How to Protect Your Future Health

Approximately 93% of the population is affected by an issue that predicts heart disease about 10 years before you have elevated cholesterol—and very few people realize they have it.

This same condition is the precursor to several common chronic illnesses, and your doctor probably isn’t testing for it.

The good news is, this condition is almost 100% treatable, preventable, and reversible if you know what to do.

In today’s episode, you’re going to learn what this epidemic is, why it’s critical to your health, and what you can do to avoid being another statistic. Join me and weight loss, metabolism, and anti-aging specialist and board-certified nutritionist Jonny Bowden for an eye-opening conversation about how to safeguard your health, now and for years to come.


00:01:22 – What’s behind the current low levels of metabolic health?
00:02:45 – The metabolic plague underlying every chronic disease
00:05:34 – How metabolism is supposed to work
00:06:46 – How insulin resistance develops
00:09:22 – Indicators you should be looking for now
00:12:53 – The Great Cholesterol Myth
00:13:21 – Insulin resistance is predictive of these diseases
00:14:40 – Out-of-date, 1963 medicine you shouldn’t rely on
00:16:10 – Lab tests to request
00:17:14 – The causes of this condition
00:21:42 – Clean vs dirty processed foods
00:23:46 – Is too much healthy food unhealthy?
00:24:21 – Have our genes changed?
00:26:25 – The best nutritional advice ever given or gotten
00:27:27 – Top tips for healing faster
00:29:42 – The truth about fitness and aging
00:32:55 – Whole-life aspects of your health

Freebies From Today’s Episode

Get Jonny’s 7 Uncommon Daily Habits to Turbocharge Weight Loss & Energy

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Learn more about Jonny Bowden

Subscribe to my podcast

Read my book, The Sugar Impact Diet

Read The Great Cholesterol Myth

Read The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth

Study: Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders, Prevalence of Optimal Metabolic Health in American Adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2009-2016 

HOMA-IR calculator

DEXA scan

YourLabWork advanced lipid panel Find it under cholesterol tests/heart health

YourLabWork fasting insulin test Find it under sugar metabolism & diabetes screening

Study: Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care: Sleep and Obesity

