EPISODE 74
Myth Busting Nutrition – Yuri Elkaim – Protein

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Sat down with Yuri Elkaim, ex-pro footballer turned personal trainer, author and fitness expert. He shares with us how he battles his autoimmune condition, which is an amazing story. Yuri also shared his insight on nutrition and what he believes is the best way to loose weight.

In this Show, You’ll learn:

  • Battling alopecia & autoimmune disorder
  • Secret to reducing belly fat
  • The 3 most toxic foods
  • Sensitive stomach & backbends
  • Yoga & breastfeeding
  • Lowdown on protein

Links & References from the Show

Lucas:

Welcome to the Yoga Talk Show. Your one-stop destination for all things yoga, health and wellness.

Hello and welcome, everyone. It’s Lucas here with the Yoga Talk Show, and today I’m really pleased to be joined by Yuri Elkaim. Thanks for joining us, Yuri.

Yuri:

Great to be here, buddy. Thank you.

Lucas:

(00:21) So for those of you who haven’t Yuri or come across his websites or his YouTube channel, Yuri’s a registered holistic nutritionist. He’s a former professional soccer player, which for those of you in my part of the world is a football player. He’s a personal trainer, an author and a fitness expert. And for the past 13 years, he’s helped over 75,000 people achieve better health and fitness.

Yuri, that’s my short recap synopsis. (00:48) But tell people, just before we jump in here, tell people a little bit more about who you are, what you do and what makes you tick.

Yuri:

Yeah, so I think you kind of described nicely in terms of who I am and what I do. The reason why I do what I do is that for most of my life, as you mentioned, my goal was to play professional soccer. So I was able to do that for a number of years in my early 20s. (01:10) So I was fit, but I wasn’t necessarily healthy, and I didn’t realize that until I was about 17 where out of the blue I started losing my hair and I had no idea why. Leading up to that, I had really bad asthma, really bad eczema, very low energy, and I didn’t really put the pieces of the puzzle together. And I lost, pretty much in the course of a couple weeks, all of my hair my senior year of high school. So it was a really interesting time, to say the least.

I had no idea why. (01:39) The doctors basically diagnosed me with something called Alopecia, which is an autoimmune disorder, and for about eight years there was really no solution that I came across, in terms of dealing with medical doctors. I went through my whole career playing soccer, and that was fine.

(01:56) When I was 24, I decided there was something else I needed to do. I was kind of tired with a lot of the politics with football or soccer, and so I wanted to give back to the world in a way that I felt was meaningful to me, and I had a real passion for health and fitness. So I actually went back to school and studied holistic nutrition, and within about a day I started getting answers to my issues, and it all came back to my food intake as well as my levels of stress as I was growing up, which kind of culminated into some rather big health issues for me.

(02:31) With that, I was able to really make some amazing transformations, changes in myself in my diet and the way I lived and was able to just really kind of keep at bay my autoimmune condition. I re-grew most of my hair, and you can never really get rid of an autoimmune condition but it was an amazing transformation that I was able to experience and I just wanted to share that message of hope and inspiration through healthy living with more and more people. So that’s why I do what I do, and I think you summed up what I do pretty nicely.

Lucas:

Yeah, it’s interesting. I find a lot of people who teach health have often had some kind of health crisis. They say you teach what you need to learn the most, and that’s certainly been true for me. (03:12) I don’t talk about this much, but I too had a health crisis. Two different times I woke up in the back of an ambulance, with grand mal seizures. And so the last of which happened in December of 2001, and it was the same kind of thing where you have this moment where you think you’re young and you think you’re healthy and then suddenly the rug gets pulled out from under you and you start looking for answers. For a lot of us, you and myself included, it seems like that leads us down quite a long path.

And so you start with an autoimmune disorder and it’s really led you to becoming an expert in a whole bunch of different things, which is exciting and interesting. If it’s okay, I just want to jump right in and start throwing some questions at you.

Yuri:

Yeah, let’s do it.

Lucas:

Great. The first one is, you’ve done a lot of work with abdominal work, core work, traditional fitness work. One question that always comes up from my yoga students, from my yoga listeners is, I’ll get questions like this. (04:07) My body is health and fit, but I carry weight just on my belly or just on my hips or just on my bum. How can I get rid of belly fat? I just wanted to throw that big, loaded question at you.

Yuri:

(04:20) The issue with belly fat, and I’m sure if you’ve been online you’ve probably seen ads for five foods that burn belly fat and all those kinds of things, and I like to think of myself as the no BS kind of nutritionist, because I’m not going to lie to you and say there are a couple of foods or one exercise you can do, because the reality is that there’s not.

(04:38) You can spot strengthen; you cannot spot reduce. A very simple way to look at this is if you look at your parents, usually your body type is very similar to one or maybe a combination of both of them. That seems in a lot of people that I know, personally as well as clients, where they tend to have a body shape that is very similar to, for instance, their month. And when they gain weight it tends to, for instance I’m talking about women here, they tend to gain weight in and around their hips or their thighs and their upper body is slim. Not all women are like this, but in certain cases, and you can look at either one of the parents and there seems to be a very, very high correlation with that body shape.

The reality is, when that woman starts to lose weight she’s going to lose weight in a way whereby most likely she’s going to want to lose the most amount of weight in those areas where she tends to gain them, and so she might be doing things like specific leg exercises or things to burn off that area of fat. But the reality is that you can only — we’re kind of limited by our genetics, to some degree, but with that said, if you want to lose whether it’s thigh fats or abdominal fat, there’s not one specific exercise you can do.

