Child: Welcome to my Mommy’s podcast.
Hello, and welcome to the Wellness Mama Podcast. I’m Katie from wellnessmama.com. And this episode is about how anyone can be bio-optimized and the simplest dietary secret. And I am back with Wade Lightheart and Matt Gallant, who are the co-founders of BIOptimizers, which is a company that I have really liked their products for a long time, but they have a new book out that helps dispel a lot of the myths around diet and gives really actionable strategies for figuring out a long-term successful plan that works specifically for you. I’ve talked a lot about personalization over the last few years, and I feel like they have one of the most concise and comprehensive and most easily laid out plans for figuring out your own answers.
I also love that they come from vastly different viewpoints, and both have success in the metrics that are important to them when it comes to diet. Matt follows a much more ketogenic-type diet, and Wade is plant-based based on genetic markers he has. And they both have been able to figure out how to thrive in those particular constraints that they’ve chosen. And in this episode, we talk about some of the nuance on why there’s no universal perfect diet but how finding your own personalized diet is universally helpful. Mapping out what a sustainable plan is for that. We talk about the gut considerations, about magnesium. And then we go deep on the psychology, emotions, and mindset side, which I have talked a little bit about on here before, but I believe is an absolutely pivotal point when it comes to long-term health in so many areas and in so many ways. So without any further ado, I’ll stop talking. Let’s join Wade and Matt and dive in. Wade and Matt, welcome back. Thanks for being here again.
Matt: Always a pleasure.
Katie: Well, I’m excited. We got to do our first episode. I’ll link to that in the show notes. We got to go deep on some nutrition stuff and dispel some myths. And in this one, I’m really excited to delve into the personalized aspect even more about how anyone can be bio-optimized and the simplest dietary secret. And we talked in the first episode about sort of the diet wars and how we like to argue about the small percentage we disagree on. But I would love to talk in this episode of, is there a perfect diet for all of us or is there a perfect diet for each of us? And if so, how do we choose what that is and how do we even figure it out?
Wade: That’s a complex question, but the short answer is there is no perfect diet for everyone. The ultimate way to do this is to personalize the diet based on your emotional and psychological needs. And if some people have spiritual considerations, for example, Muslims respect Ramadan and Jewish people have certain considerations and some people think cows are sacred, etc. So those are really important as well. But we have a whole chapter devoted to the psychological and then another chapter to the emotional elements of weight loss and success, which I think is too often ignored. And then people end up failing because they don’t have the right psychological tools or the tools to process negative emotions that pull them off course.
Then you have goals. Now, goals are really what shapes the diet. You know, we have weight loss goals, muscle building goals, athletic performance goals, cognitive performance goals, and then health or longevity, lifespan, healthspan, we call it biospan goals. You know, and based on those goals, it completely changes the structure of your diet. So next we go into calories and macros. And of course, most dietary experts only focus on calories and macros. And of course, that matters. You know, calories in, calories out matters. The truth is, it all matters. Calories matter, macronutrients matter, and micronutrients matter. And if you really want to build the ultimate diet for you, you need to take into consideration all of those. And Wade, maybe you can walk us through the rest of the nutritional pyramid of decisions.
Matt: Yeah, so Matt talked about it, you know, with the baseline being spiritual, cultural commitments, emotional goals, calories and macros, which is where most people end it. Then there’s nutrigenomics. And so this is understanding how nutrients can, nutrients can turn off suboptimal genes and turn on optimal parts. And that’s called the genotype and phenotype expression. So your genes are not a death sentence. You can use nutrition to specifically identify things.
I’ll give you a couple examples in my own life. So, for example, I have suboptimal cardiovascular genetics. In other words, if I just followed a typical, you know, a healthy, well-rounded diet, high protein, you know, moderate carbohydrates, and the right fats, by the time I’m in my 70s or 80s, the chances are I would die of a cardiac condition, stroke or a heart attack or something. Or certainly my life would be compromised. Based on that, I can use a plant-based diet, which I supplement with protein to regulate my blood sugar. Because if you’re on a plant-based diet and you’re just eating junk food vegetarian, your blood sugar is going to be all over the place. And that’s a problem. If you don’t have enough protein, you’re not going to be able to use neurochemicals to make your brain operate properly. And I supplement with essential fatty acid to ensure to get the benefits of cardiovascular benefits as well as brain health.
