The Carb-Appropriate Podcast Ep.9
Super-stoked to chat with my buddy and colleague, leader in the wholefood, lower-carb nutrition field in New Zealand, Dr Mikki Williden.
Not to be missed for anyone interested in an evidence-based, yet holistic (and simple!) approach to eating for health and performance.
Find Mikki at https://mikkiwilliden.com/
Mikki has a great selection of articles, recipes, as well as online coaching to help you get your nutrition and health on track.
Follow Mikki on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mikkiwillidennutrition/
Check out one of the papers co-written by Mikki and Cliff (top 5 in Public Health and Nutrition at Peer J 2018) https://peerj.com/articles/4488/
Full transcript available below for Patrons
Cliff Harvey: [00:00:03] Welcome back to the Carb-Appropriate podcast. It is my absolute pleasure today to be talking to my good buddy, Dr Mikki Williden. As per usual, I do my little genesis story with my guest on the podcast.
Cliff Harvey: [00:00:17] I met Mikki quite a few years ago now, and it was at a health and fitness expo. I was spruiking one of my products, Good Green Stuff, and one of our staff said, “Oh, we’ve got a nutritionist who wants to talk to you about a few things”, and I thought, “oh, no – here we go”, because, typically when a nutritionist/a dietician comes up and wants to talk to me that they want to slam me for some aspect of low-carb or carb-appropriate nutrition – and so, to take me to task on saturated fats and things like that. And obviously…, it didn’t turn out that way – Mikki was pretty much on the same page, and we had a great old chat then, and became firm friends since then – and then you went on to become my supervisor for my Masters Research. We’ve done a bunch of stuff together. We’ve written some publications together, and we’re, we’re now doing a little bit of, you know, further research together, which we probably can’t talk about. And so, welcome, Mikki. It’s great to have you on.
Mikki Williden: [00:01:13] Oh, hey, Cliff, it’s an honour to be asked to come onto your podcast, I’m stoked.
Cliff Harvey: [00:01:18] Well, we’re really only getting ‘the cream of the crop’ at this stage, I think.
Mikki Williden: [00:01:21] [laughs] Clearly! I’ve got to say, like every time you kind of introduce me and you use “doctor” and all the rest of it, you know, I feel this way. I always kind of, like, you always talk me up, and it’s awesome. I think I need to hire you as my PR manager.
Cliff Harvey: [00:01:36] Well, I think you probably need to ‘up’ yourself a little bit more – I was actually thinking about that before we got on the cast. It’s really interesting the work that you do because it’s so practical, it’s so applicable, it’s so translational. I think often people forget that that’s the type of work that has real cut-through. And your legitimate nutrition scientist, you know, you’ve got to PhD, you’ve done a bunch of research, you’ve been a lecturer, you’ve been a clinician for a long period of time – and I think often people almost dismiss people like yourself who are doing the practical and applied work, because maybe it’s not seen as being as ‘clever’, or as ‘smarty pants’ is using big words and things. But if anything, it probably has more cut-through and more impact.
Mikki Williden: [00:02:25] It’s interesting you say that, Cliff – I suppose I am, you know – obviously quite a few people through my connections – but also with Facebook, for example, you’re kind of out there on social media, and I get a lot of people who might come to me and ask my specific, my specific kind of advice or opinion on certain things – yet, there are other people, which, I guess they also look to other people for almost the kind of glam aspect of what I am saying, you know, ‘oh, you agree with this person, so it must be right’ or you know, that that kind of thing. I don’t know if that makes sense, but I suppose it sometimes does feel like I’m kind of down in the trenches – but I love it there. You know, like, that whole social media thing – I really enjoy kind of putting across science in a practical way, which people can use. And then also cutting through some of this rubbish with regards to the types of foods that are out there that people are…, people are professing are ‘healthier’ than just, you know, other foods – and not to be, I suppose…what is some – suggests that there are good and bad foods, generally speaking, but I think there are some things that are put are put on a pedestal which, shouldn’t be? I don’t know if I just come to myself in circles there?
Cliff Harvey: [00:03:48] No, it makes complete sense – I mean, there are certain people who have…, I mean, there are foods that have a ‘health halo’, right? Whether that’s deserved or not – and I think there are people, there are researchers, there are clinicians, who have a halo effect as well – and that can be a challenge, that can be problematic because, you know, all of us will have our favourites. We’ll have our favourite researchers, we’ll all have people that we really respect – and that’s fine. That’s cool, because they’ve obviously done really good work – but, I think we always need to remain circumspect – and I was going to jump into this later, but we might as well talk about it now seeing we’ve already got off track…, I was…just started listening to the Gary Taubes – is it ‘Stephan Guyannette’ or ‘Stephan Guyenet’? I can never remember how to pronounce his last name.
Mikki Williden: [00:04:36] “Guyenet”, like ‘DNA’ – but with a “G”.
Cliff Harvey: [00:04:38] Yeah. So, the Stephan Guyenet/Gary Taubes debate on Joe Rogan – I haven’t listened to it yet, so I need to go back and listen to it properly. But I just noticed on social media, it’s blowing up this big debate, and most of the people that I follow or associate with, a lot of their followers are just completely, you know, ‘anti-Taubes’ and anti-anyone who basically has a similar…, you know, similar mentality, even if they might actually be a bit more evidence-base than Gary Taubes. And what I’m saying is that a lot of people don’t actually exercise any real discretion of their own – they don’t exercise any real thinking around this, they’re just following the people that they follow who don’t like Taubes’ message. Now, whether or not Taubes is right, I don’t believe he is in an absolute sense, I think the insulin hypothesis has a lot of flaws – but, there are a lot of nuances within that area that we need to continue to flesh out with research, because the whole story has not been told. And I think, you know, from reading through my PhD thesis, you would have noticed that at the end, in the discussion, I looked at a lot of those tangential, tangential pieces of research which haven’t really been addressed well enough yet.
Mikki Williden: [00:06:02] And, you know, it’s interesting because I hopped onto the podcast yesterday – and started listening to, listening to it – and sometimes I feel like when people get, uh, exactly what you say like that, they’re not, they don’t actually think critical minds to the topic – they kind of, they, they don’t like Taubes. They don’t like his message, that’s what they attack? I don’t know. Like, I listened to Chris Kresser, and that, the Doctor…, I can’t recall, was a vegan Doctor – and he’s, and it was the case for and against red meat. What I liked about the discussion was that for the most part, people remained respectful throughout it, you know, with each other, and the rest of it – and it kind of, you know, it sounded… it seemed a little bit more like a fist-fight, the bit that I was listening to yesterday – and so you can kind of get lost on the detail of… lost in that, rather than looking at the evidence-base – like you, Cliff, like, I don’t see why there has to be a debate around the insulin hypothesis vs. Guyenet’s brain hypothesis… Surely elements of both theories actually are true? But you’re right, it’s so nuanced, that I don’t think we should be like, oh, yeah, you’re right – you win?
Cliff Harvey: [00:07:24] Yeah – and I think it’s seldom as simple as people make it, and I don’t necessarily think it’s the problem of… it’s not always the problem of the people who are debating – it’s the people who are following those people debating who and oversimplify it in a really big way. And I think that’s particularly true when we look at, you know, this area of nutrition where you’ll have, for example, a mindset that, well, at the end of the day, irrespective of everything that’s going on, at some point it still comes down to calories in, calories out.
Mikki Williden: [00:07:58] Yep.
Cliff Harvey: [00:07:58] And I would agree because that is the first law of thermodynamics. But, when you oversimplify to that point and that causes you to reject any nuances that may be allowing people to exercise, you know, proper calorie balance or that provides for nuances within it, like I call it a ‘functional calorie deficit’ as what’s required to lose body fat, not necessarily an absolute calorie deficit.
Mikki Williden: [00:08:23] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [00:08:23] You’re basically rejecting all of these various things. Now, when we looked at, um – you’ll remind me… Ebeling’s latest sort of research… Cara Ebeling’s latest research on the insulin hypothesis where there was increased calorie usage and things, that was pretty much rejected out of hand by most people. But you can’t do that because it was a very good study and they use gold standard methods for it. Now, from my point of view, that’s interesting to keep looking into it because it shows the complexity of the human body. It doesn’t prove that low-carb’s better. Well, the insulin hypos… , you know the situation because it’s not it just shows that, hey, there’s cool stuff going on here.
Mikki Williden: [00:09:07] I totally agree with you – and I think that, you know, that whole if we’re thinking about calories-in versus calories-out, what we’re forgetting if it’s just absolute calories is the body’s hormone response to the food, you know, and whether or not they’re going to take those calories, and shift them, um – or they’re going to store them, and in a whole host of that, I suppose that’s what you’re talking about with that functional calorie deficit -right?
Cliff Harvey: [00:09:29] Yep.
Mikki Williden: [00:09:31] It’s what’s actually physiologically happening in the body – and are we utilizing more calories than what we consuming, essentially, or are we storing those calories? – And it wouldn’t matter whether you were having a thousand calories or two thousand, you’d still effectively be storing.
Cliff Harvey: [00:09:48] Yep. Are we storing them? Where are we storing them?
Mikki Williden: [00:09:51] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [00:09:52] And why is that occurring? You know, I always use the example, whenever anyone says, “well it’s just about energy-in/energy-out”, I would say, yeah you’re right – but let’s take the example of, you have two people eating the same – eating habitual calories, and you change the ratio of protein within one of those people’s diet – increase their protein, they’re still eating the same amount of calories, they’ll lose body fat.
Mikki Williden: [00:10:15] Yep.
Cliff Harvey: [00:10:15] Because the functional end-points are different, you know, it’s far more difficult – and we’ve realized it’s even more difficult than we thought previously – right?
Mikki Williden: [00:10:22] Yep.
Cliff Harvey: [00:10:22] It’s really difficult for the body to convert large amounts of those amino acids that are coming in, into fat.
Mikki Williden: [00:10:28] Totally. And the other thing with that is the effect that certain calories have on appetite. You can’t ignore that as well, you know? Like, and I know what we are …calories-in versus calories-out – an equal number of calories. But another situation is, you put someone on a fifteen-hundred calorie-a-day diet, it’s really difficult for them to stick with it – if, for example, you’ve got a protein intake of around 10 per cent or less, because that is just going to drive you to want to consume more calories – so, your body gets the amount of protein that they need, and that’s like the Protein Leverage Theory, and sure there are, you know, there are criticisms to that theory as well – but I think a lot of it holds true, like people who under eat protein typically over a carbohydrate foods until they, potentially, until they reach the amount of protein that they need, so, there’s a lot going on there as well – and not just the effects that protein has once you actually eat it?