(05:50) The reality is you need to engage in full-body exercises that are going to get a lot of muscle involved in the activity, and the reason that’s important is because by involving a lot of your muscle you actually burn more calories. It’s like a lot of people think about, if I want to lose belly fat I’m going to do a lot of crunches. The reality is that, think about it this way. If you had rather heavy arms, let’s put it that way, and you wanted to burn off some arm fat you wouldn’t do bicep curls to do that. The reason for that is because bicep curls are just a very, very small movement and they’re only going to stimulate your biceps, the same way sit-ups are only going to stimulate a small group of muscles in your core and that’s really not going to fire up your fireplace, your metabolism, to a great enough degree to burn calories. At the end of the day, it’s all about burning total calories. You can’t specifically just say, I’m going to burn a little bit of fat off my left thigh today, or from this area of the body.

So you really have to approach it from a full-body perspective. You’re looking at losing total body fat, and as you lose weight you’re going to — again, that’s where kind of the genetics comes in to some degree, you’re going to lose weight more easily and in certain areas than others. Women generally have a tougher time losing weight around their hips and thighs, just because hormonally that’s where the body wants to keep that fat, because it’s important for reproductive health. For men, the challenge tends to be visceral, so around the abdominal area, because again, hormonally that tends to be where we store a little bit of fat.

(07:27) The other thing as well is that cortisol, which is a stress hormone, also tends to deposit fat in and around the viscera. So if you’re very high stress, that’s going to impede your ability to lose belly fat, and again, it comes down to obviously mitigating that and managing that effectively, but also approaching exercise from a more intelligent fashion. So again, the full body stuff, higher intensity, so a little bit of a huff and puff, and then obviously diet’s going to be huge in that as well.

Lucas:

That’s an interesting thing. Like you said, there’s no way to spot reduce, but that doesn’t stop people from trying. If you go by any gym, you’ve got a guy with a 30-pound spare tire and he’s just doing crunches until his neck is sore, until he’s walking with a crick in his back. It’s an interesting thing. On the flip side of that, there are ways to spot gain, and so there are certain foods that really, really induce belly fat, like a really, really high fructose diet or a really high alcohol diet, which is interesting on the flip side of that equation.

So talking about the guy with a 30-pound spare tire who’s in the gym every day and he’s convinced his arms are ripped, his legs are awesome, he just needs to do those crunches. For people who are really obsessed with their core, which it’s a really important region whether you’re talking about spinal strength, whether you’re talking about posture, whether you’re talking about digestion. I don’t think there’s any question that it’s an important region of the body. But here is the question that I’ll throw at you, because I know you’ve done a lot more research in this area than me. (09:07) Are crunches, are traditional sit-ups, are these sort of crazy ab machines at the gym, is this really the way to develop core strength?

Yuri:

It’s a yes and no. (09:17) It’s very important that we make the distinction between core strength and losing belly fat, because if you’re doing sit-ups and you ask somebody why are you doing sit-ups and they’re saying I’ve got to lose this layer of fat on top of my abs, that’s the wrong answer. If they said I want to strengthen my rectus abdominis muscles, which are those eight-pack muscles that we’re normally stimulating when we do sit-ups and crunches, then that would be a correct answer.

(09:40) However, in spite of that, ew have to remember that the core is not just one set of muscles; it’s actually a lot of different muscles and it’s actually anatomically defined as any muscle that crosses the shoulder and hip joints. So literally it spans about three-quarters of your body. But let’s just assume the core is just in our mid section. If you just did sit-ups and that’s all you did, think about it this way. When you stand up, those sit-up muscles, which is called the rectus abdominis, those eight-pack muscles in the front of your torso, if those became over developed, what would end up happening to your posture? I just want you guys to kind of imagine this. When you’re doing a sit-up, you’re contracting those muscles and your shoulders are moving closer to your hips.

So let’s just imagine that you develop this amazing tonicity in those muscles. What that would do, if the other muscles in your core were not counter-balancing them, you would actually end up having a slouch-forward posture because those muscles are so kind of tightly bound now because of all the work you’ve done. And to think about it another way, if you are into sailing or think about a ship, a ship has a mast and on that mast is a sail. From the mast, there are a number of guy wires, which support the mast from tipping over. If you had too much tension on one of those guy wires, the mast would obviously lean to one side and that would be synonymous with doing a lot of crunches and nothing else.

(11:12) So what I really encourage people to do is understand that there’s more than just those muscles in the core. There’s deeper abdominal muscles that attach between the little facets in your spine, there’s one that kind of wraps around your waist almost like a belt, you have your oblique’s, and they’re all in there for specific reasons and they do have different functions. So you need to approach core training in that way, to engage all of them. And I think to start with, the most important thing for people to do, especially if they’re starting off and especially if they have some excess weight, is to focus on stability before movement. So instead of doing a lot of crunches, which can eventually wear down the discs between your spine just based on that constant flexing movement, you want to focus on things — this why yoga’s amazing, because it really does focus a lot on stability. Even though there is some movement in yoga, it’s not crazy crunches, it’s focusing on how do you balance your body, how do you stay strong in a good posture, which requires a lot of times all of those core muscles to work in conjunction with each other.

