Written by Christopher Kelly
April 27, 2017
Tommy Wood: Hello and welcome to the Nourish balance Thrive podcast. My name’s Tommy Wood and today I am joined – in his own kitchen – by Mike Mutzel. Hi Mike.
Mike Mutzel: Hey thanks for having me.
Tommy: Oh thanks for having me. It’s been great, we’ve had a really good time. You’ve shown me your chickens and your awesome backyard out here in Kirkland, Washington. And so people almost certainly know of you from your podcast and your YouTube videos – High Intensity Health – and so you have a master’s degree in clinical nutrition. You graduated from the Institute of Functional Medicine. People may have read your book – The Belly Fat Effect came out in 2014, right?
I think when I was talking to Chris about...going to come and speak to you, going to interview you for the podcast and we were kind of looking at…trying to find out more about you online and actually there’s not that much there in terms of your story or maybe we just weren’t doing our research well enough. Maybe you can like tell people about how you’ve got…because obviously now you’ve got a very popular podcast, you’re doing great stuff but how did you get to that point?
Mike: Sure, yeah. Well thank you so much, Tommy. Yeah it’s kind of a long curious way. I started out in exercise and things of that sort and then through my own over-exercise and renal fatigue, discovered that traditional doctors are really like missing the point – like they’re not looking at their own research and so yeah I wanted to be a pro bike racer. Well it first started out like I got into…strength training stuff hurt my back so I couldn’t do that high intensity stuff that I loved to do and had been doing for my entire life. Not entire life but since I was 14, like hard core.
So yeah got into bike racing, could really turn on that high-end power – like threshold type thing, sprinting, hill climbing, all that. And then got really over-trained and lost a lot of weight and muscle and [00:01:31] [indiscernible]. I got depressed and all that. This was in college, couldn’t focus and everything and I realized that…so one doctor’s like “I’ll just give you an antidepressant. That’s all you need.” And I’m like “What?” There’s got to be more to this story, right? So then I would just go into PubMed and research for myself about all these different conditions.
So I realized I got disgruntled – not disgruntled, but I felt that traditional medicine was missing a lot and I didn’t know about this thing called functional medicine until 2006. I got a job as a consultant for biotics research, which is a professional-only supplement line – and then started interacting with a lot of doctors that were doing this kind of work and that kind of found my little niche. Did all the IFM stuff and then was working with an MD doing a lot of clinical nutrition work in his facility. And I found myself saying the same thing over and over, just like when I was a personal trainer. I was working with these overweight people that had a lot of lifestyle issues and they just kind of wanted to talk, right. They didn’t want to actually do the work.
Everything was the same thing. “Okay, got to work on your stress reduction. Not eating food in front of the television. Like eating breakfast and not eating your largest meal right before you go to bed.” Like basic stuff. So I’m like “Yeah I’m going to write a book.” So I was doing a lot of research at University of Colorado Medical School, and interesting and right around that time, an individual – a medical assistant was morbidly obese in the clinic and she got gastric bypass surgery and lost weight like that. I was like “There’s got to be more than just restricting how much food she’s eating because that wouldn’t do that quick.”
So then I started diving into all the research on [00:02:50] [indiscernible] hormones which I’m sure we can talk about and my mind was blown. Like why is no one talking about how the gut is releasing all these different hormones that affect appetites to cravings and all that. So just buried myself in research for 5 years and was very myopically focused on the microbiome in the gut and wrote the book Belly Fat Effect and then…well it’s kind of funny. You launch a book, you’re like “Oh it’s going to be a bestseller” and literally like on the first day, I sold one copy and it was my mum. So I learned the hard way to get out there, you have to build an audience.
So at that time I was doing webinars for the company which I still do consulting with now called Zymogen. So I started just teaching doctors about all this research and I was intimidated at first, like who am I to do all these seminars and webinars for doctors? But they were like “Bring on this information because we were not taught this in med school.” So kind of started to take a little ownership in that and then actually the company – and they’re a great company, Zymogen – well their marketing team was like “You know what? We want to do the webinars. We don’t need you to do them anymore.”
Well alright, I’ll just start this podcast – High Intensity Health that was sitting on the domain. That was in 2014, and then started out just like interviews, like we’re doing audio only and I realized that YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world. And I’m like “You know what? I’m still not that good on camera. I’m just going to force myself to get better on camera and interview people in person. It’ll cause me to step up my game, we’ll be helping all the people that are searching for solutions on YouTube.” Yeah so that’s a long… [00:04:13] [crosstalk] [indiscernible].
Tommy: That was great. So how are you finding…because obviously a lot of podcasts, you call up some person, they’re on the other side of the world, they have to stick their headphones into their computer and just talk for an hour on. They usually interview themselves, they’ve got like an hour of interesting stuff that they talk about and then they say “Thank you very much.” But obviously it’s a very different prospect having you turn up with your video cameras – multiple – and sort of interview people. So how…obviously you’re doing very well, you’ve got so many episodes – but how are people reacting to that?
Mike: Yeah it’s amazing you know. At first it was a little slow and things like that. It just depends on the person and what the content is. I find that if it’s sports nutrition related, ketogenic related, any chronic immune or gut [00:04:51] [indiscernible] people just love it because those are the things we talked about when I interviewed you. The microbiome, gut imbalances, digestive issues and then the ketogenic low carb, intermittent fasting, time restricted eating. Like if you’re sick, you’re probably looking for some of those solutions and then there’s other people that have chronic infections, mould, lime toxicity and a lot of doctors don’t even want to treat that because it’s really like a big rabbit hole.
Mike: And so those are the things that I think people are looking out for. And I’ve been in this industry for 11 years – “functional medicine industry”. So I started out just interviewing all my friends and got a little bit of momentum and relatively newish – say 2 years in this whole keto world – and so I just started reaching out to Jimmy Moore and other people. They didn’t know and I was learning from and also thought that information would help, we just recorded it. So I found that researchers are not as open to being interviewed. They’re like “What is this stuff?” and whatever but a lot of people now are like “Yeah I have something to promote. I have a book, I have a…” whatever and they want to share information.
