Jonny Bowden – The Proof is in the Pork #305
By: Dave Asprey
Why you should listen –
Jonny Bowden is a nationally known board-certified nutritionist and expert on diet and weight loss. He has appeared on the Dr. Oz Show, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC and CBS and has contributed to articles in The New York Times, Forbes, The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, Vanity Fair Online, Men’s Heath, Prevention and dozens of other print and online publications. He is the best-selling author of 15 books and his latest is Smart Fat: Eat More Fat, Lose More Weight, Get Healthy Now! On today’s episode of Bulletproof Radio, Dave and Jonny talk about the low-fat diet myth, evidence-based diet claims, contaminated foods, plant-based fats, recommended Omega ratios and more. Enjoy the show!
Follow Along with Transcripts!
Announcer: Bulletproof Radio, a stage of high performance.
Dave: Hey, it’s Dave Asprey with Bulletproof Radio. Today’s cool fact of the day is that there’s yet another reason to eat more fat. A typical adult like you and me has about 50 billion fat cells. There are more fat cells in a single human body than there are fat people on our planet and that’s a cool fact.
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Today’s show might be about fat. I don’t know if I telegraphed that well enough for you but our guest is Jonny Bowden PhD, who is known as the Nutrition Mythbuster. He’s a board-certified nutritionist. You might have seen him on Dr. Oz, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, and all the other three-letter entities that Jonny and I have probably appeared on and lots of the other guests on this show. I’ve also seen his writing in the New York Times, Daily Biz, Men’s Health, and places like that. He’s written actually 15 books including one you may have heard about called The Great Cholesterol Myth which was co-authored with Stephen Sinatra, a well-known cardiologist who’s one of the first big cardiologist voices saying, “Dude, eat more fat.”
Jonny’s latest book and the one we’re going to talk about today was co-authored with a very well-known physician named Steven Masley and the book is called Smart Fat: Eat More Fat. Lose More Weight. Get Healthy Now published by Harper One. Now, you might notice that there’s a similarity between what you’ve read about in the Bulletproof Diet and what you read about in Smart Fat. That’s because eating more fat works. There are lots of nuances and lots of things you can do.
I love to bring guys like Jonny on the show to talk about what they did and why it works because understanding that there is a science, understanding that it’s not just a lone voice. It’s a whole community of people who are health professionals or people like me who are unlicensed biohackers who just look at what works. What we’re finding is that we kick more ass when we eat more fat, and that’s just how it is, and it doesn’t matter how many low fat shaky, weak people are telling us that we’re going to die that we don’t look like we’re going to die, we don’t feel like we’re going to die, our labs don’t look like we’re going to die, but basically, it works. Jonny, welcome to the show.
Jonny: Thank you.
Dave: Thanks for shouting out that this stuff works.
Jonny: Thank you so much. On the roof again, when I first heard of Bulletproof, I was actually speaking in a conference and you guys were exhibiting. I had not yet heard of Bulletproof Coffee and asked, “What is this stuff?” Then, you explained it to me. You put some butter in the coffee. I go, “God, this is exactly what I’ve been believing in for the last 15 years I’ve been talking about it. This is great.” I’ve always had found that same synergy you’re talking about when you meet likeminded spirits who would come to the same conclusion, read the research in the same way, tried it in their own lives, and then you find, “I’m not the only one who’s been saying it.” That’s very nice still. Thank you for your doing with that as well.
Dave: You’re so welcome, Jonny. In the dark early days of this fact thing …
Jonny: The dark days.
Dave: … we had Gary Taubes just wrote Good Calories, Bad Calories, a very famous book. For people listening who haven’t read it, it’s the only book I’ve ever seen that’s about 500 pages without one wasted word. Every page is full of facts and this incredible story woven in about how we were deceived into believing that a low fat diet is an appropriate thing for humans to do. It actually is for short periods of time for specific biological reasons, but if you try and live on a low fat diet, your life is going to suck. That’s what it comes down to.
Jonny: Pretty much. Pretty much. I was a true believer in that, Dave. I don’t know if I ever told you my background story but when I got into the field in 1990, it was all low fat diets and aerobic exercise. I started as a trainer at the Equinox Fitness Clubs. We used the tools we had, the food pyramid, the step classes, aerobics, and the worst part of it is we would train to actually believe that if our overweight clients weren’t losing weight, they were probably lying because we knew this worked. We knew. If they were eating those …
Dave: I was one of them. I was that 300-pound guy who worked out six days a week and no one believed me. I’m like, “Are you kidding. I’ll show you my logs.”
Jonny: This is exactly what people believe because it’s so interesting how the mind works like that, when you have a belief. Believe me, the belief in low fat is like a religious belief. It’s impervious to evidence. The people who believe it just won’t see anything that contradicts it. When you have a belief that strong and the evidence doesn’t support it, you have to find something wrong with the evidence.
When people were doing the low fat diet, and taking 25 step classes a day, and not losing weight, we had to think, “Something is wrong here.” It can’t be that the advice we’re giving them is wrong because we know that that is infallible. It must be that they’re either cheating or they’re not telling us to choose, and it really winds up blaming the victim because this low fat thing was the biggest nutritional experiment in history. It’s a massive failure. It doesn’t work logically. It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t pass the smell test. Our caveman ancestors didn’t eat low fat bully mammoths. No society on earth has lived on a low fat, or no protein, or no fat diet ever, and yet, we continue to proselytize for it.
There are doctors in America right now who are going in every talk show in the country telling people we should have statin drugs in the water supply, and vitamins just give you expensive urine, and we should all be eating low fat. Those seem to be the mantras that the establishment still embraces. As you and I know, not only is it not true, it’s very disruptive, and it’s part of exactly why this country is fat, sick, tired, and depressed.
