This week we have the pleasure of hearing from Dr Jonny Bowden. In his own words:
“Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, (aka “The Rogue Nutritionist”) is a nationally known expert on weight loss, nutrition and health. He is a board-certified nutritionist with a master’s degree in psychology and the author of fourteen books on health, healing, food and longevity including two best-sellers, “The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth” and “Living Low Carb”. A frequent guest on television and radio, he has appeared on Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, and CBS as an expert on nutrition, weight loss, and longevity. He is a past member of the Editorial Advisory Board for Men’s Health magazine, is the Nutrition Editor for Pilates Style, and is a regular contributor to AOL, Vanity Fair Online, Clean Eating Magazine, Better Nutrition, and Total Health Magazine Online.
Dr. Jonny has contributed to articles for dozens of national publications (print and online) including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, Vanity Fair Online, Time,Oxygen, Marie Claire, Diabetes Focus, GQ, US Weekly, Cosmopolitan,Self, Fitness, Family Circle, Allure, Men’s Heath, Prevention, In Style, Natural Health, and many other publications. He appears regularly as an expert on ABC-TV Los Angeles.
He is the author of:
- “The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth”
- “The 100 Healthiest Foods for Pregnancy” (with Allison Tannis)
- “The Most Effective Natural Cures on Earth”
- “The Healthiest Meals on Earth” (with Jeannette Bessinger)
- “The 150 Most Effective Ways to Boost Your Energy”
- “The Most Effective Ways to Live Longer”
- “The Live Longer Cookbook” (with Jeannette Bessinger)
- “Living Low Carb” (Revised and expanded edition) (100,000 in print and winner of the “Consumer Nutrition Book of the Year” award)
- “The Healthiest 15-Minute Recipes on Earth” (with Jeannette Bessinger)
Dr. Bowden has a Master’s Degree in psychology and counseling and a PhD in nutrition, and has earned six national certifications in personal training and exercise. He is board certified by the American College of Nutrition, a member of the prestigious American Society for Nutrition, and a much in-demand speaker at conferences and events across the country. He is also the part owner of Rockwell Nutrition.”
The Slim Is Simple.org Non-Profit Nutrition Education Effort
JONATHAN: Hey, everybody. Jonathan Bailor back with another Calorie Myth show and I am excited because this is a virgin experience here for me. It is the first ever three-time Calorie Myth show guest. He holds the record for the number of appearances because I think he may also hold the record for being one of our funniest and most delightful guests. His name is Dr. Jonny Bowden and he has been changing lives and correcting misinformation and busting myths for many years and I respect him immensely for that. Jonny, welcome to the show, brother.
JONNY: Oh, thanks for having me, bro. I’m really delighted to be here. You’re one of my favorite interviewers and I do a lot of these and I don’t always look forward to them but I look forward to yours.
JONATHAN: “Oh my goodness. I have to talk again on camera. Oh.” I love it. Well, Jonny, what has been getting you up in the morning recently? Because you’ve been doing this for quite some time; you’ve been at it; you’re an incredibly hard worker; but you stay motivated. What is keeping you motivated these days?
JONNY: That’s a great question. Supporting my family.
JONATHAN: There you go.
JONNY: No, you know, this is the thing. I get very passionate, as you know, as you do. I don’t like bullies and I feel like the conventional medical establishment has bullied us into such misinformation. Just the other day — talking about something recently — I heard a very famous doctor, who’s got a new book out and who’s on one of the talk shows. When I heard what this guy is saying about, “Oh, you can’t eat fat. That’s going to give you heart disease. You’ve got to eat this number of It’s all about the calories. You should just exercise more and the fat will burn –” I want to jump through the radio and strangle this fellow because they have the microphone and they are the ones that are putting out this horrible information that is making people not only sick, fat, tired, and depressed; it’s also turning them into victims because, as you know, because that’s been your platform, if you tell people the only reason they aren’t losing weight is because they’re eating too many calories and they won’t get off the couch, what does that make–? That victimizes people because they are…
I was a trainer twenty-two years ago. I worked in this field twenty-two years and I was a trainer for ten of them and I can tell you that there are these people who are doing everything we’re telling them to do — they are exercising religiously, they are cutting their calories, and they’re not losing weight. So what does that message tell people? It tells people it’s their fault. Now, we’ve got to find the balance here between personal responsibility — because I do believe you’ve got the roll of the dice — you get the genes that you get, you get the environment you get — but you don’t want to just toss up your hands and say, “Well, I’ve got bad genes. There’s nothing I can do.” There’s always something you can do. I always use the example of backgammon or poker. You get the cards you get but don’t try to play a champion poker player because they know what to do with the cards. Right?