I think when you get to a certain level in knowledge in your career, there’s a sense of altruism where you want to give back and share that information to make the world better. So I think people are happy to like just show up and it’s intimidating for some. You’re really good on camera, some people are really fidgety and all that, and they get nervous by all this stuff. But YouTube and video changes so quickly. Like if you watch a video from 2009, it looks like crap. It’s like all cropped into a 480 by 480, so we shoot full 1080 and all that. And I think it will at least have…we’re going to 4k and 6k very quick but at least it will be…it’ll have a shelf life, at least 5 years hopefully, is what I’m hoping.
Tommy: Yeah that’s very cool. You have a very broad range of people that you interview and obviously you probably have an equally varied audience, ‘because some people have like a very fixed audience and very fixed message which is obviously not the case and I think that that’s by design. You want to try and give a broad scope of information. I know there have been some podcasts you’ve had where like some people will say “Okay Mike, enough with the keto.”
Or somebody will say something about a certain treatment for cancer and then somebody will get upset about it. How do you balance all those different inputs to try and make sure that you’re giving the information that you want but you’re not giving the wrong information to the wrong people? People who don’t need it or won’t respond well to it at that time.
Mike: Yeah that’s a really good question you know. I try to…like in the show notes, I don’t do this on the video. The video’s just kind of raw start to finish, a little bit…I don’t finish or end with those caveats and kind of various contextual differences but I think that’s really good because for some people, they’re brand new to this. Jumping into keto’s not the thing. Eat real food, paleo then maybe low carb and transition that way. But yeah it’s hard, like how do I decide which podcast or whatever?
Trust intuition, just whatever’s kind of coming up and try to really have an open mind and write in my gratitude journal and things like that. And then people that just pop up in my head, I’ll just write their name down and eventually they – like yourself – will just reach out to me or whatever. And I’m like “Oh my gosh, 3 days ago I wrote about…like I got to reach out to this person but got busy and different things.” I agree that this decision diamonds and so forth are really important, so I always refer people to meet with a practitioner.
Like anytime I get a question I’m not the guru, like “Oh yeah they’re good for you, just buy my supplements.” It’s like “You know what, where do you live? I probably know someone in that area – particularly if it’s in North America – that I can link you up with so that someone that’s good, that can do the lab work, they can look at your lifestyle, your case history, your job stress, your early life experiences, trauma, birthing method – whatever – to figure out what is going to be good for you.”
Tommy: I think that’s really important, actually, and there are a lot of people who almost want to do everything and be good at everything right? And you’ll end up with Facebook page and then people who love you come there and tell you how awesome you are, but then also you’re expected to have the answer to everything.
Like I can think of some people who I imagine – or I know – that being in this field, being the person that they are, being expected to know everything is a huge stressor in their life. So actually there’s 2 benefits to that. I guess one is that you can guarantee you’re going to be helping somebody more because you’re sending them directly to somebody who’s an expert in that thing, but also you’re maybe offloading some of that stress of people constantly reaching out to you for answers.
Mike: Yeah that’s a really good point. I don’t think I’m special or anything along those lines but when you do get a lot of these questions, I definitely realize that yeah it’s not feasible and it’s not scalable either to be the jack of all trades. It’s not responsible to pretend that you know everything as well, because it’s really challenging. I immerse myself – for example – in [00:09:16] [indiscernible] research for a while.
Like all those different pathways and enzymes and nuances and subtleties are on top of mine but then I start to forget basic biochemistry. Like key to adaptation and weight, [00:09:26] [indiscernible]. I guess I have…maybe it’s just how my mind works or whatever, you can be like an inch wide and a mile deep kind of on a few different topics but not on everything.
Tommy: Yeah absolutely. So then maybe let’s talk about that, right. So there’s an increase now in people talking about the increase in how like the food you eat or other things can change the way you release insulin – that’s the one we always talk about. And you mentioned gastric bypass, which if you look at the medical literature, the fastest way to reverse types of diabetes is to get a gastric bypass or get a [00:09:57] [indiscernible] where you basically sort of reconnect different bits of your gut together. So maybe you can tell us why that happens, but then also how we could maybe achieve the same results without drastic surgery, which is hopefully what people are going to go towards.
Mike: Totally. And it’s funny, exactly what you just said. Like achieve those results without surgery, that’s what researchers are citing in their journals – whether it’s neurogastroentrology or whatever journal. A lot of the different nature endocrinology and metabolism in different nature-based journals review this – the mechanism and things. So highlighting and concluding that this surgery is very medically expensive, it’s invasive, and it’s irreversible and the changes in our permanent…if someone doesn’t make the lifestyle changes and the diet changes, there’s just refractory issues.
So they might have normal glycaemia like you mentioned after the surgery for maybe 10 years but then they’re starting to get back on insulin and their type 2 diabetic drugs. So mechanistically, it’s really important. Researchers have known since 1966 that some humeral substance from the GI tract is released when we start to think and process food and ingest food. It was identified in the 1980s what this humeral substance is – the [00:11:00] [indiscernible] type hormone, so in GLP-1, GLP-2, GIP-1, PYY, there’s 26 different of them. The guy like you mentioned earlier when we were talking, the illumine of the GI tract is really outside of the body.
The body’s trying to prepare the interocides and the cells that line the GI tract, are trying to prepare the byway for the food that’s coming in. It makes sense that they would then when they see a nutrient, a fibre and they see protein and they see fat, when they see macronutrients that they’re going to send different messages based upon the composition of those macronutrients to the brain, to the pancreas, to the liver to prepare the body, right. And so from the research that I’ve done – reading and talking to different people – the exact mechanism through which there’s a reduction of a release of these hormones that coincides with the onset of diabetes and weight gain, we don’t really know exactly what that is. Is it reduction in the actual number of intero endocrine cells?
So there’s the L cells which really release the GOP 1 and GOP 2 within the duodenum. So do the cell numbers decrease? Are they just desensitized or is it that there’s this mindless eating or vagal nerve tone is lost? There’s a lot of different things that are going on, but suffice to say there’s a dramatic correlation between a reduction in the release of these gut hormones associated with a meal and an increase or decrease in insulin sensitivity and increase in insulin release and waking.
And there’s a correlation, don’t know exactly the fine details but when we kind of restructure the GI tract and take the stomach out of the picture and basically the oesophagus like [00:12:29] [indiscernible], it’s like turning up the…like if you’re kind of like hard of hearing, it’s “Alright can you hear this?” and turn the volume up full blast. So the enterocytes are just responding this intero endocrine cells I should say. When there is food present, they’re responding – the amplitude is just increased, right.