Dave: Some of my favorite detractors say things like, “It doesn’t work because it can’t work. Therefore, it didn’t happen.” It’s just bizarre, internal, pretzel logic. One of my favorite ones is, “Dave, you never weighed 300 pounds.” I’m like, “There’s a picture of me when I’m 23 in Entrepreneur Magazine and my face is this big.” I even looked the same. It was published, I don’t know, about half a million copies, however much the circulation is. I’m like, “I don’t know how you make that up.”
The idea that you can go from that to fit, and to do it with butter instead of beating yourself up on a treadmill, I’m grateful that such things exist. The fact that there’s a chorus of voices now who are just standing up and saying, “You know what, screw that noise,” is cool, but what I want to know is when you were that trainer at Equinox Fitness telling the fat people that they were lying which you probably did …
Jonny: We didn’t tell them that but that’s what we believed.
Dave: Yeah, and like, “You just need to try harder.” My favorite is, “Try harder. It’s like, “I’m putting every ounce of energy I have. What do you mean try harder? I’m pounding sand,” but what was the one thing that happened that made you go, “Wait a minute.” When was the first time you realized, “Wait, this fat thing matters.”
Jonny: Two things happened. The first was that in the early ‘90s, Dr. Atkins had a behind the scenes. He first published his very first book, The New Diet Revolution, in 1972 but there were a couple of editions after that. When I got in the field in 1998, it was starting to get some buzz again and there were starting to be some research about it. Now, we, the true believers in low fat and aerobic exercise, it’s all about calories, calories in, calories out, that’s what you get that, you’re eating too many calories, that belief system obviously, we did not believe in Atkins.
We would have clients, and I remember one in particular, but we have clients who did everything we told them just like you did, and it didn’t work, and against our advice, they’d go on Atkins. What we would say, all of us, the collective trainer body would say, “You can’t do that. Look, you might lose a pound or two but you’re going to get a heart attack. What’s going to happen with all that saturated fat? Your cholesterol is going to go up. You’re going to die.”
Dave: Stop the insanity, the show we had right then.
Jonny: Stop the insanity. Remember, I show a picture of her in my slide presentation. What would happen is they’d do it against our wishes and against our advice, then they’d come back, and they didn’t die. Not only didn’t they die, they have better blood pressure, better blood lipid tests, their triglycerides would drop like a rock, their belly fat was starting to go way base. They looked better, they felt better, and this presented what psychologists called cognitive dissonance. Here’s two pieces of evidence that don’t fit together. Low fat works and high fat kills. Here’s these people going on a high fat diet. It’s not only are they not dying, they’re 100% better.
By the way, Dave, I would see these entrenched belief system up close. These men and women would go to their doctors, and their doctor would say to them, “My God, this test is amazing. Look, you look fantastic. You lost 4 inches of you, but this amazing. What did you do?” They go, “I went on the Atkins diet.” They go, “You can’t do that. That is going to kill you.” It’s like they wouldn’t believe the evidence of their senses.
That was number one that got me to question what we had been taught. It’s what started me on the path of becoming a cholesterol skeptic because as you know, everything we believe about fat and cholesterol are absolutely married together. They are the Bonnie and Clyde of nutrition. You can’t talk about one without the other. They’re very, very interrelated because after all, the only main reason you’ve ever been told not to eat fat is because it raises your cholesterol and we all know the cholesterol causes heart disease. If that’s not true, the whole thing starts to collapse like a house of cards. That was number one.
Number two, very early 1991, somewhere like that, an unknown biochemist from MIT had just published a book and he came to give a lecture at Equinox. He started to get publicity from this book that nobody ever heard of. The book turned out to be The Zone. The MIT biochemist was Barry Sears. He comes in, and he gives this lecture to the trainers, and he talks about how we’ve got the whole calorie thing wrong and how it’s really hormones that run the show, and food has a hormonal effect that is not just about the number of calories but it is about how those calories instruct your hormones to either jump into action or go into hibernation. The food is actually instructing its information for your hormones. This was a radical concept, radical.
Now, Dr. Atkins have talked about it when he talked about insulin but you have to remember that Dr. Atkins was a pariah in the medical community. Everybody hated him. They just thought he was a quack. He was not appreciated. He was such a genius but he was very easy to dismiss. Plus he was kamaji and he didn’t make a lot of friends. It was not so easy to dismiss this MIT biochemist, Barry Sears. He starts talking about the hormonal effect of food. I went up to him afterwards and I said, “Dr. Sears, if what you’re saying is correct, then everybody else is wrong.” I don’t know if you know Barry Sears but he’s not lacking in confidence, and he looked at me, and he smiled benevolently, and he said, “That’s exactly right. Everybody else is wrong.”
Those two things together made me say, “Wait a minute. There is more to this fat and cholesterol stuff than we’ve been taught, and I want to get to the bottom of it.” Personally, just as a human being, my driving force in life is that I hate bullies. When I was watching here, it was bullying. I was watching the American Medical Association, I was watching doctors who really know nothing about nutrition who are being pompous, and presumptive, and just telling people what they ought to do, and not knowing what they were talking about, and I watched people literally be bullied into this.
The victimization of obese people remains to be just a cause of that because this is the last acceptable prejudice in America. Comedians can go on late night TV and make jokes about fat people and people do not understand the millions of things that actually go into weight gain, hormones, metabolism, the microbiome, gut health, a stretch, there’s just a hundred different factors that nobody is looking at, and everyone is just saying, “It’s all about diet. It’s all about exercise. It’s all about calories,” and it’s not. Those were the things that began me on the journey of questioning the establishment when it came to advice about weight loss.
