I am happy to connect with Coach Bronson Dant today. He has spent over a decade guiding and training people in health and fitness. He discovered the benefits of a whole food animal-based ketogenic diet for optimizing metabolic health and performance and wrote The Ultimate Ketogenic Fitness Book.
In our discussion today, we dive into the powerful story of Coach Bronson’s pain-to-purpose journey. We explore the value of mindset and look at how age-related changes affect muscle, inflammation, and metabolic flexibility. He shares his three pillars of muscle health related to nutrient density, bioavailability, and satiety, and we examine the importance of sleep, the impact of extremes in exercise, and the value of stress management. We also unravel the complexities of weight loss resistance, and Coach Bronson discusses his research from the Journal of Nutrition Metabolism and Health Science, sharing his perspective on macros and functional movement in menopausal women.
“If you are wondering how much muscle you need to be optimal and generally healthy, 40% is a good number.”
– Bronson Dant
IN THIS EPISODE YOU WILL LEARN:
- Coach Bronson shares his three pillars for nutrition
- The limitations of basing nutrition on calories alone
- How the hormone piece impacts effective weight management
- How to avoid physical deterioration through fitness and nutrition
- Why Coach Bronson advocates for living life to the fullest and dying quickly
- How does muscle mass impact metabolic health?
- The importance of taking a balanced approach to weight loss
- How sleep aids muscle recovery and growth
- Stress management, nutrition, and fitness for overall well-being
- How alcohol affects our health and fitness
- The benefits of combining functional movement training and proper nutrition for older adult
Connect with Cynthia Thurlow
- Follow on Twitter, Instagram & LinkedIn
- Check out Cynthia’s website
- Submit your questions to email@example.com
Connect with Bronson Dant
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:00:02] Welcome to Everyday Wellness podcast. I’m your host, Nurse Practitioner, Cynthia Thurlow. This podcast is designed to educate, empower, and inspire you to achieve your health and wellness goals. My goal and intent is to provide you with the best content and conversations from leaders in the health and wellness industry each week and impact over a million lives.
[00:00:29] Today, I connected with coach Bronson Dant, who has been guiding and training people in health and fitness for over 10 years. He has discovered how a whole food animal based ketogenic diet optimizes metabolic health and performance. He is the author of The Ultimate Ketogenic Fitness Book. And today, we dove deep into his powerful pain to purpose story, the value of mindset, understanding age-related changes to muscle inflammation and metabolic flexibility, three pillars of muscle health related to nutrient density, bioavailability and satiety, the importance of sleep, extremes of exercise, the value of stress management, understanding weight loss resistance and his study from the Journal of Nutrition, Metabolism and Health Science related to menopausal women, macros and functional movement. I hope you will enjoy this invaluable conversation as much as I did recording it.
[00:01:30] Welcome Bronson. I’ve been looking forward to our conversation.
Bronson Dant: [00:01:33] Absolutely, so have I. This is fantastic. It’s been a long time coming.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:01:36] [chuckles] Yes. You are not kidding. It’s been a process to make sure that we get this scheduled. I’d love for you to share with listeners a bit about your background and your journey, kind of your pain to purpose story, because it’s so inspiring to acknowledge that nutrition plays a large role in our health. And it goes without saying that bringing people on that have walked the walk and have been through this process can be very, very inspirational.
Bronson Dant: [00:02:02] Yeah. My pain to purpose, it really stems from two things. One, personal satisfaction in living the lifestyle that I want to live. So, I talk with clients a lot about, really, when we’re depressed, when we’re sad, when we’re not happy with our lives, it’s because our reality doesn’t match our identity. So, we have an identity about who we think we are, but the life that we’re living isn’t actually matching up to that. And so, there’s a disconnect between reality and perception. So that’s what I went through in my mid 30s. I was 36, 37, and my daughter took a picture of me at the beach. I looked like a beach whale. And it just was shocking to me. I think everybody has that one thing that happens in their life. They’re like, “Oh crap, this is not, something’s wrong, I need to change something.” And that’s what it was for me. I saw this picture of myself on the beach. It didn’t match with perception, so I had the reality of my life, butted heads with the perception I had of my life, and I realized something had to change. Either I had to accept where I was or I needed to change something.
[00:03:04] So, I decided to change something. And for me, that started with fitness. I kind of got into looking for what was fitness about, why was I where I was at and what could I do to change it. So, for me, I found CrossFit early in my journey and I really fell in love with that, I got into that. I ended up becoming a coach, opening a gym, doing a bunch of things, and then after six or so years, owned a gym for a couple of years, I had the same thing happen again. I’m a gym owner at this point in time. I’m at a pool party with members of my gym who I’m supposed to be leading to better health. And someone took a picture of me getting on the diving board at this pool party. And I was like, “That guy looks exactly like the same guy from six years ago.” And like, “What is going on here?” I can do more. I’m more “physically fit,” I’m stronger, I’m faster, I can do all these crazy workouts and all this stuff, but I haven’t changed the image that I had physically.”
[00:04:01] It was totally aesthetic, but then when you dig deeper, I also still had IBS, I still had urgent bowels, I still was unhealthy, I was still depressed. Like, I still had all these things. I was just in shape and sick. I was fit, I could do all this stuff, but I still wasn’t really any better off in my life, my quality of life. And it was shortly thereafter that I was introduced to the carnivore diet. I started trying, playing around with that and doing that, and within a few months, everything came together. And that’s really where I started realizing that, and this is where the purpose comes in, is that I had been so focused on the fitness piece that I didn’t realize the impact that nutrition had on the total package of quality of life. And then I work with people all the time, and you hear this, I’m sure you’ve heard this. “Abs are made in the kitchen.” You don’t have to work out if you eat right and all these types of things. And that’s great if you’re only focused on fat loss, if you’re only focused on the scale or how you look but from a quality-of-life perspective.
[00:04:57] And this is what I really learned from the experience of owning a gym and working with people, trying to solve people’s problems I realized that nobody’s problem is being overweight. The problems that people have, the unhappiness that they have in their life, is the limitations that they have placed on their physical ability, which has to do with weight, health, strength, mobility, and all these other factors, which is a combination of nutrition and fitness. And that’s where the purpose comes in. My focus is really on getting people to understand that you can lose weight by what you eat, but you can’t live a better life without physical ability. So that’s the lesson that I learned myself, that I really want people to understand.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:05:40] I think it’s really powerful because a lot of what you’re talking about is mindset.
Bronson Dant: [00:05:45] Yes.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:05:45] And I always say that mindset is so integral and it’s not often focused on enough. Certainly, in a provider-patient relationship and a coach-client relationship, I can tell you that we’re much more focused on doing, as opposed to kind of sitting still and acknowledging how we feel and moving forward on a lot of different levels. You talk about this trajectory of seeing these two photos and those were powerful motivators, understanding that it’s not just about exercise. And this is something that I used to incorrectly tell my patients, eat less, exercise more. That as if more exercise was going to achieve whatever results they were really looking for, which generally were scale related.
