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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Dec 19, 2019

Question:  How to manage the zinc-to-copper ratio and what to do if zinc and copper are both low-normal when supplementing with 15 mg of zinc and 1 mg of copper.


I don't recommend looking at the zinc-to-copper ratio. Although there are studies correlating health endpoints with the zinc-to-copper ratio, I do not believe that it is a causal factor in disease. 


I believe the zinc-to-copper ratio is often associated with disease because inflammation raises plasma copper and lowers plasma zinc, based on taking zinc up in the cells and mobilizing stored copper out of the liver. You want zinc and copper at the right levels; the ratios are less important. You want both around the middle of the reference range; the bottom of the range is not adequate.


If you are taking a supplement, then the simplest thing to do would be to take it twice per day instead of once per day and to make sure you are taking it on an empty stomach. Up to 50 mg of zinc will not cause nausea on an empty stomach in most people if you take it with a full glass of water.


Some people do have digestive issues when supplementing on an empty stomach, and if you need to take it with food, do not supplement anywhere near phytate, which is the principal inhibitor of zinc absorption and is found in whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes.


I recommend Jarrow’s zinc balance, which has the exact ratio that you’re talking about. It’s a convenient way to have the copper in the zinc supplement already. But if you are low in copper, this isn’t an adequate source for two reasons: (1) the amount of copper is too low, and (2) the form of copper isn’t ideal (it has lower bioavailability because it’s not the oxidation state that you get in food).


For a copper supplement, I would want to use food first, and liver capsules if you want a supplement. For foods, check out the tiers of copper-rich foods that I recommend, which includes liver, cocoa powder, and certain mushrooms.

Dec 6, 2019

Question: "Calcium score, is there a way to treat one's calcium score and get it to zero?"


⇒ No, you don't treat the calcium score. You take the calcium score as indicative of what's going on in atherosclerosis, and you treat that.


The goal, I think, is calcium score equals zero. No, that's a bad goal because that's like saying my goal this year is to be a billionaire. Is that going to make me harder and get closer to it? I don't know. You set somewhere what the ideal is, but then you don't think about that, you think about — okay — what's the next step right now in front of me. What you focus on is the thing that's right in front of you. So, maybe you want to be a billionaire -- but your goal is, how do I increase my revenue this month? Not how do I be a billionaire this year.


If you want a calcium score of zero, fine, but you don't think about that; you think about how do I lower my calcium score, because then when you lower your calcium score, you do more of that. When you do something that raises your calcium score, you do less of that.


In atherosclerosis, calcium is super driven by the atherosclerotic progress. So, ideally it would be nice if you had ultrasound imaging of your carotid IMT. If you have advanced plaque formation, you probably will be able to see that on the IMT, like you can see how the plaque is developing and whether the actual atherosclerotic plaque is.


K2 is relevant there, but a general deficiency of K2 is more likely to manifest as diffuse calcium deposits everywhere in the artery. So, it might be that your LDL is high, and then that's what you should be focusing on. 


You really have to start from point A through B through C, and K2 is one of those things, but you need to look at all the factors that can be contributing to atherosclerosis.

This Q&A can also be found as part of a much longer episode, here: 


If you would like to be part of the next live Ask Me Anything About Nutrition, sign up for the CMJ Masterpass, which includes access to these live Zoom sessions, premium features on all my content, and hundreds of dollars of exclusive discounts. You can sign up with a 10% lifetime discount here:

Dec 3, 2019

Question: "How do you determine if you're getting enough protein? I heard Dr. Stephen Phinney say, for those on a keto diet, if ketones are greater than 3 on a regular basis, then it's a sign you're not getting enough protein."


First of all, why are you on a ketogenic diet? 


If your purpose is to get the ketones, why wouldn't you want your ketones higher than 3? The ketogenic diet is, regardless of what people are doing it for, it's best tested in terms of epilepsy, and the classical ketogenic diet gets ketone levels up to 3 or 4 millimoles per liter… sometimes higher.


Then the question is, you're not doing it for medical therapy, why are you doing it? 


If you're doing it to lose weight, who cares what your ketones are? 


There's a ton of people out there who are on a "ketogenic diet" who don't care what their ketones are because they're doing it for weight loss, for body composition, or to feel better. If those are what your goals are, your metrics should just be whether you're losing weight, whether you're getting better body composition, or whether you're feeling better. There's no data backing up the fact that you can measure your blood ketones and determine what any of those outcomes are going to be.