I did want to make one comment about this whole eat more fat, and feel better, lose weight, and all the things you and I talked about. My great nutrition teacher and mentor, Robert Crayhon, the late great Robert Crayhon used to say, “The problem with the American mentality is it we tell them something great about fat when we talk about the meta-training diet and their takeaway is ‘I guess I should add more olive oil to my corn flakes.’” I want to be very clear that we’re not talking about taking your crappy diet and just adding more fat to it, and magically things are going to change.
We’re talking about making some very important substitutions here. Removing some of the inflammatory omega 6 fats that we’ve been taught are so healthy. Removing some of the carbohydrates that drive insulin through the roof, and make us inflamed, and contribute to obesity, and replacing that stuff with the healthy fats we should never have taken out of our diet in the first place, including saturated fat.
Dave: What do you think about the evidence-based bullies who are out there saying, “It’s all about calories in, calories out, you got to exercise more?” I still see this especially among the body builder I want to look muscled but emaciated in terms of extreme lean that you have the body builder physique which is pretty amazing when you pull it off but I see a lot of online hate from that crowd. How do you respond to that perspectives? It’s like there is no evidence that anything but calories makes the difference. Do lock him in a calorie chamber? What is your response to that?
Jonny: There’s several responses to it.
Dave: Other than your middle finger, right?
Jonny: People get very attached to belief systems. My previous life, my Masters is in Psychology which just served me very well in working with weight loss and with personal transformation. By the way, this is the perfect time to point out, another thing that we share besides the love of fat and a hatred for the bullies in this establishment who tell us to eat the diet that makes us fat, sick, tired, and depressed. Aside from that is this sense that the whole calorie thing is a belief system. The thing about evidence-based medicine that people throw out there all the time and it gives me hives because it sounds great, it sounds like we just want to do what works, but what you have to remember is who controls the evidence.
The drug companies love evidence-based medicine because they run the evidence, they run the trials, they control the studies, and then they can say, “Look, statin drugs, we have the evidence.” If you know anything about how research is done, and how it’s reported, and how it’s funded, and how the whole system works, you know that that’s a rig system evidence-based medicine. It would throw out every single natural remedy that’s ever been used that ever has any kind of a clinical track record, and nobody would ever use it because there’s no evidence in the sense of a clinical trial, fourth-level clinical trial, funded multimillions of dollars by the pharmaceutical industry.
I’m not a big fan of the notion of evidence-based medicine. Again, I mentioned Robert Crayhon earlier. He used to have a wonderful saying. He’d say, “The entire New York City Fire Department does not have one randomized clinical-controlled study that shows that water puts out fire but they behave like it does.” Are you going to throw out the evidence of your senses, and what works, and what you try, and what you work because there’s no evidence that was produced by a pharmaceutical company? I don’t think that’s great.
Dave: That’s the problem with the evidence-based community. It’s not that evidence is a problem. Evidence is wonderful and clinicians will run evidence every day. As you throw the hammer, it hurts. That’s evidence. I didn’t have to blindfold him and hit him with the hammer in different places to see if it hurts him, right? We know sometimes because there’s many different kinds of evidence. The art of evidence-based whatever you’re trying to do is pretty much reject the evidence you don’t like because you say this study wasn’t good enough, accept the evidence you like because it was double blind, and then ignore all the clinical data, ignore all the clinicians, and ignore millions of people who got better doing whatever it was because you don’t like it. You don’t like it because it can’t work because of your …
Jonny: Because you know it doesn’t work. Because you know that it doesn’t work.
Dave: Yeah, it’s because of your dogmatic beliefs. It’s actually like a self-torture cycle there. I’m all for evidence. If you want to say what you’re doing is evidence-based, what you’re actually doing is you’re saying, “Everyone who doesn’t agree with me is a con.” If that’s the world you’re coming from, I don’t need to spend my time on you because you don’t understand basic science. In fact, you’ve rejected basic science by worshiping on the altar of, “I only take one of six or seven kinds of evidence, and I am blind to the rest of the world because of my belief systems.” It’s like go to an ISIS. That’s where you belong.
Jonny: Yeah. No, I couldn’t agree more. The whole belief in the calorie thing, I think we’re beginning to see a critical mess, and people in respected mainstream people even moving away from the calories or the whole story thing. With David Ludwig at Harvard, you cannot get more credential than this guy.
Dave: He’s a great guy, right?
Jonny: He’s unbelievable. When he just published a book about it and said, “Dude, sorry but it ain’t working,’ because as Barry Sears taught me back 25 years ago, food has a hormonal effect. In our book in Smart Fat, thank you for mentioning, we actually go beyond the good fat, bad fat dichotomy which is so willfully out of date. It’s like the good cholesterol, bad cholesterol stuff. We’ve gone so far beyond that. We now know there’s five different kinds of LDL cholesterol, five different kinds of HDL. They operate differently.
The same thing with good fat, bad fat. The fact that some fat is good and some is bad is not revolutionary or new. If that’s all we had to say, we wouldn’t write a book. What we do here is to divide that in terms of whether or not it’s toxic. This is such a different way of looking of fat than the conventional way. Dave, one of the bullying principles that has driven me crazy all along is this notion that saturated fat is bad, animal products are bad, everything else is good.
In fact, here’s what the evidence really shows, the vegetable oils that you’ve all been told to eat that is supposed to be so healthy, we were supposed to swap everything out for canola oil, and soybean oil, and cottonseed oil, and corn oil, and all of these things that we got rid of lard. Remember in the ‘80s, everybody decided natural healthy fats like lard are bad so they all switched over to canola oil so that’s really good now. Those are the most inflammatory oils on the planet. They’re highly refined, loaded with omega 6s which are the precursors for the inflammatory cascade in the body. Now, we need some omega 6s but they need to be in balance with our anti-inflammatory omega 3s. They should be in about a one-to-one proportion. We consume about 16 times more omega 6s because we all think vegetable oil is so good. Not a good fat.