(12:18) So some examples, again, I can’t demonstrate them over audio, but hopefully people have heard of things like a plank or a side plank or a side bridge, hip bridges. All sorts of different exercises that basically have you holding a static position and you’re engaging those muscles almost internally. If you were to look at somebody doing it, you wouldn’t be able to see much going on but there’s a heck of a lot of stuff going on if they’re doing it properly, and that’s where a lot of people need to start, is focusing on stability, building that good, deep, strong foundation and then later on they can look at incorporating a little more movements, like crunches or things like that if they need to. But again, it really depends on what they’re doing that for.

Lucas:

It’s an interesting thing. Of all the people I’ve seen who have the most defined abs, I’ve never met anyone who’s a really traditional, stereotypical Ab Roller machines or any of the crazy gym equipment. A lot of people are doing exactly what you’re talking about, really functional strength stuff. And a lot of people even do stuff that you would never associate with core strength, which an average person wouldn’t, like dead lifts and things like this, full-body functional strength. But for whatever reason, people just want to go to these ab blaster classes.

And I know you’ve written extensively about P90X’s, I can’t remember what they call it, Ab Extreme or whatever it’s called. What is it called? Ab Shredder?

Yuri:

I can’t even remember. It’s been so long.

Lucas:

A couple years ago I bought their program because people were really talking about it. It’s a great workout, you’re doing all this stuff, but they have this 16-minute ab program and I just don’t feel anything in my abs. My neck is just really sore. My lower back’s killing me and my neck is sore and I don’t feel anything in my abs. Doing push-ups are much, much more intense in terms of abdominal work. So it’s an interesting thing. The challenge, I just find, with everything health is that paradoxes abound and so many things are counterintuitive, especially true with core strength.

So if we could jump topics here. You write a lot about eating for energy. You have a website called Eating for Energy, you have a book called Eating for Energy. (14:35) So tell us, what are some of your top eating for energy foods? And I love that phrase and I love that term, because we can eat for weight loss, we can eat for different things, but at the end of the day I think energy is kind of something that brings everybody together. I think we can all agree when we wake up in the morning, we just love that feeling of being just completely turned on. So for you, from your research, from your work, what are some of your top eating for energy foods?

Yuri:

Well, the good news, and maybe the bad news, I don’t know, is that there’s really no one specific food. Having said that though, there is a category of foods, which I believe we’ve seen this with so many people already, if you incorporate these foods into your diet you will start transforming. (15:23) And it all comes down to greens, so green vegetables, and so we’re talking about things like wheatgrass or barley grass. If you want to do those powders that’s one thing, but even more basic is kale and celery and cilantro and parsley and all those leafy greens and those green vegetables.

(15:40) And the reason they’re so powerful at boosting our energy is because of what they do to our blood. Without getting too scientific, our blood needs to be in a certain PH, which is slightly alkaline. And most of the foods that we eat end up depositing more acid into our body. So things like grains, animal products and sugars and processed foods, even most nuts and seeds, tend to be acid-forming, which essentially means give off more protein and phosphorus than they do the alkaline minerals, calcium, magnesium and potassium.

With that said, vegetables and fruit are the complete opposite. Very little protein and phosphorous, very high amounts of those alkalizing minerals, and therefore when you eat more of them you end up alkalizing your body, more specifically your blood, to a degree whereby it’s supposed to be.

(16:29) The reason your blood needs to be alkaline is for a lot of different reasons, but one of the things that happens when that’s the case is oxygen is required by all of your cells to produce energy. So if you don’t have oxygen, your body starts relying on sugar and then that becomes a whole issue in and of itself. So your body really wants oxygen to produce energy, and if you doubt that you can try holding your breath for a couple of minutes and you probably wouldn’t be here for too long. So I don’t encourage you to do that.

But nonetheless, in order for oxygen to get to the cells of our body, they essentially hop in a cab, which is our red blood cells. So these red blood cells are like taxis that take oxygen all throughout your body. And when your blood is acidic, so when it is not healthy, those taxi cabs, those red blood cells are essentially in a traffic jam. The blood becomes thicker, it doesn’t move as freely as it would if it were in a more alkaline state, and that’s the basic premise of why we need our blood to be more alkaline. Because if our cells can’t receive oxygen, we can’t produce energy in the form of ATP, which is the basic unit of energy in the body. So if your blood lethargic and tired you’re probably going to feel the same way as well. And so by eating more greens, green juices, salads, green smoothies, really simple strategies that you can incorporate into your diet, the amazing thing here is you can literally, if there was some way to quantify energy, you could literally double your energy in less than a week by incorporating more greens into your diet, essentially more plant foods which obliviously benefit all levels of health.

(18:10) And within that category, if you can eat more of them in their raw state, that’s going to tremendously benefit you as well, because there’s just this natural kind of life force to real food. You’re also going to be getting higher amounts of nutrients, like vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, as well as enzymes that are very important for digestive, as well as all metabolic functions in the body. And a lot of those different compounds that I just mentioned are denatured, or lessened, when we cook our foods.

So I’m not saying you have to become a raw foodist, but if you can think about incorporating more raw foods into your diet, and especially focusing on more greens, it’s really the easiest way you can start feeling more energized and it has nothing to do with caffeine, it has nothing to do with stimulation and this will give you the type of energy that lasts you from the morning all the way to the evening, without those up and downs. It truly is amazing.

Lucas:

It’s an interesting thing, when we talk about eating for energy and we talk about acid and alkaline, and it happens in yoga, too, and really in anything. There’s always this yin and this yang, and for sure yang foods are acidic foods and yin foods are more cooling, alkaline foods. And it’s not that one is bad and one is good, but inevitably due to our current culture climate, et cetera, most people live in an over stressed out, over active, over anxious state, which would be a yang state, and most people eat overly acidic foods, so more processed foods, more animal-based foods. And it’s not that these are necessarily bad, it’s just that we get in a place of imbalance.