Bronson Dant: [00:06:32] Yeah.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:06:33] But you touched on the IBS, irritable bowel syndrome, which we know, based on research is generally related to underlying food sensitivities. You talked about depression. We’ve had many, many healthcare providers, Chris Palmer most recently talking about the interrelationship between the gut microbiome and the gut brain connection, and-
Bronson Dant: [00:06:51] Absolutely.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:06:52] -the propensity for diet related to mental health challenges that people are experiencing. But I want to talk about carnivore-
Bronson Dant: [00:07:02] Sure.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:07:02] -because for so many listeners, we’ve seen profound benefits from changing up our diets. And it’s always my go to. Many listeners know that in 2019, I spent 13 days in the hospital, I almost died. And when I left the hospital with a ruptured appendix because I was too sick to take to surgery, my gastroenterologist and surgeon, thank goodness, knew me well enough. They knew me personally and professionally. They said, “Do what you need to do,” because the hospital internist was like, low residue diet, which for anyone that’s listening, that’s just a bunch of processed junk. And I told them, “I’m doing bone broth. I’m just eating meat.” I ate meat for nine months and it took me 18 months to be able to really eat vegetables without my digestive system letting me know that was unacceptable-
Bronson Dant: [00:07:47] Right.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:07:48] -but understanding that simplifying our diets can be really important. And I think for so many of us, we’ve gotten accustomed to maybe we’re eating some degree of nutrient dense foods, but we’re still eating processed protein bars, we’re still having paleo or keto junk food, and not realizing that the very things that we’re eating that we perceive are healthier can be contributing to weight loss resistance, which I know we’re going to talk about.
Bronson Dant: [00:08:14] Yeah.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:08:14] It can contribute to irritable bowel syndrome. I know, as an example, I don’t tolerate a lot of the sugar alcohols that are in a lot of the paleo and keto products. And I was saying to my husband, I’m so intolerant of them now that if I start to feel that bloating discomfort, I’m like, “Oh, I need to go back to my roots, which is back to carnivore-ish is kind of what I describe how I navigate, but really–
Bronson Dant: [00:08:34] [chuckles] That’s great way to describe it.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:08:36] Yeah. Because I was like, “I do like vegetables and I do like meat, but I don’t want to have one without the other.” So, I think it’s helpful for people to know that you can be very healthy and metabolically flexible even in middle life eating a diet that is really leaning into animal-based protein that is predominantly unprocessed and as clean as possible. And if you follow Bronson on social media, he’ll show that he’ll have eight eggs and a big steak as his first meal, which for most women listening, that would be like, way too much food. I wouldn’t eat the rest of the day, but kind of leaning into that nutrient density, really leaning into protein and to not be afraid of it.
Bronson Dant: [00:09:14] A hundred percent, hundred percent. I think one of the things you touched on there is– and I actually just had a post about this today. Well, today when we’re recording this, not by the time anybody hears this, but I’ve been impressed lately that we still, and it really kind of bothers me. I know it’s not going to change overnight, just the discussion around basing your food on calories. I’ve had a lot of conversations over the past few months with so many different people where just the power of changing your mindset around calories versus nutrition and understanding that, okay, calories, I understand why we use it. I understand that it’s an easily accessible way to help people understand how much food they should be eating. The problem is it changes your mindset around food from a something that is simply energy based and it removes any of the concepts and discussion and nuance around actual nutrition and what your body can actually do with the food.
[00:10:12] So when you talk about people getting stuck with keto treats and things that are labeled healthy and processed, that are just processed replacements of crap, and not eating whole food with nutrient density, bioavailability, and satiety, those are my three pillars for nutrition. Those should be the focus for what everything we’re doing nutrition wise, because they’re thinking about it from a macro’s perspective of calories. And how much fuel am I getting? Not how is my body actually using this food? Because that’s really what matters. Your body can’t use calories, your body uses protein, your body uses fat, your body uses carbs. And they have different effects on what your body does, how well your body performs, the stress that you add to your body, the efficiency that your metabolism can run, and all of these things. So, it’s not about fuel. And that’s one thing I definitely want people to understand is fuel is such a small percentage of the big picture of how all of these things interact with each other.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:11:08] Yeah. I could not agree more. I always say that there’s the calorie model or hypothesis that really is devoid of helping us understand what is a proper portion of protein, what is a proper portion of healthy fats, and it begets the fact, that our bodies are far more sophisticated than just calorie counting. And it was interesting, I was listening to a podcast with Steven Gundry and Shawn Stevenson literally just three days ago. And Shawn was talking about the advent of the calorie in terms of nutritionally and when that was emphasized and how there was suddenly all this shame around food, like, “Oh, if you’re hungry, it’s a good thing. It’s a sign that you’re being strong,
Bronson Dant: [00:11:48] [laughs] Yeah.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:11:48] –you’re going to work through your hunger.” And it’s evolved into, now, there are definitely different camps. There’s the carb insulin hypothesis, which I lean into, but I always feel like it’s always kind of evolving because there’s also this, we’re really looking at the amount of toxicity in our environment, our personal care products, our food, our nutrition, and the impact of endocrine-disrupting chemicals, which is another added layer. So, if you’re just focusing on calories, you’re missing opportunities to talk about the hormone piece to lead into these chemicals we get exposed to in our environment, our personal care products, in our food, that really have profound impact on the way that we are able to maintain a healthy weight. I think that’s the healthiest way to say it.
Bronson Dant: [00:12:32] Right.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:12:32] Unfortunately for women, I think there is very much a focus on, and I hear this often, and I’m sure you do with your clients. I want to be the size or the weight I was at 18, or I want to be the size or weight of what I perceive this starlet in Hollywood is. And I always remind people, like, healthy is not about being skinny. And unfortunately, as we see people age, and I see this in men and women, but more women than men, people can be very thin, but they look very emaciated, they have muscle wasting. It’s important to understand that along with that calorie debate, the insulin-carbohydrate hypothesis that many of us embrace, it’s the understanding that it’s way more complicated than we give it credit for. And it doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t have to be, but we’ve made it more complicated than it [crosstalk]
Bronson Dant: [00:13:18] Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. Going to the skinny and emaciated or sick. That’s the second half of my story and my pain to purpose. Before I understood this relationship between fitness and nutrition, I went through– We’ve all had, I don’t know, not everybody, but all of my grandparents have passed. I was very close with my grandmother. And process of watching her deteriorate through her life to my grandfather passing, and then she passed a few years after that, watching her– The last time I saw her, she was lying face down in a bed. She couldn’t barely hold my hand to say goodbye. I knew it was the last time I was going to see her. And just watching that deterioration of her body just completely fade away and become a shadow of the woman that I knew growing up, the woman that was one of– I mean, not everybody has that. I would hope everybody would have a chance to have somebody with her experience in life that could be as close and impactful on them.