American Diabetes Association

Reignite Wellness All-in-One Shakes

Catalina Crunch Keto Protein Cereal

Video: 60 Minutes: Doctors Explain How Wegovy and Ozempic Work

Rockport Test calculator

Learn about Blue Zones

Podcast: What Causes Obesity? with Dr. Richard Johnson

Click Here To Read Transcript

ATHE_Transcript_Ep 583_The Plague of Pre-Diabetes with Jonny Bowden
JJ Virgin: [00:00:00] I’m JJ Virgin, PhD dropout, sorry mom, turned four time New York Times best selling author. Yes, I’m a certified nutrition specialist, fitness hall of famer, and I speak at health conferences and trainings around the globe, but I’m driven by my insatiable curiosity and love of science to keep asking questions, digging for answers, and sharing the information I uncover with as many people as I can, and that’s why I created the Well beyond 40 podcast to synthesize and simplify the science of health into actionable strategies to help you thrive.
In each episode, we’ll talk about what’s working in the world of wellness from personalized nutrition and healing your metabolism to healthy aging and prescriptive fitness. Join me on the journey to better health so you can love how you look and feel right now and have the energy to play full out.
I don’t know if you’ve heard the latest statistics on [00:01:00] metabolic health. Pre pandemic, it was 12% of the population was metabolically healthy, and they looked at metrics like blood sugar, waist circumference, blood pressure, triglycerides, HDL. But now, post pandemic, really no surprise, because the pandemic certainly wasn’t like a great move for our health.
We are at 6. 8% and the big thing there is the primary issue within that is insulin resistance, and that’s what we are going to be digging into today. And you know we get so many questions around cholesterol. I’ve got the author of The Cholesterol Myth with me and the author of The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth.
Those are just two of his 15 best selling books. It’s my long time buddy, Dr. Jonny Bowden, who’s a board certified nutritionist and nationally known expert on weight loss. metabolism, and aging. Plus, he is going to be gifting you his seven days of unusual health habits. You’ll just have to get them to see what they are, but very easy to add in.
We [00:02:00] might have gone on a few tangents and rants here. Jonny’s been a longtime friend. He and I have both been in the field 30 plus years, and he has just a wealth of knowledge. So much great intel and actionable information in this interview. And so you can grab his gift at
And why? And I will be right back with my buddy, Jonny Bowden.
Jonny Bowden. Long time, my friend, you know, you have this provocative statement you’ve laid out about the metabolic plague of the 21st century. And I’m like, Oh boy. I mean, it’s like the pandemic got people’s attention, but we have an epidemic that no one’s paying attention to. And they’re not unrelated.
Jonny Bowden: The metabolic plague that I’m talking about and that we will be talking about underlies every single chronic disease we know of and every comorbidity for COVID.
JJ Virgin: [00:03:00] Yes. And I think, honestly, I’m really concerned that we are tiptoeing around things nowadays, trying to make everybody feel. Like, okay, and all you’re doing is leading to people’s early demise and poor quality of life.
And that ends here. It’s just ridiculous.
Jonny Bowden: You’re preaching
JJ Virgin: to the choir. I mean, it’s not helping anybody. It’s like, are you going to be the one to go explain to them when they just had to have their feet cut off? Cause they have diabetes that, sorry that I told you that it was totally fine, that you could totally be healthy, 60 pounds overweight.
No, I’m not doing that. It’s not okay. So when you’re saying metabolic plague. That is a great term, by the way. Thank you. I am going to quote you. Thank you. What do you mean? What are you talking about?
Jonny Bowden: I’m talking about something called insulin resistance, or what’s technically known as insulin resistance syndrome.
Generally our parents, or the people in the world in general, know insulin resistance as pre diabetes. They are essentially the same thing. And what’s really important to know is that this isn’t some [00:04:00] esoteric thing that only happens to diabetics. 88% of America, and this is in the literature, you can Google it, you can find the studies, 88% of us have some degree of insulin resistance.
And according to Dr. Casey Means, who’s another great hero in this play, that number’s gone up to 93%. I haven’t seen that data. I just found it!
JJ Virgin: It’s 6. 8% of the population now is totally metabolically healthy.
Jonny Bowden: Here’s the part that makes my head explode. Insulin resistance is almost 100% treatable, preventable, and reversible.
With diet, fasting, and lifestyle, no one’s talking about it. Your doctor doesn’t even know what it is.
JJ Virgin: So insulin resistance, let’s talk about that because I remember hearing some statistics. You and I used to go to so many medical conferences. God, did we ever. I know. One back out on the tour again. I’m going back out cause I’m working on my next book, but I remember hearing.
I think maybe 10 years ago, [00:05:00] 15 years ago, and I thought that’s the most ridiculous statement ever. And they said by the year 20, 2030, I think it was, 100% of the population will be diabetic. And I thought, no way, no way could that be? And all of a sudden you go, oh, wait, wait, it could be. What is going on? How is this happening?
How does it develop? Where’s it coming from?