And so the reason I mention that is because there are people who start to think that all acid-forming foods are bad and they don’t want to eat any nuts and seeds and they don’t want to ever eat any animal products if they’re animal eaters, or whatever it is, and it’s really about finding balance, which is not that fun or exciting to talk about. But essentially, that’s what we’re looking for.

And the same happens with yoga practices, where people get into yoga to relieve stress or they get into meditation to relieve stress and they go too far the other way. Now, it’s very rare that this happens, but there are people I know who get so yin in nature that they can barely get out of bed and they spend all day meditating and doing deep stretches. And there are also people who get too alkaline. It’s really, really rare, but when I was doing exclusively raw food it got to the point where I couldn’t drink wheatgrass juice or I would vomit, and it was because I was so alkaline. And you take somebody who’s really acidic, like when I used to run restaurants, it was always the guys who were 50-plus pounds overweight, heavy drinkers, they’d come in and they could take 5, 6 wheatgrass juice shots and they were so addicted to it. I’d never seen anyone so excited about wheatgrass in my life as these overweight, unhealthy guys. And the reason why is because that alkaline hit to them. It was the yin to their yang. It was that meditation to the anxiety, and it’s a really interesting phenomenon.

So while almost all of us need to focus on more yin practices, more cooling practices, more meditative practices and more alkaline foods, the flips side is not bad; it’s just over exaggerated at this point in time.

Yuri:

Yeah, for sure.

Lucas:

So looking at that, looking at the world of energy foods, high-energy foods, live foods, green foods, plant foods. (21:28) On the flip side of that, what are foods that people are eating all the time, maybe not giving it much thought, that are just zapping their energy? They’re just having a devastating effect on their health, things maybe that people are encountering every day from the moment they wake up.

Yuri:

(21:42) Yeah, I think the three big ones, I don’t even have to think about these, are caffeine, sugar and wheat. There’s really no benefit to any of those foods, if you can call them that. For instance wheat, which is unfortunately so pervasive in our society and in our culture, we’re brought up with bread and toast and sandwiches and pasta and cereal, it becomes daunting to think about a life without that. And to be honest, it can be challenging if you don’t have access to for instance, gluten-free bakeries or different things like that. Even if you wanted to go to more of a vegan or even a paleo diet, it can be challenging for people who have been addicted to bread, believe me, I’m definitely one of those people, to make that transition.

(22:26) However, with that said, there really is no redeeming quality of bread, or wheat for that matter. Wheat, the problem with it is that it contains gluten. Gluten is a protein that is very problematic to the human body. It basically attacks the intestinal lining, and it’s related to over 190 different autoimmune conditions. So that in and of itself is pretty startling. And if you think about it, it makes sense. Because the evolution of the human body has really not evolved much since we were first put on this planet, at least as homosapiens. And agriculture came about, about 10,000 years ago, which is a very, very small amount of time on our evolutionary timescale.

(23:09) So the argument is that we have not evolved to be able to digest grains properly, and gluten specifically. So certain cultures may be a little bit better than others, and obviously certain individuals may be a little less sensitive than others, but I really do believe that most people could benefit tremendously without eating wheats. Obviously, William Davis wrote a great book called Wheat Belly, which talks about a lot of different facets of what wheat is doing to increase the risk of heart disease, to skin outbreaks, to weight gain, to brain fog and problems with cognition and all sorts of stuff. So really, wheat is, again, try to replace the morning bagel with a green smoothie. You’ll be a lot better off.

(23:55) Secondly is caffeine. Caffeine is the number one drug in the world, and a lot of people don’t think of it as a drug because they drink their morning coffee as just some kind of beverage, but when you also consider that the entire energy drink market has just boomed in the last 10 years, especially among teenagers which is the most frightening. I don’t know how it is in your neck of the woods, but where I live it’s crazy how many teenagers are walking down the streets with Red Bulls and Monster drinks. It’s really unfortunate, because a lot of those drinks have anywhere, depending on the size of them, 300 to 500 mgs of caffeine in one can, and that is above the upper limit, if you can even have an upper limit, of the recommended daily intake of caffeine. And now all these kids are depending on it, so that they’re not even able to focus in school unless they have their caffeine fix.

Why is that? (24:50) Well, because they’ve trained their body to need that caffeine fix in order to focus or stay awake, and it’s not just kids, it’s not just teenagers. It’s adults as well. Most people wake up in the morning and they’re not able to function until they’ve had their cup of coffee. They get to work, they don’t feel as good because they’ve now kind of dropped into that slump and they seek out another cup or another pot. We’ve had clients who were drinking — we had one client, she was drinking like two pots of coffee. She was actually a police officer so it was kind of fitting, but she was drinking two pots of coffee a day. That’s ridiculous. And as we started to wean her off the coffee and get her more onto the green juices and green smoothies, it was like she experienced a new — it was like a new world just opened up for her.

So caffeine, the problem with it is it’s a stimulant. And I’m going to group sugar and caffeine together here because they have the same effect pretty much. They’re both stimulants, which means they stress the adrenal glands. It’s in the same way that having a bear jump out of the woods and scaring you would do to your body. (26:00) So what ends up happening is your adrenal glands start pumping out these stress hormones, and if that happens all the time, eventually when you compound that with the other stresses in life, eventually things can start to wear down and that’s why a lot of people end up suffering from adrenal dysfunction or adrenal fatigue, as early as their mid 20s. I just actually had a lady on Facebook yesterday message me saying she was 25, she just had a salivary cortisol test and it shown she has adrenal fatigue at 25 years old.