And so then there’s more insulin sensitivity, there’s better insulin release, the secreting effect is improved and so that’s why –as you mentioned – 12 hours after [00:12:57] [indiscernible], individuals that are full-blown type 2 diabetic that need insulin, they don’t need insulin anymore. Hugely powerful, right? When we were talking, you mentioned the drug metformin, which is a very effective drug and so forth. Less than…I think it’s only 38% of that drug is actually absorbed systemically. So a lot of the activity is going – as you mentioned – in the microbiome, increasing [00:13:14] [indiscernible] and so on but also increasing these gut hormones and so on.
And so Breverin – another natural compound that acts very similarly to metformin – works with that as well. So what are some other things? What turns out like p protein? Vegan protein, whey protein. You know whey protein is very satiating. It may have to do with amino acid structure of the protein, we don’t really know exactly. It turns out dietary fat actually stimulates CCK and other gut hormones too. So that might be one of many mechanisms through which people feel more satiated when they get it keto. And my favourite – I think yours as well – the phytonutrients.
So the green teas, the rosemarys, ginger, garlic – any polyphenolic substance tends to –and the mechanisms are different based on the substance – but will at some level increase these gut hormones and also diet adversity which is cool and people want to dive more into that. I’m sure you’ve looked at this like acidic acid, balsamic vinegar. Like some of these compounds, fermented compounds actually selectively increase phylum level growth. So these fermecudis type bacteria love faster digest simple carbohydrates. Your microbiome is what you feed it, right, at some level. Obviously there’s other issues, antibiotics and what not but I love the phytonutrients. Whether you’re keto, low carb, high carb, whatever – you definitely have to include those. Then what else is there?
I think the easiest thing, wherever you are in a low carb high carb spectrum, vegan, paleo, whatever – we just need to chew our food very carefully. Researchers in this highlight like several pages of this in my book and talk about this with practitioners all the time. It’s about 42 chews per swallow, increases these gut hormones. So these are all non-medically, very inexpensive strategies that we have to amplify and really turn on this key metabolic sealing hub energy tract which is upstream of pancreatic insulin release and so on.
And so that’s the other thing that is so powerful. We always focus on post-prandial hypoglycaemia. Like does that food spike your blood sugar? Is the insulin [00:15:12] [indiscernible] nature of this protein. We get all into that but it’s like how is this affecting your gut hormones? That’s where I kind of think first and it goes back to the basic stuff like we have like this put on our paleo nutrition glasses and view the world through that lens.
Mike: We know that like just eating vegetables, slowing down, having community, don’t talk about not eating food while you’re driving or whatever. All these things culminate mechanistically and help to improve the gut hormone release.
Tommy: Yeah and I think maybe part of that you mentioned chewing your food, it’s probably also having food that needs to be chewed. Like still has structure, is still in the…comes in the original packaging as it was grown rather than something that’s been blended and processed and dried and had all the cell walls taken out of it and all that kind of stuff.
Mike: Totally, yeah. It’s really key. The only caveat to that – and I agree 100% - but this was an intro-duodenal administration, so it’s like a feeding tube. This was research at Duke University. They’ve really looked at the incretin hormones and different types of protein – fish protein, beef protein, whey protein and so on. And they found that this intro-duodenal…so it’s almost like a smoothie. [00:16:18] [indiscernible]. P protein and whey protein out of all the different types that they’ve looked at tend to – whether it’s just drinking like how you or I would drink or this intro-duodenal administration increases the gut hormones. So it could be those outlayers in the amino acid structure.
Tommy: Yes I think those do, particularly whey protein and Julie – who’s our food scientist at Nourish Balance Thrive – she always jokes about the fact that whey protein was basically isolated from the leftover stuff from cheese-making. So they had to like find some way to market it and sell it, so it used to be a waste product. But actually when you look at in terms of the way you can improve like glycaemic control and type 2 diabetics and stuff, it does actually seem to have some pretty impressive qualities some times.
Mike: Yeah, obviously food first. Real foods. You know in a pinch, things like that, I think it works.
Tommy: Yeah okay. So you’ve done all this amazing stuff, interviewed all these amazing people and I’ve kind of…I’m sort of seeing you in your natural habitat here and you’re definitely walking the talk. Like you’ve got the chickens in the backyard, you’re growing your own food, you’ve got your own gym that’s kind of half outside out there – which is awesome. I’m really jealous of the environment you’ve created. So how has this kind of developed over time? Is this something that you were already doing before you went out and interviewed all these people or is it something that you interviewed somebody like “Oh I like that idea”.
And then you go and like…one of the reasons I’m asking about this is because my fiancée, she thinks I’m a crazy hippie – in the best possible way. And so any time I read about something – like a new gadget turns up in the kitchen, a new thing I want to grow in the garden turns up or something like that. So are you frustrating your wife with all these stuff like as things go or have you always been like this?
Mike: Yeah that’s a really good question. I’ve always been a little weird, as people would say. But the garden was just a function of like…we own property in Colorado. When we first moved to Washington which is where we’re doing this now. So we were renting here for a while and so I had small little planter boxes and things like that. Yeah no one has really – that I’ve interviewed – has influenced me about the garden and the chickens and things like that. I would say like barefoot walking and forest bathing, [00:18:15] [indiscernible]. I’ve been influence by other people that way.
Yeah I’ve always been a little quirky and so my wife’s not totally on the same page. Just simple stuff like – I can’t believe we’ve argued about this – but recycling. She’ll put stuff that’s recyclable in the garbage. I’m like “What the heck are you doing?” There’s no such thing as garbage. This goes in a landfill, like it doesn’t go away. So let’s like try to recycle it or compost it or whatever. So I’m definitely driving that and you can’t see the eggshells in the compost because we had the video but it’s under the counter. So she’ll like…if the compost gets too big, she’ll put it in the garbage.