Jonny Bowden: I’ll give you the story that I tell most often because I think it illustrates insulin resistance in a way people can relate to. Insulin resistance is, for want of a better term, a broken metabolism, a metabolism that isn’t working optimally. And the way we can understand it best is to look at how a metabolism is supposed to operate.
So, let’s take a five year old or an eight year old kid who lives in a wonderful, you know, area where there’s organic food and everything is wonderful and he has play dates. He comes home from school, he eats an apple, his blood sugar goes up a little bit, which is just perfect because his muscles are going to need that sugar because he’s going to go out and play [00:06:00] and ride a bike and go on the jungle gym and do all the things that kids did.
Before micromanage play dates on computers. So that’s a normal metabolism. What happens is the blood sugar goes up a little, the pancreas says, Oh, there’s a little bit of a rise in blood sugar. And it releases a little squirt of a hormone called insulin vital for your health, vital for your life. Insulin comes in, one of its major jobs is to remove that sugar from the bloodstream, because we don’t want high blood sugar in the bloodstream, that’s very dangerous.
So insulin comes along and it corrects that, and it takes that sugar and it delivers it to the muscle cells, which are delighted to have it, and the kid goes out and plays, and after a while, sugar goes back to normal, he’s hungry again, he goes back and eats dinner, and that. Is a normal, healthy metabolism.
Now let’s fast forward 35 years. You wake up, you’re stressed out of your mind. You barely slept, your cortisol levels are on the roof. You rush over to the nearest coffee emporium. You buy yourself a 900 calorie, no fat [00:07:00] blueberry muffin and a latte, whatever the hell it is with, you know, a couple of pumps of this and that.
Your blood sugar’s on the roof now, the pancreas is going code blue, code blue, it’s squirting out all this insulin, the insulin is running around trying to get that sugar into the muscle cells, but this time the muscle cells are saying, what do we want this shit for? This guy’s gonna spend all day at the office on the computer, then he’s gonna go home and work the clicker in front of the TV?
We don’t need any more sugar, thank you very much. Take it elsewhere and they become resistant to the effect of insulin, the sherpa of sugar. Now, the fat cells don’t become resistant that quickly, so the fat cell says, bring it over here, we’ll take it, we’ll take it. So now you start to gain some fat around your belly, maybe on your hips, butts, and thighs, but mainly around the belly.
And for a while, That insulin is able to keep your blood sugar just barely from the diabetic range, but it’s working really hard. Eventually, even the fat cells say no mas and now you’ve got both high blood [00:08:00] sugar and high insulin. That is the definition of diabetes, and that’s what insulin resistance is.
I like to explain it in a way where if when you were born, whether it was God or the genome organizing device or whatever it is, nature or God, gave you a bucket. That bucket comes in different sizes. Some people get a big bucket, some people get a small bucket and you can eat all the carbs that you can fit into that bucket.
Now, is it fair that some people get big buckets and some people get small bucket? No, it’s not fair. It’s metabolism. That’s just the way it is like gravity. It doesn’t care if you like it or not. So you get this bucket and if you try to eat more carbohydrates than the bucket will hold, you’re going to eventually overwhelm the system and that is what’s going to produce the no mas
of the cells saying we’re resistant to insulin.
JJ Virgin: The process you just described didn’t happen overnight. No, it did not. And there’s so many signs all along the way [00:09:00] that something is awry. Correct. And for someone you went to their doctor and maybe their blood sugar was elevated. Their hemoglobin A1C was elevated.
Maybe they checked the fasting insulin though. They don’t seem to very often. They do not. I don’t understand how you can get a picture with just blood sugar and hemoglobin A1C and not look at insulin. It makes zero sense to me, but someone going to get their labs done, like what should someone be looking for now as these indicators?
That’s something is sideways because again, I still hear it today that people go to the doctor and the doctor is saying, Hey, we’ll watch this. I’m like, watch it. So what are the signs that someone can look for to know? And I mean, there’s signs that you don’t even have to go get a lab test to see.
Jonny Bowden: I have a very low tech free at home test that you can do.
To see whether or not you might be insulin resistant. And that is this, stand in front of a [00:10:00] wall, about six inches in front of the wall, walk slowly an inch at a time towards the wall. If your belly touches the wall before your nose, 98% true, you’ve got some degree of insulin resistance. If you’re a man and your waistline is 40 or over, if you’re a woman and your waistline is 35 or over, very likely that you have insulin resistance.
Now, if you can get a doctor who isn’t completely owned by the pharmaceutical companies and the insurance companies and will order a fasting insulin test, you can take that number. Together with your fasting glucose, which is done on every blood test ever done in the entire history of the world. You take fasting glucose, you take fasting insulin, you plug it into a calculator online, very much like the BMI calculator.