On the other hand, the saturated fats we’ve been told is so bad are only bad when they come from feed lots farms. Let me give you a great example of this that I think most people can understand. I live in Southern California. About a year or two ago, we had a big e-coli scare, and it was traced to spinach. It was traced to this one farm that was making spinach contaminated.
Dave: No, no, no. Sorry. Sorry, spinach is plant-based. It can’t be bad for you.
Jonny: You’re right, exactly. It can’t be bad. Not one health professional, not one went on the air and said, “Don’t eat spinach. It’s bad for you.” They all understood that something had been contaminated here. It wasn’t, “Don’t eat spinach. Recall the spinach that was contaminated.” No, we all eat spinach.
The same thing is true with animal fats. They are not bad because they come from animals. They are bad because they come from contaminated animals because in feed lot farms, here’s what happens, number one, they’re nothing like farms. They’re mega agribusinesses of thousands of acres of cattle kept in tiny little stalls. First of all, they’re fed grain, not their natural diet, makes their stomach acid. Second of all, they’re fed tons of antibiotics. Third of all, they’re fed steroids, bovine growth hormone. All these things to fatten them up. Their fat absorbs all the pesticides in the grains that they shouldn’t have been eating in the first place. Then, they have to get more antibiotics because their stomachs get acid. You’ve got a toxic waste dump of an animal here. Then, you’re eating it and you’re going, “Animal food is bad.” No. That animal food is bad.
If you go to a real farm, and you get pasture-raised cows where they graze happily on grass, and eat some worms, and insects, and their omega 3 content is high, and they don’t eat grains so they don’t have acids in stomach, and they’re not in antibiotics, that is a health food. There’s an enormous difference between saturated fat or any fat that comes from a toxic dump and saturated or any fat that comes from a healthy animal or a healthy plant.
That’s the distinction we make in Smart Fat, not the difference between animal versus vegetable or saturated versus unsaturated but between toxic and nontoxic. Then, there’s a whole class of fat that we call neutral which yes, there’s not massive human evidence that shows that they’re necessarily beneficial the way, say, the fat in coconut oil or olive oil is but there’s also not a shred of evidence that they’re harmful so they’re neutral and you can eat as much of them as you want.
Dave: Although if you eat as much of the neutral fats as you want, you’re probably eating fewer of the better fats, right?
Jonny: Probably so but …
Dave: There is a distinction.
Jonny: You’re absolutely right but what I’m saying is that this is a much more important distinction between the old good and bad fat that was divided according to saturated versus unsaturated. That’s just not so.
Dave: One of the biggest factors in my research that’s not well understood is something that you touched on in Smart Fat is the idea that fat itself is a toxin store. If you take a fat person and you biopsy their fat, and you look at mercury, you look at lots of the pesticides, you look at endocrine disruptors, the body uses fat as a storage organ for toxins that cannot be metabolized in the liver because the liver is overloaded. Toxicity is a driver of obesity, and there’s a type of toxin that’s made by Mother Nature and by men, organophosphates are the manmade ones and mycotoxins, the toxins from mold in food, specifically moldy grain which is a major issue in agriculture.
These toxins are called lipophilic. That means that they are fat-loving and they dissolve into fat the same way that food color dissolves into a glass of water. Then, you eat that fat and it goes into the animal’s fat. We eat the animal’s fat, it goes into our fat. These toxins are correlated with neurodegenerative illness, with cancer, and specifically with lesions in your arteries.
When pigs eat mycotoxin-contaminated good, they get atherosclerosis. When we eat pigs that ate mycotoxin-contaminated food, are we going to get atherosclerosis? I believe so and it’s one of the reasons what your pig ate actually matters. A pig that ate fresh food is going to be a really amazing source of bacon. A pig that ate industrial grain that had the highest possible of limit of mold that wouldn’t kill the pig which is what they do because moldy grain is cheaper, then you should expect to feel like crap and be inflamed after you eat your bacon. That’s how it works, right?
Jonny: Yeah, that’s exactly right. You said beautifully, and accurately, and I wish everybody would take that home, and tattoo it underneath their eyelids because that is the truth about it. It has nothing to do with whether or not the source was a pig or a soybean field. It has to do with whether or not that has been contaminated. As you point out so accurately, we all store toxins in our fat. Every mammal on the planet does, so do the cows that are coming from factory feed lots, and the pigs that come from that.
Even if you weren’t an animal rights person as I am, or you didn’t care about animals, if for selfish reasons, you should care about how they’re treated if you’re eating them because it’s a very, very different animal pardoned upon a grass-fed cow and a factory feed lot farmed cow are not the same animals from a health point of view.
Dave: That’s definitely a point where we agree radically. Now, when you look at vegetable-based fats.
Jonny: Yeah, go ahead.
Dave: We have this whole like of if it’s plant-based, it must be good for you. There’s plant-based proteins and there’s plant-based fats. My favorite plant-based protein is Sarin, the nerve gas, the one that killed all the people in the Tokyo subway. It is a plant-based protein which is absolute proof that plant-based proteins are bad for you, except that that kind of logic of plant-based and animal-based is meaningless.
If we reject that and we say there are some oils. Some oils come from different plants. Some oils come from different animals. You can take animal fat and break it into all of its little types of subcomponent fats. You can take vegetable fat and break it into all of its little subcomponent parts. You could rearrange them on different glycerol molecules as the triglycerides. Medium-chain triglycerides, might we say? I use some of the medium-chain triglycerides but not all of them in my products. What are the types of fats? Whether they’re from vegetables or animals, I actually do care, but what are some of the types of fats that stand out as most metabolically beneficial in your work?