That has nothing to do with why you need protein. Yes, too much protein is probably going to lower your ketones. Protein is anti-ketogenic. It's not as anti-ketogenic as carbs are, so I get the kernel of truth that Phinney is getting at. The higher your protein is, the lower your ketones are going to be, and maybe there's some general correlation to be seen across people that the people who tend to have ketones that high tend to not be eating enough protein, but that's a correlation that has nothing to do with the underlying reason of why you eat protein. 


You eat protein because you need protein to optimize your neurotransmitters, you need protein to optimize your metabolism, and you need protein to optimize your body composition. The number one metric that we have on protein intakes and quantifying them is on body composition, and you want a half a gram, to a gram of protein for every pound of target body weight. So, if you're trying to gain muscle, use what you want to have at the end of gaining muscle. If you are overweight, use what your ideal weight would be. And the more you care about your body composition, the more you should aim for the top of that range instead of the bottom. It doesn't matter if you're keto or not.


This Q&A can also be found as part of a much longer episode, here: 


If you would like to be part of the next live Ask Me Anything About Nutrition, sign up for the CMJ Masterpass, which includes access to these live Zoom sessions, premium features on all my content, and hundreds of dollars of exclusive discounts. You can sign up with a 10% lifetime discount here:

Jan 2, 2018

Happy 2018!

After many dozens of hours putting this together, I'm super excited to announce "Testing Nutritional Status: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet."

Over the course of 2017, many of you followed my podcast series on measuring and managing nutritional status. Some of you absolutely loved it. Some of you found it too technical to follow, or found the episodes too long and dense to share with your friends and family and were excited when I started condensing them into much shorter Chris Masterjohn Lite episodes. At the end of the day, I still am only about 5% through the series, mainly because producing each episode takes me about two weeks of doing nothing else and I need to clear out more time for it.

One of my goals in 2018 is to unleash the complete series.

But this also calls for something else:

  • Could I completely distill the practical, actionable information from all the technical explanations?
  • Could I collect it all into one, easy-to-find place?

One of you wrote to me last year:

Hi Chris, I'd happily pay for a PDF cheat sheet containing all your evidence-based recommendations in one table. I frequently find myself hunting through your transcripts :)

Just a suggestion, keep up the good work.

Man oh man, was he right. Quite often, dozens of hours reviewing the science around a nutrient led me to recommend specific tests that are not in common use, or specific ranges for tests that are commonly used but where the lab's range is far too broad, or just way off.

So I started to put together such a cheat sheet. Lo and behold, I found myself hurting as I tried to find my own practical recommendations in the sprawling 2-hour transcripts. 


After all this time in the trenches, what I've emerged with... let's just say, ain't no ordinary cheat sheet.

It's the ULTIMATE cheat sheet.

It's is a “cheat sheet” in two ways:

● All of the lab testing required for comprehensive nutritional screening is reduced to a single page, with hyperlinks making ordering any of the tests just one click away.

● In just five pages, I provide full instructions for lab testing, blood pressure, and dietary analysis, as well as an algorithm for quick decisions on what to do next for each marker that may be off.

This “cheat sheet” is ultimate because of what comes next:

● Over 70 pages list the signs and symptoms associated with all the possible nutrient imbalances, the potential causes of nutrient imbalances, and an action plan for correcting each imbalance.

To top it off, it ends with an index of the signs and symptoms of nutrient deficiencies and imbalances. The index has 178 entries, and each entry links directly to the sections of the text where those signs and symptoms are discussed. This makes it incredibly easy to browse through the index for the things that seem most interesting or relevant to you and find exactly what you're looking for without having to read the whole guide.

If you're getting antsy, you can buy it right now, but read on if you'd like to learn more about it.

Three Ways to Use the Cheat Sheet

Let's face it, testing nutritional status can be expensive. In my consulting practice, some of my clients often ask me to find ways to minimize the costs associated with figuring out nutritional problems. Others are able to get practically anything covered by insurance if they use the right labs, and others just want me to find the cream of the crop, the best of the best.

So I've started the cheat sheet by outlining three different ways to use it:

  • In the comprehensive approach, you get the comprehensive lab screening, conduct a dietary analysis and a series of home blood pressure measurements, and collect a list of signs and symptoms that seem relevant from the index.
  • In the time-saving approach, you skip the dietary analysis -- the most time-consuming part -- and only resort to dietary analysis if and when some of your health challenges prove too difficult to resolve without it.
  • In the cost-saving approach, you skip the lab screening, only resorting to running labs when doing so proves necessary to determine the best course of action.

