet. And that’s basically brainwashing from conventional media, so we have to like hit Ctrl-Alt-Delete and put that in the trash right there. So a Paleo template really is just talking about the quality of the macronutrients. Macronutrients being PFC—proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. So it’s talking about eating organic and grass-fed and pasture-fed as much as possible, avoiding hormones and pesticides and GMOs and then dialing in the macronutrients meaning proteins. How high are we gonna be? Are we gonna have maybe just a palm serving of meat twice a day? Or are we gonna have 5 full hand servings throughout the day, you know? A full hand, maybe 4 or 5 times throughout the day, like where are we at with that? Also, how much starch can we handle? Can we handle a sweet potato once or twice a day? Or are we gonna primarily be more on a keto or gonna crank the fats super high, 70-80%, keep the vegetables as the majority of our carbohydrates and primarily eat, you know, moderate to lower protein and food? So we have that dialed, the PFC dials there, and we’re gonna dial that up accordingly and just kinda hit that delete button about pro—Paleo meaning high amounts of meat. It can but it also doesn’t have to be.
Evan Brand: Yup.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So that’s important because that aspect right there allows us to have the nutrients coming in. It allows us to not drive inflammation because people forget, right? We’re either driving inflammation or we’re not. So it’s kind of binary. If we’re driving—if we have an inflammatory diet, that’s great. But we’re also not doing something that’s just as important. We’re not driving inflammation which a lot of people are gonna be driving with their typical diet and if we’re stabilizing the blood sugar, we’re also gonna be taking less stress off the adrenal glands, which the more stressed we are, the more we trigger our epigenome, our epigenetics, right? These are the things that turn on our genes to be in a stressed out state. The more stressed out we are, the more we wanna hold on to calories especially as fat so we have them in times of famine if you will.
Evan Brand: Yup. To me, I mean stress has popped up time and time again in every conversation I think we’ve had. I think honestly, this is probably the biggest root of it, because I feel like a lot of people listening, they already have the diet pretty dialed in, but they’re not resting as much, you know, they’re not resting hard like you say, and maybe not playing enough at all. You could have a perfect diet and a good supplement program, but if you just come home from work and you’re just completely tanked and then you go straight to more emails at home or straight to TV or some other distraction and you’re not really actively resting, your brain is still stuck in that Fight or Flight sympathetic, I feel like that’s gonna be the biggest roadblock that’s gonna make you or break you, it’s the nervous system. I feel like that if your endocrine system is stressed, it’s stressed, no matter how much you tweak your sweet potato or whatever. If you’re stuck in that mode, I feel like you’re gonna continue to struggle.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, that’s why things like stepping out and getting a 5 or 10 medit—5 or 10-minute meditation during the day is helpful. Also you talked a lot about forest bathing, kinda getting out in–
Evan Brand: Yeah.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Nature for a few minutes. You wanna touch upon that?
Evan Brand: Yeah, I mean, the—the science has proven if in case people want it, but the fact is you’re built to be outside. There used to not be such a thing as indoors, maybe the cave was indoors, but now we have ability to hide ourselves from the outdoor environment which is good if there’s a bad storm, but otherwise we wanna be out there where we’re getting tons of negative ions out there when you’re talking about being around water or sources of trees, you’re gonna get exposed to these phytoncides, these aromatic compounds in nature. Now if you’re—if you only have the beach available, then that’s awesome. If you don’t even have that and you just have the dessert, well, you have to just work with—with what you have. I had people email in, “Well, I don’t have a forest. What am I supposed to do?” Just use the nature that you have around you. But the forest specifically is something that they’re doing a lot of research on. It’s called Shinrin-yoku in Japan, and they’re seeing reductions in cortisol. They’re seeing reductions in blood pressure. They’re seeing all sorts of other biomarkers that are indicative that we’re shifting people into the parasympathetic state, and to me that’s like the biggest top of the food chain issue is whether you’re in the parasympathetic or whether in the sympathetic, and for me modern life it is very tough to stay having a balance between those two. So anything that you take away from it, anytime you’re out, you know, even in the grocery store—let’s say you’re at Costco and there’s tons of people everywhere and it’s madness. You have the ability to respond to that situation with that Fight or Flight mode or you have the ability to say, “Man, we’re spoiled. This is a first world problem that I have to wait in line to buy my organic food.” And then you just shift yourself out of that Fight or Flight, and if you can control your nervous system a little bit better with your mind, that’s gonna help you because everybody’s gonna get exposed to similar forms of stress issue, but if you have built up yourself, whether that’s with the supplements that we talked about, or whether that’s with a mindfulness practice and you have the ability to disengage the trigger so to speak at this loaded gun—that you’re gonna disengage—you know, not gonna pull the trigger of that Fight or Flight, you’re gonna be a lot more powerful that someone else who’s gonna break under a stressful time.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I agree. So getting out, like what’s the dose? Are we talking like, something like 5 or 10 minutes even out there, getting out there enough? Is that okay? Or are we talking like we need 20 minutes? How much you think?