JONNY: Backgammon — it’s the roll of the dice — but you take a championship backgammon player, it doesn’t matter what they roll; they know how to play that dice. So I want to be clear to people. You are not fat because you ate too many calories and you didn’t get off the couch but that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing you can do about the conditions that you either inherited or that you came out of the box with or that the dice handed you. So we want to find that place where we go, “Okay, we’ve been told a bunch of lies about why we’re obese or why we can’t lose fat, but that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing in our power to do about it because there is.”
JONATHAN: Yup. Jonny, what gives you hope or do you have hope? Because just recently, I was reviewing some of the literature and I stumbled upon one of my favorite passages I’ve ever seen in — Well, I guess it’s not mainstream, but the Journal of the American Medical Association — obviously one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world — and it was a paper published in that journal by two Harvard Medical School professors saying flatly, “Saturated fat has never been shown to have any relationship with cardiovascular disease.” So that is the preeminent nutrition research institution in the world in the preeminent medical journal in the world stating unequivocally something that — you mentioned the other day you wanted to jump through the television set — the mainstream is still misinformed about. If we have that level of scientific support around the facts, how can we change the mainstream?
JONNY: Boy, that’s a good question, Jonathan. If you figure that answer out, promise me you will share it with me because it’s an uphill battle. I mean, when you read this — the nutrition reporting that passes through investigative journalism — Oh, vitamins don’t work, or, This doesn’t accomplish –, or, None of us should take multivitamins, or you get one of these studies that is badly done and then misreported by the press, or you get doctors like the one that made me want to jump through the radio and strangle him, it’s a very hard thing to — It’s a very uphill battle to get people to look a little bit deeper and see if that information holds up.
Now, you know I wrote a book, The Great Cholesterol Myth, in which we literally dissect everything we’ve been told about heart disease — that it’s caused by saturated fats; that cholesterol measurements actually mean something; and that if we can only lower cholesterol, we’re going to lower our risk that cholesterol predicts heart disease. This is just bad and wrong information but it is incredibly difficult to get the alternative or the other side of the story out to the public and, sometime offline, I’ll tell you some of the challenges we’ve had with even getting the message of The Great Cholesterol Myth out. It’s not an even playing field. You’ve got enormous forces that are in place to keep this myth going and it’s not because —
Here’s the thing. I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I don’t think these doctors are bad guys. They honestly believe this stuff and they believe it because they’ve been taught it from the very beginning, from their entrance into medical school; it’s sponsored by the pharmaceutical companies; they get you early on when you’re a student with free lunches and prescription pads; and they start that relationship early and they suddenly influence the mindsets of these doctors, who are trained in this mainstream way, literally thinking nutrition doesn’t matter or if it does, it’s just a minor thing, we’ll give it to the dietician, because the drugs are what really count. They are so immersed in that way of thinking that it becomes very, very difficult to change their minds. It’s like turning an ocean liner around. It’s not a tug boat you can just turn on a dime; it’s a big old ocean liner. You’ve got a thirty-one billion dollar a year industry in lowering cholesterol. That’s not going to go away just because there are a couple of studies that show that it’s completely wrong.
So it’s a hard fight and it’s people like you that are putting that out there and eventually I would like to believe it will reach a critical mass and enough people will say, “Dude, we’ve been wrong about this.” It probably won’t happen just because of you or just because of me; but if enough of us continue to talk this way and enough studies are done like the one you just quoted, and there are several like that, eventually people will start to think, Maybe this isn’t the whole story.
JONATHAN: Jonny, do you have any hope? I mean, I don’t know whether or not what I’m about to say is hopeless or hopeful; but I’ve seen people like you, I know people like myself, there’s so much science and facts supporting what we’re talking about, and yet there’s still so much resistance that it starts, to me, to be a little bit more analogous to social progress.
