Calorie Myth – Jonathan Bailor – Alcohol

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After 10 years of research, analyzing over 1,300 studies, and garnering endorsements by top doctors from Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins, Yale, and UCLA, Jonathan Bailor is a nutrition and exercise expert and former personal trainer who specializes in using high-quality food and exercise to simplify wellness and weight loss.

He is an extremely popular podcaster. His show is called, and that is also the name of his soon-to-be released book which I’m excited to be getting a review copy of later this week.

In this Show, You’ll learn:

  • The truth behind calorie deficit diets
  • What really makes you fat
  • Why you might want to give up dairy and buy local/organic

Links & References from the Show

Got questions?


Yoga students, if you love to learn about yoga, health and wellness, plant-based nutrition, flexibility and mind/body biohacking, you have come to the right place, my friend. Welcome to the Yoga Talk Show with Lucas Rockwood, where my goal is to make your yoga practice just that much easier. Find us online at YogaBodyNaturals.com. We’re also on Facebook and YouTube. Check us out. Now let’s get on with the show.

So hello and welcome, everyone, Lucas Rockwood here, Yoga Talk Show. Thanks for tuning in. We have a very special guest today. I’m here with Jonathan Bailor. He’s in Seattle on the other side of the planet, I’m here in Barcelona and we’re excited to get into the show here.

So I’ll tell you a little bit about Jonathan and then introduce him to you. After 10 years of research, analyzing over 1,300 studies and garnering endorsements from doctors from Harvard, from John Hopkins, from Yale and UCLA, Jonathan is a nutrition and exercise expert. He’s a former personal trainer, and he specializes in using high-quality food and exercise to simplify wellness and weight loss.

He’s a very, very popular podcaster. His show is called The Calorie Myth, and he’s got a book by that same name which is about to be released soon. I’m getting a review copy this week. I’m really, really excited. Jonathan also has a free 28-day quick start eating and exercise guide. So if you like his message, if you like what he’s doing, check it out at BailorGroup.com.

So thanks so much for joining us, Jonathan.


My pleasure, Lucas.


So let’s just get right into this. The first thing I ever learned about nutrition and exercise was that you need a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories to burn 1 pound of fat, and I think everybody’s learned this, whether it was in a high school PE class or a chemistry class. And when people learn this it’s like a light bulb goes off and they’re like, wow, food and fat, it’s just a math equation, and these obese people, they just don’t know math. They haven’t figured out simply math.

And so let’s jump right into this. (02:06) Is this math equation, is it just straight up wrong?


It is, it is, and, Lucas, I know you have a very intelligent audience so I’m going to take it a level deeper, because oftentimes my work is interpreted as saying that, for example you don’t need to be in a calorie deficit to burn fat and that is not at all what the research says.

(02:26) What the research says is how we’ve been led to believe that we achieve a calorie deficit is horribly wrong. It’s not that you don’t need a calorie deficit to burn fat, you do, it’s that you don’t achieve a calorie deficit sustainably and healthfully by starving yourself and exercising obsessively. What you do is you improve the quality of your eating, the quality of your exercise and then your brain, your gut and your hormones will reregulate your appetite and your metabolism, such that you accidentally create a caloric deficit and naturally pursue a healthy weight, much like a naturally thin person does or much like maybe you did when you were a teenager.


Yeah, it’s interesting. The way that I always explain this to people, because this was part of my indoctrination into food and nutrition from day one, and most people it’s the same thing. And so to hear that this is anything less than right hand on the bible truth, people have a knee jerk reaction where they say, “Oh, BS, it can’t be that.” The analogy that I always use is if you look at money and you go to a financial planner and you’re having financial problems and your financial planner just says, “Well the solution is just don’t pay any of your bills for the next few months. Don’t find any of your bills. You’ll find this amazing surplus of cash in your life.”

It’s kind of like that with food. People are saying, “Oh, just starve yourself, and you’ll lose weight.” It’s like, well yeah that’s true but it’s also so, so, so wrong, because those debts still need to be paid and the hormonal impact of that calorie deficit is way, way more significant than any kind of short-term gain. And so this whole calories in, calories out, it’s really not high school math, it’s kindergarten math and it doesn’t explain the adult hormonal issues that are really going on.

So let me jump right into another big, big thing here. Whenever I talk or speak to people about health and food and nutrition, the pop health idea is that we have fat and we have protein and we have carbs and fat makes you fat. That’s why we want fat-free everything, and protein builds muscle. If we eat lots of protein we’re going to get big and ripped like a bodybuilder, and that’s why women should watch out for that protein because they might get too strong. And carbs give you energy, you just eat lots and lots of pasta, and these are paradigms that are stuck in peoples’ heads. (05:03) And so again, is this just straight up wrong, is there any truth to this? How do fats and proteins and cars on a dietary level, how do they play out in our physical bodies?


Lucas, you asked that question brilliantly, because you’re like is this just completely wrong. (05:19) Along the lines of the calorie thing, it’s not completely wrong, it’s just been horribly misrepresented to us. Back to the calorie thing, the only way you burn fat is by being in a calorie deficit. It’s just the way you achieve that is extremely important, and the way we’ve been told to achieve it is not correct.

(05:35) And then when it comes to these macronutrients, there’s some truth, kind of, to what we’re told, but not particularly. So the logic of fat makes you fat is similar to the logic of eating green, leafy vegetables will make you green and grow leaves on your body, which is of course not what happens. So both fat and carbohydrate can be used as energy in your body. Protein cannot.

Protein would have to be converted into glucose by your liver before it could be used by energy, and protein is anabolic, meaning that there have been studies done when people will be fed a surplus of calories from proteins say, and another group of people will be fed a surplus of calories from carbohydrate or fat. And the group who is fed a surplus of calories from protein, everyone ends us gaining some weight, but the group who’s fed calories more from protein, the larger percentage of that weight is from muscle, because protein is an anabolic hormone, it does release insulin like growth factor one, which does cause muscle protein synthesis which does technically build muscle in your body.