Now on that, I’m taking my genetics, looking at the suboptimal aspects and recognizing, okay, I can make my diet. Another interaction is I don’t have the signal that tells myself I’m full. So left unchecked, I’ll overeat. That’s why protein is a great macro for satiety. But since I don’t have a lot of protein in my diet as a plant-based person, I have to supplement that. I have a big salad in the afternoon, which gives me all kinds of fiber and keeps me satiated so I don’t feel hungry throughout the day. These are ways that you can use nutrigenomics for success. And this is the key aspect where individualization comes in.
Now your gut biome is going to step up into the situation. In other words, if you took Matt and I, we have very different gut biomes because he follows a ketogenic diet, and I follow a plant-based diet. We also supplement with some of the same probiotics to address components. We have probiotics that help build the gut film in case we get a leaky gut. We have a supplement, P3OM, that kills the bad guys. It knocks out the bad guys or pathogens out of the body. That’s a really good probiotic. And then, we take another probiotic to help us build the neurotransmitters that makes our brain work properly. Now there’s individuals that are going to happen.
And then, we move into the supplements. As I indicated before, there’s a couple of key supplements as a plant-based guy with my genetics that I need to add because I can’t get it from my diet. The same thing goes for Matt. There’s certain supplements he has to do. Something like magnesium, for example. Ninety percent of the population is deficient in magnesium. No matter what diet you’re following, you can’t get enough magnesium. And the days that you can eat everything from a balanced diet, if someone tells you that, they’re not paying attention to the science of the last 60 years. They got bought into some federally sponsored program that makes absolutely no sense if you actually put any kind of microscope on it.
Then you get into food allergies and sensitivities. No matter what dietary philosophy you follow, there’s going to be aspects of that that aren’t really that good for you. And you might feel inflammation, acid reflux, heartburn. You might get bloated or constipated or get diarrhea because for whatever reason, that sensitivity is disruptive to your body. Now, as your diet gets better, oftentimes food allergies and sensitivities will diminish because as your immune system gets, you know, it’s a hyper response, a hyper immune system response because of not just the individual load, but a collective load. And you can get that improved over time.
And that’s what leads to lifestyle. In other words, choosing the components that fit within a lifestyle, the exercise component, the dietary habits and practices, the right supplements that offset your suboptimal genetics, and as well as the activity level that leads to the outcome, the goal that you want, will ultimately lead to a lifestyle that you can have. And that’s why you also want to put in those emotional and psychological needs, as well as spiritual and cultural commitments at the base of the pyramid. Because if you don’t do those things, you’re going against your religion, you’re going against your family. You’re going against your environment. Generally, you’re going to develop problems emotionally, socially, and psychologically. And we’ve seen that happen. And that’s what takes people out of the successful lifestyle. So addressing those will allow you to have the best chance of living long and living strong.
Katie: Yeah, I think I love that you guys take it beyond calories and macros. I think that’s become a big part of the conversation. And like you said, while that is important, I think we’re seeing a lot of cravings issues. You mentioned in our last episode about people craving junk food at midnight because our body isn’t getting enough actual nourishment, which a lot of the things you really go deep on in this book, talk about how to actually get the nutrients from your food, how to supplement when you truly, like in the case of magnesium, cannot get enough nutrients from food anymore. And I think that’s a really sobering and important point to highlight as well, is that we do live in a time where our soil is so depleted and our food itself is so depleted of nutrients that even Chris Kresser, who used to advocate for get everything from food has now said on this podcast, it’s not possible anymore. We are at a place in society where we must supplement because truly, you could eat all day and not get enough actual nutrients. And it’s not just about the calories. We can certainly get enough calories. That’s easy to do in the modern world, but to get those nutrient levels in the optimal range.