Evan Brand: Yeah, it’s a good question. There’s a cool thing that people should look up and maybe you can put this on the show notes. It’s called a Nature Pyramid, and I’m not sure if this was a national park service or who came up with the Nature Pyramid but it’s kinda like the old food pyramid converted for nature and it shows sort of the dosage of nature that you want. So daily, you know, you wanna be getting exposed to your city parks and your urban environments, and then it goes up to I believe it’s like monthly. You wanna get exposed to like State Parks or National Forest, you know bigger places. And then whether it’s a couple of times a year, you wanna get exposed to even bigger sources of nature, and then at the very tip top of the pyramid, it’s like, you know, National Parks and massive places where you’re just completely in undomesticated wilderness and that’s sort of the top of the food chain. So it’s sort of like you do the best that you can during your normal work life, but you do want to make some time to actually just completely get disconnected from the grid and just go into pure wilderness, you know, as much as possible really but they have kind of a recommendation there that I—I can’t remember right now.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Got it, because my wife went for a walk this morning pretty early. I think walking can be great. I look at it more as restoration and stress-reducing than exercise to put on muscle per se, you know, I wouldn’t consider that like exercise like going in doing some sprints or doing some kettlebell swings, but I see it more as a restorative type of exercise versus a—a stimulus to build muscle from that sense. Does that make sense?
Evan Brand: Oh, yeah! You could walk your way to weight loss if you wanted to. You don’t have to beat yourself up and wear silly ankle weights–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.
Evan Brand: And carry little dumbbells with yourself either. If you just walk, I mean, that’s what you’re designed to do and if you’re not walking, you have a deficiency of walking—let’s say if you like numbers, you’re not getting 6,000 steps a day, you’re getting less, then if you’re hitting that number, you’re gonna guarantee your success rate, you know? It’s gonna go up a lot more than if you’re just being sedentary, I mean, let’s face it, that’s not—that’s not good.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, I think it depends, too, where you’re at. Like if you’re getting close—the closer you are getting to the weight you wanna be, those—those last pounds are gonna be harder to come off, so walking may not get you there because of the fact that the muscle that you need to stimulate fat loss and put on muscle, you have to have a higher level of stimulus and especially like the glutes for instance, these are phasic base muscles, meaning you need a lot of hip extension and deep angle at the hip joint to stimulate them. So like a box jump or a sprint where you’re really moving that hip joint through a larger range of motion. Where if you look at a walk, you know, you’re kinda only moving your hip joint through like maybe a 50-degree range of motion, but you look at a sprinter who’s leaning in at a 45-degree angle and that knee coming all the way and then kicking all the way back, it’s just—I mean, you’re almost moving that hip joint at 160 degrees.
Evan Brand: Yeah, sprints are amazing.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, you’re getting a lot more stimulation so I think walking is great, then once you plateau on it, doing a walk, sprint, walk, sprint, even if it’s a few minute walking followed by a 10-second sprint, that is a phenomenal way to go. And if you’re starting out, it could even just be a power walk, like you just going all out for 10 to 20 seconds is helpful, just to get those muscles stimulated because certain muscles are tonic muscles, meaning they’re more endurance, low threshold, low stimulus muscles. Others are gonna be phasic, meaning we need a higher level of stimulation, that’s where box drop—box jumps, plyometrics, sprints, and resistance training with heavier weights is gonna be what’s needed to get those muscle recruited.
