Boost Metabolism: Nutrition Periodization, Intermittent Fasting, & Avoiding Plateauing ft. Bob Seebohar

Boost Metabolism: Nutrition Periodization, Intermittent Fasting, & Avoiding Plateauing ft. Bob Seebohar

Authored by Zhill Olonan and Geoffrey Woo • 
February 12, 2019
 • 48 min read
ketosistrainingnutrition

The concept of physical periodization - the intentional cycling of a training pattern - is well understood and practiced by top athletes. What about applying periodization to nutrition? This has been explored less, yet the health and performance benefits of accelerating metabolic adaptation through cycles of diet are promising.

Bob Seebohar, who served as a dietician for the US Olympic committee and holds a number of degrees relating to sports science, joins the podcast to dive into a term he coined: “Metabolic Efficiency Training”.

In this episode, you'll discover:

  • Applying intermittent fasting in training and what considerations there may be
  • The crossover point between anaerobic and aerobic exercise (i.e. crossover concept)
  • Timing macronutrients for maximum performance

Watch Now

Listen Now

Subscribe to our podcast
Exclusive to podcast supporters, we offer monthly discounts on select HVMN products. - via Click Here

Transcription

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Bob, thanks for coming on the program. Excited to have this conversation.

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

Thank you. It's quite an honor to be able to chat with you. I've been following what you guys have been doing for quite some time, and obviously talking to Bri about it. Thank you for having me here today.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Appreciate it, and likewise. I think your research and your applications on how you're applying your studies to top-performers is really interesting for our community and our listeners. A lot of overlap here. Perhaps to just ground it for the audience...how'd you get interested in sport and how'd you get interested in physiology? I know you've worked with some of the best athletes with US Olympic teams. I know that you've been in industry working on developing some of the top products for performance. What's your personal journey?

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

I never know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I still don't know, probably, because there's always dabbling everywhere. I just remember when I was in high school, and this was way back when, everybody gives you pressure. "Oh, what are you doing with your life? What are you going for college?" I had no idea. All I knew was that I grew up as an athlete. I was a soccer player mostly, a little bit of basketball. I just knew that the human body just fascinated me. I had so many questions that nobody could answer. "Why does it do this? Why can I do this?" Or, "Why can't I do this?" I actually went to university not really knowing what I wanted to do. I'm based in Colorado, did all of my education here in Colorado. I think I just chose schooling to pursue my passion of athletics and being an athlete.

Once I got into school, I started with exercise science, that was my undergrad, and found it very fascinated. That was my undergraduate studies, was in exercise science, physiology. Then I went in the real world for three years. What I found was I was still having so many questions and nobody could answer them. Now I was actually applying my trade a little bit, but not necessarily a lot of nutrition. I thought, oh, the only way I can get some answers is to go back to grad school. I did end up going back to grad school. I got two masters degrees, one in ex phys, one in food science and human nutrition. I knew in grad school that I wanted to be a sport dietitian. I'm not going to date myself too much, but this is a while back. I just remember my preceptors, my professors telling me, "There's no way you're going to do that." I said, "What are you talking about?" This was, again, a while ago. There were no jobs. There was no market for sport nutrition, really. This was late 90s, early 2000s. There was nothing. I told them face-to-face, I said, "Listen, as soon as I get out of here, I'll just create my own."

I think the path that I took was really just trying to take the bull by the horns and making what my passion was, but a lot of my career has been driven from trying to answer questions that I didn't have answers to. I think that's kind of where I've accumulated ... I've been very blessed to work with fantastic athletes and teams and in recreational individuals and fitness enthusiasts. When I left the US Olympic Committee, and this was in 2008, people thought I was crazy. Absolutely crazy. It's the Olympic Committee, everybody ... That's the thing. My boss was very supportive but I said, "I want to be able to touch many more people than just Olympians, with the education and the knowledge and maybe the forthcoming thinking, forward thinking that I have." I've been on my own. This is my 11th year, and I feel that I'm able to actually touch more individuals' lives this ways.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

I want to touch on the historical component, because that's something that I've thought about and had other guests talk about, which is sports nutrition is actually a very recent field. If you look at historical records, sports was very much a quote/unquote "gentleman's activity," where people with means could have a side hobby, to run track or play golf or play tennis. Only until the last 20, 30 years you actually have professional sports and college sports as a viable career path. It opens up the opportunity for much more people.

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

Yeah, huge.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

From there, it's kind of ... I don't know if it's perverse or not perverse, but because there's a market for it, that has really allowed people to create careers in the nutrition and in the physiology space that really support how to make humans even better. I'm curious to hear from your perspective that historical change. What were some tipping points that you saw as you were sort of pioneering part of this transition from no one is a sports physiologist or a sports nutritionist, to people can make big bucks advising the best athletes in the world to be even better. What were the highlights or inflection points for you?

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

The first real reflection point was right when I finished my second master's degree. It was, what, 2000, 2001. I was gung ho. I knew I wanted to work in sport nutrition. I was just getting my registered dietitian status. I was ready. I was a nontraditional grad student. I was a little bit older, I worked in the real-life for a little while. I wasn't wet behind the ears, inexperienced. I was ready to hit the pavement running, and I actually did. I used a lot of my network and a lot of professors I knew and I said listen, "Where am I going? Is there anything in our space that can utilize my talents right now?" Unfortunately, early 200s, the answer I kept getting was no, no, no. I don't know the exact history of this but I don't think it wasn't until the early to mid 2000s where we first even started seeing sport dietitians, sport nutritionists in the professional, collegiate ... I think it was more of a lot of behind the scenes.

I think there were some physiologists, like in terms of Tour De France teams. I think they were hiding, but I don't think there was anything really glaring. That's when I had that ah-ha moment. I was thinking, "Oh my gosh, did I pick the wrong trade?" Not that that's such a thing, because I think if you follow your passion and your desire ... I started to rethink things. I think within about probably a matter of minutes, I knew that I needed to carve my path. Now, since then, as you brought up, there's hundreds of sports dietitians in D1 colleges, professional sports, the military. I mean, it's almost ridiculous now. I mentor a lot of young dietitians coming through and tell them, I said, "This is a great time to be sports dietitian, but it's a very difficult time too, because now you're coming into the masses and you have nothing separating you from somebody else that graduated with your same degree." It's not a tipping point yet, but there is going to be a ceiling very soon to where I don't think it's going to stop, but I think a lot of companies, a lot of institutions are being very much more particular in who they hire. What I'm seeing is the combination of physiology and nutrition. That is kind of the money, if you will. It's not just coming out as a nutritionist or as a physiologist. You have to have both respective fields to be marketable.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Yeah, 100%. I think that the most elite organizations both in pro sports and in the military that I've come across, I think think very much along the same lines. Where if you have human performance as an organization, you need the physiology, the physical aspect of training, plus nutrition all in one. One of the talking points is that in an organization ... again, this is fairly bespoke to professional dietitians and physiologists. It's like, they sometimes ... oftentimes don't talk. It's like, the nutritionist has their food plan, go eat this kind of stuff. They don't talk to the physiologist and know what kind of training they're doing. That's something interesting from your background where you've been thinking about nutritional periodization for quite some time. It sounds like you coined that concept, which is very cool because I think in the mainstream for elite performers, I think the notion of cyclical training blacks is well understood. If you're training for a marathon, don't just run marathons every single day for 12 weeks, or run the Boston Marathon. Do some shorter runs, do some longer ones. I would say that the notion of that same periodization hasn't really been well-understood in the nutrition space. Curious to hear, how did those ideas come together for you? Give some of the historical perspective there.

