Since I’ve been getting loads of questions from you folks and we now have semi-reliable internet up here in the mountains, I decided to do a surprise “Ask Me Anything” livestream.
I can’t believe how many people joined in to ask questions. I wasn’t able to get to all of them during the livestream, so afterwards I answered a few more which you’ll be able to hear today as we get this kicked off.
In this Ask Me Anything, you’re about to learn:
- Simple Snacks for families, performers, UPS drivers, and other people on the go
- Benefits of drinking a green smoothie (and what happened when one accidentally fermented in the front seat of our car in Texas)
- What I really think of Clif Bars (and other bars marketed to athletes and outdoorsy types)
- And tons more…
I hope you enjoy.
Ask Me Anything with Abel
Here are some of the great comments that came in. This first one’s from Brian.
Brian says: “Thanks for changing my life. I’ve lost 36 pounds simply by following the recipes in your books. I recently got off of my blood pressure meds, eating real food rocks!”
You rock, Brian. Thank you so much for listening. And 36 pounds, that’s a legit amount of weight.
I remember losing about that amount when I went from my trough in health to trying to get back to my ideal body composition.
I mean, losing over 30 pounds, you can really feel that. So enjoy.
Here’s another comment that came in from Sarah who joined us in the livestream.
Sarah says: “Thanks for doing these livestreams, these are fantastic. I love geeking out on health and nutrition. You were the first to open my eyes to the fact that our bodies are amazing machines, food is medicine and movement is the answer to longevity.”
That’s right, bingo, Sarah. That is totally cool.
I love that you’re listening and getting those messages from the shows that we’re putting out there.
Because I don’t think we really appreciate it often enough—I certainly don’t—all of the things that are working in our bodies all the time.
Whether you’re carrying a little bit of extra weight or struggling with some malfunction or not, think about all the things that are going well in your body and around your body right now. It’s truly incredible.
If we honor that our bodies are ecosystems, are amazing machines that adapt to our lifestyle and our environment, then by doing certain things, doing the things that hopefully you know are right and your gut intuition and your heart tells you are right, and healthy for you, by doing that over the long haul you’re going to have a long and healthy life. And then die quickly and easily, hopefully at a very old age.
Okay, so here’s another one that came in from Don.
Don says: “Can I eat too much spinach? I eat it every day.”
Yes, you can definitely eat too much spinach.
Don, try to sub it out for other green leafy vegetables, if you can, or even something else like broccoli.
One of the most important things to do as a part of your eating strategy and just daily practices is cycling certain foods in and out.
Eating in season inherently does that.
It’s harder and harder to do that now, but keep in mind that our bodies are not really well-adapted to eat the same thing over and over again.
And even foods that are otherwise pretty good like spinach, they can be very high in oxalates and other compounds that can kind of build up in the body, potentially causing harm or discomfort down the road.
Having suffered from kidney stones in the past myself, that’s something I don’t want to mess with.
So make sure you’re cycling all of the foods that you’re eating, even the ones that are otherwise healthy.
Okay, Sarah followed up with another question.
She says: “Thank you. Is full-fat coconut milk a good alternative as well? I found a great source that has water and coconuts, no added junk.”
Yes, unsweetened canned coconut, or the stuff in the carton, as long as it doesn’t have a bunch of added junk in there, is a great option for adding to coffee.
Basically, the higher fat the better.
And I should say there are benefits from taking a break from dairy, as well.
My wife, Alyson, does that much more than I do. I probably don’t do it enough, but I think I will be doing it more.
On my Dad’s side, I come from a family of dairy farmers, so I love me some pasture-raised heavy cream, and cheeses, of course.
But cycling that out is really helpful in so many different ways.
Here’s another quick question that came in, from Gabriel.
Gabriel says: “What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?”
I just truly love this question.
If you have questions like that and you’re out there, please feel free to ask.
I was recently gifted a book by one of our team members actually. Thank you, Melinda. It’s called Breakfast with Buddha.
I really enjoyed reading through it. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I ordered the whole trilogy and I’m almost finished with it now.
So, Breakfast with Buddha, that’s a great one.
Alright, let’s get to this question from Scott. He says: “Just looking for more snack ideas. I’m a driver for UPS, so always on the go.”
Abel: Right on, Scott. You help us out. We get so much stuff from UPS. And in fact, I just wrote a little poem about you. Stay tuned for that.
Ok, snack ideas. That’s a pretty easy one because Alyson and I have been doing this for 8+ years, and we’ve got this long list of different foods to choose from.
So, let’s just go in order of how I like to actually break my fast, which is usually later in the day. But this kind of works for snacks, too.