The calculator is called the HOMA IR, and it’s available online. Put the two numbers in, it will give you a number and it will show you where you are on the insulin resistance scale.
JJ Virgin: Nice. Remember growing up, The special case cereal commercial that [00:11:00] you can pinch an inch. I remember well. Except when you get really insulin resistant, you can’t pinch an inch because you’ve got so much visceral fat.
And I had a client like this early on, Jonny, and I remember it completely. It made me reevaluate everything. Cause I was using skin folds as my metabolically healthy, but seeing that. That’s less than 7% of us, it no longer works. And what I started to discover was that the skin folds became more and more wrong around the waist.
Like the more metabolically unhealthy you are, the less predictive this was. In fact, it would look like you were super lean because you’d have so much visceral fat to be pushing so hard against your stomach that you’d have very little skin that you could pinch. I love that idea of walking towards the wall, of using that waist to height, of looking, going, gosh, am I not able to pull any skin off my waist because I’ve got so much intra abdominal fat, that visceral fat pushing against that I look like, I call it the potato on stilts look, skinny arms and [00:12:00] legs and a big trunk.
That’s another big indicator of it.
Jonny Bowden: You probably run into many men, particularly who have this huge belly, which is like, I’ve got insulin resistance, folks. And they’ll go, here, touch it. It’s like a lock. It’s not muscle.
JJ Virgin: So what was interesting, I am just on a rampage to get everyone to do a DEXA. I don’t understand why this tool isn’t used.
Like why are we going to the doctor’s office and stepping on a scale, which is like getting your total cholesterol, which is a meaningless number when we can go get a DEXA. You know, first of all, we should start doing this in our twenties and thirties for bone density anyway, when we can actually make a change.
But to really see what our skeletal muscle is and where that fat is distributed. And it’s so amazing to me that we still have scales in doctor’s offices and not at least an in body bio impedance. But yeah, let’s dig into, I love the book, The Great Cholesterol Myth. Just like this, cholesterol is still another one out there that just [00:13:00] continues to be out there as this big, scary thing.
Can you unpack that for us?
Jonny Bowden: I would love to, but what I want to. Point out is that Steven Sinatra, the late Steven Sinatra, the cardiologist who wrote the book with me, we wrote it originally in 2012, and we did the revised edition in 2020 when we really had time to go and dig into the research on insulin resistance.
And what we found is that insulin resistance predicts heart disease, as it does just about any other chronic disease you want to mention, but it predicts heart disease about 10 years. Before your doctor says, Oh, Mrs. Jones, you have elevated cholesterol. Let’s put you on a statin or Mrs. Jones, you’ve got elevated A1C.
Would you see that? I think we should put you on metformin. 10 years before that happens.
JJ Virgin: Wow. And how insulin resistant, because I know it’s progressive.
Jonny Bowden: If you don’t do something about it, it’s on a crash course. Yeah. Diabetes. There’s no question. And here’s the other thing that we pointed out in the book.
This whole notion of metabolic disease, which [00:14:00] really starts with insulin resistance, is a continuum. So pre diabetes is diabetes. It just hasn’t quite reached, you know, it’s a long analog scale. Pre diabetes is diabetes, and guess what diabetes is? Pre heart disease. And all of this is just one long pathway.
That you can actually interrupt and fix, but not by just measuring LDL cholesterol. It’s 1963 medicine.
JJ Virgin: And it’s still happening. Constantly. We’re not doing a fasting insulin and we’re doing cholesterol. We talk
Jonny Bowden: about that for two seconds. Because if you have like three take home points from this discussion with JJ, please take this as one.
The old fashioned test of good and bad cholesterol is 1963 medicine. It is as out of date as using a cosmopolitan astrology thing to figure out what your future is going to be. We now know there’s at least 13 identified sub fractions of cholesterol. They do not all behave the same. All HDL cholesterol isn’t [00:15:00] good.
All LDL cholesterol isn’t necessarily bad. These particles, these lipoproteins come in different sizes. And if you think about it, just open for a moment, cholesterol doesn’t go into the bloodstream. It’s waterphobic. It doesn’t mix with water. It needs to be carried in something. And the carrier is the lipoprotein.
And if you were managing a marina and you wanted to avoid boat accidents, what would you need to know? What the cargo is in the boat or how many boats are in the water? You want to know how many boats are in the water. If you’re a bouncer in a nightclub, even if they’re the nicest people in the world, the more people that are in the nightclub, the more likely that somebody’s going to step on somebody’s toes.
Somebody’s going to spill a drink. Somebody’s going to get in a fight. You want to know the number. And in the new cholesterol tests, they look at the number of lipoproteins. Cholesterol is the cargo. To look at the cargo when you are ignoring how many particles.
JJ Virgin: Your metaphors are killing it. Like your metaphors are so good.
[00:16:00] Thank you. They’re so good and they’re so understandable. So I just want to clarify because, you know, I think most people don’t know what they should be asking for when they go to their, the doctor’s office. What would they be asking for specifically? When going to the doctor’s office for lab work,
