- What the “E” in SANE stands for
- Which foods are efficiently stored as fat by the body
- Which food it is difficult for the body to store as fat
- How calories are not at all the same in terms of how many calories we burn turning them into energy
- Why water, fiber, and protein are so important to burning more calories during digestion
- How many calories we burn digesting food per day and how to increase that number
- Why sugar and starch are used by athletes but should not be used by everyone else
- How food is converted into body fat and how to minimize that
- How starch and sugar are twice as likely to be stored as body fat as protein
- What makes a food protein, carbohydrate, or fat
- How there are only six main sources of protein
- How there are only six main sources of fat
- How the vast majority of food is a carbohydrate and that is why most people unintentionally eat a very high carbohydrate diet
- Why going SANE isn’t a high-protein, low-carbohydrate, nor high-fat diet
- The simple and irrefutable scientific explanation for how a calorie is not a calorie
- Listen as Jonathan gets way to excited about science and stands on the studio table and starts screaming
- Why eating less of a traditional diet is still fattening
- Why eating more—but smarter—works, scientifically
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Trailer: Jonathan Bailor’s Smarter Science of Slim
Carrie: Hi everyone this is Carrie Brown and Jonathan Bailor. I’ve brought Jonathan along to make me laugh.
Jonathan: I’m here for comedic and scientific relief. Are you ready for both, Carrie?
Carrie: I am ready for both.
Jonathan: So today I’m excited because we get to wrap up the four factors that determine the quality of a calorie and we all know that’s important because it’s calorie quality that determines the hormonal environment in our body which determines the aspect of our set point weight that we can control which is what determines our long term body composition. So understanding what makes a calorie high or low quality: Super important. We’ve talked about Satiety, we’ve talked about Aggression, we’ve talked about Nutrition and today we are going to talk about the E in SANE – or Efficiency. Are you excited, Carrie?
Carrie: I am.
Jonathan: So efficiency is my favourite because far and away it took the most time to to research because it is the least well known. I mean Satiety, how long a calories keeps you full, how quickly it fills you up, got it. Aggression has to do with glucose and insulin and glycemic load, glycemic index, kind of out there. Nutrition, we all know about nutrition but dividing it by calorie looking at nutrition density or nutrition quality is new for many people, but pretty well established in the nutrition community. But calorie quality factor 4 – or Efficiency – really not super well known and hugely important so we are going to spend time on this today, Carrie.
Carrie: All right. Let’s do it.
Jonathan: So unlike most areas of life where Efficiency is a good thing, when you think about turning food into stored energy or triglyceride or body fat, being able to do that Efficiently, not a good thing! Right, we do not want to eat foods which are Efficiently converted into fat by our body.
Carrie: No, we do not. I can’t believe I’m saying that but I do not want to be Efficient at creating fat.
Jonathan: And a calorie is absolutely, positively not a calorie when it comes to how Efficiently our metabolism converts it into body fat. Think about it this way, Carrie. If Satiety measures how quickly calories fills us up and Aggression shows us how likely calories are to be stored as fat and Nutrition determines how many nutrients per calorie we get, then Efficiency has to do with how easy calories are stored as body fat. The more inEfficient a calorie is the harder it is for our body to store it as body fat and the better it is for us in terms of our goals of shedding body fat.
Carrie: Got it.
Jonathan: And when I say it is not an Efficient process what we have to keep in mind is that there is a long road from put food in mouth and final resting place for food in our body, right. There is a lot of chemical and even physiological or physical changes. You chew the food, that changes it, it goes into your stomach, that breaks it down even further, it gets broken broken down even further, it gets turned into glucose, I mean the food gets broken down. A bunch of chemical reaction have to take place and certain actions in our body to digest food cost calories to do. It’s not free for our body to convert say a piece of meat into its component amino acids. That’s not free. That costs energy to do that.
Carrie: So it’s kind of like wherever one used to laugh about how it takes more calories to chew celery than you actually ingest in the celery. It’s kind of a similar kind of thing.
