How to Escape the Diet Trap - An interview with Dr John Briffa about weight loss

Uploaded by mattedmundson on 16.02.2012

Matt: Hi, this is Matt Edmundson, and today we're talking with Dr. John Briffa about how
to escape the diet trap, lose weight for good without calorie counting or going to the gym
all day or being really hungry, which is a big one for me. Because we're going to show
this to you on the Jersey site, we're also going to discuss nutrition and skin care,
which is pretty exciting. John is the UK's leading nutritional doctor and is the author
of this new book, "How to Escape the Diet Trap", and writes for a number of national
magazines and newspapers and appears on TV on a regular basis. John, thanks for doing
this. Thanks for talking to us.
John: Thank you for asking me.
Matt: Tell us, what do you do in your work?
John: Good question. I do three things. I'm a practicing doctor, so I see patients. Usually
in my practice, the approach is to try and find out why they have whatever issue they
come with. They usually come with a health issue or more than one health issue. The approach
is really to try to find out why that's there so we can get rid of the problem by treating
it at its source rather than just to merely attempting to suppress the symptoms. If you
came to me with a persistent headaches, I wouldn't be thinking about what's the latest
drug for headaches. I'd be thinking, "Why does this person have headaches?" Very often,
by the way, it's nutritional factors. I'm going to ask you a question now. Can you name
a nutritional factor that might cause headaches.
Matt: For me, honestly, it's lack of water. If I don't drink enough water, I get headaches.
John: We didn't prepare this, did we? That is the most common cause of all headaches,
not just nutritional causes, of all causes.
Matt: Migraines?
John: Not so much migraines, but common garden headaches. Migraines are usually not dehydration
in my experience. A lot of people have persistent headaches, and often it can be cured by drinking
more water. You don't have to go mad, but you need to be well hydrated. You see the
point is, you've isolated that as being an underlying factor, so now you can manage your
headaches better. If you get one, you may recognize, "Well, I'm a bit dehydrated. I'll
drink more water and then it goes away and doesn't come back as long as I keep hydrated."
You see that's very different from just popping pills. That's what I do in my day job in practice.
I also do quite a lot of what I would call corporate work.
I do quite a lot of speaking in the corporate environment, to usually large businesses.
I also sometimes deliver work life balance, wellness, effectiveness courses. That's what
I was doing yesterday for example. That takes about 50% or 60% of my working time, I reckon.
The rest of the time I spend writing. So, I write for my blog, obviously. I write for
magazines. I've done a few pieces recently promoting the book. For, example in the Times,
and I write for magazines. I wrote pieces this month, for example, for Reader's Digest.
There's a fair amount of writing in my work, as well. And obviously, I write books. Every
so often when I feel sufficiently motivated, one of those will happen.
Matt: Is that like a specific moment? A “”I need to write now””, kind of a moment?
John: In a way. I've never had kids, obviously. I think sometimes women will express this
idea that they want to give birth, have a baby. Immediately after, they're in a period
where it's the last thing on their minds, having a baby or conception or anything. It's
the last thing on their minds. I'm a bit like that with book writing. I like writing. I'm
usually very much into the subject matter and wanting to get the information out there.
Once it's happened, I need a bit of time off. Gradually, my enthusiasm picks up again. The
analogy for me is very similar to what many women would go through with regard to childbirth.
Matt: So, it's a splurge every now and again. Fair play. I first came across you in the
book "Waist Disposal", which you wrote specifically for men. I bought that book because my kids
were calling me baggy belly at the time.
John: I remember the story.
Matt: There's nothing to motivate me more than my kids coming up to me and slapping
my stomach and going, "How's the baggy belly doing?"
John: That's the thing about kids. They're beautifully, brutally honest.
Matt: They are. They tell you the truth without fear.  It was great. So, now that's where
I first came across you. Obviously, you've written a new book, "Escape the Diet Trap",
which I think is actually for me, better than "The Waist Disposal", because it's easier
for me to understand. I don't know if it's because it's more content or what in this
book, but I thought it was great. One of the things that I love is to do things differently.
In this book, the thing that captures you straight away, is on the book it says, "Lose
book for good without calorie counting." That's a complete opposite of what we know and what
everybody's thinking these days. Why do we not need to count calories?
John: The main reason is that it doesn't work. I know theoretically it should work. If you
eat less calories than you burn, they you're going to lose weight. That's what we're told.
That can work, and it can also work in the short term. It can even work quite successfully
in the short term. What the studies show though, Matt, is that it doesn't work in the long
term. So, if you try either eating less and or exercising more, most individuals over
a period of time, a year or two, will not lose significant quantities of weight. Some
of them will actually end up a bit heavier than they started. So, we also know and, you
may know this from your own experience, certainly there are millions of people who have been
in this position.
Forget what the studies show. They've experienced that. There are very few people who say, "Yes,
I ate less and exercised more. I lost weight, and I kept it off." They're in the minority.
Most people say, "Yeah, well, I'm kind of fed up. My diet went back to normal." Why
is that? Usually we kind of assume that it's their failing that they didn't do it enough.
They still ate too much, didn't exercise enough. They're a bit lazy. They're greedy. All of
these, which can be self applied. I didn't do it correctly. I lack self control. I've
got a weak will. Maybe I'm a bit inadequate or whatever. These things are common with
people who fail with the calorie approach.
As I explore in the book, there's a number of different mechanisms that come into play
when someone either restricts calories or exercises more, that are essentially designed
to keep the body fat, to keep the body hanging onto its fat. You've kind of gone into starvation
mode. The body doesn't know this is not going to end. It basically thinks, "Oh, dear. I
need to protect myself." So, it changes the levels of certain hormones, like thyroid hormones.
It down tunes parts of the nervous system that stimulate metabolism, so that reduces
metabolism. It also has an influence on a very important hormone called leptin.