[00:14:17] So just watching that happen and realizing that there was nothing I could do to help her. Several years later, learning the things that I learned, having the experience that I have and knowing that, having that– honestly, there’s a little bit of regret of saying, “I wish I had known this stuff earlier so that I could have prevented, maybe not prevented her death, but maybe made her death faster.” And there’s a phrase that I heard on social media recently called “speed of morbidity,” which I love it. I absolutely love it, like live as long as you possibly can as well as you possibly can and die fast. Like if you die at 80 years old, then it should be you go to bed and then you don’t wake up, like you die overnight. But up to that time, you’ve done everything you possibly can, you can still experience life, you can still be physically independent, you can still be mentally aware, and you can still be healthy and vital and impact people’s lives, and then you just don’t wake up one day. Basically, I want it to take as long as possible for someone to pass, but when they do, I want it to be quick. And unfortunately, a lot of people start the process of dying in their 40s. They start deteriorating, and then it’s 20, 30, 40 years of them just wasting away. And that’s really where my passion comes in, helping people prevent that.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:15:30] Well, and it’s interesting that you say that about your grandmother. I too had a really close relationship with my maternal and paternal grandmothers. And it was interesting my paternal grandmother, she was a nurse and she had a knee replacement when she was in her late 40s and she was not obese. But back then they would just replace knees or they would remove your patella and the morbidity impact of that on her life and her trajectory. And then for me to watch patients in cardiology for 16 years and prior to that as an ER nurse, I think there’re so many limiting beliefs about age-
Bronson Dant: [00:16:07] Oh, yes.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:16:07] -I know that you hear them. “I’m using age as an excuse.” I use that in air quotes because I say that in a nonpejorative manner. But people assuming that just because you’re 35, 40, 45, 50, that you’re supposed to be obese, inflamed, have terrible sleep, be weight loss resistant, have pain when you move, that should not be the norm. In fact, I was listening to another podcast this morning and they were talking about how osteoarthritis is not just arthritis, that more often than not it’s inflammation related to insulin resistance and some degree of leptin resistance that is driving that pain. And I was like, “Oh, my gosh.” Just thinking about these aches and pains that people assume are the norm, don’t have to be your normal.
Bronson Dant: [00:16:52] Yeah, yeah. And also, I just saw somebody had put out recently, there was a study, I don’t know if it was a new study, but about the fiber-gut relationship to arthritis as well. There’s some stuff going on there.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:17:02] I think it was on Robb Wolf’s social media, I recall, because it was saying high fiber was bumping up Prevotella which was impacting rheumatoid arthritis rates.
Bronson Dant: [00:17:11] Yeah, yeah.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:17:12] And this is definitely one of those nuances of saying, like, “Bio-individuality, not everyone tolerates a ton of fiber,” and that’s okay. I’m still at a point where I can’t eat, like, I love Brussels sprouts, as an example, [Bronson laughs] but if I eat Brussels sprouts, I can’t eat them the next day. I just can’t. My gut is like, “Time out. Too much fiber,” I can eat them three days later. But it just goes to show, you can have a healthier diet. But understanding that just because someone tells you that, as an example, cruciferous vegetables are good for all, that it means it’s something per se that you’re going tolerate every day or tolerate with frequency.
[00:17:47] Now, I know that we’re kind of dancing around the sarcopenia. So, I know both of us embrace muscle is an organ of longevity. Dr. Gabrielle Lyon is a good friend. I know her work has influenced both of us. But really helping people understand how important it is not to lose muscle. And so, we really become at this north of 35, certainly women, as they’re getting closer to menopause hormonally are at a disadvantage unless they are aggressively working towards maintaining and not losing muscle mass. And this happens to men too. My husband’s a former college athlete who is still doing Jiu-Jitsu and up until the pandemic was still playing lacrosse. And he’s a very active middle-aged guy, but even he is noticing changes relative to fluctuations in testosterone. So how do we come to some middle ground about talking to people before they are 40 years old about the importance of muscle and what muscle does for us in terms of metabolic health?
Bronson Dant: [00:18:50] How we talk about it really is, there’s a bunch of different ways I think we could approach that. I think the number one thing to look at is when I try to explain to people the importance of muscle, I like to start with where people are at now. So, when we look at, okay, generally, we know, what is it, 70% and climbing of Americans, people in the world, I don’t know how we want to look at that number, are obese or metabolically unhealthy. And part of that is low muscle mass. If we look at the general population, the average man is about 35% skeletal muscle mass, the average woman is about 32% skeletal muscle mass, okay. The research that I’ve done and I talk about this in my book. There’re 13 different studies that I found where they look at the minimum amount of muscle that you can have before someone is classified sarcopenic or has an unhealthy level. And that comes in at around 32% for men and 26% for women. So, if the average woman is at 32% skeletal muscle mass and sarcopenia is 26%, most women are closer to not having enough than having more than they need. And I think that’s really one of the biggest things that we can look at, is if we look at the averages and we say, “Okay, the average woman is at 32%, but also 70% of most people are obese and unhealthy.” Maybe that’s not where I want to be.
[00:20:17] So then where do I want to go? What should I be at? And when we talk about recommendations of skeletal muscle mass, for women I say 40% skeletal muscle mass is a great starting point. So, if you’re wondering, how much muscle do I even need to be optimal and to be generally healthy, 40% is a really good number. And what that is basically how much skeletal muscle that doesn’t include cardiac muscle, that doesn’t include internal organs and things like that. That’s muscle attached to bone. And how much muscle do I have that actually helps my body move and function? And that’s what we’re talking about there. So that’s a little different than lean mass. So lean mass is basically all of the weight of your body that’s not body fat. And then so we take that and then we say, “Okay, how much of that is actual muscle?” And then that’s what we’re talking about. So, 40% is a great place to start for women. Muscle itself and this is one of the reasons why I’m such a big proponent of good nutrition and good fitness routines and habits before a lot of biohacks and doing all these other things, because you can get a lot of the benefit of many of the things that people are focusing on as a biohack or as an add on or a supplement to their lifestyle just from exercise.
[00:21:27] So, when you build muscle, you increase your strength, you increase the efficiency of your immune system. Muscle is an endocrine organ, so it stimulates different hormones. Muscle improves mobility and physical independence. So, there’re a lot of aspects that people do, like fasting. You’re big on fasting and I think fasting is a fantastic tool, but I think people tend to overdo it. We can talk about the extremes and how everybody likes to go to extremes all the time and I think people use it at the wrong time. So, I think for a lot of this stuff, from a nutrition perspective, bioavailability, nutrient density, satiety, from a fitness perspective, move well, move often, and move weight, those are the things that should be the foundation for everybody’s lifestyle before we start looking at all these other things. Because there are aspects of fasting, for instance, that you can get by exercising.