And I’m like “Deanna why. We’re composting it, it’s not garbage.” And so yeah, we’ll save our eggshells and grind them up but it’s like me kind of doing it all which is fine. So she’s tolerant but she doesn’t like the idea of eggshells and compost that can smell like crap if you don’t take it out every day. The only thing keeping the chickens out there is my daughter loves them. So she’s super fired up and it’s really good for her and her immune system. I mean so many kids now are like…they haven’t been exposed to these microbes from pets and that’s one reason why we have the dogs and stuff too. So yeah the chickens, my daughter loves it, it’s like a babysitter of 11 little chickens – keeps her busy for hours and she’s so happy and she can pick them up and all that.
So it’s evolved over time and I find that…I mean here’s what’s interesting. We talked a little bit about social isolation and there’s a lot of research James Mascolin introduced me to they’re doing at UCLA. So as you get more healthy, your social networks kind of close a little bit because you realize you don’t want to go out to the restaurant like an outback steakhouse or whatever, right. And so that’s been – I think – the hardest thing. Like its cool learning about all these technologies and being more primal if you will, but it definitely can kind of narrow your world a little bit in the sense that if your friends are not on that same page, it can be hard to relate with.
So I think that’s a thing that I struggle with. Even with my brothers who are into this, they’re not there yet so like they still want to go out and go somewhere where I don’t necessarily wouldn’t want to eat. So I’m having my biggest thing in life that…hurdle that I’ve come across is being tolerant of that and trying to still be social even if it’s not the ideal situation.
Tommy: Yeah I completely understand and the person who introduced us as a company to that was Brian Walsh. You may have heard of him, he’s an amazing functional medicine doctor. He did a really great podcast with Chris on social isolation a couple of years ago now, which is awesome. And I actually gave a talk in Iceland last year to a few hundred people and actually 20% of my talk, I was just stealing stuff from Brian Walsh. I did say I was stealing it from him, but really important. Social isolation piece is really important. So maybe you’ve acknowledged that it’s the struggle for you and it is for so many people who…so particularly, I mean with your friends maybe that’s going to be difficult because they just don’t really understand anything.
But the person who lives with you – and your wife, she’s obviously tolerant of a lot of the stuff that you do. We work with a lot of people who the wife just isn’t brought in at all and she’s like “Why are you eating this way?” So the wife and kids eat differently, so you’re basically socially isolated in your own home. So do you have any tips for how people can start to bridge that gap? Because obviously – I mean I’m not saying that’s your situation – but maybe you’ve seen other people or you’ve sort of learned some tips and tricks on the way that you can sort of help them figure that out.
Mike: I mean it’s hard to change people’s…especially food and things like that but. This is just a case study and end of one that is very interesting. So my stepfather is a fireman and contractor guy. You know, very blue collar his entire life and food is all about saving money. So he would go to safe way and just buy whatever’s on sale. It wasn’t for its nutritional value, he would never really influence or make a correlation between food quality and energy or whatever. But he cares so much about his dog and his dog was diagnosed with lung cancer very recently. And so I was sharing with him – and I didn’t know about this, Tommy – all the research and there’s like this fanatical underground world of ketogenic dog lovers for cancer.
So I started sharing and now he’s like totally shifted his mind set, like he’s open to learning more. So I think people learn in different ways and so I think just hammering your spouse over the head like “Oh look at this science or look at this”, you have to find some emotional connection and I think that’s really what causes people to change. So you could find something. Maybe your spouse snores, maybe they’re overweight, maybe their moods are bouncing all over the place. And sometimes it’s not you that’s going to cause them to change, it’s someone else that they may look up to or things like that.
So that’s what I would say, but if it’s so severe it may not be the right spouse for you too. I mean people don’t want to hear that, you know. But that’s the irony too, is we become more grounded, more connected, more mindful and if our spouse is not changing with us and they’re doing the same thing, that can be an unhappy situation long term. That’s what I would say. Just find out are they logical, analytical person – there’s enough published data for a lot of the things. Not everything that we do. People are really influenced by social proof and scarcity is really key. Find them a video with an expert that’s been viewed a lot and say “Look, there’s a million people like this.” Things like that. Yeah that’s a tough one, I don’t have any magic bullets for that.
Tommy: You’re talking about sort of getting that information from somebody maybe who’s…you also automatically feel like the information you’re getting from somebody very close to you is sort of biased in some way. Some reason you don’t quite trust it the same way, so like getting it from an outside source is really beneficial. Although even I obviously don’t have that same relationship, a lot of the time I would talk to Chris about certain stuff about Nourish Balance Thrive and I’ll recommend something that we try or that he do. And then when somebody else talks about it on the podcast, then it’s okay to do it. Then I’m like “Dude I told you 6 months ago.”
Mike: Why aren’t you listening to me?
Tommy: Yeah why aren’t you listening to me? But that’s exactly it, you need that kind of external foundation, so finding somebody that maybe…that they can connect with or connect to separately is a good way to do it. But equally, it’s just like maybe it’s the wrong spouse, maybe it’s the wrong job. We talk so much about the stresses in our life and the quality of our relationships and actually, maybe sometimes the best thing is to cut that off.
Mike: And sometimes people don’t want to hear that but we do see that in our industry. When people start meditating and do yoga and make these sweeping lifestyle shifts that they’re a different person than they were when they met their spouse and if their spouse is not changing…and I think – I don’t remember where I read this – but like one variable of a successful long-term marriage is that both partners are growing equally. And so when there’s that disparity, when you’re doing all this self-improvement and the other person’s not, like come on this is not going to work out.
What are you going to talk about because if you’re learning so much, whether it’s about relationship or communication or gardening and the spouse is just doing the same old stuff, the communication’s going to dwindle as well? It’s going to be challenging but going back to what you were saying about how sometimes the people closest to you don’t really acknowledge that and I think when we don’t know someone very well, we tend to give them the artificial status.
It’s elevated mentally because they have X number of people on Facebook that are…whatever it is, they have a PhD or whatever. But then you get to know someone and they have bad breath or whatever, and then you’re like…it’s just in your head you feel like…I know exactly what you’re saying where you make these recommendations. It’s happened on both sides with my wife and I in various things and in business too. Like “Dude I told you that years ago and you didn’t listen to me, now we missed the boat on this thing.”
Tommy: Yeah when you’re talking about sort of the relationships or the right relationship, I actually thought about some really interesting data which shows that men who get married live longer but women who get married, don’t. So if you’re a guy and you’re worried that your wife isn’t supporting you, maybe actually it’s enough that it’s going to give you benefit anyway. But if you’re a female and it’s the wrong guy for you then definitely cut and run. So maybe there’s the sex effect there.
