This week we have the pleasure of hearing from Matt Whitmore and Keris Marsden. In their own words:
“Keris Marsden and Matt Whitmore own a group training and nutrition company collectively known as Fitter London and Fitter Food. Both passionate about enhancing people’s lives through the power of nutrition and exercise they run weekly classes, workshops and group health transformations encouraging people to adopt a more primal approach to nutrition.
Keris is a nutrition geek whilst Matt loves cooking and being creative in the kitchen. Together they make the perfect team; educating clients and readers about nutrition and providing tasty recipes and essential resources to ensure that Primal/paleo becomes a lifestyle not just a diet.
Keris is a Naturopathic Nutritional Therapist who embraced Primal/paleo eating and lifestyle principles after suffering from a common female hormonal disorder known as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Her ability to reclaim her health and vitality has inspired her to help others overcome similar health issues applying Primal/paleo methods.
Matt has been passionate about physical performance and sports from a young age. A successful rugby league and union player, he has also represented his county in hockey and skiing. With a love for cooking and a healthy appetite, he uses his nutrition knowledge to put together great tasting, healthy meals to compliment his active lifestyle and guide his clients and Fitter London members to do the same.”
The Slim Is Simple.org Non-Profit Nutrition Education Effort
Jonathan: Hey, everybody. Jonathan Bailor back with another bonus Smarter Science of Slim show. Very excited about today’s show because I am lucky enough to be holding in my hand maybe one of the most colorful and visually appealing books I have potentially ever seen in my entire life. It is a just wonderful, delightful resource to losing body fat and living primally and just all this – the – if you ever thought that SANE eating or primal eating or whole food eating is boring or bland – yeah. You need to check out this book because I tell you what. I haven’t eaten breakfast yet, and that’s kind of a problem because I’m flipping through this book, which is called The Paleo Primer written by our guests Keris Marsden and Matt Whitmore, and I tell you, my taste buds are salivating. So, Keris Marsden and Matt Whitmore, welcome to the show.
Matt: Thanks for having us, mate.
Keris: Yeah, thanks for having us.
Jonathan: Absolutely my pleasure. Well, Keris and Matt, you’ve written this book called The Paleo Primer, but before we get into that, and forgive my ignorance here. You guys seem to be, at least in the US – I know you’re based out of the UK – in the US, you’re kind of new to the Paleo and primal and whole foods scene, at least in the US. Is that just me not understanding what’s going on in the world or is that somewhat true, or – can you tell us your story?
Matt: Well, it’s very true to be honest with you, because whilst we followed a more primal, Paleo lifestyle for a fair few years now, it’s something that most of the guys that we followed, especially initially, Mark Sisson, Robb Wolf, people like that, obviously from the US. But in the UK, it was only recently it’s become popular. But this is where we’ve built our following, so to speak. And I suppose that we only started to get heard of in the States when the book clinched in – ah, when was it?
Matt: Last month, yeah. Just last month. So here we are. We are quiet. We’re very new to the States.
Jonathan: Well, cool. I’m happy to play a role in introducing you, and I’m curious as to what can [inaudible 02:41]. I mean, being from the UK, my podcast co-host, Carrie Brown, is delightful. She’s from the UK, and I’m curious as to when it comes to this whole food/primal/just eating things you could find directly in nature movement, have you – what’s going on in the UK? Is it different than it is in the US? I know you’ve worked closely with Mark Sisson, so have you seen some disconnects or differences in the approach?
Keris: No, we pretty much really submit to you guys in that we’re just trying to get a message out there to people that the further away they move from nature in what they eat, basically, the more unhealthy or the fatter they become. So, and again, over here there is quite a big following for the primal movement, but it’s very specific, and it’s actually being grown in gyms, generally, isn’t it? That’s where you’re seeing it. It’s actually personal trainers that are tending to get their clients following this move to be in whole foods diet, whatever you want to call it.
But we wanted to reach out. We’re actually based in a gym, obviously, as personal trainers, but we wanted to reach out and get friends, family, neighbors, work colleagues, all listening to people about what we call Fitter Food or primal nutrition, and that’s why we wrote the book, really?