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

I grew up a soccer player, very competitive. A little basketball in high school, kind of a thing. When I got to college, at least the college that I chose, there weren't many opportunities for varsity soccer. I remember that was my turning point as an athlete, because that's when I actually got introduced to endurance sports. I started running 5K's, I had a friend in undergrad who dated me to do a triathlon. This was 1993, I had no idea what a triathlon was but I said, "Sure, I'll do it. I'll figure it out." That was a great introduction for my mindset in terms of being an endurance athlete. You can be a high performer, and it doesn't mean executive, it doesn't matter ... Olympian, endurance, strength athlete, doesn't matter. You always share the same concepts and the same language, right? I remember very vividly in the early 2000s I was working actually at a sports medicine center as the sport dietitian, seeing a ton of endurance athletes. A lot of Iron Man athletes. The facility was actually in Boulder, Colorado.

Everybody was coming through the door. Almost every single athlete, they were complaining about GI distress, about weight loss, weight gain, power to weight ratio, that whole thing. I'm like, huh. You know what I think what really allowed me to kind of step into that space, was my physiology experience, my dietetics experience, my experience as an athlete ... I'm also a triathlon coach and I'm a strength and conditioning coach. I always have spoken in periodization, because that's what you do as a coach and a physiologist. The dietitians, they're starting to catch up nowadays. What I did was I created ... All I wanted to do was creating the whole concept nutrition periodization. I just wanted to get athletes and coaches and dietitians and physiologists just to talk the same language. That's it. That was my only goal, and then it just exploded from there which is fantastic, because then I actually started making it more of a working model and really educating athletes and coaches. I've done a lot more education on that with dietitians than any other group though, to your point. I think that's what brought it all together. Luckily my experience was not just as a physiologist or just as dietitian or strength coach or endurance coach.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

From an outside level, it makes total sense. Curious to hear a little more tactically, what does this mean if I'm listening to this podcast and I'm like, "Okay, I should be periodizing my nutrition." Does that mean I'm going to do more of a keto-based diet or a low-carb diet at certain times or certain training blocks? Does it mean add more carbs in? Obviously you've got to dial this in per athlete per starting position per goal, but I think it would be helpful to our audience to just anchor this to some tactical examples on what you see are common-use cases or common scenarios?

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

Absolutely. Here's the interesting thing to keep in mind. Nutrition periodization is actually a much more simple concept than physical periodization. For the listeners who do physical periodization ... if you're working with a coach or a group or even just online training program, as you've mentioned, every physical training periodization plan will increase and decrease in volume and intensity. We call that in the coaching world training load. You're always going up and down in volume and intensity, trying to get ready for your event or key competitions. This doesn't even ... Let me just as an aside, it doesn't have to be an Olympic athlete. Like every recreational athlete does this. Even, I call them to Couch to 5K'ers, Couch to 10'kers, they still go through it too, they just don't know they're going through it. As your listeners are listening to this, please remember that this actually applies to everybody. Physical periodization aside, nutritional periodization is quite simple because the main goal is only to supply enough energy, and the right energy, to make your physical periodization successful. That's kind of a 30000 foot view, basically supporting your energy expenditure needs.

As we get down into 20 and 10 and 5 thousand foot view, is looking at the different training cycles, to your point. Is someone in base training if they're an endurance athlete, are they in pre-competition? If they're a football or soccer player, are they in preseason, in season, off season? This is the beautiful thing about me bringing this all together, every coach in every sport uses different terms to describe their ... what are called meso cycles. Those are usually a couple months at a time. It doesn't matter what you call it, what matters are your physical goals. For your listeners, keep this in mind. What are your physical goals right now? Are you trying to improve endurance, strength, flexibility, technique maybe, maybe more tactics depending on the sport? Based on your physical goals for that specific cycle of your training, your nutrition has to come in the side door to support that.

Here's a great example. It's January, endurance athletes are starting to train for 2019. Could be marathons, could be Iron Mans, you name it. Most individuals are in base training. They're doing a lot of what we call aerobic zone one and zone two work. They're actually incorporating more fat metabolism, if you will, into most of their workouts. Not a lot of anaerobic. This is the time where unfortunately a lot of these individuals ... endurance athletes, fitness enthusiasts, their eyes become bigger than their stomach. They end up gaining weight. Here's the mentality. I'm going out for a run. 45 minute, 60 minute, 30 minute, whatever it is. I'm going to come home and I'm going to eat everything I want because I'm exercising now. I've actually coined a little term that I like that I want to introduce this. My way of really identifying this with individuals is using this term: eat to train, don't train to eat. Support your training sessions with food, instead of justifying your training sessions with food. Instead of coming home from an hour run and just inhaling everything in the fridge or pantry, maybe think, "Wow, that was an hour run. That was an easy run. I probably didn't burn as many calories. I want to actually improve my fat adaptation response. Maybe I'm not going to throw a whole bunch of calories in my body right now. Maybe I'm going to wait, dare I say, until I'm actually hungry." I don't think people actually know that sometimes, right?

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Right.

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

If you fast forward, maybe in three months, four months, they're adding intervals and repeats and intensity is going up. Maybe volume goes down a little bit. They're breaking down the muscle a little bit more. They're needing different macronutrients. That's a time where we say, all right. Let me go back to this stage right now ... This stage right now, if you're in base training, sorry to digress, you don't need a lot of carbohydrates. You actually need kind of a low-to-moderate. You need a little more fat to balance out your energy balance. Then protein usually doesn't diverge as much unless you're a body builder or a power lifter. We know at that point, we don't need a lot of carbs. That's a person's biggest mistake during this time of the year.