Jonny Bowden: They should insist on the modern cholesterol test.
Now, when we started talking about this, they weren’t that common. You had to get insurance to cover them, which they still don’t always do. Now, LabCorp’s got a test like this, Quest Labs has it, the biggest labs in the country, all offer this test. And why are we still using the old one? The old one is like putting people in a category of short and tall and doing a medical diagnosis about that.
Now, obviously short and tall, those are factors, but we’ve decoded the damn genome. There’s 30, 000 genes. We’re going to just look at short and tall. We’re looking at good and bad cholesterol. The whole idea
JJ Virgin: of it is idiotic. So they are going to get a particle size number of fractions. Also, fasting insulin, [00:17:00] insist on it.
Jonny Bowden: If they would just do that, I would be very happy. Yes.
JJ Virgin: Okay. So someone is walking up towards the wall and their belly hits first. What do they do?
Jonny Bowden: Well, let’s talk about what causes it. It’s not even just diet. This is a very interesting thing. I don’t know if you’ve had Matthew Walker on the show, the sleep expert. He points out you can induce insulin resistance, the metabolic markers for insulin resistance in about two days of sleep deprivation.
So if you’re sleeping five, six hours a night, you’re probably contributing. It’s not the only cause, but that’s a contributory cause.
JJ Virgin: Well, remember that study that came, I think it was WashU that showed that even if you’re eating healthy and exercising, if you are not getting your seven to nine hours of quality sleep, you are at risk for obesity.
And I mean, I would just say. We all know this, like, what happens when you have a crappy night’s sleep?
Jonny Bowden: The sleep’s a big part of it, overeating, the [00:18:00] simplistic answer, and obviously there’s a lot of ifs, ands, and buts on this, I don’t want to be quoted as like, he said you just eat carbohydrates.
JJ Virgin: I’m totally quoting you.
I’m going to pull out all these little misquotes and things.
Jonny Bowden: But really, honestly, it’s a disease or a condition caused by eating too much processed food. And most of our processed food, not all of it, but most of it is in the carbohydrate category. So we’re just eating too much sugar and starch. It’s as simple as that.
JJ Virgin: The only thing worse than a processed food that’s high in carb is a processed food high in carb and fat. Could
Jonny Bowden: not agree more. But we’re up against a medical industrial complex that says the opposite. Coca Cola invested, before they got exposed for what they were doing, millions of dollars in that global whatever it was that they sponsored, to basically say, hey, you don’t have to worry about it.
It’s all about calories. Well, of course Coca Cola wants you to think that, because then you can justify Coca Cola as part of a healthy diet, as long as the calories are right. So we’re fighting an establishment, [00:19:00] as I mentioned before, Casey Means, she pointed out, and this is going to blow your mind, it’s almost unbelievable.
Up until 2018, what, it’s a few years ago, the American Diabetes Association, which is responsible for like certifying doctors and training them in how to treat diabetes, told doctors that their patients can eat all the sugar they want as long as they take their insulin. Let that sit in for just one minute.
That was the official advice of the American Diabetes Association.
JJ Virgin: Wow. So… I still think about back to our buddy, Dr. Diana Schwarzbein, and we’ll just let some of the situations rest. But I think of one of the things that she told me about early on when she wrote the Schwartzbein principle and the whole premise came to bat because she was dutifully following as an endocrinologist, the American Diabetes Association diet.
And she was [00:20:00] prescribing it to all of her patients because that’s what she’d been trained. And so she was doing what she was trained. She was, you know, board certified fellow, the whole bit. And what she discovered were the people who were cheating were doing better. And thankfully she asked questions. And when someone that was having this great effect and they weren’t following it, she asked why, and that’s where the whole thing came from.
Is someone going, wow, look at the great results they’re getting. Oh, they’re doing the opposite of what I taught them to do. Maybe I should look at that instead.
Jonny Bowden: Yes, but we can’t ignore the psychology behind confirmation bias and the ability of people to ignore evidence. That doesn’t support what they already believe.
We saw this in the nineties. I was a low fat person. I was almost a vegetarian. I would send the eggs back if they hadn’t even a little bit of yolk and we would have people go on the Atkins diet against our regular, you know, I was a trainer at Equinox. That’s where I started. And these people would come in and they’d [00:21:00] go.
We’re going to try the Atkins diet because this is just not working and we go, you can’t do that. You’re going to die. And they’d come back and not only didn’t they die, they’d have all these results we’re talking about and you know what their doctors would say? They’d come in to the doctor and people reported this to me all the time.
And they would show them their blood work and their blood pressure had gone down and they had lost some abdominal fat and they were doing great and their energy was good and their metrics, doctors said, Mrs. Jones, what are you doing? Well, I tried that Atkins diet. They said, you can’t do that. That’s going to kill you.
