Using diet to control blood sugar, diabetes, metabolism and more
Have you been struggling with diabetes, poor metabolism, high or low blood sugar, or dieting in general? Did you know that having an even slightly elevated blood sugar may make you 5 times more at risk for dementia? Are you curious about the benefits of intermittent fasting or how important optimized metabolism is for your mental health? Then this is the episode for you!
Listen as Dr. Brian Mowll shares his expertise having over 20 years experience helping people optimize their metabolism, control blood sugar, and treat type 2 diabetes.
Dr. Mowll explains how the current model for treating diabetes is not only outdated but also may be dangerous. After creating many custom tailored treatment plans for hundreds of clients with amazing success rates, he noticed how important a proper diet was. And it’s not just calorie counting, which is something he sees as a dismal failure.
Tune in to learn how to become the fat-burning machine you’ve always wanted to be!
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Dr_ Brian Mowll: Thank you so much for having me on to talk about it and other things related to blood sugar and Metabolic health.
jjvirgin: I love talking diabetes blood sugar and everything metabolism and the listeners always love love it too and you are a great authority on the subject. Ee are coming live from Dr. Mowlls' car just so everybody knows and I love the dedication like the wi-fi isn't working at your house. You figure it out. So I love that you just made this one work I think before we dive into all of your strategies here and get into the book. Let's talk first about like how you got into diabetes in the first place, why’d you take this on?Dr_ Brian Mowll: Yeah, it's an interesting question and it really was for me more of a professional passion so I was doing functional medicine-based care seeing people with hypothyroidism and irritable Bowel syndrome and kids on the autism spectrum and Adhd and Food allergy stuff and all that and diabetes and blood sugar people who wanted to lose weight and couldn't that type of thing and I just found myself loving the the diabetes care. You know when people came in with diabetes and blood sugar issues. My. I just lit up. You know I got excited for those calls I got excited to see those patients the most when they came in the office and I think mainly it was because we got great results with them I love the sort of predictable nature of changes health changes with most people with Diabetes. So I mean admittedly I got very frustrated with thyroid and irritable bowel and autoimmune disease because I felt like I could do the same thing. Um, that worked with 1 person. It didn't work with the next person and my personality just didn't do well with that. So what I love about diabetes is and and. Not not that everybody is the same everybody is different of course and we've got to treat the individual. That's a big part of what we do in functional medicine but I know if if I can find the root cause and I can encourage and motivate help motivate better find that inspiration but help motivate the person to make the changes that I know they need to make they will get results 100 percent of the time and so I love that I Love seeing the results and so then I became very passionate about it dove into the research got more and more excited about what I was learning and reading. I'll tell you the other piece of it is that there's a huge need So conventional care for diabetes surprisingly to me shockingly to me…jjvirgin: It will give you diabetes won't it.Dr_Briasn Mowll: It's Awful. It's It's absolutely terrible and I mean even even what they're supposed to be doing so. I'm I'm still shocked to this day. How many clients patients that I start even their medication management is terrible. They're going to like the leading endocrinologist in this area or that area or whatever and.
Dr_ Brian Mowll: It's like they're being prescribed drugs from the nineteen seventy s and 80 s it doesn't make any sense so there's a huge need for better diabetes care for a better diabetes model which I believe is a coaching model continuity of care model where we actually can get to know someone track with them. Help support them with their food addictions and sugar cravings and lifestyle changes and that just doesn't fit into conventional medical practice. So I think that the passion I have for the results. Plus the huge just dire need for a change in diabetes care really got me motivated and it hasn't changed. You know I mean I'm I'm still I'm still just as motivated today to help people with blood sugar problems.
jjvirgin: You know as you were saying that I was thinking back to a doctor I used to do workshops with it was like 20 years ago who wrote some books and really helped people reverse their diabetes and. What she discovered and based her premise her her whole program on was she she found out that the people who were getting better. They'd come in and she put them on the American Diabetics Association Diet and the people who are cheating were getting the good results. The people that were following it perfectly were getting worse. So um, thankfully like you're not someone who's going to to follow the rules out there. You're going to look for the results and then go back and you right? So that's where we're going to start and I think 1 of the places that you definitely don't follow the rules, Is that you focus on Rapid Fat loss and you know really the rule out there is that slow and steady wins the race and that you shouldn't lose weight fast. What do you say to that?