The comprehensive approach is the one that generates the correct strategies the fastest, but if time or finances are constraining, the other two options allow you to make the best of the resources you have at your disposal.

By the way, while practical, this is an entirely educational resource. Please don't try anything in the cheat sheet without consulting your doctor, and please don't ever ignore the advice of your doctor because of anything I've written in the cheat sheet.

This Is a Living Document

Putting this cheat sheet together has been tremendously valuable to me. It required me to do a lot of research, and to collect my thoughts and findings all into one place. I know very well that it's going to be my primary tool for helping myself and others in the years to come. So I want to keep this constantly up-to-date for both myself and for you.

You'll notice that I've called it Version 1.0. Since it's practical in nature, I decided to think of it more like a software program than a book, and went with version over edition.

When you purchase the cheat sheet, I recommend you enter your email address in the shopping cart. That will allow me to email you updates to future editions. If I make small changes to it, I will call the versions 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, and so on, and give you the updates for free. When I make bigger changes, I will release versions 2.0, 3.0, and so on, and give you steep discounts for having purchased version 1.0 early in the life of the guide.

I will also offer you opportunities to give me your feedback on the guide, and I will consider that feedback in the production of updates.

This Is a Practical, Not a Scientific Argument

I've put together a small collection of further reading materials at the end of the guide. If I had thoroughly referenced every statement in the guide, it would be unwieldy, with a sprawling bibliography that rivaled the guide in length. I mean, geez this is a cheat sheet and it's already 78 pages long! Instead, I listed what I consider the best starting places for developing a deeper understanding of the material. One of those resources is my podcast, where I will be doing an episode on each nutrient this year, in full scientific glory.

What that means is that this is not for you if what you are looking for is full explanations of how things work, how I came to each conclusion, and the exact source of each statement pinned clearly to the statement itself. I have plenty of writings of that nature, but this isn't one of them.

This is for you if you want to the practical what-to-do information all distilled into one place. And hundredsof hyperlinks ensuring you never have to scroll, squint your eyes to find things, or make an appointment with Dr. Google.

This Is a Digital Document

The format of the cheat sheet is a PDF. You'll be able to download it immediately after purchase.

You can certainly print it out if you wish, and that might be best if you want to read it straight through. However, please keep in mind that one of the key features is the hundreds of hyperlinks. They bring you to the exact section you want to use when reading the instructions for use. They bring you to the exact paragraph to read when looking things up in the index. They bring you to the exact lab test when looking for a test to order. So, keep the digital version handy if for no other reason than this amazing assortment of links.

An AMAZING Gift for You if You But It This Week

If you buy the cheat sheet this week (by January 9), you can use your proof of purchase at any time to obtain a discount (technically a rebate) on my consultation services:

  • If you purchase a single consultation, you can turn in your proof of purchase and I'll give you $30 back. That's the full value of the cheat sheet. So you can think of this as 10% off the consultation, or getting the cheat sheet completely for FREE.
  • If you purchase a Health and Wellness Package, you can turn in your proof of purchase and I'll give you $100 back. That's a $30 investment to get $100 back, a $70 profit. It's like buying bitcoin!  😉

You don't have to commit to a consultation now. This offer is good for the entire life of my consultation services.

So, the action you need to take this week to be eligible is to purchase the cheat sheet, and to save the email with the download link and receipt as your proof of purchase. The action you can take at any time in the future is to use the proof of purchase for a rebate on my consultation services. This is subject to the availability of my services. If you wait until 2020, I cannot guarantee I will still be offering consultations. If you wait until August, I cannot guarantee you'll get your spot at a convenient time. All I guarantee is that as long as I offer these services, I will honor the rebate.

Even if you decide not to follow up on the rebate, what you get is an amazing resource for the ridiculously cheap "full price" of $30.

Actually, you can pay less than that.

Plus a Discount If You Buy It Today!

For today and today only, I'm offering an early bird discount.

At checkout, put in this discount code:


It takes $5 off the price and expires at 11:59 PM tonight, eastern time.

Here It Is...


You can buy it here:

Testing Nutritional Status: The ULTIMATE Cheat Sheet

Happy New Year!