Sometimes they don’t even believe their eyes or the evidence of their research.
JJ Virgin: All right. So I think when we really talk. About like carbs and fat. We’re not talking about a sweet potato, blueberries, some, you know, broccoli. We’re talking about, I’m calling them dirty processed foods because the challenge is all foods are processed.
You want to have some wild rice. It was processed. You’re not in the field. I’m a big proponent of protein powders. I think as long as you get a clean one, [00:22:00] they’re fantastic. So we need to really distinguish between clean and dirty, but these dirty ones are ones that have been created. To make you overeat, they basically shut off your satiety signal so that you’ll be a little piggy.
And here’s the great example. I found this stuff and you know, I’m so much better not knowing about these things. But I found this thing called Catalina Crunch, keto cereal. I grew up on Captain Crunch and Pop Tarts and Cocoa Puffs, right? Anyway, so they have a golden graham style. It’s like, oh my gosh, wow.
Jonny Bowden: But they won’t have the American heart association heart healthy.
JJ Virgin: No, they don’t. These are keto. These are not low fat, low protein. These are keto. So they’re actually super high fiber protein and fat. There’s really nothing bad in them except. That you could easily eat the entire bag, like you could plow through 600 calories.
I know the feeling right in a second, so I let myself have it in my smoothie or on top of [00:23:00] my almond yogurt, but I have to measure that sucker and walk away. Otherwise, they’re not allowed in the house. But I think that’s, we have to look at these things have been engineered. I think back to the snackwells, you know those cookies?
Oh my god. Whoever ate one of those cookies.
Jonny Bowden: The marketing slogan, bet you can’t eat just one. I don’t know if people remember that, but it was when I was growing up. That was a very big thing for Lay’s Potatoes. They’re not kidding. No, there have been books written about this. They have PhD food scientists who literally work on this stuff to find what they call the bliss point.
The point where like, it’s just sweet enough and you just want more and all your signaling mechanisms and say, Hey dude, you had enough food. The cells that feel, they’re gone. They go to sleep. They are engineered to create a desire for more of them.
JJ Virgin: So I think the key thing here is too much healthy food’s unhealthy.
So even if something appears to have all the right stuff, if you’re losing your mind with it, like me with crunchy almond butter, I’m in the fridge with a spoon. I’m like, get out of there. Put it away. [00:24:00] Walk away from the almond butter. You know, whatever that thing is, then that’s a trigger food, like knock it off.
Did you listen to that 60 Minutes interview about semi glutide, WigoV? No, I did not. Someone on Instagram DM’d me and said, Oh my gosh, I’m so upset about this. And so I had to listen to it. And it was, they had two bariatric docs and one of them said 50 to 85% of our obesity is genetics. And I thought, well, that’s very interesting.
If only 1. 5% of the population was obese in the 1900s and it’s 2023. Three, and it’s 43%. Genes didn’t have a lot of time to change. It’s amazing that our genes changed. Like it, come on. No, that’s not the case. We start in the 1950s. We get these, you know, pro inflammatory industrial seed oils. It was starting in the sixties and seventies with Twix and all that stuff, but it really ramped up in the eighties.
And then in the nineties, when we went all fat free, I was fat free in the eighties. I was counting my fat grams a day. [00:25:00] I let myself at 10. I I’m amazed I even have any hair on my head at this point. Anyway, boy, that didn’t work very well. I can tell you that. I was so hypoglycemic all the time. I was shaky all the time.
I had to have like a steady stream. Of frozen yogurt and sourdough bread was basically my diet.
Jonny Bowden: We didn’t know
JJ Virgin: any better. JJ, we didn’t know any better. And I remember sitting in a workshop and it was an American college of sports medicine workshop on nutrition and these two. Dietitians told us that we could get all the protein we needed in a potato.
And I remember looking at them because they both looked like potatoes on stilts. And I thought, this is, you are what you eat. This is so interesting. And everyone in the workshop, they were all American College of Sports Medicine exercise physiologists, and they were all ripped and buff. And these two dietitians were totally out of shape and borderlining on obese.
And everyone’s kind of looking at each other going, I don’t think so. We disagree. But anyway, it’s really clear. Like if you really look at [00:26:00] the big shift, it’s not our genes that have changed, our diet has changed. There’s environmental toxicity and there’s stress and there’s cell phones and too much light and too late and all that.
But. Boy, you look at that key driver of these hyper palatable, ultra processed, pro inflammatory, insulin raising foods and you go, hmm, you know. So, someone now is in this place and hopefully catching it early. What do they do?
Jonny Bowden: I’m a big fan of simplifying things. I think that our audiences are overwhelmed with contradictory information and Lots of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin kind of arguments.