It doesn’t mean you will get more muscle. It just means your body may refresh, for lack of better terms, existing muscle tissue, which is important because most people don’t realize this but we’re all familiar with osteoporosis but we’re not as familiar with a similar condition known as scarcopenia, which is the deterioration of muscle tissue over time.

(07:00) So to the uber question of does fat make you fat, fat absolutely does not make you fat. The reason that we’re told that fat makes us fat is because fat is more calorific than protein or carbohydrate per gram, but it’s also more satisfying than carbohydrate. So you will naturally get fuller from fat faster. It also has a dramatically different hormonal affect on your body. From a carbohydrate perspective, carbohydrate does not necessarily give you energy. It can give you energy, but again it’s a trivialization. Fiber, for example, is a type of carbohydrate that gives you no energy and is one of the critical forms of carbohydrate we don’t eat enough of.

So you’re really looking at fat as a wonderful and hormonally healthy energy source. I like to think of carbohydrate as an incredibly efficient way to get essential vitamins and minerals into your body. The only reason, in my research, to consume carbohydrate, or let’s say the primary reason, is not so much as an energy source but rather as a nutrient source. So you’re looking for nutrient-dense sources of carbohydrates, such as non-starchy vegetables and low-sugar fruits, rather than much lower nutrient density carbohydrate and hormonally clogging or harmful carbohydrates, such as processed starches and sweets.

(08:19) Then from a protein perspective, we’ve all heard of essential amino acids. We absolutely need to eat protein, ideally from high-quality sources. How much we need depends a lot on our goals and our age, but it is very much essential. So does protein build muscle? It does, that is true. Will eating it just make you big and bulky? Absolutely not. Does carbohydrate give you energy? It can. It can also give you diabetes if you’re not careful, so be careful with that. And does fat make you fat? Well, anything will make you fat if you over consume it, but if you eat natural, whole foods that contain fats, like nuts and seeds in combination with protein and fibrous carbohydrate, it’s very, very difficult to overeat.


Okay, so let’s take this to the next level. Let’s imagine that we have triplets, so three identical brothers. They’re all living in the same house, they’re doing the same kind of stuff, whatever they’re doing. They’re on some kind of fixed case study thing, and we give each of them 2,000 calories a day. We give one of them nothing but carbs, we give one of them nothing but protein and one of them nothing but fat. We blend it all up, so they’re drinking these disgusting shakes. One of them is taking sugar, one is taking whey protein and one of them is just swigging coconut oil or olive oil or whatever it is.

I know there’s no one answer to this because there’s different ways that different bodies and different genetics are going to act, but from your research, from your experience, what do you think would happen? (09:46) Who would be the healthiest, who’s going to be the sickest, any indication?


(09:51) Well, they would all be very sick because they’re not eating essential vitamins and minerals. A lot of things, Lucas, a lot of the struggle we find in the nutrition world is human nature maybe seems to try to make things black and white. It’s either calories are all that count or calories don’t count at all. People see my work and they’re like, “Oh, Jonathan Bailor is saying calories don’t count.” That’s not at all what I’m saying. What I’m saying is that you don’t have to count calories.

With fat, protein and carbohydrate, again, some people it’s all about macronutrient ratios and some people are like, no it’s about eating a micronutrient-dense diet. Actually both are very important. So in the scenario you described, all three brothers would become horribly sick, because they’re eating pure macronutrients. They’re not getting their micronutrients. But let’s assume, for the purposes of this illustration that they were also maybe taking some sort of magical formulation that gave them their essential micronutrients, vitamins, minerals, et cetera and the things that was varying between them was the macronutrients.

(10:56) In that scenario, if it was an isocaloric study, which is what it would be called in the scientific community, meaning everyone’s consuming the same number of calories, we’re just varying the quality or source of the calories across the groups. What does happen, and this has been shown in many, many clinical trials, many of which are described in my book, The Calorie Myth, the individuals consuming the pure protein diet would build muscle and burn fat. So the reason they would burn fat is because technically they would metabolize dramatically fewer calories. When you eat protein it’s not an energy source.

So the first thing that happens when you eat protein is your body turns it into amino acids. It then tries to use the amino acids to repair and synthesize new muscle tissue. Once that’s done, then if it has surplus protein it will go into your liver, go through a process called gluconeogenisis or create new glucose, to turn into glucose which will then be used as fuel. And then if you have more fuel than you need your body stores it as triglyceride, you burn more calories doing that. Every step along that chain causes chemical reactions which cost energy to perform.

At the end of the day, if you consumed a pure 2,000 calorie diet, the maximum number of calories you could ever store as body fat is about one-third of that, so approximately 666. The pure protein group would lose a vast amount of fat, because technically they would only have the opportunity to maximally store 666 of those calories as fat.

(12:41) If you look at the pure fat group, the exact opposite thing would happen. Fat is very readily stored as fat on the body. That doesn’t mean it makes you fat. It just means it doesn’t have to go through a bunch of chemical changes to be stored as fat on your body. It’s a very pure and useful energy source for your body. So those individuals, the individuals eating pure fat, would have the least risk for diabetes because their body would be producing essentially no insulin, so they would have the least risk for diabetes, they would probably also see the smallest change in weight.

(13:14) And then the group who was eating pure carbohydrate, it really depends on the source of their carbohydrate, but the only way you could eat 2,000 calories of carbohydrate in a day would be to get it from primarily sugar, because even starch would be hard to eat that much starch, but it would be basically from sugar and starch. Those people would get very sick. They would start to display symptoms of metabolic syndrome, they would start to display insulin resistance which is the precursor to diabetes. So they would probably be the least healthy. The individuals who ate the pure fat diet would see the least change in weight, and the individuals who ate the pure protein weight would also not be particularly healthy but they would see dramatic changes, potentially pleasing from an aesthetic perspective.


