I catch up with a longtime mentor and godfather of fat-adapted endurance training, Dr. Phil Maffetone. We discuss the hot topic of “overfat,” which Phil says is “having excess body fat that impairs health and fitness.” Dr. Phil cites data that 91% of the global adult population can be classified as overfat, despite nearly half that percentage having what is considered normal body weight.
Overfat means having, “excess body fat that impairs health and fitness,” according to Dr. Phil. You’ve heard about the inflammatory visceral fat (belly fat) and all the adverse health consequences, and this is what Dr. Phil’s talking about. You want your waist circumference to be less than half your height in inches, and “if it’s not, you’re overfat,” he explains.
Dr. Phil details how to get healthy, which can be summed up by the overarching goal of “getting better at burning fat.” This entails dietary modification (“ditch junk food,” Phil says!) a proper exercise protocol (not chronic), and managing all forms of life stress to avoid the cortisol-gluconeogenesis-sugar addiction patterns. Granted, it’s hard to drop stubborn belly fat, even for well-meaning, diet-conscious fitness enthusiasts. Dr. Phil talks about how we become more carbohydrate intolerant as we age, necessitating a reduction in carb intake. Dr. Phil also covers the role of high intensity workouts, including the interesting insight that as you improve fat burning from diet and aerobic base workouts, you can burn more fat and preserve glycogen even during hard sessions! Enjoy the show and learn more at PhilMaffetone.com.
Ninety-one percent of global population is what Dr. Phil calls “overfat.” [03:58]
The MAF method is more than just going slow. [06:47]
The bottom line is to avoid junk food. Exactly what is junk food? If it is sold in a health food store, is it okay? [09:25]
You need to personalize what works for you. [14:33]
Over 40 percent of non-obese, normal weight people are still overfat. [16:49]
We have survived as a species because of our wonderful immune system. [20:36]
If you are sleepy after breakfast, you probably had too many carbohydrates. [24:38]
It is easy to measure if you are overfat. Measure your waist and your height. Your waist should be less than half your height. [28:50]
As we age, we become more insulin resistant. We need to adjust the carb intake. [33:44]
The problem with our sugar addiction is it changes our taste buds. [39:28]
Apart from food and exercise, there are other physical stressors that affect us. [43:38]
Most of the chronic diseases which are preventable are the downstream effect from overfat. [47:11]
“We are going to fix healthcare.” We aren’t looking at the cause. [50:51]
Maffetone’s two-week test is a way to confirm the problem of carbohydrate intolerance. [53:37]
Since so much our body is water, what kind of fluctuation do we experience from day to day when we are losing weight? [57:05]
The brain is getting a steadier source of fuel because you are not so dependent on glucose. [01:00:21]
The reduction of insulin triggers a significant balance of the hormones. [01:02:47]
Poor brain function, as a result of poor diet, is a greater cause of driving accidents than even alcohol. [01:05:56]
Why can’t people understand that sugar is the new tobacco? [01:09:25]
We are all individually responsible for our health. [01:13:17]
- Brad’s Shopping Page
- Phil Maffetone
- Revisiting the Overfat Pandemic
- Healthy Driving
- Heart Disease and Marathon Runners
- “Just because it’s sold in the health food store or it says ‘organic’ or ‘natural,’ doesn’t mean it’s healthy.”
- “You have to figure out what works for you and as we age, that changes…We have to keep up with those changes.”
- “As soon as we have excess body fat, those fat cells become what they call ‘sick’ because they’re not functioning well.”
- “The foundation of MAF is: how do we establish optimal health and fitness? And one of the things we can do, that humans did from the beginning, is burn a lot of fat. This is how humans developed bigger brains, bodies, longevity, and protection against disease.”
- “Abdominal fat is particularly harmful because it tends to promote chronic inflammation. When we see too much abdominal fat, we know there’s too much fat around the heart.”
- “Most chronic diseases are preventable, and you prevent them by reducing body fat.”
LISTEN:Download Episode MP3
Get Over Yourself Podcast
Hey listeners, enjoy this show with my main man, dr. Phil, Maffetone a long time mentor of mine, especially back in my days as a triathlete. He’s known as the godfather of fat adapted endurance training. The MAF heart rate maximum aerobic function was named after him. And we have a wonderful conversation on a topic of great interest to many people, specifically 91% of the global population, which is classified as what Dr. Phil calls overfat. And this is defined. He defines it as having excess body fat, that impairs health and fitness that’s right. 91% of the global population, 70% of youth are in this category. And that includes a huge percentage. I think Phil said 40% of people that have normal body weight that look fine, but have this dysfunctional fat that does not interact properly with the immune system or the metabolic system. The immune system being of particular concern when we realize the risk of COVID-19 is dramatically increased when you have dysfunctional metabolism, such as obesity, high blood pressure diabetes.
So you’re going to learn it all from Phil. And of course, whenever you talk to him, we get into all kinds of peripheral topics, giving you the great big picture insights, including interestingly talking about the role of high intensity training and how even with the hard stuff you can get better at burning fat during high intensity workouts, preserving glycogen, not draining that glycogen tank like we’ve been taught is the essence of a hard training for years and years. Uh, but this is the, the, the life of the fat adapted athlete and the fat adapted human. This is a great show to share with family and friends. So please get the link, spread the word, tell people to listen to this guy. He’s been talking in a progressive manner with breakthrough health insights for over 40 years. And he’s finally getting his due as one of the prominent leaders in the, in the scene. Uh, looking at this overfat pandemic, listening to his advice of basically cutting junk food. You start there. You’re smooth sailing. I mean, that’s the big one. And then he goes into detail defining what junk food is these days. So enjoy Dr. Phil. Maffetone.
Dr. Phil. Maffetone so great to catch up with you,
Brad. Great to be with you again. Um, I hope everything is good. And, uh, looking forward to, uh, a nice chat.
Uh, yes, we got a little caught up off offline on matters of important life, uh, quests and journeys. And I know you’ve been traveling around and, uh, exploring different parts of the country and, um, but nevertheless doing your thing and it’s so great to see the, the MAF method become popular. People are talking about it. I get a huge amount of questions from people and a lot of them are relating to, uh, how to integrate these other types of training. They are thinking that MAF is just about going slow and they’re they’re buying in, but I don’t think they’re seeing the big picture. So I think I should start with that question.
