Mastering Nutrition

Hi, I'm Chris Masterjohn and I have a PhD in Nutritional Sciences. I am an entrepreneur in all things fitness, health, and nutrition. In this show I combine my scientific expertise with my out-of-the-box thinking to translate complex science into new, practical ideas that you can use to help yourself on your journey to vibrant health. This show will allow you to master the science of nutrition and apply it to your own life like a pro.
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Mastering Nutrition



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Jun 24, 2017

In this episode, I weigh in on the American Heart Association's new Presidential Advisory and Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease, and all the headlines that have been spinning on the supposed risks of coconut oil.

This episode is brought to you by US Wellness Meats. I use their liverwurst as a convenient way to make a sustainable habit of eating a diversity of organ meats. They also have a milder braunschweiger and an even milder head cheese that gives you similar benefits, as well as a wide array of other meat products, all from animals raised on pasture. Head to and enter promo code “Chris” at checkout to get a 15% discount on any order that is at least 7 pounds and is at least $75 after applying the discount but under 40 pounds (it can be 39.99 lbs, but not 40). You can use this discount code not once, but twice!

The show notes for this episode can be found at

In this episode, you will find all of the following and more:

03:55 The recent headlines on coconut oil

04:52 The American Heart Association’s new Presidential Advisory, “Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease” is not centrally about coconut oil, but it laments its the popularity of coconut oil.

07:10 This is a position paper reinforcing the conventional view about saturated fat as the stance against it within the scientific community has begun to soften around the edges. The 2015 dietary guidelines and the 2016 Ramsden paper reflect that softening.

14:39 The inclusion and exclusion criteria of the “4 core trials” of the AHA meta-analysis

16:38 The 4 core trials

17:00 The Finnish Mental Hospitals Study makes the largest contribution to the AHA conclusion but was not a randomized controlled trial and doesn’t belong in this list.

23:44 The Oslo Diet-Heart Study was included and made a contribution, yet other trials were excluded on the basis of confounding that were far less confounded than Oslo.

27:38 The LA Veterans Administration Hospital Study showed that a vitamin E-deficient diet makes you vulnerable to the heart disease-promoting effects of smoking, and that vegetable oils cause more cancer than cigarettes.

36:41 The Medical Research Council study showed a trend toward a benefit of soybean oil that was not statistically significant. Lack of heat damage to the fats in the diet, coenzyme Q10, and omega-6/omega-3 balance could have played a role in the trend.

41:12 Exclusion of Rose 1965 and Minnesota Coronary Survey from the “4 core trials” was fair.

42:33 Controversy over the possible contribution of trans fats to the results of the Sydney Diet Heart Study. But this as a basis for exclcusion could have excluded the LA Veterans Administration Hospital Study as well.

47:59 The impact of including or excluding MRC and Sydney shows how the conclusions are driven not by the cumulative data but on the qualitative decisions about which studies to include.

52:02 The observational studies are hopelessly confounded by popular campaigns about the heart-healthiness of replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat.

56:08 The experiments in monkeys using lard, palm oil, and dietary cholesterol to bring their plasma cholesterol to 300-400 mg/dL.

58:33 The oxidation of lipoproteins drives atherosclerosis and polyunsaturated fats drive the oxidation. This is embraced by the leading conventional thinkers.

1:06:00 The AHA position on coconut oil is based on its effect on LDL-C, explicitly arguing in favor of ignoring its effects on HDL-C, and explicitly acknowledging the complete absence of clinical evidence.

1:13:12 Coconut oil has benefits unrelated to heart disease, such as the antimicrobial (antifungal and antibacterial) effects of lauric, capric, and caprylic acids, and the increased energy expenditure and decreased appetite caused by capric and caprylic acids.

1:17:00 Coconut oil could protect against heart disease due to its low polyunsaturated fat content.

1:19:32 Traditional Pacific island diets were far higher in saturated fat than the standard American diet, yet heart disease was absent.

1:22:09 The Tokelau Migrant Study showed that the freedom from heart disease on Tokelau, where coconut consumption pushed saturated fat over 50% of calories, was not due to genetics or age.

May 7, 2017

In episode 40, I explain why glutathione survives digestion and can be absorbed intact, and why supplementing with it or eating it in foods helps support your health.


My recommended supplements: Jarrow Reduced Glutathione and Core Med Science Optimized Liposomal Glutathione. In most cases, save money by trying Jarrow first.

Use the discount code from this episode to sign up for Masterclass With Masterjohn Pro with a $20/year lifetime discount, offer ending May 13.

This episode is a companion to Consuming Glutathione in Foods and Supplements, which has a searchable database of glutathione in 285 foods.

This episode is brought to you by US Wellness Meats. I use their liverwurst as a convenient way to make a sustainable habit of eating a diversity of organ meats. They also have a milder braunschweiger and an even milder head cheese that gives you similar benefits, as well as a wide array of other meat products, all from animals raised on pasture. Head to and enter promo code “Chris” at checkout to get a 15% discount on any order that is at least 7 pounds and is at least $75 after applying the discount but under 40 pounds (it can be 39.99 lbs, but not 40). You can use this discount code not once, but twice!

In this episode, you will find all of the following and more:

0:00:38  Cliff Notes

0:08:22  What is glutathione and why is it important?

0:13:33 Special Masterclass With Masterjohn Pro discount for Mastering Nutrition listeners

0:20:10  Why does glutathione survive digestion?

0:20:50  How is glutathione absorbed intact?

0:35:48  Evidence for intact absorption of glutathione

0:36:00  Oral glutathione increases tissue glutathione in animals when glutathione synthesis is blocked with BSO.

0:38:12  Glutathione crosses CACO-2 monolayers, a model of human intestinal absorption, even when glutathione breakdown is inhibited with acivicin and glutathione synthesis is inhibited with BSO.

0:39:25  Isotopically labeled glutathione fed to mice enriches labeled glutathione in liver and red blood cell with no signs of the label in glutathione digestion products.

0:40:30 Glutathione supplements increase glutathione status in humans.

0:41:10  Caveats and contrary evidence.

0:48:15  What form of supplement (sublingual, liposomal, regular) is best?

0:56:10  What are the best specific supplements?

0:58:10  What dose should you use, and how should you know if you should use it?

0:58:43 Anecdote: 1 gram of glutathione relieves laughing-induced wheezing. 

1:02:50  Glutathione in foods: reduced glutathione, total glutathione, glutathione-reactive substances, net glutathione

1:08:25  Glutathione content foods is not the be-all end-all of whether a food boosts glutathione status or whether it's healthy, but it's notable and important.

Apr 9, 2017

Episode 39 is a panel discussion between me and three panel members who are either finishing medical school now or are recent graduates of medical school. We discuss the current state of nutrition in medical school, whether and how it should change, what doctors and future doctors should do to obtain a deep understanding of nutrition, and what patients should do to obtain high-quality, nutritionally focused medical care.

The panel:

Clayton Dalton received his MD from Columbia Medical School and is now a resident physician in emergency medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Leland Stillman received his MD from the University of Virginia and will complete his residency in internal medicine at Maine Medical Center in July of 2017.

Rob Abbot is a 4th-year medical student at University of Virginia and will be starting a family medicine residency with Virginia Commonwealth University in June of 2017.

This episode is brought to you by US Wellness Meats. Head to and enter "Chris" at checkout to get 15% off your order as long as the final price is over $75 and you order fewer than 40 pounds of meat. You can use "Chris" to get the same discount twice.