Jonathan: It’s exactly right, Carrie, and there is just many other examples of that. In addition to chewing, calories vary in the Efficiency with which our body can process them in many more steps down the road so let’s talk about those. So, before we get into that, which is potentially a little bit complicated but I think it is interesting. Let’s make sure we all are happy because this fundamentally is simple because I am going to spoil it for us all here. I am going to tell us that just like water, fibre and protein are what we want to focus on from a Satiety, Aggression and Nutrition perspective, the same thing applies here from an Efficiency perspective. Water cannot be stored as body fat, obviously, so it’s just not relevant. Fibre is not digested and therefore can never be stored as body fat. It is completely inEfficient because our body tries to digest it. We burn a bunch of calories chewing it, we burn a bunch of calories trying to break it down in our digestive system but we don’t and then our body gives up and it passes through our digestive system. That’s why it keeps us regular. Because we just… anyway, we all know how that story ends!
Carrie: You have the nicest way of saying some of the horrible things.
Jonathan: Ha ha. And then when it comes to… so that was water, fibre, protein. That’s the one that I really want to focus on today because it is not as obvious. So, Carrie, let’s continue what you mentioned earlier of the whole… some foods take longer to chew and then, you know, you burn more calories chewing them. It’s not commonly known, but for the average person about 10 percent of the calories we burn every day is burned just converting food into usable energy. So 10 percent of the calories just automatically burned, basically during digestion. Now, we can actually increase that number by eating inEfficiently. The average American, or the average Westerner, eat a very Efficient diet. It’s very high in dry, low fibre and low protein foods, predominantly starches and sweets and it does not take much energy at all to convert those foods into body fat.
Carrie: So really that’s the road of least resistance.
Jonathan: It is and that’s in fact why if for example athletes will often want to consume sugar. The reason for that is that yes, that sugar is energy, very, very quickly and if you are sprinting or performing a marathon or doing some sort of distance activity you need energy right now, very quickly, and you will burn it off. However, if you are sitting at desk for most of the day you don’t need Efficient energy, you actually need inEfficient, sustained energy throughout the day. So let’s talk about why protein is so inEfficient. So when it comes to actually digesting the food, to breaking it down in our stomach, our body is quite Efficient at breaking down fat. It’s also quite Efficient breaking down carbohydrate. However, our body takes 5-10 times more energy to digest protein or to break it down into amino acids. In fact one third of the calories we get from protein are burned digesting it. So if you eat 300 calories of protein, this is a simplification, but only 200 of them leave your stomach.
Jonathan: Essentially. So they are just burned off by the act of doing digestion. But, Carrie, the road from, let’s say chicken breast, to love handles goes much longer because, actually, there is no road from chicken breast to love handles because protein, even once it’s broken down into amino acids and leaves our stomach, amino acids cannot be stored as body fat. It’s like trying and mix oil and water. It’s doesn’t work that way. If there is excess protein aka amino acids available to us that don’t need to be used to repair muscle, they are converted into glucose which is a sugar that is the primary source of energy for most people. And this is done in our liver. It’s called gluconeogenesis and it is very calorically expensive meaning that this chemical conversion that takes is hard for our body to do. It’s difficult to take an amino acid and chemically change it into glucose. And I’m going to be a big science geek here: This is actually pretty amazing, right. We have one thing in our body, and our body says, “I don’t need anymore amino acids so I am going to do a science experiment. I am going to turn it into something else. I am going to convert this from amino acid into glucose,” and glucose might sound familiar because glucose when you eat carbohydrate it is converted immediately into glucose. Protein is not. It is converted into an amino acid and if there is excess amino acid, then and only then is it converted into glucose. But the act of converting burns another third of the original protein calories. So again, if we ate 300 calories of protein we lost a third of them during digestion, then we lose another third of them as they are converted into glucose through gluconeogenesis.
Carrie: But those were only the ones we hadn’t already used up in building muscle or repairing us or whatever.
Jonathan: Correct. Yes to this is a fictional experiment where we are not using the calories for anything. So we ate 300. 200 left our stomach and now we are actually left with only 140 calories. So 300 came in the mouth, 200 left the stomach and only 140 calories worth of glucose exist in our bloodstream because of all the processing our body has had to do with it.
Carrie: Well, that makes me want to eat salmon.