Jonny: Certainly since you started with coconut oil, that’s a great one. By the way, may I give you kudos to your brain octane because after I interviewed you for my The Truth about Fat Loss Summit, you talked about the difference between conventional MCT oil, the fats that are found in coconut oil, a lot of people use coconut oil and get the MCTs that way. Sometimes they use purified MCT oil and you have that brain octane. You were so convincing that I ordered two bottles of it from your website, and they will now try it from my cold dead hands because I use that every single day. Certainly, MCT oil, whether it the purified form of brain octane or whether in another high quality form, is one that I think we can say have good health benefits associated with it.
Dave: By the way, we’re about to release a study showing a huge difference in the number of ketones formed from brain octane versus coconut oil. The evidence is in from a major University of California source. I can’t wait to publish that because it’s going to blow the water out of the fact.
Jonny: Yeah, I love your brain octane. There’s one. There are some oils that I’ll be very honest with you, my co-author and I didn’t quite … I would have Malaysian palm oil as smart fat. Stephen didn’t feel there was yet enough human research to say that this is definitely a beneficial fat. He was totally in agreement that it’s gotten a bad rep and there’s nothing wrong with it. I would go a little further. I think I’m actually leaning towards feeling that there’s enough research to say that this is a smart fat. In any case, it’s loaded with carotenoids. It’s loaded with tocotrienols. That’s what gives it the red color. That’s a great oil.
Dave: I have a question on that one.
Dave: I’m a fan of tocopherols and tocotrienols. I take them concentrated but palmitic acid escorts lipopolysaccharides, these is are the toxins from gut bacteria, right across the gut membrane and increase their toxicity which is why palm oil for me is on the suspect foods. It’s much better than vegetable oil but it has that weakness that coconut oil and fish oil and things don’t have. That was my big concern. Do you have any comments on that?
Jonny: No. You’re a little further advance in the biochemistry spectrum than I am. I have not seen any negatives associated with that. Maybe in the proportion that it’s found in palm oil as an overall oil, I think it’s pretty good, but to go into the less controversial areas of oils and fats that have been found to have beneficial, certainly olive oil in all the Mediterranean diet studies, and …
Dave: Is it okay to cook with olive oil? I have an opinion there but what’s your take?
Jonny: It all depends on the temperature. Actually, I will tell you one of the things I learned from my co-author, Stephen Masley, he was a trained chef. He took a year and actually studied at the Four Seasons for a year while he was in medical school. What we learned about that, and I had to correct some of my previous beliefs about oils, is that the smoke point of oil is the point at which it becomes something else and when it actually converts to substances you don’t want. You never want to cook it with an oil at its smoke point. I had always believed coconut oil, you can cook it 5-600. You can’t.
Dave: No. No, you can’t.
Jonny: It’s got a smoke point of 250. Now, when you refine oils, you can go at a higher smoke point but you got less good stuff in it so there’s the trade off.
Dave: Brain octane would go to 320.
Jonny: Let’s still not deep frying but you and I don’t recommend deep frying anyway.
Dave: You shouldn’t dip fry anything anyways. It’s just bad. Even the oil is amazing, it won’t be amazing when you’re done deep frying.
Jonny: Can you cook with olive oil? You have to think of it this way, why do we pay so much money for true extra virgin olive oil?
Jonny: That was olive oil, it’s close to a bunch of old Greek men walking around with wine bottles and pressing it out with a mechanical press in their feet. There’s no high temperatures associated with real extra virgin olive oil. You pay extra for it because the temperature has destroyed this very valuable polyphenols that are found in the olive oil. Why would you pay twice the money for extra virgin olive oil and then cook it at 400 degrees? It makes no sense at all. You’re then going to destroy the very thing you paid extra to have.
I would say that with extra virgin olive oil, you should not cook with it. It’s best for drizzling and last minute putting on at stuff or salad dressings. When you get to virgin olive oil or just plain old olive oil, yes, you can cook in higher temperatures with it but of course, it doesn’t have all the wonderful stuff in it that the extra virgin olive oil has.
Dave: One of my favorite Italian recipes, this is not in the Bulletproof: The Cookbook, but it’s Beef Tagliatelle. You take a piece of beef and you cook it relatively rare, and you slice, and you pour extra virgin olive oil in it. Notice, you didn’t pour oil in it, then cook it. You did it in the right order.
Jonny: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Very nice.
Dave: Do you agree with that? That’s been one of my findings.
Dave: I agree with that and there’s a few people like Chris Kresser wrote something recently saying, “It’s okay. There’s no evidence using some of these things.” There’s something about blood sugar decline after it, but I found the evidence to be unconvincing and the biochemistry is pretty clear. Heat, light and air mess up olive oil. Olive oil has more polyphenols. It stands up better than olive oil stripped off the polyphenols but it’s still not a good idea. There’s just no reason to do it. Use butter, it is simply a better choice. Use ghee. Use coconut oil. Frankly, if you did add some water so that the temperature won’t rise too much, then you protect the oil. If you want to deep fry something, going into to Twinkie, deep fried food is never healthy no matter what oil you use.
Jonny: Very well put. I would add to the delusive fabulous oils that I wasn’t quite as aware of the avocado oil. Smoke point of 520. Dude, if you can’t cook yourself in 520, there’s something wrong with you. That stands up the heat very well, and it’s loaded with Omega 9s, and very good oil for you. Again, like you and I would probably agree, I’m a big fan of saturated fat. I eat bacon. I did a webinar actually in promoting the Smart Fat launch called Why a Top Nutritionist Needs Bacon where I deconstructed all of the objections to bacon and showed how you can cook it in a healthy way and how you can eat it in a healthy way because when it’s nitrate-free, not cooked in high heat, and comes from pastured pork, that’s a damn health food. Let me tell you right there, it’s a perfect proportion of fat and protein.