That is the, the big myth. Um, and it’s interesting that different, uh, different kinds of people, different people who have different backgrounds say in running, think of me one way. And then the, the food people think of me as the low carb guy. And then the, you know, there’s always groups that think of me differently and even in different sports, you know, people, I mean, you, it used to be that people in motor sports thought of me as the, the motor sports doc. And, um, so it’s interesting, you know, um, the, the bottom line is MAF is a, um, it’s an open system that can incorporate anything healthy and everything healthy. And, um, it is holistic. So it’s really about doing everything healthy, not just, uh, running slow. Um, and, and I do recommend people do hip. Um, it’s not just about low carb. It’s not just about anything. It’s about figuring out what works for you, personalizing your health and fitness. That’s, that’s the most important aspect of it.
Well, speaking of that and the, the dietary patterns, this is also, uh, an area of great confusion to people is the role of, I guess you’d say, healthy carbohydrates in the diet and the amount of personal variation that might be relevant. We can all agree that we should be ditching the sodas, the sugars, the refined grains, but beyond that, people are trying to, uh, embrace this KETO movement. It’s been so popular, but also a train for ambitious athletic goals. And we have to throw all this stuff in the mix and, um, you know, sort through the dogma. So maybe we can cover that part too
Well. It’s really simple. Um, the bottom line is to avoid junk food. The problem that many people have is that they don’t know what junk food is, or they refuse to accept that certain things are really classified as junk food. Um, and the biggest culprit and people know that sugar is bad, so they don’t put sugar in their coffee anymore, or they don’t eat chocolate cake after their KETO meal. Um, but they eat, uh, uh, chocolate cake that’s made with artificial sweetener. Um, uh, and they, and they don’t understand that virtually all, um, carbohydrates that are out there today are processed. And unless you buy wheat berries and grind them yourself and make something out of it, um, many people have never consumed real, uh, real unprocessed wheat. Um, and so, uh, when you go to the store and something says, natural, you know, this bread says natural, then people think that’s, you know, that’s not junk food that’s, um, that’s healthy. And this is, this is the work of our good friends, the, uh, the marketing folks who have taught us that all this junk food, if it’s sold in a health food store, if, if it says natural on it, if it says no artificial ingredients, if it even says whole wheat it’s really junk food. And so we need to get that, um, uh, on that level so that because those foods, uh, we can get rid of the sugar and, and the, the, the things that obviously have sugar in it. But if we don’t get rid of the things, the foods that are processed that turn to sugar virtually right after we eat it, then we’re, we’re just, we’re just not gonna be as healthy as we could be.
So turning to sugar is happening because of the process nature of the acellular nature of the carb. Can you explain, uh, how that works?
Yeah, it’s just highly processed. So we, we start with, uh, a wheat berry, um, which is a little tiny, you know, it’s, it’s, uh, it’s a little tiny, um, um, like a miniature pea except it’s, it’s, you know, dark brown or brownish in color. Um, and, and when it’s fresh, it’s soft. And, but in the industry, those wheat berries are processed. So the, um, the fiber is removed. Um, basically everything is removed except the starch. And, um, not only that, but, but over the last, you know, 10 generations or more, uh, the agricultural scientists have genetically changed this wheat. So it produces a lot more starch. It’s a lot more, uh, carbohydrate and it makes it easier to process it. So what we end up with is this, um, this white powder, which, uh, uh, you know, it may be different shades of light. It may, it may look, um, a little darker.
Um, they bleach the flower and that makes it look white. And then sometimes they will add caramel coloring or some other coloring that makes it look brownish. And so it looks natural and, um. Just like they do with sugar, you know, they first bleach it and it’s now this white, granular substance. And, and somebody got the idea that, Hey, let’s, let’s make some of it Brown and call it natural sugar, same stuff, a different color. And, you know, for twice the price. Um, and like I said, just because, uh, it’s sold in the health food store just because it’s organic, just because it says natural doesn’t mean it’s healthy. And, um, so all those things really go in that category of junk food.
So then if we’re left with the natural looking foods that come out of the ground, off a tree, and we’re emphasizing the vegetables, fruit tubers, uh, and, and going from there, uh, I guess we can, uh, strategize based on our, our, our, um, individual characteristics and, uh, fitness routine, uh, what level that intake might sustain in the diet?
Exactly. W we, we wanna, we want to, we’re all individuals. And so we need to personalize that. That’s what, that’s, what I’ve been teaching. My whole career is, is I’m not going to give you a diet. I’m not going to tell you, uh, what to eat that’s natural. I’ll tell you not to eat all that junk food. But you have to figure out what works for you. And, um, not only that, but as we age that changes, we may be doing something different today than we did, uh, 10 years ago because our body has changed. Our needs have changed and we’ve kept, hopefully have kept up with those changes. So we, we keep modifying our, our food intake, uh, not just, uh, the, the quantity, but the quality and, um, and that’s very important. And I have, I have tools that people can use, like the two week test and the two week KETO tests, if, um, uh, if they’re, if they’re overfat, for example, they know, uh, they need to reduce their carbohydrate intake significantly. Um, and he need higher amounts of healthy fats and make sure they maintain, uh, a moderate amount of protein. You know, those are, I mean, there’s certain basic needs that we as humans have, um, eating, um, high quality, healthy fat. Eating high quality, healthy protein, and then really, uh, the, the difficult part for most people is, well, how much carbohydrate do we eat? And that’s it. That’s why it’s a good starting point because once you’ve got that, everything else falls into place and it’s relatively simple.
Well, I guess we just hit a fork in the road, Phil, because, uh, your research suggests that this massive percentage of the population is overfat. I believe you coined that term and you can describe the definition there. And if that’s the case, then it sounds like, uh, we have mostly an obligation to try to, uh, minimize carb intake, minimize insulin production so we can burn more body fat.