There’s always bone broth and soup.
That’s something that, obviously, you’d want to prepare ahead of time, but a lot of times when we’re on the road, we’re going out for a hike or something like that and it’s cold out, it’s really nice to bring a thermos full of broth or soup of some kind.
Obviously, make sure that it’s high-quality.
If you make broth from low quality industrial feedlot bones, then you’re going to be leaching out all the nonsense that was in that sick animal, unfortunately.
So you don’t want to be taking that into your body. Make sure that it’s high quality stuff.
We usually make homemade broth from some of our scraps, or we’ll even get grass-fed beef bones specifically for broth, or sometimes chicken.
We like Kettle and Fire, and there are a few other brands of broth that are kind of popping up in the natural health stores that are good options—organic, taste good and they appear to be high quality.
Obviously, if you don’t go to the farm or what have you, or meet the animals, there’s only so much you can know about some of these brands. So do your best.
But good, high-quality bone broth is going to be high in collagen, and high in a lot of various minerals and nutrients that most of us are missing out on.
So it’s a nice way to spackle the gaps in your nutrition and also fill up on something that’s pretty wholesome and hearty.
Speaking of wholesome and hearty, it’s hard to do better than a green smoothie.
If you’re making one at home, it’s basically the parts of a salad that are good for you. You want to pack it with mostly nutrient-dense, green, dark leafy veggies.
And also you can add some colorful fruits in there, too. Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, or other frozen berries that were flash frozen at peak ripeness can be a great way to get some added nutrients.
But be careful not to overdo it on the fruit. I can’t over-emphasize this enough, especially when it comes to smoothies and juices.
People go crazy. If you buy one of those pre-made smoothies from the grocery store, and especially from those juice places.
I mean, even brands that we like that make green juices, just certain flavors of them. Usually, it’ll be like 1 out of 10 of the flavors we would even consume because all of the other ones have 10, 20, 30, 50, or even 90 grams of sugar per serving, or certainly per bottle.
And so, anyway, if you’re really on the run, some good natural food stores at this point carry pretty good options for green juices.
If you’re not into making smoothies, the juices will last a little bit longer. You can keep them in a cooler if you’re on the go, like we do sometimes. They’ll probably last for the day.
Or if you’re going out in the car, or on a hike, you don’t really need to worry about refrigerating some of these.
But make sure that it hopefully has less than 5 – 10 grams of sugar in that green juice or green smoothie.
And if you’re making it at home, once again, just emphasize the things that you know are good for you, like dark leafy greens that are high in nutrients.
Also don’t forget that you can put some cool stuff into smoothies without it necessarily detracting from the flavor.
Not that green smoothies are the best tasting thing ever, let’s be honest.
But one thing that we like to do here at home is, we use Future Greens, which is our own product that we’ve put out there to help support the show, and pay the bills. But it’s also something we take ourselves, which is basically a combination of all sorts of greens and fruity goodies. All the good parts without the sugar.
It also has a bit of sweetness from organic Stevia that’s in there, and that can give smoothies a little bit of a better flavor.
So, if there are smoothie boosters that are out there that you know that you like, whether it’s a clean protein of some kind, or maybe some extra fruits and veggies to add to the mix, throw that in there. Carry that around with you.
As always, the number one win is just to plan ahead. Raw veggies are really easy.
Alyson and I will do this all the time. We’ll take raw veggies, like carrots or cucumbers, on hikes. We’ll just throw them in our pack.
Sometimes we’ll take cukes, celery, green apples. Some fruits will travel well, but a lot of them don’t really.
So the only ones that we really go for, especially when we’re out on a road trip or a hike, are going to be those in season apples. And get them as fresh as you can.
Even the organic ones, believe it or not, can be 6 – 12 months old by the time you get them from a traditional grocery store. So go high-quality with the fruits and veg, if you can, too.
Here’s another snack idea. If you dig avocados, this one is so easy because you can really feed two people in one sitting. Avocado is a very energy-dense food.
And it’s nutrient-dense. It’s got quite a bit of oomph and flavor to it, and it fills you up, even by itself in a really surprising way.
So, what I like to do, I’ve got something called a spice missile, which is a little canister with six modular compartments that allows you to put salt, pepper, and whatever spices you want in it.
So, I usually have a sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cinnamon, and maybe some cocoa powder in it.
So we’ll take the avocado, cut it in half with whatever implement we have available, which is sometimes the challenge, and twist it in half.
Then you’ve got two halves, take the pit out, and sprinkle it with salt, maybe a bit of pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder.
Sometimes, I’ll put some of those on as well, and then just with a spoon, or even with your fingers, let’s be serious here. You can just dig straight into that half an avocado.