Jonathan: Make sure you eat salmon but there is actually more. There is more, Carrie. So we are at 140 calories. Now, if our body doesn’t need that glucose, because it might need that glucose for energy, but if it doesn’t when we have an abundance of energy which we can’t use our body is going to store it so we can use it later. So if we now want to take that glucose and our body wants to store it as fat or triglyceride it has to do another process. It has to make another chemical change. It has to convert glucose into triglyceride. To do that it costs approximately another 25 percent of the calories. So now, again we started with 300, only 200 or so left digestion, then we were left with about 140 once we converted it to glucose. Once we get to storing it as body fat, and again this is if we didn’t use it for anything as you said, Carrie, we are at about 105 calories. So even in this mythical world where we don’t burn anything, over two thirds of the calories we consume from protein are burned up simply converting protein into a compound which can be stored as body fat.
Carrie: Hence you are saying that it is inEfficient.
Jonathan: It’s incredibly inEfficient. We are losing… think about this from a survival perspective. If we were in a state of famine you are not going to want to eat much protein, right, because if you want to store fat, protein is not going to do that Efficiently. It’s going to do it horribly inEfficiently. We don’t have that problem of a shortage of calories in our culture so if we can more our focus towards eating more protein-heavy food we will burn off many of those calories just through our everyday digestive processes.
Carrie: Salmon. I want to go and eat salmon.
Jonathan: So we just follow that process, that road from protein to body fat, and it is interesting to contrast that with the road taken by other nutrients. For example if we look at that for starch, Carrie, well you eat starch, it goes into your stomach, when leaves your stomach it leaves as glucose. Protein leave as amino acid. Fat leave as triglyceride. When the starch is converted into glucose that is very easy for your body to do. If you were to eat 300 calories worth of starch, about 282 calories worth of glucose would leave your stomach. And again, folks, this is all illustrative and it’s not exactly this way but for our purposes it’s very helpful.
Carrie: So almost all of it… you don’t…
Jonathan: You don’t burn much…
Carrie: You don’t burn much.
Jonathan: It’s like 3 to 5 percent, maybe. And then we talked about with protein we had to now do this conversion into glucose. Well, remember we just skipped that step completely for carbohydrate since it’s already glucose. So now the question is: OK we got 282 calories worth of glucose floating around in our bloodstream. If we don’t need to use that for energy, then we need to convert it into body fat to store it as triglyceride and store it on our hips, on our belly or wherever our body likes to put fat. That still takes some calories to happen. At that point, right, when we talked about protein, we weren’t talking about protein, we were talking about protein converted to glucose, glucose converted to body fat. We’re at that same point here, but we have 282 calories to convert into body fat rather than 140 calories. So at the end of the day, we had from 300 calories of protein about 105 that could be converted into body fat. 211 calories from starch could be converted into body fat. So starch is essentially twice as efficient at being converted into body as protein. So it’s not to say that intrinsically starch is bad. I mean, starch is inSANE and we’ve covered why, but this is just to say “let’s look at the science, let’s look at the physical and chemical reactions that happen when we eat food”, and it’s pretty freaking obvious that a calorie is not a calorie if, you know, two thirds of calories from protein are going to be burned converting it into body fat, where a little bit less of a third of the calories from starch are burned converting it into body fat.
Carrie: Right, that makes total sense.
Jonathan: So water, no calories, inEfficient. Fibre, no calories, inEfficient. Protein, much, much less Efficient than carbohydrate or fat and it is important to note that fat is incredibly Efficient. When we eat fat it leaves our stomach as fatty acids which are very easily then converted into triglyceride. So this not to say, again it is not that fat is bad, we covered this ad nauseum, whole food natural fats are great for you. It’s just important to note that when it comes to Efficiency, protein is very inEfficient, carbohydrate is Efficient and fat is even more Efficient. So when we do our five star stack rank for the Efficiency of food, it’s more inEfficient the more water, fibre and protein it has in it and what is the highest in water, fibre and protein. Well, things like seafood, high quality meats, eggs, select low-sugar dairy products. Non-starchy vegetables. All those things, incredibly inEfficient. Then we take kind of a big step down and we are looking at things like legumes and nuts and seeds and then things like fruits and starch and sweeteners, all that stuff. It’s pretty Efficient, and again it doesn’t mean that fruits are bad for you. Remember we have to look at all four of these factors put together. But when it comes to just looking at this one, just Efficiency, high quality sources of protein, such as seafood and high quality meats and non-starchy vegetables really in a league of their own. Everything else pretty much takes a step down and then the same things as always oils, sweeteners, refined starch and whole grain starch incredibly low, incredibly Efficient, incredibly easy for our body to store as fat.