In this episode, you will find all of the following and more:

00:38 I introduce the panel to you in my own words. 07:39 The panel members introduce themselves to you in their words and tell you how they got interested in nutrition. 14:35 Everything in our body is made from our food. So is there a difference between learning “nutrition” and learning how everything in the body works? Does the biochemistry, physiology, and molecular biology learned in medical school count as learning nutrition? 17:13 Triage theory: you can learn every pathway, but if you don’t learn how they’re prioritized in suboptimal nutrient status, you haven’t learned useful nutrition. 24:34 The deficiency of clinical relevance and connections between clinical and basic science material. 26:58 Is teaching less the key to teaching deeper? 30:50 Is the purpose of the medical prerequisites and curricula to sort people rather than teach useful information? 32:12 It’s just harder to teach in a way that connects the dots. 36:03 My upcoming class on energy metabolism. 37:23 Are rare metabolic diseases (inborn errors of metabolism) really irrelevant?  39:29 Is the medical diagnostic paradigm too binary? Should we be looking at disease and health on a continuum instead?  47:56 Wildly misaligned economic incentives take the focus off nutrition. 53:15 In order to avoid burdening patients with unnecessary worry, we often withhold information. But this often hurts our collective pool of knowledge by hampering critical research and impairs our ability to help people. 1:06:38 Nutrition in medical school is abysmal, but do we need more and better nutrition education in medical school, a separate type of medical degree for primary care that focuses on nutrition, or more collaboration between physicians and others (for example, dietitians) who specialize in nutrition? 1:14:57 Empowering patients with mobile apps and other digital technology, providing real-time information in the context of a backlogged medical system. 1:24:14 What should a medical doctor, medical student, or future medical student do now to gain a practically useful understanding of nutrition?  1:34:08 Disciplines are fragmented and isolated, and desperately need to be connected. 1:38:36 Social media will be the next game-changer in medical education. 1:42:00 How to think about a patient’s nutritional status. 1:44:22 Selenium as an example of where testing can help you navigate equal probabilities of help and harm with supplementation. 1:45:03 Testing nutritional status is valuable because knowledge that a choice is necessary makes the choice more sustainable. 1:48:02 What should patients be doing to get good nutritionally focused medical care? 2:02:05 How you can find the panel members.

Mar 19, 2017

If you're concerned about your cholesterol, or confused about what to do, this episode is for you. In this episode, I list the four key factors that control blood cholesterol levels and outline the simplest dietary or lifestyle changes we can make to have the biggest impact.

This episode is brought to you by US Wellness Meats. Head to and enter "Chris" at checkout to get 15% off your order as long as the final price is over $75 and you order fewer than 40 pounds of meat. You can use "Chris" to get the same discount twice.

In this episode, you will find all of the following and more: 

00:33 Cliff notes; 09:22 Targeting the low-hanging fruit; 11:50  The total-to-HDL-C ratio as a fingerprint of low LDL receptor activity; 13:20  Other markers such as particle size, particle count, and ApoB as fingerprints of low LDL receptor activity; 16:30  The four factors that control the LDL receptor; 18:50  Intracellular free cholesterol (effects of dietary fiber, cholestyramine, statins, and polyunsaturated fatty acids or PUFAs); 20:37  Thyroid hormone (effects of micornutrients, body fat, and carbohydrate intake); 23:50  Insulin (via PCSK9, effects of the fasting-feeding cycle and carbohydrate intake); 27:00  Inflammation (via PCSK9, effects of acute infection and chronic inflammation); 29:15  Practical approaches to maximizing LDL receptor activity; 29:22  Nutrient-dense whole food diets; 34:00  Thyroid disorder; 37:15   Adrenal stress, circadian stress, inflammatory stress; 39:05  Insulin resistance, body composition, and fatty liver disease; 42:00  Weight loss will improve insulin sensitivity, and for many a low-carb diet is a tool to achieve that, but in an insulin-sensitive person, carbohydrate stimulation of insulin has a powerful beneficial effect on LDL receptor activity; 46:20  Inflammation and PCSK9; 47:00  C-Reactive Protein levels, body composition, diet quality, and exercise; 49:25  Replacing fat with carbohydrate.


Mar 11, 2017

In this episode, I explain how to come up with a good question, obtain the background information you need, find research, obtain full texts, organize them, read the different sections of a paper to get the right kind of value out of it, and critically analyze the study design. If you're a beginner, this is really designed for you. If you're more advanced, you'll enjoy the specific examples I give of problems interpreting research studies.

This episode is brought to you by US Wellness Meats. Head to and enter "Chris" at checkout to get 15% off your order as long as the final price is over $75 and you order fewer than 40 pounds of meat. You can use "Chris" to get the same discount twice.

In this episode, you will find all of the following and more:

0:06:15  How to develop a good question; 0:09:30  How to use pubmed and Google Scholar; 0:11:50  Why and how to use MeSH terms (medical subject headings); 0:16:50  5 ways to get full-texts for free that are totally legal; 0:24:35  How Sci-Hub will facilitate the technological evolution of research distribution and the Spotify-ication of the science publication industry; 0:32:45  How to organize science papers to prevent wasted time and frustration later; 0:34:40  Reference management software; 0:36:35  The anatomy of a science paper; how you should approach each section and what you can learn from it; 0:46:45  Peer review makes discussions within papers more objective; how a scathing peer review from six years ago continues to influence how I teach hormesis today; 0:55:30  Acquiring background information with textbooks; 0:57:35  Specific textbook recommendations; 1:05:15  What you need to do before developing your own point of view; 1:10:30  Strengths and limitations of different study designs; 1:13:47  Observational versus experimental studies and the tradeoffs of context, size, and duration with strength of cause-and-effect inferences; 1:16:50  The central role of randomization in experimental studies; 1:19:20  Randomization needs a high sample size to be effective; 1:21:07  Example: Finnish Mental Hospital Study; 1:22:50  Example: LA Veterans Administration Hospital Study; 1:25:50  Regression to the mean; how a study can show something to be true when it’s completely false; change-from-baseline data versus differences-between-groups data; 1:35:45  The need for a control group: Atkins and methylglyoxal study as an example 1:37:35  Compared to what? Picking the right control group; 1:41:50  The generalizability tradeoff: in vitro and in vivo, animal and human, sex, race, and other population differences; 1:46:47  Contextual patterns determine outcome 1:47:50  Thailand zinc/vitamin A study as an example of nutrient interactions; 1:56:20  Do your homework, assume good faith, ask questions.

Mar 4, 2017

Do you want beautiful, flawless, radiantly healthy skin? Want to stay healthy during cold season? Want to eat that bagel without your blood sugar spiking through the roof? Then it's time to think about zinc.

Zinc is critical to every aspect of our biology, but the first things to go when we run low are our skin health, our immune system, and our glucose tolerance. Zinc, moreover, is critical to antioxidant defense, so should be considered broadly protective against all of the degenerative diseases that occur with aging.

Wait, are you too young to care about aging? No problem. You at least want healthy skin, great sex, or a lean physique, so listen up.

Zinc-rich foods are harder to come by then you'd think. Nutritional databases can be wildly inaccurate if you don't adjust for inhibitors of zinc absorption in natural foods. And zinc supplements can be valuable, but they're not a panacea. In fact, used wrongly, they can quickly induce a deficiency of copper and other minerals that are just as critical to your health. 

The show notes can be found at They contain recommendations for specific supplements.

This episode is brought to you by Kettle and Fire Bone Broth. Use the link to get $10 off your first order.