Or if you’re in the mood for a whole avocado, go for it. It’s amazing how many hours of fullness you’ll get out of that.
It’s not like you’re going to totally fill up and your belly is going to be all full. But the richness of that avocado can really go a long way.
So, that’s another good option.
Then, here at home, Alyson is really great about making GORP or trail mix, with our favorite variety of nuts, dried berries, maybe a bit of coconut flakes, and whatever else we want to throw in there.
Raw, soaked, sprouted, roasted, nuts are a really reliable snack. And once again, kind of like avocado.
They’ve got a ton of density when it comes to energy, so you don’t need to pound a whole bunch of nuts. You don’t need to have 500 calories or 1000 calories of nuts. Just like a couple small handfuls.
If they’re salted, sometimes it’s easy to over-eat them, so be careful with that.
Another thing I’d like to mention about nuts and seeds. I was just talking to Dr. Gundry, who’s going to be coming up on the podcast, about all of this. The lectins that are in cashews and peanuts can be problematic.
Alyson and I are not anti-peanut or anti-cashew all the time. But suffice it to say, there’s a lot of evidence that says that peanuts and cashews are not a good thing for us to eat, certainly not on a daily basis.
So, we do periods of taking a break from pretty much all foods, and right now, we’re taking a break from peanuts and cashews.
And it might be a very extended one, because especially as the years go by, various things can crop up.
And you notice that you could be feeling better than you are.
So, I think it’s really important to, every few weeks, look at what you’re eating, and be like, “Is this particular food, whether I like it or not, still serving me?”
You want to be running clean. And so if you’re not at peak performance, then it’s especially important to take a look at what you’re eating because there’s no doubt about it, especially what you’re not eating directly plays into how you feel.
And notice how I didn’t say what you’re eating, because it’s not even as much about that.
If you eat clean foods that work for you, according to any plan that really works for you, that’s going to be a lot of the battle.
But what you’re not eating, what this world presents us with, just going out there in an airport or in a restaurant, 80-90% of it is going to be Frankenfoods that are going to make you sick, make you be ill in some way, or disturb your body.
These are all completely novel foods that our bodies are not well-adapted to consume or certainly thrive off of.
So, I think all of us could be a bit better about being honest with ourselves and looking at, not just the ingredients that you’re consuming on a day-to-day basis, but also, that little protein bar or protein shake. Or that little snack or ice cream or that dessert.
The 20% or the 10% where you’re coloring outside of the lines, using it as your cheat day. What’s in that stuff?
And how do you feel, honestly, in an hour or two, or the next day after you eat some of that stuff?
If you have a free day or a cheat day and you just go nuts and eat whatever you want, how do you feel afterwards?
The more that you can link this stuff up in your mind, the more you’ll be better able to know what snacks to carry around with you.
But so much of that is just being well-prepared, like I said, and then not being caught trying to eat out of some corner store.
Because, you’re out driving all day or you’re out going about your business, and you’re famished. And you know you need something right now, and you only have low quality options.
Watch out for that.
Ok, so a few more. Salads are always great to pack ahead.
As long as you keep the dressing separate and you don’t throw squishy tomatoes or other things like that in there.
Avocado also, might not want to put it in there (unless you squeeze a bit of lemon over the top or wait to peel it).
If you pre-make a salad in the morning, there are ways to make sure that it’s still good by the time you eat it mid-day, or in the afternoon.
So, salads can be a good one.
Coconut in almost all of its various forms, can be another high energy snack that burns pretty clean.
One that we like to go out with or hike with coconut oil, coconut manna (or coconut butter), in these tiny one serving packets.
I think they’re about 200 calories, somewhere around there. So I’ll just throw that in my pack and bring it pretty much everywhere.
It’s a really interesting thing that can happen where you go from being like, “Oh, I feel so low on energy right now. I’m just kind of dragging, and I know I need some sort of food.”
And that’s a real feeling.
As much as I’m into intermittent fasting, that’s a real feeling and it totally happens. Sometimes you just need to eat something.
There’s nothing better than reaching into your pack and grabbing a quick snack.
Something that’s about 100 – 200 calories, it could be so satisfying.
Coconut manna is delicious. It’s kind of like the meat of the coconut that’s been dried out, but it’s got a subtle sweetness without too much sugar.
It’s got plenty of fat, and even a little bit of fiber in there.
Coconut oil can be a good one.
The other fats, like dairy fats, can definitely be filling. Having cheese or yogurt around.
But be careful with it. Because it’s not necessarily a slimming food.