Leptin actually stimulates the metabolism and suppresses appetite. So, if levels of
leptin go down as we diet, that basically suppresses the metabolism, and also makes
us hungry of course. So, now we've put a big dent in the metabolism by consciously restricting
calories, for example. So you might say, "Okay, I'll exercise my way out of here. I'll go
to the gym more and spend more time in the gym." The problem with that is that although
theoretically it works, the fundamental issue is that it doesn't burn that calories, exorcise.
It really doesn't. If you've ever exercised on a piece of equipment that counts calories,
you'd know this. Have you ever?
Matt: Yeah. You see the calorie numbers going up, which is great until you realize that
number is equivalent to a quarter of a digestive biscuit or something like that.
John: That's exactly it. The other problem is that when people exercise more, they tend
to get hungrier. So, now they're hungry. They're not actually losing weight effectively. They're
subsisting on meager portions of food, because you put a dent in your metabolism. The studies
that go back 60 years, there was this very famous study that was done called the Minnesota
Experiment, where they took men, put them on a diet, what they call a semi-starvation
diet. They did lose weight, between 20% and 26% of their weight was lost. But, their metabolism
declined by 40%.
In other words, the metabolism declined to an extent far greater than you'd predict just
by the fact that the body is now smaller. This is a problem, right? How are you going
to make that work for you? You're not. So, instead of thinking about calories, what you
might think is, that's not so important. What causes fat to get into my fat cells and stay
there. It's complex, to be honest. But you know the answer to this now, because you've
read a couple of my books. Basically, the nub of the issue is a hormone called insulin.
Among the effects of insulin is to facilitate fat uptake in fat cells. Once it's there,
it tends to keep it there. So, it's fattening.
Matt: So, insulin is fattening.
John: Yes, insulin is fattening.
Matt: Up until I read you book, for me, insulin was in that bracket with diabetes. I didn't
suffer from it at the time. I had a few friends who had to inject themselves with insulin.
I never understood this. I just understood insulin and diabetes. They were the same thing,
and they weren't relevant to me. But, that's not the case.
John: That's right. They think insulin isn't relevant to them. There are some people, for
example, who don't make enough insulin. These are usually what we call Type 1 Diabetics.
They need to take insulin, and if they don't it's really bad news. It's an essential hormone.
Also, excesses of insulin in the body can be quite damaging. So, not only is it predisposed
to weight gain, it produces changes in the body that predispose it to things like heart
disease and diabetes in time. So, if you make a lot of insulin over many years, you can
eventually become unresponsive to insulin. This is called insulin resistance. That can
lead to what we call Type 2 Diabetes.
For a lot of people with weight issues, and certainly those who are Type 2 Diabetic or
what we cal pre-diabetic, somewhere between normal and healthy and Type 2 Diabetes, insulin
is very relevant. Most individuals in this situation have too much insulin. The reason
they have too much insulin is because they usually will find some kind of calorie based
strategy in their head which basically forces people away from fat, which is very calorific,
towards carbohydrates, which contains per gram about half as many calories.
[inaudible 11:21] calorie does to people. It moves them away from fat toward the foods
that cause the most insulin secretion, which is carbohydrates. Not just sugary foods, but
also starchy food, bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, breakfast cereals. Those sorts of food
cause, particularly when we eat them in quantity, large amounts of insulin secretion. Then they
can be fattening despite the fact that they don't contain any fat. Now, the other side
of this is that fat doesn't really cause much insulin secretion. So you could drink liquefied
butter all day and lose weight.
The fact of the matter is that there is some evidence for that. There is a study that I
quote in the book where they fed people nothing but saline, salt water into their veins for
three and a half days. Then they monitored fat loss from their fat cells, which was quite
brisk. Not surprising when you're not eating anything. On another occasion they did the
same experiment, but they gave them fat into their vein. Basically, the changes that they
saw in the biochemistry suggesting fat loss were essentially the same. In other words,
they were losing fat at about the same rate as when they were consuming nothing.
Matt: Let me get this right. Fat isn't fattening necessarily.
John: That's right.
Matt: The low fat stuff, which is essentially carbohydrates is fattening.
John: Yes, that's about right.
Matt: That's a sweeping generalization, but on the whole, that's what we're saying, isn't
John: And they we wonder why we're having difficulty. In my view, it's not the fact
that diets work, it's that they can't work. They absolutely set people up for failure,
really. It's only the small minority of people that can make them work. The message is that
it's not that people generally are not applying the principles as they should be applied.
Most people understand what it is to eat less and exercise more. What that does is induce
changes in the body that essentially cause the body to hang onto its fat. Then, with
the big dent in your metabolism now, woe betide you if you go back to your original diet.
That weight is going to return really quickly. It will often then rebound to weight that's
 a bit heavier than it started.
For example, in that Minnesota Experiment that I told you about earlier with those men,
when they took them off their diet, which by the way they called it semi-starvation,
but it was actually 1600 calories a day. That's quite a lot of calories. Some diets have less
than that. Anyway, when they let them eat what they wanted, they were what we call hyperphagic.
They were really, really hungry. They're eating massive quantities of calories, sometimes
4,000 calories a day. They're so hungry, because their bodies are trying to restore fat again.
By the time they ate normally, they basically ended up with fat stores 75% higher than when
they started. That's a disaster.
Matt: So, eat less, exercise more doesn't work.
John: So, you're absolutely right about that. So, what works better? I'll tell you what
works better. If you get your insulin levels down, then you can start losing fat. If you
lose fat, where does the fat go? It doesn't evaporate. It can go into your muscle cells
and be burned for fuel. Here's the beauty of this. You're now basically living off of
your own fat. You're like a hibernating bear. Your body doesn't know where that fat's come
from. It doesn't know that you didn't eat it. It doesn't care where it's come from.
So, don't be too surprised, when you get your diet absolutely right, and you lose fat effectively
by getting your insulin levels down, if you're not that  hungry. You're energized. You're
well fueled, but you're not very hungry. Why not? Because what you're not eating is being
supplemented by your belly fat. Fantastic.