This episode is also brought to you by US Wellness Meats. Head to and enter "Chris" at checkout to get 15% off your order as long as the final price is over $75 and you order fewer than 40 pounds of meat. You can use "Chris" to get the same discount twice.

In this episode, you'll find all of the following and more: 

0:00:35 Cliff Notes; 11:40 The discovery of zinc deficiency on diets of whole wheat bread with small amounts of milk and potatoes, a quarter pound of clay, and no meat: dry skin, hypogonadism, lack of secondary sex characteristics, short stature, frequent infections; 17:25 The biochemical and physiological roles of zinc; 19:00 structural roles of zinc, with an emphasis on zinc finger motifs; interactions with vitamins A and D, thyroid hormone, adrenal hormones, and sex hormones 24:07 Catalytic roles of zinc, including the RNA polymerases that make it necessary for the production of every single thing in the body; 26:30 Interactions with vitamin A, from transport via retinol-binding protein (RBP) through activation by alcohol dehydrogenases to retinal and retinoic acid through creating vision via rhodopsin and regulating gene transcription via DNA-binding of the retinoic acid receptor; 29:20 Regulatory roles of zinc 32:25 Zinc and oxidative stress (necessity for hydrogen peroxide production in the thyroid gland and immune phagocytes, zinc release from zinc-thiolate clusters; protective effects of metallothionein exchanging zinc for other metals; negative effects of uncoupling of endothelial nitric oxide synthase [eNOS] on blood vessel function and oxidative stress; 42:45 Regulation at the cellular level (metallothionein, MT; ZIP and ZnT transporters) 44:20 Regulation of metallothionein (metal transcription factor-1 [MTF-1] through the metal response element [MRE] controlled primarily by zinc but also heavy metals, antioxidant response element [ARE] via Nrf1 and Nrf2, which provides regulation by oxidative stress and copper, glucocorticoid response element [GRE] which provides regulation by adrenal hormones and inflammation; 53:40 What happens when we eat zinc (effects of phyate, amino acids, calcium, organic acids, and iron) 1:01:00 Plasma zinc and the exchangeable zinc pool 1:06:00 Factors that affect plasma zinc status (variation according to meals, diurnal variation, stress, inflammation, menstruation) 1:10:25 Causes and effects of deficiency 1:14:20 Variations in soil zinc; 1:15:40 Balance of animal protein and phytate in the diet 1:19:00 Causes and effects of toxicity (especially with respect to copper deficiency) 1:27:20 What is the best marker of zinc status? 1:29:45 Plasma zinc as a marker of zinc nutritional status; 1:37:00 Copper deficiency markers as the most sensitive markers of zinc excess 1:38:10 Dietary strategies (animal foods, especially oysters, red meat, and cheese; soaking, sprouting, and fermenting to neutralize phytate) 1:40:35 Zinc supplementation on a plant-based diet (especially relevant to vegan diets but also to vegetarian diets) 1:42:25 Supplementation of zinc (what form? Citrate, acetate, gluconate, picolinate, oxide? What dose? When to take it?) 1:44:35  Recommendations for timing of diet and supplements across the day for best absorption 1:47:00 Wrapping up

Feb 18, 2017

Selenium is critically essential to the defense against oxidative stress and to thyroid hormone metabolism. Soil concentrations cause so much variability in the selenium content of foods that any two of us could be eating the same diet and one of us could have too little selenium and the other too much. That makes it essential to understand how to measure and manage our nutritional status. In episode 35, I continue the series on managing nutritional status by teaching you how to do just that.

The show notes for this episode are found at They contain recommendations about foods and supplements.

This episode is brought to you by Kettle and Fire Bone Broth. Use the link to get $10 off your first order.

This episode is also brought to you by US Wellness Meats. Head to and enter "Chris" at checkout to get 15% off your order as long as the final price is over $75 and you order fewer than 40 pounds of meat. You can use "Chris" to get the same discount twice.

In this episode, you will find all of the following and more: 0:00:34  Introducing the new name, Mastering Nutrition; 0:01:00 Cliff Notes; 0:10:55  My story with selenium deficiency: white spots in fingernails and frequent colds; 0:14:14  Soil variation plays a major role in selenium deficiency and toxicity; 0:18:40  Biological roles of selenium (antioxidant protection, immunity, thyroid health, through glutathione peroxidases and thyroid deiodinases, control of protein function through thioredoxin reductase, other poorly understood roles); 0:29:00  Signs of deficiency (vulnerability to viral infection and other infection, hepatic cirrhosis, white fingernails that can fall out, cardiac insufficiency and enlargement of the heart with fibrosis and necrosis as occurs in Keshan disease, increased vulnerability to vitamin E deficiency, iron overload, and toxin exposure) 0:39:45 Signs of toxicity (hepatic cirrhosis, white spots and streaks in brittle fingernails, loss of hair and nails, additional signs in acute toxicity from mistakes in supplement manufacture); 0:43:45  Optimizing between deficiency and toxicity: Hashimoto's thyroiditis and cancer; 0:49:00  Different forms of selenium in plant and animal foods; 0:49:38  How selenomethionine from plants is metabolized to selenocysteine; 0:55:10  How selenocysteine from animal foods enters as selenocysteine; 0:55:30  How selenocysteine is converted to selenide for incorporation into selenoproteins; 0:56:25  How inorganic selenite and selenate are converted to selenide using glutathione; 1:01:46  Markers of nutritional status (selenoprotein P, glutathione peroxidase, selenium concentration of various body tissues with an emphasis on plasma and serum but including other blood fractions, hair, and nails) 1:12:53 Ideal ranges of markers; 1:16:42  Dietary requirements and how to meet them with food (organ meats and offal, seafood, Brazil nuts, bioavailability issues in seafood, mushrooms, and cruciferous vegetables); 1:26:45 Why methyl-selenocysteine is not a substitute for selenocysteine and why selenomethionine is the best currently available option for a supplement; 1:28:13  The proper dose of a supplement; 1:35:07  Things we will learn in the future: implications of needing methylation to both utilize enough selenium and detoxify excess; interactions with glutathione and antioxidant system; selenoprotein P becoming commercially available to health care practitioners and individuals; the rise of novel markers as we learn more about the poorly understood selenoproteins 1:37:10  Wrapping Up

Feb 16, 2017

This is a quick note to let you know that I changed the name of the show from "The Daily Lipid" to "Mastering Nutrition" and to explain why I did it.

Feb 10, 2017

Stephan Guyenet made a book! The Hungry Brain is available now, and in episode 34, Stephan and I talk all about it.

Stephan is a long-time friend and colleague. He has a PhD in neuroscience, and studies the role of the brain in controlling the food we eat and the other behaviors we engage in that affect our body composition and risk of obesity. His book lays out how the brain makes these decisions and what we can do to outsmart these deeply rooted instincts in today's challenging environment.

We begin by talking about what makes us fat, why we are now fatter than ever, why our environment affects some of us so much more strongly than others, and what we can do about it on both an individual and societal level. Then we move on to the book: what you can get out of reading it, why Stephan decided to write it, and the process he used during the three years of research, writing, and publication. In the last part, I get Stephan's advice for people who want to follow a similar career path, and ask Stephan how he sees his career evolving now that he's left academia but has stayed so intimately involved with science.

You can find the shownotes for this episode at

This episode is brought to you by US Wellness Meats. Head to and enter "Chris" at checkout to get 15% off your order as long as the final price is over $75 and you order fewer than 40 pounds of meat. You can use "Chris" to get the same discount twice.

This episode is also brought to you by Kettle and Fire Bone Broth. Use the link to get $10 off your first order.