[00:22:24] So, if you’re not exercising, should you be fasting? I think that’s an individual thing, but there’re a lot of benefits that exercising can give you from an immediate impact to your quality of life that doesn’t take healing time. If I’m getting stronger, if I’m working, and my exercise routine consists of walking up and down the steps, so that it makes walking up and down the steps easier, then the day I start doing that, I’m immediately improving my quality of life. I don’t have to wait for the healing process. So just looking at how this stuff works, I think muscle has a much more immediate impact than a lot of other things that people are focusing on.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:23:04] I couldn’t agree more. And it’s interesting, Robb Wolf and I talked about this on the podcast last year. It’s hard for me to say last year because it’s now 2023,-
Bronson Dant: [00:23:12] Right.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:23:13] -but the understanding that a lot of people are more interested in the gadgets. They want the Oura Ring, which I love my Oura Ring, don’t get me wrong, the sleep gadgets, the Apple Watch, they want the PEMF mat, and they’re not focused on the basics. And I agree with you wholeheartedly that’s really a good place to start from. And then once you’ve mastered that, then you can add in these other strategies to see what is working well for you. And obviously, we’ll dive deeper into this when we talk about weight loss resistance. But those extremes that you’re kind of alluding to, I’m starting to see an evolving, I call it the Triad. It’s over exercising, [crosstalk] over fasting, over restriction of macros. And that is what I’m starting to see, which, as a clinician, I find incredibly concerning, because I would imagine for many of these people, they think that if a little bit of exercise is good, more is better, if a little bit of fasting is good, more is better, little over restriction and by that, I mean really skimping on your protein, really kind of dialing down on your carbohydrates, maybe you’re eating the wrong types of fats. And really understanding that if your body perceives that you are starving, it’s not going to allow you to release weight. Like, that is not going to happen.
[00:24:26] And so, I see a lot of these, predominantly women that are getting themselves ratcheted in and if they were to track their macros, they’re probably having 900 or 1000 calories a day. And I’m like, “That’s not how you build muscle. That’s not how you improve longevity. That’s not how you get to a point where you’re going to improve your quality-of-life metrics.” In fact, I would argue that you’re going to do the opposite.
Bronson Dant: [00:24:47] Yeah. And that’s the thing, is the reason we go to extremes is because we’re not looking at the right things. Everybody wants to lose weight and they’ll do anything possible to do that. It’s about weight loss for most people, and I challenge anybody listening to this to ask yourself one question seven times, “Why? Why do I want to lose weight?” Whatever the answer to that question is, ask yourself, “Why that answer.” I want to lose weight because I don’t feel good about how my body looks. Okay, why don’t you feel good about how your body looks? And dig and dig and dig and keep working yourself down to something that actually matters, that helps you understand, one, why you think weight loss is going to solve a problem in your life. And two, is something that’s emotional and brings up, I don’t care what emotion it is, something that makes you happy, something that makes you sad, something that makes you regret, something that makes you mad, whatever it is, something that’s emotionally connected to the reason why you want to lose weight.
[00:25:47] And then realize that the weight loss isn’t the problem. The weight loss is a symptom of something else that’s going on in your life. And then figure out how to solve the actual problem, which will prevent you from going to the extremes, because we’ll understand then, if improving my quality of life is the goal, then doing things that are actually adding stress and complexity to the solution isn’t improving my quality of life. I tell clients all the time, if what you’re doing to move forward is adding stress to your life, then you’re not doing the right thing. The whole idea is to make things easier, to make your life better, to improve how you feel and think about your body, your food, and your life. So, if you’re doing things and you’re stressing out all the time about, it’s 12 o’ clock but I’m hungry, I can’t eat till 02:00. And you’re freaking out and all you’re doing is now thinking about when your next meal is. That’s the opposite direction that you should be moving.
[00:26:38] We want to get to the point where food isn’t on your mind all the time. We want to get to the point where exercise is just something you do and sleep is you enjoy your sleep, and it’s not stressful to figure out how to get to sleep and all of these different things. So, the idea of two things, minimum effective dose and improving the process that you’re going through, it shouldn’t be stressful, shouldn’t add stress. So net positive or net negative to the process.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:27:05] I think that’s really important for people to know. Ben Azadi always says you get healthy to lose weight. It’s understanding that dialing in on why you feel the need to be X pounds or fit into a certain clothing size, or be the weight you were at 18, or have a certain dress size if you’re a woman, or shirt size if you’re a man. Really understanding what is contributing to why you’re feeling the way you do is very likely really not about the weight, it’s something much deeper. Now as we’re talking about metabolism and muscle and understanding what happens with age. This role of sarcopenia, you also get you’ve decreased strength with age that’s another normal function of aging if you’re not working against it. Help people understand what we need to be doing consistently to be able to maintain and grow muscle mass.
[00:27:59] Now let me be very clear. I talk very openly about the fact that I didn’t know till I was in my early 40s the whole concept of sarcopenia. I saw plenty of muscle wasting in my patients, but I was like, “Oh, if I just keep lifting, it’ll be fine.” I didn’t realize you need more protein, more stress on the muscle, high quality sleep and then understanding there’s no shame in this, women in particular. You may need some hormone replacement therapy as you’re transitioning, men sometimes as well and there’s no shame in it. I want to be very clear about that. But there’re multiple things we need to be doing. Do you feel similarly when you’re working with your middle-aged female patients, that it’s the similar types of mindset shift because they’ve been indoctrinated into CICO and chronic cardio and not sleeping enough and they think, “Oh, I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” [chuckles] I’ve had women tell me that. I’m like, “You don’t want that sleep is important.”
Bronson Dant: [00:28:47] Yeah, absolutely. I think you just said all the things. The most common mindset shifts that I have to make or work people through is being afraid of protein, being afraid of getting bulky, being afraid that if they don’t work out– I have one client, just as an example, who came to me and said that she was trying to get 40,000 steps a day. She was walking for three to four hours a day and I was like, “Okay, we definitely don’t need to be doing that,” [Cynthia laughs] and then wondering why her body was falling apart. We didn’t do blood tests; we haven’t done blood stuff yet. But I can’t imagine what her cortisol looks like. Just the amount of stress that she was putting on her body. So, I think people get– There’re so many misconceptions about what needs to happen and I think you nailed it. You need protein, you need stimulus of the muscle, as much muscle as possible, and we’ll talk about what that means, and you need sleep. Those are the three main things. It’s not about how you’re fueling.
[00:29:43] The fourth thing that I would maybe throw in there is, it’s not about what you’re adding, it’s about what you’re taking away. So, the more things you cannot include in your lifestyle, stress, carbs, processed food, seed oils, those types of things, now you’re giving your body a chance to actually benefit and do the things it needs to do with the protein and those strength training and the sleep. So, you’re making it easier to develop and to grow. So, I think that’s probably the fourth thing that I would add to that conversation. Protein, we talk about quantities and everyone’s got their own different thing. How much protein does somebody need? I think for me, I recently made a little bit of switch. I usually start people off with 1 gram per pound of lean mass. If you weigh 200 pounds and you have 25% body fat, then 150 grams of protein is what your target should be. And that’s a starting point. I want everyone to understand too that because this is another belief system, perception that I see with people is they hear one person say something and then that’s the rule, that’s the law. Then they hear something else say something and then they don’t know what to do because that conflicts with what someone else that they were listening to says.
