Cutting Carbs, Ketosis, Fasting, Cholesterol, and More #SANE

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April: Hi everybody, it’s April Perry and Jonathan Bailor, back with another episode of the SANE show.  Yay!

Jonathan: Ba-ba-bahm!

April: Are you ready for a mailbag today, Jonathan?

Jonathan: I’m always ready for a good mailbag.

April: This is what has been happening.  I have actually been screen-shotting on my phone because this is what I do.  I kind of multi-task.  While I blow-dry my hair I plan the SANE show.  I start googling things.  I want to know what people out there are googling who want to lose weight.  If I were to go to the Google for advice, what would I get?  Typically, what I get is so far distanced from what you would share that then I want to bring it to you so that you can give us some clarity.  Does that sound good?

Jonathan: It sounds almost as good as the fact that you said, “Then I go to the Google.”

April: The Google.

Jonathan: The Google, I love it.  What does the Google have to say?

April: That’s what we call it in our family.  First of all, let’s just talk about grams of carbs.  We talked about macros last time, but I still don’t get all this stuff that’s going on.  I understand a little bit.

Jonathan: Good, because you don’t need to.  That’s the key distinction.

April: Okay, right.  The key is, I’m already really happy with all my spinach smoothies so I feel like I’m good with that.  So here is what I found.  I found this website that was pretty good, almost in line with SANE.  They were saying, “It’s not necessary to count calories as long as you keep carbs very low and stick to protein, fat, and low-carb vegetables.”

So, okay, that makes sense, right?  That’s pretty much what we do with SANE.  However, if you really want to count, they show you how you can find a calculator.  But then they said, “The main goal is to keep carbs under 20-50 grams per day, and then get the rest of your calories from protein and fat.”

So, the first thing I thought of when they said to keep carbs under 20-50 grams per day – I’m thinking, “I should limit my vegetable intake, because what if I’m eating too many carbs in my vegetables?  But Jonathan says to eat as many vegetables as you want.”  So, how can you help me understand this better when it comes to actually choosing what I’m going to eat each day?

Jonathan: That website was advocating what is called a ketogenic diet, because when you said counting carbs, below 20 is the Adkins induction phase.  So even in the Adkins program there are three stages, and only in the very first stage are you looking to stay under 20 grams of carbs.  In their final stage, their long-term stage, it is much more in the 50 range, and usually SANE, out of the box – if you just do SANE as generally prescribed, you’re usually going to be at about 75 grams of carb range, accidentally, with no carb counting involved.  There are lower-carb ways of going SANE and higher carb ways of going SANE, but for what it’s worth, that website was advocating a ketogenic diet and you can do ketogenic SANE, but SANE is not ketogenic out of the box.

April: Is there any reason why you think I, April, should limit, or should go more toward a ketogenic SANE than just SANE out of the box?  What would be the benefits I would see if I did that?

Jonathan: The only reason anyone, including you, would want to go ketogenic SANE is if, one, you’ve yo-yo dieted a phenomenal number of times, you are diabetic or pre-diabetic, and you are not seeing the results you want from a non-ketogenic SANE lifestyle.  A ketogenic SANE lifestyle is going to be much more restrictive and much more extreme.  It is probably not something you would also keep up for the long-term, but for some people who are extremely insulin-resistant, they need that as a therapeutic stopgap.

It is a little bit like if you break a bone you need to immobilize it, not for the rest of your life, but just for a while, so that it can heal.  So if your insulin system, and if your hormonal system, is really damaged, you might need to go ketogenic SANE for a couple of months, and then you could taper up your carb count.

April: What does that look like as far as counting your carbs?  Is that all I would need to do, just look at my portions and see how many grams of carbs there are and just count those?

Jonathan: If you want to go ketogenic, yes, you do need to count carbs.

April: Let’s say it’s someone who says, “I’ve been trying, it’s not working, I’m really struggling.  I would like to try what Jonathan just talked about.  Do I need to do anything with my protein or whole food fats differently?  What would that look like?

Jonathan: The vegetable thing – the first thing is that you really would need to limit to the three food groups you talked about, which is vegetables, proteins and whole food fats.  Oils would be a little bit more permitted than they generally are because you would be super – zero fruit, zero legumes, zero sugar, zero starch – period, because one slice of bread destroys the ketogenic experience.

So, it’s much stricter from that perspective.  You would dial up your fat intake a little bit more because you are getting no carbs.  And then from a vegetable perspective you would focus much more on leafy greens to the exclusion of things like carrots because carrots do have a much higher carb count than leafy greens.

April: Good to know.  If people wanted to really dive deeper into that with you, if they are part of SANE Ignite and they have questions for the support group or the Q&A’s, then they can get more from you on that?