Dave: I make my own bacon and one of my very favorite things to do, and it’s something that’s in Bulletproof: The Cookbook and it’s in Bulletproof Diet, is during summer, you get much better quality pork, summer and fall, because during winter, they feed spoiled food. There’s more stored grain and there’s more buildup of these toxins in pigs. Pigs metabolize toxins the same way humans do with their kidneys instead of their livers, like rats and some other animals, like cows have three stomachs that deal with toxins. Pig fat stores toxins the same way we store toxins and we both suck at detox. That makes pigs a good model for what humans do and it means that their fat is extra delicious. The only problem is that if you’re eating winter and spring pork, your chances of being inflamed the next day, not because you got bad fat, but you because you got fat-soluble toxins in the fat, it goes the way up.
Dave: Every summer, I buy eight or ten pork bellies from Heritage Breed. I live on Vancouver Island. It’s a farming community. I live here for a reason because I’m on an organic farm so I could eat all this stuff. I buy those. I put them in the freezer. Then, I make bacon out of it. Sometimes, you just cut it out and you roast a hunk of pork belly this big. If you’re listening on the radio, I’m talking like the size of a sheet of paper. You roast that, you score the skin, and it’s my kids’ favorite dish. It’s just so good and you get a food eye from it because you’re eating clean fat. It’s the right kind of fat and it …
Jonny: It sounds great. It sounds great.
Dave: It’s life changing to do that.
Jonny: I’ll bet. That sounds wonderful.
Dave: Let’s talk about omega 3 to omega 6 ratios because I know you write about that in Smart Fat. What’s your take on the ideal ratio in food and in humans when you do a lab test?
Jonny: It’s a very simple answer, 1:1. Look, let me give you the short 15-second elevator speech about omegas and inflammation. We need both inflammatory and anti-inflammatory compounds in our body, people often say and omega 6s which are predominant in the vegetable oils we’ve been told to eat are pro-inflammatory. In other words, the little hormones called eicosanoids that actually cause inflammation. The inflammatory ones come from omega 6 and the anti-inflammatories come from omega 3s.
Now, we need both. People ask me all the time, “What do we need inflammation for?” Think about the healing response. Think about if you get a splinter and what happens in the area, it gets swollen. What is that? That’s an inflammatory response. The white blood cells go. They surround the puncture wound. They try to prevent a microbe from getting a hold and starting an infection. The area fills with fluid and water. Inflammatory response is part of the human response. It’s why you get a temperature and why you get a fever. It’s the body’s way of dealing with that. You need some inflammation, the ability to form inflammatory compounds in the body as part of the healing process.
Problem is you’ve got these armies. You’ve got your inflammatory army and that’s being fueled by omega 6s and you got your anti-inflammatory army that’s being fueled by omega 3s. When they are in balance, everything is good, life is wonderful. When you fund the inflammatory army with 16 times more funds than you’re giving the anti-inflammatory army, you are in deep doo-doo.
All the research, and I’ve got the master book of research on this right here in front of me. It’s the volume 100 of the World Conference of Dietetics. They did an entire research report on the balance between omega 3s and omega 6s, and how this relates to cardiovascular disease. The research is very clear that we are getting, at minimal, 16 times more omega 6s in our diet than omega 3s. Then, we wonder why we’re inflamed, and inflammation is at the core of every major degenerative disease we know of from Alzheimer’s, to cancer, to diabetes, to obesity, to heart disease.
We are literally fueling the inflammatory army by eating so many omega 6s. If you think about every processed food in America, you cannot swing a rope in the grocery store without finding soybean oil, and cottonseed oil, and corn oil, and partially hydrogenated, not hydrogenated, they’re all vegetable oils. It’s 16 times more and that’s a big part of why we’re so inflamed.
Dave: In the Bulletproof Diet, I found numbers ranged from 16 to 40, up to 40 times.
Jonny: 16 is conservative. I have a feeling it’s much higher. That’s what the research was able to document and I think it’s much higher in certain parts of the country.
Dave: For people listening, what this means is that if you would take an obese person who eats the standard American processed fast food and restaurant, even not fast food, just restaurant foods, because they put these oils all over the place in restaurants, what they have is 40 times more omega 6 than omega 3 oils in their body. That is odd because your cell membranes which are made of little tiny droplets of fat, they need a certain amount of undamaged omega 6. It’s critically important. If you don’t have some of that, you’re going to be in trouble, but what you’re eating is you’re eating masses of damaged omega 6 because they fried in it, they cook with it, and this stuff is unstable anyway. It basically goes rancid. It oxidizes during manufacture when they use solvents in it and when it’s put in plastic bottles and things.
When you incorporate this damaged omega 6 in excess in your cell membranes, you’re creating free radicals throughout the body and that’s the source of inflammation but the anti-aging people. Jonny, I’ve ran an anti-aging research and education group called the Silicon Valley Health Institute for more than a decade and it’s given me a chance to learn all of the things I know and to interview lots, hundreds of experts on these things. The general consensus there was a ratio of 4:1. You’d hear this at the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine. I was there this year. I met my wife there 11 years ago. These are my people even though I’m not a doctor.