Carrie: That’s really eye-opening.
Jonathan: And Carrie, I think it might be helpful with all of this talk, and we kind of already did this but maybe we’ll do it a bit more explicitly now really to give just a mini, mini biology lesson here. With all this talk of calories being more or less Efficient as being stored as body fat, let’s quickly step through the process for all of the macronutrients: protein, fat and carbohydrate. Carrie, I want us to really geek out here for a second, because I think with all of this talk of calories being more or less Efficient at being stored as body fat, I think it is worth covering the process of how new body fat is created, or the process of lipogenesis. ‘Lipo’ meaning fat and ‘genesis’ meaning creation. I know it is a bit geeky, but what do you think?
Carrie: That’s what you do.
Jonathan: That’s what I do. We are here to learn science. So let’s do it, Carrie, so we got food and we can classify food by its dominant macronutrient. That means we will call a food a protein if it gets more calories from protein than it does from fat or carbohydrate. We will call a food a fat if it gets more calories from fat than it does from protein or carbohydrate and we will call a food a carbohydrate if it gets more calories from carbohydrate than it does from protein or fat.
Carrie: This turned my whole view of the world on its head when I first read this in your book. It really just… This was startling to me.
Jonathan: Alright, alright. Well, I’m going to try and live up to the hype here. So when we look at these definitions of macronutrients there is really only six or so sources of protein: seafood, lean meat, egg whites, whey protein powder, fat-free and low-fat cottage cheese, fat-free and low-fat plain Greek yoghurt. Those are the main common foods that get more calories from protein than they do from fat or carbohydrate. Certain things like whole eggs and fatty meats and whole fat dairy products get most of their calories from fat so we classify those as fats along with tofu, which gets most of its calories from fat, oils and things like nuts and seeds. Now, everything else gets most of its calories from carbohydrates. This is by and large why some people call the Smarter Science of Slim a high-protein diet or they call it a high-fat diet when in reality it is neither one of those because most people inadvertently eat an extremely high carbohydrate diet because 90 percent of the food you see in the supermarket is a carbohydrate.
Carrie: And that’s the thing that really did it for me, you just don’t realise… until you look at it this way you don’t realise that carbohydrate is just what you are eating. I mean, milk, skinny milk, it’s a carbohydrate. I had the hardest time… I have to… I still after 8 months, I have to remind myself that milk is a carbohydrate.
Jonathan: And that is just why again people tend to misrepresent things. That’s OK, they don’t understand the science yet. We do, so we can talk about it here and with the vast majority of food being a carbohydrate when we eat more, we intentionally eat more protein and we intentionally eat more whole food natural fats, people can interpret that however they want, fact remains: Avoiding an excessively high carbohydrate diet is not at all the same thing as eating a high protein diet or eating a high fat diet. It’s eating a balanced diet. But anyway, we digress. We’ve got proteins, we’ve got fats, we’ve got carbohydrates. So, our metabolism gets its hands on protein, fat or carbohydrate and it then turns them into… so protein gets converted into amino acids, fat gets converted into fatty acids and carbohydrate is converted into glucose. So we got these three substances: amino acids, fatty acids and glucose. And this first step very important because it is yet another example of a calorie not being a calorie. Once fat is converted into fatty acids, if there are more fatty acids around than we currently need all of them are send off to be stored as body fat. For example carbohydrate doesn’t work that way. Glucose cannot be stored as fat. It has to be converted into fatty acids and it also needs the hormone insulin in order to be stored as fat. And then completely inEfficient amino acids from protein come along and before those things can get converted into fat they need to be converted into glucose and then once they are glucose they also need the hormone insulin or else they too can’t be stored as fat. So at that point, Carrie, let’s assume the hormone insulin is available to us and we have glucose on its way to our fat cells. At that point glucose has to be converted into fatty acids. Remember this glucose is either coming straight from carbohydrate or from amino acids which were then converted into glucose. It’s then converted into fatty acids and we are one step away from new body fat. The last step of the process is when those fatty acids combined with the glycerol molecule to form triglyceride, or body fat, and this process is called esterification and it’s not possible without a substance known as glycerol-3-phosphate.