And I love also that you brought up the emotional aspect because I’ve seen this play out in my own life in a very drastic way, but I would love for you guys to talk about the impact of emotions when it comes to long-term success, not just with diet, but with all of the elements of this lifestyle and maintaining health as we get older.
Matt: Ultimately, people have been told for the last few decades, all you need to do is cut your calories, do more exercise. Although that’s true, what really pulls people off course is the emotional and psychological issues that drives them to overeat. I mean, that’s a big, big part of it. There’s some other elements. I don’t want to oversimplify it. But one of the things that drives people to eat is, of course, stress eating. On some level, everyone, I think, is a stress eater. It’s just what degree are you. I mean, some people have food addiction issues, which I’ve had clients that have had those issues. Those are much more serious, which they need typically psychological help from trained professionals.
But on the lower side, even Wade and I, I mean, you know, we’re human and we’ll tend to overeat if we’re not following all these things. But I’m good friends with Dawson Church, who’s one of the top EFT practitioners, EFT researchers. He has several published papers. And they did a trial where they used EFT, which means emotional freedom technique, also known as tapping in conjunction with the weight loss program, and the people that tapped were far more successful, not just during the diet, but long term. Why is that? Because they were clearing out these emotional issues, these little traumas is what people call them, that tend to drive people to overeat. And again, we can all use food as a drug. When you eat your favorite hyperpalatable food that’s loaded with sugar, loaded with fats, loaded with sodium, loaded with flavor, you get a massive dopamine and serotonin response. I’ve seen Wade get high at Sidecar Donuts in LA. It was real. Those donuts are just incredible, right? Probably the best donuts I’ve ever had.
So the point is, you know, we need emotional tools to really clean the house. And both Wade and I have spent weeks of our lives cleaning house using neurofeedback, EFT, and other techniques and tools so that we’re not driven by these little traumas anymore. And there’s a great book called The Body Keeps the Score, which is probably one of the best books on this topic. Wade, anything you want to add?
Wade: Yeah, recognizing what your patterns and monitoring it. So, for example, there’s two areas where I’ll notice that I’ll tend to overeat. One, inside of celebratory social conditions, because that’s a pattern that we would have excess food and treats and stuff like that in my family upbringing, like when there’s a social occasion and you kind of go hog wild. And the other part that I’ll tend to overeat is if something is emotionally stressing me out. Some people won’t eat when they, they’ll restrict eating. So that can be just as detrimental. But for me, if something’s really weighing on me emotionally and I start going into the unconscious eating pattern, right? That’s, you know, a spiraling downward spiral of the efforts, you know, oh, well, here we go. And what, you know, I just had the burger. Might as well have the fries. Might as well have the dessert. Might as well have an extra bag of chips after. Heck, I’ve blown it today. I’m just going to have some cheese and crackers. Now on an ice cream after it. And, you know, you know, and then it just, and then it kind of contributes and compounds to the emotional state. And then you wake up the next day, and you’re like, oh God, why did I do that?
Well, that’s an indicator for me that there’s something not, that I’m not processing emotionally. And so I then look at, okay, what’s bothering me? What’s going on? Why am I doing it? Why am I using food as a drug to check out from what’s bothering me emotionally? And then I hire the appropriate practitioner to help me go into that. So I’m a believer in regular psychological counseling, regular spiritual or emotional counseling, and stuff. Again, I don’t have all the answers, and I don’t expect to, no one does. And that’s why aligning yourself with a series of professionals I call the Jedi Council that I can call up and say, hey, you know what? Something’s out of control. And usually, once I process those emotions, suddenly the behavior self-corrects. I don’t feel the need to go there. I’m able to exert what people call discipline. And it’s not really discipline. It’s that I’ve got the right tool at the right place to implement that I’m not compelled by the subconscious emotional and psychological drivers that are outside of my cognitive awareness. Right. These things that drive us. And we all know that afterwards. You’re like, why did I do that? Well, you did it because there’s something that’s unaddressed inside your psychology. And nobody’s talking about this.