Exactly. And, um, uh, just for the record, I didn’t coin overfat. I defined it overfat and under fat. Um, overfat I started using, when I first got into practice, I saw it in a journal article, sort of in passing. They mentioned, um, people who had excess body fat and they said, you know, it’s like being overfat or something like that. And I thought, boy, that’s a great word. Um, because not all overfat people are obese, which was the popular term and not all overfat people are overweight. In fact, uh, a recent study that, um, that I, I wrote up with, uh, my friend Paul Larson, uh, called a Revisiting the Overfat Pandemic, something like that. Um, uh, I took some of the newer research and showed that, uh, over 40% of non obese, normal weight people, uh, were still overfat.
That’s a lot of overfat people that are previously classified as normal and healthy. And that’s obviously not the case because the definition of overfat is excess body fat, that impairs health and fitness. And the reason that impairs health and fitness is because when we have too much body fat, it doesn’t act like healthy body fat, healthy body. Fat is a metabolically active tissue that helps our immune system. It helps our metabolism. It’s a, an energy depot, it’s it? It does so many good things, but as soon as we have excess body fat, those fat cells become what they call sick. They’re actually called sick fat cells because they’re not functioning well, they’re actually doing the same as people who are malnourished and under fat. And, uh, Paul and I actually wrote a paper on COVID-19, um, showing that people who are most at risk for, for, um, infection are people who are overfat.
And we, we showed how the immune system changes when you’re overfat and it can’t, um, combat, um, uh, infections. So we, we, we raise our risk for infectious disease. So now with overfat, it increases the risk for chronic disease. So heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s diabetes, et cetera. Uh, it increases the risk for physical disabilities, everything from athletic injuries to, um, systemic problems like, um, like arthritis, um, and the pain related problems. So pain in general, and it increases the risk for infectious diseases. And, uh, no doubt about it. We will have another pandemic down the road. And, uh, what I was saying in that article is to the reader, is, are, are you going to be ready for it?
Right. Dr. Ron Sinha, wants his patients to train for the COVID-19 and think of it in those terms where you’re going out there and doing workouts so that you can build resilience and not get overwhelmed by the viral load, if you do happen to get exposed.
Exactly. We, you know, in the, in that particular, um, journal paper, I said that we, we have survived as a, because we have this wonderful immune system. So it’s not like we’re walking down the road and some virus attacks us from behind the tree. Um, it doesn’t work that way. We’re exposed to viruses and bacteria and microbes all the time, and we don’t get sick and we don’t die because we have an immune system that protects us. And that’s how the human body has, um, developed for, for millions of years. And, and today it’s pretty clear that if you’re not healthy and fit, you don’t have a good immune system. So you’re more vulnerable. And that’s exactly what the data shows and has shown for a long time. And so, um, it all comes back to the same thing. We need to be as healthy and as fit as possible, regardless of what we’re doing. If we’re, if we’re training for a marathon or an Iron Man, or for training to break the speed golf record, if we’re, um, just happy to go out and work out every day and be on a trail and have, you know, peace and joy, uh, and, and want to prevent all those common diseases that, that people are getting beginning at an early age earlier and earlier, and tracked, um, it’s all the same deal. It’s all the same good health, optimal health and, and better and better fitness that we, we want to strive for.
So this overfat, you called it sick fat. Is that what you said or thick fat?
I think they call it the six cell sick, uh, adipose fat. There’s a number of names that, you know, they come up, people like coming up with names, um, the sick adipose tissue, I don’t think really ever caught on, but I always remembered it. It’s kind of a cool little thing, but it’s the fact that your fat cells, which are supposed to be healthy, vibrant metabolically, active cells, which communicate with our hormones, with our brain, with our muscles, et cetera, those cells suddenly don’t function very well. They become literally they, they become sick and it affects our immune system because a lot of immune cells hang out in, in our fat cells. And so when the fat cells go downhill, so does our immunity,
Would this characterize the visceral fat, the belly fat?
Yeah. Yeah. That’s, that’s a big part of it, but let me, let me go back out and just say one interesting thing is that, um, that, uh, overfat condition with, with the sick adipose tissue, um, it not only impairs our immunity, but it impairs our resistance to the point where even artificial immunity, even vaccines are not, uh, as active, uh, if we are overfat. So there’s all this talk about coming up with a vaccine for COVID-19 that’s, uh, a pipe dream. Um, and, and, and even if they do, who are they going to give it to? Okay. In the U S 91% of adults are overfat and about 70% of children. So we give them the vaccine. Well, if it doesn’t work, what’s the sense. So, w you know, we’re, we’re, we’re back to the bottom line here, which is that we are responsible for our health, even the genetic stuff that we have, our lifestyle influences a lot of our genes.
And, and so we, you know, we control that. And the game again, is that we need to find out what’s best for us. What’s the best way to eat. What’s the best, um, you know, carbs, natural carbohydrate level, natural fat level, and natural food volume. Um, uh, and, and when we, when we do that, we get closer and closer to optimal health and fitness. And, um, and like I said, at the beginning of the show, we, we, as we age, we might find, we have to tweak things more. And, you know, for me, for example, from the time I first realized all this, you know, when I was in my early twenties, after spending my life on junk food from the moment I was born, um, I had, you know, I ate a certain amount of natural carbohydrates. I would buy, I would buy, um, those wheat berries and, and cook them down and make a porridge, or I buy, you know, raw whole rye or whole, whole, um, oats, which, you know, took 45 minutes to cook.
Um, and, and gradually I realized, Oh, I’m, I’m eating too much of this because my signs and symptoms started telling me that, Hey, you, you, you shouldn’t be sleepy after, after breakfast. That probably means you had too much carbohydrate. So I gradually reduced it. And, and literally over the years, I just kept gradually reducing it to less and less. And I ate very little today because, uh, it, it doesn’t work for me. That’s just, that’s just the way it is, whether I have, um, this, uh, prevalence or this, this, uh, relationship with diabetes, which, you know, I was diagnosed with early in life. And I said, Oh, wait a minute. I’m not going there. I’m not going to shoot up insulin. That doesn’t make sense. I’m just gonna change my diet, which I did. And it solved the problem on whether I’m predisposed to it or not.
