Find out how why counting calories will NOT help you lose weight.
Tune in to Episode 18 of The Real Dish featuring
NY Times bestselling author Jonathan Bailor
In this episode of The Real Dish, you’ll hear how to achieve ‘sanity’ in your quest for health and balance in life as I interview Jonathan Bailor, a New York Times bestselling author and internationally recognized wellness expert who specializes in using modern science and technology to simplify health. Bailor has collaborated with top scientists for more than 10 years to analyze and apply over 1,300 studies. His work has been endorsed by top doctors and scientists from Harvard Medical School, Johns’ Hopkins, The Mayo Clinic, The Cleveland Clinic, and UCLA. Bailor is the founder of SANESolution.com and serves as the CEO for the wellness technology company Yopti®.
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Listen to Episode 18 of The Real Dish or you can read the show notes below:
Chef Mareya, the fit foodie here and welcome to the real dish where we give you expert advice and inspiration to help you live the FItLife and thrive. And on the show I interviewed New York Times bestselling author, Jonathan Bailor, even internationally recognized wellness expert, who really specializes in bringing modern science and technology into play to simplify health. He collaborated with top scientist for more than a decade and has analyzed and applied over 1,300 studies to develop his perspective. His works have been endorsed by top doctors and scientists from the Harvard Medical School to Johns Hopkins Mayo Clinic and beyond. He is the founder of saline solution dot com and his best-selling book “the calorie myth” is a must read. You can also hear Jonathan’s popular syndicated radio show, “the same show” and he was kind enough to have me on as a guest. You’ll have to listen to that episode. With that, I can’t wait for you to hear how you can help make your practice of health sane! Let’s dish!
Jonathan Bailor welcome it is so good to talk to you
Hey it’s great to be here Mareya, thank you so much for having me.
I am a huge fan of yours because you teach people how to be sane! And it’s not just about sanity in life, but it’s about sanity related to food, and our habits. Can you give us a little bit of a background on how you really happened upon that position because you know it gets pretty frenetic out there; it’s hard to figure out what to follow
My story is a long one and I know I don’t have a huge amount of time, I’m going to give you the short version but the short version of my story is that I was a naturally thin person so growing up I wanted to be bigger, which I know most Americans cannot relate to that feeling. But you know there’s a whole way to go to supplement stores, like weight gainer. I mean there are people who would be like, “I can’t gain weight even if I try.” so growing up I struggled to get bigger and stronger. I wanted to be an athlete like my older brother. And I followed the traditional methods to do that. In fact I went so far as to become a personal trainer. That’s the way I paid my way through college, I was a trainer at Bally’s Total Fitness in Columbus, Ohio and I had an experience in doing that which changed my life forever. and that was here I am in my, at this point, late teens early twenties, eating 6000 calories per day as I was taught, because I was told that if you want to get bigger you just need to eat more calories. and I would tell my clients, who are predominantly females who were at that time, significantly older than I was and definitely way more accomplished and more intelligent than I was because I was just kind of a dumb kid at that time with respect for myself. but I would tell them, you know you’re not trying hard enough, you need to eat 1,200 calories per day and then after a while I had to look in the mirror and say, “Jonathan you’re eating 6000 calories per day and not getting bigger and your clients who by no stretch of the imagination are stupid or lazy because they are doctors and attorneys and they run in families and they’re parents, and they’re CEOs, they’re not stupid and lazy and they are doing what you’re telling them to do which is to eat one-fifth of the calories you’re eating and they’re not getting smaller. So what are you doing man? What are you doing? take a step back.” so you know, that changed my life and I couldn’t do what I think a lot of naturally thin people do, which is just sort of say, “it’s an effort problem and everyone else just needs to try harder” because like I do I was trying hard to gain weight I couldn’t do it. And I was watching my clients trying hard to lose weight and they couldn’t do it, so neither one of us had an effort problem. When I came to find out as we had an information problem. for the past 15 years life trying to solve that information problem and seeing what research has actually proven about fat loss and health, rather than what marketers about promulgate in the media.
And this is such a huge thing because your research has been backed by prominent universities and, you know, really I think the preeminent thinkers in the space. So that said you know, even with the science behind it, what did you find? Did you find that it was really about the food? Or were there other things that were, you know, no pun intended, but weighing into people’s ability to stabilize their weight?