And I do consume dairy. I take breaks from it from time to time, not as often as I probably should. But when it comes to cheese, it’s really easy to abuse that one.
I’ve seen a lot of people, unfortunately, overeat cheese. It’s one of those foods where they have a little bit of it, and then they just can’t stop.
So be careful if that’s one of your trigger foods.
But at the same time, nothing beats just a little bit. Especially when you really need it, and you’ve been on all day, and you’re a little low on energy.
But, like I was saying, just 100 – 200 calories. Just a small snack.
Try to see if these hunger pangs, especially if they come in the afternoon, if you can hold over for a few hours after that. Just with that small snack you have.
Because there might be a tendency, if you just have that one little beef jerky stick or one little apple or something like that, to just keep mowing through.
And it’s like, “Oh, oh, I’m in eating mode now.”
But you’d be surprised, especially, and I’m not sure exactly why, but if you’ve expended a lot of energy that day, if it’s the afternoon and you’re kind of caught in that lag. That lethargic feeling. You have that quick boost of that one little stack, then you stop.
And you’re like, “Oh, I’m kind of full now. I’ve got a nice little refreshment and boost of energy.”
Also, remember to stay hydrated.
A lot of people become dehydrated by the afternoon and that’s one of the reasons they’re dragging.
But anyway, you get that little snack in and it holds you over until dinner and then you can have your dinner time feast.
That’s how I like to do it.
You’d be surprised by how much these snacks can help.
Here’s another one that I really like. There’s a bunch of different kinds of really decent jerky that you can get, made from healthy animals raised on pasture, eating the diet that nature intended.
And so, I was out for a hike in the Rockies with my wife, Alyson, and my brother Mark, just a couple of weeks ago now.
We’d been hiking most of the day. And it was one of those moments where, we were just kind of like, alright, we’ve been trudging along all day and the sun’s starting to go down.
I think we’re getting a little nibbley, and it just so happened that I packed these beef jerky sticks. Almost like a less unhealthy version of a Slim Jim. Not the giant ones, they’re just small. Maybe six inches of Slim Jim, and so it’s not actually that much food.
I packed 3 of them, so I passed them out.
And we all kind of just really enjoyed eating it together. Especially out there in nature.
And we all remarked just a few minutes after that, about how satisfying that was. Then we had this whole conversation about how little food we all actually need.
We live in, and we were hiking in a place where the Ute Native Americans lived.
And there’s still a lot of evidence of the trees they used and modified, and turned into arborglyphs, the rock shelters, evidence of all sorts of things.
And I just thought of how the world that we live in does feel normal now.
But it is so entirely unprecedented for our bodies, on the genetic level—even if you take consciousness out of the equation.
You consider that almost all the foods that we’re eating, almost everything that we’re seeing, whether it’s shapes or materials, smells, off-gassing, pollution—all this stuff is completely new.
And, you know, it bugs me when science says that it knows everything, because it clearly doesn’t, and no one can.
There are a lot of moving parts, but we’d all be surprised by how simple our needs actually are.
How simple our needs can become. How little food we can get by on.
And if we just had access to maybe the generation before our great grandparents and some of those generations, we’d start to realize just how out of whack our norms are now. With how many times a day we’re eating, with all the snacking that we’re doing.
But anyway, so that was the only thing that any of us had eaten that day when we were out hiking, that little grass-fed beef jerky stick.
And that held us over until dinner, and we were all happy, feeling good.
That’s how I like to do it. So, when you start snacking, snack a little bit. Don’t just like mow into whatever it is.
Try to, if there’s any opportunity for eating intentionally, it’s when you first start eating that day, when you first break your fast.
So, choose that first food carefully.
Alright, I’m going to rattle off a few other snacks, because Alyson helped me prepare this ahead of time because we get this question a lot. People are asking about snacks and we’re not anti-snacking necessarily.
You don’t want to get into that stress eating mode with crazed hunger when you’re hypoglycemic and you waited too long.
So, you always want to prepare ahead of time, and make sure that you have plenty of good stuff that hopefully you like, and that you know fills you up.
Some things that I like—that not everyone does, they can definitely be an acquired taste—include, smoked oysters that actually come in little cans kind of like sardines. And also canned salmon.
Canned seafood. My wife and I joke that it’s like eating kitty food.
It’s like, “Who opened the cat food?”
Yes, it smells weird. I wouldn’t do it on an airplane, necessarily.
But it’s kind of like flash frozen fruits and veggies. When you preserve a food at its peak freshness, you can enjoy that nutrition down the road in a really convenient way.
And so I think the high-quality canned sardines, oysters, salmon—not necessarily tuna because of the heavy metals in there.