Jonathan: That’s exactly right.  We have live group coaching calls, we also have one-on-one calls with SANE certified coaches, as well as in our support group we do personalized meal-planning and things like that.

April: I’m not gearing toward that right now, I was just wondering as I was reading that I thought maybe I’m eating too many carbs from vegetables.  I just didn’t know.

Now, one other question.  This is in addition to the other three I had for you.  Why is it when people are suggesting fat sources, it never includes whole food fats?  Literally, it is olive oil or coconut oil.  It is all oils or butter.  Why does nobody talk about coconut or olives?

Jonathan: It is weird, and you know, I never actually thought about it until just now, but here is why.  I think most people, when they think of nuts, which are the canonical example of whole food fats or seeds, people think those are proteins.  They say, “I need a high-protein snack, so I’m going to eat some nuts.”  Even an egg is 64% fat, but if you ask someone what is a great high-protein breakfast, they say eggs.

I just think there is a misunderstanding of what a fat is.  A fat is just a food that gets more of its calories from fat than anything else.  So, yes, oil is 100% fat, but nuts and seeds, the things that the oil is derived from, are also fats, but they are whole-food fats, and even better for you.

April: I think people just don’t know.  I really think they just don’t know.  So, now Jonathan just told you.  So, there you go – you know.

Jonathan: (laughs)

April: Now, a question.  I’ve got to share.  First of all, I’ve been doing so well.  After I got over this whole concussion thing about three weeks ago I was talking to Alia.  “Alia, I’ve been lying in bed for months, it feels like.”  I wasn’t moving my body a lot because I was getting headaches all the time.  It was bad.  And I bruised my tailbone.  I was such a mess a couple of months ago, it was not funny, and I’m feeling super grateful for my life right now.  But I’ve gotten so much better.  So, I actually put on my calendar, “I’m doing yoga two days a week.  I’m walking my dog one day a week, but I’m doing more walking than that.  I’m at the gym two days a week.”  I’m protecting my time, so I’ve been moving my body more, blending my green smoothies.

Eric and I went to a conference, though, so I was out of town three days.  I was so worried that I was going to get stuck in some inSANE environment.  So, I packed a cooler that, I’m not kidding, was huge – this huge cooler, and the morning before we were leaving I blended three days’ worth of green smoothies, I had my little cottage cheese containers full of green smoothies.  Eric thought this cooler smelled awful.

I called the hotel three different times.  “Are you sure you have a frig?  Are you sure you have a frig?  Because I’m coming.  I’m ready.”  I took open tuna cans and I just had everything.  I was so ready to go, which was great.  Then something happened and I have to tell you, because I thought, “Oh, Jonathan would have figured this out.”  I just had a hard time.

Jonathan: (laughs)

April: Why are you laughing?

Jonathan: We just have to get you one of those bracelets that says WWJB – “What would Jonathan do?”  No, I’m just kidding.

April: I know, help me.  Here is what happened.  We had a great day Friday.  We’re in meetings, it was a heavy, intense conference.  It wasn’t like the kind where you’re kind of in the back dozing, it was intense.  My kids were texting me and I’m texting them back while I’m having a conversation because I just couldn’t even stop the conversations.  So, my brain was fully engaged for three days.  Eric is an extrovert so we just talked all the time.  I kind of had to go to therapy when I got back (laughs).

Last night, though, I got all my SANE foods back in the hotel, and the last night they do this last-minute, “Hey, this guest speaker just came in.  It’s going to be awesome.  Go ahead and stay if you want to be part of it.”  We’re all ordering pizzas. (sigh) So, I’m sitting there and thinking, “If I leave right now I’m going to miss this opportunity.  There are no restaurants around here.  What am I going to do?”  They had a gluten-free pizza, they had a vegan pizza, and they had regular pizzas.

So I tried a gluten-free slice and some vegan pizza, but I was thinking, “Darn it!”  What would you have done?  I was so hungry at that point, but I was so engaged, and I get that you have to figure out your priority, but what would you have done during that situation?  I didn’t want to be hungry that whole night, but the food they had ordered, I was thinking, “I just don’t eat this.”  I’ll stop whining now, but tell me what you would have done.

Jonathan: This is a great example of a question that is actually fairly frequent, just to distill it down, which is – is it better to eat inSANEly, or not eat, if those are your two choices?

April: I could have been more succinct, to the point.

Jonathan: (laughs)

April: I thought you might want to know my whole story.

Jonathan: The answer to that question is, and this might shock you, but I would argue it is better to not eat because there are metabolic benefits to what is called intermittent fasting but I do not think most people should intentionally intermittent fast, because life will give you opportunities to accidentally intermittent fast.  This gets back to our previous episode when we talked about a compelling why.