Cliff Harvey: [00:11:28] Yeah, and that’s a really good point because that speaks to functional outcomes of diet – you know, I don’t mean a diet, but I mean ‘little d’ diet, the compendium of what we eat. And often there is, it’s discounted because people are so worried about debating, for example, high-carb versus low-carb. And, you know, you and I would have heard the criticism many times back in the early days, well, you look at these low-carb studies, and it doesn’t actually mean anything, because if you look at how much the people were eating, they ended up eating less, and that reason why they lost the body fat.
Mikki Williden: [00:12:05] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [00:12:05] And my point is, you know, it was always, yeah, but they didn’t mean to eat less -they were more satiated.
Mikki Williden: [00:12:10] Exactly. And that in itself is a win for, why a lower-carb approach for a lot of people is a more successful approach, because you can put anyone on a calorie-controlled diet that eight weeks, and yes, of course, they will lose weight, whether it’s low-fat, low-carb or anything – if it’s a functional calorie deficit. However, if that diet is going to keep you satisfied, then long-term you’re going to be much more likely to keep that weight off, right. And that’s the problem. The problem is never whether or not you can get someone to lose weight. Of course, you can. That’s actually the easy bit.
Cliff Harvey: [00:12:45] And the problem I would go as far as to say the problem is seldom the type of diet that someone’s on it can be, but it’s seldom the type of diet someone’s on – so much is whether they can stick to a good, overall healthy diet for a long period of time.
Mikki Williden: [00:13:04] Yeah. And the other thing is when I talk to my clients a lot about this, I’m sure you do as well, Cliff – is the other factors in lifestyle outside of diet that are important for fat-loss, fat-gain, that kind of thing, like stress management techniques, or like having a good sleep routine, or getting the type of sleep that you need. Like, these things really, I’ve seen it time and again in my clinic that people are so quick to jump on board dietary guidelines, and take your food suggestions and run with them. But they’re less enthusiastic when you say to them, ‘hey, have you thought about your stress management techniques?’ Why not try this – or have do you get a good sleep hygiene routine set up? Like, those kind of behaviour changes are so much harder, I think, for people.
Cliff Harvey: [00:13:53] Yeah, I don’t know exactly why that is either – but I think we become very compartmentalized in our thinking. And especially we’re going to see someone like, you know, you’re a nutritionist at the end of the day, people coming to see your ‘nutritionist’, right?
Mikki Williden: [00:14:06] Yep.
Cliff Harvey: [00:14:06] Coming to see me as a nutritionist, as soon as you start talking about these other things, like most things in life, they think, ‘oh, no, there’s more?’.
Mikki Williden: [00:14:14] Yeah, yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [00:14:15] And they freak out because they suddenly think, I’ve got to do all this stuff – I’ve got to sleep better, I’m going to meditate. I’ve got to do this and that, and you know, it becomes overwhelming.
Mikki Williden: [00:14:23] Totally.
Cliff Harvey: [00:14:24] But however, I do think that they can be, you know – I’m not sure if you saw, but lately, particularly through last year, I was giving a lot of talks on a very simple theme, which basically encapsulated, ‘hey, here’s five things you can do in your day, which are very simple to apply’. Let’s not over complicate it. Let’s just do these five things – it was simple things like, when you wake up in the morning, drink two glasses of water, then do five to ten minutes of meditation, do some type of exercise, even if it’s two to five minutes, it was very simple things like that – and the breakthrough moments were pretty profound, because people realized that if they had small bite-sized chunks they could do, and were consistent with it – the results can be massive, whereas I think typically people think a ‘process of change’ means, I’ve got to change my diet completely, or I’ve got to start exercising in 10-hours a week, or whatever it happens to be.
Mikki Williden: [00:15:18] Yeah, 100 per cent – and I think that’s what,… and you forget that that is actually the general mindset. Like, it’s really easy to be in a bubble, it’s really easy to think that how we’re talking about food and how we’re thinking about nutrition is actually quite mainstream, and well, not mainstream, but that the general population knows these things. But, all it takes is sitting down and having a conversation with someone to make you realize how, um – that people haven’t really moved on from,… or it’s hard to push through those messages that have been around forever, about, you know, 45-minutes to an hour at the gym, about drastically reducing, reducing, reducing the calories, and about, yeah – everything around that stuff, and cardio as well that – like, you know, I’m an endurance athlete from, forever and I will always be. But I mean, for fat loss, we know that resistance training is key for that – and HIIT training does a far better job of stripping fat than like a city run will ever do.
Cliff Harvey: [00:16:22] Yeah.
Mikki Williden: [00:16:23] However, of course, exercise is still really important,… but it’s… and doing what you love is important. But the amount of people that think that it’s no point going out unless we go out for like 45-50 minutes is incredible to me.
Cliff Harvey: [00:16:38] And that’s where I think sometimes, there are two points that I thought there – with respect to ‘best practice guidelines’, one is that best practice guidelines work, in an absolute sense for no one, because they are the mean, and no one’s exactly on the mean. So, whether we need to shift those best practice guidelines just a little bit, or a lot – because you’re quite different from the supposed norm. They’re never going to fit 100 per cent. But the other thing is, best practice guidelines are what is going to give the biggest effect, typically, or the optimal effect for most people, most of the time. Now, that doesn’t mean you can walk straight into it. You know, if we think that the optimum is, well, you should be training, you know, maybe three times a week for at least, or doing resistance training, for at least three times a week, for at least 45-minutes, and doing some cardio, and doing all these other things, like eating nine-serves of vegetables every day, and all these things, on and on and on… If you’re presented with that, and you’re not doing any of those things right now, you’re going to say “that’s way too hard!”.
Mikki Williden: [00:17:43] Yeah, yeah, totally. And it’s funny with that – like, my with my clients, I look I like to kind of look at the literature, and think – OK, there’s this new study on blood-sugar control, for example. So, and it’s being able to walk or cycle, like, when is the this time to walk or cycle for people to be able to control their blood-sugar response after a meal, and throughout the day – and so, I’m like, well, it’s actually super,… like you can actually look at research, and distil it down to some practical guidelines for people that sit outside of that moderate 30-45 minutes, and that kind of thing. You know, the 10-15 minutes before breakfast, and then again after dinner. You know, but equally, someone might not have that half an hour, but even if they start with the habit? – Of getting up and getting out the door for five minutes? I mean, there’s a habit, that in three or four weeks’ time, that’s probably fairly, firmly established that they can then build-on, or it might take someone eight weeks – and it doesn’t matter how long it takes them, it’s just that you actually instil it first, I think.
Cliff Harvey: [00:18:47] Exactly – and that’s exactly what I was going to say, and not only, I mean, I’m glad you said it, because not only is that a way to get people into those habits, and to get them closer to the best practice guideline – but it’s actually the best way to do it, because, you know, I think about the analogy, if you’re an endurance athlete, right?
Mikki Williden: [00:19:07] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [00:19:08] When you were going to run your first marathon, did you just go out and run a marathon? Was it the first thing you did?
Mikki Williden: [00:19:13] Yeah. Good call.
Cliff Harvey: [00:19:14] You know, my old man was a marathon runner, and I think he started because, he had some familial issues with heart disease, and things like that – he didn’t want to get that, so, he started by jogging to the end of the street – purely for a health purpose.
Mikki Williden: [00:19:30] Yep.
Cliff Harvey: [00:19:31] And he started doing that every day, jogging to the end of the street – and then eventually jogging to the end of the street became so easy, that he started jogging around the block, and he started running longer and longer – and then he started getting into it, and started reading books on marathons – this is back in the 70s, I think…
Mikki Williden: [00:19:44] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [00:19:45] You know, reading books on marathon training, James Fix, all those kind of guys, and developed a habit of running, that became something that he loved. But, I’m sure if he had been told, you’ve got to run 10K, there’s no way he couldn’t have done it, and it would have put him off completely.
Mikki Williden: [00:20:03] Totally agree. It’s funny you bring up Jim Fix. He was the first book that I read – I go down to the Dunedin library when I was about 16, on running – and OH, I got out that book, and I also purchased John Ackland’s “Power to perform”, I think that’s what it’s called… Oh! Although, “Peak Performance”, man – that was such a Bible. I think it’s still around now.
Cliff Harvey: [00:20:23] Shout out to John [laughs]
Mikki Williden: [00:20:23] Yeah, exactly, it was great – could not understand a word of it, and to be fair, even I went back now, even with my phys-ed [physical education] background, probably still wouldn’t be able to – uh, understand it, because it was highly complex – off tangent, though, but that Jim Fix’s book, I remember reading that, in the front cover, there was a ‘rest-in-peace’, because I ended up dying on a run.
Cliff Harvey: [00:20:47] He did, and he died, from what I know, he died from heart disease. And, he was considered – now, rightly or wrongly, I don’t know whether this apocryphal or not, but he was considered a bit of a cautionary tale, because, obviously one of his mantras, one of his dogmas was you can basically eat whatever you want – so long as you put in enough miles.
Mikki Williden: [00:21:13] Yeah, yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [00:21:14] I think now we would say that, well, that’s probably not correct, because if you’re eating things that are not good for you metabolically – or maybe very inflammatory, or maybe they’re creating an increased glycation, or oxidation, whatever it happens to be – and then you’re also trying to make up for it by doing more miles, you’re putting your body under a tonne of stress, and where probably I’d say, I’d say the evidence is probably pretty clear now that that is that’s atherogenic – that it’s not necessarily a good thing for the heart. Would you agree?
Mikki Williden: [00:21:44] Totally agree – completely. And also, there must have been some genetic element there, because that is not going to happen to a general person who is out doing even with what you described, with all that kind of oxidative damage and stress.
Cliff Harvey: [00:21:57] Yeah.