Jonathan: So how did you personally – so you mentioned you’re obviously fitness professionals – how did you get so plugged into this, and maybe what I always like to hear people’s story of what did you do before this? And what turned you on to this?
Keris: Well, basically, before I’m the one that’s the nutrition geek, and then I tend to rub it in Matt’s ear all day long. And before I actually used to work in the food industry with some big corporations, looking at things like calories on menus and things like that. Really, it was quite an interesting job. It was sort of food lore and hospitality. But I was very much under the influence of the government and thought that everything should be low-fat, and with, in fact, cereal and whole-grain toast, and then after a while, when I actually became a personal trainer, it was actually another trainer in the gym who I was watching training one day, and he just looked absolutely awesome. He looked really different from when I’d seen him last when he was training really hard. And I said, “What are you doing?” And he said, “Go out and buy one book. It’s called The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf.”
And that started me off on the journey. I bought that book, and that led me to other books, and obviously Primal Blueprint and all the great Paleo/primal guides out there, and that was it really. There was no looking back, was there? Once you see the difference in everything – training and body composition and mindset. It was life-changing, wasn’t it?
Matt: Absolutely. I think that’s the hardest thing with our clients, with our friends and our families, is actually persuade them, if you like, to make these changes for a considerable amount of time. At least two weeks just to actually experience the benefits. Because we know the whole Paleo/primal thing is very, very different to what most people do. But we just want people to give it the benefit of the doubt and give it a try and if they stay on it long enough, they get the benefits, and then they can actually see where we’re coming from.
Jonathan: I love that. I want to ask you, Keris, when you were speaking, you mentioned you used a phrase which – you may not have used it intentionally, but it sparked a little thought bubble in my mind, and that was, one, I love that you guys, you tag team this and you both bring your unique insight into this situation. But Keris, when you were telling your story, you mentioned you picked up Robb Wolf’s book and then you read other books by the guys in this area. And I’m curious because historically, or if you look at just market data, females comprise 80-plus percent of the diet/nutrition/wellness market, but if you look at the primal/Paleo movement, a lot of the let’s call them influencers are male. Why do you think that is? I know this has nothing to do with your book, but I’m curious.
Keris: I would say the nature of the nutrition itself probably appeals a lot more to guys, and actually scares a lot of women. I know I took a little bit of convincing, and it’s only because I’m quite passionate in this area that I went and read around everything. It went against everything I believed about how women should eat. I thought red meat was unhealthy, all these eggs, all this fat, you know. I’d been sort of indoctrinated to think it should be low-fat and cereals and whole grains and more veg, and [indiscernible 07:33] almost vegetarian was healthier to me before that. And yeah, I think it’s all so – it’s very science-based and maybe it’s because men are just more interested in science. I’m not really sure. That’s a bit of a generalization. I might get shot for saying that. But I know women are harder to market, really, to convince and convert, aren’t they?
Matt: Well, this is us, you know. This is a man’s perspective now. I guess my view would be that if you look at lot of diets that are out there that have got a bigger female following, so to speak, I think that they’re the kind of things that if you put them in front of a guy, he’d probably say this is just a fad, it’s a faddy diet, it’s a quick fix, blah blah blah. Whereas I think that’s the thing that actually appeals to women. Women do want a quick fix. They want this “oh, I can lose a boatload of fat in just fourteen days. Brilliant.” Whereas men are a bit more skeptical, I think. So if they can see something that’s a bit more of a long-term primal kind of change, then maybe that would be of a greater interest to them. Does that make sense?
Jonathan: It makes sense. I’m not sure I agree with it, but it makes sense. I mean, I do think it’s a curious paradox because one thing is this idea of just eating raw meat and – rah. It seems more masculine, but we know that that’s not actually what – I mean, I’ve seen Nell Stephenson, who, you know. Paleoista? Loren Cordain’s protégé. She goes out of her way to say this is not about eating raw meat, and when people mock the Paleo movement, they make it seem like it’s this very animalistic, masculine thing. And I just thought it was fascinating because your guys’ book doesn’t do that at all. In fact, it seems that you’re trying to make it a bit more – this is about food, this is about your family, this is about – you know, all that emotional importance and deeper significance that food has in our life. In a lot of ways, call that masculine, call that feminine, call that whatever, it’s just truth. Food is about so much more than just science, and I think your guys’ book does a really good job of just showing how delightful and delicious just eating food can be. And that seems that’s really what we need in terms of breaking down [Indiscernible 10:12] any gender or mainstream versus niche barriers. What do you think?