As they get to the next one, where more intensity and really more interval-based training is, that's when we see carbohydrates start to creep up a little bit, but listen to this really carefully. It's not what we used to recommend 20 years ago. It's not the whole 60-65% of your diet as carbohydrates. It's simply not that. That is absolutely ridiculous. I can say that just in general. Everyone's individual, we know this, but in general. We know carbohydrates creep up a little bit, fat goes down just a little bit to kind of balance that out. Protein is still kind of in the middle. That's what I'm talking about. When I created nutrition periodization, there were no fancy diets. Like what we had, we were working with back then ... We were working with the Zone. Paleo just came out, which I have a really funny story about that on the side if we want to get there. I wasn't developing nutrition periodization as a periodizing diet plan. I was periodizing macronutrients, and that's the way I still describe it 15-20 years later. Saying, it's not about coming in and out of keto or low-carb high-fat or paleo or whatever. It's about recognizing the amount of carbohydrate, protein, and fat that needs to cycle through based on your energy expenditure.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Fair enough. I think that's what actually is nutrition. I think when people have Atkins or carbohydrates, it's a zero sum game. You have three food groups. You have fat, protein, carbohydrates. It's a zero sum. You have to have higher fat, somewhere else has got to give and vice versa. It is essentially just a shifting-a-macro game. I think people can segment out certain ranges as a keto diet or a low-carb diet or an Atkins diet or a Standard Western diet. In my experience with some of the folks that we work with, that exactly reflects what you're talking about. You shift the macros during different training blocks. Curious to get your thoughts on this, have you even tried fasting in some of the more base training zones, to even more aggressively target the fat adaptation training?

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

Oh, yeah.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Curious to hear about your experience applying fasting. Not from a weight management or a composition perspective, but just from a performance perspective, curious to hear your thoughts on that?

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

If we would have had this interview 15 years ago and you said fasting, I would think you were crazy. That's what they teach you in education. Fasting is bad, fasting is because you're sick, you can't eat anything. Obviously the research has really caught up with that. Fantastic research about intermittent fasting, and even prolonged intermittent fasting. I actually do support intermittent fasting. When individuals actually know how to do it and when to do it, it is phenomenal, especially like you were mentioning, at different times of the year based on someone's training or fitness cycles. It makes total sense. I played it with myself anywhere from 16 to 24 hour fasts. I actually just did a 24 fast two days ago, and more so because I woke up and I wasn't hungry so I thought, "I'm just going to eat when I'm hungry." Really I didn't ...

I think there is absolutely great application of intermittent fasting. What I worry about, because I do a lot of physiological biomarker testing with individuals, and I've seen unfortunately females as they get older, if they are too aggressive with intermittent fasting and really prolonged ... we're talking 20 to probably 32, 36 hours ... it starts to disrupt their hormone balance. I have seen it in smaller amounts in males with the testosterone, but I just think that's why I think with intermittent fasting, people should be supervised by a professional in the beginning. Get blood marker testing because that can really mess things up.

From a performance perspective, it makes total sense to do intermittent fasting during base training because you are actually helping your physiology, your mitochondria adapt to using fat as a substrate. It makes total sense. Unfortunately, a lot of people ... If they don't believe it, they obviously have to talk to one of us and we can supply the research. A lot of people don't do it because they don't think they can. They think it's too hard, they don't know how to do it. More importantly, I believe, and we'll get into the whole metabolic efficiency here soon, but if you have uncontrolled blood sugar, meaning if you really eat a high-carb low-fat diet low-to-moderate protein, you're going to be hungry about every 90 minutes to two hours. It is very hard to fight that and try to do an intermittent fast. I've done that. I cycle through so many things just as my own guinea pig. Those are the individuals that actually need to come down off of that high-carb low-fat diet, adjust their macros before intermittent fasting. I call it carbohydrate unloading, right?

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Yeah.

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

Carbohydrate unload for a few weeks, then let's implement intermittent fasting. If you think about this, you almost have to have your nutrition game plan before base training. You don't just jump in to base training and say, "Here it is."

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Right. It helps with the expectation here. I think a lot of people are like, they try a fasted workout for the first time and they're like, "Holy crap this is terrible." I've done this, I'm sure you have with yourself and with the athletes. How should we set the expectation here? It's supposed to be hard, just like it's supposed to be probably hard the first time you go back to the gym after the winter holidays. Can we help debug it a little bit, for people who might have misconceptions about it? It's not like you start fasting and you have a workout and you're just awesome from day one.

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

It's funny because I think a lot of people, when they follow diets, they think immediate gratification, it's going to work right now. Unfortunately, the body has to adapt. Physiology takes a little bit longer than we think it does, from a biological standpoint. I think the expectation should be if you try anything new, and you alluded to this ... if you try a new exercise program, you should give yourself at least 7 to 14 days, that's kind of the marker I do, to allow your body and your cognitive center, your brain, to adapt to those changes. Not even from a behavior standpoint, from a biological cognitive standpoint. I think it's very important, one to two weeks. The expectation is to follow it. You may not feel good, but here's the thing. I have actually just recently did this two weeks ago. I did a lot of fasted workouts. Low-carb, high-fat. I've never gone pure keto. For my body it doesn't work to go that low carbohydrate, but I would do morning fasted runs. Just the same core, same distance. I'd analyze it, my pace per minute slowed down, my heart rate was higher. Those are the expectations. I think mentally you go into it saying 7 to 14 days, I expect these things to happen. It's okay. Allow yourself to tell yourself it's okay not to feel good before every workout.

I coached and still coach some really high-performing endurance athletes and have to remind them about probably 60% or more of your workouts are not going to be good. That's okay. You're still building fitness, you're still doing what you want to do. Really embellish that 40% that really feel awesome. After 7 to 14 days, your body will adapt. As long as you've stuck to the consistency and the frequency your body will adapt, and that's when things start coming around a little bit. Instead of using the whole New Year's Resolution mindset, use the more longterm "I'm in it" mindset to actually change something about myself.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

There's not that many professional athletes in the world, first of all. I think more and more people want to train at that level because of challenging themselves. What would your practical tips be for someone like me. I'm never going to be a professional athlete, but I want to maximize the time I put into my fitness? Does that mean ... Am I still going to get the value of a cyclical training block? Am I still going to get value from a nutritional periodization approach? Curious to hear your thoughts about that. Or, is it okay if I just go to the gym, run on the treadmill, and do the same lifts every single day.

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

We know the neuromuscular ... the connection with the muscles and the mind, very, very important. If a person just says, listen, I just want to stay fit, want to get healthy, want to maybe lose some weight, body comp, whatever it is ... just remember this. In the first four to six days of engaging in any new exercise program, your body adapts from a neuromuscular standpoint. You may not see a lot of hypertrophy or the muscles enlarging gains, but you'll see strength gains. That's usually enough to keep those people motivated, which is fantastic. Unfortunately, if you don't continue with some type of cyclical training, and it doesn't have to be complex at all, you will bottom out. The infamous plateau. You'll wonder what happening, I'm not doing this right.