Mikki Williden: [00:21:58] Do you know, Cliff – I can’t wait for like 10-15 years’ time, where we have some really good clinical research performed in athletes to see, you know, the difference between – and I’m just thinking endurance here, because that’s kind of the world of which I operate in – you know, the health markers of athletes who go LCHF or low-carb in the high healthy fat…whatever you want to call it, but can – but, you know, good amount of protein in there as well – and to see that the different effects over, you know, six months, twelve months, 24 months on their health-markers, compared to, say, just the endurance athletes, who maybe lean, and not even fat on the inside, not even now, ‘toffee’ or whatever they call it, but, lean – but, what are the inflammatory markers like? Because there’s there is that kind of dialogue going on in the nutrition space – or sorry, in the ‘endurance space’ that you’re right, it doesn’t really matter what you eat, because you’re going to burn it off. And a good mate of mine, he’s like, ‘oh, I just don’t really buy this low carb thing for endurance. I just don’t think it flies…’ – he is a guy that is exactly who I just described. He’s really lean, he doesn’t struggle with body composition, yet, he does require like a ‘one square meal bar’ and a bottle of electrolytes and carb for a two-hour cycle, like…
Cliff Harvey: [00:23:25] Yeah…
Mikki Williden: [00:23:26] That is wrong.
Cliff Harvey: [00:23:26] I wonder… I mean I think there are athletes who are that, shall we say, ‘metabolically flexible’ – that they pretty much can eat anything, and they will still be highly fat-adapted, because I think we need to draw a big distinction between, you know, what people consider to be fat-adapted, which is eating a low-carb diet, being keto-adapted, at all those types of things, which are not being fat-adapted at all. They can encourage fat-adaptation – but if you are an athlete, and you’re eating a really high-carb diet, and your ‘R.E.R’ is bang-on where it should be – , which basically tells us the ratio of carbohydrate-to-fat that someone’s burning… If someone’s RER is bang-on-point, they’re fat-adapted.
Mikki Williden: [00:24:15] Totally – in a practical sense, like, you don’t even really need to do that – … in the lab, that the best test is to get up, get on your bike – how far can you ride? Like, if you can ride without fuel, with just say… water, and maybe a few electrolytes for a good four hours – then that’s a good sign that you fat-adapted – and I see heaps of athletes who come to me who want to go low-carb, but who are also actually are that metabolically fixable, which, um – so I agree with you, Cliff, that the fact that, you know, that the high-carb athlete can still be metabolically fixable, which is the ultimate goal, right?
Cliff Harvey: [00:24:56] Yeah, and I think… one thing that I’ve been thinking a lot lately is really that being fat-adapted, that being ‘metabolically flexible’, being ‘metabolically efficient’, all these terms that we throw around – really for an endurance athlete, that just means that they’re going to be resilient …, based on things that provide adversity on a really long event, like in the Iron Man. Like, if you miss your fuelling station or something happens, you’re basically going to be much more resilient because you’ve got that baseline fat-burning – but people mistake low-carb athletes with being, you know, fuelling only on fat, no carbs at all. The good example, obviously, you bring him up all the time, is Dan Plews, Doctor Dan Plews.
Mikki Williden: [00:25:44] Hmm mmm.
Cliff Harvey: [00:25:45] Dude’s a low carb athlete, right? He eats low-carb, lives ‘low’ because that’s what encourages increased fat-adaptation. But, he obviously takes a truckload of fuel from all types of mixed sources when he’s out doing an event.
Mikki Williden: [00:26:00] That’s it, and the goal for a low-carb athlete, is not about let’s see how,… it’s not about maximum efficiency and fuel, more than it is. Like, let’s see how long we can go without. It’s more like, okay, let’s try and increase all the areas with which we can draw on for fuel because those who are going to do the best are those that are able to sustain the same pace and the same performance. So, having the flexibility to burn both carbs and fat means you delay your glycogen stores till later on in the race – and so, for a guy like Dan, like he gets away with only taking on board like 50 grams of carbs an hour, which is a lot less than what someone of his size would otherwise need, because he’s able to draw a lot from his fat stores. Now, the benefit of that is, yes, of course, we can talk about oxidative damage and stress, and you don’t get that kind of carb breakdown – but, ultimately, for an event that long, fatigue plays a massive role in your ability to digest and absorb fuel. So, the less fuel that you take on board from that perspective – the least G.I distress that you’ll likely be going to have. But certainly, it’s not about ‘no fuel’, and it’s not about taking a crap tonne of carb, ah – sorry, fat! -whilst you’re out there because that is not, that’s not helpful from a digestive perspective at all. And since we are talking about it, I mean, think this is a good point – a good time to kind of highlight some of those really ridiculous studies that have come out in the last couple of years that are almost set-up to prove that LCHF will not work for an athlete, like the race walking study.
Cliff Harvey: [00:27:40] So, explain why… Why do you think that was designed to fail?
Mikki Williden: [00:27:44] Well, it was, it was set… from memory, it was a three-week adaptation period, where athletes either went on a keto-based diet or your standard ‘controlled’ diet – and there were a number of tests that they performed, and whilst they found that fat oxidation increased in the keto-athletes, when it came to actual performance, it was race walking and it was a simulated, I think, 10km event. And these athletes were, well, they were at like 85 per cent VO2 max, these weren’t just people meandering around the block, and they gave them fat as the fuel source throughout that race. Now, it is very difficult to digest and absorb fat at 85 per cent VO2 max, you know, almost impossible. And even for someone like Dan [Plews], he’s not going to choose fat as a fuel source, even though he is really metabolically efficient. So, it was almost like set up to prove that keto wasn’t the best approach for these athletes, but it was no way set up the way that a… practitioner who understands how to do it, would recommend people do it.
Cliff Harvey: [00:28:50] Well, I’m going to… yeah. You make a really good point – and it reminds me of something that I think is a real problem in the research setting when it applies…when we talk about keto, and that is that, researchers have a very arbitrary idea of what a ketogenic diet is. They have an arbitrary idea about how to achieve it, and it typically relies on absolute amounts of carbohydrate.
Mikki Williden: [00:29:17] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [00:29:17] Now, I don’t buy it – and I never have. You know, I did my first keto diet… I talking about this with Eric and… Eric Helms, Danny Lennon on a podcast a couple of weeks ago – I remembered that I tried my first ketogenic diet 24-years ago – right. I wasn’t applying them yet, ’cause I was in high school, I was a high school athlete. But I tried it because I thought it looked really interesting. It was a couple of years later that I started applying them in practice. But from the very beginning, probably ’cause I wasn’t, you know, tempered by the bias that people have nowadays, I was playing around with it to see what would work. And I’ve always applied ketogenic diets as a ratio of calories.
Mikki Williden: [00:29:57] Yeah.
[00:29:57] So let’s say we’re having 60 per cent, or 70 per cent, or 80 per cent calories from fat. Now, what that means for the endurance athlete is even if they are sticking to strict keto, which they probably wouldn’t do when you’re on the event anyway, but even habitually, let’s say they’re having 10 per cent calories from carbs, or 15 per cent calories from carbs – that’s a lot more on a 4000 calorie diet, than a 2000 calorie diet. So, if people are just applying 30 grams of carbs a day.
Mikki Williden: [00:30:25] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [00:30:25] And expecting for an athlete to perform…
Mikki Williden: [00:30:27] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [00:30:27] We’re talking about completely different things.
Mikki Williden: [00:30:30] And also people conflate a keto diet with ketogenesis – right? Like, ketogenesis is a physiological state – and what it takes to kind of get there, differs, depending on things, particularly your activity level, like… I think that people forget, and I know certainly that people that I talk to, is that, by very virtue of doing exercise, which will deplete your glycogen stores, and force your body into burning fat… like that occurs, that can occur even on 100 and 120 grams of carbs a day for some athletes. And, I think that… So, I think people get really caught up in ‘oh, no, I’ve, I’m on 20 grams of carbs a day or – and I haven’t made it, or that’s all I’m allowed…’, whereas it’s like, well, why don’t you instead, start checking your… Well, I’ve got things to say about checking your blood ketones – but, as a first measure, you can pretty much see that you can get quite a lot more if you’re doing that long endurance-based training.
Cliff Harvey: [00:31:35] Yeah, and there’s… as we both know from having looked at data, there’s a lot of individual variability as well.
Mikki Williden: [00:31:43] Hundred per cent, right?
Cliff Harvey: [00:31:45] You know, I always bring up a little case study I did on myself – now, this probably wouldn’t work now, but when I was doing keto a lot more frequently than I am now, and I did that little self-experiment where I think I was eating around 200 grams of carbs every night, and still getting into ketosis consistently the following day. Most people who were orthodox, fairly orthodox keto researchers and that might seem like a bit of a contradiction in terms. But, they just did not believe it.
Mikki Williden: [00:32:17] Yep, yep.
Cliff Harvey: [00:32:19] But there’s no reason for me to have fudged my own results, because who cares? It was a freakin’ blog post – but what it shows, and what we’ve seen in our research is that it happens, you know, people in the study…we just performed at AUT, 18 people who were eating 25 per cent calories from carbs were able to hit ketosis levels.
Mikki Williden: [00:32:40] Totally. And so, a couple of things on that. One, your study was very similar, your n=1’s was very similar to Peter Attia’s N=1 – you know, when he was undergoing his massive, kind of like, cycling-endurance stuff, and he would also note that he could easily get away with 100 to 120 grams of carbs post-cycle, and then wake up in ketosis the next day, like that – so, those N=1’s certainly exist. But then if I go back to what I was thinking about with blood ketones, is that, that in itself… people, people are very black and white when it comes to numbers, you know, .4 = ‘not in ketosis’, .5 and above = ‘boom, I’m in’, um – and there must be something wrong with what I’m doing if I’m not able to reach, you know, that ‘.5 and above’, and all the rest of it. But, to look at, you know, to some people, initially when they are going on a ketogenic diet, or they, yeah, they follow those kinds of principles, and they do get into ketosis, over a period of time and adaptation your body becomes far better in utilising ketones as fuel – so their blood ketones may fall down to say, .2 to .4, but it’s because the body is utilizing that as a fuel source, and not because they’re unable to hit this kind of, you know, because the body’s unable to get in to ketosis. And there are certainly, as you were saying before, genetic… you know, there must be some kind of genetic differences to our ability to produce ketones, or to utilize fat – and, uh, Rob Wolf is a great example of that – and he’s really open about, you know, he’s a big keto guy, he’s now got is Keto Masterclass, and it’s a great program, and he really helps a lot of people in that area – but he says his ketones almost never get below… or, sorry, above .4 – and that’s even after fasting and Jiu-Jitsu.
Cliff Harvey: [00:34:40] Yeah – um, yeah – Rob’s Keto Master Course is nearly as good as my Keto Mastery Course as well, but…
Mikki Williden: [00:34:46] No-way! Nowhere near as good as yours. [laughs]
Cliff Harvey: [00:34:50] Nowhere near as good… That’s interesting, ’cause I remember several years ago, Grant Schofield, our buddy, Grant called me up to his office, and he was having real problems getting into ketosis as well.