Mike: Really? That’s really fascinating, haven’t thought about that. Makes a lot of sense in a way.
Tommy: Yeah. So I really wanted to…you’ve interviewed so many awesome people and I thought maybe you could give us like some of the highlights of maybe the places you’ve been or the people you’ve talked to, like some of the really good tips. I mean everybody luckily is talking about improving your food intake and sleep and stress and all that kind of stuff but I was thinking sort of like hidden tips that maybe somebody’s missed because they haven’t listened to every episode or something like that.
Mike: Sure. Gosh there’s so many it’s hard to think but one that I’ve found – I mean I’m a huge kind of believer and rely on the research on the circadian rhythm, circadian biology and I think everything oscillates on the circadian rhythm. And we have the data to support it and I hadn’t really thought about this until Alexander Freddy pointed it out for me. He lives in the UK, are you familiar with him?
Tommy: Yeah I met him a year ago actually, I was speaking at a conference. I met him the first time and we’ve interacted quite ab it since then.
Mike: Yeah, brilliant guy. He actually really influenced me on the whole ketogenic diet thing. I’d been periodically doing a very low carb high fat style diet for years in bodybuilding and used it to cut weight. I just thought it was just another macronutrient shift and it wasn’t really inducing all these different pleotropic secondary effects in the histone [00:26:59] [indiscernible] inhibition and all that. And so in talking with him – 2 years ago now – he said “The real thing that I think is powerful about the ketogenic diet is the improvements in heart rate variability.
Mike: And so there’s all the good data on HRV and reduction in cancer, heart disease and all cause mortality, so that piqued my interest. So I would say I’ve learned a lot from him for sure and then in particular recently, about how he uses food to re-entrain his body circadian rhythm. And so we know that there’s this kind of top-down approach, like [00:27:28] [indiscernible] affects all these different circadian rhythm based genes in our body and so forth, and they affect enzymatic secretion in the GI tract but it works the other way too.
So not only just sunlight in the morning and darkness at night, but when we’re eating our meals and I found clinically – going back to like 2006 – that people that didn’t have…I’ve always been pretty consistent with my food and have a stable body weight. I don’t get a lot of fat or loss or gain. But people that have really inconsistent with their meals, they always struggle. And then they have sleep issues and all that, so that was an “Aha” moment.
So treat meals just like you treat morning sunlight and be pretty consistent. Obviously introduce some flexibility there with periodic fasting for metabolic health if that’s applicable to you. I would say overall, the idea that I’ve learned from a lot of different people when they get into ketosis that it just improves their mood and their focus. And this is just offline conversations with CEOs and executives that are into this stuff, that have reached out to me after they’ve listened to a few podcasts or whatever. They’re like “Man since going low carb, even my team notices that my mood is much more even and stable, and when we’re like launching a new product or launching a new skew and things are really hectic, I’m not this wild man that I used to be.”
And so that to me was really important because we all kind of…our moods will fluctuate and then we turn to alcohol or food or violence or whatever to try and calm ourselves down. So it’s a nice way that our baseline level of just agitation is decreased. Another thing that’s been powerful, like the people that I’ve interviewed that are really successful in whatever they do tend to be very organized and have their days accounted for. Like I can do this between 1 p.m. and 3, whatever and so I noticed that there’s a strong correlation there between their level of organization and follow up and are they on time or not, like with their overall success.
I would say people that know the most and really know their stuff are less promotional. And I don’t know if this is like a compensation or a mechanism or something like that and I’m not going to mention any names but some really awesome people I’ve interviewed, I’m afraid to ask them questions because I’m afraid that they won’t know it and I don’t want to put them on the spot. So people get to this place and they’re an expert – they have the book and the website and the phone and stuff but it’s like sometimes you can’t really deviate from that core or else there’s not some of the foundation there.
So it’s really cool to meet with people that are just in it because they’re passionate about it, not because they’re trying to sell books or props or whatever. That to me has been the most interesting, so it kind of changes who you want to interview or you want to interact with because obviously now with the fat thing, there’s so many people coming out with books. 3 years ago I would have wanted to interview them all just to get it but now I’m like “I don’t know if that’s really so congruent” kind of thing.
Tommy: So how has that shifted then in terms of the type of people you’re trying to target in terms of interviewing. You’re going more like basic research so like you recently interviewed Angela [00:30:17] [indiscernible]. So that’s like somebody in the trenches doing the basic research. Is that sort of the way that you see this kind of thing going?
Mike: Yeah that’s a good question. Just people that are really congruent and know their stuff. So some of the podcasts right, people are just interviewing everyone who has a big platform, just to share the buzz and whatever. I don’t…you can lose out on content that way so I just think people that are really congruent, that walk the walk too. They’re healthy and they practice what they preach. What’s really interesting is you dove into a lot of research. Unfortunately, some of that research doesn’t make it out of the lab on paper. Like now papers and journals are showing like how many people viewed the page, which is cool. Like +1 is doing that. But still, it’s like sometimes 1500, which is junk. You can have a Facebook post of something silly that gets shared…
Tommy: Hundreds of thousands of millions of times.
Mike: It’s like man, you’re doing all this work, government funded. You’re finding some revolutionary breakthrough type stuff and 1500 people who are probably other researchers who aren’t out there in the social world. So yeah I just want to – when I look back on my life – just know that I made a difference and help people realize via information that there’s things that they can do to live better. That’s kind of it. And the reason why I feel just so blessed having been in this functional medicine industry, like through osmosis I was just exposed to all this stuff.
Like oh yeah I get it filtered water, like infrared sauna, like colon enemas, like all this stuff, turn off the Wi-Fi. It’s just duh stuff that we do every single day and people that I meet that aren’t in the industry, like their phones in their pocket 24/7, they’re drinking city water, they’re cooking on Teflon pants. They’re doing all this stuff that years ago, I switched. And so I’m like gosh we just need to make this information out there because just by doing all these small little things that can really pivot your life in a totally different direction if you’ve got a chronic disease. Yeah so I think just small little things that we can do to share the info is key.