Carrie: You were not wrong when you said geek out!
Jonathan: Ha ha, it’s super geek out but we are going to bring it all back, don’t worry! We’re going to… glycerol-3-phosphate…mmm… but we’re are going to make it all make sense! So quickly let’s summarise here: So the process for protein, so predominantly meat and fish, things like that. Protein becomes amino acids, amino acids goes to our liver which converts them into glucose if it needs to, if insulin is present it becomes glucose which then gets converted into fatty acids which if glycerol-3-phosphate is present becomes triglyceride. That was many steps. Let’s look at carbohydrate. Carbohydrate converts into glucose if insulin exists, glucose is converted into fatty acids, yada, yada, yada. Much shorter path. And let’s talk about it for fats now. Nuts, seeds, things like that. Fat becomes fatty acid and then, glycerol-3-phosphate it becomes triglyceride. So, there is a much longer path from dietary protein to body fat than there is for carbohydrate and there is for fat. And why is this useful. This is super-geeky scientific information as Carrie so kindly illustrated.
Carrie: Ha ha. I was supposed to be reeling you in. I’m not doing a very good job.
Jonathan: Well, you are not reeling and that’s because I think you anticipate that there is going to be… I’m going to say three very cool ways why this scientific knowledge is useful. You are like, “Jonathan has to have a reason for being such a geek”.
Carrie: Please, get to the cool.
Jonathan: Ha ha. That’s so me! OK. I’m going to get to the cool now. Cool thing number one: A calorie is obviously not a calorie, right, if protein is five calorie-burning steps away from body fat, amino acids, glucose, insulin, blah, blah, blah, fat is only two steps away converts to fatty acids and hook up with glycerol-3-phosphate. A calorie is not a calorie. Right. It’s not. Also, cool thing number two: It’s impossible to store glucose as body fat without insulin. You can’t do that. This is one type 1 diabetics die if they do not take insulin because their body cannot access the energy efficiently. So we have to have enough insulin. The more Aggressive a calorie is, the more insulin it triggers, and this is one of the reasons why we don’t like Aggressive calories. If we don’t have a bunch of insulin we are much less likely to store glucose as body fat.
Carrie: Got it. That… you know… In my 112 years on the planet, I’ve never managed to get my head around diabetes and there in about 23 seconds you just laid it all out for me!
Jonathan: And this is somewhat gross… but what happens then with glucose, well, one of the ways people often detect if they have adult-onset diabetes is that their urine will begin to smell sweet and if you were inclined to actually, I’m sorry but I have to say it, to taste the urine of an untreated type 2 diabetic, it would taste sweet. That’s because they are actually urinating out glucose. Like there is sugar in their urine because their body cannot absorb it and use it because they do not have the hormone insulin.
Carrie: That’s cool. That was worth going through the geek for. I’ve waited 112 years for that.
Jonathan: Ha ha. Cool thing number three is, remember, like insulin, no body fat gets stored without glycerol-3-phosphate. That substance is needed to convert fatty acids into triglyceride. And Carrie, guess where we get the most glycerol-3-phosphate? Guess. Guess, it’s obvious… It all comes together…
Carrie: Um… eh… the stuff we shouldn’t eat!
Jonathan: Yes! InSANE starches and sweets! Carbohydrates are not bad, non-starchy vegetables are the most fantastic food for us in the world and they are carbohydrate. It’s just important to note that inSANE carbohydrates – starches and sweets – fuel body fat formation. The provide us with an abundance of glycerol-3-phosphate, they provide us with an abundance of insulin, they don’t satisfy us, they have very little nutrition relative to other foods and they’re incredibly Efficient. Put that all together, and Carrie, it becomes clearer and clearer and clearer why eating more smarter works and why eating less does not. When people eat less they are still overeating because their metabolism slows down, additionally they still have plenty of insulin and plenty of glycerol-3-phosphate because of all the inSANE low quality starches and sweets they continue to eat and overeating plus insulin and glycerol-3-phosphate means new body fat.
Carrie: I totally take it back about you geeking out because that was the coolest three things I have ever heard you say in the eight months I have known you.