Evan Brand: Yup, and that’s what I do. I mean, I—I do, I’m not currently in a sprint, I mean, I’m pretty lean right now so I’m mainly just lifting weights, but a lot of people, you know, this is also gonna depend on where you’re at in your journey with your adrenals, because you know Justin and I would never recommend going straight into sprints if you’re stage 3 adrenal fatigue. You’re just gonna tear yourself up and make yourself feel awful. So this is sort of like, I don’t know, what would you call it, Justin? Like phase 2 of your program if you’re already kind of working towards health, then you may be ready for the sprints, but right out of the gate it might destroy you.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Correct. If you have symptoms right now of fatigue and sleep issues or mood issues, or inability to perform at work or in—in your house and living, then we wanna always follow my three rules. Number one, choose exercise that allows you to feel good after it. So–
Evan Brand: Yup.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Again, if you’re going to CrossFit and doing your AMREP, right? As many reps as possible and feeling like really depleted afterwards and not energized, well, that’s already strike one. Number two is you wanna feel light emotionally after you do it, like you wanna be able to step back and say, “Yeah, I could do that again.” Like, “That’s doable. I can do that.” And then number three, if it’s a morning workout, you know, later on that night, how do you feel? Or if it’s an afternoon or night workout, how do you feel that next morning? Do you feel like run over by a bus, or do you feel like, “Yeah, I feel okay.” You know, barring all stressors being stable and sleeping stable, how do you feel? So three positive answers have to be there. Do you feel energized? Can you emotionally repeat the movements? And then number three, how do you feel later on that day or that next morning?
Evan Brand: Yup, that’s perfect. That—you—you ought to make like a little poster or some type of little visual for that. I think that’d be cool for us to share to people.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I think it’d be good idea. I’ll put that on my queue.
Evan Brand: Alright.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And then also one last thing to add to that, start out with a restorative. If you’re in doubt, the restorative movements are gonna be walking, and I’m a big fan of like breath walking so it’s kind of a walking meditation where you take 4 breaths into the nose. And then 4 breaths out. Yeah, I like that because nose breathing is very powerful for the parasympathetic stimulation. The olfactory nerve is I think olfactory is either 1 or 2—I think it’s number 1. I think the optic nerve is number 2. But that olfactory nerve, that’s like inside your nose, inside your nasal cavity, and those nerve fibers are actually parasympathetic. You know, they’re helping that rest and digest side of the nervous system, which is great because a lot of people are in the sympathetics and they’re chest breathing, meaning they’re breathing through their neck muscles and their check—their chest, and it’s really simple. You can just put your hand on your—your stomach and your chest and breathe, and see which hand moves first. And a lot of people, their top hand, their chest hand moves first. So that cranial nerve number 1 really is a parasympathetic fiber. So we talk about activating the parasympathetics to rest and digest is really focused on good nose breathing, deep nasal breaths throughout the day.
Evan Brand: Yeah, you want that diaphragm or the belly, when you’re putting your hand down there to pop out first. I just read a book this weekend called Medical Meditation and it was great, all about like Kundalini yoga and tons of different breathing exercises and different poses that you can do for different things. So balancing out the nervous system was one of them. So if you just, if you’re sitting in a chair, you can do that, too. And you would just put your thumb on your index finger and you would have this pose here, they call it like a—a mudra where you have—put your thumb on the index finger there and you literally can just sit and you have your hands on your knees and you don’t have to be in what they call the easy pose. You can’t just be sitting in a chair, sitting upright with your spine straight. And the breath work for that was just inhaling through the nose, holding for 10, and then exhaling. And that was it and it suggested that you do that for 11 minutes. And so if you just do that, and you turn off that Fight or Flight, in a way maybe we can’t directly prove that you’re gonna start losing weight because of it, but if you can just do these little minor shifts in your nervous system state throughout the day, that can be enough to prevent you from getting into that fat storage mode like you talked about because your body thinks it’s getting chased by a bear and it needs to put you into a storage mode, because you never know when you’re going to eat next. So better store that body fat because you might need it for protection on all sorts of other things. So it is a protective mechanism. Your body’s not stupid and a lot of self-hatred and you know, self-abuse, negative self-talk comes up from this for women when they have excess body fat but the body’s doing what it would have needed to do to keep you alive pre-historically. Now it’s just not cool to store fat, so you know, it’s not sexy to do that in a lot of women have pressure on them. Your body is doing what it’s told to do. So if it’s being told to run from the bear and be in Fight or Flight and store fat, that’s what it’s gonna do. So don’t, you know, beat yourself up, don’t talk down about yourself. You just have to look at what’s going on hormonally and biochemically, and then try to tweak that as best you can.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I like that and that breathing pattern was what again.