[00:30:51] And anything that I say, anything that you say I want people to understand, is a guideline based on our experience. There’s nothing that we’re going to say that is a hard and fast rule that should work for everybody. It is a starting point. If you’re not able to or willing to experiment and make adjustments along the way, then you’re going to get stuck. And if all you’re doing is jumping from what one person said to what another person said, you’re going to get stuck. You’ve got to take this information and start playing around with it yourself. Self-experimentation is the one thing that most people are missing. Everybody wants to just be told what the solution is, and it just doesn’t work that way. We can give you a starting point, but you’ve got to figure out where that takes you and if it’s working for you or not. So that’s just a little side rant.
[00:31:39] So, I’m going to recommend, it’s a guideline for people to start 1 gram of protein per pound of lean mass. If you’re a woman and I have a lot of women, mostly women, I’m sure there might be some guys, but many women who are petite and their lean mass may be 80 pounds, they may have 80 pounds of lean mass. And it’s like, “Is 80 grams of protein really enough?” So, what I’ve started doing and it’s really been working out well for me, is I say 1 gram per pound of lean mass or a minimum of 100 grams of protein for those smaller women. Because in a lot of cases, 80 grams just isn’t enough. And if they’re that petite, they might need a little extra protein to try to get them and recover some of that lost ground of building protein building the muscle. So that’s where the starting point on protein is. On the strength training side of things. If you are not stressing your muscle and I like how you said that it’s stress on the muscle. If you’re not stressing your muscle, your muscle doesn’t know that you want it to do something and grow. So, you have to tell your body.
[00:32:38] And here’s the thing. I see a lot of women who come to talk to me and they share what they’re doing for their exercise. And either it’s the excessive cardio over training or it’s the excessive high intensity interval training, or the excessive CrossFit, or the combination of all of the above, which is one thing to work with. The other extreme of that is the, yes, I’m lifting weights, but I’m lifting 5 pounds 30 times and then I put the weight down and then I say, “I did my work out for the day. I’m great.” There’s no strenuous, not intense, there’s no sweating, there’s no grunting. And we need to understand the idea that muscle doesn’t grow without stress, intensity, effort, challenge. If there’s no point in time in your workout where you’re questioning, “Can I lift this?” Then you’re probably not going hard enough and you’re probably not going to see the muscle growth that you’re really trying to get. So don’t be afraid to add some weight. Don’t be afraid to go more intense. Don’t be afraid to maybe instead of doing 20 reps, find something that’s challenging for five reps, increase the weight. If you can’t lift it five times, that might be where you need to be for a little bit.
[00:33:49] So, there’s a process of understanding what it really means to stress the muscle and to push through, and it’s a word that I don’t think we talk about enough in the space, and that is developing grit. We need to be able to push through challenging effort, challenging work, develop that grit, develop that. I know this is hard, but I’m going to do it anyway. And that’s really what we need on the strength training side. And then I think sleep is kind of self-explanatory. We need sleep. Sleep is the most anabolic part of the day. So, it’s not just that it’s recovery time, but what does recovery time mean? HDH is higher, testosterone is higher, IGF-1 is higher. All of the inflammation is lower. Cortisol is lower. All of these things that are happening to help your body repair, recover and grow and be able to perform the next day, that’s when that’s happening.
[00:34:40] So, if you’re not doing that and you’re wondering why you have high cortisol and you’re wondering why you’re losing lean mass, and you wonder why I’m a lean, it’s one of the biggest things I see with people who say I’m a hard gainer. “Hard gainer” is they’re not getting enough sleep. Well, if you increase your sleep, I think you probably would see a more effective result of your exercise.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:35:02] I love that. And I think for a lot of people, understanding that cortisol, when it’s dysregulated, is actually catabolic. It’ll actually break down your muscle. And so many of these women that will end up in programs or connect with us on social media, and I really emphasize, like, stress management is not five minutes of meditation once a week. As a middle-aged person, it really is something you’re doing every day. Like you were saying, “don’t add, subtract” leaning into the sleep piece. One thing that has been wonderful over the last 12 days is in my world, I didn’t set an alarm clock. I woke up when I woke up-
Bronson Dant: [00:35:40] I love it.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:35:40] -every single day.
Bronson Dant: [00:35:40] Yeah.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:35:41] And today was the first day I set an alarm clock to go to a 06:00 AM Pilates class, which is my norm on Mondays. But even saying to my instructor, “It was easy to wake up this morning. You want to know why?” Because I got so much good sleep over the last 12 days. But how many of us are doing that? How many of us are allowing ourselves to go to bed at 9 or 10 o’ clock at night and sleep until you wake up? It’s amazing when you allow yourself to sleep and it’s 8- or 9-hours’ worth of sleep. And I think for many of us, we’ve been conditioned to believe that sleep is unimportant. And I would be hard pressed to argue that it’s not. It’s absolutely foundational to our health to get quality sleep.
Bronson Dant: [00:36:17] 100%. 100%I like that too, because actually this holiday season has been the same, I think, three or four days the last couple of weeks, I woke up at like 10 o’clock in the morning. It’s like, “Oh my God, I feel so stinking good. This is crazy.” You touched on something and this is one of the things I’m really passionate about. And I may actually be digging into more in the next year or two. And that is the idea of what stress management actually is. And we think of stress management and I’ve been digging into, looking for books, and watching different videos, and trying to look into the courses for understanding stress management more. And it’s crazy how most of the stuff that I’m seeing has to do with the tactics and tools that we can implement in our lives to help manage stress. And much of that doesn’t include anything we eat or what we do with our body. It’s all about meditation and sleep and this and that and mind work, and that’s all good stuff. I’m not saying that that’s not effective, and it doesn’t help, because I do think if we look at our lifestyle, there’s mindset, there’s nutrition and there’s fitness and those three things kind of come together. That’s what quality of life is all about.
[00:37:23] So, I think the mindset, activities and tactics and tools that we have there to help manage our mental capacity for managing stress is great. But I think and this is something you saw in my book. I’m very big and this is one of the reasons why I look at fitness and nutrition as being 50/50 in the equation. Nutrition can help remove and manage internal stress, biological stress. It helps our body do the functions and do the things that it needs to do. Fitness, being physically capable, helps our bodies manage external stress, and the two are related to each other. Nutrition can help with some things physiologically and fitness can help with some things biologically.