Dr_ Brian Mowll: Ah, whole movement which I understand and I'm not against this but there's a whole movement of sort of intuitive eating and um, you know of of course we don't want to be body shaming and that type of thing but at the same time. What I've found is that results are motivating. And when people get results to faster the better they are motivated to continue on their path. One thing that we know for sure is that the calories in calories out model of cutting your. Caloric intake by 500 calories a day to lose a pound a week or increasing your activity so that you burn 500 more calories a day to lose a pound a week that does not work that has has been a dismal failure and that's why weight los , generally just has a horrible failure record a horrible track record because that model doesn't Worry. It's not that it's not that energy dynamics isn't true. It is but it's not as simple as just cutting calories. Ah, for 1 I don't even think we can calculate calories very accurately. Labels are notoriously inaccurate. We're assuming that when we burn a food you know, do direct calimmetry burn it in ah a machine a bomb calimeter. That the body is going to extract the exact same amount of energy from that food and and that just doesn't happen and and and then certain macronutrients like protein. For example, we don't use all those amino acids for energy they get used for other things. Building blocks of the protein right? So I don't think we can say that because the atwater formula is you know four calories per gram of protein four per gram a carb nine per gram of fat. But I don't think we can say that we use all that. All of those amino acids for energy. It just doesn't happen. We need to build muscle. We need to build new cells. We need to make neurotransmitters. We need to do a lot of other things with our with our amino acids. So so the idea here is that um, it's not just about calories in calories out. And intuitive eating is a wonderful idea for people who have a healthy relationship with food but in my experience that is the minority not the majority of people most people have food, addictions and problems.
jjvirgin: Um, well wouldn't you agree right? I mean here's the problem like um I think you can actually activate what I'm calling your intuitive Gps but it's going to take a lot of work to get there if you're eating processed foods. And you go oh today intuitively I think that I need to eat this like grilled cheese sandwich or some cereal with milk now that's not intuitive eating. That's that is a a gluten dairy addiction from the opiate-like effect on the Brain. So I think that if you. It would be great if you could use that it probably worked really well 1000 years ago and when you know we were eating clean food and we didn't have all these processing. We knew all these stressors and all this other external stuff that would mess that whole guidance system up. But. Um, yes, now it could be really challenging could lead you to eating the cookies.
Dr_ Brian Mowll: Yeah, so intuitive eating is the I think intuitive eating is the goal I would love to get for everyone to get there and I think you can get there but that's not the path to get there. You need to heal your relationship with food first and Become more metabolically healthy. That's the whole point of the profast diet with what I wrote this book about is let's let's do something That's a little bit more aggressive to get you as quickly as possible to a much more metabolically healthy state where you're more metabolically flexible.
Dr_ Brian Mowll: Then you can do you can eat Intuitively. You have a lot more leeway you have more metabolic flexibility so you can include you know some healthy carbohydrates and healthy fats and healthy proteins in your bills and so forth. But again we have I think it's important to. Look at the goal is not the same as the steps that you're going to take to get to that goal and sometimes we need to do something differently to get to our goal than we will do once we reach our goal.
jjvirgin: What sounds like what you're really looking at is how do you quickly heal your metabolism and um that same doctor used to say you know you don't lose weight to get healthy. You get healthy to lose weight. Well I kind of think you do both. But if you've got a really damaged metabolism it is going to be a harder struggle. And you've got to go and heal that So what is the there's a lot of questions here but I want to kind of I'm going to go backwards with you. How's that just to shake things up. Um, you know what do you see then as the best approach if someone's coming in.Blood Sugar's unstable. They're prediabetic or diabetic and you know they obviously want to lose everyone wants to lose weight Fast I'm glad you brought that up. But I'm going to say fat not weight because you know we want to hold on to muscle lose fat and the studies show it the studies show that people who lose weight fast tend to lose more weight and keep it off. I don't know why that's not out there more. It's like the hidden. It's always those those ones get hidden because they don't support the the dogma that we've had forever right? that you can only lose 1 to do pounds a week and blah blah blah anyway, um. What do you see as the best approach like where would you start with someone.