I believe every single person has to have a plan. Maybe not from day one, but maybe the plan starts to form. It doesn't have to be a complex structured periodization plan that a physiologist or a high performance coach puts together. It just has to be changing about every three to six weeks. That's kind of the key, right? You think about it, as we talked about, as the changes, if your nutrition doesn't change ... mind you, I work with a ton of recreation individuals. To your point, there are very few professional athletes and there's a whole bunch of us. I have to remind them, I say, "Listen, as your training changes, if you keep eating the same thing every single day" ... you and I know, a lot of people are creatures of habit and they will eat the same thing every day. Then their exercise patterns change. Maybe they're lifting more, maybe they're running more, whatever changes. Their body will adapt but unfortunately it will only respond as much as nutrition is going to support that. I've actually seen a lot of people lose muscle mass, bone density decreases because they're not feeding themselves enough. They're not aligning the nutrition with the fitness changes. That I think is huge. I think everybody needs a plan. Consistency. Allow yourself to be human, but we need to have a consistent plan.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Yeah. I think that malnutrition or undernutrition is an important part of the conversation, because I think a lot of us think about over-consumption but let's not swing too far on the other side. Don't fast for three days, seven days, and do marathons. That's not going to be a great outcome either. Let's find the smart path in between the different streams here. I want to move on to metabolic efficiency. I think that's an interesting term because I think in different fields different researchers have different interpretations of what does it mean for metabolic advantage, metabolic efficiency. I want to hear how you came up and thought about metabolic efficiency and how you define it and how you think about?

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

Yeah. Just right after the time that I started to put together the nutrition periodization concept. It was starting to come together because, again, as an athlete myself ... back then I was engaging in Iron Man training and Iron Man events, like longer distance stuff so I was actually living this life at the same time I was teaching these athletes. I got to experience it firsthand which, I mean, talk about firsthand knowledge to be able to do that. What I was noticing is that a lot of these individuals, and I'm talking recreational athletes, I'm not talking about our Olympians, were coming to me for two reasons. Either GI distress, and/or body composition reasons. I was like, God, that's fascinating. That's where nutritional periodization came. Then I started to explore a little bit. I put my physiologist hat on a little bit and I said hm, if the body has tens of thousands of calories stored as fat and only up to probably two thousand if you're a larger male stored as carbohydrate, one, why is that? Okay, that's an easy question to answer because physiologically we know.

Two, and this is what I asked myself in the early 2000s, I asked, is there an opportunity to teach our bodies, to mobilize all these fat stores that we always complain about? Right? Oh, my middle, my hips, whatever it is. I actually went back to all my physiology research, my thesis, everything. I'm like, God, did I miss something? Was I sleeping through a class? I remember coming across the infamous crossover concept. If you're familiar with it ... for your listeners I'll explain it briefly. The crossover concept is basically this: it's the association of fat and carbohydrate burning over different intensities. As we're sitting here right now talking with each other, we should be burning more fat because we're in a resting state. If we got up, we started doing some plyos, some stairs, some sprints ... as the intensity increases, our body relies more on carbohydrate. Now, the crossover concept is basically ... that crossover is at what point does the body cross from more fat burning to more carbohydrate burning. I was looking at that a lot years and years and years ago-

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Another way to put it is aerobic to anaerobic as well, right?

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

Exactly. Aerobic to anaerobic, absolutely. Yeah.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Oxygen consumption versus non-oxygen consumption.

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

Bingo. Oxygen consumption, aerobic, favors more fat metabolism. Anaerobic or without oxygen, or very little, favors more carbohydrate metabolism. There's a balance there. To kind of transition really quickly, I've worked with a lot of strength and power athletes too, like at my time at the Olympics. It's not the same concept. For your listeners, if you're hitting the gym three times a week and you're doing some lifting or some crossfit, and then you're also running or cycling or whatever, those are actually very dynamically different in terms of nutritional needs, because the energy systems that are being mobilized are extremely different. We actually do have to look at that a little different, as an aside. I was looking at the crossover concept, doing some research into it, and this is where I recognized ... I think the crossover concept was developed back in the 50s and 60s. The only thing that they looked at was the contribution of exercise to how our body burns fat and burns carbohydrates. Of course, as the sport nutrition guy I'm thinking, well why didn't they look at diet? Why didn't they look at nutrition? That is how metabolic efficiency really was born in my mind, was that nobody had looked at nutrition, so being a physiologist I developed a test for it. I put myself and some other athletes through the test. I refined it, and voila, I was able to measure a person's ability to use fat and carbohydrate on a treadmill, on a bike. The best thing about it, it's so submaximal. It's not a hard test. It really isn't. It's nothing near like a VO2 Peak or a VO2 Max Test.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

How are you testing this? Are you doing this through respiratory RER ratios?

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

Yes, exactly. Utilizing a metabolic cart. You're basically looking at the RER ratio, oxygen consumed versus carbon dioxide produced, and you're looking at the .7 to 1.0 scale. Through a series of intensities ... so you hop on the treadmill with me, we'll probably start you walking. Every four minutes we go up in intensity. I basically look at that point in time that your body starts that shift. The difference between the crossover point and the crossover concept in metabolic efficiency is that crossover only deals with exercise. Exercise's ability to adapt our body to burn fat. The metabolic efficiency is really looking at the nutrition and the exercise components together. Here's the interesting thing-

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

I want to interrupt you one second here, just to give parameters for our listeners so they can follow along. 0.7 is the RER ratio of fat burner, where this is oxygen to carbohydrates. When you're super fat-burning you need more oxygen so you have 7 carbon dioxides out, 10 oxygens coming in. Then for 1.0 that's 100% glucose building. You have a 1-to-1 ratio of carbon dioxide to oxygen. This will give the listener some parameters of the spectrum here of what we're measuring, what we're talking about.

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

Right. That cross, or that metabolic efficiency point, happens at 0.85. That's where we see it on the metabolic cart with the data that we received, that's when we know that you're exactly crossing over at that time. It's not a guesstimate. Let me just say real quick, because a lot of people have come up to me and said, "Oh, do I need to have the testing done to actually move onto the stage of being more metabolically efficient, more fat adapted?" It's just going to lengthen your learning curve a little bit. I've worked with hundreds of individuals around the country and the world. They don't have access to testing. Not many people actually do the testing, performance centers. You don't need it because here's an interesting thing ... What I found from all my preliminary testing was that nutrition makes up about 75% of this whole equation in becoming a better fat-adapted individual. Exercise is important, don't get me wrong. Aerobic exercise, as we know from physiology research, improves the mitochondrial capacity and enzymatic activity to burn fat. We know that, right?

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Right.

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

But you're going to be banging your head against the wall if you just do aerobic exercise and you don't change your eating patterns. When I work with individuals, sometimes I don't even care about their exercise program. I just put all my eggs into helping them with their nutrition.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

From some of my experience with doing RQ studies and playing around with diet, if you are eating super super keto, super super high in fat, it is interesting that you can actually see these crossover points change. Or if you're just at rest, you're at 0.7. It's like, whoa, you can actually manipulate the ratios here, which is cool from a bio hacker or a quantified-self perspective.

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

Oh yeah. Absolutely.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Yes. This is measurable. This is not Bob being theoretical and being like, "Hey, I could potentially theoretically change how your body is consuming oxygen versus carbon dioxide." No, you can actually get this measured quantitatively. I think that your point is right. Obviously if you have data, it closes a loop. If you don't have data, which is probably fine, it's harder for you to understand what's going on but you could probably tell from your heart rate and some other attributes. Maybe that may be a good way to get back on the conversation here, which is if you don't have access to an RQ lab, what are other signs in terms of how you can kind of intuit how you're adapting to a more aerobic fat burning state?