Keris: Yeah, I would also say there have to be – what we want to do is put forward a nice, convincing argument that wasn’t patronizing and also wasn’t too dogmatic because I think one thing I would say about women is they’re so strongly influenced by the diet industry and by the food industry and through magazines and word-of-mouth, friends mentioning what’s worked for them, really seems to make other women follow suit.
And it’s such a shame. And so what we wanted to do was take colorful pictures of the recipes, show how healthy these foods could be, how quick and easy they could be, and hope that it just appeals to everyone, men and women. But as I mentioned before, women have been hard to convert, haven’t they? And that’s why we put a little bit of science in there about you don’t need to worry about red meat too much and fat and eggs and things like that, and a lot of the science is showing it’s really not what we thought it was any more.
Jonathan: Absolutely. I think that’s a great way to put it. Getting back, Matt, to what you were saying earlier, in terms of it sometimes may seem that a female is more interested in a quick fix in terms of fat loss, but I think you can also see the same thing in terms of men in terms of quick fix in terms of muscle gain. Basically, I think what that might be a representation of is the more societal pressure you have placed upon you to look a certain way, the more you might start to feel desperate and say, “oh my god, I’ve tried everything.” And females will often say, “I’ve tried everything to lose fat.” Men will say, “I’ve tried everything to gain muscle.” And neither one of them are accomplishing their goals, and because of that, they fall victim to these gimmicks and quick-fix approaches, which for both of those, building muscle and burning fat, if people would just eat natural, nutrient-dense whole foods found directly in nature, both in the short term and in the long term they’d be better off, right?
Matt: Oh god, yeah. 100 percent.
Keris: Yeah, I think that what you’ve mentioned there, as well as long-term, what we do try and explain to people is there is no – there shouldn’t be a “diet” that you do for four weeks or six weeks or whatever, and then return to eating how you did before. This should be something that you approach as a lifelong plan, as it were, and how you should always aim to eat for the rest of your life for optimal health.
Jonathan: And what would you say that the Paleo and primal movement, and even whole foods has seen just phenomenal growth. I was actually talking with your buddy Mark Sisson the other day, and he talked about when his blog got started, there was something like six or seven Paleo blogs. There’s now something like six or seven thousand. And of those six or seven thousand public Paleo people, only a handful have books. So what is the unique Keris-and-Matt take on the Paleo/primal lifestyle?
Matt: The thing is, when we initially turned to Paleo/primal, we too had our barriers, you know? We worked long hours, we started early, we got home late, which most people share the same problem nowadays. So for us, mainly it was that we gave a real person’s view in just how you can incorporate that lifestyle, that way of eating into this so-called busy lifestyle where we don’t have time to cook, don’t have time to eat nutritionally-dense foods, etcetera. And to be honest, the book itself, we always speak about this, was a complete accident, if you like, because originally, just working with clients on a day-to-day basis who – our clients vary from obviously men, women, young, old, some people want to gain muscle, some people have got a substantial amount of body fat to lose. Their goals are very, very different, and therefore their needs are different. But ultimately, most of them had the same excuses and reasons as to why they couldn’t follow the prescribed diet.