Um, this is what I’ve had to do. And this is what became really the foundation of MAF maximum aerobic function is how can we establish optimal health and fitness? Well, one of the things we can do is burn a lot of fat. This is what humans did from the beginning. This is how humans actually developed bigger brains and bigger bodies and longevity and protection against disease, uh, and all of this stuff, which they’d never had before. And, and so the name of the game, uh, for me, was to help people burn more body fat. And as that happens, they all, all these problems, they have started going away and all these goals they have from a, from a fitness standpoint, for example, um, start getting realized they could run faster at the same heart rate, for example, they can basically do more with the same effort, which is, uh, what human performance is all about.
Yeah, it seems like that could be the, uh, you know, the, the compelling overarching goal of being healthy is just to burn more fat burn fat better, especially when these numbers are staggering, that, you know, almost, almost all of us listening, uh, might be classified as overfat, uh, even if, uh, the 40% that, that look just fine and seem to be performing pretty well. Uh, but again, we’re comparing to, uh, you know, pretty disastrous normal. So, uh, we can probably all have an ambition to get better.
Yeah, that’s true. And, and before I interrupted you, you had asked about visceral fat abdominal fat, and there is something called abdominal overfat, which I, I turned and they used to call it abdominal obesity, but these people were not obese. So you can’t call it obesity. It’s abdominal overfat. And it’s really simple to figure out if you’re overfat and it’s that you measure your waist at your umbilicus, your belly button, and you measure your height and your waist should be less than half your height, simple as that. And if it’s not, you’re overfat and it’s scientific, it’s obviously easy to do, and you can throw your scale out because the scale weight doesn’t relate to, to body fat, it relates to, um, to weight, which is mostly water. Uh, and, and of course, muscle mass, which is mostly water. Um, abdominal fat is particularly harmful because it tends to promote, uh, chronic inflammation much more than all the other body fat when there’s excess amounts and abdominal fat also reflects cardiac pericardial fat. So when we see too much abdominal fat, we know there’s too much fat around the heart, which is dangerous because this fat is producing inflammatory chemicals. And, uh, the, the, the next step in heart disease after being overfat is chronic inflammation. And so having an abdomen that’s bigger than it should be, um, is dangerous, not just for the whole body, but the heart in particular and the blood vessels,
Uh, is this standard for both males and females to strive for, because it seems like female naturally carrying more body fat, but I guess all these are factored in with their, uh,
They’re all factored in and, you know, through the years, um, and I’ve, I’ve, I’ve been measuring people, uh, from the beginning. Um, we can’t all go to have a DEXA scan every month or two. It’s not practical, it’s not safe, um, and it’s not affordable. And so, uh, you know, how can we determine someone this, this all, you know, came out of my desire to figure out, um, my own needs and help people figure out their needs. Okay, here’s some simple tests you could do. And if, if you do that test and you’re less than your abdominal area is less than half of your height, then it rules out overfat. And if you’re not, it brews in overfat, but through the years, we had waist to hip ratio, we had other measurements, um, that have been, uh, determined to not be scientifically valid over the long term.
Uh, part of it is because, um, it varied among different ethnicities. It varied with age and adolescents and sometimes male, female, blah, blah, blah, well, for the last decade or so, I think the waist to height ratio has become, um, uh, I think there’s, there’s a consensus that it’s a very accurate, is it perfect? No, neither is DEXA, but it’s a very accurate, uh, regular, uh, uh, basically no cost item that clinicians can use and, and do. Um, there’s a lot of studies that use waist to height ratio and the individual person who is the one in charge can use that every month or two to, to monitor their, uh, loss of body fat. To monitor, uh, and make sure they’re not gaining body fat as the, as the years go by. It’s just a very, um, it’s a very accurate and very good assessment. So it’s good for anyone of any age. Uh, I say that you have to be standing to use it. So if you’re, you know, if you’re a six month old, it’s not gonna work, you know, when you get to be two years old, um, any, any, uh, any gender ethnicity age, uh, it’s, uh, it’s a very effective tool,
Pretty handy. Uh, so, um, I’m thinking of, uh, many well-meaning enthusiasts that I engage with here from that are making a devoted effort to get that belly fat off, for example. And it turns out to be a pretty difficult, and I want to pair together another comment you made that, uh, I guess as we age, we become more insulin resistant and possibly, uh, warranting a gradual reduction of carbs, uh, over the years, which is, uh, the same thing that happens with the accumulation of body fat.
That’s exactly true. We do become more insulin resistant, um, and therefore we have to adapt to that problem. Insulin resistance is a serious problem. It’s carbohydrate tolerance. That’s what I call it, because it’s a better name because it refers to carbohydrates. When you start talking about insulin, the average person, uh, starts falling asleep.
No pun intended there.
So you want to refer to this? Yeah, they can, they can relate to carbohydrates. They may not quite know, um, the, the full extent of what carbohydrates are and which ones are healthy and not, but, but it gets them in the ballpark. So yeah, as we age, we have to reduce our carbohydrates otherwise. Um, w we, we develop, um, increased fat on our abdomen and that’s, that’s a big problem. And it’s interesting that the two things that people complain about, uh, with, with when they’re, when they’re following that one, is that abdominal fat, they just can’t get those last couple of inches or their last few inches or any of the abdominal
Fat, everything else has gone, but they’ve got this abdominal fat lingering on, and they don’t understand. And as it’s also related to the abdominal fat, they can’t get faster at their MAF heart rate. They don’t understand it. They’re very strict and they’re, you know, they, they promise that they’re being honest with the 180 formula and, um, Maffetone doesn’t know what he’s talking about. This doesn’t work for me. Well, that works for everybody. The problem is that when you don’t get faster at your MAF heart rate, and you’re kind of stuck in this slow motion mode, and or if you’ve got excess body fat, it’s really the same problem. And it’s the people aren’t addressing that carbohydrate intake issue. They’re really reading junk food that they think is natural or they’re, um, uh, or there’s, there’s hidden carbohydrates. And in what they’re reading, especially in people who, who, who work, they commute to work, they may be traveling a lot and they have to eat out often.