JONNY: It’s exactly like that.
JONATHAN: It’s kind of like you’ve got to wait a few decades for some of the people to just not — Do you see younger physicians treating this differently? Like, a physician fresh out of medical school today — how are they different from a physician who graduated from medical school 20 or 25 years ago?
JONNY: Well, I don’t know that there is your single typical, like the ones with the [Unintelligible 08:36] children that’s natural. I don’t know that there is such a thing. I mean, it depends a lot on how conservative they are and, by nature, how much they tend to trust the authorities and trust the government recommendations. So a lot of that goes into it but I’ve talked to some doctors on our side of the fence offline and they’ll say, This is never going to change till those guys die out. They are never going to change. You’ve got to wait for the next generation.
JONNY: I’d like to think that that’s not 100 percent true because I’ve seen some big turnarounds among some really mainstream doctors but there is some truth to that. There’s a culture of believing that weight loss is all about calories and exercise; that heart disease is all about cholesterol and saturated fat. Those two hypotheses go very closely together, by the way, because I got into the cholesterol thing. I started as a weight loss coach, as a trainer, and then became a nutritionist. How did I get to cholesterol? Because when we would advise these folks to stop being so afraid of fat and fat’s the natural fuel for the human body; that’s what we’re meant to run on; that’s what our primitive ancestors ran on; that’s the ideal source of fuel because, after all, your body can store maybe 1800 calories or carbohydrate as something called glycogen; it can store 69 gazillion calories of fat. So this is what we want to be able to access and we would tell people, “Eat the whole egg. Throw olive oil on the food.” We’ve begun to sort of see that change. When I was practicing nutrition with clients, it was always an uphill battle because I would say things to them and then they’d go back to their doctor and say, “The nutritionist said to take this fish oil.” “That’s all nonsense.”
So it’s constantly battling with these guys and that’s what gets my blood boiling because they’re doctors who have never taken a nutrition course, by the way. Most doctors in America — It’s not even a required course in medical school. It’s an elective in some schools and you don’t even have to take it. You can get a Harvard degree in medicine without taking a nutrition class. So to argue with these guys, it’s just crazy. So I got into the cholesterol thing because I was recommending foods that the mainstream said, “You can’t eat these foods because you’ll get a heart attack.” It’s just a complete bald-faced lie. Only by investigating, Well, is this all true at the — ? Should this be something people worry about? Only by dismantling that myth were you able to make the food recommendations that actually will get people healthy.
JONATHAN: It makes a lot of sense. I love what you said about the Harvard Medical School reference and I heard a funny joke the other day which I don’t know if you’ve heard but if you haven’t, I will share it with you now. So, Jonny, what do you call — and if you do know the answer to this joke, please play along.
JONNY: Sure, I will.
JONATHAN: What do you call a physician who graduated last in their class?
JONNY: I give up. I can’t wait to hear.
JONNY: It’s a good one. I’m not bashing. I go to conferences all over the country and the problem is, you see the same 300 doctors and there are 800,000 doctors in America.
JONNY: So we see the same couple of hundred show up at all the conferences in nutritional medicine, in integrative medicine, in — I don’t want to call it alternative — but more fully-integrated practice where they look at nutrition, they look at stress, they look at sleep, they look at fitness — I probably can’t tell you this yet because it’s not signed, sealed, and delivered but we’re working on a book deal with an incredible doctor who’s going to be my co-author in the next book. When you go to his clinic, you better be prepared to be there five hours. He does a one-hour fitness evaluation, a one-hour nutrition evaluation, a one-hour cardiac evaluation. Nobody’s doing it.
JONNY: And we don’t see that very often. We see, Oh, guy’s got high cholesterol? Get the prescription pad out. Seven minutes. Next person in. It’s not that they’re –Again, they’re not bad people; they are just prisoners of a mentality and a certain economics — you’ve got seven minutes to see a patient; they want a prescription; give them a prescription; get them out of there; get some next — It’s just a very destructive way to practice in terms of really promoting health.
JONATHAN: Jonny, you hit the nail on the head. It’s definitely not about physician bashing because I think they have unreasonable expectations placed upon them. For example, my mother is a college professor. She teaches English literature but people don’t go up to her and they say, Oh, Professor Bailor, you’re a professor, so teach me calculus.