Dr_ Brian Mowll: Yeah, good great question. So let me just first say that if we're talking about people with diabetes then there are and I'm gonna open a can of worms here but there are actually 5 types of diabetes. This was published in lancet journal in 2018 2 of those.
Dr_ Brian Mowll: Are are either underweight or normal weight the other 3 which makes up about eighty to eighty five percent of people with diabetes are overweight or obese. So I'm going to talk about that group. The percentage that is the much larger percentage that's about eighty to eighty five this Also um we can also put into that group anyone who wants to to burn more fat protect particularly the visceral or abdominal fat. The dangerous. But I call angry fat inflammatory fat around the midsection that could be with prediabetes metabolic syndrome or just overweight. So if we look at all these people. It's like how do we help them to lose weight when they're struggling to lose weight. Um, and most of the time they also have elevations in the hormone insulin which I know you've talked a lot about in your work insulin is triggered by simple processed carbohydrates and other foods. It goes up when we gain weight and it. Actually causes us to stay fat. So what we're after is how do we come? How do we become more insulin sensitive. How do we lower our insulin level so that we can burn more fat become that fat burning machine that we talk about so often and so the answer is is. In the in in the book here that we're talking about today. The pro fast diet. The answer is very clear and simple. It's we need to reduce our energy consumption now let me make let me be more clear about this because this could sound like. Just said we need to cut calories and that that's not what I'm talking about. it is but it isn't so what I'm talking about here is we have to divide our food between 2 main categories protein and energy. Protein is comes from. You know the macronutrient protein protein rich foods that could be animal products. There are some plant foods that have a lot of protein too. But um, mostly animal products. Protein is essential to keep our metabolic rate high. To protect our lean body mass and in the book I talk about a lot of research that came out of harvard and mit and other places where they've studied protein sparing eating approaches and the idea there is We need our protein and and the magic number seems to be about 1 and a half Grams per kilogram of ideal or optimal body weight. So about a gram and a half of protein per kilogram of ideal or optimal body weight. So that's generally between 100 and 150 grams of protein a day for most people so that might be more protein than you're used to eating or not but we do that so we don't we're not cutting calories. We're keeping our protein ah requirements intact so we don't slow down the metabolism and we don't lose lean body mass and then we cut our energy consumption. So energy I'm defining here as carbs and fat. now I know that there's going to be some pushback around wait a minute I thought fat was healthy and yes I've talked about that for many many years it is I don't want you to be afraid of fat. But if you're already over fat and you're trying to burn some body fat. Um. I think that it's important, especially if we want to do this quickly to for a short period of time restrict the amount of energy we're consuming and incoming fat can be part of that. So this is a short-term therapeutic approach. But what we want to do is keep our protein high. Cut our energy consumption. What I found is just cutting carbs alone is often not enough so people will cut carbs and that is important if we're trying especially processed and refined sugar and grain products. We've got to get those out but sometimes. That'll give you either that slow steady weight loss or people will lose a few pounds and then they'll stall or they won't lose any weight like you know I love the Keto diet but one of the problems with the Keto diet is there's no restriction on how much fat you eat. So sometimes people overeat fact and then they will. Ultimately, they'll stall. They won't gain weight now if Keto is working for you. You're losing weight. You're probably doing it right? That's great, but um I found to make very fast changes to fix the metabolism in a short period of time we bring both down so key protein high. Restrict carbs and fat.
jjvirgin: I Love that and what I like to say is um, too much healthy food is unhealthy. So even though avocados and nuts are good for you like a pound of nuts you know is right I mean and you got to know your triggers I know for me if I have um, crunchy Almond butter at home I've got a problem so we just don't bring the enemy in the house right. With a spoon right? Yeah so I don't I like don't have any of those things that I would lose my mind on so and I think that's that's an easy way to to do it for you as if there's something that you love That's healthy, but you'll overdo.
jjvirgin: Almond butter at home I've got a problem so we just don't bring the enemy in the house right. With a spoon right? Yeah so I don't I like don't have any of those things that I would lose my mind on so and I think that's that's an easy way to to do it for you as if there's something that you love That's healthy, but you'll overdo.