So it’s really unfortunate that so many people, at a younger and younger age, are experiencing this, and it’s manifesting itself by complete and utter lack of energy. Inability to get out of bed in the morning, having those afternoon lulls, rising and falling blood sugar levels, really bad stuff, and the human body was not meant to feel that way.

(26:53) So I really believe that if we remove, and I’ve seen it, if we remove or limit caffeine and sugar in our diet it makes a huge difference, not just from energy but from our overall health perspective as well. And if we could start to replace that with green foods, green smoothies or even if it’s other things, like even if it’s eggs or other healthier animal products or other healthier, non-glutinous grains. That’s a big step in the right direction. So those are three big foods that I would highly recommend avoiding.

Lucas:

Yeah, that’s great advice. I always say if I could just pick one thing I could do, if I never taught anybody anything, it would be get rid of sugar and wheat. Of anything I could teach anybody, if you just start with the basics it’s really, really massive shifts. A lot of people just don’t realize what’s going on, and a lot of people used to argue about this but we’ve kind of moved into this new era of quantified self. And if you have any doubts about the effects of sugar or wheat, caffeine’s a little bit more tricky to measure, but for sugar and wheat all you need to do is buy a blood glucose test for home and you can see that happening in real time. If you want to go get your inflammation markers tested in your blood from eating wheat, this stuff is really, really easy to measure and it’s as predictable as the seasons.

It happens to everybody, and certain people at different ages might be in a place where hormonally they can tolerate a certain amount of sugar or a certain amount of wheat, but it’s always a ticking time bomb. This is why the same foods you ate as a kid and stayed thin, those same foods make you fat when you’re an adult, and because of that long-term chronic inflammation, long-term chronic elevated blood sugar levels/insulin levels, the leads to the exact same foods you ate as a kid and felt just fine will make you feel horrible over time. And so it’s really a difficult thing.

Yuri:

Indeed.

Lucas:

Well, good. So one last question for you, which I always like to ask people, they always have different opinions on this. I’m a structured guy. I’ve always done structured fitness. Before I became a yoga guy, I used to go to the gym and I used to do the same crazy 200 flights of stairs and different stuff on weights. And when I became a yoga guy I started off doing a very specific 26 hot yoga series, 26-pose hot yoga series, then I started doing a 50-pose ashtanga series, and I’ve always been very, very strict about what I do. But I’m a type A personality and that kind of stuff, structure and that sort of thing makes me feel free. I feel most at ease when I have structured.

But I’m interested. You work with a lot more people on a fitness level than I do. You work with a lot of people in a lot of different countries and you do a lot of different things. I’m mostly just a yoga guy. I’m like a one trick pony. (29:54) But I’m curious, what is your thoughts in terms of structured fitness or freeform, playful fitness? Structured fitness meaning on Tuesdays and Thursdays you’re doing X or every day you’re doing Y, and freeform fitness meaning I’m going out for a walk, I’m going skiing, I’m going to play with a dog and maybe I’ll do some kettle bell stuff once in a while. I’m just curious, in your experience, what do you find that the biggest hit rate or success rate with clients?

Yuri:

Yeah, that’s a great question, and it’s something I’ve been thinking about really deeply the last six months or so. Just out of curiosity, have you done your Colby score testing at all?

Lucas:

It’s funny. I have done my Colby score, and I did it about six months ago. I’m not remembering what my numbers were, but I need to pull it back up and take a look. But it was nothing surprising. It was all incredibly, depressingly predictive in terms of my tendencies. But that would be an interesting test, I think, and what have you found in terms of Colby score in relation to fitness practices?

Yuri:

Yeah, so this is interesting. So you’re very structured. I’m the complete opposite. I need to structure, but I avoid it. So my Colby score, and for those of you who don’t understand what we’re talking about here, Colby is basically a really cool online test and they’ve worked with hundreds of thousands of people all around the world on this, and it gives you four measures of how you operate as a person. So these are things that you will do and won’t do, and that’s essentially what it’s measuring.

So I’m a very high quick start, which means that I’m able to start things very quickly but I don’t like the follow through, I don’t like the details. And I also don’t like feeling constrained by structure, however I need some degree of structure in order to function.

So with that said, I personally for years would rebel against even my own workout programs. I would always advise people here’s a four-week program, do this on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, do this on Tuesday, Thursday and I’d always preach we all need structure, and I still believe we all do need structure regardless of how we operate as individuals, but I also think there’s an element of honoring your specific MO, how you operate.

(32:00) So I’m at a point now where I get my most joy when I work out based on how I feel. And I think I’m going to coin a term, which for whatever reason is escaping me right now, but intuitive fitness. It’s training based on how you feel, and this is starting to become a little bit more popular, especially with pro athletes, because for instance with sports teams, I’ll just use the example of soccer, if you have 18 guys on a roster, all 18 of those guys don’t operate the same way and they shouldn’t be trained in the same manner every single day. Unfortunately, that’s been the way it’s been done since the beginning of time, just because it’s just easiest.