Um, uh, I can, I can tell you, especially coming from the restaurant industry, I can tell you that, uh, sugar in a restaurant is one of the most common spices. They put sugar in everything, uh, and flour, you know, you go in and you say, look, I want some, uh, I want some sliced egg plant, uh, sauteed in butter. Um, they say well, yeah, we could do that. I said that, but there’s no, there’s no, there’s no weed on him. You don’t put flour on it. Oh, no, no. Uh, and then with tomato sauce, you don’t put sugar in that tomato sauce? Oh no, no. And you ask them a new question, them how it’s made and you find out, yeah, well, they, they just dust the food with flour and they just, they put it, you have to put a little sugar in the tomato sauce because that’s what my grandmother did. It tastes better. Yeah. We are a junk food society and our tastes are for sweetness. And if there is no sweetness in a tomato, we don’t like it. And so just, you know, just read the ingredient lists on, on those, um, uh, tomato sauces in the grocery store, for example, um, or anything, any, any packaged food that, that you think is, okay, you buy it from the health food store. It says natural. And, um, and you read, you know, try and buy bacon, natural bacon, organic bacon that doesn’t have sugar. Um, it’s Not easy. It’s it’s that everyone uses sugar because that’s what people expectD Their tastes at least. And if you don’t have sugar in it, people are not going to like it. Then it’s not going to be a successful product.
Yeah. I was talking to Todd Wyatt of Dry Farm Wines, or he sells these sugar-free chemical free wines. And he was explaining that mainstream wine production uses these harsh chemicals to arrest the natural fermentation process that would ferment all the sugar out of the drink, but they want to keep it in there because people’s palates are expecting it. And the wine ratings and the bold taste and the, the score on the zero to a hundred scale is all predicated that we have to throw some sugar back in there through harsh means where the product, if you just let it do, its thing would be sugar-free.
Yeah. And what happens with sugar addiction, which is what we’re talking about is that it changes our taste buds. It’s not permanent, but it changes our taste buds. And we now with sweet taste bugs flying high all the time, we now cannot eat things like vegetables, vegetables are too bitter. So it’s not just the kids aren’t eating their vegetables, adults aren’t either because these vegetables are too bitter. And in restaurants, this is another place where they throw some sugar because now they, they, um, make the vegetables sweeter. But, um, because our taste buds have changed, we, you know, as a society, um, can handle, uh, bitter things. Coffee’s bitter. So we’ve got to put sugar in it and tea and vegetables and so on and so forth. And what happens when we get off the sugar and when we overcome the addiction, which can take time, I mean, we can get off the sugar overnight, but that addiction to sugar and those sweet taste buds, they linger on.
It takes a while before you could walk past a bakery and not keep looking and breathing in deeply because you, you think of all that wonderful stuff that you think is wonderful. Um, but eventually that disappears. But what, what, what also happens is we lose that taste, bud’s, uh, effect that sweet taste goes away. And then, and only then can we drink a, a great, uh, espresso and taste the real flavors that, that are there only then can we consume a dry red wine and taste the bouquet that is just amazing. And only then can we eat a piece of rock cacoa. That’s the chocolate before they put the sugar in it, which is very bitter, but it’s so delicious. And it’s, it’s sometimes a test when people say, Oh yeah, I, I, uh, I don’t, I don’t eat sweets anymore. I don’t, I don’t have a desire to eat sweets. I’ll, I’ll give him a, um, a little piece of raw cacao and, you know, half the time they spit it out because they can’t handle it. I said, well, you’re, you’ve got a ways to go still.
That’s the final test order up a hundred percent, a hundred percent cacao bar and see how you do. Yeah, I’m working on it, Phil, I’m like in the, the 85 range is, is my favorite. And it’s certainly is a big difference, but it’s interesting to convey it that way. And I also might, uh, observe that another contributing factor to this sugar addiction besides the, the secret ingredients from the restaurant, uh, is this, uh, fitness regimen that’s slightly too stressful, which has been your life’s work for many decades telling people to slow down. But I don’t think people are making the connection properly that these high carbohydrate burning workouts, a pattern of them is going to push you back in the direction of reaching for the foods that are contributing to that visceral fat.
Exactly. There’s, there’s, you know, in, in, in improving our ability to burn fat, maximum aerobic function, burn as much fat as we can. There’s a, uh, food factor, which is what we’ve been talking about it. And there’s an exercise factor, which is where the intensity, uh, becomes very important cause as our intensity gets too high above that sub max level, we shift away from fat burning towards sugar burning. Although if our diets no good, we’re not burning much fat anyway, no matter how slow we work out. Um, and then there’s the stress factor.
There’s the, um, you know, apart from food and exercise, there are other physical biochemical and then all those mental, emotional stressors that affect us. And if we don’t adapt to stress well, these, these stressors affect our metabolism in part, by shifting our ability to burn fat toward burning too much sugar. So we become less of a fat burner as stress goes up. That’s, that’s the effect of cortisol in particular. And so that’s a, that’s a very important factor as well.
So this is a big insight because we’re not talking about, uh, being in the kitchen or the gym right now, but if we’re running hot, if we’re hot, wired, and, uh, running around on fumes and highly stressed and producing a lot of cortisol, uh, what’s happening downstream to, uh, make this fat promoting or, uh, and so forth?
Uh, in short, we’re storing more fat cause we’re not burning. It w we don’t, you know, we, we have, we’re hard wired to store fat because that’s how humans have, um, developed metabolically. Uh, we store fat so that when we are ready to burn it, there’s plenty there to burn. Um, so with all that stress, we just keep storing more fat and just go to any marathon or triathlon. And you’ll see, uh, the majority of athletes, uh, are overfat. Maybe not the, maybe not the pros, although there are exceptions there as well. Um, but, but certainly in the amateur, right, the age groupers are, are, you know, the, the, the numbers of overfat are extremely high, not as high as the general population, of course, but, um, still too high. And so, um, by inducing that stress and having that cortisol effect, we are storing more fat burning, less, which also coincidentally makes us crave sugar. So we maintain our sugar addiction and we rationalize that. Uh, just, you know, I did just did this hard workout, or I just did this long workout. And, um, I need carbs to replace my glycogen stores. Well, why did you burn up those glycogen stores to begin with? The answer is you didn’t burn enough fat. That’s one of the things that fat does not only with competition, not only with a HIT workout, but with training from day to day is we burn a lot of fat and we conserve our glycogen.