Matt: So, the key then to losing weight. To harp on about this point. Let's make it really
clear. We get insulin levels down. To do that we simply have to eat less of the foods which
cause the spikes in insulin, i.e. carbohydrates.
John: Yes. That's right.
Matt: So, what do we eat then?
John: First of all, one major take home message is this: people really need to forget about
calories in my view, if they're going to do this successfully. If you start thinking about
calories again, eating the low fat version of this, and not eat too much fat, what the
evidence shows is that for a given number of calories, high fat diets are the ones most
effective for weight loss. The important thing there is that although that didn't make sense
half an hour ago, it does make sense when you consider the whole insulin argument. If
I was going to summarize how people need to eat to lose weight effectively, I would say
that the diet needs to be quite primal. It needs to be based on foods that have been
in the diet for a long time. Not every single food, every single moment of the day, but
broadly that.
We need to move away from carbohydrates, starchy carbohydrates. I wouldn't even encourage too
much fruit, because it's sugar after all. Keep the diet based on things like meat, fish,
eggs, nuts, seeds and a bit of fruit, vegetables. Those would be the core foods. Some foods
that I think are not primal but can still be okay, are some dairy products. Butter is
okay, for example. It's basically a very natural food, based on fats that have been in the
diet forever. I think also think yogurt is quite a good food. It's relatively protein
and fat rich as long as you have it in the full fat form, and it can make a good breakfast
for some people. So, for example, if you took a full fat yogurt like a Greek yogurt, and
put some berries and nuts into that, that's quite a good breakfast for most people. It's
also quick, convenient, and I hardly meet anyone who doesn't like eating it.
Matt: It is very tasty.
John: It's quick. People are getting up at 6:00 and going to work, they can eat it on
the train. It works for people. On the weekend, you might think, "Well, I'll have a cooked
breakfast." If you want to do it really healthfully, you'd eat eggs and smoked salmon. If you are
not so bothered about processed meats, I'm a bit like that with them, you'd have bacon
and eggs and some mushroom and tomato. This is what I ate yesterday morning before my
long day at work. Something like that might be good for someone.
When we're looking at lunch, we're looking at something like a meaty soup for someone
that eats meat. Fishy if they fish and not meat. Vegetarian soup, if someone is vegetarian
or vegan, I don't really advise it. There's nothing in it really. If you eat carrot and
coriander soup, there's only carrots, and onion and water in it. That can't sustain
you. That's one of the keys to losing weight. Other than just ignoring calories and concentrating
on eating the right food, in terms of quality rather than quantity, I would say do not allow
yourself to get very hungry. That's because when people get hungry at lunch, they want
to eat sandwiches rather than crayfish and avocado salad or Italian meatball soup.
Here's the thing. Even if you make the right decision in the hungry state, it's hard. Life
doesn't need to be hard. Whatever changes you make need to be sustainable. They have
to be, otherwise you're just going to do it for three weeks, and then back to the original.
So, one of the things that is really important is, in order to help people eat right, they
need to maintain their appetite at a reasonable level, and not let it run out of control.
What does that mean? Let's say you get peckish before a meal. Let's say you've had berries
and nuts and now you're starting to get quite peckish, because you had that at 7:00 and
it's 11:00 and you're getting a big peckish. You need to eat again, because you don't want
to get into a situation where you're now thinking, "I need to eat bread." This is what happens
to most people at lunch once they get hungry.
Matt: Let's just be clear. Bread is a carbohydrate.
John: Yes, bread is a starch. Starch, by the way is sugar. Now, I know that is a bit of
a shock, maybe. Starch is made of chains of sugar molecules. So is a bowl of rice. It's
a bowl of sugar really. Same with a bowl of pasta. It's a bowl of sugar in essence. If
we go for more primal fare, we're having a salad or a meaty soup or something like that,
in order to make that easy for people, they may need to snack between their lunch and
their breakfast, between those times. So, if they need to eat a few nuts at 11:00, that's
fine. Most people think nuts are fattening. The evidence doesn't support that. One of
the reasons for that is that they sate the appetite effectively. So, you don't need to
eat a lot of them to sate the appetite, and you eat less later on. You will certainly
find it easier to eat foods that are not fattening.
Matt: Any kind of nut is okay?
John: Any raw or even roasted nuts.
Matt: But not the salted.
John: For most of your listeners, salt will not be an issue. Very rarely, by the way,
will someone listening to this, I suspect have a blood pressure issue. If they do or
have a suspicion of high blood pressure, they might need to be careful. Most people are
not in that category. If there is a blood pressure issue that people I advise do need
to be careful with salt, and not eat salted nuts, for example. So, then they could come
onto their meaty soup or meaty or fishy salad, and if they get hungry again between lunch
and their evening meal, they can eat again. Most people generally go too long between
lunch and their evening meal without eating.
Matt: It's normally about six or seven hours, isn't it?
John: For a lot of people I see, they have lunch at 12:30, somewhere at work. In the
city, for example. Then they get their train to Haslemere, and now it's 20:30. They've
gone eight hours. Now they're starving hungry. Not only will that generally make it harder
for people to eat healthfully and drink healthfully, because hunger often drives drinking for people.
They drink more when they get hungry, because it can pick the blood sugar levels up quickly.
It also makes people irritable very often. They come through the door. They haven't been
there all day. They spouse wants to tell them something that's happening. Their kids want
their attention, and they're just grumpy.
They're grumpy because their focus is not on their families. It's on food. It's on the
fridge. They've dropped their blood sugar level. A short fuse.  A few Lego bricks in
the hallway, and it's a big deal. Stuff happens. For the sake of not just people's eating habits,
but for their relationships, I strongly advise people not to come into their evening meals
very hungry. There will be some people watching this that will recognize this in their spouse.
They're out all day and come in.
Matt: Not only in themselves, but they'll recognize it in their spouse.
John: So, again, a few nuts at that point can just keep you out of a lot of trouble.