Tommy: Yeah that’s cool. I think we inhabit a broadly similar sphere of the stuff that we talk about, the people we interact with, the things that we promote and do and then when you step outside of that and you talk to “the average person” which is 99.999% of the people in the US or the UK or wherever we are. And they literally don’t know any of this stuff and it’s not because they’re not interested or it just hasn’t come across their radar. And then you want to be…well you worry that “I’ve got to share this with as many, many people as possible” and like you said when you mentioned the first day, one book sell. The first time on my podcast, I had one person listening and that was my mum.
And then she complained that it was too long. So basically all you’ve got to do is just…if you can influence the sphere around you, then you hope that somebody within that sphere –towards the outside – starts influencing people around them and around them and then you sort of like spread out that way and that’s sort of the way we have. So do whatever you can, then helping as many people as possible as that spreads, right.
Mike: Totally yeah, 100%. And what’s so fascinating is like we tend to look at YouTube and Facebook like “Oh that’s how I’m going to spread the message” and that is a way to go viral. But I think the strongest connections and the best way are these offline conversations. Like “Oh yeah, did you hear about Nourish Balance Thrive? They have this new MCT powder that’s really great for this.” Like that’s how things really spread and then people are very…if you see a Facebook post, for example. They get shared millions of times. It can be a cat fighting or a funny army fails Cross-Fit video and stuff, but you’re not going to like share that with a friend or whatever.
But if you really have a change in your life, I think it’s that offline conversation. So how can we create the offline conversation that will then have that ripple effect? And so I think the internet is the platform to influence other people, but it’s funny like it’s all coming back to primal stuff in every way – in socializing and that offline stuff is pretty key.
Tommy: Yeah so maybe that’s one of the best ways that you…if you give your information but then you also spend a lot of time promoting actual real relationships in real life and real people, right. And then that’s where you actually sort of spread that. And then the double whammy of giving people some information and telling them to go and tell other people in real life, rather than just being out there in social media – sort of completes that circle.
Mike: Yeah. And then moreover, when someone else sees a friend or a colleague lose weight or whatever, they want to know like “What are you doing? Tell me because I’m struggling too.” So I think that’s really powerful. But going back to the person – like when you travel, you see this a lot. Like on airplanes, people are eating junk food and sodas and stuff. And I’m amazed at the resilience some of these people have to be able to function properly while they’re eating that stuff. It’s pretty profound and so it’s like gosh you can really do a lot in this world. Like you already are, probably, as an executive or whatever but imagine if you just changed your diet.
And you want to say something but I learned that I don’t, because they’re an expert. They already know everything about nutrition.” Oh yeah my mother in law has a PhD”, so they already know everything about it. And so I realized that I can’t do that. And so one example of that – I don’t know how we got off this tangent – but this…I was sitting in the middle and this window and the aisle, these people start talking over me and stuff like that which is fine. They start talking about fitness and things, and so one of them was eating what’s called – it was lean pretzels. And the guy goes “I don’t know if these are good for me” and the other guy goes “Well of course they are, it says lean on them.” I put my headphones on, like “Alright, I’m done with this conversation.”
Tommy: You always learn it the hard way, right. You always want to like…you see somebody doing something, saying something, you want to jump in. It’s just like you see somebody doing a car crash in the gym, you want to jump in. You’re just going to injure yourself. It’s the same thing with nutrition. I don’t in general talk about nutrition with my friends or family because despite the fact that I do believe that I know more than they do, it just never goes down well because they have the fixed ideas. So you just have to let people come to you.
Mike: Yeah, and when they’re ready then they’re a lot open. Then you can actually talk to them instead of they’ll say “Oh well Mark Heiman said this, Tommy. What are you talking?” Yeah so it can be kind of frustrating that way.
Tommy: Yeah so I wanted to…you mentioned a while back about the circadian rhythm, which I think is really important and talking about timing meals, getting them the right time of day. And I see this kind of…this shift or this splitting in terms of how people approach that. So if the way that I’ve interpreted the data is maybe it’s better to eat earlier in the day. But obviously people who are trying to contract their meal time find it easier to skip breakfast and then eat later in the day. So do you have particular recommendations about how to do that or how have you kind of teased that all out?
Mike: Yeah that’s really a good question. I think a lot of us kind of struggle with this, because you do hear about “I only eat once or twice a day.” Some of the big icons like Dominic D’Agostino. So I think people are really confused by this but I like to go back to the published research and look at [00:36:45] [indiscernible] and things. And from what I’ve read –and there’s obviously variances and nuances – but breakfast eaters generally tend to have better glycaemic response, better blood sugar regulation and lipid relation and tend to eat less later in the day. And…
Tommy: And that’s despite eating breakfast, the kind of breakfast…
Mike: It could be a muffin.
Tommy: Yeah it could be bagels and orange juice, yeah.
Mike: Right, it was like one particular study I remember, it was a croissant. And you can say “Oh there’s butter in croissants, so that’s why.” It’s a lot of refined flour but people versus fasting and croissant, the croissant eaters had better blood sugar regulation which is totally crazy and counter-intuitive. So I think there is something – and I know Jason Fung would probably disagree – there is something special about breakfast. And again, it’s individual and all that. Some people do really well not eating breakfast but I tend to – this is just me, kind of an ectomorph phenotype whatever – I tend to get cold if I don’t and like a little…just I feel weak when I don’t.
So I tend to compress everything earlier. And this goes back to when I was bike racing and got my CAT2 card and whatever on the road. It was eat early, train early, sleep early. I was kind of the model and a lot of competitive bike racers and athletes, they know that. People that are doing bodybuilding, they eat dinner early because the longer… and you sleep better too. So that’s what I personally do but it really depends too on what I’m doing too. If I’m traveling, things like that – because sometimes eating breakfast can take a little time and I won’t do it. But generally I feel better and so I think for people, don’t just do what the guru does, really try and do a little split test and see what works for you.
Tommy: Yeah in terms of that more morning based approach, the person I think it talks the most about – at least as I see – is a guy called Raymond Edwards. He’s got the optimal ketogenic living group that’s on Facebook, they might have a website too but basically he talks about finishing most of your meals by sort of 1 in the afternoon. And then they also talk about fasting. So if you…whatever period of time you fast for, you should then eat in terms of days because how many days you’re fasting, then eat for 3 times as many days after that.