So originally it was just going to be a little bit of a booklet with a few recipes to get them going, and answering common FAQs and problems or barriers, so to speak. I’m sure you’ve had this, that sometimes when you start writing, twenty pages soon turns into 200, and next thing you know, how the hell’s that happened? And we had a book in our hands. So for us, when we wrote the book, or I should say, when we actually decided it was going to be a book rather than a flyer, we wanted to give a kind of really super-easy to understand approach and actually show people that, look – don’t be intimidated by Paleo or primal eating. It’s not really that complicated. In fact, actually, once you know the principles, it’s pretty damn simple. And we wanted that to come across in the book. If you had a room full of personal trainers, old ladies, men, women, whatever, each of them could pick up the book and get value from it. We didn’t really have a target market in mind, so to speak. But we just wanted it that someone could pick it up, put it down, and think, oh, okay, I feel quite inspired now to go home and cook some really good food. They may well be surprised it tastes pretty damn good as well as being good for them.
Keris: And I’d say that the other thing we made sure of because I’m not that great a cook, and I have no patience in the kitchen [Crosstalk 16:06]…
Matt: That’s my job.
Keris: So we decided minimal ingredients. So we just kept cutting down on the recipes, the steps involved, and the ingredients, and it just became three or four quick steps and most of the stuff people tend to have in their cupboards on a weekly basis as well, wasn’t it? So, our thing is trainers working long hours. We always have to have quick, simple recipes.
Matt: Yeah, we didn’t want it to be ingredients that people just constantly have to keep rushing out to get. It’d be things that chances are they probably already have in their cupboard.
Jonathan: Yeah, Keris and Matt, and listeners, I can speak to this. Looking at the book here, I think one of the things that I really appreciate about this work is my podcast co-host always teases me because she’s a formally-trained chef. So she can just do these amazing things with food, and she mocks my approach in the kitchen as more of assembly. She says, “Jonathan, you don’t cook. You assemble.” And I know there’s a lot of assemblers out there. And I think for all of the assemblers out there, this book – I’m not a huge fan of cookbooks and recipes and such like that, but you are being absolutely fair that in terms of the number of ingredients you need and the number of steps you need to take, to take something that now will look more appetizing. And I’ve got to tell you, anything that I’ve cooked for the past three weeks – this is a pretty awesome resource, and it also does a great job of showing the diversity of – it’s definitely living a Paleo, primal, whole foods nutrient-dense lifestyle. You need to look no further than Keris and Matt’s book The Paleo Primer to see that comfort foods, burgers, breakfasts, sides, salads, condiments, main dishes, desserts, snacks – this is not about depriving oneself. It’s simply about, it seems, making smart substitutions. Is that fair?
Keris: Yeah, I think one thing I learned with clients is they’d often come back to Matt or I and say, “Oh, I just can’t do this, this way of eating that you’ve rec—I just can’t do it.” And I’d be a little bit – we’ve been doing it for a couple of years, and I’d keep saying, “Why? What’s the problem?” And they’d say, “Oh, I just don’t know what to cook or when I have friends over it’s really embarrassing that I have to do healthy food.” And so we thought, let’s start to show people just how tasty and amazing the recipes can be. And a big thing was getting traditional British dishes and just giving them a healthy twist. So, using cauliflower mash on a shepherd’s pie was one, and then Matt’s done his Scotch egg, which is quite a traditional British – it’s normally deep fat-fried, isn’t it, with bread crumbs? And we just baked them in the oven with a few ground almonds instead. That’s been a real winner for us, hasn’t it?
Matt: Huge. I’ve actually got plans to start a Scotch egg revolution. I don’t know, however, that will take off in the States because I don’t think you guys have Scotch eggs over there, do you?
Jonathan: No, no. We have no Scotch eggs. But we can certainly appreciate the global need for eating whole, natural foods. And I just think it’s so great that we can customize all these things. I’m hoping we can even see some Asian cultures start to adopt “here’s how to do this versus that,” because food is so culturally important and so emotionally appealing that this has been my big learning over the past two years, as Mr. Science Guy. You can beat someone over the head all day, every day, and twice on Sunday with science, but when it comes to food, there’s a lot more going on than just science. So that’s why I’m appreciative of people like you and books like The Paleo Primer, because if you want to tap into your animal brain a little bit more and the emotional side of eating, pick this book up, flip through it, and if you can legitimately say this way of eating is bland, boring, or hard, I just don’t think you can. So I very much appreciate your guys’ effort because this is a compelling work. So, thank you.