Sep 3, 2017

This complex is so rich in biochemical concepts and relevance to health and disease. Having done the dirty work of looking at its organic chemistry mechanisms in the last lesson, here we explore broadly applicable biochemistry principles like energetic coupling and substrate channeling. We look at how thiamin deficiency, oxidative stress, arsenic, and heavy metal poisoning can affect metabolism, and how to recognize markers of these processes in blood or urine. We make the subtle yet critical distinction between oxidative stress and oxidative damage. We look at the role of this complex in Alzheimer’s disease. We then turn to the product of this complex, succinyl CoA, to examine how it provides an entry into the cycle for odd-chain fatty acids and certain amino acids and an exit out of the cycle for the synthesis of heme. In doing so, we look at the roles of vitamins B12 and B6 in these processes, the use of methylmalonic acid to diagnose B12 deficiency, and the ability of B6 deficiency to cause sideroblastic anemia.

For the full video, go to

Sign up for MWM Pro for early access to content, enhanced keyword searching, self-pacing tools, downloadable audio and transcripts, a rich array of hyperlinked further reading suggestions, and a community with a forum for each lesson.

Aug 31, 2017

This lesson looks at the third step of the citric acid cycle in much more detail, digging into the organic chemistry concepts involved in the conversion of isocitrate to α-ketoglutarate. We dive deep into this because it’s the only way to explain why this step parts ways with most other decarboxylation reactions in that it does not require thiamin (vitamin B1).

This, in turn, provides a basis for understanding why burning carbohydrate for fuel requires twice as much thiamin than burning fat, and why high-fat, low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diets can be used to overcome problems with thiamin deficiency or defects in thiamin-dependent enzymes. We conclude by looking at how this step allows the interconversion of amino acids and citric acid cycle intermediates, the role of vitamin B6 in this process, and the use of enzymes known as transaminases to diagnose B6 deficiency and liver dysfunction.

For the full episode, go to

Sign up for MWM Pro for early access to content, enhanced keyword searching, self-pacing tools, downloadable audio and transcripts, a rich array of hyperlinked further reading suggestions, and a community with a forum for each lesson.

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.

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.

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.

Jun 28, 2016

This episode is a recording of the 06/25/2016 Facebook Live event, "Ask Chris Masterjohn, PhD, Anything About Methylation."

Among the questions answered and topics discussed in this episode are the following:

An MTHFR mutation (e.g. C677T) even with normal homocysteine could mean that you are taxing your choline supply and wasting glycine into your urine. Boosting choline and glycine intake could help. What may surprise you is that so could supplementing with creatine!

How to implement the above strategies with natural foods?

Can targeted SAMe supplementation be useful for diagnosing methylation problems?

Choline and fatty liver disease.

Why is my serum B12 soaring through the roof when I haven't even been supplementing?

COMT mutations regulating the balance between mental stability and mental flexibility via dopamine, and whether supplementing with 5-methylfolate could worsen mental problems in people with high COMT activity. Potential relations to obssessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

How should you get choline if you're allergic to eggs?

With an MTHFR mutation and high liver enzymes, choline would seem to be in order, but should you also rethink your high-fat diet?

All this and more!


Jun 2, 2016

In this episode, I discuss some important insights from my Paleo f(x) talk and audience responses to it, including the potential dangers of treating type 1 diabetes with a low-carb diet, the importance of carbs and bodyfat for fertility and sex hormones, and why some people might have a great sex hormone profile on a long-term ketogenic diet despite the importance of insulin's contribution to fertility. I also discuss Headspace meditation, contrast showers, Snapchat, U.S. Wellness Meats liverwurst, Kettle and Fire's upcoming chicken broth and chicken mushroom broth, and my interview with Ben Greenfield.

May 20, 2016

In this episode, I show you how you can determine whether your genetics are contributing to your sensitivity to blue light, poor sleep, and poor daytime alertness, and what you can do about it. Specifically, I look at the research showing that variations in the gene for the vitamin A-dependent protein melanopsin underlie sensitivity to blue light and teach you how to figure out your own genetics for this protein using a 23andMe account (they don't have a health report for it, but the hack around that is easy).

Apr 22, 2016

Is it really true that saturated fatty acids (SFAs) are the "bad fats" and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are the "good fats"? Christopher Ramsden uncovered previously unpublished data undermining the conventional wisdom that we should replace saturated fats with polyunsaturated vegetable oils to lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease. The public health establishment dismissed the findings. Here's my take.