In this episode you will find all of the following and more:

0:35 Introduction, Stephan’s bio, overview of the interview; 1:00 Why do we get fat and why are we fatter than ever before? 13:00 Teasing apart increased food intake from decreased physical activity; 15:53 If the Hadza (hunter-gatherers in Tanzania) don’t have higher energy expenditure than we do, why are they so lean? 19:03 Food reward hit our society after a long decline in physical activity; what happens when high food reward hits a society where physical activity remains high? 22:25 What is the most fattening diet in the world? 28:15 Are effort costs more powerful than exercise? 33:52 The effect of the “built environment,” the effort costs of exercise and the cultural honor we bestow on convenience; 35:17 If our environment has become so obesogenic, how come so many of us are lean? 39:23 In Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, Weston A. Price took hundreds of photos of people all over the globe who ate themselves into very ill health with diets rich in refined flour and refined sugar, yet none of them are fat. Why not? 43:03 What are the most impactful things we can do as individuals to maintain healthy body composition? 46:50 What are the most impactful things we can do as a society to encourage healthy body composition?
48:56 The risks of food taxes and similar political tools, and the risks of inaction.

51:09 Who should read Stephan’s book, “The Hungry Brain,” and what does he hope they’ll get out of it?

53:26 How did he decide to write “The Hungry Brain,” and why did he find the concept so compelling and book-worthy? 55:20 That the brain regulates body fatness seems obvious in retrospect. What hid its obviousness for so long? 59:56 How receptive are nutrition scientists to the food behavior concepts being studied by neuroscientists?

1:02:35 How researching this topic in such depth caused Stephan to recalibrate the evidence and understanding he needs before he would be willing to challenge the perspectives of experts.

1:05:27 A day in the life of writing The Hungry Brain; 1:06:35 How Stephan got experts to talk to him; 1:09:15 How Stephan made the decision to leave academia from his postdoc to write a book rather than pursuing a tenure-track faculty position, and how he sees his career path evolving; 1:12:53 If someone were to follow in Stephan’s footsteps and write a scientifically rigorous book for a general audience, what do they need to lay the foundations for success? Audience building, funding and frugality, time for writing, pitching a proposal, illustrations, keeping the gears of the publishing gears turning, publicity; 1:16:30 How much time did Stephan spend on this? 1:18:15 Managing a book advance 1:19:38 The surprising hurdles of self-employment: will Stephan keep jumping them, or get a job? 

1:20:00 Wrapping up: where people can find the book, where people can find Stephan’s other work.

Stephan has given us all so much for free over so many years. Let's all buy his book!

Feb 3, 2017

In episode 33, we continue the series on assessing and managing nutritional status. This time we talk about copper. Copper deficiency can cause anemia that is very difficult to tell apart from iron-deficiency anemia, osteoporosis, histamine intolerance, high cholesterol, and a variety of mental effects resulting from neurotransmitter imbalances. Serum copper and ceruloplasmin are excellent tools for assessing nutritional status, but are confounded by inflammation, birth control, menopausal status, and hormone replacement therapy, making it necessary to look at the diet, lifestyle, digestive problems, and other factors that make copper deficiency plausible. 

I discuss how to protect yourself from the small risk of copper in your drinking water, and why I think many claims about excess copper outside the context of frank toxicity are misleading.

Everything converges on the practical questions of what to do in these situations.

You can find the show notes to this episode at

This episode is brought to you by Kettle and Fire Bone Broth. Use the link to get $10 off your first order.

This episode is also brought to you by US Wellness Meats. Head to and enter "Chris" at checkout to get 15% off your order as long as the final price is over $75 and you order fewer than 40 pounds of meat. You can use "Chris" to get the same discount twice.

In this episode, you will find all of the following and more:

0.00.35 Cliff Notes; 0.10:25 A case of copper deficiency? 0.14.00 Biochemical and physiological roles of copper (monoamine and diamine oxidases, MAO and DAO, lysyl oxidase, dopamine hydroxylase/beta-monooxygenase, peptidylglycine alpha-amidating monooxygenase, cytochrome C oxidase, superoxide dismutase, ceruloplasmin, hephaestin, metabolism of histamine, tyramine, polyamines, serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, conversion of dopamine to adrenaline, production of neuropeptides such as oxytocin, vasopressin, gastrin, neuropeptide Y, cholecystokinin, collagen synthesis, energy production, prevention of osteoporosis and neutropenia, immune support, cholesterol metabolism, antioxidant defense, mental health, and much more); 0:18:55 Copper's intimate relationship with iron; 0:30:10 What is the best marker of copper status (covers copper in serum, plasma, red and white blood cells, and platelets, ceruloplasmin, and other copper-dependent enzymes); 0:33:38 Effect of inflammation on ceruloplasmin; 0:35:10 Effect of estrogen on ceruloplasmin; 0:43:18 Causes of deficiency  0:43:50 How much copper do we need? 0:43:45 Best food sources; 0:48:30 Variation within food sources according to soil; 0:51:00 Zinc supplementation; 0:51:53 Digestive problems (SIBO, Celiac, antacids, proton pump inhibitors, PPIs, gastric bypass); 1:00:52 How to treat deficiency; 1:02:01 Which form of copper to use (oxide, sulfate, glycinate, etc)? 1:04:10 Toxicity: copper-mediated oxidative stress; 1:05:22 Wilson's Disease; 1:08:15 Infants and copper absorption; 1:11:00 Contribution of water to toxicity; 1:16:50 One case of supplement megadosing leading to liver failure; 1:17:30 Toxicity claims based on serum Cu or serum ZN/CU ratio are not reliable; 1:20:50 Summing up


Jan 27, 2017

In episode 32, I tell the story of my personal story with iron overload, and weigh in on the proper use of blood tests and strategies to manage anemia, hemochromatosis, and everything in between. It's important to realize that these are the extremes, and there is a large middle space where we need to not only manage how much iron we accumulate, but how we direct it away from its disease-promoting roles and into its health-promoting roles.

This is a great primer on iron as well as a source of insights you may not have encountered elsewhere, such as the importance of oxidative stress as an independent regulator of ferritin, and the potential dangers of supplements designed to protect against oxidative stress like milk thistle, Protandim, sulforaphane, and green tea extract, for people at risk of anemia.

You can find the show notes to this episode at

This episode is also brought to you by US Wellness Meats. Head to and enter "Chris" at checkout to get 15% off your order as long as the final price is over $75 and you order fewer than 40 pounds of meat. You can use "Chris" to get the same discount twice.

This episode is brought to you by Kettle and Fire Bone Broth. Use the link to get $10 off your first order.