Sort of get the refeeding, get the benefit because there’s kind of…there’s a seesaw there, isn’t there, between…When you fast, you break down. That can have a lot of benefits but then you also need to build it back up. And this goes back to what you were saying earlier about being on a strict ketogenic diet maybe with the meal timing you had, you couldn’t quite keep the same mass or strength you did before.
Tommy: So how have you kind of balanced all that to try and achieve whatever physical goal it is that you have versus maybe like a long term health goal?
Mike: Yeah and I think what you just said right there, sometimes those are not always the same. Like I do have this internal grapple with like…okay so is eating higher protein and higher calories in general and training hard and sometimes I get a little tired. Like is that congruent with optimal aging and longevity? Probably not but there’s something about it that just feels psychologically satisfying, right.
Like being able to know that you have strength to go to the gym and do these different things. So you’re actually being kind of influenced in seeing – this was low carb USA last year, so I remember Jason Fung provided a really compelling argument about why you may not preferentially catabolize muscle when you do short term fast and so forth, and all the benefits there. So I started really experimenting with that and noticed “Wow this is great, I’m not that hungry anymore and my ketones are way higher” and I was kind of myopically focused on higher is better kind of thing.
Tommy: Which always happens when you first sort of get into…yeah.
Mike: Checking all the time, like “Oh cool, everything is really good” and then kind of losing the [00:40:20] [indiscernible]. And so I didn’t realize it, but then my friends were like “What are you doing? You look really skinny, really gaunt.” At the gym I was just weak. So then I felt like maybe at a cellular level, my [00:40:33] [indiscernible] were longer, but I looked older. In the sense I just looked skinny and I felt skinny and felt weak, and so for me I was like that’s not what I want to be doing. So now I’m a little bit heavier but I definitely have carbohydrates around exercise and not worry too much about it. And I’m not any fatter. I haven’t done any fat testing but my pants still…they haven’t changed.
I think that’s the biggest thing, its waist circumference. You can really tell when you gain weight or when you eat like crap or don’t exercise, your pants are tighter. At least for me, and I think a lot of people feel the same way. So haven’t changed that way but just a lot…feels stronger for me, which is good. So going back to the context, like does cancer run in my family? No. I’m 34 years old so do I need to worry about these age related diseases? Probably not. So I can still kind of do a modified ketogenic bodybuilding style diet lifestyle and be okay. And then maybe when I’m 60 or whatever, then really do some of the fasting and what not.
Tommy: But equally it’s really important that you maintain that strength because squatting strength, ability to get yourself up off the floor without…there was that test for…predicts your mortality really closely. If you sit cross-legged on the floor, if you can get up without touching your hands on anything. So having that flexibility and strength is one of the best predictors of mortality. So I mean you can start restricting protein because [00:41:48] [indiscernible] protein causes cancer and you can start fasting all the time because Jason Fung thinks you should fast. But if you lose that squat strength – fall and break a hip – you’re in real trouble.
Mike: Yeah totally, that’s a really good point.
Tommy: I do think you need to balance that and part of the fasting piece which is particularly key to context is yes, you don’t burn muscle tissue with extended fast over 3 plus days, because the body adapts. Particularly really beneficial people with high body fat but when you’re somebody who’s lean, you just don’t have that fat to keep you alive. So then you do start catabolizing muscle. So as somebody who’s very lean, those longer fasts do have the potential to have that negative effect.
Mike: That’s brilliant. I did not know that or think about that but that makes a lot of sense.
Tommy: That’s an important thing I know that you nail them down and Jason Fung will say that he doesn’t think athletes should fast for long periods of time. But when he’s dealing with people who are 400 pounds, have a fasting blood sugar of 300 and they’re going to lose a foot, then fasting is absolutely the best thing for them. So just depends on where you’re coming from.
Mike: Yeah, good point.
Tommy: This has been a great conversation and I just have 3 questions left. The first one is what’s your morning routine?
Mike: Yeah really good question. So it’s kind of changed with the chickens and things like that but I think it’s really interesting. Like the closer we get to our food, the better I think we all are in having – I’m not going to say lifestyle – but you know we have 11 chickens. So forces me like I would get morning…like to walk my dogs and things, but sometimes I’ll have my coffee, I’ll do my [00:43:14] [indiscernible] and then I’ll meditate. Then it’s raining, like “Ah I’ll walk the dogs later” kind of thing.
So I realized that I wasn’t doing things that I preach a lot with the circadian rhythm stuff. But having small pieces of land and crops and things like that and chickens has really forced me to get outside first thing in the morning – check on them, make sure they’re good. Give them water, change their food, they get crap all over the place. They crap in their own water, it’s gross. But so yeah, I take care of the chickens, get the coffee going. Sit down, have my meditation cushion. Over there I use the inside meditation timer to 20 minutes. If it’s not too cold, I like to open up.
I found to turn down the monkey mind is to open up windows and doors so you can hear the birds. Focus on the birds or some sort of sound is good, and turn off any distractions. Like the heater is going on and off and on and off, it annoys me so I just turn that off. Make my coffee and then come back and I have this journal I read – affirmations and goals, and connect with people like yourself. Like who comes to mind? Charles [00:44:06] [indiscernible] or whatever. Just write names down, things I’m grateful for. Because I realize we can kind of ruminate over things in the past or whatever.
So if you just focus on being grateful, really helps first thing in the morning. And then I like to play with my daughter, get her on her bike, stuff like that – play with the dogs. Yeah so that’s kind of it. When I travel, I can’t do all that because I do travel a fair amount so it’s a little tough and don’t get the deep sleep unfortunately.
Tommy: So how do you know that? Do you track that sleep?
Mike: With the sleep cycle it’s just subjective feedback. I know that I wake up and have like a mild headache and I don’t remember…so every time my room is like a dungeon here, it gets really black. Like if I need to get up and look for something, it’s hard. You can’t even do it. But when you travel, it’s still variable and so I rarely remember my dreams and I notice that when I come back from a trip, I can make it through a busy week but it’s like I’m a little tired and definitely need naps and things like that to function optimally. And then I end up sleeping in a lot on the weekends. But when I’m here, I can do well if I’m not working out too much. You know on 7 hours, no issue.
Tommy: Does food quality in terms of traveling, does that play into that too? Does that change or can you stay pretty strict and then the food is sort of a constant variable when you’re travelling?