JONNY: Oh, thank you for saying that. Look, I say this all the time. Asking your doctor about nutrition is like asking your golf pro about interior decorating. They might know that. That might be a hobby. They might be the best interior decorator in the world or the best tennis player in the world, but they didn’t learn it in accounting school; they learned it on their own and it’s the same thing. When people tell me they’re going to ask their doctor about nutrition, I go, Oh, good, ask your golf pro about cooking. He might be a good cook but nothing about their golf pro education equips them to be an expert on cooking and nothing about a medical education equips anybody to talk about nutrition.
There are exceptions. My friend, Mark Houston, an M.D. with impeccable credentials — he teaches doctors all over the country doing continuing education; he went back to school, got a Masters in nutrition and joined the American College of Nutrition. I can name five guys like that — five men and women like that — in the country. Most of them are nutritionally illiterate.
JONATHAN: Jonny, let’s turn the corner to what does work and some good news. What would you say are some of the hidden gems, but big items, that you’ve seen do give people the most bang for their buck in terms of this new science and what actually works and what’s actually been proven?
JONNY: Well, let’s start with the low-hanging fruit, which is diet, and I know we’re going to talk a little bit later about New You in 22 and we actually talk about five pathways in New You in 22 that promote fat burning — not just diet and exercise; there are three other ones that people tend to neglect — but let’s take the low-hanging fruit, which is diet. Biggest bang for your buck, biggest thing you can do, most immediate results — cut the carbs. I don’t mean to zero. I mean, judicious use and careful selection of your carbohydrate sources. Most of the metabolic diseases that we see in America today and all over the world — metabolic syndrome, heart disease, diabetes, obesity — these are all metabolic diseases. They all start with hormonal dysregulation. Hormones drive weight gain. Not calories; hormones.
All calories are not created equal. A thousand calories of sushi — very different effect metabolically than a thousand calories of fat; a thousand calories of protein — very different effect metabolically than a thousand calories of Domino sugar. So we’ve got to look beyond calories, as you’ve made your mission statement to educate people about, and we have to look at the effect those calories have on hormones. The most profound effect you can get in terms of lowering the fat-making apparatus in the body is by cutting out the processed carbohydrates. That’s the number one thing that I’d recommend and it doesn’t mean a no-carb diet; it means where you’re getting your carbohydrates almost exclusively from vegetables, some low-sugar fruits, maybe lentils, beans, and you get rid of the cereals and the pasta and the rice and the potatoes and the Twinkies and all the other stuff that really drive weight.
JONATHAN: Jonny, that works on so many levels because I think what people tend to forget is that eating is a zero-sum game.
JONATHAN: If I’m one of the old-school practitioners or nutritionists and I say, “A quarter of your plate should be grains.” That means a quarter of your plate isn’t kale, by definition, right? There’s only four quarters of your plate. So how do you think anyone in their mind — or is it just because maybe there isn’t any thinking going on — can say that eating these refined and nutrient-impoverished carbohydrates have any place on a plate because if they do, they’re displacing other things?
JONNY: That’s true. Well, you could theoretically use the MyPlate, which I think is very simplistic and not applicable to everybody, but it’s probably an improvement over what most people eat.
JONNY: One of the upgrades from the God-awful Food Pyramid, which should’ve been retired decades ago, and the MyPlate, the slight improvement, is that at least it puts protein in a larger — Maybe it gives protein a bigger role. It’s not anti-fat completely. There’s more fat on the plate. Yeah, they threw in the grains and that’s, to me, an optional thing; it doesn’t mean that no one can eat grains ever but it certainly shouldn’t be one of the essentials as far as I’m concerned. The same thing with dairy — some people do very well with it, some people really would be way better in just eliminating it. So, yeah, you could use that as a kind of guide. I spoke to kindergarten through eighth grade on Monday morning mostly. I used MyPlate, because you just can’t get into all the other stuff with them, but it’s definitely better than what they’re eating now, which is basically Doritos.