In this episode, you will find all of the following and more: 0:33 Cliff Notes; 10:30 Introduction; 13:12 My personal story with iron overload; 30:12 The physiological roles of iron: hemoglobin, myoglobin, nitric oxide synthase, iron-sulfur clusters in the cytochromes of the electron transport chain, guanylyl cyclase, thyroid peroxidase (TPO), myeloperoxidase (MPO), oxygen transport, energy and ATP production, cellular regulation, thyroid hormone production, immunity; 38:20 Iron as a source of oxidative stress: free iron, hydrogen peroxide, and the hydroxyl radical, oxidative stress as an independent regulator of ferritin; 41:10 Regulation of iron status;
Ferritin, long-term storage, protector against pathogens, protector against oxidative stress; Transferrin, short-term iron storage; Hepcidin, master coordinator of iron metabolism; HFE, communicator between transferrin and hepcidin; 49:10 Regulation of dietary absorption of plant and animal iron; 51:00 Measuring and assessing iron status: complete blood count (MCH, MCV, RDW, CHr), full iron panel, sensitivity and specificity of transferrin saturation versus ferritin, differential interpretation of ferritin as a marker of iron overload, inflammation, or oxidative stress; 1:11:43 What to do for anemia: differentiate potential causes, iron in foods (heme, nonheme, vitamin C, polyphenols, phytate, calcium), iron in supplements (iron-saturated lactoferrin, heme iron, liposomal iron), avoid Nrf2-stimulating supplements (like Protandim, sulforaphane, milk thistle, green tea extract), importance of followup measurements of ferritin 01:21:03 What to do for iron overload: blood donation, dietary management, phlebotomy, chelation, importance of followup


Jan 26, 2017

In this special interlude, I lay down the framework of the five core principles that make a good marker of nutritional status. This is to lay down the framework for a series of podcasts in the future about managing nutritional status for specific vitamins and minerals.

Since these core principles will be referred back to as a general reference in so many other episodes, this one has a special place outside of the sequence and you can reach it at any time with the easy-to-remember URL

This episode is brought to you by Kettle and Fire Bone Broth. Use the link to get $10 off your first order.

This episode is also brought to you by US Wellness Meats. Head to and enter "Chris" at checkout to get 15% off your order as long as the final price is over $75 and you order fewer than 40 pounds of meat. You can use "Chris" to get the same discount twice.

In this episode, you will find all of the following and more: 37:23 Cliff Notes
09:25 Purpose of this podcast and its place in the upcoming series on managing nutritional status; 11:54 What are the five core principles? 12:05 Principle #1:
We understand its biochemistry and physiology; 15:04 Principle #2: It has been validated against changes in nutritional status; 17:17 Principle #3: Sensitivity; 17:52 Principle #4 Specificity; 19:45 Principle #5: It must be interpreted in the overall context of other markers and the clinical and health history, current signs and symptoms, and diet and lifestyle analysis; 23:20 Example of principle #1: Spectracell vs dp-ucMGP as tests of vitamin K2 status; 27:20 Example of principle #2: 25(OH)D vs. calcitriol; 29:20 Example of principle #3: transferrin saturation vs. ferritin
31:08 Example of principle #4: specificity of 25(OH)D and contexts where its specificity fails; 32:50 Example of principle #5: distinguishing between calcium and vitamin D deficiencies as causes of 25(OH)D by testing PTH, calcitriol, and analyzing the diet and lifestyle; 37:50 Shotgun approaches to nutritional testing; 40:30 Whether to act on leads from shotgun approaches should depend on the risks and other costs of the actions.

Jan 13, 2017

Glutathione is central to recovery from exercise, feeling good, looking good, aging gracefully, and preventing or overcoming both infectious diseases and chronic degenerative diseases. Episode 31 covers everything you need to know about why and how to manage your glutathione status.

This episode is brought to you by Kettle and Fire Bone Broth. Use the link to get $10 off your first order.

This episode is also brought to you by US Wellness Meats. Head to and enter "Chris" at checkout to get 15% off your order as long as the final price is over $75 and you order fewer than 40 pounds of meat. You can use "Chris" to get the same discount twice.

In this episode, you will find all of the following and more: 00:35 Cliff Notes; 10:45  Introducing my new health and wellness packages13:25 The health benefits of glutathione: master antioxidant, central to liver detoxification and the defense against glycation, master controller of hundreds of proteins, mucus fluidity, bronchodilation, anti-aging, protection against diabetes and its complications including cataracts and cardiovascular disease, protection against Hashimoto's thyroiditis and other thyroid disorders, protection against infectious diseases by supporting the immune system's respiratory (oxidative) burst, protection against congestion, COPD, asthma, and other lung problems; 25:15 How to measure glutathione status, the importance of measuring it in both is reduced (GSH) and oxidized disulfide (GSSG) forms, and using those to calculate your redox status using my glutathione redox status calculator30:28 The synthesis, recycling, and regulation of glutathione; 37:00      Practical strategies to improve glutathione status: protein, vitamin B6, carbohydrate, whey protein and raw milk, bone broth and collagen, magnesium, metabolic rate (ATP), polyphenols (e.g. EGCG and other green tea catechins) and other phytonutrients (e.g. sulforaphane) as Nrf2 inducers, glutathione in foods, N-acetyl-cysteine and glutathione supplements, insulin and insulin resistance, MTHFR mutations, glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin, why Jarrow oral glutathione is my current choice of supplement 1:04:24      Tying it all together.

Dec 26, 2016

In episode 30, I talk about the use of zinc lozenges to fight colds. While nutritional zinc does support the immune system and your immunity may benefit from zinc supplements or zinc-rich foods, this has nothing to do with the use of zinc lozenges to kill colds. The science behind their use is strong, but it also suggests that most of the dozens of zinc lozenges on the market are absolutely useless. The only ones I currently use and recommend are Life Extension Enhanced Zinc Lozenges.

This episode is brought to you by Kettle and Fire Bone Broth. Use the link to get $10 off your first order.

This episode is also brought to you by US Wellness Meats. Head to and enter "Chris" at checkout to get 15% off your order as long as the final price is over $75 and you order fewer than 40 pounds of meat. You can use "Chris" to get the same discount twice.

In this episode, you will find all the following and more: 00:37 Cliff notes; 12:55 Zinc status is important to immune function, but that's not what this podcast is about. Nevertheless, I go through basic tips of getting good zinc nutrition; 16:48 My typical use of zinc for colds has missed the point; 18:08 Zinc has to be a lozenge to kill the common cold. In fact, the original discovery of its role in killing the cold was born from a child refusing to swallow a tablet and letting it dissolve in her mouth; 20:15 The main mechanisms by which zinc kills colds; 21:10 Importance of zinc ionization in nasal and adenoid tissue; 23:26      Importance of taking it at the right time (first couple of days of a cold); 27:10 pH of nose and throat tissue, not saliva, is important; 27:55 Gluconate and acetate are effective, but acetate is twice as effective as gluconate; 29:08 Astringency and metallic taste must be present, but are not sufficient; 31:35 Food acids used to cover taste such as citrate or tartrate cannot be present; 34:30 Magnesium cannot be present in a form that ionizes in the nose and throat; 36:30 Time of contact with membranes makes concentration, time to dissolve, and frequency of use important 39:50 Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials; 42:20 Meta-analysis of individual patient data and lack of effect of age, sex, baseline cold severity, allergy status, race, and ethnicity; 44:00 George Eby's model showing a strong correlation between predicted ionic zinc yield and efficacy in RCTs suggests that the right dose of the right formulation taken at the right time in the right way could constitute a true cure of the common cold; 45:45 Only Life Extension Enhanced Zinc Lozenges fit the criteria; 54:13 My story with Life Extension zinc acetate lozenges.

Dec 10, 2016

In this episode, I've extracted from The Ultimate Vitamin K2 Resource the latest developments and elaborated on them for a more in-depth discussion. I begin by telling the story of my 2007 article about Weston Price's activator X, "On the Trail of the Elusive X Factor: Vitamin K2 Revealed." What do I still stand by? What do I see differently? And then I carry us right up through some of the most recent developments as things continue to evolve now.

This episode is brought to you by Kettle and Fire Bone Broth. Use the link to get $10 off your first order.

This episode is also brought to you by US Wellness Meats. Head to and enter "Chris" at checkout to get 15% off your order as long as the final price is over $75 and you order fewer than 40 pounds of meat. You can use "Chris" to get the same discount twice.