Mikki Williden: [00:35:02] Yes!
Cliff Harvey: [00:35:02] And we basically looked at everything he was doing and it looked like it was the perfect sort of ‘keto diet’, and he was exercising and all these types of things – and looked at all the reasons why maybe his ketones weren’t being elevated. So, maybe there is a genetic predisposition there to not produce ketones. So, we know that exists, you know, we know that exists in certain populations. There’s carnitine palmitoyl transferase deficiencies and things like that. We’d have to obviously get a gene-test to see whether that was the case – but it could also be that he’s somewhat under-fuelled, and it’s just turning them over and using them really quickly.
Mikki Williden: [00:35:37] Yep.
Cliff Harvey: [00:35:38] But at the end of the day, I think in those situations – I know that we’ve talked about this before – you need to step back and take a qualitative approach to that and say, well, we kind of looked at all the stuff, how do you feel?
Mikki Williden: [00:35:49] Yeah, totally.
Cliff Harvey: [00:35:50] Great – and are you performing well? “Yes.” Are you sleeping well? “Yes.” Okay. Well, don’t worry about it.
Mikki Williden: [00:35:54] Well, see, it’s funny, because I thought Grant couldn’t get into ketosis because of his cups of whey protein powder and cream that he was consuming.
Cliff Harvey: [00:36:02] Well, that could have been it. [laughs]
Mikki Williden: [00:36:06] I remember walking in one day, in his office, and I’m like, “what have you got there, Grant?”, and he’s like, “oh, I’m keto, I’m doing this, I’m fasting”. I think he would kind of call it ‘keto/fasting’, and it was like literally cream, like Clean Lean Protein powder – and then I’m like, mate… [laughs].
Cliff Harvey: [00:36:22] [laughs] So, we’re throwing Grant under the bus now…
Mikki Williden: [00:36:25] [laughs] No, it was hilarious. You know, I love it. That’s the good thing when you’re you’ve got good mates, they don’t mind a bit of it…
Cliff Harvey: [00:36:32] It’s interesting, too, because as we discovered… this idea, this lingua franca of ketosis being ‘greater than zero point five mmol/L’s of beta-hydroxybutyrate in the blood’, has basically no foundational evidence.
Mikki Williden: [00:36:50] It’s an arbitrary number.
Cliff Harvey: [00:36:51] Yeah. It’s only retrospective analysis, which have shown that… a couple of things, really – the vast majority of people who are on what we would consider to be a classic ketogenic diet, achieve greater than zero point five. So, there probably is some rationale to it, because that’s kind of the definition of a ketogenic diet is, ‘does it put you into ketosis?’… Well, “what is ketosis?” – so, we had to take this retrospective thing where we’re looking back. But, what we don’t know – and this is what I find really fascinating – is we don’t really have any idea what the norms are for ketone levels for performance, or for how we should feel or anything like that. And the only thing that I can think of that really helps to inform that debate, is that well, number one, people are on a keto diet are typically over zero point five, we kind of know that – and it’s become the proxy, but we still don’t know exactly what it ‘should be’. In the study that we performed on MCTs, we thought that there was some association there between improvement and symptoms of ‘keto flu’, and improvement in mood, when people were taking MCTs, and there was a pretty strong association between their ketone levels because they were on MCTs, and those things. We didn’t see that in the follow-up study when we were looking at the different types of keto diet. But when I went back and looked at the two data sets, what was interesting was, the people on the lowest-carb diet in the second study were achieving around zero point nine mmol/L of ketones.
Mikki Williden: [00:38:29] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [00:38:30] The people on the keto diet in the first study who weren’t supplemented with MCTs, guess what? They were around zero point nine mmol/L.
Mikki Williden: [00:38:40] Oh, interesting…
Cliff Harvey: [00:38:40] They’re about the same. So, maybe there is a bit of a tipping point where you get that extra point five mmol/L, that was provided by the MCTs, because there are about one point four.
Mikki Williden: [00:38:49] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [00:38:50] Maybe you do need a little bit of a boost sometimes to feel that little bit better.
Mikki Williden: [00:38:54] Yep. Well, it’s interesting you say that, like, ’cause when they… I’ve started following a little bit of Brianna Stubb’s work, and she’s…
Cliff Harvey: [00:39:02] Yep.
Mikki Williden: [00:39:03] I can’t recall where’s she at – but she now works for ‘Human’, which is the…they do exogenous ketone esters.
Cliff Harvey: [00:39:07] Ketone esters, yeah.
Mikki Williden: [00:39:09] Yeah. And so, you can take a ketone ester drink – and boost your ketones up to about eight or nine, I think in about half an hour, like, quite considerably. However, she says, you know, whether or not that’s actually necessary from an endurance, or an exercise perspective. I mean, she’s seen that – I can’t recall if this is research…or clinical work, or anything like that. But, when the ketones are at about one to one point five from an exercise perspective, that’s actually all that you need, like, you don’t get additional benefit from going higher – but it’s that kind of cognitive effect from having high ketones, which makes a difference.
Cliff Harvey: [00:39:49] And I wonder in what, what realms that’s going to be relevant, because, you know, I think we certainly know that for seizure control, we want to be, you know, up sort of 2-3 mmol/L plus.
Mikki Williden: [00:40:00] Yup.
Cliff Harvey: [00:40:01] But for mood and cognition, who knows, again, there’s just not enough research there to really tell us what the best levels are.
Mikki Williden: [00:40:08] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [00:40:08] And my gut, based on doing a lot of just, you know, well – we’ve done some research on it. I’ve got to blow our own trumpet here, because we have – and you’re a part of it, you know, you and I have written… basically the only studies that have specifically looked at keto-flu. So, that’s a tick in the box. But, I think based on that and clinical work, I would probably say that maybe… one to one point five mmol/L is probably a pretty good sweet spot for a lot of people.
Mikki Williden: [00:40:38] Yeah, I totally agree. And I think you and I both use and enjoy the Pruvit ketone sachets. If you’re still, I’m pretty sure that you’re still using… Uh – and I’ve got a number of clients who just utilise them for the cognitive benefits as well. Like, you know, when they take them in the morning, and they have it before they have any other foods, it really makes a difference to how they feel across the course of the morning. Because they do last, like a good two or three hours.
Cliff Harvey: [00:41:08] Yeah. I was talking with Paul… Yeah, our buddy, Paul Cadman yesterday.
Mikki Williden: [00:41:13] Yes, yeah…
Cliff Harvey: [00:41:14] And he’s doing a lot of work now with the high level athletes – um, having done, you know, his Grad.Cert in Nutrition, and he studied nutrition at Massy as well before that – and he’s now doing a lot of work with elite athletes. And he basically said straight out, look, I don’t know if the physiological benefits are actually really there – they’re not really appreciable, but it’s the cognitive stuff that we’re after. So, it’s the boost in cognition at the later stages of, say, Iron Man – or he’s worked with a lot of tennis athletes, you know, in long, long games. Yeah, it’s the cognitive effects. And I noticed that a lot, you know, so I’m not a fanboy of any particular product. The reason just to sort of disclose my interests here and prove it to everyone listening. The reason I like that particular product – is it’s simple. There’s one reason. It’s that it’s the only one that’s 100 per cent D-form beta-hydroxybutyrate.
Mikki Williden: [00:42:06] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [00:42:07] Now, I know that some people listening in will say, ‘well, that doesn’t matter. You know, Dom D’Agostino said it doesn’t really matter’, and I respect Dom because he’s an expert in this field – there’s no doubt about it. But I do have a side of caution there, because we know from other compounds that are not bio-identical, like synthetic folic acid and synthetic B12, and things like that. It’s not the fuelling aspect that I’m worried about there, it’s the signalling effects.
Mikki Williden: [00:42:34] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [00:42:34] The beta-hydroxybutyrate is a signalling molecule as well, and if it’s not doing the job, I wonder whether it might have some downregulation of those particular receptors and things. And so, it may not be an issue, but I don’t want to take the risks. So I’m going to use the one that’s bio-identical for the human body. I know I’m talking too much, but I want to get one more thing out…
Mikki Williden: [00:42:56] Yeah, yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [00:42:57] I’ve got… the… products that are coming out now are getting better and better. I measured my ketones just the other day with one of the new Pruvit products that came out.
Mikki Williden: [00:43:11] Which one? But the Ruby Max, oh, sorry – the Ruby one?
Cliff Harvey: [00:43:14] No, no, it’s just the Keto Nat. So, it’s the new…,
Mikki Williden: [00:43:16] Oh, cool!
Cliff Harvey: [00:43:16] Which it’s basically just the formulation – the new formulation of the Keto Max, and I think from memory it was within 30-minutes, I had gone from zero-point-two mmol/L to zero-point-nine, and I think I got up to about one-point-four mmol/L.
Mikki Williden: [00:43:33] That is impressive.
Cliff Harvey: [00:43:35] One sachet is pretty impressive, so now I’m sort of thinking, well, one of my previous challenges was that they’re still pretty expensive… irrespective of the brand – they’re pretty expensive, but because they are so… They’re getting to be so strong, you can probably use half a serve and get the benefit.
Mikki Williden: [00:43:51] That is such a good point, Cliff – and that’s really good to know, I’ve got a heap that – that I haven’t had… I’ve actually got Nat, but I haven’t actually used them yet. So I’m really interested to have a look and to see what effect I might find on them.
Cliff Harvey: [00:44:03] I think it’s actually quite different, and it’s one of those interesting things whereas compared to, say, two or three years ago… Let’s face it, most of the products, including the early iterations of the Pruvit products, were pretty poor.
Mikki Williden: [00:44:17] Yep.
Cliff Harvey: [00:44:18] You know, I couldn’t really take a full serve anyway. It would affect my guts. You know, it was horrible – that they didn’t feel that great. Now I think … they feel that much ‘cleaner’. They’re much more effective in terms of boosting beta-hydroxybutyrate, right. And so I personally think that the role of those things purely as a tool. I think people can get hung up on all the sales aspects of it and worry too much about whether they’re taking them consistently and what not. They’re a tool. If at any time you want to boost your ketones, they are effective for that. And that’s basically the end of it yet.