And I think we need to, as a population, discuss this around diets because so much of our identity is wrapped up in how we look, how we interrelate with our social circles, and what are the activities that often contribute to excessive weight gain and excessive self-deprecating behavior or self-destructive behavior, I should say. And we want to help people emotionally as much as we want physically because I believe that when people are physically healthy, they’re going to be emotionally and psychologically healthy. And they’re interrelated between those things. And we have to address them for all the people that are struggling out there and suffering.
Matt: The other major key psychologically is to thy own self be true, which to me is one of my most treasured quotes, and there’s a few ways you can apply that when it comes to diet. Wade touched on discipline. We cover, like, what’s your discipline style? Which is an interesting question.
So first of all, there’s one category of people that are like dietary cyborgs. People that just can lock in, food is fuel, it just doesn’t matter, right. They’re just wired a certain way that allows them. Wade, for an example, is not a dietary cyborg, but he becomes obsessed with a purpose. So when Wade has a purpose and locks into that, whatever the goal was, and for a long time, of course, it was going to Mr. Olympia, and I’ll cue him up in a second. That drove him to what appeared to be discipline, right? He ate the same thing day in, day out, which is a simple secret. We can touch upon that afterwards. And it just propelled him. Some people need more nurture. For those people, you want to be around other people. You want to hire a coach. You want to surround yourself with the right people. And of course, some people, and Wade and I dealt with them many times as trainers, it’s a necessity, right? They have a medical condition, and they’re driven by fear of death, typically.
Another key psychological question is, are you a moderator or an abstainer? So I’m a moderator. Wade’s an abstainer. I like to try a lot of different food all the time, right? To a certain degree, like I’m a high dopamine person. And if I just get on a hyper-strict diet all the time, psychologically, I kind of lose it. Whereas Wade thrives on locking in and just basically abstaining from any cheat meals or refeed days or et cetera, et cetera. And just locks in for months and months over time, achieves his goal, then maybe, you know, goes off course and comes right back.
And another really big question is like, how do you comply with expectations? So when you’re dealing with a coach, whether it’s in real life or virtually, you know, some people are upholders. I’m a questioner. So I need all the scientific explanations. Otherwise, I don’t really buy into it. Some people are obligers, and Wade’s a rebel. So like, if you look at Wade and his success, he created what seemed like a crazy, almost impossible, goal of competing in natural bodybuilding as a plant-based guy. No one was really doing that 20 years ago, which again, really motivated him. So those are just some of the psychological aspects that when you become self-aware, you’re able to build the right structure, the right discipline style, have the right relationships with the right coach, which just propels you to success, Wade.
Wade: Yeah, to summarize, all truth is subjective. In other words, even the most hardcore, rigid scientist cannot account for all the possible variants within a scientific appearance. They build a model that produces an amount of success. But a lot of people get stuck, as science is a static thing. It’s an ongoing process. It is building models that closer approximate the truth.
And the same thing happens with diet. And what we’re identifying is things that are outside of the double-blind experiment. The aspects of humanity that you can’t control in a lab, that you can’t account for in the rule of large numbers. Then variances and nuances rate down to the individual. And once you calibrate for those things, you achieve the ultimate state is what we have, and that’s dietary freedom. The freedom of fear about what I’m eating. The fear that we don’t identify as evil foods. There’s no evil food. There’s no food that’s going to completely annihilate your life. We’re not into cult dynamics that you have the 10 proclamations of this diet, and you can’t vary it nowhere else. We’re not labeling supplements as boogeyman. We’re not identifying pharmaceutical agencies as the agents of evil, etc. We’re identifying the strategies, the tactics, the abilities for you to be able to discern and ask the right questions. Use the appropriate testing, using science, but also measuring that against the more subjective aspects of your life of how do you feel? How does this affect you? What are you observing in your life? And trusting that as much as you would, you know, a spread of what I call spreadsheet logic.