Awesome. (14:01) Who would be the most or the least hungry, which is always a question?


Absolutely the protein group. So this is not controversial in the scientific community. Of the three macronutrients, protein is far and away, it’s not even closely debatable the most satiating of the macronutrients. Consistently in these isocaloric studies where you’ll take a group of people, feed them 2,000 calories, another group of people feed them 2,000 calories and you just manipulate the ratio of macronutrients from protein, consistently what the studies show is participants on the higher percent of protein diet achieve what scientists call a spontaneous reduction of caloric intake, which means in layman’s terms they feel fuller on fewer calories. So they are not hungry at all, no hunger, none, but in certain clinical trials they will spontaneously consume 1,000 fewer calories.

Think about that for a second. Imagine if you could eat as much as you want whenever you want and accidentally consume 1,000 fewer calories per day. No hunger, no lethargy, no negative impacts to your health, but simply because the calories you’re consuming are so much more satiating, you automatically and accidentally and permanently achieve what would be impossible if you just tried to consciously cut that number of calories out of your diet.


That’s really, really interesting. I think a lot of people get stuck on this idea that the logic is so hard to wrap your head around. So hard to imagine that butter doesn’t necessarily turn into fat on my thighs. That a milkshake doesn’t necessarily turn into whatever it’s going to turn into. What we’re eating in terms of our diet doesn’t necessarily transmit directly into different parts of our body, and it’s so counter to our logic that it can be really a difficult thing.

And what you mentioned about satiety is so, so important, because so many dieters, so many people trying to watch their weight and get healthy, they end up going on these whole grain or long grain diets and high-carb diets and they’re starving all the time. When people start to reduce sugar, it’s just been my experience that they become less hungry and it doesn’t become this diet or this process; they’re just not hungry for things, which is a very, very interesting thing.


Lucas, really quick because I think this would be helpful for your listeners, in terms of that satiety, when you shift away from a sugar-based diet to more of a protein and fat-based diet, that has to do, and it also ties back with the point you made about this intuitive, well if I eat fat it’s going to be stored as fat, so let me tie those two together really quick with some logic that is very, very helpful.

So when you eat carbohydrate primarily, and when I say carbohydrate I mean sugar, like there’s sugar and fiber basically, that’s it. So when you eat spinach, you’re just getting way more fiber and way less sugar. When you eat sugar, you’re getting no fiber and all sugar. So carbohydrates just are on a spectrum of pure sugar to basically pure fiber, and vegetables are on the fiber side, starches and sweets are on the sugar side.

(17:15) When you eat primarily sugar, which is what the standard Western diet is, your body becomes conditioned to run on sugar. So you eat sugar, sugar goes into your bloodstream, at any given point in time your bloodstream has about a teaspoon or five grams of sugar circulating in it. So if you eat 300 grams of sugar, which is not uncommon in today’s lifestyle, where is that all going to go? It’s all going to go in your fat cells.

But let’s say you run out of energy, so you run out of sugar flowing around in your bloodstream. Your body is used to burning sugar because you always give it sugar, so it’s like, “I run on sugar. You’re a sugar burner.” Your body doesn’t have sugar on hand. It needs energy, so what’s it going to do? It’s going to be like, okay I have no sugar. The only way to get more sugar is to make you hungry and have you eat more sugar.

Now imagine if you ate most of your energy from fat. So you eat fat, you’ve got fat, you’re burning fat, you’re not burning sugar and then your body runs out of fat to burn. It stopped circulating in your bloodstream. It says, “Okay, I don’t have enough fat. I need more fat.” And it says, “Hmm, there’s some fat here sitting on your hips. Well, I don’t need fat to pass through your lips because I’ve already got fat sitting on your hips, so I’m going to burn that.” Because why? Your body is accommodating or used to burning fat. You’re a fat burner.

(18:33) So when you eat more fat, you condition your body to burn fat as fuel. Therefore, if you don’t eat fat it doesn’t mean your body can’t nourish itself. It just means it will nourish itself from fat that’s already on your body, versus fat that you’re putting into your body. And the reason this is such a key, key distinction is it answers a question that few have asked and every time I say it, it kind of blows peoples’ minds a little bit, which is if you have an obese person who has 100 pounds of fat on their body, why are they ever hungry, ever? They have 100 pounds of stored energy sitting on their body, yet their brain is telling them they don’t have enough energy, because that’s what hunger is. You do not have enough fuel. Why?

It’s because they’re conditioned to burning sugar. They don’t have sugar in their bloodstream right now, so their body is saying, “I need more sugar.” When you take that person and you switch them to more of a fat-based and vegetable-based and protein-based diet, their body becomes accommodated or used to burning fat. Therefore, they spontaneously reduce their caloric intake, not only because protein is so satiating but because they don’t need to eat to fuel themselves. They can just burn all that fat that’s sitting on their body.


It’s really an interesting and counterintuitive journey for people. One thing that you touched on that I want to jump back to is you talked about protein and you used fancier terms than I do, but basically the layman’s terms are burning dirty, meaning to metabolize protein. It actually takes a little bit of its energy away. (20:11) I’m curious, do you prescribe to that theory, do you think eating calories that burn dirty, do you think that’s a good strategy long term? What is your belief in terms of protein and its being metabolized for energy in the body?


My opinion is somewhat irrelevant, so I try to deal with it in scientific fact. But the scientific fact is that protein is not an energy source for your body. That is not debatable. When you ingest protein, it goes into your stomach, comes out as amino acids, amino acids provide you with no energy or fuel. It’s like oil for your car. It does something different.