Keris: Oh, thank you.
Matt: That really means a lot, mate, I say.
Jonathan: Well, Keris and Matt, what is next for you in this journey to help, for lack of better terms, heal the world?
Matt: Whoa. We’ve got quite a lot on the go, actually. We’ve been really, really pleased with the feedback we’ve had from both the UK version and the US version of the book. We feel very humbled by that. And it’s actually inspired us to write more. So, we’ve got a Christmassy book that we’re currently writing, which is, I suppose, a survival guide for Christmas. You know, so people can get through the festive period without piling on a load of weight and then feeling pretty crappy come January. We’re working on that at the moment. That’s going to be released in a few weeks’ time.
But the big thing we’re focusing on at the moment, and this is something we realized a few months ago, is that if we wanted to truly help as many people as we possibly can, which is what we’ve always wanted to do since we set out, was we needed to develop a much bigger online presence, because you know that’s the only way we’re going to branch out and reach people all over the world. So, we’ve that. We’ve got quite a few online programs going on right now. Some are twenty-eight-day kickstarter plans, which we – you know, we call it a kickstarter because we don’t believe in twenty-eight-day transformations. We’ve got some that [indiscernible 21:38] called a twenty-eight-day fat loss kick starter, which the name says it all really. In twenty-eight days we change people’s meal plans, big, big focus on lifestyle, too, because as you know, it’s not all about just what you eat. So we put a massive emphasis on getting some good quality sleep, producing cortisol, etcetera. And that’s proven really, really successful. And there’s quite a big demand for that now, isn’t there?
Keris: Yeah, we also get them – they all have to host a Fitter Food dinner party whilst they’re on the plan, and cook for friends and family, a start, a main, and dessert, and then post the pictures up and share them, and that’s been really, really good fun for us, hasn’t it? Seeing everybody…
Matt: The engagement’s been amazing, hasn’t it?
Keris: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. A lot of them said how their friends and family didn’t believe it was healthy food because it tasted so good.
Jonathan: I love it. Well, Keris and Matt, where can we go online – obviously the book is called The Paleo Primer. I’m sure we can get more information on that on Amazon and everywhere books are sold, but where can we go online to learn more about these programs you’re describing?
Matt: Well, we’ve got – you can either jump on to our Facebook page, which is Fitter Food. It’s the one that’s got just over 2,000 likes – 12,000. My bad. I’m not doing myself good justice there. Twelve thousand likes, because I know someone else has set up a Facebook page with the same name, but it’s not got as many likes. So, everything that pretty much goes on our website to do with these programs and future projects pretty much goes on to the Facebook page anyway. So, it’s just Fitter Food, or our website at the moment is FitterLondon.co.uk, because that’s actually where it all started, was with our group training side of things, and then Fitter Food branched out from there. But both Fitter Food and Fitter London run from the same website at the moment, because we are developing the ultimate nutrition hub as we speak.
Jonathan: The ultimate – whoa, whoa, whoa. We’ll certainly have to have you back on this show when you successfully release the ultimate nutrition hub, because that sounds quite compelling. I love it.
Matt: [Indiscernible 23:50] expectations now.
Jonathan: Yeah, I know. Well, Keris and Matt, this is absolutely fabulous. I so appreciate you sharing your time with us today. Again, friends, the book is called The Paleo Primer. And if you have anyone who is just like – neh, that sounds bland or boring or hard, pick up a copy of this book, because it is the counterpoint to any of that. And again, our guests are the delightful Keris Marsden and Matt Whitmore. Again, the book is The Paleo Primer. Keris and Matt, thank you so much for joining us today.
Matt: Thank you so much for having us, mate. It’s been great.
Keris: Yeah, thanks a lot.
Jonathan: Listeners, I hope you enjoyed this wonderful conversation as much as I did. Again, the book, The Paleo Primer, the guests Keris Marsden and Matt Whitmore. And remember this week and every week after: eat smarter, exercise smarter, and live better. Chat with you soon.
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 percent free eating and exercise quick start program as well as free fun daily tips delivered right into your inbox at bailorgroup.com.