Evan Brand: That breathing pattern is inhaling through the nose, you hold it for a count of 10, which is a little bit long if you’re not used to breathing exercises and then exhaling, and then repeat. And you do that for a total of 11 minutes with the thumb on your index finger and those hands resting on your knees, sitting straight up or sitting in what they call the easy pose where you’re in like Indian style, and you just sit there and that’s it. And I did this morning and it was a trip like I was sitting outside on the chair outside by the patio, just—and by the time I opened my eyes, which is super bright green, the trees were green, the birds sounded louder, like I was tuned in, so I know that I made a significant shift.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That’s great. And there’s something called box breathing as well which is pretty similar, where you’re doing that 4-second breath in through the nose, 4 in and then it’s a 7-second hold and then an 8-second out. Now the hold is important because you actually ho—by holding, you actually build up CO2 and CO2 is actually a vasodilator to the brain so it actually increases blood flow to the frontal cortex. So that’s why like people that hyperventilate, they actually get too alkaline and that’s why they take the bag and they put the bag over their mouth, and they breathe into the bag because the whole goal is to increase CO2, right? So if you kinda take that concept, people get stressed over breathing, over exhaling, then they get this kind of panic attack going and they use the bag. So, you say, “Okay, now what can we do from a breathing strategy when we’re stressed to help that?” Well, the good deep breath in through the nose that activates the parasympathetic nervous system, the PNS, and then that hold for a bit of time followed by a slow, breathe out so we don’t go too alkaline with getting that CO2 out. Now I find though just focusing on the breathing timing is actually a little bit stressful–
Evan Brand: Yeah.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So I kinda do it, get like a rhythm of what it feels like and then once you understand the feeling of what it feels like, go more of the feeling versus the counting. Because I find if you’re trying to relax, it’s actually stressful trying to count this stuff out. So I kind of just breathe in as deeply and as comfortably as I can through my nose. I try to just have a nice comfortable hold and a nice slow breath out, but count for a bit so you know what it feels like and then go back, reach for the feeling versus the counting number.
Evan Brand: Yeah, I—I’m glad that you called that out. That’s something I did but I wasn’t aware that—I should have made the distinction there, yeah, definitely for me, once I get in the flow, I don’t ever—number don’t even exist.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Exactly.
Evan Brand: It’s just a matter of feeling your body and you’ll know when you need to exhale.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.
Evan Brand: You’ll know when you’ll need to take the next breath.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Exactly. And then also I think it’s important that we get a baseline. A lot of women especially, they’re fixated on the scale. I think it’s good to have an idea of where your weight’s at from a starting point, but remember weights on scale, cannot look at the quality of the weight. It does not break up fat from water from muscle. So we gotta keep that in mind. Now if you’re gonna use a scale, a better scale to use is a Tanita scale. That will actually look at fat percentage. It will even look at water percentage. So that’s helpful because if you see you know, someone eating a whole bunch of gluten one day, that will drive inflammation and their water percentage will go up. Women before menstruation, their water percentage will go up. Even potentially around ovulation, things can happen, too. So because of the hormones fluctuating, that can cause fluctuations of water going up which can increase weight 3 or 4 lbs, like that. And then number two, stress will cause water retention. Eating inflammation foods will cause water retention, and we don’t know if we’re putting on muscle because if we started some of these strategies when we’re getting inflamed, our body is in a less stressed out state. The less stressed out we are, the more our body favors putting on muscle, because muscle is very metabolically active. Our body only wants to put muscle on when it’s safe, meaning when there’s an abundance around us because why put calories and nutrients into tissue that’s very metabolically expensive and muscle is very metabolically expensive. So think about it. When you go into debt, the first thing you cut out are gonna be vacations and maybe going out to dinner and extra fun little excursions. Well, think of your muscle as the fun excursions or the nice restaurant, or the vacation. It’s the first thing that gets crossed off the list when you go into debt, or when you go into adrenal debt, or stress debt if you will.
Evan Brand: Uh-hmm.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Comments on that?
Evan Brand: No, that was great.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, more analogies. So get the analogy—get the anal—get the analogy down and forget—forget the—the route facts of what’s happening in your body. Get the analogy and you don’t have to worry about memorizing this stuff. That—that’s me and your job, Evan.