Dr_ Brian Mowll: Yeah, yeah, right and I'm the same way I can sit down especially while I'm working I can sit down with a canister and nuts and just Boom boom boom and the whole thing's gone and in thirty minutes so yeah
Dr_ Brian Mowll: Yeah, yeah, exactly so protein is satiating. It will make you feel more full and we don't want to cut fat to zero. We don't want to cut carbs to zero. But we reduce those and you you will start to lose weight and then you'll start to get motivated.
Dr_ Brian Mowll: Interesting thing is this is a ketogenic diet interestingly because you do produce more ketones on this eating plan. It's it's a I call it pro fast because you get many of the benefits of fasting. Um, hopefully. Many of your listeners have heard of the fasting mimicking diet by volter longo. It's ah it's a similar approach. Although his is lower in protein because he's trying to he's he's really after cancer prevention. We're after Metabolic health we keep protein high to protect lean body mass. But the idea is similar. You get the sum of the same benefits increased autophagy lower insulin levels increased fat burning increased ketogenesis which suppresses appetite it gives you an extra brain fuel. So most people 2 or 3 days into this feel really good. And the biggest problem they have is they get to the end of 6 weeks and they don't want to stop. They're sort of like okay where do I go from here.
jjvirgin: So I'd love to know where they do go from there. However, before that what are you doing about meal timing snacking you know is there is there any intermittent fasting or fasting that you recommend how do you deal with all of that.
Dr_ Brian Mowll: Yeah, it's a that's a really good question. So I do think there are ah benefits to time restricted eating so to limit your eating window and a lot of it on this plan has to do with Can you get in your protein requirements in 2 meals or do you need 3 to do that because we really want. We don't want people to skimp on protein. So if if you're if you need to get 100 grams of protein that means 2 meals that's 50 grams a meal that could be a lot for some people. So you may need to split that up between 3 meals if if you could easily sit down and eat a 10 to 12 ounce strip steak or you know 10 to 12 ounces of a wild caught sockeye salmon or cod or something like that. Then you can do 2 meals whether you're doing 2 or 3 I do like to tighten the eating window up as much as possible. So perhaps if you're doing 3 meals you start eating an 11. You have a second meal at 3 and then you have your third meal at 6 or 7 something like that if you need to eat 3 meals. If you can do it in 2 great then it's you know noon and 6 or something like that and you have that 6 to 7 hour eating window.
jjvirgin: And what are the benefits of doing that just for everyone to hear so we reiterate it again. Ah yeah.
Dr_Brian Mowll: Yeah so sure. Sure yeah, so you so during the fasting time. There's ah, there's several benefits. Ah, you will get some increase in Autophagy now Autophagy which is basically the word means self-eating and it's your body's way of recycling old damaged tissues and proteins to basically use for fuel. So it. It takes old damaged cells senescence cells and it breaks those down so it's beneficial and you make new cells. Um, you also get increased Mitochondrigenesis so increase mitochondrial formation when you're fasting because your body will upregulate fuel metabolism that way. you get lower insulin levels so insulin is basically the fat gate so when your insulin is low your fat cells open. You can burn more fat when when insulin is high it kind of seals the fat cells to hold the fat into the fat cells. We want low insulin that comes with prolonged fasting. We also deplete glycogen so glycogen is stored sugar. In the liver in the muscles and particularly in the liver you deplete glycogen when you're fasting and that's beneficial because then your liver becomes a sponge for glucose when you do eat so whatever glucose is in the meal. Your liver is going to soak that up to refill yeah store about. 80 to 1 hundred grams of glycogen in your liver after 24 hours of fasting that's down to about twenty grams so you know the longer you fast the more you've depleted glycogen and you get this sort of vacuum this glucose vacuum in the liver same thing with the muscles. To ah to a little bit of a lesser extent so and and you also get an increase in adrenaline epinephrine which is a big fat burning Hormone. So as adrenaline goes up, we burn more fat. So lots of benefits. To extend that fast for an extra 3, 4 or 5 hours if you can do it.
jjvirgin: So someone goes through the program and tell me what the average like you know I know you've run a lot of people through this pro fast program like what's ah, what's kind of the average results over six weeks
Dr_ Brian Mowll: Yeah, so we typically see quite a bit of fat loss and weight loss and this largely depends on the starting point. So the heavier a person is The more extra fat mass. They have the the more they're going to lose fat. Obviously the more they're the faster and they're going to lose weight but typically we'll see somewhere between ah Twenty to 30 pounds of fat loss over that six-week period of time sometimes more sometimes a little less and then oftentimes we'll have people take a sort of a break and then do it again to you know, drop another 15 to twenty pounds if they need to. So we've had people do 3 or four cycles of the profast diet to be able to get to their ultimate goal of losing eighty ninety a hundred pounds or more.
jjvirgin: Um, so once they get through a cycle what happens.