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

Here's the beauty of this. Metabolic efficiency, again, 75% is nutrition related, 25% is exercise related. The concept itself is actually very grounded in scientific research in terms of blood sugar. When we take a step back, and I feel I need to intro this before I answer your question, blood sugar control and optimization is the name of the game with metabolic efficiency training. The way we do that is combining the right types and quantities of carb, protein, and fat. Once we actually control our blood sugar well, your blood sugar in a non-disease state ... normally our blood sugar goes up and down about every three to four hours. Depending on what type of nutrition plan you're following, you can have that go up and down every 90 minutes to 2 hours, like if you're putting in a lot of sugar, a lot of carbs. Or you can extend it by going a little bit more low-carb high-fat. To answer your question, and I know this sounds silly, but the most qualitative measure of actually improving your body's ability to adapt to fat or to burn fat, is how long you go in between feedings. I don't call them meals, I call them feedings because a lot of people just snack throughout the day. If you can actually extend your feedings from maybe two hours to three, to four to four and a half, to five hours ... you know 100% it's working.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Yeah. That's super smart.

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

You don't even need a lot of quantifiable data. Yeah, you don't need ... I mean, you can look at heart rate, you can look at that stuff, but there's not a heart rate ... without testing, you don't know exactly where that is. If we come back to qualitative, it's all about blood sugar control and optimization.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Which is really funny because I think if you just look at common popular discourse, people are always saying, "If I don't eat for two or three hours, I'm really hangry."

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

Exactly! Exactly.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

I was listening to an interview on Stephen Colbert with the new representative in Congress, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and she was saying that, "If I don't eat for two or three hours, I'm going to be really snarky on Twitter and clap back at people." I'm like, whoa, that's pretty metabolic inflexible if you get hangry in two or three hours.

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

Yeah. Yes, exactly. I will say there's a problem.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

How common is that really? I think you've been working with recreational athletes, professional athletes ... I mean, a lot of those people are exercising so much that they do require much more calories and much more refueling. I'm curious to hear from your perspective are these people overfeeding to a point of being pre-diabetic or being so insulin-resistant because they're constantly feeding? Curious to hear the performance aspect slip into from a potential medical perspective. I think that's something I don't think a lot of people talk about, which is a little bit of orthogonal or disparate in terms of optimizing for max performance, versus maximizing for longevity. Oftentimes those are conflicting goals.

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

Yes.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

If you're trying to be the best strongest person ever, that might not expand your lifespan and vice versa. Curious to hear about your experience around first sort of the hangriness of the athletes, and two, just broader thoughts around orthogonal nature of performance and longevity?

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

Yeah. It's interesting because even, as you mentioned, recovery nutrition, which is what we think of as post workout nutrition ... that has changed tremendously in the last five years with research. Number one, the field is always changing. It's kind of fun, because it's kind of like a sporting event. The field, the scope, it's always training, right? Here's the thing, I think individuals need to understand that sport nutrition is always a combination ... it's an equation. Sport nutrition is the equation or combination of daily nutrition, so that's their meals and their snacks, plus nutrient timing, which is basically their nutrition periodization, their training nutrition. What they're doing before during and after. If they can actually conceptualize that ... We look at daily nutrition from a health perspective. I always kid athletes, it could be the highest performer, could be a recreational, "If you're not healthy, you can't perform. You're not going to be able to train, you're not going to be able to get fit," whatever. That daily nutrition is where we always begin. Good sport dietitians always begin with daily nutrition. We optimize blood sugar. We look at biomarkers, blood work, and we make sure they're where they need to be. Then we move over to the training nutrition and nutrient timing.

To your point, I think there are some individuals who can really dodge the bullet in terms of insulin resistance and pre-diabetes because of great genetics and, oh yeah, they exercise a ton. They're kind of prolonging that. I mean I remember a conversation I had with a really prominent professional male Iron Man athlete. It was a few years ago and we were talking about nutrition and everything. I asked him what he was doing. He's actually getting close to the end of his career and I said, "What are you doing now versus what you were doing before?" He said, "I'm not changing anything." I said, "Oh, so you're eating-" This is a guy who puts in just a ton of carbs, just every bar that you can think of that's high carbohydrate. I said, "You know, even though you think you might be quote/unquote bullet proof right now, you are aging. You're getting close to your late 30s, early 40s. You need to start changing something now because you could be obviously risking some health parameters as you're not changing your nutrition plan."

My point is this, there are a lot of people out there who think they can get away with just having great genetics. It doesn't last forever, is my point. We need to look at the amount ... really it comes down to the amount of carbohydrate you're putting into your body, and what that's doing from a biological perspective. To your pancreas, to your blood sugar, to your hormone levels. From that aspect, I think people really need to take care of looking at their nutrition. I work with a ton of endurance athletes. Unfortunately, while the mantra is changing ... the paradigm is changing a little bit, the paradigm still is, "I'm going to eat as much sugar as possible because I'm working out." I'm trying to change that. I've been trying to change that for about 15 years now. It's coming along, eh, but it's a very slow process. I think individuals are seeing different products, different companies come out that actually support metabolic efficiency now, which is great. You've got Ketones, you've got the Super Starches of the world, you've got all these great non-sugar resources. They're starting to think about that a little differently.

To my point of nutrient timing, do you really need a gel before a 45 minute training session? Do you really need to plug all this protein powder right after an hour bike ride? My job is to help people try to realize what am I actually doing and what is my body needing in terms of nutrients. Do we need to look at muscle protein synthesis, do we need an aggressive glycogen replacement strategy or not? I don't think a lot of people realize that your body, in a non-diseased state, again, your body can replenish glycogen stores in 12 to 24 hours just with your own nutrition strategy. That goes to make us think, do I really need hundreds and hundreds of calories coming from sugar immediately post-exercise? Sometimes perhaps, but I would argue most of the time, no.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Yeah.

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

Here's the thing too, our body is so amped to burn fat after workouts, but we're throwing a whole bunch of sugar in it at the same time. That's going to blunt the fat adaptation process. I actually counsel quite a few athletes in terms of that post-workout window, that 30 to 60 minutes, and say, if we need sugar, let's do it very strategically. Let's not do a high amount so we don't blunt the fat adaptation process. If you don't have an important training session in the next 24 hours, we're not going to re-feed you a high bolus of sugar. We're actually going to introduce a little bit more protein, a little bit more fat. Maybe some vegetables. More carbohydrate that's not going to accelerate glycogen depletion, but it's just going to push it along at its own rate.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

I think one of the things I observe at a lot of these races is that it's like candy time for adults.