Then they can sit down to piece of meat or eat some fish with vegetables, or a stew and
some vegetables or a salad, and can eat that very comfortably and not be thinking, "Where's
the food?" They don't need much filling up. They're not very hungry. Here's one thing
that I sometimes say to people. It sounds paradoxical, but this is absolutely true.
For the great majority of people, the less hungry they are, the more weight they'll lose,
the easier they will find it to maintain that weight loss. It's the exact reverse of what
most people would imagine.
Matt: This is why you don’t count calories, isn't it?
John: Going hungry to being calorie deficit and that's how they're going to lose weight
and it's a disaster.
Matt: Because that creates hunger. What you're saying is, if you're not hungry, you'll lose
John: That will allow you to eat foods that are generally non-fat. That's a primal diet.
Matt: In the middle of the afternoon then, between my lunch and my evening meal, I'll
just eat some nuts, maybe some yogurt or a piece of fruit. What kind of stuff should
I eat then?
John: For me, one snack that's good to have around you is nuts. The reason is they pack
down small. They're very portable. They're very accessible. So, most people, even when
they're moving around can have them in their handbag or brief case or coat pocket or glove
compartment in their car. They should be accessible. You need to be able to get a hold of them.
Otherwise you can't eat them, but not visible. A lot of us engage in what is sometimes termed
mind receipting, so if it's there they'll eat it. Even if I'm not hungry, I'll tend
to want to sit and eat it.
Matt: This is one of the things that I did follow in the first book, "Waist Disposal".
I put a bowl on my desk at work, which was full of nuts. They're totally there by the
computer. When I read the second book, I'm like, that's exactly what I do. I sit there,
grabbing. I go through so many nuts now, just because they're there.
John: That's not necessarily a bad thing. It's difficult to overeat them actually. To
be perfectly frank, if you keep them outside, accessible to you, in your desk, not on your
desk, that would be better. Secondly, I generally advise people to enjoy their food, but not
too much. Sometimes, some foods can be very more-ish. I was talking to a guy yesterday
in practice. He said that he doesn't mind not drinking, but if he starts to drink, he
gets on a roll and he can't really stop. It's the same sort of effect you get with things
like chocolate biscuits, where someone who's not even very hungry is offered a biscuit.
They eat one, but now it's like they've had some crack cocaine or something. I have to
eat six.
Matt: That's exactly me.
John: Some comfort can be like that if it's, what we call, very rewarding. It's a concept
that's out there in nutrition at the moment at how rewarding foods are. So, you want to
enjoy your food, of course. You don't want to be eating things that you don't want to
eat, like fish eyes. But, on the other hand, it doesn't want to be so great. Some people
say, I really, really like roasted nuts. I don't like raw nuts as much. I go right, great,
eat the raw ones, because you're less likely to overeat them. They're just not that appealing
to you. You're not going to knock yourself out over a few raw almonds. That's how food
should basically be for most of us most of the time. If it's your birthday or wedding
anniversary, go for it. Eat the most rewarding foods you can find. As a generality, food
should be there to enjoyed, but not too more-ish.
Matt: One of the things that you say in the book is the 80/20 rule. 80% of what you eat
should be this primal diet: the meats, the fish, the vegetables, which gives you a little
bit of freedom in your diet. Then you won't feel guilty. Last night I had a little bit
of dark chocolate. That's fine.
John: Dark chocolate is fine anyway. Even if you indulged, my attitude to that is that
it's really important to concentrate on what you eat most of the time, not some of it.
That's what allows you to eat healthy, and then you decide it's pizza with the kids on
a Friday night. You can actually eat that pizza and not thing, "Oh, I'm off the rails.
I'm going to go back to my original diet and then maybe in a few months start again." You
don't need to do that. Just make sure after that pizza, the next morning, you're back
straight on it. You haven't erred. You've not done anything wrong. You haven't been
weak. You just had a planned diversion from what you normally eat. That planning is quite
One of the mental tools that I've put in the new book that wasn't in the old book is this
idea that when you have an indulgence or a bit of an indiscretion, that you do it in
a planned way. In other words, as you approach it, you're going to say, "I'm going to eat
this. I'm going to enjoy it, but once I've finished it, that's that until the next time."
So, let me just tell you from my own life, and I think might have written this in the
book. Last year I was going to a stag weekend and I was driving down to Cornwall in the
I knew it was going to be a bit messy, but I said to myself, "I'm going to more or less
eat and drink what I like, but come Sunday night, that is the end of it. I'm not going
to get up on Monday morning after the stag weekend and start eating rubbish. I'm just
going to go back to what I was doing." So, I could have the weekend, not be too po-faced
about the whole thing. Indulge a bit with alcohol and food. I knew it was only going
to be a two day escapade. It can't be worse than that because I've set a mental limit.
It stops Sunday night.
When people do that, whether it's celebrating a night out or they go to some sporting event
or it's a stag or hen weekend, then people can usually find it very easy to get off what
they're normally eating that's generally healthy. They can  have their indulgence and get straight
back on without thinking, "I did bad. I've broken it." It's not a diet, is it? You know
that. I don't want to put words into your mouth. We don't think, "I'm on this diet."
You just think, 'I'm eating a lot more healthy than I did. These are the end results of eating
this way. I don't want to go back to that, but I do want to occasionally have my odd
Matt: That's exactly how it is. My wife's a big fan of healthy eating. She loves the
fact I read your book. I lost about 10 kilos in a couple of weeks. It just melted off.
It's been over a year, and it's been great. I don't regret it at all. I eat healthy. I
eat better.
John: I don't want to put words in your mouth. You probably feel better, because you're actually
nourishing your body with the correct sort of foods now. There's a self esteem thing
that goes on here. Most people do not want to be carrying around 10 kilos of excess weight.
They don't feel good about it usually. So, you've got that. You're now doing something
that we hope, and I suspect, you think, "This is sustainable."