Dr_ Brian Mowll: Good question. So at the end of the cycle. We'll do a transition. It's a four week transition and during that transition. We start to add fat back into the diet. We keep protein up where it is about one And a half to 1 point 8 grams per kilogram of of optimal body weight will keep the carbs restricted. We just start to add back healthy fat avocado nuts and seeds olives olive oil and other healthy fats. Ah, fattier cuts of meats if that's something someone likes so over a four week period we'll get back up to sort of a normal energy intake through adding back healthy fats. That that usually will then keep the metabolism In a healthy steady state and when the person's ready to try to drop weight again They can do another round of pro fast or move on to something like ah, a ketogenic diet or something like that.
jjvirgin: I Love the fact that you're cycling and I think this is something that's not talked about enough. In fact, what I've really been looking at is is how do we teach people you know that we we cross train our exercise. Right? I mean everyone knows that you cross-train your exercise if you did the same thing all the time your risk of injury goes up and you adapt and you don't get the same results yet. We don't cross-train our diet So Exactly what you're saying here of like doing a cycle then then switching over and doing a transition and it's just it's just so smart.
jjvirgin: And I hope people just start to to realize that we need to look at this differently and that's what we should be doing is cross-training our diet and getting our our body really Metabolically adapted. So yay, go you? It's what I have to say brian.
Dr_ Brian Mowll: Thank you for that.
jjvirgin: Ah, very thoughtful program and I know you've run how many people have you run through this. How many people have gone through pro fast. At this point I know you've been doing this for a while lots.Um I don't know for sure. But yeah I yeah I've been doing this with my clients for.
Dr_ Brian Mowll: Almost 10 years some variation of it so I would say hundreds at this point I probably should keep better data. But um, but quite a few and I'm not kidding when I say that the people who will follow it and do well with it. Yes.
Dr_ Brian Mowll: They get results a hundred percent of the time. It's it's It's pretty miraculous.
jjvirgin: Those are great guarantees and we have ah for everybody listening you're going to get your manifesto tell me about that and I'm gonna put it at Jj Virgin Dot Com forward slash manifesto because we've never given away a manifesto before Brian So what is this.
Dr_ Brian Mowll: Ah so blood sugar Manifesto is essentially I think everything you need to do to optimize your blood sugar. We talk about diet. We talk about physical activity. We talk about supplements sleep stress gut Health and all the other factors.
Dr_ Brian Mowll: I Just decided I want to write a manual, not a book but a manual for you know, just nuts and bolts. How do you fix your blood sugar. So I put it together on a weekend called the blood sugar manifesto and if anybody wants it. It's yours for free.
jjvirgin: Right on if anybody wants it. You want it? of course who doesn't want this and here's the thing like you know there's a very small subset of the population now that actually has ideal blood sugar and even if your blood sugar is just slightly above normal like Ninety. Fasting blood sugar, you five times the risk of dementia so this is like a super critical sign that your body is giving you that you want to make sure that you're taking control of and here's ah, here's a way to do it. So go to jj virgin dot com slash manifesto grab that and then you can Pop on over to Amazon and get the profast diet while you're doing it there. You go all right? Well Dr Brian Mowll Such such good stuff being just it's all super thoughtful and and I love things that you've got the science and then you proved it in the real world because as we know science.
jjvirgin: Studies don't necessarily actually prove out when you try them. So I love that you've done this for 10 years right I know so 10 years loads of research behind it and loads of real life success stories. So this is definitely.
jjvirgin: Something you will want to check out if you would like to improve your blood sugar and if your blood sugar isn't optimal. You would like to improve your blood sugar. That's the bottom line all right? Thank you.
Dr_ Brian Mowll: Thank you Jj Appreciate you having me.