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

Oh, yes.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

If you're just slamming gels, you're running like a 5K. It's like, you do not need a gel. Like, 5 gels for a 5K. I get it, it's kind of fun. You have this excuse to consume anything. What you're saying is that ... of course, sugar is useful for certain applications but let's not go overboard here. It's just being rational about how you best apply these tools. I want to touch upon if you've had consideration on the longevity dimension versus the performance dimension. Curious to hear your thoughts about that, if you have any insight or experience as you're counseling some of these aging athletes, okay, how do I make sure that I manage both? I think for a lot of people that are listening to our program here, very few of the listeners are trying to be Olympic gold-medalists. I think a lot of their goals is, okay, how do I maximize longevity while not necessarily being on a caloric restrictive diet where I'm emaciated half the time? I want to get the best of both ... I want to be healthy, fit, have a great body composition and be productive at work, and maximize longevity. Any thoughts around those kinds of goals?

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

I'm living in that space right now obviously, with the aging athlete, right? I think looking at the different genders, we know males and females go through hormonal changes mid-30s, late-30s, 40s, depending on their genetics too. We look at hormone changes significantly as we get older. It's usually people always think about the 40 year old mark. That is really an opportunity, I think, to step back and look at two things. Exercise and nutrition. We know from a physiological standpoint, a biological standpoint, that we're going to lose some oxygen capacity as we get older. We increase body fats, we lose muscle mass. We know that happens, so I look at this as an opportunity in the two-pronged approach. Let's look at the type of exercise you're doing, number one. Knowing that I work a lot with endurance athletes, as they age I actually incorporate a little bit more strength and conditioning that is very structured, but it actually improves their body's bone density, it improves their muscle mass. It slows sarcopenia a little bit. From an exercise standpoint, huge opportunity.

From a nutrition standpoint, even though a lot of studies done in 65 and 70 years old have been done in terms of restricting calories as we get older, when you talk about someone who's a little bit more athletic and fit ... again, not your high-performing athlete, just your average you and I, we're going out, we're having fun, we're going some strength, aerobic, whatever ... I think we need to really look at macronutrients shifting a little more closely. Even from a timing perspective. That's what I see with our aging athletes. We can have the best of both worlds, but the nutrient timing especially of protein and different protein sources, and carbohydrate in terms of not dumping so much sugar in your bodies, that has to be timed a little bit more methodically around our running sessions, our lifting, our crossfit sessions because of the aging biological process. The dampering effect that aging has on us. I think when we're young, we get away with things. As we get into our 30s, things start changing. Once we hit our 40s, we have to be very smart into knowing what types of food we're putting in our body. If I'm going to lift or I'm going to do a crossfit class or anything, I better be ready in the first 30 minutes to maximize muscle protein synthesis from some type of food, because I am fighting sarcopenia. My 20 year old self would never care. I do believe there is a best of both worlds, it just requires a little more thought as we get over that 40 year old mark.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Yeah. It sounds like the interventions there are being smart on the type of exercises you're doing, potentially having more of a strength program, and then too, shifting macros.

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

Yeah. Absolutely.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

It sounds like make sure that as you're aging, as you're potentially getting more insulin resistant, potentially reducing some of the carbohydrate intake, especially on the refined side and upping some of the fat ... I think are good, practical tips here. Again, to the performance side, I want to get into the head of working Olympians here. I think a lot of us aspirationally wish we were at that level. Do you have any good anecdotes of really, really pushing up someone's metabolic efficiency? Again, that crossover point. Obviously I think just from a rule-of-thumb perspective, after a certain heart rate threshold, 140, 150 heart rate per minute, people start getting anerobic as a general rule of thumb, perhaps. Like zone three, four, five, higher, right? Have you seen cases where you've helped someone go super aerobic or maintain aerobic capacity at a very very high heart rate level? Curious to hear if you have an interesting anecdotes or training protocols to get someone to that kind of metabolic efficiency?

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

If I can go back to quoting the whole crossover concept research back in the 50s and 60s, that point where the body crosses between fat and carbohydrate burning, the scientists identified that to happen, in most individuals, between 63-65% of Max V02 or Max Heart Rate. That's why if you go into a health club, you're on a treadmill or stair master, you see those little charts that are the fat burning zone. That's the data they're using, which is very, very old. The point is this, I've actually measured this metabolic efficiency point, that crossover, to be as high as 89% VO2 max of an individual. That was not an Olympian.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Wow.

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

Yeah. This was just your average Joe-Schmo, but here's what happened. We actually, and here's a takeaway, I go a little bit layered down from this and I call it micro-cycle periodization. Basically I look at this and then I say, okay Geoff, Monday through Sunday, what kind of workouts are you doing? You're going to give me your duration, you're going to give me the intensity. You're going to give me what type of exercises. Is it lifting, is it aerobic, is it sprinting, whatever. Once I know what those are, the durations, the whole thing, where they fit in your week ... that's when I very methodically shift your nutrients. I think people think, wow, I need to follow a nutrition plan for 7 to 14, 21, 28 days or whatever. I actually vary it daily for those high performances, what you're talking about, to be able to maximize metabolic efficiency to its fullest. Example, you wake up in the morning and you say, you know what ... This is like a high-performing, more of like an Olympic endurance athlete. I'll use a triathlete as an example because I've worked with them quite a bit. They wake up in the morning, they've got an early morning cycling session. Could be on the trainer, could be outside. I ask them what are their goals. Usually sessions like that are aerobic based. It's o-dark-thirty, it's in the morning. If it's in the right training cycle, I will pull back their carbohydrate, pull back their fat, protein. We will do it fasted, but I need to know what session is next, when it comes next, and what those intensity goals are and physiological goals are.

That's the whole nutritional periodization, because I might turn around ... I worked with actually a 2016 Olympian two years ago. That's exactly what we did. It was a young male. I was on the phone with his coach. I looked at this training program and as the dietitian, I went in and I said, "Here's where we're eating carb protein fat at this ratio." It could be six hours later, we're doing something completely different because we're trying to maximize performance gains. That's the big thing. Maximizing glycogen replenishment, hydration, and muscle protein synthesis. I don't know if you can tell, but I get so amped up with this because it's one thing to recommend a shift in macros. It's another thing to shift the macros every single day, and in fact sometimes two to three times a day. I will tell you, a lot of Olympic athletes are doing this.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Yeah. I think that's probably behind the current that is not well-understood by that every day recreational athlete. At such a high level, the genetics and the physical training is pretty much there. I mean, you've got to be a genetic freak and you're probably exercising a lot.

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

Absolutely. Yeah, yeah.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Then what are ... How do you get the unfair advantage? How do you get that advantage over your competition? Well, it is dialing in the nutrition to that kind of level.

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

Exactly.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Curious to hear your thoughts, because I think you basically raised an interesting point which is, metabolic efficiency in and of itself, of getting 89% aerobic of your VO2 Max isn't an end-all be-all metric, right ...?

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

Yeah.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Sounds like that's a recreational athlete. Maybe there is no great answer to this, but what physical biomarkers or attributes do you see common in the top tier? Is there something like that, or is that just a combination or attributes?