But if you think about certain people might have more stress, certain people might have different levels of injury, certain people might be older, you have to approach each of those in a very unique way. So it almost becomes a little bit of kind of a detective type of journey, where you have to really go through a process and understand, do I enjoy this type of structure where I need to be told what to do and how many reps and how many sets and which weight, every single day for the rest of my life, or am I the type of person who starts that but then rebels against it because it doesn’t work for me and I feel more happy and joyful when I’m able to go for a workout when I feel like it or do a yoga session one day when I’m a little bit tired or go for a walk when I need more recovery.

(33:27) That’s generally the way I’ve approached my fitness over the last couple years, but with that said there can also be a downside to that because then you can just say, well I don’t feel like working out today and then that becomes your story. So there needs to be a bit of structure, but I also think that within that, really realizing what it is you enjoy doing. So if you enjoy doing yoga, that’s awesome. But understand there’s going to be some things you’re missing out on if you only did yoga. If you only worked out in the gym with weights, you would definitely benefit from doing more yoga. And if you didn’t, obviously there’d be some compromises to your health and the way your body works as a result.

(34:06) So it’s about finding those things you enjoy doing and kind of setting them up in a way that is going to be sustainable and enjoyable for you. So I think it really is a combination of both. Kind of that free flow and that structure. So I guess coming back to that yin and yang discussion that we had earlier.

Lucas:

Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. When I first started teaching, the biggest mistake I think that we all make in the world is thinking that everybody’s exactly like us. When I first started teaching I assumed that I did so well with structure that everybody needed that, and certain people would come to class and they’d love it the first day, love it the second day and then third day they’re bored and they want something new and they want something different, and I sort of faulted them when I should have been faulting myself. It is, it’s an interesting thing in terms of finding what works.

In Los Angeles, there’s a very mature, and all of California there’s a very mature yoga scene. It’s 30-plus years old, and they have this sort of do what you will, do what your body wants kind of yoga classes. And you go to them and it’s just this freeform freak show. They have the loud music playing, people sort frothing all over the floor. It’s a little bit ridiculous. And then on the other extreme of that you have a bikrim yoga class or you have an ashtanga class, which is so regimented that literally the teachers are militant. And you have to find what suits your personality, and I think you have to find something that you enjoy, too.

I guess for me when it comes to fitness or anything movement related, what I always hate to hear is somebody giving up something they love for something they don’t, meaning somebody loves cross-country skiing or they love swimming but they’ve suddenly been convinced that they need to spend an hour a day on the elliptical. Or the other end of that extreme is somebody absolutely loves to be a gym rat and they love to lift heavy stuff and they love to run on machines and they give that up because they think they need to start doing cross-fit or whatever it is. And I think there’s nothing that feels better than movement that you love, and that can bring you fitness at such a deeper level than just physical level, if you find a movement practice that you love, whether it’s yoga, whether it’s dance, whether it’s kettle bell training, whether it’s running on a treadmill. Whatever works for you, I think, is what really lights people up.

Yuri:

Yeah, absolutely.

Lucas:

So this has been awesome, Yuri. Thanks so much for sharing your tips. Everybody listening, get rid of your coffee, get rid of your sugar. Use your bagels to clean the floor; they’re really good at absorbing spilled coffee when you knock it over. (36:45) Tell people how they can get a hold of you, tell people your websites, what you’ve got in the works. I know you’ve got a new book coming out. Tell us what’s going on.

Yuri:

Yeah, so we have a lot of stuff. (36:53) So the best place to follow what we’re doing is at my blog, which is yurielkaim.com. We’ve got a lot of great stuff going on. We obviously have our Total Wellness Cleanse, which we do a big thing with that every January when everyone’s thinking about cleansing, and it’s an amazing program. It’s one of the only food-based cleanses that we’re aware of. So we don’t use any kind of pills or portions. It’s all based on food and helping to restore your body’s natural vitality.

And you mentioned my Eating for Energy book, which has actually been a digital program for a number of years. We actually just got picked up by Hay House, so that’s going to be a published book coming out in September of next year. So we’ve revamped it, made it even better, and so that’s going to be really amazing. Getting this message out to the masses is going to be really powerful, because I think a lot of people need to hear it. So yeah, that’s what we have going on. It’s really exciting, and we’re on a mission to help 10 million people by 2018. So I want to thank you for bringing me on and helping me share that message with your followers.

Lucas:

Great, so thanks so much for listening. Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us, Yuri, and we’ll talk to you very soon.

Yuri:

Yeah, absolutely.

You’ve got questions? We’ve got answers. Welcome to the FAQ round. If you’ve got something that you want to ask, send your questions to podcast@YogaBodyNaturals.com. And now, let’s hear what’s going on with our listeners.

Aurora asks:

(38:30) I’m a professional dancer.  I take YOGABODY Stretch, your flexamine formula for chronic nerve pain in my legs, and it works wonderfully.  But I just wanted to make sure that the flexamine is okay to take with other natural herbs, valerian root supplement and a natural turmeric root supplement, along with several vitamins.

Yeah, this is a great question. So YOGABODY Stretch, one of the main active ingredients is methylsulfonylmethane. It’s an organic form of sulfur. It also has a pretty good sized dose of magnesium and Vitamin C, trace minerals and then a triple green blend of greens, which balances it out and adds some alkalinity as well.

In terms of taking it with other things, for sure. Everything you’re taking, valerian root is nighttime relaxation, that’s just fine. Turmeric also is very anti-inflammatory, and some vitamins, no problem at all. Just check your vitamin supplement. I wouldn’t take too much more Vitamin C. With all of these things, just really what you’re looking at is your belly. If you take too many pills at once you can get gas and indigestion, and that’s no fun at all. With a lot of vitamin supplements, that’s really the biggest indicator if you’re taking too much, is if you’re getting gas and problems like that.