Evan Brand: Yeah, I’m getting better at it.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, you’re doing good. So the scale, body fat percentage, also weights—I’m sorry waist and hip circumference. Take the widest part of your waste and the widest part of your hips. A good place to do it around your waist is the belly button because it’s stationary. It’s always there and just make sure the tape that you use is flat and parallel with the ground. I like a tape called MyoTape because it has a set bit of tension to it and that tension allows it to be consistent each time, so parallel MyoTape around the belly button, and then choose the widest part of the hips. Use the MyoTape as well, pull the slack out and let it come to a homeostasis of where it’s naturally at resting tension. Write down that where it’s at. Do it first thing in the morning before water and after your first, you know, morning pee, and then you’re set. So that you have a good baseline.
Evan Brand: Now did you say something about dividing those numbers like a ratio there?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, you could do that but that’s fine—I’m fine with that. And maybe we know if the numbers go down. Here’s the problem, if your numbers go down equally, well, the ratio stays the same, right?
Evan Brand: Yeah.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So I think it’s still good to look at it, but where the ratio really is helpful is if women typically have that—I think that—the Marilyn Monroe ratio is like 0.78 to 0.8. So meaning your waist is 20% less than your hips. I think that’s kind of the—the overall metric. For men it’s closer to a 1:1. But when your tummy is so big that it’s closer to your hips, that’s where you get closer to a 1:1, right? Like let’s say a 35-inch—let’s do like a 38-inch hips for women with a 38-inch waist, where that’s like a 1:1, right? That’s not good. So you wanna drop the waist in a bit, ideally you know, around 30 or so or even maybe below to get that ratio at, I’d say an upper 0.7 to lower 0.8. Now that’s like optimal, right? Like they’ve gone back and they’ve actually measured a—a lot of the Greek, Roman sculptures of women that were, you know, thousands of years old. They even looked at Marilyn Monroe, right? And she was I think today’s equivalent of like a size 8 or size 10 or 12, like not like your typical 0 or 2, right? But like an 8 or 10 or 12 in that area. And they found that this ratio like 0.78 to 0.8 is like the ideal ratio and they measured all these different sculptures. In ancient Rome, they found this ratio is kinda consistent. So keep that in mind. It’s nice to look at it. Now I like ratios because guess what? As—if you get bigger, if your hips get a little bigger but your waist stays in that ratio, that’s actually a good kind of thing. So it’s not 100% based off of how small you are, but how proportionate you are.
Evan Brand: Exactly.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So I like that, so it—it kinda adds a level of—of individualization to it.
Evan Brand: Yeah, and you’re not just looking at a poster or a magazine to think you need to look like that and most of the time, they are sickly skinny.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right. Exactly. I think for me, too, there’s like a ratio of like hips to—hips to—to shoulder ratio like 0.9 or something. There’s another—a famous ratio with men but that kind gives you the idea of the ratio. So get your ratios down with measurements, get a good Tanita scale if you’re gonna use it, look more at the body water content as well as body fat content, and just try to exercises that are gonna focus on putting on muscle once you get out of that restorative phase, right? Restorative phase, muscle building second, and then just ask those three questions first.
Evan Brand: Say the questions again.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Number one, do you feel energized with the exercise? Two, can you emotionally repeat it after a workout? And then number three, how do you feel later on that day or that next day?
Evan Brand: Yup.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That’s the word.
Evan Brand: I just got a—I just an email this morning from a female patient who ran a 10—was it a 10K or a 10-miler, might have been like a 15K, closer to 10-mile—anyway, retested her adrenals significantly backtracked—surprise, surprise—from this race and all the training that she was doing. She was running like 6 or 7 miles a day or something for weeks, I mean, just awful. And I, you know, basically told her, “Look, this is gonna destroy you. But if you wanna do it, then that’s fine, I’ll support you and I’ll let you live out your dream of, you know, completing this race,” and then she emailed me this morning and she says that she threw in the bib. She was gonna run another 10-miler or a 10K or something in a couple of weeks, and she has been convinced and she—she threw in the—the bib and she’s not doing it anymore. So not to say don’t chase your dreams, but I mean, that’s something that is just really unnecessary and is really not gonna help your weight loss. I can’t count the number of massively overweight men and women that I’ve seen and they’re running these long endurance races thinking that it’s gonna help you. It is not gonna help you. It’s gonna destroy you.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I agree and you gotta fine tune, you know, goals and achievement versus what’s sustainable in the long term.