Mike: Yeah I stay pretty strict. I know where every wholefoods and natural grocery store. Unless you’re really healthy, you probably don’t want to travel with me because that’d be annoying. Because we have a wholefoods or natural food store like exclusively. Unless we’re out with people and then I’ll like eat all the vegetables I can beforehand because I know we’re probably not going to have that much at the restaurant or something. So yeah, food might change a little bit but it’s usually…again it’s like triple washed instead of my garden vegetables so there’s that microbial difference potentially. But it’s pretty clean, I don’t deviate from that much.
Tommy: Okay cool. Then next question, stuck on a desert island. What’s the one food or nutrient that you would take with you? You probably heard 100 plus answers to this question, so vitamin D and omega 3 is covered. So what would you take?
Mike: I would take kimchi or fermented foods. Yeah just because just have a starter and have it down there. I think there may be turmeric on the island, you can grow turmeric in some of these – like Hawaii, right. It likes this kind of environment, so yeah I would say turmeric if it wasn’t for the fermented foods. I think there’s so many health benefits to that and I could probably sprout my broccoli seeds there. I’ve got a lot covered but I would want to bring along a lot of kimchi because I’m not very good at making that. I don’t feel quite comfortable yet.
Tommy: So a few years supply of kimchi washes up onto the shore with you.
Mike: I’d be good.
Tommy: Awesome. Alright and then you’re started in an elevator with some politician or somebody of influence. What are you going to tell them or talk to them about to try and maybe influence them to influence a greater number of people?
Mike: Yeah well that’s a really good question. It’s something that I want to eventually start doing. Like we have so much land that we’re not using, like in various cities. Why aren’t we planting vegetables there? This was really reinforced in me when I was traveling to Baltimore to actually interview Amy Burker recently. Right near a plot where you can do community garden beds, this guy’s spraying this [00:01:3147:02] [indiscernible]. Just to prevent the weeds from growing through the sidewalk. I’m like man that is just…so to really answer your question specifically, if we can train our…because the intercity communities, there’s not a lot of money. That’s where those individuals, they don’t have access to wholefoods or money.
So it’s the convenience store buying processed food, the dollar store save on, whatever. So if we can…and we can get the kids closer to the food. So if we can create community based shared gardens and things like that. They have these all over Canada, you go to Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary – I’ve travelled quite a bit in Canada. Going to go to the UK in May so I’m curious to see how things are out there. But such an easy way to lower our greenhouse footprint, get people closer to food, easier access and cheaper access to the vegetables.
Because the big argument that if you talk to someone who works at a big food company – Tyson or Mon Santo. We can’t feed the world sustainably without using these chemicals and genetically modified ingredients. And I would argue that yeah we can at how we’re doing things. We rely on wholefoods all the time. Like if everyone could only go to wholefoods, they wouldn’t have enough. But people back in the day in communities, they would grow their own stuff. So we need to get back to that. I think it’s really key. And just having my daughter exposed to that, so she’s composting. She’s got the chickens and whatever.
Her knowledge and awareness and just overall…she’s more mindful about throwing things away and doing things like that. So I think its key and it’d be healthier for our kids, our immune system. So many kids now, like they get…I see this on playdates and stuff with my daughter. Kids get a little dirty and it’s “Oh let’s wash your hands” and all that. Whereas Inez is playing with chicken poop and I’m not even worried. I’m like “Cool this is [00:48:45] [indiscernible] your immune system. Yeah so that’s a long winded way of…to summarize, make community gardening a real deal. Allocate money. It doesn’t take a lot, 2 by 4s you could have people…just 2 by 4s and compost and you can have a bed going.
Tommy: Yeah that’s a really awesome idea. I think there are so many places…I just heard about how Detroit just got its first grocery stores back like after 30 years of not having a single grocery store. So in this community – this big city – expecting anybody to do any better and also socioeconomic status and lots of people on food stamps and stuff like getting them access to vegetables [00:49:22] [indiscernible] would be awesome if somebody did it.
Mike: Well so the people are doing it. I was in Detroit in September, I saw 2 big community garden centres and they were active. And I actually walked in. I don’t know if I was supposed to but I took a picture on my Instagram to show people like even in Detroit. So right outside – this is like the downtown corner, I don’t know very well – where the baseball field and all that stuff. So this is where at least one of them, this big gardening centre right in the middle of the hood. I mean I wouldn’t want to be there at night, I felt…it was a Monday morning at 7 a.m. and the sun was up. So I was so excited that there’s collards growing and some broccoli and a few other things. Like this is cool even in Detroit.
Tommy: Right so maybe it is…
Tommy: [00:50:05] [indiscernible] time to get accelerated. Well I mean this has been great. So maybe you can tell people about where they can find you, where to listen to your podcast or your YouTube videos or buy your book or some of that.
Mike: Sure. Yeah I would say I forgot one small health tip that you asked me about, about all these people mouth taping at night before bed. I want to highlight that, I learned that from Dr Mark Brehena. Are you familiar with this?
Tommy: I don’t think so.
Mike: Okay it’s a really good way to prevent mouth breathing while you’re sleeping. So you just tape your mouth with [00:50:31] [indiscernible] tape. It forces you to breathe through your nose. And interestingly – the data’s still emerging but it really fosters a deep, more restful sleep and it prevents a mild [00:50:41] [indiscernible]. So that’s like the number 1 health tip outside of the circadian.
Tommy: I’ve got to try that.
Mike: I have [00:50:45] [indiscernible] tape, I’ll give it to you before you leave. Yeah people, if they want to connect with me online, I’m pretty active on YouTube. Trying to do 2 videos a week, so that’s High Intensity Health. And Facebook, pretty active as well – Mike Mutzel on Instagram. So yeah that’s kind of the platform. I like to comment back as much as I can and engage with people and share my story and learn so much from people that listen to these different podcasts when they’re driving their car, walking their dog, whatever. It’s fun to connect with everyone. So yeah, if you guys want to connect, I’d love to work with you.
Tommy: Also I’ve had a number of people actually say that there’s so many podcasts out there now, I’ve hears a number of people specifically mention yours as one they still follow. So it’s definitely worth doing.
Mike: Thank you, appreciate that.
Tommy: This has been great Mike, thank you so much.
Mike: My pleasure, a lot of fun.
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