Mikki Williden: [00:44:54] I totally agree, right. And interesting with what you were saying about what ‘Cadsy’ [Paul Cadman] was referring to, the cognitive benefits. That’s exactly what I find as well. Like, if I’m on the long run and I’ve got ketones with me – my brain doesn’t check out… at all. Whereas, you know, when you’ve got three and half hour run to do, and you kind of you’re flailing at about like an hour and a half going, my goodness, how am I going to do another two hours? That is a hard place to be. So, that’s what I really like about them. And look, I know it’s 2:45 PM=, but we can’t actually stop the clock. We can’t actually leave this conversation without… I’ve got a couple of things that I want to cover off – and one of them is protein. Like, I really feel like protein gets missed out on this whole conversation of the, you know, good or bad or good, like, ‘good diets’ versus ‘bad diets’, or the ‘bad approach’ versus the ‘good approach’, because people just forget about it, you know, and I think in part it’s because of that kind of prevailing message that if it’s low carb, you don’t want to have too much protein because that protein can be converted to glucose and the rest of it. But, man, I get… I am an LCHF advocate, but I’m probably more low-carb-moderate-protein, you know, like I am I’m a bit of a ‘protein-pusher’ to be honest, and not in the way that that kind of sets me up on the same camp as, I don’t know, some kind of physique bodybuilder/nutritionist, I’m sure. But there is so much value in having good sources of quality protein in the diet that is often overlooked when people are reaching for, you know, cream, macadamia nuts and cheese.
Cliff Harvey: [00:46:28] I was crucified by the low-carb community when LCHF took off.
Mikki Williden: [00:46:35] Yep.
[00:46:36] You know, and it was weird because this was in about 2011, I think, I had come back from Canada. I was starting to meet up with you, and then starting to from there meet, well, re-meet – because I’d met them previously… Grant and Caryn, and what-not are starting to look at some research, and suddenly I started getting attacked by low-carb people because they’re saying you recommend too much protein. And I was kind of thinking, well, number one, give me a break, because I’ve been doing this for long enough. I’ve taken enough shit from the other side. I shouldn’t be taking shit from you guys as well.
Mikki Williden: [00:47:10] Yep.
Cliff Harvey: [00:47:10] But it was I think one of the problems was, unfortunately, what was previously just low-carb or lower-carb was then put out into the public as low-carb/high-fat.
Mikki Williden: [00:47:25] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [00:47:26] And I think that a lot of that was a branding exercise because it was controversial – because people have been told to eat low-fat for so long, it took people by surprise, and it got a lot of notice.
Mikki Williden: [00:47:36] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [00:47:36] But unfortunately, I think it kind of framed things in the wrong way because it’s not so important, I don’t think to… to think about high-fat as being a goal. It’s more important, I think, to look at how we structure meals and how we structure our nutrition overall. And from my point of view, the first thing we look at is protein and making sure it’s optimized.
Mikki Williden: [00:48:01] Yes.
Cliff Harvey: [00:48:01] And veges.
Mikki Williden: [00:48:03] Yes.
Cliff Harvey: [00:48:03] And the rest is kind of window dressing – it’s critically important, but if you’re getting those things correct, and you’re not doing silly stuff like eating low-fat varieties or, you know, taking all the fat off meat or whatever, you often fall into balance anyway. And I think protein has been massively underestimated. And did you listen to Grant on the podcast a couple of weeks ago?
Mikki Williden: [00:48:22] Oh, no, I’ve missed that.
Cliff Harvey: [00:48:24] It was really interesting ’cause he said, hey, we got it wrong in the initial ‘What The Fat’ book, because we overplayed the downsides of protein with respect to glucose genesis, and how they might kick you out of ketosis and things, which we now know is not really much of an issue. So they are transitioning much more into, hey, protein’s a good thing to have in your diet.
Mikki Williden: [00:48:46] Awesome. Because that’s it. I agree with you, Cliff – with your kind of what constitutes a good approach with food, like and that’s how you described it is exactly, exactly how I do it. And I’ve got to say, like, I really like Eric [Helms]… Like, I really love what Eric does, and I love his approach to diet – and I think it’s… I’ve learnt a lot from the way he speaks about protein and just, I suppose, the importance of it, and a whole host of things – and not to be too dogmatic in food choice. And I think, like, the way Grant said, ‘hey, we’ve got it wrong’ – like, I think we probably all guilty of jumping on board something at one point or another. I’m not saying I’m never doing this again – I’m sure I’ll do it the next thing I come across. You know, you almost go too zealous, or too far one way, and I think that that’s probably maybe what Grant was referring to – and certainly how I’ve changed with my nutritional approach over the years. You know, like I was always ‘no processed food’, and, you know, it’s terrible for you – and oh, ‘moderate that protein’, and the rest of it, but kind of come back to this happy medium of, hey, you sort out basics, and then the rest doesn’t really matter as much.
Cliff Harvey: [00:49:57] I almost feel like a troll, sometimes when you post a picture of something like when you posted a picture of that spam sushi when you’re in Hawaii?
Mikki Williden: [00:50:06] [laughs] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [00:50:06] And I just, I look at this and go ‘yum – that looks good’ so I’m always posting, ‘that looks awesome’. [laughs]
Mikki Williden: [00:50:12] No, it’s great – you know, I almost tagged you in a post of Krispy Kreme doughnuts actually the other day. People were like shipping them down from Auckland to Queenstown. And then I took a picture, and I kind of posted, you know, “are they really that good that you need to actually do some kind of like [laughs], shifting them down the country?” because I know you like a doughnut or two…
Cliff Harvey: [00:50:33] Although, word to the wise. I don’t really… I’m not a, I hate to say it. And I probably limit my sponsorship opportunities here, but I’m not a big fan of Krispy Kreme.
Mikki Williden: [00:50:41] Krispy Kreme? Are you not? [laughs] Is there a difference? No, the doughnut that I love, Cliff, is the one that I used to get from the fish and chip shop when we were growing up, and they were deep-fried, covered with like cinnamon – and you’d always get a bit of salt in there as well, because you’d always have them alongside chips… Delicious. … Ok – so, my two points, one is… when you say you feel like a troll, when I’m like blasting out about certain foods on social media and how rubbish they are, I do always try and… because I’m mindful of it, but I try and contextualised why I’m saying what I’m saying – and try to kind of put into place that, you know, I’m not suggesting that you should never eat this food, but for some people, it’s not going to be a good choice for X, Y and Z reasons. And I and I… I mean, I get a lot of kickback for a lot of what I say on there. However, I still will bang that drum because I think the more that ‘how’ we think about nutrition is out there, the more that people will consider it? You know, I don’t try and be a zealot, but I guess sometimes it can come across that way.
Cliff Harvey: [00:51:48] No, I agree with you as well. And I think, again, I was criticized very heavily last year by people in the body-positive, you know, empowerment-type space, ‘intuitive-eating’ space, because I was still talking about the fact that you need to have a good diet overall if you want to thrive. Now, that might not be true for everybody – but for 99.9% of people, you need to do that. And I was also saying things like, hey, if you really want to thrive and you want to exercise your full human potential, you need to – I’ve already said it – exercise! You need to, you know, and have that be progressive and lift weights and do things like that. No, I’m not saying everyone has to do that or should do that or that we’re aspiring to ‘body beautiful’. All I’m saying is that we can’t beat 100,000+ years of evolution in one generation and stop doing the things that we’ve basically been built to do by our co-evolution with our environment. Now, there’s no judgment involved in it. It’s just a purely objective stance. And so, I think what you’re saying is correct. There needs to be some responsibility that people take what they are doing if they want to feel great. Now, if they don’t, that’s cool. It all comes down to personal responsibility and choice. But you’re helping by presenting those things, to let people know what those healthier choices can be – and they can have their treats occasionally.
Mikki Williden: [00:53:17] Totally. And I also think we forget that we actually come from a place of privilege. You know, if , on my Facebook page – and you are commenting on something that I’ve said, because you have access to the information that is on there. That is actually, that’s actually privilege to have that? You know? Like, there are people who just do not have the opportunities that others have to source that information… to have any clue about it? And I think… that, you know, so when I put up that Tip Top post the other day, I got like 500 people commenting on it. And, people were like, oh, well, clearly this is obvious. And it’s like, you know what? It’s not obvious. And I think that we forget that.
Cliff Harvey: [00:53:58] Yeah – and that’s where I think you do such a great job in ‘simple health’ messaging. And that’s so important. You know, again, we go back to what we initially discussed, which is there’s this idea of… things need to be complex. They need to be very intellectual, because ‘that’s science’. But that’s not, that’s jargon – and that’s not always necessary to be involved. You know, what is important is that we take that and we can allow people to get the best results through the translation. You know, I think about the clinical situations that I’ve had where people have been so obsessed with trying to understand more. And trying to understand what’s on food labels and things like that, and when you just sit down with them and say, hey, really, at the end of the day, it comes down to natural unprocessed food, and they kind of get it.
Mikki Williden: [00:54:50] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [00:54:51] And then they … well, you know, working with some of the guys I work with, out in South Auckland who sort of say, well, can I have a boil-up? Yes. Do I need to scrape the fat off the top? No.
Mikki Williden: [00:55:00] No.
Cliff Harvey: [00:55:01] Do I need to buy the expensive cuts of meat at the supermarket? No. Buy the cheap ones because they are more nutrient dense and all this sort of stuff. And they’re kind of like, OK – so I get that. What? Why is this difficult?
Mikki Williden: [00:55:11] Yeah. Yeah, yeah. It’s not… you know, it’s not difficult. But the difficulty comes when they’re walking up to get the meat from the supermarket and they pass three hot bread shops, and they go pass, you know, a ‘Big Whooper’ [burger] sign, like, one Whooper for a dollar and that kind of thing. And I think that’s the modern environment that we’re up against. I’ve got to say, that’s out to get us. That sounds so like, that sounds like a really zealous…but it’s bloody difficult to do well in the modern environment that is set up to make us fail time and again. And that is when, you know, people talk about personal responsibility, and I talk about that as well. But ultimately, for some, like, there are bigger things at play that they actually just can’t, you know, win it?
Cliff Harvey: [00:55:59] Absolutely. And I think that’s why they can’t ever be a situation of judgment. You know, there was that real… There have been really interesting tangents of research that, for example, have shown that… self-control is actually a bit of a myth.
Mikki Williden: [00:56:15] Yes.