Everything in YOGABODY Stretch is water-soluble, meaning there’s no risk of fat-soluble overdose like things like Vitamin A, for example, you could take too much of, or Vitamin K or Vitamin D3 you could take too much of. That doesn’t happen with YOGABODY Stretch. At the same time, I’m not a huge fan of telling people to mega dose stuff. I’m not one of those 10 gram per day Vitamin C people. I don’t think that is really helpful, and for a lot of people even 1 gram of Vitamin C per day might upset their stomach, where 500 mgs might make them feel just fine.

So check the Vitamin C in your vitamins. If you’re taking Vitamin C separately, I would leave that out. You’re getting enough of that in YOGABODY Stretch. But other than that, you should be fine. It’s great that it’s working on your nerve pain. Also take a look at a B vitamin supplement. We have one called Liquid Energy-B. I really like it. It tastes great, it contains a really bioavailable form of B12, which is fantastic for your nervous system, among other things. Everything else you’re doing is great. Turmeric is incredibly anti-inflammatory. I would look at taking some omega-3 fats on a daily basis, something like chia seeds, flaxseeds. If you’re an animal person, some really high-quality fish oil or coldwater small fish is a good option as well.

Mike asks:

(40:58) You once mentioned that holding your breath increases the percent of C02 in your lungs, and that was a good thing. I know it’s very calming, but don’t know why.

Yeah, so there’s a big myth with yoga classes. A lot of times you’ll take yoga classes and the teacher will say breathe deeply, you’re increasing the oxygen through your whole body, your oxygen in your blood is going up as you breathe. It’s not true. One of the great things about yoga practice is that you slow down your breath.

Let’s say that your average person takes 8 to 12 breaths per minute in their normal day. Like right now, I’m doing 8 to 12 breaths, maybe a little more because I’m jabbing my jaws, but normally about 8 to 12 breaths. When you start doing yoga practice, you might cut that in half. You might take 4 breaths per minute. And when you start doing meditation and pranayama practices, breath extension practices, you might cut that down to 1 breath per minute or even less.

So what happens when you’re breathing that little? Well, one of the things that happens is you get less oxygen in your blood. As soon as you say this, people start freaking out. Oxygen, we need pure oxygen, we’re going to die. This is not really true. We need oxygen, oxygen is really, really important, but so is carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide changes into carbonic acid and it’s very, very important — it’s a vascular dilator. So what it does is it makes your cells and your veins very receptive to oxygen. So for example, one of the easiest ways to clear your sinuses is to do C02 increasing practices. Holding your breath is a really simple way to explain it. If you’re someone who suffers from allergies, who suffers from a blocked nose, hold your breath, do it a few times. You’ll notice immediately, wow, I can breathe more clearly through my nose. I learned this through a system called Buteyko. A Russian MD developed this Buteyko system of breathing for asthma, and they hold their breath to increase the C02.

Now in yoga, we do a little bit of a different practice, which has some different advantages. But at its base, it’s the same thing. You’re increasing the C02 in your body. Now in the short term, this reduces the oxygen level in your blood. I have a little thing I stick on my finger and it measures my blood oxygen level. A normal level is anywhere from 95 to 99 percent. When you start to go below there you might be worried, depending on what’s going on. The same thing they put on you as soon as you jump in an ambulance. I know all of you guys are jumping into ambulances every chance you get, so you might be familiar with one of those things you stick on your finger. It costs $20, you can buy them on Amazon if you want. It’s really interesting. As you do pranayama practices, as you do deeper meditation practices, your blood oxygen level goes down.

Now the important thing to remember here is your blood oxygen and the oxygen level in your cells is not the same thing. It’s not the same thing. So you might have a 95 instead of a 97 percent blood oxygen, but your efficiency at transporting that oxygen into your cells might be much, much higher than it was before. So don’t get confused. Now, you don’t want to suffocate yourself. You don’t want your blood oxygen to jump down to 89 percent. That’s not what we’re looking at. But we do want to increase C02 in our practice, and this is a really important thing to wrap your head around because it’s counterintuitive. Unfortunately, so many things in health are counterintuitive that it will do your head in if you don’t do the research.

Haley asks:

(44:28) I have a sensitive stomach and I can’t do backbends. Do you think there’s still something that can work for me?

Yeah. The key thing is just to really take it slow, Haley, and find some version of a backbend that works for you. What happens is people see a full expression of a pose, let’s say it’s a headstand, let’s say it’s a backbend, a full wheel pose, and they think I can’t straighten my arms in full wheel. I can’t do backbend. Forget about it. I’m going to leave it. I’m going to sit there on the floor while everybody else does it in class. This is not the approach you want.

You want to find some modification, some variation, some step along the path that will work for you. From there, you’ll be amazed at the breakthroughs and the benefits that you’ll get. Remember, we are not competing on any kind of professional, not even amateur, not even community level. None of us are competing. This is all for health and wellness benefits and for personal self-empowerment, and what that means is whether you are going up in a little baby bridge pose or whether you’re doing a way deep full backbend and dropping back, the benefits could be just as strong, if not stronger, doing that baby bridge pose.

Find a step that works for you, maybe use a block, whatever you need to do, but don’t leave it out. I always encourage people not to leave out poses. You can get the exact same benefits doing some modification.