JONNY: So, yeah, you could do that but as you refine it more, you start to see there are huge variations from person to person in metabolism, metabolic individuality, hormonal individuality, and some people do do okay with grains; many don’t. Some people do do okay with real raw unpasteurized dairy; some people, not so much. You have to always be able to tweak that to the individual. I’ve said, from the beginning of my career, There is no such thing as a perfect diet. There is a perfect match between plate and person and that’s the part we all have to empower ourselves to look at.
JONATHAN: Brilliant. Well, in terms of finding your perfect match there, Jonny, one of the things that you excel at is taking this information and systematizing it and turning it into various programs that folks can just dive into and get concrete information right away in a very accessible fashion and I know you’ve got a brand new offering available. Can you tell us a bit about that?
JONNY: Sure. It’s called New You in 22 and we are very excited about it. We just finished the beta test. We ran 400 people through the program and these were not your typical — these were people who had a lot of resistance to weight loss. Most of them were very overweight. Most of them, the minimum number of diets that they had really committed to and done and had not been successful was four. Most of them had done five. A lot of them had diabetes and most of them were very overweight. The results we got were just so stunning and so inspiring — and not just in the area of weight loss — and this is, I think, a very important point. The weight loss was pronounced and dramatic but what we kept hearing from these folks was things like aches and pains went away. That seems surprising at first until you think about it. The very foods that caused the hormones that store weight gain to go through the roof are the same foods that cause inflammation — the same foods we’re addicted to — the processed carbohydrates, the ones that we can eat six bowls of cereal, and just the things that call to us, that are addictive. They are the same foods that cause the kind of inflammation that are associated with pain and aches.
So it’s not entirely surprising that when you take, for example, wheat out of your diet for a couple of weeks, a lot of people have symptom improvement. This is something I noticed my first year as a trainer at Equinox in 1990. I had someone who came in for weight loss. I didn’t know any of this stuff — none of it. I wasn’t even a nutritionist. I was a trainer who had learned a few things from the idiotic American Dietetic Association — that’s where you get your nutrition training when you’re a trainer — and I experimented with her and took bread out of her diet just because I thought, Hey, that’s probably a source of calories you don’t need. Let’s just take that out. You’re eating a lot of it. What was interesting about this particular client was she had suffered with headaches all her life. Undiagnosed. Nobody knew where they were coming from. She was putting up with them. She was in her late 30s. It had been a lifelong thing with these headaches and I certainly didn’t know where to start with headaches. I was a personal trainer and I knew a little bit about nutrition — not very much. I took the bread out and she comes back and, yeah, the weight loss is proceeding. She says, The most interesting thing is, I haven’t had a headache since we started this diet.
That was my first inclination that some of these foods that actually put weight on also do some other things and many people, like we now know with gluten sensitivity. We used to think, Oh, gluten’s only a problem if you have celiac disease. Not true. Not even close to being true. While I wouldn’t say it’s a problem for every person on the planet, it’s a problem for many more people than we realize it. We took this food out of her diet because we were trying to help her lose weight and, lo and behold, her headaches go away. We see this in New You in 22 all the time and it’s been one of the most gratifying side effects of this better eating plan.
JONATHAN: Jonny, you mentioned that with this program, New You in 22, you’ve seen individuals who have gone on four, five, six diet programs and been unsuccessful.
JONATHAN: So what is it about this new approach you’re advocating that you think allows them on their sixth, seventh, eighth attempt to now have success? What’s that key difference?
JONNY: Well, it’s a couple. The first is — you probably have seen this — everyone who’s listening to this who ever goes to a gym has seen the person who is obese or close to obese, they’re on the treadmill, they’re red-faced, they look joyless, they’re on that treadmill, watching that TV, watching the clock, hoping the hour will be over soon, and what happens? Month after month after month, they’re not really losing weight. So we started with that premise. What’s going on here? You certainly have enough fat — we all do — to power any kind of exercising to be burned for fuel. Why hasn’t it happened?
We came up with the notion of sugar burners and fat burners — that there are some people who primarily burn sugar for fuel — and that’s like going to the ATM for twenty bucks when you need it. It’s not your savings. It’s not accessing the big picture; it’s just, I need this right now. So these folks are eating and burning and eating and burning mostly high carbohydrates — mostly sugar — and they’re not getting to their fat stores, which, to me, is kind of like having a huge bank account but you don’t have the password to the ATM. So you can put the card in, you see, I’ve got all this money in the bank but I don’t have the password; it won’t give me cash. That’s kind of what happens with these folks. You are not fat burners.