Cliff Harvey: [00:56:16] People are able to exercise control in different areas. And it’s not really that much difference between self-control in individuals, it’s where they apply it. And a lot of that comes down to social conditioning and education and all sorts of things. So we can’t just say, oh, you’re overweight, so it’s your fault. You’ve just got to move more and eat less.
Mikki Williden: [00:56:34] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [00:56:35] Because these two things there – maybe they’re also exercising their self-control more positively in other ways that other people aren’t.
Mikki Williden: [00:56:43] Yep.
Cliff Harvey: [00:56:44] Or, we also know that for some people, they do not eat well or move – and they’re just lucky.
Mikki Williden: [00:56:52] Yeah. Hundred per cent. Right? And we also know that from a research standpoint, there have been studies looking at nutritionists and dieticians and actually their level of self-control around food, is far better than anyone out there. Like almost anyone I know that’s gotten nutrition, myself included – obsessed. You know, like, you know, there has to be a level of obsession to the way that we can just yarn about this stuff – and it’s what we love to do. You know, and I think if I come back to that sort of eating thing, like, I have an issue with intuitive eating, too, Cliff.
Cliff Harvey: [00:57:22] Let’s get it out there.
Mikki Williden: [00:57:22] And I think my issue is that it is hard to get rid of. Yeah, it’s hard to be intuitive, again with the type of food that’s available out there, because, you know, the type of food that people eat like, if they’re like, oh, it doesn’t matter what you eat,… but put these behaviours in place and you’ll be intuitive – bollocks! If you up against food that drives appetite signally.
Cliff Harvey: [00:57:43] I agree, and I think that one of the challenges is, what is intuitive? It’s so complex when we drill down into that, I don’t know if anyone has a really good definition of that, because, ‘intuition’ is this vague amorphous thing. Is it a physiological drive for fuel in one instance, or is it behavioural conditioning, or is it serving a psycho-emotional need? You know, all of these things can be so deep, that they could easily be mistaken for intuition, and we would just never know. You know, and I often use the example of, you put Neanderthal man in Dunkin’ Donuts, he’s not going to exercise discretion. He’s going to eat as much as he can within the shortest amount of time because that is good high-sugar, high-fat, high-calorie loading.
Mikki Williden: [00:58:37] Yeah, yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [00:58:38] And that’s what our physiological drivers are. And so I think when we do need to take some responsibility at some point and, you know, I use the term, ‘we need to exercise freedom, but within the structure’.
Mikki Williden: [00:58:50] Yeah, I totally agree.
Cliff Harvey: [00:58:53] So, if you’ve got the structures that allow you to, on balance, have proper energy balance, getting enough micronutrients, getting enough of the essential nutrients that we need, and not over-eat. Then you can also have your periods of ad-libitum, or more eat as much as you desire, you know, of your treat foods.
Mikki Williden: [00:59:13] Yeah, yeah, I totally agree. Like, people often slam this idea of rules around food, you know? And I actually think that, as you’ve just said, there does need to be some structure… for to most people, there does need to be some structure, and some, dear I say it, rules. And I actually wrote a blog post about this last year, that allows them to feel like they’re in control, and that the food isn’t controlling them. And I know that sounds weird for people who have never had to think about this stuff before, but anyone that hasn’t thought about this is it is in the minority.
Cliff Harvey: [00:59:49] And no, that’s – I think it’s bang on. And Eric and I spoke about that again on the podcast a couple of weeks ago of, you know, getting to that point where through some, dare I say it, rules, through some structures, people are allowed to exercise dietary freedom.
Mikki Williden: [01:00:09] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [01:00:10] But with like with anything, we need to have parameters within our lives, if we didn’t have them, we would never achieve anything of value – I firmly believe that. And anyone who thinks they can just meander through life without any sort of structure, any set of objectives, any set of parameters for achieving those objectives is fooling themselves because it just isn’t going to work.
Mikki Williden: [01:00:31] Yeah, totally.
Cliff Harvey: [01:00:33] And that’s where I think we’re heading. And I am much more interested now in what happens after all this stuff. So we have nutrition, we have exercise, we have sleep and stress reduction, all these things we talk about a lot and our sort of holistic evidence-based practice. But even if you did all of that, what does it mean? To me, there’s something, there’s a deeper level there – of truly maximizing your human potential in whatever way that is – being creative, passionate, being purposeful. And I think that’s what being healthy allows you to do. Health isn’t the end goal. It’s that it allows you to thrive so that you can live a better life – by exercising all of that cool stuff; passion, purpose…
Mikki Williden: [01:01:17] I totally agree, because, you know, you could have everything you want with regards to the perfect diet, the perfect sleep routine, stress management – and all the rest of it. But if you’re not happy, like, how meaningful is any of that? Right? Like, why go to all that effort if you’re still miserable day-in, day-out? I’ve been thinking a lot about that actually recently, about mindset. And I think in part, I’ve been listening to a bit of Sam Harris, and his ‘Waking Up’ podcast – ‘Making Sense’ podcast now. And I just you know, I love his approach – his… and how he talks about how, you know, our reality – sorry this is getting on so much on a tangent…, but how our reality really is, it’s between our ears, basically, you know, the stories we tell ourselves is our reality. So, you know, when people are angry, that you’re actually choosing to be angry, you know, you might think that someone has made you angry. That’s actually not true. You’re choosing to be angry at a situation, like, and how is it actually making you feel? Well, usually pretty bloody miserable, you know. So how can you change your thought patterns to enable you to accept that you’ve had that feeling, but actually that you can change it? It’s not that you can never be angry. It’s just, the extent to which it affects you in your kind of behaviour and thought processes.
Cliff Harvey: [01:02:34] Yeah, and that idea that you know, our reality is never 100 per cent shared. You know, it is distinct to the individual. It’s all based on perception and on our measurement and of everything going on around us, you know, our co-relationship with all the things that are going around us. I think that if… although there aren’t absolute truths in science if there was one thing that was close enough to it, it would be that.
Mikki Williden: [01:03:01] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [01:03:01] That’s a foundational thing, right? Is that there is no objective reality, really. And so it’s a very interesting position because it does speak to a whole lot of things like the possibility of improved human potential – that the possibility of all this ‘stuff’ that we’re yet to discover.
Mikki Williden: [01:03:25] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [01:03:26] And to me, that’s really interesting. And I think that’s where people hamstring themselves because they think, well, science is science and science is set. And that means this person’s right and this person’s wrong. And typically, that’s never the case, because even if someone is mostly correct – and there’s consensus, there is still nuance. And I think when we understand that, we can approach things in a much more pragmatic way, and we can open ourselves up to the wonder and possibility of life, which I think is where the excitement really starts to happen.
Mikki Williden: [01:03:56] Oh, 100 per cent agree. And with that, if I just kind of bring it back to diet, and that whole… you know, no one is always 100 per cent correct, and stuff like that. Like, I think that’s where…that’s why, you know, people often send me things, like, ‘look at this person, what are they saying, and what do you think, and what’s your opinion…’, and stuff like that? And, you know, I never want to.. I and maybe I did this in my younger years, but certainly as I’m getting older, like, I never to want to take this against a particular person and their views, like one hundred per cent, you know? Because you know, like, I disagree on a number of levels with some nutritionists out there, but, I’m always trying to be respectful – and not only respectful but also with a mind of…actually, you know what? Like, I’m not a hundred per cent right, they’re not a hundred per cent right. That’s probably somewhere in the middle.
Cliff Harvey: [01:04:47] Yeah.
Mikki Williden: [01:04:48] Yeah. And I think there’s always space…. you’ve always will be mindful of that, I think.
Cliff Harvey: [01:04:55] And I think in light of, you know, recent events in the political situation now, I think that’s a really good reminder to people because we have, I think, become very divisive, and very polar – we see it in politics, we see it in nutrition – we see it all over the place. You’re either high-carb or low-carb. And if you’re low carb, there are certain people that you think, well, that guy’s an idiot.
Mikki Williden: [01:05:18] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [01:05:19] And I am so opposed to that, because, I disagree with …I would say on some points, I disagree with everyone in the low-carb field. And on some points I disagree with everyone in the high-carb field. But on some points, I agree with people in both camps. And at the end of the day, it’s not about the personality, and it’s not about taking a dogmatic position. It’s about doing science. And science should be far less dogmatic than it is right now. You create a hypothesis. You test it. You put your results out and you open it up to discussion. It’s pretty simple.
Mikki Williden: [01:05:56] It is simple. The problem with nutrition, and I find this all the time, when most of the recommendations that we say are based on population epidemiological research, right. Which has so many flaws, because it’s self-report, it’s large populations, everything goes back to the mean. And no one’s a ‘mean’, and all the rest of it. However, whenever there’s a low-carb study that supports the perspective of, like a ‘low-carber’ or something. And it might be population-based. They’re all over it like a like a rash, you know, and they don’t apply those same kind of rules and limitations to the study that they’re supporting that they would with their criticisms on other studies. I find it… it’s fascinating, actually. And…
Cliff Harvey: [01:06:44] It also annoys me when people immediately dismiss observation studies, simply because they’re observational.
Mikki Williden: [01:06:52] Yeah!
Cliff Harvey: [01:06:52] Well, that’s just observational. And again, I’ll reiterate the same point you made. Often those same people… you know, take the Epic versus the Pure Study.
Mikki Williden: [01:07:01] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [01:07:02] Everyone criticizing the Epic study, had the year before, posted out the Pure study saying, isn’t this awesome?
Mikki Williden: [01:07:08] Mm hmm.
Cliff Harvey: [01:07:09] You got it – if you’re going to reject observational evidence, you’ve got to use the same metric. Now, I obviously wrote a post about it, I gave talks about it. I did not agree with the conclusions of the Epic study.
Mikki Williden: [01:07:21] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [01:07:22] But I didn’t at any point say the study was poor, or the study was shit or that the study shouldn’t have been published, because of course, it should, it adds to the body of knowledge. What we need to do is look at the study, at the methods they use. The results they got and why they got those methods and – sorry, got those results, and see what the flaws might have been or see what the complexities and nuances of the study are.
Mikki Williden: [01:07:45] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [01:07:45] And when we looked at it, we realized that, hey, what it basically told us, just like the Pure Study, is if you eat a diet that is high in vegetables, a natural whole and unprocessed food diet, you do best.
Mikki Williden: [01:07:58] Totally.
Cliff Harvey: [01:07:59] That’s all it told us.