[00:38:07] Again, like muscle is an endocrine organ, so it can help with some biological function and vice versa. But we got to understand that stress, no matter where it comes from, overlaps our physiology, our biology, and our neurology. So, we need to have tools in place in all three of those areas in order to manage stress as effectively as possible. So, if our nutrition isn’t on, then our stress is going to be higher than it could be. If our fitness isn’t on, then our stress is going to be higher than it could be. If our mentality and the work that we’re doing with the mental tools and exercises to manage our mental stress, then we’re not going to be as stress free as possible. So, all three of these things are needed in the total equation of improving quality of life.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:38:53] Yeah. I couldn’t agree more. I always say that the more disconnected we get from ancestral health perspective and that may look different for everyone, the more issues we’re going to have, whether it’s we’re in climate-controlled environments 24/7, we’re exposed to artificial light, we don’t get connection with nature, we’re not moving our bodies, we’re not sleeping, we’re eating hyper-palatable, highly processed foods. I mean, all of these things eventually at some point are going to adversely impact metabolic health, disease states, etc. Now, one of the most common questions I received from individuals that knew that were connecting was, what’s your take on weight loss resistance? Obviously, I have some strong bias here, but how many of your clients that come to you and just say, “I am doing everything I can and I can’t lose weight.” And for me there’s always a couple of variables and dials that almost always are contributing to this. But I always like to get my guest take on this.
Bronson Dant: [00:39:54] Yeah. There’s a handful of things, talk about the mindset piece first. And I think the number one thing is there’re a lot of people who say they’re doing everything they can and they’re not. So, I think there’s definitely an aspect of qualifying that statement with I’m doing everything that I think I can right now and changing that and reframing that conversation to, well, is that enough? Is one question to ask. Are you doing the things you actually need to be doing? 90% of the time there is one or two things that people are just so resistant against doing. I have people who literally will fight me tooth and nail to not give up diet sodas. And the minute they give up diet sodas, things start happening. And it’s like, look, I’m not saying you have to give it up for the rest of your life. I’m saying try not having that for 30 days and just see what happens. Then you have the knowledge to know it worked or it didn’t work, and then you can make the decision for yourself what do you want to do? Is this important to you or is what happened in your progress more important to you? So that’s one thing. Are you doing what it takes?
[00:41:03] The second thing is, are you doing the right things? The plan that you have in place, is it really the right plan? This is where we get into my explanation and helping people understand that if we know that calories aren’t the thing, then why are we basing our nutrition plan off of ratios of calorie percentage or ratios of calories? If calories are not a foundational concept that actually makes sense, then let’s uncouple how much protein you’re having by calorie percentage and how much fat you’re having by calorie percentage, and move those, I love how you said dials, and move those as individual dials. Your body can’t use calories. Your body uses fat. Your body uses protein. So how much fat does your body need to function? How much protein does your body need to function? It’s like if I go to a mechanic and I say, “Hey, could you give me a tune up on my car?” And he says, “Okay, great.” What kind of oil? What kind of gas do you want? Whatever fluids you want. And you say, “Well, could you give me 30% oil and 70% gas?” He’s going to look at you like, “What are you talking about?”
[00:42:05] That doesn’t have anything to do with each other. You need 17 gallons of gas in your tank, and you need six quarts of oil in your engine. Those are specific numbers that your car actually needs. And that’s how I think we need to be looking at macros. And I think a lot of people are so stuck on finding a golden ratio that they miss the fact that if you’re not getting enough fat, you’re going to have problems. If you’re getting too much fat, you’re going to have problems. If you’re not getting enough protein, if you’re getting too much protein, you’re going to have problems. And when you connect the two, one of them is always going to be too high and one of them is always going to be too low. So, I really want people to uncouple the two of those things and start looking at individually how much nutrition does your body actually need? And I think that’s probably the most prevailing right now in the space where everybody wants to find that ratio. And I think that’s a mistake for a lot of people.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:42:55] Well, and it’s interesting to me because I’m sure you get these questions. People want to know exactly what I eat every day. And my team, we always put things in Insta stories and put them in folders so people can look. But I always say this is what works for me. I do best with lean protein, small portions of healthy fats, and adjusting my carbohydrate intake based on my physical activity and how much I’ve lifted, and that’s what works for me. But there are plenty of people that tolerate higher fat protein and they don’t need as much exogenous fat and maybe they don’t tolerate carbohydrates at all. And so really understanding that it’s this experiment of N of 1, the bio-individuality, really experimenting to find what makes you feel good, what gives you energy, which if you’ve got a CGM or a glucometer, like check and see your body’s response to your meals. Because for so many people, they don’t even make the connection with, “Oh, I ate a big meal and then I got tired.” Well, that shouldn’t happen. If you keep your blood sugar stable, you shouldn’t get a slump, you shouldn’t feel like you need a nap, you shouldn’t feel like you’re running out of gas, you shouldn’t be craving more food after a big meal.
[00:44:03] And so really encouraging people to experiment. But in so many ways, I feel like the healthcare provider-patient relationship has been one where we tell people what to do and kind of that relationship has needed to shift, that it’s meant to be more collaborative,-
Bronson Dant: [00:44:19] 100%
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:44:19] -it’s meant to be a little bit more encouraging our patients and our clients to experiment to find what works best for them and to allow them to feel confident once they’ve figured out what works for them. And saying, “That’s great,” whether it’s carnivore-ish, whether it’s keto, whether it’s low carb. People always assume I’m really low carb and I tell them, “No, I’m not. It just depends on the day.” But I’m also metabolically flexible, so I can get away with, if I want to have a sweet potato or I want to have. I don’t really eat grains, but if I were exposed to it, it’s not a big deal. A good example is I generally don’t, like, my one vice in life that it’s left is dark chocolate. And I talk very openly about this. And of course, there was a consumer reports article that came out recently that was making everyone paranoid of cadmium and lead exposure. And people were asking, “What are you going to do about it?” I was like, “Well, if you really look at the article itself, I’m not terribly concerned about it because the rest of my diet is pretty darn healthy.” I’m not concerned that my intake of dark chocolate is going to be detrimental to my health, because it’s not like I’m eating five bars of chocolate a day.
Bronson Dant: [00:45:21] Sure.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:45:22] But the point of why I’m sharing this is that really understanding that we should all be experimenting. Now, in my experience, weight loss resistance can be related to mindset as you mentioned and getting really honest with ourselves about what are we eating, how are we sleeping, what’s our stress management like? But alcohol is one-
Bronson Dant: [00:45:41] Oh, my God.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:45:41] -and dairy is another. That really, for many people, very challenging if people have a complex relationship with either. And we know that dairy in particular can be very addictive for susceptible individuals and then alcohol. And we know over the past three years that many people stop drinking entirely others drank more. And so, I feel like the middle-aged human, male or female, that alcohol can be challenging for people, and they just don’t even recognize the way that our body processes it and that can contribute to some degree of weight loss resistance.
Bronson Dant: [00:46:15] 100%. That’s actually one of the things that really got me interested in the nutrition right before I started carnivore. I actually did, I don’t know if you’ve heard of the 21-day sugar detox,-
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:46:26] I have.