One of the questions that I ask people if I'm working with them in practice is, let's
say I see them after a couple of months. They've lost some weight. They're feeling great, and
they're generally happy with what they're eating. I often ask them, "Can you see yourself
doing this when you're 80?" Let's imagine they're 40 or 50. "Can you imagine yourself
eating this way when you're 80?" The normal response you get without any hesitation is
not just, "Yes, I can", it's "Why would I do it any other way?" They're looking me like,
"Why would you ask that? Of course I'm going to be doing this when I'm 80." because they
see it as something completely sustainable. If you're enjoying what you're eating, you
can have occasional indulgences, you're lighter, you feel healthier. Why would you bother to
go back to what you were doing before? It's a no-brainer for people. Tell me how many
diets are like that for people. With most people, once they start, within a few days
or a couple of weeks, they're like, "I don't know how long I can put up with this."
Matt: That's why the title is spot on. "Escape the Diet Trap". You're not on a diet. It's
a lifestyle change. It's a much better result.
John: The important thing about this, because I think knowledge is power. Once you understand
what is going on in the body, and you apply it. Then you get the result what you're looking
for. The word I use to describe it is that people are liberated. They're liberated. They
go from thinking about calories and thinking that hunger is the way through and exercising
themselves into oblivion on treadmills and whatever, to basically doing something that
they actually enjoy more and is giving them better results.
Matt: There was a lady in your book. You use a lot of stories in your new book. There's
a lady, her initials are N.C. You know who I'm talking about?
John: I do.
Matt: I was reading her story, and I was amazed. She talks about how she tried every diet going
under the sun. She would lose weight. Put it on. Lose weight. Put it on. She got a hold
of your stuff. I don't know what the length of time was, but she loses eight stone, which
is over a hundred pounds or 50 kilos in my language and 40 inches off her body size.
She also talks about her self esteem as well. That's not typical results, I would assume,
but that's extraordinary.
John: Yes it is. I say it's not typical because most people have stones and stones to lose,
although we have a bit of an obesity issue here in the country. People like her are relatively
rare. What is common is this experience of losing weight, putting it on, losing weight,
putting it on. Trying lots of different things with nothing really working. She actually
read "Waist Disposal". Now, she's a woman so that's unusual.
Matt: Because "Waist Disposal" was a book written for men.
John: Specifically for men, although the approaches are entirely appropriate for women. I wrote
it for men, because what is there out there for us?
Matt: If you hadn't have written it for men, I wouldn't have read it. Because I would have
thought it was just another girl's diet book. I don't mean that disrespectfully.
John: No, I don't take it like that. That's why the book was written ultimately. It was
written because there's a whole bunch of men out there who are a bit disenfranchised and
a bit disconnected. Actually, if I may say this because I know lots of men who I meet
a lot in practice and in my corporate work. They actually are very, excuse the expression,
hungry for information. They just want to know what the truth is, and then they will
do more or less anything.  I was telling my girlfriend about this morning. I saw a
guy yesterday morning when I was doing some corporate work. He was the last person that
I saw. He's a typical example of what I see in that environment. He was basically subsisting
for the whole day, and for the last few months, attempting to lose weight eating grapefruit
for breakfast, fruit as a mid-morning snack, vegetable soup for lunch, more fruit in the
afternoon. He said, "I'm starving hungry." He's not losing weight. Of course he's not
losing weight and is starving hungry. He's not eating anything. Plus, all that fruit
with that sugar in there. You just can't do it.
So, I suspect that he will do very well when he moves his diet in a bit more of a caveman
direction as I explained to him. He's a classic example of this because in about two nanoseconds,
he totally gets it. It's like I've had a bowl of sanity. He said something like that. I
realize what's going on, and I realize how to fix it and I'm going to sort it. I have
hardly any doubt at all, and I don't have a crystal ball, so I don't know what's going
to happen with him, but I suspect that he's going to do brilliantly well. The reason that
he is because he gets it now intellectually. He feels it right. And he's one of the very
driven, task oriented people that will l do pretty much anything if he sees the sense
in it. Plus, he's not being asked to do anything difficult. He's actually going to be less
hungry eating foods that prefers to the ones that he's currently eating. Then he starts
losing weight.
There are loads of men like that, in my view, who are concerned with what's going on with
their baggy bellies or whatever. They just need to know the facts. They can put two and
two together and go, "Right, I can see where I might have gone wrong now. I'll do this
and see what happens." Then I don't want to dilute your experience, but there are loads
of people like you. That's why the book was written. I seem to have gotten off on a tangent.
What were we talking about?
Matt: We were talking about that lady.
John: N.C. I don't want to name her. She tells me this story. She goes into a book shop.
She's looking at diet books. Then she sees the spine of mine, which says "Waist Disposal"
on it. She picks it up and looks at the front cover. It says, "The ultimate fat loss manual
for men." It's very male. The cover is male. Everything is really male about it. I said,
"I'm just intrigued why it is as a women that you felt drawn to that book." She goes, "I
don't know what it was. I just felt drawn to it." The thing that she did, and  a lot
of people do this when they're in a book shop, not that people buy books in book shops anymore.
I can't remember the last time I did. God bless Amazon.
Anyway, she picks it up and she starts reading it. I'm not saying this to ingratiate myself.
She said, "When I started reading it, I almost felt like it had been written for me. I started
reading it and I said, yes that's me." Do you see? The funny thing is when I'm writing
a book, I usually an individual in mind, not a specific person, but I have a specific type
of person in mind from my experience in practice. It could be someone like you. I'm basically
thinking, "If I was going to explain this to someone. If I was going to say what's important
for them to know, what would I say?" Then I just basically write that down. That's what
I think writing should be when it's factual. Just right down what you would say to someone
in the situation.
So I think that's what she probably connected with in spite of the fact that she's a women
and the book was obviously for men. She went with it and it really helped her transformation
from someone who had been yo-yo dieting and fluctuating weight to someone who lost a ton
of weight in an incredible sustainable way. She's not thinking, "How am I going to keep
up with this." That's the thing I really rail against. This idea that people will lose weight
and then they have a negative experience putting that weight back on again, often quite quickly.