Mikki Williden: [01:08:00] Yeah. Yeah. And you know what, like, I finding these days, I’m much more interested in kind of nuanced kind of like, clinical data looking at things like,… and it kind of gets into the weeds a little bit, like know, curcumin – and the impact that might have on our anti-inflammatory genes and pathways, and so sulforaphane – and, I think it’s because, I don’t… like, I mean it’s click bait, and you do it all the time. But there is… always, there are always studies coming out regarding meat and TMAO, and cancer. And, you know, the study sees this big population study says that… like, I like looking at that kind of mechanistic-based study to see, okay, well, is there anything possible here – and kind of giving a bit more into the weeds on that stuff? Not from a bio-hacking perspective, but just because I find the science interesting – and a lot more interesting than debating on Twitter whether or not, you know, it’s 5+ a day, or 7+ a day [fruit and veg intake].
Cliff Harvey: [01:08:59] Exactly. Well, I think the reality is people who debate, and have a dogmatic position, I would hope that most of them would be able to stand back and say, you know what? At the end of the day, while this debate is great; if people are eating a natural unprocessed diet that is nutrient-dense, they’re pretty much going to be okay. In most instances.
Mikki Williden: [01:09:21] Yeah. Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [01:09:23] And that speaks to some of the things that you talking about. I’ve recently been doing sort of mini research-reviews for some research I’m doing behind the scenes on a whole range of whole-food ingredients from turmeric through to ginger through, you know… all these various things. And, a lot of times I’m pleasantly surprised just how much research is going on. You know, I was looking at co-enzyme Q10, and there have now been, I think about 70+ systematic reviews on co-Q10.
Mikki Williden: [01:09:55] Wow.
Cliff Harvey: [01:09:56] So, that speaks to the volume of studies that are behind those systematic reviews.
Mikki Williden: [01:10:00] Mm, I know! That’s heaps.
Cliff Harvey: [01:10:02] Yeah! And a lot of them have pretty substantial evidence that they have an effect. And I think what we’re getting to the point of as well as these so many of these supposed ‘superfoods’ that have positive effects – what we’re really saying is, hey, nutrient-dense food is cool.
Mikki Williden: [01:10:19] I totally agree with you. And that, there are people out there… that are, like, it seems like …full-time job to dismissed the role of fruit and vegetables, for example, in the modern healthy diet because, you know, there’s no research to support their role in,… to support the role of an increased fibre intake on cardiovascular disease and colon cancer, and all the rest of it. And I’m like, well, maybe you can find, you can critique and find holes in those theories – but, let’s not dismiss all of this other stuff that has been most recently coming out about the role of sulforaphane, for example, and brassica vegetable, and the importance of sulphur, and the sulphur-containing vegetables and stuff like that. So, you go in on one angle, but you can’t really dismiss all of the other stuff – but that is kind of going on?
Cliff Harvey: [01:11:08] Well, no. And unless… unless, someone is suggesting that there are so many confounding influences in every single observational cohort that has had studies published about,… unless people are suggesting that – we would still have to say that the odds against chance are that vegetables are good for us.
Mikki Williden: [01:11:32] Yes. Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [01:11:33] On balance. Now, I understand. I’m really fascinated by ‘Carnivore’ [diet], because I think that it’s opening the doors again like low-carb and keto did back in the day, to re-evaluating the role of various nutrients in the body and I think that’s always a positive thing.
Mikki Williden: [01:11:47] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [01:11:47] And I know that there are some people who thrive on account of your diet. But I do think that they are extraordinarily rare. And on balance, most people benefit from eating vegetables.
Mikki Williden: [01:11:59] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [01:12:00] And I still am blown away, whenever someone who’s a ‘carnivore zealot’ tells me that, ‘no vegetables are harmful’ for all these reasons. I’m like, well, there’s just no intervention evidence for that.
Mikki Williden: [01:12:13] No…
Cliff Harvey: [01:12:14] And there’s certainly no observational evidence for that.
Mikki Williden: [01:12:17] And it kind of just doesn’t, like if we think about… it just kind of doesn’t make sense, really, does it?
Cliff Harvey: [01:12:23] It doesn’t pass the sniff test…
Mikki Williden: [01:12:25] It really doesn’t. And see, I’m also fascinated by the Carnivore diet. And have thought to myself, could I do that? But to be honest, I love vegetables too much to want to…like, want to give them up. So I… I probably wouldn’t even try it for like a week for it.
Cliff Harvey: [01:12:43] I have.
Mikki Williden: [01:12:44] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [01:12:45] I’ve tried it because, you know me, I try anything.
Mikki Williden: [01:12:47] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [01:12:48] And I just qualitatively… Yeah, qualitatively – do not feel good.
Mikki Williden: [01:12:55] Yeah. Yeah. Interesting. Well, do you know…
Cliff Harvey: [01:12:57] I don’t feel satiated. I don’t feel energetic. I feel a bit gross. You know, I just don’t feel right, now… Some of that, sure, could be psychosomatic, but it doesn’t really matter because I think I’m a pretty good litmus test, too, because I’m pretty messed up; I’ve got Crohn’s disease, I’ve got all sorts of other stuff going on…
Mikki Williden: [01:13:12] Yes!
Cliff Harvey: [01:13:13] But I function well, and I eat a diet that works for that. And that diet includes vegetables. And when I… when I find I drop my vegetables too much, I feel markedly worse.
Mikki Williden: [01:13:26] That’s interesting, Cliff. And I really do feel for the people who the ‘carnivore approach’ is actually the best approach for them, almost? Because their… Because I think, Oh you’re missing all the most delicious part of the… meal… Well, not the most delicious part, but I mean, I love the veg, and I love, you know, love all things like that. And so, people who actually physically cannot eat vegetables because of the G.I. distress that occurs, or the kind of inflammatory or immune response, I mean, I think that’s… that’s a hard place to be.
Cliff Harvey: [01:13:59] We also can’t necessarily discount that they might be through doing carnivore, avoiding things that they’re intolerant to?
Mikki Williden: [01:14:07] Hundred percent.
Cliff Harvey: [01:14:08] Or that it’s basically the first start, or that the beginning of an exclusionary diet that could then be added to… kind of like the Fodmap diet.
Mikki Williden: [01:14:18] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [01:14:19] Fodmap is not a good thing to do long term, but it’s clinically effective. So, if you start on Fodmap, you quite quickly begin to reintroduce certain fibres and resistant starch and thing to replenish their microbiome. I wonder if the same thing is probably true with the carnivore diet.
Mikki Williden: [01:14:35] Yeah, I am thinking about… I’ve been thinking about that a little bit lately too. Just because it’s been on a few podcasts and stuff. And these Michela Peterson, who is, you know, been a staunch advocate for the cannibal Diet, she’s Jorden Peterson’s daughter.
Cliff Harvey: [01:14:49] Ah – of course. Yeah.
Mikki Williden: [01:14:49] Yeah. Yep.
Cliff Harvey: [01:14:50] I’m not a fan of Jordon Peterson either… [laughs]
Mikki Williden: [01:14:53] Do you know, I don’t actually know enough about them to have an opinion really. Um, and she was saying that she’s going to stop reintroducing some things on her diet… now that she’s spent a long enough time in the carnivore-kind-of world, not because she thinks, I mean, she doesn’t know how successful otherwise she will be. But, she’s also, you know, she’s not just the ‘staunch carnivore’ zealot, but she’s doing it because she’s had to do it. And it’s not like ‘this is my life forever’.
Cliff Harvey: [01:15:25] That’s really interesting because… Every person that I know personally who does carnivore, or as a carnivore advocate, doesn’t do pure carnivore…
Mikki Williden: [01:15:34] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [01:15:35] They’ve added something back. They might have started eating a little bit of dairy… or they might have, in most cases, they start, in my experience – just purely limited to my experience, but they’ve started adding back things like fermented vegetables – starting to add back in pickles and sauerkraut, and things like.
Mikki Williden: [01:15:49] Oh yeah, nice.
Cliff Harvey: [01:15:51] Now, I know I could get on board with that because probably a good proportion of the vegetables that I eat up are pickled.
Mikki Williden: [01:15:59] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [01:16:00] Yeah, you know Bella makes me eat a bunch of other vegetables as well, and it’s good for me. But we, we base our meals around meat.
Mikki Williden: [01:16:08] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [01:16:09] But these the extra there, and I think it does often come down to a process of… really it’s that drastic exclusion, and then you start to find your wiggle room of adding things back in that work for you. And that’s a sensible approach.
Mikki Williden: [01:16:24] I totally agree. And on those pickles, I’ve recently discovered pickled onions again… and my god, I love them. They are amazing.
Cliff Harvey: [01:16:32] So good.
Mikki Williden: [01:16:33] Yes, so good. And then, on that vegetarian/meat thing. So, you know, um, Baz, my partner, vegetarian…26 years, until about a month ago.
Cliff Harvey: [01:16:45] Oh really?
Mikki Williden: [01:16:47] Yeah. So, I mean, his – his he came and said, “Mikki, I’ve been thinking about eating meat”, and I tried not to… like, get too excited by this, because you know,… the reason why I say this is not because he was an ‘unhealthy vegetarian’, and in fact, if anything, he proved to me what I didn’t think was possible, that you could be a perfectly healthy vegetarian. And he really was. Twenty-six years.
Cliff Harvey: [01:17:10] Yeah.
Mikki Williden: [01:17:10] No problem. And uh, he’s like, “yeah, but I might just try it, just by myself”, and I’m like, oh cool. And then, about two.., no, three weeks ago now he said on a Wednesday, he’s like, “guess what – I tried some chicken”, and I’m like, “Uh! And what do you think?”, and he’s like, “oh, it just tasted like chicken, really”. And then, since then it’s just… it’s – yeah. It’s basically been a bit of a meat adventure for him. And it’s, it’s super exciting for me because he’s a foodie. Like he loves food. And the fact that he’s now opened himself up to one of the tastiest things to possibly eat… pâté, steak, lamb, chops, salmon… the whole, the whole thing. But really interesting is that his gut has not been a problem at all. Twenty-six years of not eating anymore…any kind of like animal meat, and his, he’s handled it perfectly fine. Because that was the one thing that I was worried about with him.
Cliff Harvey: [01:18:08] Yeah, I’ve dealt with a lot of people – former vegetarians, and in my experience, it’s very rare for people to suffer adverse G.I effects from meat, except maybe really transient, if they just go crazy, you know, eat a kilo of steak their first night back or whatever.