In this episode, you'll find all the following and more: 0:09:20 Introducing the Ultimate Vitamin K2 Resource; 0:17:50 The story leading up to the 2007 activator X article; 0:25:10 The division between vitamins K1 (phylloquinone) and K2 (menaquinone) is misleadingly simplistic, from both a chemistry perspective and a health perspective. The discovery of menaquinone-4 (MK-4) as a product of animal synthesis hinted at this a half century ago; the more recent discovery of tetrahydromenaquinones, which chemically fit halfway into each category, makes this clear now; that MK-4 has unique effects on gene expression and that short-chain and long-chain MKs have very different tissue distributions make it clear that different forms of "K2" are at least as different from one another as they are from K1; 0:44:50 The content of vitamin K in some foods may be grossly underestimated because tetrahydro-MKs have been ignored; 0:49:50 MK-10 and MK-11 in pork products. Are they from poop? How bioavailable are they? Do they have specific roles in the mitochondria? 1:14:53 I finally weigh in on MK-4 vs. MK-7 with the long-winded rant it has for so long deserved; 1:26:50 The conversion of other K vitamins to MK-4: we now know that it is not only genetically variable, but it is also epigenetically variable, dependent on zinc and magnesium, and inhibited by lipophilic statins used to treat high cholesterol and nitrogenous bisphosphonates used to treat osteoporosis; 1:33:30 MK-4, gene expression, sex hormones and cancer; 1:41:20    Undercarboxylated osteocalcin: more controversial than it needs to be, but a bone-derived hormone that not only promotes leanness, a high metabolic rate, blood sugar stability, insulin sensitivity, and fertility, but we also now know to be necessary for energy utilization during exercise; 1:55:10 What's the optimal dose of vitamin K2 1:59:28 Uncommon side effects of supplementation and a physiological rationale to explain them. 2:06:40 The minimal effective dose to receive the maximum desired effect.

Nov 23, 2016

Gullermo Ruiz of 3030Strong, a rising soon-to-be ND in the ancestral health community, interviewed me about my decision to leave academia and what I'll be doing to bring you value come January. 

In this episode you can find all the following and more: 17:15 Teaching facts versus teaching skills; 25:55 Good reasons (an inside view of translating research, a career in research), ok reasons (credibility with government, quasi-government, and policy circles) and terrible reasons (credibility in general or with a large audience, interest in the subject) to get a PhD; 34:15 The broken education system 37:45 Elementary school: scant but valuable opportunities to excel; 41:30 The unchallenging, stifling, and oppressive environment of high school; 47:10  the mismatch between ADHD and school; 50:55 Industrialization and the rise of modern schooling 53:55 My experience unschooling (not so much homeschooling) and the influence of John Taylor Gatto and Grace Llewellyn; 1:01:58 Diversity of educational opportunities is key to allowing everyone to thrive; 1:05:18 How I got involved with the Weston A. Price Foundation and nutrition science, and how I wound up with a PhD; 1:16:25 I thrive when solving a new problem, teaching the new solution, and then scaling it; a traditional classroom environment is better suited toward repetitive teaching of what is established, which doesn't feel creative; 1:23:10 The 20th century fragmention of science and the 21st century rise of systems biology and systems thinking; 1:26:40 My business model going forward: consultations, information products, independent research, tech collaborations; 1:36:20 Inspired by Gary Vaynerchuk, why I want to put myself out of business; 1:41:28 Who are my consulting clients 1:45:10 Inspiration and motivation for the path of entrepreneurship 1:48:30 Making the big decision to leave academia

Nov 20, 2016

This is a totally different type of episode. Brady Holmer, a first-year exercise science PhD student, interviews me for career advice. In this episode you can find the following: 11:50 Brady's background in exercise science research; 16:52 Where Brady is now; 18:28 Flow-mediated dilation as a measure of blood vessel function in diabetes and smoking cessation, and the influence of exercise and Vitamin E; 23:00  Brady's expert opinion on whether my CrossFit workout is classified as interval training when I stop to catch my breath; 27:52 Caffeine's effect on exercise physiology and physical performancel; 32:15 How Brady decided to interview one person in his field per month; 33:35 How I discovered Tim Ferris during his work on the 4-Hour Body; 41:10 Brady's selection of interviewees; 42:57 What Brady learned from his first interview; 45:00 Brady's career plan; 45:40 Setting up a research trajectory across doctoral work and postdoctoral work for long-term success in academia; 49:00 Leaving academia for self-employment, autonomy in and out of academia; 53:10 Academia offers massive autonomy within a specific framework, but the framework is more restrictive than it seems:  you can color however you want within the lines, providing you can get funding for the crayons you want, but you don't control the lines; 1:03:35 How to increase productivity during teaching and research; 1:08:48 Automation and leverage in academia; 1:16:48 You have to take time out of productivity now to maximize your productivity in the future; you can't optimize for both at the same time, and you need to be willing to go backwards in maximize your ability to get ahead; 1:23:25 How I decided to get into research; 1: 28:48 How to find ideas for research and project; 1:31:35 How my background in history helps me in science; 1:35:53 Brady's path to choosing his thesis topic; 1:39:10 How to make contact with influential people; 1:45:00 Advice to people thinking about a health career but unsure about graduate school and research; 1:51:15 The face of employment is changing: Uber, Instacart, the rise of the kind-of-employee-kind-of-solopreneur, and the normalization of the side hustle.

Oct 8, 2016

In episode 25, Insulin Resistance Isn't All About Carbs and Insulin, I explained why an individual cell would "decide" to stop taking up energy. Here in episode 26, I explain tissue-level energy overload, focusing on adipose tissue and liver.

At adipose tissue, the problem with fatness isn't the amount of fat. It's that we've reached the point where we can't get any fatter. Well, we can, but we can no longer do so while maintaining a healthy organizational structure within adipose tissue that allows blood, oxygen, and nutrients to get to where they need to go. Surprisingly, some of the things that enable proper expansion, and thus protect our metabolic health, are things that we usually think of as "bad," such as inflammation. In fact, the pro-inflammatory changes in the gut microbiome in response to an obesogenic diet provide information to adipose tissue that it needs to prepare for healthy expansion.  And adipose expansion is most protective at the site of the "bad" body fat: visceral fat in the abdomen.

At liver, the problem is fat gets trapped in the liver, flattening out everything in the cell and hogging the space needed for glycogen storage, and this can happen even in a lean person.

I conclude with some practical recommendations about body composition and nutrient density.