Then losing it and going up. It's just a joy to me when I see people like her lose a ton
of weight and do it completely sustainably so she's still in this state where she's like,
"I'm not dieting. I don't struggle with it. I don't obsess about food." Even today someone
left a review on Amazon for "Escape the Diet Trap". Female, I think. I can't tell, because
it says "northern teacher" or something. Basically, the review said something like, "It can be
really difficult to suddenly find yourself eating foods like butter and not worrying
about them. You know I no longer obsess about food or think about food or calories. In a
couple of weeks I've lost several kilos." It's now sustainable. That's the other thing
I encourage. I like people to be aware of food. I don't like them obsessing about it
and looking at nutritional information. Because if you go into a supermarket and  you pick
up a salmon or side of beef and broccoli, you don't worry about nutritional information,
do you?
Matt: No. I wouldn't know what it means.
John: So, she's done fantastically. She's also a lovely person. I'm not just saying
this, when I get emails from people, I can't remember how we first connected. Did you send
me an email or something?
Matt: Yeah, I sent you an email. After reading the first book, I had a question. I sent you
an email and you kindly responded.
John: I actually responded?
Matt: Quite quickly as well.
John: So, I don't want to downplay your experience or hers. I get regular emails from people
telling me. And, I've seen it in practice, so it's not like I've written a book and never
seen someone in real life or this should work theoretically. I've been doing this for 21
years, so you have a fairly good sense for what does and doesn't work. When I get emails
like that, I can't tell you what impact it has on my psyche, my emotions, my day. Don't
think for one moment that I set there and think, "Oh, another starfish thrown back in
the sea." I don't feel that way at all.
My girlfriend and I have offices at home in rooms next to each other. I'll say, "Darling,
I just want to read this out to you." Literally the minute I see it, I want to tell someone
about it. I'll say, "Just listen to this email." Then I'll read it out. Then I might reply
to it. For me, sometimes writing a book or putting information out there is a bit like
sending binary noise into the solar system hoping that an alien is going to pick it up
and send something back. It's a bit like that. You don't know what's really going on out
I know what goes on in practice, because I'm there. But, I don't know when happens when
someone reads one of my books, whether it  makes sense and whether it's made any difference.
I don't know until someone tells me. When it does, and someone feeds back in that way,
it really means a lot. I'm not there just for my own amusement, of course. So, when
someone like you has the faith in something. Reads something. Applies it. Gets the benefits
they're looking for, it has an enormous impact on me. I'm not glib about it. I'm never ever
glib about it.
Matt: With the Jersey website, I still read every email that comes in. It's quite a big
company. We have 50 staff. I still read every email every customer sends in. Like you, I
want to know what's going on. When we get an email from customers with positive feedback,
I love reading those. It's to the point now that when I get positive feedback from people,
I make it a point of writing back to them, because I know the effect that it has. We
print them out and put them on the warehouse on the walls so all the staff can read them.
It's great, isn't it?
John: It is fantastic. I think you'd have to be completely unemotional or a bit of a
monster not to feel something in  your hear when you've said something in a way that's
really benefited their lives.
Matt: That's another thing. When I was losing weight, it wasn't so much what the scales
were telling me, but what the tape measure was telling me. You key in on this in the
book. When you weigh yourself, depending on what time of the day it is, weight fluctuates
massively throughout the day. I have my water and carry it around everywhere I go. If you
drink a liter of water, you put on a kilo of weight. Certainly, the tape measure around
the belly button. As that went down, you start to feel really good about yourself. I'm like,
"Babe, look at this. It's going down." It was a beautiful day, the day I walked into
the kids and said, "You can knickers. You're not calling me baggy belly anymore." It was
Kids. Speaking about kids, before we get onto the beauty side of things. You talked about
having pizza with the kids on a Friday night. I don't want to put words into your mouth,
but do the same principles apply to kids?
John: They absolutely do. My feeling about this is that there's no doubt that different
people have different tolerances for certain foods including carbohydrates. There are some
people who can eat a ton of carbs, not put on weight. Their biochemistry is fantastic.
They're probably not adversely affected by the carbs that they eat. Let's just say that.
They exist. Those people exist. However, in adults, if there's a problem with weight,
there's probably a problem with carbs. Kids, compared to adults, tolerate carbs better.
They just do. I know that I did. I was active as a child. I played rugby, ran cross country
and athletics and all sorts of stuff like that. It wasn't really that.
There was a point where I didn't exercise at all for a year because I had a knee issue
and problems. It didn't make any difference to my weight. I was still eating lots of pasta.
It's nothing to do with that. It's how much your cells take up fat and what's happening
with your insulin levels, etc. But over a period of time, it becomes progressively difficult
for people. Plus, let me ask you this. Why do kids need all of that carbohydrate? What
you'll repeatedly hear is that they need it for energy. Actually, the absolute requirement
of carbohydrate in the diet is none at all. That's because you can make it from other
I'm not encouraging none at all. What I'm saying is that this idea that kids need carbs
for energy, like starchy carb cereal and bread is just ridiculous. Excuse me. Let me just
remind you, if you turn half 2.5 million years, roughly, we didn't have any of those foods
in the diets. What were all the kids doing then? Starving? Not eating their Cheerios?
It's ridiculous. What I say is this: kids who get away with more carbohydrate in their
diet including starchy carbohydrate.
However, if a child was to sit down to a meal of meat, fish, stew, casserole with some vegetables,
and there's no mound of rice, no pile of pasta no slice of bread, they haven't missed out
on anything. What have they missed on? What have they missed out on there that they couldn't
have gotten somewhere? They've got some carbs in there. There's tomato in the sauce. There's
vegetables on the side. There's no fat or protein in vegetables. It's carbs. It's nutritional,
but not sugar disruptive carbs. A little potato in there might be alright as well.
Therefore, for me if you want to feed your child some starch carbohydrate, go for it.
It's not really an issue for most children. However should the diet emphasize those foods?