Wow. I mean, this is now, now we’re departing from, uh, the dogma of decades that you want to go burn off that glycogen during a workout and then replenish really quickly. So you can restock the glycogen stores for the next workout. Uh, but now this new paradigm is becoming apparent where, uh, I don’t know if you saw that guy in Utah that ran a hundred miles without consuming any calories and these outliers are showing what’s possible. But I think for all of us to rethink this idea that, uh, the, the, the spinning class at the gym with the music and the high intensity is paired directly with heading over to Java Juice to get a fruit smoothie afterwards,
Which has a lot of sugar in it. No, no question about it, but the problem is that it’s not a new concept. It’s not, um, it’s a, it’s an old concept. This is how humans were for millions of years and suddenly, um, depending on how you want to relate to it, is it, is it the agricultural revolution when we started processing carbohydrates? Is it the 1950s and sixties when the sugar companies started, you know, banging it into our heads, that sugar was important, cause humans are glucose based animals. And then the running boom hit and all the sugar stuff, uh, you know, grabbed onto that and, um, Coke and Pepsi spending, billions of dollars to convince us that, um, it’s the real thing and it’s natural, et cetera, et cetera. So this is a blip in human history that okay, has created a situation where, uh, over 90% of the people in the entire world are overfat.
And it’s, it’s a serious thing because overfat, it’s just not an unsightly thing. We’ve talked about how important fat burning is, and if you’re storing fat, you’re not burning it. So it means that you’re not burning fat, but it’s worse because that overfat condition, like I mentioned earlier, is that first stage of chronic disease because it produces inflammation, which is the next stage of chronic disease and worsens insulin resistance and carbohydrate tolerance. And it, um, it promotes all those risk factors that we hear about, um, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, uh, prediabetes, pre hypertension. Um, and, and next thing, you know, there’s now a diagnosis of diabetes. There was a diagnosis of hypertension, uh, uh, cancer, uh, diagnosis, heart disease, stroke. Um, Alzheimer’s all the chronic disease. Most of the chronic diseases are these downstream effects from overfat. And most of those, uh, chronic diseases are preventable.
And you, you prevent it by reducing body fat. There’s no, there’s no question about any of this. And, and when we, when we started looking at the big picture, we realized that the trillions of dollars, tens of trillions of dollars spent every year, uh, for the most part go to these preventable conditions that we can do away with almost overnight. I mean, we can do away with the process, uh, very quickly. Um, but when we look at populations of patients, for example, in, in clinics who do this kind of stuff, which I had, um, we can see that in, uh, in the, in the course of a year, you can, you can completely change a person’s health and fitness, and if they’re on 10 medications and now they’re not on any medications, they were overfat and now they’re normal fat. Um, now they’re physically active when they were couch potatoes, you know, and so the, the money they’re spending on healthcare, you know, is, is dramatically less.
And, um, you know, this is, this is a political buzzword, you know, we’re going to fix healthcare. Heck we’re not going to fix healthcare. We’re going to spend more money. That’s the problem, uh, unhealthy people is, is a lucrative business. You know, just look at the Wall Street stocks, those stocks are booming. They’ve been booming.
Yeah. I mean, there’s, there’s plenty of well, meaning, well, intentioned people, uh, including the candidates who want to reform healthcare and all that, but it does seem like the, uh, we’re, we’re attacking the problem from the wrong direction and, you know,
treating symptoms right. It’s exactly what’s happening.
And we’re never, we’re never looking at the cause because there’s too many lobbyists that don’t want the cause to be developed. Sure. We’ve got some, you know, we don’t, we don’t have sugar in schools. We think that’s not true. Um, we’re trying to take sugar out of hospitals, but, um, companies have longterm contracts like Coke and Pepsi. So that’s not easy to do. We’re trying to, you know, reduce, um, uh, unhealthy foods. And, you know, we’re gonna cut down on the size of the containers for soda. Well, that’s just gimmicky hogwash that, you know, so we, we cut our soda in half and, uh, the kid now has two of them instead of one big one. Um, you know, even if it was kept at half, uh, you know, there’s a threshold of sugar and that insulin mechanism, it doesn’t take much to create the overfat condition.
And if we cut our, uh, our refined carbohydrates in half, or if we cut them by two thirds, in many people, it may not make a difference because we’re not at that threshold yet where it, it affects our metabolism. Um, sometimes it does, uh, it depends on the person. And, um, and then that’s sort of what, what people go through when they, when they, um, go through this process of personalizing, uh, the foods, they, they, they find a level of, uh, natural carbohydrate intake, for example, that makes them feel really good. And then the fat and the carbohydrates, or the fat and the proteins kind of fall into place easier. But that, that’s a, that’s a, um, an interesting thing to see people go through and how much variety from person to person there is. And then over the years, how much, um, people change as the, the years go by.
Uh, so I guess that kind of, uh, describes what your two week test is doing. And for listeners not familiar with it, maybe you can describe, uh, what it’s all about and then where you head from, uh, getting, getting the results after two weeks.
Yeah. The two week test I developed, uh, early in my career, as a way to really, as a way to confirm, uh, this problem called carbohydrate intolerance. Um, back then you couldn’t do a blood test. You had to go into the hospital to do a special test. And that of course was not a practical thing. So I had a list of survey questions about how people felt after their meals, how people felt if their meals were delayed, uh, you know, um, did they get sleepy after meals? So they, you know, and then, then I realized that I could give them a diagnosis that they’re carbohydrate intolerant and tell them to cut down on carbohydrates. But I wanted them to, to be part of the process. I wanted them to experience what it was like to be at a level of carbohydrate intake that was compatible with a healthy metabolism.
And so I developed a two week test where you, uh, you eliminate junk food, and then you cut your, uh, other carbohydrates way down. So you’re eating plenty of food, but you’re, uh, plenty of vegetables. Um, but no fruits, no, um, no grains, no, even a natural ones, um, uh, for a period of two weeks. And you, you monitor your signs and symptoms. And at the end of two weeks, you look back at your signs and symptoms and say, Oh, gee, I’m, I’m not sleepy after meals. My energy’s better. I’m sleeping better. I’m waking up feeling good. I’m not depressed, whatever. Um, and now you, you say, okay, what do I do now? Well, what you do now is if you want, you start adding some natural carbohydrates, every other meal. So maybe you have a small piece of fruit for lunch, uh, after you’ve had your normal, low carb breakfast.