(20:51) However, if you have an abundance of that it will go into your liver and it will turn into glucose. At that point you have glucose which is sugar, which means you can run on it. There is a massive amount of processing that needs to take place in your body to convert protein into sugar. That is what’s called the thermic affect of food. It is non-debatable that the more protein you eat in place of other forms of macronutrients, if for no other reason, you will lose weight simply because you will actually be metabolizing fewer calories because you’re eating a non-energy source and requiring your body to convert it into an energy source, which in and of itself will burn calories. So from a fat loss and a satiety perspective, it is non-debatable that the more protein you eat the more fat you will burn and the more satisfied you will feel, but that is if your goal is fat loss.

(21:49) If your goal is health, you might take a different approach. So it’s getting very clear on what your goals are. From a fat loss perspective, it is unambiguous and non-debatable that an increase in protein intake will have positive benefits. From a health perspective, once you get to, for an average-sized male about 200 grams of protein per day assuming he’s active and for an average-sized female about 150, once you go above that unless you’re a bodybuilder, you might experience some less than ideal health effects.


It’s interesting. I’ve tried all these different things, including ketogenic diets, I’ve gone on pure fruitarian diets, all kinds of weird things and I’m definitely atypical in the way that I react. With both carbs and proteins I can spike my blood sugar pretty effectively, just like anybody could. But with fats it’s pretty difficult for me to get my blood sugar up. So I guess my longer term question is a lot of people hear that and they hear, okay protein burns dirty, protein is really, really effective for burning fat, everybody knows that protein diets work for fat loss. For the rest of my life I’m just going to focus on eating as much protein as possible.

(23:05) To dig deeper with my question, what are your thoughts on that strategy as not just a fat-burning strategy but as a strategy for health? And if there are complications, what are the complications that might pop up from trying to live off a very, very high protein diet as opposed to a high-fat diet?


It’s very important to define what we mean by a high-protein and a high-fat diet, for example. The U.S. government would define any diet that gets more than about 10% of its calories from protein as a high-protein diet. That is not a high-protein diet in my book at all. That doesn’t make any sense, and in fact if you’re only getting 10% of your calories from protein and that’s a high-protein diet, then mathematically that means you must be eating either high-protein, very, very, very, very high-carbohydrate diet because you’ve got to get —


It’s got to come from somewhere, exactly.


From somewhere, right? (23:56) So I think the research is quite clear. When it comes to long-term health and fitness, the approach is the same for both health and for slimness, because long-term slimness is achieved through health, long term. Not through these short-term fixes. And the way you would consume foods or the order in which you would consume food in terms of volume would be first and foremost non-starchy vegetables, so really not protein or fat. You’re looking for fiber-rich, nutrient-rich, non-starchy vegetables.

So these are vegetables you could generally eat raw. You don’t have to eat them raw, but you could eat them raw. And these are green, leafy vegetables, mushrooms, cucumbers, peppers, and you’ll also notice that ever, every basically dietary approach out there from Paleo to Atkins to vegetarian to vegan to Mediterranean all agree on this. They’re all like yes, even Atkins Induction in the New Atkins New You book is like, yeah initially we under-appreciated green, leafy vegetables. You need to eat those. You need to eat those. So that’s point number one. So long term, half your plate non-starchy vegetables.

(25:10) Then in terms of volume, I would say nutrient-dense protein, because that’s going to provide you with essential protein which you need, it’s a critical structural component, as well as essential fats. So think humanely raised animals, grass-fed beef, animals that are fed what they’re supposed to be fed, not sick animals, as well as seafood. I think seafood is a dramatically underappreciated source of both macro and micronutrients. The fats you’re going to get, omega-3s, incredibly difficult to get from any other source. Very difficult to get. Also you’re going to get a lot of wonderful, pure protein as well as micronutrients. A lot of protein sources are great in terms of protein and maybe even fat, but may not contain those micronutrients. Whereas when you’re eating things like oysters and clams, you’re just getting B vitamins and minerals you’re not going to get anywhere else because you’re eating the entire animal. You want to talk about eating organ meats, eat an oyster. You’re eating the full animal.

So you’ve got non-starchy vegetables, nutrient-dense protein and then in terms of volume you’re going to go with whole food fats. So it’s third on the list in terms of volume, but it’s actually going to be first on the list in terms of caloric load. Meaning you are going to get the majority of your calories, AKA anywhere from 40% to 70%, depending upon whether or not you prefer a little bit sweeter of a diet or a little bit more savory of a diet because you enjoying what you’re eating is incredibly important, and those are going to come from whole food sources.

So either pure, non-toxic animal sources or whole food plant sources such as cocoa, coconut, chia seeds, flaxseeds, avocados, macadamia nuts, all that delicious whole food. And then finally low-fructose fruits, so these are fruits that provide you with the least of what you don’t need, which is fructose and sugar in general and then most of what you do, which is vitamins and minerals. These are berries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges. You don’t need to eat fruit, it’s not essential but it can absolutely be part if you keep it low fructose, of a long-term healthy and fit lifestyle.


Awesome. So let’s jump back to this calorie myth busting kind of thing. When I learned how to calculate a calorie it was in a high school chemistry class, and we held a Bic lighter to Cheetos and watched it go up in flames, and whatever it is, raise one milliliter of water one degree, again, my science is not amazing, but it’s my understanding that metabolism doesn’t oxidize food and so we’re not really comparing apples to apples. (27:45) Is that what your research has revealed? Do I have a misunderstanding of that? Is that part of the problem, or is this just kind of added to the mix?


(27:54) Yeah, calories are just not an accurate measure. It’s like measuring the intelligence of a person by their height. Generally, really short people, AKA children may be less intelligent than adults, but height is not a good measure of intelligence. So calories, there’s relevance. If you just drink 10,000 of butter you won’t release any insulin, your blood sugar will be ridiculously low but you will become fat and sick because you’re over-consuming calories. It’s too much stuff. Just like if you over-fill your car’s gas tank with even premium gasoline, it’s too much. Too much water can kill you, and it happens every year with shock jocks that try to see how much water they can drink. So it’s absolutely the case that calories exist. It’s just that we can’t have to think about them.