In my view, no. If they're not there at a given meal, there's nothing that's been lost.
They're not missing out on anything that they can't get more healthfully elsewhere. It's
as simple as that. I'm more relaxed about carbs for kids because they tolerate them
better. I don't mean this judgmentally, but feeding kids endless plates of pasta and pesto
is not good nutrition.
Matt: Will that have an impact on their insulin as they get older?
John: Yes. The more insulin you secrete over the course of your life, the more likely you
are to either, number one become unresponsive to insulin and you've got insulin resistance
which can lead to Type 2 Diabetes. Or, what you can get from creating lots of insulin
over many years is something called pancreatic exhaustion. Basically, the pancreas that produces
insulin stops being able to do that. Now you're either not making enough insulin and it probably
isn't working very well anyway. Then you may need to take insulin in that situation. That's
not Type 1 Diabetes, which I mentioned earlier. It’s insulin treated Type 2 Diabetes.
On the way there, you have these lots of instances causes fat gain and possibly pre-dispositions.
Not just for diabetes, but for heart disease. There's quite a correspondence between insulin
and dementia. Obviously, it you're eight years old, you're not going to be thinking about
these things. But, if you're thinking about feeding kids in the best way possible for
the next generation and the next generation after that, then it would be, in my view,
to move away from the idea that kids need starchy carbohydrates and ram their diet full
of that. They don't need that. Instead move the diet in a bit more of a primal direction.
I'm not saying they shouldn't eat any of these foods. Should they be the basis for the diet
as we're encouraged? No.
Matt: I'm the same way. When I was a kid I could eat any items. Do you know the day I
started putting weight on? The day I got married. I was 25, and I was fine. I got married, I'm
not joking, we went to the States for our honeymoon and I put on a stone in ten days.
John: Oh my word.
Matt: It was the beginning of the end for me. Up until last year.
John: Funny you should say that you gained a stone over a week. People will say, "How
did he do that?" I can do that. I put on weight very easily. Really very easily. For example,
I reckon I put on about 5 or 6 pounds over that weekend stag that I went on.
Matt: It's extraordinary, isn't it?
John: It is extraordinary. But if you pile on the carbs, and carbs attract water into
the body, so it won't be fat. Can't be fat, can it? There's 3,500 calories in a pound
of fat. If you put on 14 pounds of fat. What is it, you might have put on a bit of fat.
There's a lot of carbs that came in. It retained a lot of fluid. You might have had more salt
in the diet which caused more water retention. It's not fat. People should know that. Because
if their weight springs up after a not so good meal, and they're a couple of pounds
heavier, it can't be fat. Otherwise it would be 7,000 odd calories in excess. That's difficult
to do in one meal. People should satisfy themselves that when their weight springs up like that,
that it's not particularly fat. When they get back onto their regime, they'll lose it.
That's one of the other reasons for not weighing yourself too much.
Matt: You can get paranoid about it.
John: It can have some really negative effects on people's psyches. They've eaten quite well,
and then they look at the scales the next day, and they're up a little bit. Listen,
a half pound or a pound for some people, one way or the other, can determine how good they
feel about themselves. So that's the reason for not getting on the scales too often.
Matt: You're absolutely right about that. For some people, the weight can spring up,
and it can be really alarming.  The other moral is don't go to America for your honeymoon.
John: Which part did you go to?
Matt: North Carolina. I used to live there.
John: That's probably quite a nice place, actually.
Matt: It's a very nice place. I lived there for a few years. It was a lot of weight.
Beauty, then. Let's get on to beauty. It's an obvious question, but does food have an
impact on your skin and what we would classify as technical beauty?
John: Yes. Basically, everything in the body is made of what we eat. Ultimately it is.
Our body is constantly renewing itself, including the skin. Bits of skin are dying and flaking
off. That's what dust is. It's mainly skin. You're replenishing that from underneath.
The better the raw materials that go in, the better the skin is going to be. We do know,
for example that certain nutrients seem to be particularly important for skin. Some of
the most important ones, in my view, are what we call the central fatty acids. These are
fats found in the diet that you can't make internally in your body. You have to get them
from outside.
The key here seems to be what we call the three fats that are founds in oily fish, like
salmon, trout, mackerel and herring. They seem to be particularly good for maintaining
health in the skin. There's a whole diet that's based on the principle of eating oily fish
three times a day. I quite like oily fish, but that's probably going over. It's all based
on that basic principle, I think. Another very important thing is protein. The structure
of the skin is, to a certain degree, determined by something called collagen. That will be
familiar to  a lot of your customers. Collagen is protein. If you eat a protein deficient
diet, it is very difficult to replenish collagen properly. That can potentially age you. There
are other things that can mess things up.
Sugar actually causes through chemical reactions, the cross linking of protein. It stops college
from being soft and pliable. It basically ages the skin by disrupting collagen in the
skin. So, if you eat a diet relatively rich in sugar or foods that cause a lot of sugar
release, like starchy foods, that might possibly age the skin. Then you've got something called
free radical damage. Free radicals are formed in lots of different ways. One way, which
isn't dietary, but just so people know, is smoking. That's possibly why smokers appear
very often to be older if you look at them in terms of their skin. If you look at the
skin on their face, they may appear older than they are biologically. It's probably
not a myth that smoking ages people. It probably does internally and also externally.
Can we combat that? Yes, we can combat it because there are nutrients called anti-oxidants
that combat free radicals. They might have an anti-aging effect. If you're eating vegetables,
particularly deeply coloured vegetables, then you're eating anti-oxidants. Eating green
vegetables and deeply coloured vegetables could be useful there. One other thing is
that there are quite strong links between carbohydrate consumption and acne. There's
a guy in the States, a professor called Loren Cordain. He's done quite a lot of work looking
at the influence of certain changes in the skin that would predispose to spots, acne
basically. So, it can cause almost hyper caretonization of the skin. It causes more oil production,
if I remember rightly.