In this episode, you will find all of the following and more:

How adipose tissue expands (triglyceride and lipid droplet formation, extracellular matrix reorganization, capillary bed growth and reorganization); consequences of poor adipose tissue expansion (liver spillover into ectopic deposition in tissues like liver, skeletal muscle, and pancreas, internal oxidative and endoplasmic reticulum stress, hypoxia); providing more glycerol for greater triglyceride formation (via genetic manipulation of PEPCK to allow greater glyceroneogenesis) protects against metabolic dysfunction (which may indicate a protective role of carbohydrate, which provides the glycerol on a mixed diet); deletion of genes involved in lipid droplet formation exacerbates metabolic dysfunction; allowing matrix metallopproteinases (MMPs) to reorganize the collagen-based extracellular matrix known as septa protects against metabolic dysfunction; expression of hypoxia-inducible factor 1-alph (HIF1alpha) contributes to metabolic dysfunction; inflammation (tumor necrosis factor alpha or TNF-alpha, interleukins or ILs, toll-like receptors or TLRs) is necessary to allow proper extracellular matrix (ECM) reorganization and capillary bed reorganization; visceral abdominal fat expansion is most protective because visceral fat drains directly into the liver via the portal vein, and releases more fat into the liver when it cannot expand further; ectopic fat deposition at the liver is central because the liver is the metabolic hub of fat and carbohydrate metabolism; fat accumulation in liver likely directly compromises glycogen storage; sources of liver fat: include adipose and dietary fat; de novo lipogenesis (DNL) from carbohydrate is a minor source of liver fat; oxidative stress and poor choline status are major factors governing triglyceride export; the choline requirement is increased more by fat than other macronutrients and more by long-chain saturated fats than other fats; practical strategies: body composition is king, but it might not be the right time to lose fat; a well rounded, nutrient-dense diet is low-hanging fruit at any time; additional strategies require nutritional analysis with help of health care professional and data generation and interpretation.
Aug 24, 2016

In episode 23, I explained why ketogenesis isn't all about carbs and insulin. Here in episode 25, I explained why insulin resistance isn't all about carbs and insulin. If that doesn't sound crazy, let me put it this way: forget carbs; I'll even say insulin resistance isn't all about insulin.

We start with a riddle: what do obesity, exercise, cigarette smoking, and diets rich in fruits and vegetables all share in common? Hint: it's a centrally important physiological response to each of them that mediates their health effects.

In the course of answering this riddle, I explain the underlying physiology that I consider most important to "insulin resistance" and why I believe insulin resistance is best viewed as subset of something far more important. I conclude by outlining practical strategies to prevent and reverse it.

In this episode, you will find all of the following and more:

Why would an individual cell "decide" to stop responding to insulin?; the limitations of using blood insulin and glucose concentrations as a primary metric of insulin resistance are similar to the limitations of assessing your level of "boss resistance" by the number of phone calls you decline from your boss when you skip work; why your pancreas is sort of like your boss; reactive oxygen species (ROS) are central to the physiology; ROS inhibit aconitase and shunt internal energy toward fat storage; ROS inhibit further intake of energy; ROS inhibit fatty acid uptake into mitochondria; ROS inhibit glucose uptake; ROS increase the expression of the entire antioxidant system and xenobiotic defense system; Subbing players on the field in team sports provides a useful analogy to understand why ROS-mediated inhibition of cellular energy uptake is health-promoting when other cells can fill in; insulin resistance isn't all about insulin; some responses to cellular energy overload antagonize insulin; others mimic insulin; obesity vs. exercise; AMPK activation makes the net effects of ROS in exercise very different from obesity; micronutrient intake determines whether net effects of ROS support antioxidant defense; glutathione synthesis depends on both nutrients and insulin sensitivity and stimulation; insulin resistance isn't all about ROS. It's about the context in which ROS operate; the net hormetic pro-oxidant effects of fruits and vegetable polyphenol; the net toxic pro-oxidant effects of cigarette smoking; again, net effects of ROS aren't about ROS; their about the context in which ROS operate; nutrient density as a practical strategy in insulin resistance; body composition as a practical strategy in insulin resistance; low-carbohydrate diets as a useful practical strategy for body composition, with potential limitations in the long-term because of the importance of carbohydrates for antioxidant defense.

Aug 20, 2016

Whites have higher 25(OH)D than every other racial group, and the conventional explanation is that light skin evolved to allow sufficient vitamin D synthesis far away from the equator. In episode 24, I explain why these differences may relate to genetics of vitamin D metabolism that have nothing to do with skin color and may reflect a lower average need for 25(OH)D rather than a lower average ability to get enough. But "average" is the key word and when it comes to using this information on a practical level we need to look beyond racial categories and treat each person as an individual.

In this episode, you'll find all of the following and more: should I offer online nutrition classes?; this will start of sounding like it's about racial groups, but it's really about individuals; blacks in America have lower 25 (OH)D than whites; the conventional hypothesis explains this as dark skin being poorly adapted to these latitudes; genetic evidence suggests light skin began evolving long after the migration from Africa; aggregate global 25(OH)D data do not support the conventional hypothesis; Caucasians have higher average 25 (OH)D than non-Caucasians at every latitude; Caucasians have higher average 25 (OH)D at temperate latitudes than non-Caucasians have at equatorial latitudes; blacks in America have higher bone mineral content than whites; calcitriol dominance favors getting calcium from our food, while PTH dominance favors getting calcium from our bones; genetic variation in the 1-hydoxylase can account for the difference in 25(OH)D between blacks and whites in America, but this has nothing to do with skin color or racial groups in the way we have socially defined them; calcium intake could influence how the genetic variation translates into 25(OH)D; this does not affect white 25 (OH)D, and it could be related to calcium intake; ancestral calcium intake could have mediated selective pressure on the relevant genes; blacks in the United States have higher average calcitriol and a higher average calcitriol-to-PTH ratio than whites; similar differences between Inuit and Danes: lower 25(OH)D, higher calcitriol, and lower PTH; a traditional diet raises 25(OH)D, raises calcitriol further, and suppresses PTH further; Asians have lower 25 (OH)D than whites in Hawaii; the references ranges may in effect be applying average white requirements to drive recommendations for everyone; the Maasai and Hadza have higher 25 (OH)D, but this may be due to  higher calcium intakes, and/or higher ancestral calcium intakes that influenced their genetics; non-whites are probably adapted to lower 25 (OH)D than whites on average, but it is individual genetics rather than racial groups that are relevant; 25 (OH)D + calcitriol can be summed for a biological activity index; PTH should be in the lower half of the reference range; magnesium deficiency could confound the PTH measurement, but it probably has to be extreme.


Aug 9, 2016

This episode is part personal story, part practical how-to guide, and part insight. The insight I want to emphasize here is one that I think is far too often overlooked: sometimes we shouldn't be trying to lose weight because the time isn't right.

But if the time is wrong, how can we know? And once we know, what can we do to prepare our bodies for weight loss and allow the time to become right? The short answer is that if weight gain is due to stress, I strongly believe we should always destress first. For the detailed answer, listen in.

In this episode, you will find the following and more: why there is a time to lose weight and a time not to; why calories-in calories-out (CICO) is like gravity; the right approach to weight loss is likely to be the one that incorporates 2-3 intuitive principles that allow you to sustain a caloric deficit while feeling satiated and energetic; there are a lot of those principles, so the 2-3 that work best for you probably has less to do with their general efficacy and more to do with your own personal psychological and behavioral traits; my skinny teens, my powerlifting/bodybuilding musclehead body, my grad school-induced dad bod, getting my postdoc fatso on, putting 6-7" on my waist in my first semester as a professor; it all turned around when I read Tim Ferris's 4-Hour Workweek; running on a treadmill while sleeping 10 hours a day, traveling to destress, gaining with CrossFit, leaning out with CrossFit; using the greyhound formula recommended by Alan Aragon and Brad Schoenfeld in The Lean Muscle Diet; using MyFitnessPal to track calories as recommended by CrossFit South Brooklyn; R-Lipoic acid, D-biotin, acetyl-L carnitine, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), coenzyme B vitamins to smooth out energy between meals; Headspace app or other mindfulness meditation, yoga, dance, martial arts, could help self-awareness, the key to knowing when the time is right; destressing is the key to make the time right when it's wrong; resisting social pressure and self pressure to lose weight is, ironically, the key to making the time right to lose weight.