(28:45) And there’s three simple reasons why this has to be true, Lucas. First and foremost, there’s more than just calories. There’s vitamin, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K2, there’s thiamine, riboflavin, magnesium, zinc, like those are all essential as well and we don’t have to consciously regulate those. So how does that work? But we have to consciously regulate calories? That doesn’t make any sense.

(29:09) The way the body actually works is it automatically regulates essential bodily functions. It’s our hypothalamus in your brain, it handles everything else so why wouldn’t it handle calories? And it has to for the second reason, which is no one knew what the hell a calorie was until recently, let alone counting them so how could counting them be required? It doesn’t make any sense, because humans didn’t even know what they were, and forget about humans. What about every other species on the planet? They can’t even conceptualize what a calorie is. A cat doesn’t know what a calorie is, yet somehow when left to its own devices it does not become obese, nor does it become diabetic. Are we to believe that we are less capable than cats? We are not.

So it can’t be required to count calories, and if it was no one could do it accurately because one, knowing the number of calories you’re taking in is literally impossible. It is literally impossible, because even if you only ate foods that contained those little nutrient facts on the side, those are about 90% accurate. So over the course of the year the average person consumes about a million calories, which means you could be plus or minus 100,000 calories even if you tried, and then calories out, Lucas, that is literally impossible. Because about 70% of the calories we burn over the course of the day, unless you are Michael Phelps, has nothing to do with movement. It has to do with things like synthesizing new muscle tissue, it has to do with your brain operating. Your liver burns about 600 calories per day, just from being your liver. Nothing you wear on your wrist is telling you how many calories you’re burning synthesizing new muscle tissue, fueling your brain, making your heart pump or your liver.

So you can’t do it and it can’t be required to do it. Yes, calories exist and if you over consume them you’re going to gain weight, but who cares based on everything we’ve talked about?


Yeah, so these are big, big concepts for people and I know a lot of people are coming up against a wall and they’re thinking, “How could this really be? How could calories be worthless? These things are required by the government.” (31:18) So I guess the question is, if we’re looking at this label and we’re looking at this is not my job to measure, these are not the things I should be paying attention to, I should be paying attention to a whole different set of measurements, what are the things that we measure? Do we measure anything at all? Do we choose the right foods and just eat freely? What is your approach to handling this, when we have our primary unit of measure of food energy is fundamentally flawed?


(31:44) It is fundamentally flawed, Lucas, and if you want evidence for that imagine a world where we were given a completely inaccurate measure of food and exercise. What would you expect to happen, say for about the 40 years where that took place? Well, exactly what’s happened over the past 40 years. We started to get told we needed to think about calories in the 1970s, and the 1970s marked the beginning of the obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cardiovascular disease epidemics. So exactly what we would expect to happen if we were given a load of bogus theories rather than proven science is what happened.

(32:18) What do we need to measure? Well therein lies a funny paradox, which is common sense tells us and science supports we can’t have to measure anything. Because up until modern times, the ability to measure anything was impossible. So literally if we just do what we did prior to having any of these problems, which is eat food where you define food as things you can find directly in nature, directly, there’s no such thing as a bread bush, there’s no such thing as a Cheerios tree. If you want to eat a stalk of wheat you can go ahead, but you’ll stop because it’s really not something the body’s designed to digest. So if you want to chew on a sugarcane go ahead, but you’ll stop because it’s not something the body was designed to digest or evolve to digest, depending on your beliefs.

(33:13) So all we need to do is get back to common sense, which ironically is supported by tens of thousands of pages of super hard clinical science, which is eat the foods, things found directly in nature, that we ate prior to having any of these problems. And there is no fixed, there is no right list, because what I stated earlier about the order of things is what my research suggests, but, Lucas, we have examples all around the world of for example the *** (33:44), who ate a 90% starch diet but it’s all coming from whole food, natural sources, they eat no processed anything, they drink no sugar or anything and they’re healthy and they live a long time. And then we have Eskimos who eat a 90% fat diet but it’s 90% fat from natural, whole food type sources, and they do well.

(34:07) So the key thing, the common denominator, and this is also where a lot of the vegan, vegetarian, Paleo debates take place, is, “Oh, as the Asian cultures adopt a higher fat and meat diet, they get higher rates of cancer.” Well it’s not because they’re eating more meat and fat. It’s because they’re eating processed garbage. The meat and fat they’re eating is processed garbage. So we can nuance macronutrients, we can measure calories or we could just do what every single culture and every single person prior to the previous three generations did, and we’re able to have 100,000% less incidences of diabetes and maintain about 3% or less of the population as overweight, simply by eating when we’re hungry, stopping when we’re full and eating things you could find directly in nature.


It’s great advice. I used to teach cooking classes, and people would always come to the cooking class and they were healthy cooking classes, so people were trying to learn how to use healthy oils and how to cook food less and weren’t actually processed and things like that. And one of the things that I always thought was hilarious, is people would tell stories and they say, “Can you believe it, my grandmother used to cook with animal fat. My grandmother, she wouldn’t ever use starch.” Just funny, funny things, assuming that somehow, even our not-so-distant relatives were doing things so much smarter than us, so much naturally and so they’ve traded maybe beef tallow, maybe it was lard if they come from Asia and they’ve traded that for some crappy paint industry seed oil that looks like motor oil, acts like motor oil and it’s just very, very funny how quickly we reject the past, when the signs are so clearly on the wall that we’ve gone astray.


Absolutely, Lucas. I know people who are listening to your podcast, they get it, these are smart people. And smart people ironically, there’s been research done, smart people are sometimes the ones who fall victim most readily to health claims, because they’re the people who care about their health so we see something, maybe you can empathize with this maybe not, is you walk into a supplement store and it’s like you see this powder substance which is telling you all these health benefits and it’s amazing and you’re like, “Oh my God, healthy,” and then you go to the grocery store and look at spinach and it’s just leaves sitting there, it’s boring, there’s no health claim. So you’re like, “Eh.”