His research was years ago, so some of the details are gone, I'm afraid. So, that's another
argument for eating a relatively natural, unprocessed, not high carbohydrate rich diet.
Hydration is probably important for the skin. People need to drink enough water to keep
their urine relatively pale yellow throughout the course of the day. If you're doing these
things from the inside, possibly supplementing from the outside, then you're got two quite
potent forces coming together in order to keep the skin in really good shape. Obviously
I'm biased, because of my work. I think internal stuff is bit neglected.
Matt: Yes, well it's easy to buy a moisturiser. It's not so easy to change your eating habits.
John: I use skin care products. I don't have an issue with any of that. I suspect that
most of your customers eat relatively well, but if you're eating a relatively rubbish
diet, and you're putting this stuff in from the outside, don't be too surprised if you're
not getting quite the result you're looking for. Do you see? If you have the two together,
of course, then that's going to be the most powerful way to keep the skin in really good
shape and not looking older than it needs to.
Matt: We put on Facebook that we were talking today. We had a few questions. One of them
was from Caroline Bryant. She said, "What's the best tip to slow down the skin aging process
that's diet related?" That's pretty much what you're talking about now.
John: It is, yes. Eat like this. Keep eating like this. Keep the skin reasonably hydrated.
We look at the hydration stuff in the book. Just do those things, because this would be
the best way to reduce the risk of too much free radical damage in the body. In the same
time, supply the skin with the nutrients that it requires to replenish itself in a healthy
form. When people get a little low in certain fats, and that's the problem with a low fat
diet. You don't eat enough essential fats, and the skin can age, probably more quickly
than it should. Also, that will generally cause dry skin. That can be other things as
well. It could be thyroid problems or whatever, but usually it's just a lack of fat or oil.
Now, people are not sufficiently oiled from within. That's the problem basically. As I
say, that's another problem with a low fat diet. That's a general rule. Eating the way
I'm suggesting with a reasonable amount of fat, particularly those Omega 3 fats. Not
having too many spikes in blood sugar that are going disrupt collagen. Giving the body
what it needs in protein so that collagen can form effectively. Do that. Keep the skin
hydrated. Put stuff in on top, and there you go. I've had no work done, by the way.
Matt: Me either.  Have we got time for one more question from Facebook. Kathryn Martin
wrote, "Can you give any advice on how to reduce the negative effects of the monthly
woman's hormone cycle on the skin? What products do you use and what foods to eat to avoid
to assist in keeping skin fresh looking all month long?"
John: First of all, I'm a great believer in diet, and you can do a certain amount with
it, but it has its limitations. Tidying up the diet if it isn't already tidied up in
the way I've just been talking about  will set a certain base. But, it's unlikely to
crack this issue. To crack this issue, there's a couple of things to bear in mind. In the
premenstrual phase, you get changes in hormones. I know women know this, but you get changes
in hormones that tend predispose to a variety of problems. Pre-menstrual symptoms, possibly
mood related, skin break outs, fluid retention, that sort of stuff. Ultimately that appears
to be in a lot of women from an excess of the hormone called estrogen. Testosterone
might be involved.
There's actually a remedy that women might want to look into that helps premenstrual
symptoms globally. I find it very effective in practice. It's called agnus castus. Women
might want to at least look at that, see whether or not it feels like the right remedy for
them. They might even go and consult with a herbal practitioner. I usually find that
the one remedy turns out premenstrual problems including skin breakouts like a light within
about two or three menstrual cycles. Highly effective. Hardly any side effects in my experience.
It's really, really effective.
I gave a talk a couple of years ago to a group of women bankers. There must have been 200
people in the room. Because it was based on women's health, I mentioned the whole menstrual
stuff. You have to. It's about women's health. You can't not talk about premenstrual syndrome.
I did a poll. I can tell you that this herb is really effective in practice. I did a poll.
I said, "Has anyone here ever heard about agnus castus?" Not one single hand went up.
It made me think, "Well, I might know about it. Maybe a lot of people in natural health
might know about. But maybe it isn't actually very known about."
Do you know what? I could imagine that there is a significant number of women out there
laboring every month with problems due to premenstrual syndrome who might have their
lives significantly benefited. Here's another remedy that seems to work quite well for skin
breakouts prior to periods. That is vitamin B6. I don't know why. I don't understand the
mechanisms, but it appears to be beneficial for that. I would generally go with agnus
castus first, if I was advising in practice. I think the effect is more global. It seems
to do a lot for helping mood, fluid retention and all sorts of stuff.  
However, B6 should be born in  mind. I wouldn't usually take B vitamins in isolation, by the
way. If you were taking 50 milligrams of that. I would take it generally in the context of
a B complex supplement. That's another thing that I think about. One or both of those might
have a very significant effect on the appearance on the skin and keeping it at a base healthy
level right through the menstrual cycle.
Matt: Maybe we should sell that agnus stuff. Maybe we should start a website if it works
that well. It feels a bit odd, two blokes talking about omen's menstrual cycles, but
it was one of the questions on Facebook.
John: I don't want to be sexist about this. Premenstrual syndrome is not an exclusively
female condition, in the sense that it doesn't just affect women, right? It affects everyone.
It affects the partner of the women. It can affect colleagues of those women. It can affect
the children of those women. One of the reasons that I'm passionate about women understanding
better how to manage this and possibly get rid of it entirely, which is not unheard of.
It's quite commonly the case with the right sort of remedies, is because it just makes
life so much easier for everyone. So, it might seem a bit odd that two guys are talking about
premenstrual syndrome, but we have a vested interest.
Matt: We totally do. I totally agree. Listen, John, I really, really appreciate your time.
I appreciate your time and giving us all this advice. My best piece of advice for those
of you watching, is go order the book off Amazon. I think it's on Kindle as well.
John: It is.
Matt: It is definitely, definitely worth a read. That's it from us. Stay tuned and we'll
come up with some more interviews soon. John, really thanks. Thanks. Appreciate your time.
John: Thank you very much, Matt.