There’s many other factors and in fact the assumption that hey it’s just “calories in, calories out” that was assumed to be true for so long. It was it was actually never, that was never science. It was just an assumption. And any study and, in fact, this statement I am about to make right now is a very hard statement to make, and I make it cautiously, but it is 100% true. every single study, ever, that has tracked precisely calories in and calories out, I think it was called the metabolic ward study where they can really do this in a hardcore fashion and ate like not to get gross but they like measure fecal excrement like its precise stuff. and they try to look at calories in versus calories out and they do what we read about in magazines which is like “reduce your calorie intake by a hundred calories per day and that means you’re going to lose this many pounds in this amount of time because your metabolism works like math” and every single study that has ever done that, they have found, without question, that metabolic math fails. That it is never, ever the case, that if you just add up the number of calories that this weight loss or weight gain always results. So science has never proven the calories in calories out simplification that we’ve all been told. And in fact every study that looked at it has proven it wrong. And what studies have also shown is that the reason that that metabolic math doesn’t add up is calories, they exist and they matter, but they’re just one piece of the puzzle like you alluded to. There’s hormonal impact, there’s toxins in food, there’s stress levels, there’s sleep levels, there’s age, there’s gender, and there are so many other factors.
So ok now we have complicated the math equation because, you know, we learned 1 plus 1 equals 2 and 2 minus 1 equals 1. So yeah it’s easy to think that it’s probably the math. So how, my friend, do you stay sane and figure it out because it seems like that math equation is truly unique to each individual human being?
The good news is that on the other side of the massive complexity is actually ridiculous simplicity. here’s the really simple thing and it has to be simple like this just a quick sanity check, every other species on the planet, which like, I think we can all agree that humans are the smartest species on the planet, every other species on the planet, despite being less intelligent than us is able to regulate their weight. Like they don’t count calories, they can’t count calories. They just eat food. They stop when they’re full. And even if it’s something like a cow, what a cow does is eat. Yet a cow left to its own devices, eating food that it’s meant to eat, aka grass, is very lean. Like you’ve ever eaten grass fed beef? It’s super lean. It’s a different animal whereas if you eat corn fed beef, aka cows eating things they’re not supposed to eat, they weren’t designed to eat, and they didn’t evolve to eat depending on your various belief systems, they become not cows. They become sort of chunky cows. so the simplicity is just if you look at what people are designed or, however you want to say it, designed or evolved to eat, it’s very, very simple.
When people ate, foods that they ate prior to the obesity epidemic, they don’t have to think about calories. And they couldn’t have thought about calories because we don’t even know what a calorie was prior to the eighteen-fifties. So if we just keep food found directly at nature, that in and of itself, like if that’s where we started from as children, we would have no obesity epidemic. now since we have been lied to for the past forty years, if we’re already overweight, we’re already pre-diabetic, we’d need to go a little bit further than just saying, “hey if it’s found in nature, than it’s good” because, for example, there are things like potatoes and rice that are found in nature which if you are pre-diabetic, might not be the best fit for you but from a high level, like if we just get back to eating food and food is defined by something you find directly in nature, there is no such thing as a “bread bush” in nature, does not exist directly in nature, and we move away from what the average American has been subjected to which is getting forty to sixty percent of their calories from synthetic pseudo-food, that in and of itself takes care of the problem. No calorie math needed.
so what do you think, you know, it makes perfect sense that we would prioritize what comes from the ground because that is, you know, that is what’s natural, how do you then prioritize how much of those things from the ground to eat? Because one could say, “well eggs are laid by chickens and that is natural so I’ll just eat eggs all day.” or one might say, “I’m just going to eat all fruits and vegetables and I’m not going to eat anything else”? How do we know what the right balance is? Again, I’m talking about the math of macronutrients. But is there science behind proportion?
There’s a huge about the science behind proportion. And what we need to do is we need to break down, this is where the term “sane”, it’s not a marketing term, but it’s a marketing term now, but it originally was developed as more of a scientific term, it’s an acronym, so it’s both. It’s an acronym for the four factors that determine the quality of a calorie. And then that allows us to extrapolate it out and say well what types of foods consists of those calories so what should we be eating. So just to break that down really quickly: the S stands for satiety, that’s how quickly calorie fills us up and how long it keeps us full. And we all know that different foods, same level of calorie, will have different levels of satiety. Like if you eat 200 calories of Pringles, it doesn’t fill you up and actually it makes you hungrier. The A is aggression that has to do with the hormonal impact of foods and we all know, everyone who’s listening to this, has probably heard of the glycemic index or glycemic load, we know, for example, that different types of calories do different things to our hormones. The N stands for nutrition or nutrient density which is how many essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids we get per calorie of the food. And the E is efficiency or how efficiently or easily our body can use the calorie as energy. For example, protein is not an energy source. Your body cannot burn protein for energy, cannot. so if you eat, for example, if all you did, this is terrible don’t do this, but if you ate a hundred percent of your calories from protein, your body would have to do a whole lot of metabolic alchemy to convert those protein calories into glucose or sugar so that it could burn them. And that process is really inefficient. so for example, this is why diets that are higher in protein often result in fat loss because you’re just getting more calories from something that your body can’t readily burn as energy.