Evan Brand: Yeah. So–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Because that’s—you gotta have to, you know, you gotta balance that out and figure out what’s more important for you. But getting back on to the calorie standpoint, I know a lot of women that have—may have done the standard American diet or like a WeightWatchers or a low-calorie diet, may have done a lot of the conventional exercises like running marathon-type of training, you know 5, 8, 10 miles a day. And they’re like, “Yeah, I lost a lot of weight,” and that can happen initially. Like I’m not gonna sit here and tell you that type of exercise doesn’t help you lose weight in the short run. I mean, in the first few months you will definitely lose a lot of weight. The question is, is it sustainable? Number two, is it healthy for your hormones? And then number three, does it—is it gonna be something that creates realistic expectations? Meaning, women do it for 3 or 4 months, and then they lose this amount of weight and then what happens is let’s say they’re at 160, and now they’re down to 140 or 130. Now that 130 becomes like the dragon they’re always chasing. That’s like the baseline in their head of where they should be at.
Evan Brand: Right.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And that’s tough because that may not be where your body wants to be when everything else is dialed in. That may be kind of like, you know, a body builder or a fitness trainer, they—they dip down to that weight they wanna be at for competition and then they come out of it. And I think people need to—to realize that you could probably dip down 20 lbs below where you’re at but it wouldn’t be something you’d wanna be at all year-round. So we wanna make sure you have a sustainable weight that you can be at and it’s tough because we have ectomorphs in society that can stay very lean all the time, especially we see it like the runway model-type figure that Hollywood has chosen to be like, you know, what’s hot and sexy, but again it’s a very small amount of people that are this ectomorph body type that they can be less selective of what they eat, less selective on exercise, and they keep this, you know, very tall, lean frame year-round. Now I see a lot of these people, once they hit menopause especially as females, things go downhill fast, and I’ve—I have that perspective of seeing women literally gain 100 lbs over a few years without really doing much different.
Evan Brand: Wow.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So this can look nice, you know, when you’re below age 50 and you can have a lot of latitude and flexibility, but as you go up in age, that can change. And I see a lot of women do that are at this runway model physique and they have so much gas and bloating and digestive issues that you would think, “Oh wow! They—they must look—they must be healthy because they look, you know, stereotypically healthy but they have a lot of internal health issues and they may even have brain fog and fatigue, so they’re health challenges may be manifesting more internally especially as they’re younger, and then will sometimes express more externally especially once they hit menopause where their hormones significantly shift.
Evan Brand: That’s a killer point. I’m so glad you brought that up. Just because you look beautiful or you look ripped as guy or something, generally those people are not that healthy. I’ve seen plenty of ripped guys, you know, eating Lucky Charms and you know, Reese Puffs. They look ripped and guys are idolizing them, “Wow!” But I guarantee, their brain probably doesn’t work good. I guarantee their sex drive’s probably not healthy. They probably have some mood issues, depression, anxiety, etc. I’d rather look a little bit like a normal person, still have some muscle, but my brain and my gut work good. Because I’ve been there and done that with IBS for years, and it sucks and I looked better or more ripped and had more muscle when I had the worse of my health issues compared to now, maybe a little less ripped just because I’ve been so busy I’m not working out as much, but my gut’s better and my brain’s working better. So I’m happy to take that sacrifice.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Totally, and I think everyone especially the females because of the—the pressure of society on them, go watch my video on body typing, because you wanna know what kinda body type you are first because that kinda really sets the expectation, to be the ectomorphs which are the—the leaner, you know, it’s so hard to gain weight. These are the runway models, these are the super lean skinny guys. It’s just harder for them to put on weight.
Evan Brand: Yup.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Number two, we have the mesomorph which are kinda like the in-between, they’re kinda like the hybrid. They can kinda go either way so to speak. And then we have the endomorph, these are the people that are definitely more rounder, you know, rotund, you know, people that we would just, you know, typically say I’m big-boned, right? You know, the South Park expression. They’re just easier to keep fat on and when we—when you know what kinda body type you are, you just know that you have a more upward or an uphill battle if you’re an endomorph and you’re trying to get leaner, you’re just gonna have more of an uphill battle and you may have a lot less latitude to cheat. So then when you hang around your ectomorph friends and they’re able to do different things and have not the same result as you, not the same ramifications, you gotta just be realistic at the cards you’re dealt with.