So what we started with the premise was to get the most out of human exercise or anything, we’ve got to first do this metabolic upgrade and fix the infrastructure — fix the metabolism — so you can access those fat stores. So that’s one of the things I think that really makes a difference. In this 22-day program, you can go from being primarily a sugar burner to primarily a fat burner and that’s what you want. When someone runs a marathon, they aren’t burning sugar. They’ve got to be very — A good athlete is very effective at getting to those fat stores and that’s what you really want to achieve. So that’s the primary difference.
The second difference is that I believe that there is really more to fat loss than simply diet and exercise. Those are the things everybody talks about but there’s toxin that we are exposed to that can mimic hormones — we call them endocrine disruptors or hormone mimics. They act just like hormones. They can screw up the messaging system so that the hormonal message to burn fat or release fat from the fat cells doesn’t get through. It’s kind of like an e-mail that never gets sent. It just goes to the spam box and doesn’t get to where it’s meant to go.
So we, in New You in 22, actually talk about these other three pathways — sleep, stress, and detoxification — because if you don’t address those, you’re constantly kind of spinning the wheels. Here’s a great example, if you think it’s all about calories, and I know you probably thought about this yourself. Jerry Lewis — everybody knows Jerry Lewis; knows the MS [??MD??] Telethon he does every year. If you’ve looked at him recently, you see a tremendously misshapen face and a tremendous amount of weight that’s gone on this relatively thin guy over the last decade or so. What is that? Is he eating more? No. He’s on prednisone. He’s been on prednisone for years. Prednisone can do that. Now, what’s the takeaway from that? If a medicine can disrupt your metabolism independently of what you’re eating so that you actually start to get a rounder face and a bigger belly, and we know that there’s a dozen medications like this that have weight gain as a side effect, that’s nothing to do with calories. Okay, those are the medicines we know about.
What about the toxins in our environment that can do the same thing, that can mimic hormones, that are estrogen mimics, that actually act much like a kind of an environmental estrogen? What happens to a man if you’re eating a lot of estrogen? You start to get estrogenic deposits around the belly. You begin to look that way. So we took on the task of addressing detoxification from these toxins. Then there’s stress. What does stress do? It puts weight on the belly, shrinks a portion of the brain, plays havoc with insulin levels. So we did a five-pronged approach to this and I think that’s what’s missing in a lot of plans. We tackle detoxification; we tackle sleep; we tackle stress reductions; and of course, we tackle diet and exercise as well and I think that’s one of the distinguishing characteristics of New You in 22.
JONATHAN: Very cool, Jonny. Well, where can folks go to learn more about this program and maybe pick up a copy?
JONNY: Right now, it’s on my website, JonnyBowden.com. The publisher put in all kinds of great bonuses. Right now, it’s available there. I’m sure you all have a link to the program yourself on your site and that’s probably the best way. If you’re listening right now and you desperately want to go to my website, there’s a big link for the Metabolic Transformation Guide and the whole program with the bonuses and it has a 60-day no questions asked money-back guarantee.
JONATHAN: Beautiful. Well, Jonny, thank you as always for the service you provide, for the passion you provide, and for the persistence you provide. I mean, you’ve been doing this for quite some time and you keep at it and you keep rocking and rolling and I admire that and I love that, so thank you so much for that.
JONNY: Thank you and thank you for everything you do. It’s been such a pleasure connecting with you over the years and watching the success of your book and I’m very pleased for you and proud of you for that.
JONATHAN: Oh, well, thank you so much, Jonny. I appreciate it. Listeners — viewers, in fact, because we have video now; we’re in 2014, folks — there is video and audio. Remember, this week and every week after — eat smarter, exercise smarter, and live better. We’ll chat with you soon. Bye.
JONATHAN: Wait, wait! Don’t stop listening yet.
Carrie: You can get fabulous free SANE recipes over at CarrieBrown.com.
JONATHAN: And don’t forget, your 100% free Eating and Exercise Quick Start Program as well as free fun daily tips delivered right into your inbox at BailorGroup.com.
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