Gwen asks:

(45:47) I looked at your Flex Tablets and I have hit a brick wall with my flexibility progress, and I stretch for 20 minutes each night. I have been breastfeeding for four years straight now and I’m very rundown and need to boost my immune system. Can you use this while I’m still breastfeeding? If not, what can you suggest?

Breastfeeding for four years straight, first of all, Gwen, you are a saint. Your kids will thank you, either verbally or just by not getting sick. What a gift you’ve given your children. I don’t know if they appreciate it yet, but someday they will really, really thank you for that. There’s about nothing as effective, as powerful as you could do for your children and I know what a sacrifice that is, so good on you for doing that.

The second part is can you do yoga four years into breastfeeding. For sure, you can start doing yoga. Keep in mind, you do have hormonal differences in your body, and it really does take it out of you, in terms of breastfeeding. Deep stretching is a really great way to go. In terms of hitting a brick wall, I find this is a natural tendency. We all hit a ceiling. Maybe we hit a ceiling at our job, where we get to a certain level and we just don’t seem to make progress. Maybe we hit a ceiling in our relationship where we feel like we reach one level of love and connection, we just can’t seem to go deeper.

The reality is that there is this 80/20 rule in life, and what the 80/20 rule says, it’s the Pareto Principle, very interesting. We could talk a lot about this. What this says is that 80 percent of our benefits come from 20 percent of our work. The bad news about this is that most people within the first year or two of doing yoga, they actualize 80 percent of what they’re going to get. This happens for a number of different reasons, but it is the reality. So everybody does hit a wall, and the last 20 percent are going to be 80 percent as hard to get there.

Now have you really gotten there? It could be. It sounds like you’ve really been stretching for a long time and doing a lot of work. It also could be that you need to make a big, big shift. I find that a lot of people look at top grading their lifestyle and top grading their nutrition, meaning they’re taking their products and trying to make them organic or they’re taking their lifestyle and trying to make it just a little bit less chaotic. Sometimes a really massive shift can be a big deal.

For you, maybe it’s when you’re finished breastfeeding. Maybe it’s when you shift into a new phase of motherhood or parenting. You might find a new breakthrough. But my guess is that it’s probably going to be a lifestyle and mental and emotional thing that’s going to make a shift for you. But I’d encourage you to look at big shifts you can do. If you always stretch at night, maybe start stretching in the morning. If you never play music, maybe start blasting some hard rock and see if that gets you going. But a lot of us hit a wall. Sometimes it’s a real wall. I’m guessing that it’s not. I’m guessing that you’re going to find a whole new set of energy and vitality when you’re not feeding for two.

Hope that’s helpful. If you have questions, email them into me at podcast@YogaBodyNaturals.com.

It’s now time for the bendy body nutritional tip of the day. Raw food, edible insects, tropical oils, why not? It’s all fair game. Here we go. Let’s talk nutrition.

(49:02) Today’s nutritional tip is about protein. One of the most common questions that I get as a plant-based guy is where do you get your protein? How much protein do you eat? The first thing that I’ll say is you need a lot less protein than you think, unless you need a lot more. So everybody’s different. But for the most part, people don’t need that much protein. Protein deficiency is very, very rare. It happens in countries where people are starving. In most countries there is not a protein deficiency.

(49:30) But what happens is we have three micronutrients: Fats, proteins and carbs. These are our calorie, or I like to say our energy-bearing nutrients. When you get rid of one, the other two go up. So if we start reducing our protein, that means we need to either eat more sugar or we need to eat more fat. Well, guess what happens if you eat more sugar? All kinds of bad stuff happens. When you eat more fat, it’s really if you’re eating good, healthy fat, it’s one of the best things you can do for your health. But that’s another discussion. Let’s stay on the protein thing here. If you’re eating low protein, by definition it means you’re eating high fat or high carb. So if you’re eating low protein, you need to make sure that you’re focusing on healthy fats and not on high carb, because that will get you into trouble.

(50:16) So what is low protein? Low protein would be less than 50 grams per day. High protein would be above 100 grams per day. People who are doing super carb restriction will often eat 150 grams-plus of protein per day. For your average person, somewhere between 50 and 70 grams of protein per day is what they need to feel great and to balance out their diet. Now in order to eat that amount of protein, you also need to eat some healthy fat, or again you’re going to be eating too many carbs.

(50:46) So how many is right for you? Well, I don’t really know but I would experiment and start with 50 or 70 grams of protein per day and see how you feel. Some people feel great with more protein. That tends to be people who are fast oxidizers, people who are very athletic, people who are building a lot of muscle, people who are doing weight lifting or resistance training might need 100 grams-plus of protein per day. For a lot of people they feel terrible. When I eat more than 100 grams per day of protein I feel awful, I get constipated, I get headaches, it’s no good for me. But for different people it’s different things.

But for most people if we’re looking at somewhere between 10 and 20 percent of your calories coming from protein, that’s a really good ratio. A high-protein diet would be 30 percent-plus, and again, for most people that takes some serious effort and it’s a chicken breast at every meal and it’s eggs all the time and it can feel like a lot of work. And if you’re feeling like you’re forcing yourself to eat protein you’re probably eating too much.

You’ve been listening to the Yoga Talk Show with Lucas Rockwood. You might not know this, but I live and die for your iTunes reviews and ratings, so help me out. Head over to the iTunes store and give me some love. And when you’re done with that, you can grab the complete show notes, links to everything mentioned in this show, plus all kinds of other yoga shenanigans at YOGABODYnaturals.com.