Evan Brand: Yup.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And it doesn’t mean you can’t be healthy though. It doesn’t mean you still can’t perform well. It doesn’t mean you can’t be at your optimal leanness and have good muscle mass. It doesn’t mean that. We just have to know the card you’re dealt with, play them to your best. So if you’re like a—let’s say an endomorph and you oscillate between 160 and 200. Let’s say you’re like a 5’5” frame, well, you know, there’s a lot of things we can do to be at that lower side, but we just gotta make sure you know, if you’re at 160 and then you’re comparing yourself to your ectomorph friend who oscillates between 100 and 130, and you’re comparing their 100 to your 160, right? You know, or let’s say their 130, their bad side of the—of the fence to your good side of the fence, you’re always gonna feel like a failure. So you have to get your mindset, where’s your body type at, and then you gotta get your diet dialed in. So the Paleo template will always be the template and then within that template, we adjust the macronutrients and then we adjust the exercise according to where you’re at and then the next level on top of that is where you see a functional medicine doctor or practitioner to get the hormones and the thyroid and the gut and the detox and the nutrients looked at if we’re still having health challenges beyond that.
Evan Brand: Absolutely. Great way to summarize there.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Any last comment you wanna make? I have one more I wanna make before–
Evan Brand: Yeah, last one. Drink more water. Dehydration could be an issue and it’s surprising how many people are not drinking enough water because they’re drinking say Bulletproof coffee or herbal teas all the time, so hydration is—is another important factor that you can kinda tweak a little bit and see if anything changes for you.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Absolutely and I always say a death rattle for a lot of women is too much fasting.
Evan Brand: Yeah.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: If you’re doing a lot of intermittent fasting or fasting that can create a stress response because of the hormonal fluctuation and fertility, that can create some problems with women. So we gotta be very careful. Men can have it, too, but because of the delicate orchestra of female hormones, we gotta be careful with that. The next I will say is counting your calories isn’t important per se. I try to make sure people are getting enough calories, but for the most part, if we’re eating the nutrient dense, low toxin, anti-inflammatory Paleo type of template, we’re—and if we’re using our appetite as a gauge, we’re always gonna get enough calories for the most part. There are exceptions to every rule. Where I get concerned is if people really ramp up the fats too much and they’re having an issue with gaining a little bit of weight, I like to look at the calories, see where the calories are at, total-wise, look and see where your macros are at. So let’s say you’re at like a 20% carb, 15% protein, 50 or 60% fat and your calories are at 2,100 and you’re a female and we found out that based on your height and weight and activity you could probably be at 1,900 to 2,000, we may drop the calories a hundred at a time and just make sure you’re not feeling hungry throughout the day. Make sure you’re not missing meals and sometimes just dropping the calories just a bit like that as long as we’re not getting hungry can make a big difference. So drop the calories a touch, be in touch with yourself. Look at the extra fats like the nut butters, it’s really to overdo those. Maybe putting too much fat in your coffee. Take a look at those but do it with a doctor’s or nutritionist’s support. Because you wanna make sure you’re not starving yourself. You wanna make sure you’ve calculated how many calories you need based on your activity level and then you wanna do an assessment of what your macronutrient percentages are, whether it’s a 20, 15, 60 and then you wanna where your total calories are at and then just try to tweak it down just a little bit per week and see if that makes a difference as well as you know, the exercise should already be dialed in, too.
Evan Brand: Yup.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Any comments on that?
Evan Brand: No, I think that’s good.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Well, Evan, anything else you wanna say here?
Evan Brand: Not today. I mean, that was a lot. That was a lot of information to take in. I think we’ve—I think we’ve—we gave double the amount of info that I thought we may have given. So you may have to go back and listen to this one again.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And we got the transcriptions up here, so go to Evan’s site, NotJustPaleo.com. Go to BeyondWellnessRadio.com. We got the transcriptions. Leave us a review on iTunes. Again there may be one thing in here that resonates with you so try to just pick one thing that works for you. Again, men have these issues, too. And all the strategies that we talked about and we kinda of dialed in and we spoke to maybe more of the female crowd, all men listening, these—these things still apply for you as well. So still, you know, we’re not ignoring you, we’re just really reaching out to the women because I feel like they have a little bit of a harder time in this area but all of these things still apply to all the—the males listening, too.
Evan Brand: Yup.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Alright, Evan. Great show. Anyone that really liked it. Go on iTunes, go to the click below your video or your mp3 listening to on iTunes and just click the review button. That’ll bring you right to the iTunes page and you can leave us a great review. And just you know, sharing is caring. We appreciate it.
Evan Brand: Definitely. Take care.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Evan, Sound good. Take care, man.
Evan Brand: Bye.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Bye.