Jonathan: The coolest three things, well, OK, I have four more things to say so we will see how these four stack up to those three. So we just talked about why eating less doesn’t work based on what we just said. Eating less of a traditional Western diet. On the other hand, Carrie, when we eat more smarter, we avoid overeating thanks to high-Satiety. We get calories into our bloodstream more slowly and they trigger little insulin because they’re unAggressive Then we maximise the number of nutrients we got from those calories because of their high Nutrition per calorie so our body doesn’t think it’s starving, and then finally we burn a bunch of calories during digestion because of the low Efficiency. Eating all of this SANE food makes us too full for inSANE starches and sweets so we’re full, we’re satisfied, we have a lot of nutrition and by avoiding starches and sweets we do not have enough insulin nor glycerol-3-phosphate to fuel body fat formation. Free from excess insulin, free from excess glycerol-3-phosphate, free from excess calories because we are not overeating and we are burning a bunch of them during digestion. And because we have a lot of Nutrition we eat more food, we store less body fat, and I am just going crazy right now! Ha ha ha. How was that, Carrie?! Boom!
Carrie: Ha ha ha. I’m so glad we kind of sit in the same studio and do this because watching you get excited is just the bomb. What I did want to say… that forget about eating all this SANE food makes us too full for inSANE food, when you understand just what you said in the last ten minutes, why in the world would you even want to eat the starches and sugars, when you understand the process and you know what’s going to happen… I mean, even if I’m not full, now don’t want to eat them. Sorry that wasn’t nearly as exciting as Jonathan having a…
Jonathan: …seizure over here. A SANE seizure!
Carrie: … but there it is.
Jonathan: No, you’re right, Carrie. Not only… that is funny, OK. Carrie, just made a scientific, psychologically point and I’m going to make the emotional point. Roles are reversed here. What’s even…
Carrie: Are you calling me emotional?!
Jonathan: Are you calling me unemotional?! Touché. Ha ha ha.
Jonathan: What’s cool is that in addition to scientific knowledge empowering us, we are just talking about eating delicious, natural foods, right. We are talking about: Let’s eat some delicious organic grass-fed beef. Let’s eat some salmon. Let’s eat some… we can cook that in coconut oil and we can have natural fats, and we can enjoy colourful delicious non-starchy vegetables and delicious fruits like berries and citrus. This isn’t some weird, deprivation, eat 12 grapefruits and nothing else and feel hungry. And… we got as Carrie would say ‘the bomb-science’. You did say ‘the bomb’.
Carrie: I did.
Jonathan: Which is awesome in and of itself. So, ending on a high note. Starting next week. We may do a quick summary, I don’t know, I think we’ve covered a bunch of this stuff pretty well. And then we are going to move onto the third big myth, right. We covered. Let’s do a quick recap, shall we. First couple of podcasts we talked about how it’s not about manually regulating calories in and calories out. Calories in and calories out matters but we don’t need to regulate it and in fact our body regulates it for is if our body is working properly and that is all about our set-point, hormones, things like that. The second big myth we just finished debunking is that a calorie is a calorie. We absolutely know that is false now and we have four reasons why: Satiety, Aggression, Nutrition and Efficiency. SANE foods good, inSANE foods bad. The third big myth is, well that calories is all that matters. Everything we hear about is calories, blah, calories, calories. That’s not true. In fact if we want to say it’s all about something. It’s really all about hormones. And so, we’re going to debunk that myth next. So this myth of.. we talk about calories. It’s actually not. It’s all about food, and it’s all about food because it’s all about hormones, and I’m excited. How are you feeling, Carrie? I’m kind of coming down from my high right now, so… my SANE high.
Carrie: Ha ha. It’s my turn to get emotional. I just think this is awesome. If people really understand all the research you have done and all the endpoints that you got to it changes everything! I mean… everything! And that’s really exciting.
Jonathan: And I think it’s exciting too, Carrie, because again: We do need a new approach, right. As you said so well in earlier podcasts: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is Einstein’s definition of insanity” so we’ve got something new here and it’s not just craziness getting pulled out of Jonathan’s back pocket. It’s backed by a ridiculous amount of research and… it’s good times!
Carrie: Good times!
Jonathan: So let’s do it. Let’s eat more, let’s exercise less – smarter – and we’ll see you next week.