When I looked at that 4:1 and I looked at my numbers, I’ve gotten myself down to 1:1 on occasion. Right now, I’m at 1.7:1. The guy who is the most aggressive I’ve ever met who’s a professor, Professor Larry Smarr from UC San Diego, he was down to 0.86:1. He’s the only guy who have really beat me in terms of that ratio, but I’m concerned at 1:1 that your cell membranes actually might not have enough omega 6 to have appropriate fluidity. Are you 100% certain that 1:1 is the right ratio versus 2:1 or 3:1 because I’m not. I know it’s around 4 and it might be lower or it might be set higher, but where does that come from?
Jonny: The number that I have always written and stood by is the range of between 1:1 and 4:1.
Dave: Any with the range, all right.
Jonny: Yeah, I’m cool with the range of 1:1 to 4:1. The 1:1 comes from the Boyd Eaton original paper on the Paleolithic diet that was published on either JEMA on New England Journal, I don’t remember which. It’s a classic paper on the paleo diet that started the whole thing going. It was even before Loren Cordain’s book came out. That was about 1:1. In fact, some research in that world, the thing on dietetics that I told you about when I talked about ratio, found that some Paleolithic or hunter gatherer societies actually consumed 0.7:1. It was actually even less than 1:1, but I’m very comfortable with the ratio of between 1:1 and 4:1.
The one thing I would say to you about your friends and the people who are measuring your blood and looking at that is that the dietary ratio may not necessarily be the same as the ideal ratio in the blood.
Dave: That’s exactly right.
Jonny: If you’re looking at this guy is 0.86:1, that may not have a perfect correlation with the dietary intake. I think for dietary intake, I’m comfortable with saying anywhere between 1:1 and 4:1 but not 16:1, not 40:1, not 50:1, not what we’re consuming in America.
Dave: The implication here is something I did. I was a huge Barry Sears fan when he first came out back in the late ‘90s when his own diet first came out and it did make a difference for me. I saw half my weight but I’ve played with Atkins but it was on. I really got into the nut oils and eating almonds because you need that omega 3 but what I found was that, and I was a raw vegan too where I eat tons of nuts, but nuts are actually not that good for you. They’re all in the suspect food category because although they have some fat in them and because they’re relatively low sugar, if you eat way too many nuts, you are going to get more omega 6 than you want.
I’m a fan of eating nuts but when you do it, some in the paleo community have done over times, like, “Look¸ it’s a paleo dessert.” It’s like pounds and pounds of nuts and a whole bunch of dates which are actually sugar. Somehow that makes it “paleo” because there isn’t a legal definition of paleo. That concerns me because when I was eating masses of nuts, my inflammation was not low. When I ate moderate amounts of nuts, my inflammation was under control. Funny, that’s what the biochemistry says should happen but nuts by themselves aren’t good or bad. Excessiveness are bad. No nuts is probably okay. A modern amount of nuts is great.
Jonny: Yeah. To speak to that, and I think it’s a great place to take a bird’s eye view of all this is I’m not a fan of any religious following of any dietary principles of paleo, you can’t eat beans, and this one you’ve got to eat lots of it. I find that that kind of slavish following of any dietary principles, including my own, is very misguided and ultimately not beneficial, and it goes my second point which is biochemical individuality. I think this is something that you agree with and it’s something that I’ve embraced ever since my first nutrition class ever.
It comes from a book that was written in the ‘50s by a doctor named Dr. Roger Williams who actually invented Vitamin B5 or discovered vitamin B5, pantothenic acid. He wrote this book called Biochemical Individuality. What he had done was he did a ton of autopsies and a ton of live analysis and things like a number of beta cells in the pancreas, then the size of the thyroid gland, just every possible measurement and metric you could go in normal people, and he found a range that was all over the map in terms of the effectiveness of your cytochrome P450, enzymes in the liver that detox, the size of the thyroid gland, the size of just about any organ you can name, enormous variations.
I always come back to this in saying, when you talk about too much of nuts can be a good thing, too little, that it’s always going to come down to what fits you, not what’s the best diet but what’s the best diet for you, the person. That may mean it’s something that the biochemistry says should be fine or it’s something that the biochemistry says should not be fine. Maybe just perfect for you or maybe terrible for you.
In doing my Fat Loss Summit, I interviewed Gary Taubes, for example. He said, “I knew at age 4, I was allergic to corn. It doesn’t matter if corn is good, bad, or indifferent. I can’t eat corn.” I, Jonny Bowden, don’t drink alcohol. We all have our curse of what doesn’t work for us. It doesn’t matter that there’s a million study showing that two drinks of alcohol a day lowers the risk of heart attack. Not for me. Maybe whatever the food was that triggered some of your research and things that have mold in them and things like that that maybe many of us aren’t aware didn’t work for you.
I always encourage people, for me, my mission in life is to get people to be the leader of their own health team and not to necessarily follow the gurus whether it’d be me, or you, or anybody, but to find their own path and to use what we tell them as guidelines to test things out and see if it works or not. If it doesn’t, throw it out. I don’t care what the authorities say.
Dave: What are the things that took the most time in writing the Bulletproof Diet is I developed the roadmap. These things, for almost everyone, are going to make you kickass, ghee and stuff like that. There’s a big broad set of stuff in the middle of that that I call suspect foods and the reason is for 20% of the population, this totally messes you up. You’re probably eating those things every day and you don’t know it. This other one, 40% of the population has problems with it but they don’t know it. For this other one, it’s 30%.
You throw all this together, and you’re like, “Look, unless you eliminate all the things that are causing problems for a little while, you’ll never know which suspects are guilty because you always feel a little bit like crap even if you don’t know it.” It was that amount of science. I can tell, for me, I know every single source of kryptonite in food. Everything that makes me weak, I notice. Everything that makes me strong, I notice. What I eat and what you eat, like you said, they’re not the same. How much carb do I need? I’ve titrated it. How much carb do you need? I don’t know but I can tell you the time that’s the best time to eat it for most people, and you may be bizarre and you need fruit loops in the morning. I just don’t really think that’s likely.