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

Top tier meaning the higher fat burning and higher V02?

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Yeah, these are people that want to win Olympic gold medals. What are the biomarker characteristics that you like to see from your experience?

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

Here's the first ... not a biomarker characteristic but it's a psychological characteristic of being consistent, being persistent, and following a plan. I always say one of my taglines is, "Trust the process." These individuals, when they have a nutrition plan in front of them and an exercise plan in front of them, nothing gets in their way. Literally, nothing gets in their way. If they're going to eat X amount of carbs or this food, they are eating it at that time. That's the first psychological mindset shift. In terms of biomarkers, I don't want to say I require it or its mandatory, but when you make dietary shifts that extreme, if you don't keep up on your blood lipids, on your testosterone levels, different hormone levels, you will be doing yourself a complete disservice. I've seen so many people kind of hop on the keto thing and they're like, "Ah, I'm feeling great, I'm down 50 pounds." Then all of a sudden they go in for their annual physical with their doc and things are off the charts and not in a good way. Those individuals, they get biomarker testing, no kidding, probably every four to six weeks to make sure the dietary manipulations, more so than exercise, are actually encouraging good health instead of hampering good health. A shout out to everyone doing keto and low-carb high-fat. We know it's tough. One, you should probably cycle that, right? Two, please get biomarker testing. You absolutely need it more than your annual physical to make sure things are dialed in.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

I mean I think that's probably useful generally for everyone, not even for people on a specific diet.

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

Yes, yes. Exactly.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

I think it's more just like ... from how I look at it, just like you're driving your car and you open your eyes every minute or so. That's like a snapshot amount of data you're getting when you do annual blood panel. I mean hopefully in the future we have continuous streams of all these biomarker data, and you can actually dynamically shift. I'd love to get one layer deeper on that onion. I mean, blood lipids, what are specific biomarkers you think are interesting? Is that looking at like fasted blood insulin, fasted blood glucose, C-Reactive protein? I mean, if you just give a smattering of the key markers, that would be interesting to hear.

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

The first one I'll say is don't worry about cholesterol and all that. Since we're going a little bit deeper into this, when someone comes at me and says, "Oh, my cholesterol is 200," I say, "Great, what's your small dense particle size?" We need to look at more of the in-depth blood lipids. When you get cholesterol done, please have what's called an MNR panel, which is basically looking at particle size of small dense LDL, that quote/unquote bad cholesterol, versus the large, fluffy ... It looks at kind of the partitions of LDL versus HDL. That's number one, absolutely need that. Do not just get the basic cholesterol blood lipid screening. Aside from that, I think CRP is very helpful. I don't see that changing too much in terms of ... or unless someone really exacerbates changes in their exercise program, but it's still a great biomarker to add. Definitely fasting blood sugar, blood glucose, and blood insulin. Those are absolutely necessary. I go pretty in-depth with vitamin D quite a bit too, and iron status. Working with individuals, especially females, iron status changes quite significantly. Those are probably the major ones. I like looking at ... I can get into things like magnesium for sure. We look at red blood cells and white blood cells. Those are a little less common for the most part. I think the smattering of CRP, vitamin D, iron, and then the in-depth blood lipid, the MNR profile, I think those are probably your money biomarkers.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

What are the typical characteristics of a top-performing athlete? I'm sort of thinking also in my head in terms of a lot of folks in the military, after they come back from a lot of deployments, they also have an interesting characteristic, but usually not on the good end. If folks have seen a lot of combat, their cortisol tends to be elevated. Their testosterone is lower.

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

Right.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

I would say that the professional athlete has a different type of stress. They're probably not having bullets fly across them but I think there's a comparable level, maybe, of stress and physical exertion. You're probably not doing marathons every weekend, but in some sports maybe that level of exertion. Are their characteristics or signs of overtrain that you tend to see when you see athletes or folks go too far or overstress on their training?

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

In the coaching world, when I put on my coaching hat, I use the word under-recovery a little bit more. I look at recovery a little bit more dynamic, a little bit more naturopathic if you will. I mean, it's so much to do with recovery. I think a lot of high-performers think, "Oh, I take a day off and I'm recovering all of a sudden." It's much more about that sleep, nutrition. I think what's important to realize, and tell me if I'm not on topic, is when we're looking at under-recovery or over-training signs and symptoms, we're looking at very high fatigue, obviously, psychological differences, cognitive differences, physical differences. From a biomarker standpoint though, I think cortisol, like you said, is very important. What I think a lot of individuals don't realize is that diet is linked to cortisol. A lot of times if people are trying to push themselves and they're filling up what I call their stress bucket, right ... there's training, there's lack of sleep, there's whatever. Their stress bucket keeps on filling. They've got to allow that stress to come out. Diet can be an added stress. A great example, if someone goes on keto and they're trying to have a high volume and maybe even high intensity training status, they're going to see some very interesting changes very quickly. That's where we know obviously there's a carbohydrate to cortisol link.

The beauty of nutrition periodization is recognizing when the nutrients are needed and when they're not needed. That's why I'm not too big of a fan of diets that just partition you into one way or no way, basically. I think looking at those specific biomarkers ... cortisol is a very useful one, specifically. I've actually turned a lot of keto people into what I would say more low-carb high-fat, so they've got a little more wiggle room, because biomarkers ... cortisol, actually blood lipids, have been completely in the negative parts of the stress bucket for so long.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Yeah, no, I think that's well-said, and I think reflects some of my personal N equals one experiments where I've tried to go essentially carnivore keto. From a self-experimentation perspective. I'm trying to increase my training load, and it just is tough. If you're trying to run and you're doing very, very like, minimal carbs. It's tough. I think maybe the counterargument to that is, okay, wait six months to keto adapt to get fully adapted. I think there's some, I would say, controversy. Can you really, really get to enough of an efficiency where you can compete with someone that is fueling with carbs? f you look at nutrition twitter, I think there's sort of this, I would say, vegan world and then there's the keto cult, which is pretty polar. Curious to hear your thoughts on the polarization of social media on nutrition. That's one question, but then two, more on the physiology side, most of the data that I've seen is that while you can keto adapt on a ketogenic diet to a very, very efficient state, the best in the world are still using carbs for their races unless you're doing hundred milers, unless you're doing very, very, very long endurance races.

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

Yes. Right. Yeah.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

I think that's a nuance that ... and I hope we can talk a little bit about, is that even for the advocates on the keto side, which some people would say that I'm more on a low-carb keto-advocate side, we should be nuanced. You're not going to eat all fat and go into a baseball game or a football game and then perform at your best without getting some carbs in. Curious to get that part of the question and get your thoughts on that, but first I guess it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on the polarization of social media on nutrition? Obviously your experience there, you have a lot of credibility speaking about it, but you probably see the polarization and you're like, "Whoa, this is kind of a crazy little religious dogma war."