We really need to simplify it. And I’m telling you the best piece of nutritional advice I have ever given or gotten ever in my life that you could live your life by just these three words are. Eat real food. Done. That is more than the amount of protein, the amount of, okay, the macros, it matters whether it’s a vegan diet or [00:27:00] carnivore diet because you can eat crappy junk food on a vegan diet.
You can eat crappy reprocessed meat on a carnivore diet. Eat real food. And if you’re not sure if it’s real, it probably isn’t. Kale chips are not real food. Kale is. And yes, most foods have some minimal processing, but we’re talking about the ultra processed, hyper palatable, industrial products. That is the stuff that is going to kill us, folks.
It just
JJ Virgin: is. So we’re eating real food and we’d like to do some things to. Help us heal a little faster. What would be some of your top tips? Top tip would be
Jonny Bowden: to move every day because remember movement creates a demand for sugar or for fuel from the bloodstream, right? So the more you move, the more you’re actually using.
Up the sugar that’s in your bloodstream that’s causing, or that is indicative of insulin resistance or pre diabetes. The second thing that you can do besides moving as often as possible, and not even moving, [00:28:00] standing, just doing something with your body. I have a standing desk. This is probably the only time I’m going to sit all day.
So, moving, being active, and here’s the one that people do not realize is so important, building muscle. 80% of the sugar in your bloodstream is cleared by the muscle cells. You lose three to four pounds a decade if you don’t do something to keep it. And you are literally losing your best friend when it comes to fat burning and to using up the sugar that’s in your bloodstream that’s causing all these problems.
Our mutual friend Esther Rum says the key to menopause, and I think she’s really talking about the key to life, is a steak and a set of barbells.
JJ Virgin: And here’s where I really on a mission, because if you look at this, I think one of the big challenges, and you even look at something like The Biggest Loser, I have a whole lot of issues with, because here’s the thing, if we focus purely on weight loss, Hey, what we should have everyone do is just have a little glucose water and lie on the [00:29:00] couch and don’t move and lose your muscle.
If we solely focused on helping someone improve their muscular strength and endurance, just think of what happens when someone exercises regularly in terms of all cause mortality, in terms of cancer, heart disease, every single major disease. It’s like cancer is almost non existent in fit people. And I remember reading this one study where they were talking about that and they said, so it would seem that Maybe in addition to monitoring your glucose, that doctor should also recommend exercise.
I’m like, wow.
Jonny Bowden: And even when they do, they’re talking only about cardio. I think cardio is very important, but I think muscle training is even more.
JJ Virgin: Well, think about this. So as you age, you know, you have slow twitch and fast twitch fibers. And we know that we have some fast twitch that can be slow or fast.
And as you age, you are losing primarily fast twitch fibers. That’s your muscular strength. And when you talked about losing that muscle mass over each decade, which [00:30:00] is 1% a year, age 40 to 50, age 50 to 60, then it doubles. It’s actually 2 to 4% a year of strength. It’s 6 to 10% of power. It’s frightening. So then you hear about the 60 to 65 year old who breaks their hip and then dies within a year.
And just the correlation between grip strength. Being able to balance on one leg. And it’s like, why aren’t we putting this mission to get people to lift heavy things? Because life involves lifting heavy things. I don’t know about you, but I want to be a hundred and be able to pick up my grandkid, carry my dogs up the stairs.
I want to be able to unscrew the lens of things. And, you know, if you just look at some basic things. Basic thing is, are you having to hand the jar to someone else and ask them to unscrew it? There’s a problem. If you are having to ask your friends to wait up cause you can’t keep up with them, there’s a problem.
When I first started going to yoga, which I [00:31:00] still, I have a love hate relationship with, but now I understand why we’re doing these things, if you can’t go to yoga and hold a tree pose for 10 seconds, problem. And these are just. The basic things that we just don’t think about until all of a sudden you can’t do them anymore.
When I was in Palm Springs, I had a client who at gym she had access to was the local rehab center, the cardiac rehab center. So Jonny, I would take her in there and everybody was on their treadmills walking. They could have been doing a crossword puzzle as quickly as they were walking on this treadmill.
And I was having to do pull ups. And dips and all these people never thought this was possible, but we’ve got to show people what they should be doing and that it is possible. And this is what’s going to make you have this amazing life. So. You know, everything you worked for that all of a sudden now you’re in your seventies, eighties, nineties, you can actually do all those things.
Jonny Bowden: That’s why I love to tell people my age, because I’m talking to people 30 years younger and saying, do this stuff. You will look or be,
JJ Virgin: I know you look amazing for [00:32:00] 90. Yeah. For 90. What the hell am I doing, right? When you said 76, I’m like, holy smokes. How long have we known each other?
Jonny Bowden: Oh, at least 20, 25 years.
JJ Virgin: I know. You look fabulous. Thank you. So do you. Very fit. What’s your body fat? Do you know? I don’t know. Have you done a DEXA lately?