And, and if that piece of fruit makes you sleepy after the meal, then you know, that that little piece of fruit is too much carbohydrate for you and people go through this. And what it does is it just brings out their instincts and their, their intuitions, you know, know how to eat in the wild. Uh, humans have forgotten that. So it, it, it brings people back to that. And so you should be able to be sitting, having dinner and, and get to that next fork full. And before you put it in your mouth, you say, Oh, I’m, I’m finished. I feel finished and you can put it down and you’re done. That’s the end of your meal. People can’t do that now. Animals do that. They don’t, you know, I’m not talking about pets or we’re eating junk food, um, every day, but animals in the wild will, well, not just, um, keep eating until they explode.
Well, we’re, we’re, we’re distracted cause we’re watching TV while we’re having too many bites of popcorn or whatever it is. Yes. So I’ve had people come back with massive weight loss in the two weeks where they did the carbohydrate restriction tests. And you said earlier in the show, like a lot of the weight of the body is water. The muscles are full of water, the glycogen stores. So what kind of fluctuation do we experience from day to day? And then when people are coming back and saying, I lost 10 pounds, that doesn’t really represent 10 pounds of body fat, cause that’s impossible in a short time, but what are these numbers revealing in terms of what’s changing in the physiology?
Yeah, it, it, it does represent in the two week period. It does represent a lot of order, but it also represents some fat loss as, um, uh, one studies showed that I I’ve referenced from years ago actually. Um, but it’s not the purpose of the two week test to see a weight loss. The purpose is for you to figure out how much carbohydrate you should be eating. And then, and, and the fat loss kind of is, is, um, a little bit of a delayed effect. Um, but as the weeks go by after that, you see the waste get smaller and smaller, and that is fat related. Um, and, um, and all the signs and symptoms, the abnormal signs and symptoms like sleepiness after meals or being, you know, feelings of depression, um, hunger, um, very common, uh, carbohydrate intolerance, um, symptom that, you know, all that disappears as we start burning more fat.
And not only that, but we start burning more fat when we exercise, not just when we exercise slow, but even when we’re doing a HIT workout, we could burn more fat. And especially when we’re competing, we can burn more fat during, and I can pretty much guarantee you that in competition, in an endurance event, those who finish upfront are burning a lot more fat relative to their glucose than everyone behind them. So there’s a very important performance factor there, plus it, you know, it’s human performance. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s all about human performance. And a lot of that has to do with brain function. And so with the two week test, one of the things that people routinely say is that my brain is working, but it’s not just that I’m feeling less depressed. Um, my, my creativity is better. I’m able to think better work better. Um, I can rationalize things. I can have conversations better, my memory’s improved, et cetera, et cetera. So it’s a, it’s an amazing thing. And it’s part of the process of personalization.
I guess the brain is getting a more steady source of fuel because you’re not so dependent on glucose in the muscle tissue, and perhaps you’re making ketones
Exactly.. Your body. Um, you know, when you’re not burning much fat, your body grabs a lot of that glucose and there’s, there’s sometimes less for the brain. Um, and when you start burning more fat, you end up having a lot more, uh, ketones around which the brain can also use instead of, or in, along with, uh, um, glucose and, and, and likewise for the muscles you’re using a lot of, not just our, our skeletal muscles, but the heart uses ketones, a lot of ketones, uh, and other tissues. And so, um, this has become not just a way to, to feel better and perform better, but as a therapy for diseases, you know, keep, uh, uh, ketogenic eating is an old, um, remedy for, um, seizure disorders. Um, the, the research, you know, the research is really moving along well, and you’re seeing, uh, cancer therapies. You’re seeing, um, uh, uh, diabetics responding to being in ketosis, being able to get off medication. Um, uh, what’s interesting in hypertension is that if we look at, if we plot out the amount of insulin, someone has over the years, and we plot out their increasing blood pressure numbers, they parallel each other. Insulin goes up. So does blood pressure, well, if we get insulin coming down, the blood pressure comes down. Interesting. And one of the things I recommend that people do if their blood pressure is high, when they do the two week tests to keep monitoring the blood pressure. Cause if they’re on medication for hypertension and they do the two week tests, and now the Blood pressure comes down to normal, which it often does.
Um, now they’re on medication and their blood pressure’s normal, which means they are hypotensive and that can be dangerous. So I tell them to work with their doctor or find someone who can monitor, accurately monitor their blood pressure, um, because that could happen. And, uh, as a result, their doctor needs to adjust the medication or get rid of it. Um, likewise in, in, in, in women who are of child bearing age, and I learned this by mistake in the beginning. I realized that, uh, the two week test was making women more fertile. And I noticed it, um, first in a woman who was 40 years old or 39. And, you know, one of the things she complained about is that, you know, her and her husband, uh, had tried to, to conceive and they were unable to. And so they, they, you know, they’ve given up and blah, blah, blah. So, uh, she doesn’t two week test. She’s lost a bunch of weight. Our back is better, which is one of her main complaints and suddenly she’s pregnant. And I didn’t think too much of it, but suddenly it happened to somebody else. And it was interesting that these people started sending me patients who were in fertile and it became, it became
Dr. Phil’s fertility clinic come on out. Okay.
I go to fertility treatment. It was a little funny, but I mean, they were happy. Um, so the, the, the reduction of carbohydrates and the reduction of insulin triggers a significant balance of all the hormones. It’s not just the sex hormones, not just insulin, it’s all the hormones, including testosterone. So, um, it’s amazing. What’s amazing is how much damage eating too much carbohydrate can do. And in particular, it’s amazing how much damage eating a small amount of junk food can, can cause.
Hmm. I guess that’s kind of the, uh, the big takeaway here is we traffic so much in a rationalization, a celebratory mindset, uh, and also the, the unhealthy baseline. So that if we’re a few steps ahead of normal, uh, we, we think that’s great rather than seeing the whole thing is a big fat disaster. And so, you know, the idea of, of getting a zero tolerance policy going might not be pleasant for a lot of people, but it seems like that could be the thing that could push people into a new realm of functioning. Like the fertility stories that you tell.