So anyway, that’s pretty complicated. But the simplified version is that foods that are highly SANE, have three things in common: they are high in water, fiber, and protein. So you can take those three simple things and you can say what things found in nature are highest in water, fiber, and protein and, first and foremost, they’re non-starchy vegetables. Those are water, fiber, and protein packed. We’re thinking things that you could eat in a salad. Things you could eat raw, you don’t have to eat them raw but you could. Like you can’t eat a potato raw. That’s not a non starchy vegetable, it’s a starch. But things like green leafy vegetables, mushrooms, asparagus, bell peppers; these are non-starchy vegetables so that’s the highest in terms of volume. Next is nutrient dense protein so think humanely raised seafood and animals, as well as certain low sugar dairy products like cottage cheese and Greek yogurt. And there are certain sorts of powdered things like whey or pea or rice or hemp protein which can be helpful. Third on the list would be whole foods fats, so these are whole foods, not the processed, so oil is not a whole food it’s an extract from a food. These are whole foods they get most of their calories from fat. So eggs, for example, 65% fat, they are whole food fat. Nuts are a whole food fat. Seeds are a whole food fat. Avocados, things like that. And fourth on the list is low fructose fruits. so these are fruits that provide us the most of what we do need – such as vitamins and minerals, and various phyto-chemicals – and the least of what we don’t need such as potentially damaging sugars like fructose, so things like berries and citrus fruits are radically higher in vitamins and minerals then, say, grapes, bananas or apples which have way more fructose and way less vitamins and minerals.
So that leaves us with, in order of volume: non starchy vegetables, nutrient dense protein, whole food fats, and low fructose fruits.
And so would you, I mean, in being sane, is the recommendation to combine those at every meal? Or is it really more about like a holistic approach where in your day, you’re prioritizing those and it doesn’t necessarily matter how often you’re eating them?
How often you’re eating them does, well, two things, two questions there, both of which are good. The first was should you combine those every time you eat? and you should, as much as possible, combine at least the first three groups of non starchy vegetables, nutrients, protein and whole food fats when you eat because they do have synergistic effects. Like protein can be somewhat acidic, but the vegetables are extremely alkaline so that’s very helpful. And the whole food fats provide a level of satiety and they help your body to metabolize the protein in certain ways. So eating what I would consider a complete SANE meal is great. You don’t eat just a handful of nuts. You do want to try to combine the vegetables, proteins, and the healthy fats.
A fruit is optional. Some people have great success with fruits; some people do need to take in fewer carbohydrates based on their metabolic profiles and even some level of sugar can throw them off. In terms of meal frequency, the only thing that really determines meal frequency is the volume of food that we need to eat to actually be healthy and fit. So if science shows that we need to consume 10 + servings of non-starchy vegetables per day to optimize our health, which it does, then if you only eat once per day there’s no way to eat 10 servings of non-starchy vegetables because your stomach will explode! And so that’s not a good idea. so really how frequently you eat is more function of the how you’re feeling, your hunger levels, but also like if you want to eat 10 servings of vegetables you’re going to have to eat at least three times a day to do that. And there’s also a lot of science that shows that certain doses of high-quality protein, evenly spaced out throughout the day, can really help with metabolic health and fat loss. So again, those do matter.
You know we could talk all day. You were just such a wealth of knowledge and we’d love to have you back, but you know I’m just going to ask you one more question and then I want to find out a personal thing if you don’t mind. you know there’s a lot of there’s a lot of stuff out there and people hear all kinds of things, if you were to suggest to somebody, you know, really, they don’t know where to start, I mean it’s confusing, where do they begin? To start really dialing in their food so that they are eating SANE? What is the one thing that you would suggest that they start with? Maybe it’s kind of overwhelming to think how I am going to get all of these things into a meal. What’s the one thing they can do?
Eat radically more non starchy vegetables and stop counting calories. That’s two things but I need you to replace “thinking about calories” with “thinking about non starchy vegetables” so if you want to count anything, count the number of servings of green leafy vegetables that you are eating. And every week, commit to increasing that by one until you get to double-digit.
I love that and that’s a super simple thing that people can do right now. Ok the personal question: your favorite clean meal. What is the meal that you go to that is liker your love language, your comfort place, but that’s clean?
The nutrient dense protein would be salmon. I absolutely love salmon. And I love sautéed, let’s call them firmer green vegetables. So something like a kale or a collard greens so and then I would have a SANE dessert which is generally something that’s going to be that’s going to get my whole food fat, so that’s going to be made with coconut. It’s going to be made with cocoa, maybe have some macadamia nuts in there and then some SANE sweeteners and that would be my vegetables, my proteins, and my fats in a very delicious fashion.
I like how you slipped dessert in there too! and for everybody you can get so many ideas on how to eat clean on our website at eatcleaner.com and I want to just give Jonathan’s book a plug because you know you have taught me so much through The
Calorie Myth and maybe you can just tell people where they can find your book?
The book is available anywhere that books are sold, but if you want to get started, just like right now, today, my number one
Recommendation would be go over to sanesolution.com again because by the time this airs we’re actually going to have not only a free six step blueprint available for you, but also some food lists, and other great free resources that you can download.
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