Jonny Bowden: No, I haven’t. I need to do that.
JJ Virgin: You gotta go do that. Yeah. Yeah. I’m planning on doing it. Okay. I really think that once you’re stable once a year, but I think this needs to be part of that annual, like some of the stuff we’re doing is the annual.
I’m like. That’s really not important, but a DEXA to see your skeletal muscle and if it’s balanced and worry about your visceral adipose tissue and making sure that you’re holding onto that skeletal muscle. Yep. If you, you know, put every year that I’m going to do a grip strength, a DEXA, a Rockport, do you remember the Rockport walk test?
Jonny Bowden: Oh my God. I forgot about that. We were baby trainers then.
JJ Virgin: Yeah, all that stuff. It’s like, okay, this all makes sense. Do that stuff, do a balance test. Amazing.
Jonny Bowden: And also it would be amiss to not mention the non [00:33:00] diet and exercise parts of health. When we talked about in The Great Cholesterol Myth, we spent a third of the book on this stuff.
Your relationships, your community, your contribution, your sleep, your digestion, the time you spend in the sun, being around greenery, all of these things have made major impact on the metrics we’re talking about.
JJ Virgin: So don’t you feel like that’s really probably the biggest part of the Blue Zones is that people have great community?
And purpose.
Jonny Bowden: Hundred percent. The people who studied the blue zones, they would love to find some, you know, Unabomber type up in the hills of Montana. Who’s, you know, really thriving and everything, living in solitude. They don’t exist. They don’t exist. The one thing the people on the blue zones have in common is not their diet, not their form of exercise, but their social relationships, their social networks, their friends, the fact that they are integrated into their communities.
This is such an important part of health and we really don’t [00:34:00] talk about it enough.
JJ Virgin: No, it’s having your elders have a role. Yes. And being important, having a purpose. That is the key thing. So much good stuff. And you’ve got a great little series that you are going to be gifting everyone, which I’m going to put it at, and that is J O N N Y. Tell us about it.
Jonny Bowden: It’s seven unusual health habits that really will make a difference to all the things we’re talking about.
JJ Virgin: How unusual? Give me an example.
Jonny Bowden: For example, apple cider vinegar, which has been around forever. People don’t really know what it does or why to take it, but it, it has multiple really nice little effects on the body and on digestion and on being and all of these things.
And These kinds of habits are easy to implement. They’re not like you’ve got to go on a cockamamie diet of just orange food, like Billy Bob Thornton did. These are things that are kind of easy to do. Starting every day with eight to 12 ounces of water, every single day. First thing when I wake up, that’s what I do.
I even keep the [00:35:00] water bottle on the bedpost so that I don’t forget. These are important. Dehydration is a trigger for fat storage.
JJ Virgin: I know we did a great podcast with Rick Johnson. Oh my God. This guy’s a hero. I might’ve scared him. Cause you know, he gets on my podcast. I’m like, I love you so much. I have such a big crush on you.
Jonny Bowden: He’s a very nerdy kind of scientist.
JJ Virgin: Cause I gave him this whole, he like wasn’t working out when I had him on the podcast and I’m like, Oh boy. Yes. He got it. Talking down anyway, but on that podcast, which we’ll link in the show notes, he did such a beautiful explanation of how dehydration causes fat storage.
And it’s like, come on, these are the easy ones. Do the low hanging fruit first. You know, everyone’s trying to hack these things. And I’m like, we got to start with the foundation. Do not go try to figure out what bells and whistles when you are going to get on your car. If you do not have the engine and tires,
Jonny Bowden: exactly, you don’t buy the packages until you, at least, you know, the car runs.
So I. Couldn’t agree more.
JJ Virgin: All right. We’ll put that at [00:36:00], obviously you’ll have to come back sooner than 20 years.
Jonny Bowden: I would love to. Anyone who wants to reach me, I have a website, Just remember, no H in Jonny.
JJ Virgin: We will link all of it in the show notes to your books, because you’ve got a bunch of great books.
They’re great resources, coaching programs, everything. Jonny has got like just a wealth of how many years in the field now? Oh my God. 33. 33. Well, I beat you. Did you really? I did.
Jonny Bowden: Yeah. You’re older than me, right?
JJ Virgin: No, I’m not older than you. I’m kidding. I started teaching calisthenics in high school.
Jonny Bowden: Oh, wow.
Mine was a second career. I was a musician until 1990. 33 years.
JJ Virgin: All right. Still, you’ve earned your stripes. Thank you. And clearly you’ve learned a little bit along the way too.
Jonny Bowden: Much of it from you, JJ. Oh, brother. I say it to everyone, not just you.
JJ Virgin: Okay. All right. Well, I’ll go ask everyone. Thank you. All right.
Jonny Bowden: I hope I see you soon.
JJ Virgin: Be sure to [00:37:00] join me next time for more tools, tips, and techniques you can incorporate into everyday life to ensure you look and feel great. And more importantly, that you’re built to last. And check me out on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube. And my website, And make sure to follow my podcast.
So you don’t miss a single episode at See you next time.

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