Yeah. And, and with, with, uh, the increasing aging population, people are concerned about, uh, what they have seen in their parents. They’ve seen, uh, significant cognitive dysfunction, not just Alzheimer’s, but, uh, the memory loss, um, uh, strokes and the, the ongoing care that’s needed. Basically they have seen their parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles, uh, go through this decline. And because modern medicine is so good, they can keep people alive, but with low quality of life and people start losing their independence. And the thing that people are afraid of, um, are being like that in particular, they’re afraid of losing their, their memories. They’re afraid of, uh, losing their driver’s license and, um, things like that, that, you know, it’s, I mean, I’m God, I’m happy if somebody can take my license away and drive me wherever I need to go,
Oh, I’d take that bet right now. If, uh, if someone could drive me anywhere, the rest of my life, or in a self driving car, I would, I would turn in my turn in my paperwork right now and just sit in the back seat.
Yeah. Um, I wrote an article called Healthy Driving, and a lot of it was basically, you know, we’ve got to have a good brain and if we’re eating carbohydrates, we’re not going to have a good brain. So, uh, there’s a lot more accidents from people whose brain function becomes impart impaired because they’re, um, they’re prediabetic or they’re, you know, they’ve just eaten a donut. Um, I mean, it doesn’t compare to the number of alcohol related accidents. And, and so, you know, we need to look at these things. We need to look at the fact that we talk about prevention, but we never implemented it. It’s, you know, it’s almost a political term these days. And it’s, it’s really sad. People, people have seen that in people with aging or looking for something to do that is going to change it. And I’m hoping, and I’ve been hoping from the beginning. And, um, I’m hoping that the increasing trend of reducing sugar, low carbohydrate, um, improving, you know, increasing body fat, increasing, uh, healthy dietary fats. I’m hoping that that trend, which has come and gone ever since I can remember, uh, uh, only to be fizzled out by the sugar industry. For example, I’m hoping this trend that seems to be catching on now is here for good. And, um, we’ll have to wait and see what happens.
Well, thanks to your hard work. We’re, we’re making progress. And it is heartwarming to see that I still feel like most of the responsibility is on us to get our middle finger working and stick it to the people that are still putting up billboards, uh, convincing us to, um, you know, drink the vitamin water after the workout. There I go. I just lost another sponsor.
But, uh, before we let you go, Phil, I want to cover that interesting insight when you talked about, uh, high intensity exercise, uh, still in the context of improving your fat burning and how you can burn more fat calories, even through the process of a workout that clearly is causing some demand to be burning glucose. But I think it’s all about doing it correctly and also coming to the table with those fat burning capabilities, thanks to your diet. And of course, thanks to the aerobic base building that you’ve been talking about for 40 years.
Yeah. And, and, um, I learned, I learned in, in college that we, we burn fats for energy and burn sugar for energy. And, um, there, wasn’t the kind of research that, that we had that would come up as the years went by. Um, but I knew it, um, and, and I learned how to practically, you know, uh, implement a lifestyle to improve it. And when I started, uh, testing athletes on a treadmill and measuring oxygen and carbon dioxide, which tells you how much fat and how much sugar you’re burning, uh, it basically proved that what I was talking about made sense. And, um, uh, in fact, it was only a few years ago. Uh, and th this is how I met Paul Larson, professor Paul Larson, who, um, is often, uh, I called him my professor, um, uh, he had, um, him and his team had published a study that showed that HIT athletes or young college students who are doing high intensity training, um, could burn high amounts of fat.
And I, I sent them an email. Uh, you know, when you, when you publish something, you, you, authors are always hoping somebody sends them a letter and nobody usually does, but I sent Paul a letter and he, he said, Hey, I’ve been on your program for a long time. And I was happy to hear that. And I sent him Mike Pigg’s test. I said, look, here’s a guy. I didn’t look, look at how much fat he’s burning when his heart rate is like 170 something. And it was basically what his study had shown. And, um, so we, you know, we’ve been, uh, friends and colleagues ever since, but, um, the evolution of that fat burning for me from being a college student, uh, w has been interesting in looking back in the beginning, it was really, really tough. People would call me names. Um, you know, I had people, uh, storm out of lectures because of the things I, I would say.
I mean, it was, it was kind of funny actually. Um, uh, in fact, the, the, the first time I read about this young doctor who mentioned fat burning was a guy named Timothy Noakes. I was, I was new in practice. He was new in practice. It was actually a study. He did on it called, um, Heart Disease and Marathon Runners. And, um,
imagine that, and they wouldn’t let them present the paper at a conference. And so he, he called this person that finally, they said, okay, you could present it, but they gave him a slot during the coffee break.
So, you know, things have changed. And, uh, um, you know, Tim is one of my heroes, um, um, and, and, you know, things are, things are changing, but we’re still left with a, uh, a population that’s, uh, overfat. And we’re, we’re seeing increasing rates of chronic preventable diseases. And when are we going to stop this? Um, why can’t people understand that sugar is the new tobacco, um, and part of it’s addiction and part of it’s all the ads like you mentioned, um, and watching TV doesn’t help because that’s how they keep people addicted. Um, but the bottom line is that it’s all up to us as individuals. And the line is it’s all in your hands, listeners and me and you, Brad, it’s all in our hands. And we, we are responsible for our health, uh, in more ways than we are not. So, um, uh, that’s, that’s a good conclusion.
I love it. Phil, listen to you summarizing the whole thing. Listeners, where we have life-changing advice from, from the main man who’s been, who’s been doing this for decades. Now. You had such great success with the elite athletes, and that’s when I was first drawn to you. There’s nothing like getting your ass kicked by someone who’s burning more fat to have you turn into a turn onto a new idea and a new training philosophy, a new diet. So, uh, I love what you’re doing over there at philmaffetone.com. That’s where we’re going to invite people to learn more about you and look at your great products that you’re putting out. And anything else that you want to promote, or where should we connect?
Well, Phil maffetone.com is the website, which has all those articles on health and fitness. There’s probably over 200 of them there. Um, and of course, all my books are out there, but the articles are free. Um, and, uh, um, and that’s the place to go for, for the kind of information we’ve been talking about,
Phil Maffetone. We got to wrap, thank you for spending time with us and good luck. Keep up the good work.
Thank you, Brad you too
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