[01:18:28] I was… obviously I didn’t have the same length of time as Baz, but I was strictly vegetarian for about seven years, and I just found that as this was around the same time that I was being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in my early 20s, and it just was not effective for me to continue eating a vegetarian diet. It was just too… particularly with trying to get in enough protein, and things like that, it was just way too inflammatory for me, too many things that I was sort of borderline intolerant to. So, I went back to meat, and it was just an absolute epiphany. Now, I at that point had to re-evaluate a lot of my ethical stance on food, because previously I’ve been vegetarian for moral reasons because I was a practicing Buddhist. I still…you know, that’s my sort of spiritual basis is as a Buddhist – and I didn’t want to take life, but I had to come to this sort of point-of-thinking, well, either I can thrive or I can be unwell. And I chose to thrive, even though I was going to have to take life. But what I found out much later, and which I now believe based on the research is that there is not more life taking taken through an omnivorous diet than a vegetarian diet.
Mikki Williden: [01:19:46] Oh, no. And that’s a misconception.
Cliff Harvey: [01:19:49] And that’s what’s been really eye-opening for me. I mean, I don’t know if you saw my little evaluation on that. I went through a lot of the USDA data – agricultural data from the States, and Australia and New Zealand, and looked at the relative amount of sentient lives that would be taken if you were subsisting on, say, soy versus beef.
Mikki Williden: [01:20:05] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [01:20:06] And I chose soy to be as…sort of, liberal as I could be towards a vegan diet, because it was the highest in protein and the highest in calories, and things, out of any of the vegan food sources. And at best, you could say that they were about on par… but at worst, you would say that the soy-based diet took more lives than the beef-based diet.
Mikki Williden: [01:20:30] Yeah. And that’s… what you’ve just described is exactly the research that I’m familiar with. And not, and I’m not by no way suggesting that I’m an expert in this, and I certainly am not.
Cliff Harvey: [01:20:42] Neither am I.
Mikki Williden: [01:20:42] But it’s my understanding that’s exactly the case. And not only that, but they conflate,… there so much conflation between the North American agricultural kind of industry with the New Zealand environment. And it is just different. But the one thing, Cliff, that I have to say, which I’m completely ignorant on, and I really need to ‘school myself up’ on is dairy, and effects of dairy cattle on our waterways and stuff like that, because that’s something which I don’t know enough about – and that I really need to, and I really want to understand the impact, the environmental impact of dairy, because I feel uncomfortable that I’m just not that smart on that stuff? Because I’m a big advocate of… I’m an advocate of dairy from a nutrition standpoint, for what it can add to people. And I always have been, you know, like I… And I don’t have an issue tolerating dairy myself. And that’s probably why I think that’s probably why I ‘sympathetic’ towards it if you like. But I would certainly probably change that stance if there was an environmental reason why. And I. Yeah. Yeah. So I’m a little bit ignorant on that stuff.
Cliff Harvey: [01:21:56] Yeah, likewise. And I think there’s also so much more that needs to be researched in the space of pollution and climate change.
Mikki Williden: [01:22:08] Oh yeah.
[01:22:08] With respect to both… you know, beef and other ruminants, and dairy, because I think what we have at the moment is very incomplete data. Now I’m certainly not a ‘conspiracy guy’, because I typically agree with the scientific consensus – unless the scientific consensus is not actually a consensus. And so, with climate change, for example, I wouldn’t dispute the idea that climate change is occurring and then it’s man-driven.
Mikki Williden: [01:22:39] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [01:22:39] Because ninety-nine point nine per cent of the scientists out there who know what they are talking about are saying this is the case.
Mikki Williden: [01:22:46] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [01:22:47] But in terms of what’s driving that, in terms of what we do, I think they still need to be a lot more research done. And I think that’s particularly true with things like beef production, where often the modelling that’s used is it’s in silico, right?
Mikki Williden: [01:23:01] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [01:23:01] It’s not really looking at the complexities of all the data and all that’s happening. It’s very much in silico, based on an American model of factory farming.
Mikki Williden: [01:23:13] Yeah.
[01:23:13] And there are all sorts of things like carbon sequestration and pasture and all that kind of stuff that hasn’t necessarily been taken into account properly. Now could still turn out that it is negative for the environment. But I just don’t know. And from what I’ve seen, I think that the impact of beef, for example, on climate change is minimal at best.
Mikki Williden: [01:23:35] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [01:23:35] Even based on what we know now, which is very much skewed towards the idea that beef is a negative for climate change.
Mikki Williden: [01:23:42] That’s how I understand that as well. And in fact, I if… what I’ve read is correct, the worst thing you can do is actually have children.
Cliff Harvey: [01:23:51] [Laughs] Well, I think it’s probably a give-in. I think also, we need to look at the real drivers of pollution, of climate change, all of the problems in general. And I think one of the biggest challenges we have is wastage.
Mikki Williden: [01:24:06] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [01:24:07] Irrespective of anything else, I read a report in which they suggested that around 48 per cent of usable foodstuff was wasted in the Western world.
Mikki Williden: [01:24:17] Oh, yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [01:24:18] Now, to my mind, that would mean we’re completely blowing out any aspect of one particular type of food because, you know, people will talk about, for example, eating meat is having a big climate effect. And they say things like, you know, 50 to 70 per cent effect on climate change emissions and things like that. But that’s only food-based emissions, and it’s based on incomplete models. And even Orthodox scientists have said that overall that equates to less than 4 per cent.
Mikki Williden: [01:24:51] Yeah.
Cliff Harvey: [01:24:52] Of total emissions. So that’s actually a very small effect. And if it’s not complete, and there’s a lot more going on like carbon sequestration, I certainly think the story has not been told yet.
Mikki Williden: [01:25:04] I agree with you, Cliff. And I was listening to a podcast the other day; Joe Rogan had on a scientist from The New Yorker. And he the climate… he’s an environmental scientist, and he’s got to he’s written a book as well. The book sounds great, actually, I keep meaning to download it and I’ve forgotten.
Cliff Harvey: [01:25:22] Yeah, I can’t remember the name, but I know the book you’re talking about. I’ll post it up in the show notes.
Mikki Williden: [01:25:25] Yeah, do it. And he was saying, look, yeah, diet is important. But actually what’s more important is not necessarily how many meat-free nights you have per week. It’s more, you know, the higher-level stuff. Which,… not that we,…he’s not suggesting that we have no personal responsibility with regards to waste or anything like that. But his opinion based on the research he’s done is that, actually, there are things that have to happen well outside our own individual control that is actually going to make a big difference.
Cliff Harvey: [01:26:01] Definitely.
[01:26:01] And God, can I say, like people talk about climate change and talk about beef and eating animals… But, I saw a post the other day. I think it was Dana Rogers put it, ‘The Sustainable Dish’ – she’s got some amazing information up there, and um, it was, you know, thinking about things like, fur, like… or packaging that is used for meat-like products – and fake fur is actually made from plastic. You know, in thinking about all the industries that you support when you choose not to eat meat, where, actually…
Cliff Harvey: [01:26:33] Yeah.
Mikki Williden: [01:26:33] …If, if you know, depending on your value system, and in everything else, it’s probably on balance a better decision to eat meat from an environmental standpoint, that it is not.
Cliff Harvey: [01:26:48] And I think as well to look again at the… take a step back, and look at what your total impact is, anyway. And I think this sort of brings it back as well to a nice sort of ending of the holistic approach to health and happiness. We can become very segmented looking at, ‘do I eat meat or do I not?’ Well, we can also take a step back and say, well, what is my overall impact? Am I really living a life that has a small footprint?
Mikki Williden: [01:27:15] Yeah.
[01:27:15] You know, how many shoes do I need? How many extra things do I need in my life? And is it really serving me? And I think when people get back to looking at what is serving them best – and what we were discussing before about truly living your human potential, that’s a whole different thing to transient states of ecstasy that you get from stuff. And when people do that, I think that’s when we start to see a big impact, because wastage in largesse is, on a consumer level, such a big thing, notwithstanding that there’s bigger stuff going on, which probably has a bigger impact anyway.
Mikki Williden: [01:27:48] Yeah. Hundred per cent, Cliff.
Cliff Harvey: [01:27:52] So, Mikki, I could talk to you for literally hours, we’ve already talked for a really a long time.
Mikki Williden: [01:27:58] Yeah.
[01:27:59] I didn’t even go on script today, so, there’s a whole list of questions that I haven’t asked you. So, I’m going to have to get you back on because there are lots of things that I want to ask… Where can people find out more about you and what you do, Mikki? Because I’m sure people listening to this will want to connect.
Mikki Williden: [01:28:14] Okay. So, Facebook is probably where I’m most active, and I probably post my most kind of consumer-based information, if you like. And that’s just Mikki Williden Nutrition on Facebook. Twitter is where I kind of pontificates on things ‘science’ – not really actually, just post studies, which I come across and stuff… So, from a research perspective, that’s probably a really good place to kind of get me there as well. And then, anything kind of food-related, as in what I do every day – I usually put on Insta[gram] story, which in fact comes through my Facebook feed anyway. Got to say, Cliff, for the listener – hilariously, this actually has been like we’ve just sat down, and just have a good old chin wag about whatever it is that we feel like talking about. And almost none of it was nutrition-related. Which is what I love, so it’s called.
Cliff Harvey: [01:29:07] So, this has basically been an insight into what we typically do when we catch up for coffee anyway, right?
Mikki Williden: [01:29:13] Pretty much, we just don’t have the date scone with us. Yeah…[laughs]
Cliff Harvey: [01:29:17] Exactly. Well, I really appreciate it, Mikki. I know that you are super busy and you’ve got lots on your plate. So I appreciate the couple of hours out of your day. But like I say, I would love to get you back on and talk about a few more things as well. And I’ll make sure I post up all of that great information that you’ve given us in the show notes, too.
Mikki Williden: [01:29:36] Aw – hey, it’s been a real honour coming on, Cliff. Because I love everything you do – and I’m just sorry pleased, and so… that you’re at this point now, and you’ve handed in your PhD, you’re moving on to other things. And I just think that you make the world, seriously, a better place. And I just love that I call you a mate. So, thank you.
Cliff Harvey: [01:29:56] Thanks, Mikki, likewise.
Additional credits: Intro sample from ‘Get Up Stand Up’ by Public Enemy feat. Brother Ali. Outro sample ‘Spastic Mumblings’ by Jess Spillane from URL: http://freemusicarchive.org