And when you understand that you open up freedom and here’s what happens. You become excited about the process. You become enthusiastic because you’re operating from the position, not of feeling disempowered. You’re operating from a position of empowerment. In other words, you know, I can do this and do that. And you’re willing to experiment and try new things and to test stuff, knowing that, hey, I got my foundation down. Well, how much, like you identified earlier, you’re coming into a big lift that you’re it’s exciting for you right now, or you’re hitting a new body fat level, or maybe you’re improving your cognitive health, or you’re seeing a reverse aging study and you’re noticing that you’re actually aging backwards even as you get older. These things we’ve experienced, our clients have experienced, and we’ve put together a very robust system to help you stop wasting 20 or 30 years trying to figure this stuff out to go step by step, piece by piece, chapter by chapter to identify what you want to accomplish and how you can go about doing that.
Katie: Well, I will link to the book The Body Keeps the Score in the show notes as well. I second the recommendation for that, certainly. And I think this emotional, psychological piece is absolutely pivotal, especially for long-term success in any of these areas. And in the last little remainder of our time, I would love to, first of all, make sure we overtly define what is the simplest dietary secret and then talk about any other habits or strategies or psychological things we can do to help keep us on the right track. And like you said, make this a fun process that we are excited about because I learned about myself as I, for years, tried to sort of like punish my body into looking how I wanted it to look or shame it into looking how I wanted it to look. It turns out that doesn’t work at all. But when I shifted these other things and got the psychological and the emotional and the mindset pieces dialed in, I wanted to do those things. It became fun to nourish my body because I actually cared about it. And so I think this piece is, like you said, not talked about enough and absolutely critical for success.
Matt: Yeah, the simplest dieting secret is to essentially eat the same thing over and over and over again. Now, I’m not talking about eating the same meal. We recommend having about 12 winning meals that you rotate. Now, what’s a winning meal? A winning meal means it has the appropriate amount of calories and macronutrients. You got enough protein, you got enough fiber, your carbs or your fats, depending what diet style you’re on, is well calibrated. And once you figure that out in terms of the portions and the recipe and the food, just eating the same thing, whether it’s every day you’re eating the same breakfast, the same lunch, the same dinner, or you’re cycling through these 12 meals, it is one of the most powerful things anyone can do.
And again, I am a big novelty seeker. You know, that part of my brain is very strong. I love novelty. So what I do is I’ll eat the same thing essentially every day for five or six days. And then, on the seventh day, I go and eat pretty much whatever I want. Again, within a certain calorie allotment, but had a burger on the weekend. I had some ice cream on the weekend. And my weight was the same as on Monday morning as it was Friday morning before the weekend. But again, I’m not pigging out. I’m not eating crazy amounts of food. I’m still following all the other suggestions. But one guy that has used the simplest secret to what most people would consider an extreme level is Mr. Wade Lightheart. So Wade, maybe talk about the 11 months of experimenting on that.
Wade: Yeah, well, I think last year I did 18 months is the new record that I followed virtually that process. So just to give people some context, the average person eats about 25 different meals a week, most of which are not going to contribute to their health goals. OK, I’d say that maybe 20 of them are probably not suboptimal. So what I did is I just built down like five, six meals that I rotate through on a dietary phase. And I just stick with it until I hit my goal. And usually that’s relative, like, you know, last year I did some bodybuilding competitions as a 50-year-old. Cause I want to see what I could do as a 50-year-old. So I just locked it in for 18 months. That’s what I did. I didn’t do cheats. I didn’t do anything. I said the same thing every morning, same thing every afternoon, same thing as easy. And it was great. I loved it because I’m not a novelty seeker. I was more important for looking at this as my goal and my outcome. And I’m literally excited about every one of those meals because I know it’s contributing to my goal. So that’s what I get excited about and understanding that psychology.