So we end up doing what I like to call this nutritional Tower of Babble, where folks are familiar with the biblical story of the Tower of Babble. People said we’re going to build a tower to the heavens and we’re going to show God we understand and we can be like God. So they try to build this tower, it ends up crumbling to the ground because they don’t understand everything. And the way, Lucas, you can judge the level of expertise around anyone who speaks about nutrition is whether or not they believe they know everything there is to know about what the human body needs to thrive. To the extent that they do, they are not an expert. To the extent that they say the more I learn, the more I understand that we have to defer to the wisdom of the world, AKA what has actually been born out in history, like what has concretely worked across thousands of years if not hundreds of thousands of years and across civilizations, because the more we try to create things like Soylent and eat non-foods we just do worse and worse and worse.

Because, Lucas, it’s no exaggeration that literally every month researchers are like, “Oh my God, like there’s 2,000 different variations of vitamin D. We didn’t realize that.” So if you’re taking a vitamin D supplement you’re getting a bunch of one form of Vitamin D but none of any of the other forms. So it’s like quantum mechanics. The more you learn about it, the more you realize you don’t know so why not just ere on the side of that which has been born out generation after generation after generation?


What a depressing news. We can’t drink Soylent, huh? I was so excited just to drink semen-colored liquid for the rest of my life. [Laughter]

Jonathan: [Laughter]

What’s interesting about the Soylent thing, for people listening who don’t know, it was a Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign, recent college grad, maybe it was even college-aged kid, invented this meal replacement called Soylent because he was too bored or too busy to go eat. Someone in my office made the good comment, if you’re too busy to eat you really need to check yourself, in terms of what’s going on in your life.

But interestingly I did that exact same experiment when I was about 20 years old, quite a while ago. I was really, really into — I was an early proponent of The Zone and Atkins and I was like, wow, food, it’s all about the hormonal response. I got really, really into that, so I was like I’m going to do this perfectly. Nobody’s ever done this perfectly. I’m going to just nail this 40/30/30 thing. So I went out and I bought these 40/30/30 nutritional bars from GNC, like by the caseload, and that’s all I ate. I ate that for about three months.

They’re fortified with vitamins and minerals and nutrients and all these things, and it’s supposed to be the perfect food, the perfect meal. And it was just interesting how terrible I felt. My body just completely disappeared. I couldn’t keep weight on for the life of me, I had no energy, I had headaches, I was constipated, it was just absolutely horrible and it’s exactly what you said. It’s really trying to play God with something that we have no business messing with, at least in this point in time. We don’t know how all this stuff works, and we have this culture of nutriantism where we want to grab onto vitamin C and that’s the cure-all and we’re going to take 10 grams of that every day and we’ll never get cancer. Or it’s Coenzyme Q10 or it’s Resveratrol and we just need to drink 10,000 bottles of wine every day and we’re going to get enough Resveratrol.

And it just doesn’t work that way. It just doesn’t play out in reality. So I think the big takeaway message is don’t trust crazy health experts, and pay attention the past because people were doing something right when they weren’t getting all the degenerative diseases and the weight issues and the diabetes that we have going on right now.


That’s the key, Lucas, is really we need to take a step back and we need to look at results, because I know it sounds obvious but that’s not what most of today’s experts are doing. Because they’re just telling us to just eat less and exercise harder, or literally it’s 40/30/30 or it’s literally a high-fat diet or it’s literally you have to be a vegan or you have to be Paleo.

(40:57) What you have to do is eat in a way that is enjoyable to you and allows you to reach your goals. Now there are common denominators, like everyone who wears a pair of glasses, those glasses work for the same basic reasons because every human eye is basically the same. But if I take my glasses off and I give them to you, Lucas, they’ll probably make your vision worse.

(41:21) So diet is the same thing. We can use science and common sense to give us these overarching principles, but then really we’ve got to use our own bodies and our own minds to find what works for us. Works means makes you happy and healthy and makes your body pursue slimness automatically, rather than a body that pursue preserving or gaining fat long term. That’s what the focus has got to be on, results, because if we start focusing on anything else, which is if you read internet discussion boards that’s really what a lot of the internet is about, like join my team, no join my nutritional team, no join my nutritional team. I’m part of team don’t die and be happy. That’s my team.


Objective number one me, I’m going to be healthy, I’m going to do it. Awesome, well great stuff. So I know you’ve got your book coming out. I’m excited. I know I’m going to try to get my hands on a review copy here this week. By the time people are listening to this I’m sure your book will be out, so tell people the best way to find your book and what they’ll find in that book.


So go to CalorieMythBook.com. The title of the book is The Calorie Myth. You can get a bunch of free, awesome previews and stuff up on that website, and what you’ll find in the book is the modern, proven science of eating and exercise. Because you’ve been told and I was told as a trainer the theories of the 1950s, like this whole eat less exercise more, it’s just calories, do a lot of aerobic exercise, that was the “truth” in the 50s.

But we don’t do things we do in the 50s anymore. Could you imagine if we used the same phones we used in the 50s or flew in the same airplanes or practiced the same surgical technicians or used the same TVs, if TVs even existed in the 50s? But for eating and exercise we’re led to believe that that is the best science has to offer, and it’s absolutely not. Over the past 60-plus years there’s been dramatic enhancements in our understanding of human neurobiology, how your brain regulates food intake, endocrinology, how exercise and food impacts your hormones and gastroenterology or how your gut bacteria and digestive system play a critical role in your overall health.

And when you understand how your system works, you’re able to function in the world so much more easily. It’s like understanding the laws of traffic. Imagine trying to drive without understanding the fundamental laws of traffic. You would get wrecked very, very quickly. The same thing applies here. If we don’t have a cogent and accurate understanding of the laws of human physiology and biology and endocrinology and gastroenterology and neurobiology, it’s very easy to get wrecked very quickly.