Jonny: I couldn’t agree with you more. In working with clients, I don’t do it anymore one-on-one but 10 to 15 years of doing it, one thing I learned is that there are people who will drink coffee late at night and go right to sleep, and there are people who would take a valet, and then go out and party. There is a huge, huge, huge variation in how people respond to substances and the action is not finding the perfect system but in honoring your own individual differences and deciding what works for you. I think that’s something you would probably agree with. To me, that’s probably the most important message of all.
Dave: Absolutely. We’re up on the end of the show, Jonny, and I want to ask you a question. I’m really interested to hear your answer.
Dave: In every episode, I ask the same question. If someone came to you tomorrow and said, “Look, based on everything that you’ve learned, everything you’ve experienced in your life, what would you tell me if I said I want to kick more ass at life. I want to be better at everything I do. What are the three things I need to know that matter the most?”
Jonny: It’s a very, very good question. The first thing I’d probably tell them is to stop believing the experts no matter what it’s on and no matter what the subjects that we’re talking about. That would be a good starting spot or using expert information in a different way. When I was in graduate school, there was a book that was my favorite book ever, and it was called, you’ll understand immediately just from the title, it was called If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him. It was a book about not following gurus and not thinking somebody has all the answers. That would be number one.
To me, just in my personal life, and my personal experiences, and the challenges I’ve gone through between addiction and you name it, I think that the greatest source of that performance that you’re talking about where they want to kick ass, and they want to be more, and they just want to break through walls, and shine always comes from the embracing the dark side of yourself. All the stuff we keep hidden, and we try not to show people, and that we think is shameful and wrong, when we embrace that and handle it for the good and embrace it, our performance just all of a sudden would become who we are.
Look at it in politics, I know this is going to be evergreen and people would probably listen to this a couple of years from now, but right now, we’re in 2016 in the middle of the primaries, and who is winning? Two completely different human beings who couldn’t be more different and all they share is they’re authentic. You may not like them but they’re authentic. Authenticity wins out every time. Whether it comes to performance, or shining, or breaking through, it’s always going to be about embrace that stuff.
Allen Stone has a great song where he talks about what you’re doing outside. Actually embrace that stuff that you’ve been keeping quiet or keeping under the radar, and when you really embrace that, and you become more of who you are in the best way, and you actually think less about yourself and more about what you can contribute to others, it skyrockets you in ways you cannot possibly anticipate.
Dave: Beautiful answers. Thanks Jonny and thanks for being on Bulletproof Radio. Your book is called Smart Fat, co-authored with Stephen Masley, and what URL should people go to if they’d like to learn more?
Jonny: Smartfat.com and, of course, my website, jonnybowden.com, no H in Jonny.
Jonny: Right, and smartfat.com
Dave: Smartfat.com. We’ll put those links in the show notes.
Jonny: Thank you.
Dave: If you enjoyed today’s episode, you can get a full transcript of it for free on bulletproofexec.com, and we’ve linked all the cool stuff we talked about. If you’d like to say thanks, I want to tell you about something that I almost never … I think I never talked about it on Bulletproof Radio but I’m going to show it to you because it’s something that I’m really pleased with. Bulletproof Hot Chocolate.
Now, if you’re watching on YouTube, I just held up the can almost like I was pitching something but I’m going to tell you something that you don’t know about. Hot chocolate is amazing when you make it with the right chocolate and with your sugar in it. There’s times when you want to give stuff to your kids. My kids, they drink Bulletproof Coffee. They get a little one or two ounce exhibit, and that’s fine, but if you wanted something that’s a little bit more mellow, a hot chocolate like that is amazing but when it’s made with only real food, it does something different for how you feel because you’re not getting that sugar high.
Here’s why I’m talking about hot chocolate. I recently did something that was a miracle in the kitchen. I took Bulletproof Hot Chocolate mix, and I mixed in room temperature grass-fed butter, and brain octane oil, and I blended it. What came out was this ridiculous frosting-like substance that completely transformed pretty much anything I’ve put it on. It wasn’t very good on salad but if you wanted some dessert-like frosting, this stuff completely blew me out of the water. I should call Bulletproof Hot Chocolate Bulletproof Chocolate Frosting Mix because oh my God, it’s good.
Anyway, if you haven’t tried it even though I have it, you can make a mocha out of this stuff but it’s one of those things where I really carefully crafted this stuff and I never talked about it. There are a huge number of friends of mine in Utah who don’t drink coffee. One of them came to me and said, “Dave, you should just call Bulletproof Hot Chocolate Mormon fuel.” There you go. If you are in Utah and you don’t know I have this stuff, you need to try it. Put some brain octane, put some butter in there, blend it up in the morning, and you’ll be bulletproof without any coffee. Have an awesome day. Thanks for listening. Serious, Bulletproof Hot Chocolate is amazing.
What You Will Hear (note: timestamps represent audio, YouTube may differ)
- 0:00 – Five 4 Club
- 1:34 – Cool Fact of the Day
- 1:55 – Bouqs
- 3:10 – Introducing Jonny Bowden
- 5:37 – The low-fat diet myth
- 9:11 – Jonny’s nutritional turning point
- 15:58 – Thoughts on evidence-based diet claims
- 24:59 – Mycotoxin-contaminated food
- 27:20 – Plant-based fats
- 34:05 – Quality pork
- 36:30 – Recommended Omega ratios
- 44:06 – Biochemical individuality
- 46:52 – Suspect foods
- 48:25 – Top 3 recommendations for to kick more ass and be Bulletproof!
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Five 4 Club promo code: bulletproof
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