This episode is brought to you by US Wellness Meats. I use their livewurst as a convenient way to make a sustainable habit of eating a diversity of organ meats. They also have a milder braunschweiger and an even milder head cheese that gives you similar benefits, as well as a wide array of other meat products, all from animals raised on pasture. Head to and enter promo code "Chris" at checkout to get a 15% discount on any order that is at least 7 pounds but under 40 pounds (it can be 39.99 lbs, but not 40). You can use this discount code not once, but twice!

Jul 28, 2016

Did you know that adding MCT oil to your pasta is more ketogenic than restricting your carbohydrates to ten percent of calories?

Many people think of carbohydrate and insulin as central to ketogenesis, but the direct biochemical event that initiate ketone formation is actually the oversupply of acetyl groups to the TCA cycle during conditions of oxaloacetate depletion.

While largely a biochemistry lesson, in this episode I also teach you the practical implications of this. There is more than one route to ketogenesis, and while they all produce ketones, they are fundamentally different in important ways.

Adding coconut, MCT oil, or exogenous ketones allows you to reap benefits of ketones without necessarily restricting carbohydrates and insulin, and that may be useful if you are also trying to reap some of the benefits of carbohydrate and insulin.

On the other hand, certain conditions that respond to ketogenic diets, for example refractory childhood epilepsy, need stronger degrees of ketogenesis than you can achieve simply by adding MCT oil to pasta.

Understanding the difference allows you to better make practical decisions about your diet that are most consistent with your priorities.

In this episode, you will find all of the following, and more:

An overview of the TCA cycle and burning carbohydrate for energy; the critical importance of oxaloacetate (OAA) to allow acetyl groups to enter the TCA cycle; how we burn fat on a mixed diet; the meaning of the phrase, "fat burns in the flame of carbohydrate" or “fat burns in a carbohydrate flame"; loss of lean muscle mass can occur if dietary carbohydrate and protein are too low to maintain OAA levels, and fat cannot spare this loss; under carbohydrate restriction, OAA is not repleted by carbohydrate and is used for gluconeogenesis, while more fatty acids reach the liver to make acteyl CoA;  the oversupply of acetyl groups in excess of OAA initiates ketogenesis; insulin shifts fat to adipose tissue, but this doesn't cause obesity; MCTs go straight to the liver via the portal vein rather than going to the blood via the lymph in chylomicrons, and they thereby avoid that effect of insulin; insulin suppresses the carnitine shuttle; MCTs do not require the carnitine shuttle and are therefore immune to this effect of insulin; MCTs at breakfast suppress food intake at lunch; MCTs added to pasta increase beta-hydroxybutyrate; two ways of getting ketones: selective deprivation vs. abundance; if you are trying to get ketones but having negative effects of carbohydrate restriction (e.g. declining exercise performance in sports requiring anaerobic glycolysis, declining thyroid hormone and sex hormones, elevated cortisol and LDL-C) you can add MCTs to get the ketones; comparison of beta-hydroxybutyrate concentrations from MCT vs. 10% carb vs. classical ketogenic diet.

Jul 25, 2016

In this episode, I give my take on a recent masters thesis paper by Rachel Gregory from James Madison University, which reports a study where just under 30 members of Rocktown CrossFit and Sports Performance were randomized to do CrossFit for six weeks with a normal diet or a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet.

The ketogenic diet led to weight loss and loss of bodyfat without hurting the performance on a 6-7-minute for-time workout-of-the-day (WOD)-style test involving a 500-meter row, 40 bodyweight squats, 30 ab mat situps, 20 hand-release pushups, and 10 pullups.

Herein, I explain why I think this study does show that the average person can lose weight and get fit with this method, but why it doesn't really get to the heart of the questions I would be interested in, which are these: how would a ketogenic diet impact maximal performance on weight-lifting sets of 5-12 reps, or in sports involving short bursts of energy such as football, basketball, baseball, soccer, and tennis, and do the hormonal adaptations to the diet ultimately have  the potential for negative impacts on thyroid hormone, cortisol, LDL-cholesterol, and sex hormones?

In this episode you will find all of the following and more:

The protocol of the study; changes in caloric intake, body weight and body composition; why the ketogenic diet's spontaneous decrease in calories can easily be explained by the effect of variety restriction on food reward, as Stephan Guyenet has explained well over at Whole Health Source; the changes in performance that occurred; how carbs, fat, and creatine impact the three energy systems of phosphagen or creatine phosphate, anaerobic glycolysis, and oxidative phosphorylation; why carbohydrate intake would primarily impact maximal performance at tasks requiring 15-90 seconds of intense work rather than a 6-7 minute WOD; why the ability to raise a 5RM to a new PR in trained subjects would have been a better question to address these concerns; why most team sports would also fall into this category; why free T3 (fT3), cortisol, LDL-C, and sex hormones (testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, etc) should be examined; and why how full your "stress bucket" (allostatic load) is will most likely be the ultimate determinant of whether these hormonal systems are negatively affected.

Jul 22, 2016

In this episode, I tell the story of my own battle with eczema. I begin by describing my extraordinary recovery from extreme eczema using the right probiotic. I then describe how a more recent relapse led me to discover the incredible importance of mitigating soap exposure when gut-related approaches don't seem to work.

In this episode, you'll find the following, and more:

Chris Kresser’s interview with Glenn Taylor on fecal microbiota transplants inspired this episode.

My own story with eczema.

Recovery with Garden of Life's Primal Defense (now Primal Defense Ultra).

Mild re-occurrence tied to poor gut, poor sleep, high work stress.

Key feature of an effective probiotic for me is S. boullardii plus bacteria.

Prostaglandin E2, derived from arachidonic acid, plays a central role in preventing eczema by water-proofing the skin.

Humidity can "hide" eczema by preventing water loss through a dysfunctional skin barrier.

Minimizing exposure to soap with kitchen gloves and by avoiding unnecessary hand washing are central to preventing topical aggravation of eczema.

Topical application of a fat -- such as shea butter -- after soap exposure can mitigate the damage caused by the soap.

It's important to pay attention to both the internal, systemic causes of eczema and the external, topical factors that will aggravate eczema once it has started.

Jul 18, 2016

This episode is a recording of the Facebook Live event, "Ask Chris Masterjohn, PhD, Anything About Health, Fitness, and Nutrition" that originally aired on Tuesday, July 12, at 5:00 PM eastern time.

In this episode you will find all of the following and more:

  • For a woman with bruising, spider veins, and cellulite, should we be thinking of collagen, clotting, or calcification? Should we be thinking of vitamin C, copper, glycine, and vitamin K2?
  • Are there nutritional cures for autoimmune diseases?
  • Does eating fruit with protein hurt the digestion and absorption of the protein?
  • Is the Randle cycle a reason to eat a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet, especially during a caloric deficit?
  • What should we do about elevated Lp(a), and does it make a difference if it's caused by diet, genes, or health status (for example, LDL oxidation)?
  • Why vitamin A and organ meats may be the underappreciated fix for oral allergy syndrome.
  • What do we do for wound healing after surgery?
  • Do we nourish the microbiome by nourishing yeast, bacteria, or both?
  • Why we should be conservative but not paranoid about antibiotics, and why we should be even more conservative about antifungals, even when they're natural.
  • Should we deep fry foods in coconut oil?
  • Is vitamin C an antioxidant or a pro-oxidant? Should this keep us awake at night?
  • Ideas for healthy (and low-PUFA, low-phytate) snack foods to replace granola.
  • General lab tests for vitamin and mineral status without any leads on specific nutrients to investigate.
  • How do we determine the right amount of high-intensity exercise during pregnancy? How do we determine if the "stress bucket" is too full?
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