If the why is just, “Oh, I can’t eat, I’m starving myself.  I’m so hungry,” or if you think, “Look, I   heard about that intermittent fasting thing, and I don’t want to intentionally ever starve myself, but you know what?  I’m not going to eat for the next eight hours, and it’s just really going to simplify my life.  There is going to be a little bit of discomfort and stomach pain, but actually I know that I’m experiencing some cell recycling and some of the positive metabolic benefits of intermittent fasting, and I’m not teaching myself to fear food, because in fact, I’m saying that I love food, and I’m not going to put this toxic food in my body.”  Personally, I’m not a big fan of intermittent fasting because I think you’ll do it accidentally based on the situations life puts you in.

April: I love that.  Tell me more about the benefits of intermittent fasting, the higher level, because here’s the thing.  I fast for religious purposes once a month when I do a 24-hour fast and I’m totally fine with that because it is for a spiritual reason and we take the money we would have spent on food and we donate that to those who are poor and who are hungry.  So I think, “Oh, I’m feeding the poor, and I’m having a spiritual time, and this is important to me.”  But I don’t know any of the physical benefits of fasting, so can you tell me about that?

Jonathan: Yes.  From a very high level, it is just like giving your digestive system a break, for lack of a better term.  Digesting food is a metabolically costly process.  It is a little bit like if you just constantly drive your car and then you kind of give it a break.  To be very clear, a car was intended to be driven.  There is nothing wrong with driving a car, you don’t need to intentionally not drive your car.  I have never fasted and I kind of don’t ever plan on doing it, but there are metabolic benefits.

Your digestive system resets a bit.  There is a thing autophagy where some of the weaker cells in your body – your body does start to cannibalize itself, which sounds terrible, and this is why – try it with caution – but your body will attack the weakest cells first.  So, it is a little bit like a brushfire in a forest, where the detritus, the dead ground cover, will get burnt off first.  And then, if it is just an intermittent fast, it is not going to start cannibalizing the big, beautiful trees, just that negative stuff at the bottom.

April: That’s actually super helpful.  Back now to the website that was kind of SANE, I found.  Here is what they said.  I kind of already know what you are going to say here, but I want to give you the opportunity.  It says, “You can take one day off per week,” and I know how you feel about taking off being SANE.  They say many people prefer Saturdays.  You are going to eat carbs, basically.  They say you can have healthier carbs like oats, rice, quinoa, potatoes, sweet potatoes – things like that.  But only this one high-carb day, otherwise, if you do it more often it won’t work.

But here is what is interesting.  They call it a re-feed day, where you are re-feeding your body carbs, and they said these cheat meals are carb re-feeds,” and I’ve never heard that term before, “that aren’t necessary, but they can up-regulate some fat-burning hormones like leptin and thyroid hormones.”  I have no idea what that means.

Jonathan: This is one of the key reasons I encourage people to not just read random stuff on the internet so we have the SANE Ignite program for a reason.  The number one complaint we get about it is that it has too much in it.  That’s the worst thing you have going for you is that it is too comprehensive, so that’s not too bad.  We want to provide a one-stop shop for you because you get these mixed messages.

So, here is what is going on.  There are many different concepts being conflated together.  The first is, if you go on an extremely low-carb ketogenic diet, first of all, there have been no long-term studies on what happens to a human being if they eat sub-20 grams of carbs for 60 years – period.  Just like there is no culture in the history of humanity that has intentionally been vegan.  There is no traditional culture that is vegan.  In fact, if you’re vegan with supplementation, your spine will deteriorate because you will never eat vitamin B12.

So, there are these different forms of dieting that have never been scientifically proven over a long period of time, or even anecdotally proven in any cultural context.  Even people who advocate very low-carb ketogenic diets will often say, for things like thyroid health and sex hormone health you should have a higher-carb day on occasion.  Now, that is a very different thing than a cheat day because on this high-carb day, they’re not saying eat ice cream and donuts and candy bars, which is what a cheat day is and we all know what I think about cheat days.

This is more of, if you really limit your carbs, and to be clear that is not SANE out of the box, but if you do go ketogenic, there can be metabolic benefits to taking a break from that on occasion.  And I would certainly agree with that, without question, that if you are that ketogenic you do need to give your body a break every once in a while.

April: That was helpful, because I didn’t understand.

Jonathan: I want to be really clear that when I say, “Give your body a break,” I’m saying, “If you’re a ketogenic dieter, eating two sweet potatoes on Saturday is one thing, but if you were just going SANE and saying, I’m going to take a break from respecting my body and trash it with a bunch of nonsense,” I am not endorsing that.

April: (laughs) I’m very glad that you have clarified that, Jonathan.  So, nobody trash your body.  Jonathan did not say yes.  Sorry, I’m in kind of a silly mood today.