Now, I do believe, that I don’t recommend that everybody do exactly what I do. I think that 12 is the optimal zone that we’ve identified, 25 too much variance. You get into spending too much energy selecting for food and not enough just locking in. The other aspect of it is you cook in bulk, you prepare in bulk. So for me, I’ve got big things of black beans and chickpeas that we burr up. I put them in containers. I got my salad stuff all cut up in the fridge. It literally takes me three minutes to make my big salad. It takes me two minutes to have my breakfast in the morning that I mix up. It takes me literally 15 minutes in the evening. So my time in food preparation is so little and so easy. And I have the food available all of the time. It’s there in the fridge, and I don’t have the bad stuff in the house. Cause if the bad stuff is in the house, in a moment of weakness, I believe I can set the record on how many chips I can consume in an hour. I haven’t had a friend yet that can top me. And so knowing that about myself, don’t have chips in the house because at that little low moment, you know what? I’ve been on my diet for a while. I deserve a bag of chips, right? You know what? And not just a little bag. I deserve the party size bag because I’m going to celebrate my success and the next thing you know, 5,000 calories later, I’m going, why did I do that for? You know, so recognizing those things. And if we can overcome it, Matt and I, we know that our listeners and the people who read this book can overcome it, too, because we had to.
Matt: I want to highlight some of the big benefits, and we touched on one of them, which is reduced decision-making. You know, once you have that set up, you actually don’t have to think about what am I going to eat. Because every time you ask yourself that question, you’re opening yourself up to, well, should I order a pizza? Should I hit UberEats, order a burger, order whatever, you know, whatever the craving of the day is. But once you’re, once you’ve got it locked in, there’s no more thinking. And that’s so powerful.
The other big benefit, it’s really easy to increase or decrease calories. For example, let’s say you’re having three eggs with an omelet every day during lunch. If you want to increase calories, you can go to four eggs. If you want to decrease calories, you can go to two eggs. And one of the best examples of that is called the vertical diet by Stan Efferding. And he tends to work with a lot of the strongest men in the world, with strong men, competitors, powerlifters. And the only big thing he does eat, he increases or decreases their white rice intake. So when they want to gain weight, he increases white rice. When they want to lose weight, he decreases white rice. It really makes it easy to manipulate calories. And I know Wade has used that as well. And an interesting scientifically proven fact is the more things you eat in terms of variety, the more food cravings you have. And one of the most important things for anybody trying to lose weight is you really need to manage hunger and cravings. And we have an entire chapter devoted to that as well.
Katie: Those are some great strategies. And I think from a mom’s perspective, bulk cooking is such a time saver. And I, especially for protein, I tell moms that a lot, if you just bulk cook and pre-prepare the protein, that’s often the part that takes the longest to cook. And it’s easy to add vegetables or to add a sweet potato or add whatever to that once the protein’s cooked. And I find even with kids, as long as that’s always available, they’re going to choose that because it’s easy. It’s now the convenience food in our house, and they’re going to add whatever tastes good to them, but it really helps hit those macros and calories. But also micronutrients when you plan ahead. So I love that.
And I know you guys have so many more strategies that you go into in the book. Like I said, I really enjoyed it as a read and how clearly everything is laid out and how simple you guys make it. And I will make sure that’s linked in the show notes, as well as the products we’ve talked about, like the enzymes and the magnesium and the probiotics. But I’m so glad we got to finally have a conversation. I’ve admired your guys’ work for a while, and I love that you are making this simple and attainable for so many people. And I’m so glad we got to chat. So thank you for being here.
Wade: Thanks for having us. And not only did we write a book, but we spent a week in the Hollywood Hills filming a video course version of all the content. It was edited by several incredible video editors. It’s beautiful. It’s visually engaging. So for anybody that just rather watches a video version of the book, you can find that at the link that Katie’s going to provide.
Katie: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for your time and for being here. And thanks as always to all of you for listening and sharing your most valuable resources, your time, your energy, and your attention with us. We’re so grateful that you did. And I hope that you will join me again on the next episode of The Wellness Mama Podcast.
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