And that’s what’s happening with us, is simply because we’ve been told the same information for the past 60 years, it’s inaccurate, it’s obviously not working so when you check out The Calorie Myth book what you’ll get is a very streamlined, summarized version of over 1,300 research studies, collaborations with top doctors, the Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins, UCLA, all packaged up into the new curriculum. It’s not a flat earth anymore. The earth is round, and there’s this thing called gravity. It’s like the same thing. It’s not about calories anymore. And we thought that and it was reasonable but it’s just wrong, and here’s the updated curriculum. There’s always a five-week program in there, there’s recipes, there’s an exercise routine. So it’s the science and then it’s the application of the science.


Perfect, well great. I’m excited to check it out myself. We’ll link to it in the show notes. Thanks so much for joining us on the show, Jonathan, and I hope to connect with you again very soon.

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 [email protected]. And now, let’s hear what’s going on with our listeners.

Jessica asks:

(45:30) When I’m inverting in my yoga trapeze and just hanging, which I love and feels amazing for my back, should I try to draw my ribs in as I would in my yoga practice or should I just hang out?

Jessica, there’s different ways to do this. You can for sure just hang out. We call this different things, but hangman is the one we do on the floor and we call it traction Jackson when you hang with your arms clasped above your head. It gives traction on your back, which is really great. So I would say it’s not one or the other. It’s try different things. To get traction on your spine just hang is great. If you want to start doing some passive backbends which are really powerful, you can start to do other things. In terms of engaging your core, you can do a lot of different core exercises. You can do inverted crunches, you can do inverted dips but I would separate the two activities.

Anea asks:

(46:25) I’m a 30 year old woman living in Singapore. My food habits are just below average. I eat red meat almost every day, some vegetables, big portion of fruits, I don’t drink coffee. (So far those sound like pretty good eating habits.) I have a genuine problem. My hamstrings are really stiff, like stiff, and my spine as well. I’m in good shape, I have an athletic body, I do lots of sports but I’m stiff. (First thing, a little reality check here. Anea, I think you’re doing great.) To make things more challenging, I sign up for sports that require flexibility, for example I’ve now taking up pole dancing. Pole fitness is a big fitness movement, if you’ve never heard of it. I’m on a mission and dream to become really flexible, like my pole dance instructor. I need help to become flexible in the next year. I’m ready to buy stuff from you, including guidance, if you can show me results. What can you do to help me?

First thing is, it sounds like you’re eating just fine. It sounds like you’re in great shape, sounds like you’re doing lots of things really well. The one thing I will tell you is that for someone like you, someone who sounds like you’ve done gym workouts and other fitness and sports, we tend to do more yang style activities, yang instead of yin. And by that I mean athletic stuff, muscle development stuff, resistance training, endurance training. And what this does is it’s really great at developing short muscular, and it tends to be the antithesis of flexibility. It’s not bad, it’s fantastic but you’re going to find it a little bit more challenging, perhaps even more challenging than some of your other classmates at your pole fitness class who maybe have done no athletics in their entire life. You’re going to find that some of them are going to be more naturally flexible, and some of them the flexibility will come more quickly.

That doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but it is kind of the reality. If you’ve done a lot of other sports and fitness activities there’s a really good chance that you’ve developed some muscle imbalances, that you’ve developed some strength. That’s just going to take a little bit more time to work through.

So first of all, pole fitness is fantastic for flexibility and strength, dynamic, functional strength so that’s awesome. It looks like you’re playing badminton as well, so you’re doing a whole bunch of stuff. That’s great. The key thing is you’ve got to get on a stretching routine, and you need to make it daily. 15 and 20 minutes a day is perfect. Work on your problem areas. If you want to work through the Gravity Yoga Series that we teach, that’s very effective. If you’ve got something else you prefer that’s fine. The key thing is that you’re doing long-hold poses. Long hold means two minutes to five minutes, sometimes even five minutes-plus, and working carefully and working mindfully. Don’t just crash and burn, but passive poses are what leads to great flexibility gains. It’s much, much more difficult to develop flexibility with active poses as it is with passive poses. Passive means body is limp and relaxed like a wet noodle.

So that’s what I would do. I would set aside time every day, 15, 20 minutes before bed is the perfect time. Otherwise, right after any kind of physical exercise when you’re really, really warm, that’s very helpful as well. And just commit to it, and very, very quickly you’ll see big changes. Within a month you’ll see massive changes. If you stick with it, within a year you can really transform your body in terms of flexibility. But again, you’ve got to be committed. If you can’t do it every day it’s really a big problem. The daily thing with flexibility is very important. With strength training it’s different. Taking a break actually helps. With flexibility training there’s this nervous system element that’s just as important as the connective tissue element, and that repetition, repetition, repetition, it tells your body adapt to this situation, adapt to this situation, I need more space, I need more need more length in my hamstrings, I need more openness in my hips and it works. Hope that’s helpful.

Susan asks:

(50:08) I have goats and I milk and drink their milk and make cheese. My goats are fed all organically with no grain, alfalfa and browse (I think that means they graze around). I know you say give up dairy first, but is my milk and cheese any exception?

Susan, for sure. It sounds like you have a really, really great source of dairy. I haven’t eaten dairy in a really long time, but if I was hanging out with your goats I think I’d give it a try. It sounds like a really well cared for, healthy animal. Raw milk, interestingly enough, has a lot — it doesn’t have the inflammatory reaction that homogenized, pasteurized milk does. Most dairy products, people don’t realize, it’s a very, very processed food. You’ve got this sort of beautiful, silky white milky stuff on grocery store shelves and people imagine it comes out of the cow’s utter like that. It really doesn’t. Natural milk, as I’m sure you know, Susan, is pretty gamy and it’s chunky and separates and it’s a very, very different thing.