Jonathan: It’s all those spinach smoothies.

April: (laughs) Oh, tell me about it.

Now, I need some help understanding a little bit about how SANE actually affects your health.  Here is what I have been reading about.  I see a lot of terms like, blood sugar, triglycerides, small dense LDL, HDL, and blood pressure.  This is not part of my normal vocabulary.  I never talk about LDL or HDL, or triglycerides.  If you ask me to define them, I remember we covered them in science back in eighth grade, but I don’t know.  I don’t talk about them.

So, can you just kind of walk through the basics?  If we’re talking about optimal health, and there is all this stuff going on inside our body, can you just help me understand?  I don’t know if you want to go through each one, but just blood sugar, triglycerides, LDL and HDL, and blood pressure – how does SANE interact with any of this, or how does it benefit us to care about these things?

Jonathan: It doesn’t benefit you to care about those things, and that’s why SANE is so important.  Let me take a step back.  You said small dense LDL.  Even the concept of small dense LDL didn’t even exist in the medical community until recently.  And you know what?  Ten years from now that list is going to sound totally different because we’re going to add seven new things to it.  And ten years after that we’re going to add 25 new things to it because science is continuously refining its knowledge of the human body.

But you know what is amazing, April?  Before we even knew what a calorie was – forget about all that other nonsense – we had radically better health and radically lower rates of obesity because we focused on eating non-starchy vegetables, nutrient-dense protein, whole food fats, and low sugar fruits.  So, instead of worrying about the definition of various scientific terms and where those numbers are, I would argue, eat lots of vegetables, nutrient-dense protein, whole food fats, and let your body take care of that stuff as it is designed to, and as it has done for the entirety of human history up until we started eating non-food.

April: Here is what is so interesting.  I am having a flashback to a conversation we had about electrolytes a while ago.  People in different articles or people who are trying to sell something for weight loss will often throw out scientific terms that the majority of the people really aren’t familiar with, and a way to make it sound like, “Hey, you really need this.  What about your electrolytes?  What about your LDL?”  If I’m not aware of that, or if I don’t really understand the territory, then I might go buy something to help me that is different than SANE.

I was talking to someone this morning.  We were talking about Facebook advertising, and just marketing in general, for our business.  They were saying, “Do you have this and this and this?”  They started mentioning all these things I had never heard of.  “Well, you have to hire our company because we’re going to help put all this stuff in place.” Maybe they’re right, but I feel like when someone throws out terminology that you’re not familiar with, it can sometimes derail you, or confuse you, and cause you to think that you don’t have the information that you need.

Jonathan: That is exactly right, and it can limit your focus in a way that is counter-productive.  Let me give you one heartbreaking example that we are seeing all across the country right now.  Cholesterol is meaningful.  It is a thing.  HDL/LDL cholesterol – super cool.  But you know what?  You can lower your cholesterol in ways that break your brain.  They’re called statins.  I’m not saying that everyone should go off statins.  I’m not saying that statins are the devil, but I am saying that statins will lower your cholesterol and increase your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

So, the point is, if you’re just thinking, “Lower cholesterol!  What can I do to lower my cholesterol?”  We can lower your cholesterol, but what are we doing to everything else in your body?  That is why focusing on that one measure – you can make that one measurement happy while destroying everything else in your body.  That is another big risk.

April: Okay.  How come when I hear you talk, I just want to go eat a lot of vegetables?  I don’t know what it is.

Jonathan: (laughs)

April: Okay, what is your next action?  We have covered a lot of stuff in this mailbag today, but for someone who is listening who is thinking, “We have talked a little bit about carbs and how many carbs we need, we have talked about intermittent fasting and benefits of that, we have talked about how we don’t need a re-feed day unless we are actually going ketogenic and we are really limiting carbs.

We have kind of walked through that you don’t need to know all of the details of how the body works if you just know how all of the details of how the body works if you just know how to eat the foods that are best for you.  So, I think that we have covered a lot of really good things today.  What would you say is a good next action.  Let’s go eat a lot of vegetables (laughs)?

Jonathan: Honestly, April, that is the next action because the answer to so many health concerns is literally, just eat more vegetables.  And it is the one thing that we don’t do.  It is the one thing no one posts about on Facebook.  There are no memes about eating vegetables.  There are no magazine articles about how to eat vegetables.  So prove Kermit the frog wrong, that’s your next action, and show how easy it is to be green when it comes to eating green, leafy veggies.

April: Okay, well, all right, thank you for joining just.  I hope you enjoyed the SANE show. I always love being able to get re-encouraged and re-invigorated by Jonathan and the amazing information that he has at SANE solutions.  Have a wonderful day, eat those vegetables, and remember to stay SANE.