Bronson Dant: [00:46:27] -Diane Sanfilippo. I did that 21 days. Now, at the time, I was already whole foods. I was already low carb. It was all pretty much green, you know, vegetables, not a lot of processed food. I was already doing like a whole 30 paleo kind of a thing. So, I didn’t really have much sugar to cut out. The only thing I had was three nights a week, maybe four. I was doing a two-finger pour of bourbon every night after dinner before I went to bed. So, I was like, “Okay, well, if there’s anything I’m going to do in this detox is I’ll just cut that out.” And it was just bourbon. It wasn’t a mixed drink. It wasn’t beer, like any of that kind of stuff. Stuff people that think, “Oh, it’s got high carbs.” Well, had nothing to do with the carbs. I stopped drinking that a few nights a week for three weeks, okay, I lost 10 pounds of body fat, so not even total weight. I use an InBody at-home scanner. At the time, I used one of the professional versions at my gym and lean mass stayed the same, skeletal muscle mass stayed the same. The only thing I lost was literally 10 pounds of body fat mass in three weeks didn’t change anything other than stopping the alcohol. So, I’m a100% on board with the idea that alcohol is going to– If you’re drinking alcohol and you’re wondering why you’re not getting anywhere, stop it. Just try two weeks, try three weeks and see what happens.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:47:44] Yeah. I think it can be really powerful. We know that our body processes it as a toxin. We know that it can impact REM sleep. We know that it can dysregulate blood sugar and cortisol and-
Bronson Dant: [00:47:53] Yeah.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:47:54] -leptin, ghrelin. And so, for a lot of women in particular, there’s this big mommy drinking culture. And it was definitely a big issue in the part of Northern Virginia I lived in. [Bronson laughs] And I would sometimes say I couldn’t go to these parties during the week and drink the way that a lot of people did, because I was like, “I have to get up early. I have to see patients. I’m going to be running in the hospital. I need to have all my faculties.”
Bronson Dant: [00:48:16] Yeah.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:48:16] And I would sometimes be amazed that women were drinking three or four glasses of wine and then going to bed and then saying to me discreetly the next day, like, “Oh, my God, I’m wrecked.” I can’t drink the way I did when I was 20. And I was like, “Well, there’s a lot of different factors that impact our ability tolerate alcohol as we get older.”
Bronson Dant: [00:48:33] Absolutely. And it’s one of the things too, especially for women who are pre and going through menopause. It’s like adding fuel to the fire. There’re so many things already going on. If you’re drinking through that process, because it helps you manage the stress of all of the things that are happening, you’re just making it worse. And when we talk about the other aspects of recovery. So, let’s say you’re working out great and you’re getting 8 hours of sleep. If you’re drinking alcohol, particularly in the evening before you go to bed, that sleep is completely wasted. So, you’re not getting any of the recovery benefits. So, you just wasted that workout. You just wasted the sleep. Everything that you did that day to improve your fitness, improve your health is completely wasted.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:49:10] Yeah. And I think it’s important. There’s no judgment. We’re just kind of providing the information.
Bronson Dant: [00:49:15] Yeah, yeah.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:49:15] During the pandemic, I was never a big drinker to begin with, but I was noticing in my early 40s that anytime I drank alcohol, my sleep was terrible. And I got to the point where I was like, “My sleep is too important at this stage of life.” So, for me, it was an easy, “I’m just not going to drink anymore.” And actually, I’ve come to find a lot of our friends in the health and wellness space. When we go to events and we go out to dinner, almost no one drinks alcohol. And so, it really speaks to the fact that for many of us, we just prioritize the fact that we really need that high quality sleep. And for many of us, it’s no longer conducive to our lifestyle and that’s okay. And for those that do choose to drink and you’re navigating that and you’re not having problems that’s fantastic. But if you are, just know that this may be contributing.
Bronson Dant: [00:49:59] Yeah. I want to add to that and help people and just to dig a little bit deeper and let people understand that. One of the things that really drives me crazy and frustrates me a little bit is the conversation of people saying that there are keto friendly alcohol drinks and the idea that, okay, yeah, you can have wine, and it’s not going to kick you out of ketosis, it’s not going to increase your blood sugar. Okay great. But it’s completely bypassing all the other benefits and the other things that you’re doing to try to maintain healthy metabolism. So, yes, there are such thing as keto friendly wines. There is no such thing as healthy alcohol. So, I want to make sure people understand that it’s not about the carbs in the drink that make a difference. It’s literally the drink itself that’s the problem.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:50:44] Yeah. Huberman Lab did a really fantastic– As everyone knows, I love Dr. Huberman’s podcast and he did a great podcast over the summer, I believe, talking about ethanol and looking at the research. And I said to my husband, who likes to have a bourbon here and there, but I said to him, you should really listen to this, because he enjoys his podcast, and he’s like, “I’m not sure I’m ready.” [Bronson laughs] He doesn’t have a problem with alcohol. But he said, “If there’s no benefit to alcohol consumption,-
Bronson Dant: [00:51:12] Right.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:51:13] -I’m not sure I’m ready for that message.” And so, I said, “That’s fair enough, totally fair.” We’ll make sure we link that up in the comments. Now, I want to make sure we leave enough time to talk about the study that you did that was looking at peri and menopausal women in the Journal of Nutrition, Metabolism and Health Science. And so, this is a small study, but obviously one that we’ve got good information on that kind of validates your hypothesis. Would you like to share with listeners what you were looking at? So, it was women, ages 45 to 59. So, perimenopause and menopause, 24 total women went through this study. And what were your findings?
Bronson Dant: [00:51:50] Overwhelmingly positive. It was super fantastic. It was one of those things where we did it, and it was kind of like, we think we know it’s going to happen. Let’s hope it actually happens. We wanted to prove, we wanted to verify, at least get some visible evidence to show that macros that were determined individually, not together. So, looking at protein, looking at fat as what someone needs, versus a ratio, number one. And then number two, including some difficult, challenging functional movement, moving weights, moving your body and moving well, had a benefit to improving metabolic function, translating into a better experience through menopause. And that’s really what the focus was. Let’s see if these things combine, because like we said, I’m all about– I think the ketogenic diet is the best foundation for a nutrition program, if you want to call it that, a lifestyle that we have. And I think functional movement with weight resistance and learning how to move our body properly is the same thing on the fitness side.
[00:52:49] So, combining the two of those together, what do we actually get? We saw increases in lean mass, we saw decreases in body fat percentage. We saw an increase in physical performance. So, the women got stronger, they got faster, they had more endurance, all the markers of physical ability, which is the key. You’ve seen people as they get older. There’s a nurse, Cindy, I forget what it was she called it. There’s a set of physical exercises that she was telling me about that people have to perform as they get older to prove that they are physically independent.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:53:21] ADLs.