In terms of nutritionally speaking, while the macronutrient profile might look similar, it is quite different, and the micronutrient profile is night and day, from a raw milk to a cooked milk. Now of course very few people can get raw milk and very few of those can get it safely, there’s some serious health risks, but if you’re in a situation like Susan where you’re raising your own animals and milk agrees with you depending on where you’re from, my wife for example, her heritage is from Northern Europe, she digests milk pretty well. My heritage, I don’t really know where I’m from but I think I’m from that area as well but I don’t. Dairy has always been a problem for me. But if it works for you and you’ve got a nice animal like that, sounds great.

Sue asks:

(51:58) You mentioned in a previous show that in downward Dog the distance between your feet should be about one and-a-half meters. I’m 5’8″ and this is pretty far apart. At that distance I cannot get my hips up very high. I feel more stretched out, although my heels are still on the ground. In down dog is the focus on getting your hips up high? Thanks for your advice.

Is the focus on getting your hips up high? Yes. I think more the focus is getting a really strong and even connection between your hands and your feet. A lot of people get really imbalanced with this, where all the weight is in their hands or all the weight is in their feet, or if they kind of have funny alignment all the weight is in their lower back that’s hunched up.

There’s different ways to do a downward facing dog, but if you’re doing it in a traditional Ashtanga Vinyasa way, which is what I do just because that’s my background, is you’re looking like an upside-down letter V shape with your butt a little bit lop siding the V, but a letter V with your spine more or less straight, with the elbow creases gently turned in towards each other, your fingers spread wide connecting down on the mat. So if your heals are connecting, your hands are connecting, it’s not about getting your butt up super high in the air but it’s about feeling that lift. Your tailbone is lifting up towards the sky and feeling a nice, firm connection down into the ground.

Hope that’s helpful, Lucas Rockwood here. If you’ve got a question, send it in, [email protected], that’s an email address.

The food you eat affects your body and mind every day. Welcome to the nutritional tip of the week, where we explore plant-based diets, super food nutrition, edible insects and new tropics. The goal here is mind/body biohacking for a better you and a better planet. So hey, let’s talk nutrition.

(53:46) Today’s nutritional tip is all about alcohol. And this is a complicated topic of discussion, it’s always one that’s pretty emotional. It’s a difficult one because alcohol is associated with religious ceremonies, with spiritual ceremonies, with the church, with temples, with all kinds of different things. It’s really integrated into our culture. And it’s also, for the most part, pretty bad for you. All that said, it seems to be something that’s pretty well tolerated by our body. In the same way that stress is really bad for us, but if it’s managed well we seem to be able to handle it pretty well.

(54:20) So with all that said, how do you drink alcohol and be healthy? Well the best way to drink alcohol and be healthy is not to drink it at all. I think without exception, the red wine, whatever you want to say, I think it’s all crap. I think the less you drink of it the better. Now, for me that’s a little bit too much, too extreme. I have this very weird diet and I live a very strange life. It’s really helpful for me to social rules, to be able to kind of go out and have a drink with people once in a while.

(54:49) So if you’re going out and having a drink, what are the best things to drink? What are the healthiest things to drink? One of the worst ones is one of the more common ones, which is beer. I really like beer, but it tends to be relatively toxic in terms of things that are added to it and things that are growing in it. It’s not a very clean ferment. Some of the cleaner ones would be dry red wines, your spirits, the cleaner spirits are vodka. Vodka’s actually the cleanest. Whiskey would be the dirtiest. Even by their color it’s kind of a good way to associate. Beer is that same brown color as whiskey, tends to be the dirtiest. And without sugar for sure, one of the worst things about alcohol is really the sugar. The toxic effects of the alcohol, again for people with healthy livers, your body can usually handle it pretty well. The sugar itself is what really, really gets people and can lead to big problems.

(55:46) The other thing about alcohol which is interesting is a lot of people use alcohol to fall asleep, and I’ve certainly been guilty of this myself. It’s really terrible for sleep. Initially it makes your blood sugar drop and that makes you go to sleep, makes you tired. But then it wakes you up about two hours later, and it gives you very, very poor quality sleep. In men, alcohol consumption is also associated with increased cortisol levels, which is basically the stress response. It’s not seen as much in women for whatever reason, lucky you. So what happens is you get home from a stressful day at work, you have a couple of drinks, feel relaxed, you fall asleep, you wake up, have a bad sleep and you’ve basically got stress hormones pumped through your body. I don’t know if you’ve ever had that feeling, where you’ve just had a drink or two, fell asleep, felt nice and relaxed and you wake up in the morning and feel like utter crap. That could be what’s going on.

(56:37) In any case, as with everything, moderation is certainly the key. But clean alcohol is very, very helpful. So drinking something that has lower amount of toxins in it, it has lower amount of bacteria and molds and things is very, very helpful. And so choosing a dry, red wine, choosing something even like vodka and ice and fresh lemon juice is going to be better. tequila’s actually not bad also, clear tequila with fresh lemon, something like that. Kind of a controversial thing. I’d love to hear your input on your thoughts about alcohol. If you abstain completely, if there’s something you do and don’t drink, hopefully you’re not drinking the pina colada that comes out of a bag from Wal-Mart. I have seen those on a recent trip to the U.S. That was some freaky stuff.

Hope that’s helpful. We’ll talk to you soon. You’ve been listening to the Yoga Talk Show with Lucas Rockwood. If you like this show, I always appreciate reviews and ratings on the iTunes Store. It helps other listeners find out about what we’re doing, and it keeps me motivated to dig around and find new and diverse topics to share with you. For complete show notes, links to everything discussed in the show, along with a ton of other free yoga videos and online resources, please head over to YogaBodyNaturals.com. Thanks so much for listening, and we’ll talk to you very soon.