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

Yeah. I'll tell you straight-up, that's what keeps me in business, to be honest with you. I'm not going to poo-poo it, but there's some frustration. This is the way I refer to it. If I get frustrated looking at this polarization on the internet and social media, I can't imagine what individuals without any formal education on this topic do. It's so incredibly frustrating for so many people because they don't know what to do. I've had a lot of people come to me who were on keto and they just want to make sure they're doing it correctly under my guidance. I've had some people completely vegans come to me and they actually go back to eating some meats. What we try to find is yes, there's that polarization, but somewhere in the middle is optimal health and performance. I do not believe, and this is just N of one, personal, professional, I do not believe optimal health and performance lies on one of the polarization ends. I do believe it's somewhere towards the middle. It doesn't have to be non-vegan, it doesn't have to be ... there's some wiggle room in there somewhere. I've seen some very unhealthy vegans. Extremely unhealthy from blood work standpoint.

That polarization is one I think ... You brought up this ultra runner as an example. I work with a lot of ultra runners and ultra cyclists here in Colorado. You can fat adapt, I mean, so incredibly well. You can keto, you can low-carb high-fat, but here's the thing. I've done 100 mile races. You can supply a lot of your energy from fat and you don't have to really eat a lot of carbs during the race. But you take that 100 mile run and you put him into a fast 5K, 10K, half marathon, they'll run well because maybe genetically they're inclined to, but they will never ... quote me on this, never achieve optimal performance that they could have done with adding strategic carbohydrates. There's that polarization, too. When we look at the distances that people do. Yeah.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Yeah, and I think that's a nuance, I think, in the social media. Curious to hear about the big plans that you have in store in 2019. Tell me about Birota Foods and all the things that you're seeing and want to apply and get the word out there to the world?

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

I'm excited because there's so many different opportunities to periodize someone's nutrition, number one. Different sports, people are taking on these huge adventures, these bucket list items. My primary business is energy performance, that's where I provide the nutrition coaching, physiological coaching. A couple of years ago ... this is so funny, you asked about Birota Foods. I was out on a bike ride. It was about this time of the year. I live in Colorado. When it snows, it melts pretty quickly because we've just got intense sunshine. It was just one of those days. I was freezing my butt off. I was on my road bike and I was probably about an hour away from home and I started fantasizing about what could get me warmer. I'm doing all the tricks I could do, but the only thing that came to mind was hot cocoa. I don't know why. I grew up with hot cocoa, it's warming.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

That's funny.

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

I just high-tailed it to my house. I wanted hot cocoa not how I grew up. A lot of sugar, marshmallows. I didn't want to dump in a lot of pro-inflammatory ... just bad stuff into my body. This story kind of begins on my bike with thinking, how do I warm myself up that doesn't involve a lot of sugar? That was a hard question to answer, but I had a lot of time on my bike to think about it. What I have going on, so Birota Foods started with a fellow sports dietitian who's also a chef and a food scientist, last year ... we're trying to, kind of similar to what I do in my career as a nutrition coaching and sport dietitian, I refer to myself as always that salmon swimming upstream. I'm always going to question the why, I'm always going to ask why. We're kind of going at 2019 trying to question the cocoa and the creamer market. We make three products. We make a smart cocoa, unsweetened smart cocoa. The unsweetened is basically just no Stevia. We have no sugar in our products. Then a creamer product, smart coconut creamer. We're trying to challenge these markets and saying, "Why do we need sugar in a beverage or in a powder to actually utilize these functional ingredients to improve health?"

We're kind of going against the big guys right now and saying we put functional ingredients in all of our products. They increase ketone levels, they improve obviously metabolic efficiency, or else I wouldn't be doing this. Improve cognitive thinking. Everything that you think improving ketone levels would do, that's what our products are doing. I am so excited. I never thought ... as a dietitian, and as a physiologist, as a coach, I never thought in a million years I would actually come out with a product. I thought people were crazy when they did that, because I'm a health professional, right? I think with the knowledge I have and my partner-in-crime, and knowing what we want to do with these functional ingredients in terms of improving the body's fat adaptation response, but more important health ... getting rid of this pro-inflammatory sugar in common beverages and common applications, that's my main focus for 2019. Just trying to provide a whole bunch of education, obviously through Birota Foods, through our products, but writing articles, doing blogs, doing podcasts. Just challenging the norm. That's what I've done my entire career, so that's kind of where I'm at right now.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

I'm sure in parts of the world, less so in San Francisco, but having a warm hot cocoa sounds nice in the winter. It's like, you don't necessarily want a sugar bomb at 10 PM and sitting at the fireplace where you're just going to spike your blood sugar as you go to bed. That sounds like something to consider.

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

Yeah. How many millions of people drink coffee? I don't even know the stat, right, but here's the thing. My wife drinks coffee, and I watched her for years. I'm like, what are you putting in your coffee? She's putting milk. She's putting maybe some of that artificial creamer. I'm like, oh my God. I don't want to say bad because there's great benefits of coffee and the polyphenols, but you're sabotaging your morning cup of goodness with all this, dare I say, just crap. That's another thing we're going against is that norm and saying, why don't we actually get a powdered creamer that is working for your body instead of against it? It's a huge mountain to climb, but I'm in Colorado and I'm an ultra athlete anyway, so I love climbing mountains.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

I think it's going to take folks like yourself and the community listening and folks that are understanding the nuances of shifting that macro nutrient. I mean, I'm sure they do, the way you're seeing the sort of inbound traffic in terms of the interest in this area, I think it's continuing to grow. Hopefully the rising tide lifts all ships and really makes the world better for everyone, where people ... all societies, just a little bit healthier, a little bit healthier, a little bit more productive.

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

Exactly. Exactly.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Thanks so much for that interesting conversation. This was really fun. Appreciate the time.

H.V.M.N.
Bob S.

Oh, it's been fantastic, yeah. Thanks so much for taking the time here. Hopefully your listeners gained a little bit from this.

Subscribe to our podcast
Train with purpose. Train with science.

We use the latest research to inform our human performance guides for people across all fields. Subscribe and achieve the impossible.

Editor's Choice
Emails worth reading.

Once a week, we'll send you the most compelling research, stories and updates from the world of human enhancement.

H.V.M.N. Co-founders Michael Brandt and Geoffrey Woo

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Our products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

© 2019 HVMN Inc. All Rights Reserved. H.V.M.N.®, Health Via Modern Nutrition™, Nootrobox®, Rise™, Sprint®, Yawn®, Kado™, and GO Cubes® are registered trademarks of HVMN Inc. ΔG® is a trademark of TΔS® and used under exclusive license by HVMN Inc.

H.V.M.N.
38 Mason St, 3rd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94102
Email us: care@hvmn.com

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Our products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

© 2019 HVMN Inc. All Rights Reserved. H.V.M.N.®, Health Via Modern Nutrition™, Nootrobox®, Rise™, Sprint®, Yawn®, Kado™, and GO Cubes® are registered trademarks of HVMN Inc. ΔG® is a trademark of TΔS® and used under exclusive license by HVMN Inc.