Bronson Dant: [00:53:22] ADLs. Yeah, ADLs. So being able to do those things and this was a great example of, “Hey, if you’re 50 years old and you can deadlift 100 pounds, you can probably pass those ADLs.” Activities of daily living, right?
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:53:36] Yeah.
Bronson Dant: [00:53:36] That’s what it’s called. So being able to show that training for functional movement and giving your body the nutrition that it needs helps your body process through things better, whether that’s daily living or menopause and that’s really what we were trying to show.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:53:53] It’s really exciting, because one thing that I saw rounding in the hospital is how many patients were my age? So, I’m 51. They were in the hospital. They had a bedside commode, a bedside toilet, and they could not get on and off the toilet because their quadricep muscles, their leg muscles were too weak. And I used to say that’s a really poor prognostic indicator. So, one of the things that’s really important to me and it’s actually why I lift weights, but I also do Pilates because I know flexibility is very important. And so, this morning at 06:00 AM when I’m being tortured in my Pilates class, which is a good thing, I tell my instructor all the time, this is why I take your class at 06:00 AM because you’re the toughest instructor. [Bronson laughs] And I remind myself, it’s important for me to be able to balance. It’s important for me to be able to work through muscle fatigue. It’s important for me to be flexible as I get older. And I think for a lot of people, understanding that it’s not just for aesthetics-
Bronson Dant: [00:54:50] Absolutely.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:54:50] -that there’s more to it than the aesthetics piece. And to your point about menopausal women, how many women in perimenopause and menopause have horrific hot flashes, which we know, based on study research, is oftentimes directly related to blood sugar dysregulation and insulin resistance. Like, the people that have the worst hot flashes are the ones that have the most metabolic disease. And really understanding that proper macros, doing some strength training, challenging your body in middle age will gain a lot of improvements. And we know, not just physically, but also neurologically, cognitively, [crosstalk] understanding that our brains in middle age are setting us up for our brains in older age.
Bronson Dant: [00:55:34] Yeah.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:55:34] And Dr. Lisa Mosconi, who I am committed to getting on this podcast, it’s going to happen this year. [Bronson laughs] She does a lot of brain research on women’s brains in menopause and perimenopause, and she talks about the fact that our brains in older age are a byproduct of how well we took care of ourselves in our 40s and 50s. So really understanding that it’s not just the aesthetics piece, there’s so much more to it. It’s a lot more substantive than what we think it is.
Bronson Dant: [00:56:01] Yeah. And going back to that, there’re a few things that go into that aspect of it’s not just how you look. The longevity of your hospital stay is correlated to how much lean mass you have. If you’re sick, if you have an injury, if you have to get a surgery and you’re 60 years old and you are sarcopenic, you’re probably going to be in the hospital longer than someone who’s not sarcopenic.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:56:22] You just don’t have the reserves.
Bronson Dant: [00:56:24] It’s not there. You can’t repair, you can’t recover, everything is harder for your body to do. I like that you do Pilates, and I think more people need to do something like that. And the one thing about Pilates that I think is really fascinating is it’s not just flexibility. There’s an aspect of functional movement where we talk about moving in range of motion. So being flexible, but being flexible doesn’t really matter if you’re not strong in all those positions. And that’s why I love Pilates. Pilates is a mobility modality where you’re getting in these ranges of motion, but you’re developing strength. So, if I can put my hand overhead, that’s great, but if I can’t hold something overhead or resist movement in an extended range of motion, then I’m going to get hurt. So that’s where Pilates, yoga, there’s a lot of aspects of being strong in different positions is really super important.
[00:57:18] And then on the brain health piece, I just listened to a podcast with Peter Attia and he was talking about how exercise is probably the biggest thing that we can do for brain health outside of subtracting all the bad things from our nutrition, but from things that we can actively participate in to improve brain health. And this goes back to those three-component pyramid access of neurology, biology, and physiology and the things that we do physically require our brain to work. So, if I’m learning a movement, I’m learning coordination, I’m developing coordination. The more coordinated I become, the more efficient my central nervous system is, the more my brain can function. If I’m learning how to dance, if I’m learning– let’s say I’m learning a dance, I’m memorizing, I’m repeating patterns, I’m developing neuroplasticity. Like, there’re a ton of things that go into learning how to do it. If you go to a fitness program and they like, “Hey, here’s a Turkish get-up. Learn how to do a Turkish get-up.” You may look at that and be like, “There is no freaking way. That is so complicated. It’s not happening.” But the process of learning the movement is helping your brain stay healthy. So, there’re many aspects of what we do physically that actually help with a bunch of other things.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:58:38] I’m glad that you brought that up. And I say this with love and reverence for my Pilates instructor. Sometimes she has us doing things that look a little crazy, but I understand how important it is. You mentioned the neuroplasticity. It’s important what wires together, fires together. So, for me, when I’m concentrating in class, it’s not only just to make sure I’m doing the movement properly, it’s so that I’m laying the foundation. So, the next time I do this particular move, my body is like, “Oh, okay, we’ve done that before. I know how to do that.”
Bronson Dant: [00:59:06] Yeah, yeah.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:59:07] And let me be very clear, because I’m sure we’ll get questions. I do strength training at least three days a week and I do Pilates at least one day a week in addition to the other things I do. Pilates does not take the place of strength training for me personally. And I think it’s important to mention, I think it absolutely is complementary to the strength training, but it does not take the place of.
Bronson Dant: [00:59:28] Absolutely. Yeah, and I’m similar. I do four days of strength training and two days of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. That’s my combination, the two things I do.
Cynthia Thurlow: [00:59:36] That’s wonderful. Well, I have so enjoyed this conversation. Obviously, it’ll be the first of many. Please let listeners know how to get your new book, which I enjoyed reading. The Ultimate Ketogenic Fitness Book, how to connect with you on social media. And if they’d like to connect with you, to work with you as well.
Bronson Dant: [00:59:52] Yeah. So, the book is on Amazon. That’s the only place it’s at right now. Like you said, The Ultimate Ketogenic Fitness Book. I actually just published a companion journal, so there’re some worksheets and some things in there that really help people walk through the mindset piece that I talk about in the book. So, some of the stuff is in the book, but then I added a couple of other things into this journal that will help you walk through. It’s a full year, so 52 weeks open pages for you to write and work through some of the stuff on a consistent basis. So those are actually available together as a bundle. Where you can find me? Everything is pretty much Ultimate Ketogenic Fitness. So ultimateketogenicfitness.com. I have a YouTube channel that is Ultimate Ketogenic Fitness, and the only thing that’s not is my Instagram, which is @coach_bronson_keto, if you want to find me on Instagram.
Cynthia Thurlow: [01:00:36] Wonderful. Thank you so much for your time today. It’s been a pleasure.
Bronson Dant: [01:00:38] Thanks for having me. This has been fantastic. I can’t wait for the next one.
Cynthia Thurlow: [01:00:40] Yeah.
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