If you’re going for high quality snacks like that, man, that fills me up every time.
Salmon Caviar is another really great one that we’ve been getting recently.
I’ve had caviar in the past that’s outrageously expensive, and that’s how it’s usually presented. But it doesn’t have to be.
We’ve found some clean sources of salmon caviar that really isn’t too bad, price-wise.
And considering evolution, how much bears love salmon, and just all of the Omega 3 goodness and other things that are in it.
When you think about eating an egg or you think about eating an oyster, those are good examples of nutrient-dense foods, because they’re whole foods.
We don’t usually eat whole animals, nose to tail, but it’s not too difficult to do if you’re eating things like oysters.
So, going for some of that seafood, if you can handle a bit of seafood, is a really great option. It doesn’t have to be too expensive, even the best quality stuff. And it’s often so easy to carry around with you.
Hard-boiled eggs are another great one.
Sometimes for road trips, Alyson will make some deviled eggs, which are maybe a little bit messy, but such a treat when you’re on the road.
And not too difficult to eat, even if you’re driving. Especially if you have someone else shoving them in your mouth.
Guacamole with carrot sticks, or making little avocado boats.
It’s like making a wrap or a taco shell using some sort of lettuce or green, and then filling the insides with avocado.
Great one. But keep in mind, avocado is super tricky.
You kind of have to eat it fresh or really quickly after you make it, otherwise it goes brown and gets kind of nasty.
So, you’ll learn the little ins and outs of all these foods with experience, for sure.
But they all have their little surprises, including green smoothies, which can ferment under the front seat of the car, we’ve learned.
And actually not turn out too bad, even days later. But I wouldn’t recommend that on a livestream podcast or anything like that, necessarily.
So, let’s just roll right through this.
Seaweed snacks are another really great one.
Alyson and I made some up the other night. We just put the seaweed snack squares flat on a plate, added a bit of salmon caviar in the middle, with a bit of chopped onion, chopped avocado, sprouts, and a bit of coconut aminos.
And we made our own sushi, it was so good, so easy. Not terribly expensive, and I don’t even think we got worms.
Some other ones, homemade protein snacks are one that we really like to take on the road.
We call it power-cookies. I don’t have the recipe right in front of me, but basically there are so many different ways of doing.
The idea is that you’re eating something that will fill you up and feel like a treat at the same time.
So, a little bit more than chocolate. You want some more protein in there and sometimes some added nutrients, as well.
And so check out the power cookies recipe.
I don’t want to spoil it right now, but we have some surprises coming out with Wild Superfoods and it will be easier to source the ingredients for making power cookies. I can tell you that.
But anyway, you want high-quality protein in there. Maybe some nut butters of various kinds, and we’ll put nuts in there, as well.
Have fun with it. Basically, try to make your homemade version of healthy cookies.
It’s not as hard as it sounds. And maybe kids won’t like them right away, but you can tinker with them. You can see what everyone likes and there are ways to trick the people around you into eating healthier options than they otherwise would, especially with things like power cookies.
And I already kind of mentioned this, but cheese is a nice snack and one way to avoid over-eating it is there are even some organic string cheeses and other various pre-wrapped cheeses.
And aside from the plastic—which is not a great thing—it does make it convenient to carry around with you.
So, sometimes Alyson will make a little lunch bag for us to take in the truck to take wherever we’re going.
We’ll throw some string cheese in there, an avocado, green apple, carrots, mixed nuts. Sometimes we’ll slice up a little bit of cheddar cheese with some crackers.
There are a lot of bad crackers out there. Only a few good ones. So, look carefully at the ingredients.
I’m not going to get into crackers right now, but various snacks, just like throw your favorite ones into a tiny little bag, you’ll be amazed by how much just a few minutes of preparation will pay off down the road.
I’ve said this before but I stand by this, one of the best foods I’ve ever tasted in my entire life was when I was in college leading an outdoors trip, while camping in New Hampshire.
And we were around the fire, and I don’t think I’d really eaten anything all day. And we had these dehydrated bean burritos.
With a little bit of Cabot cheese that my friend Jeff had been carrying around on his back, which just saved the day.
When you’ve really expended yourself, when you’ve gone on an adventure—whether it’s a really fun one or a work-related one—man, having the right food at the right time will save your life.
So I know I have said it before, I’m going to say it again. Preparation, that’s what it’s all about.
Be ready for your next adventure and for your next work-veture, you know what I mean?
Ok, I’ve got plenty of more questions here. Let’s take one from Steve, because it’s kind of related to what I was just talking about.
Steve says, “What is your opinion on Clif bars? Is it okay to eat them or should I stay away?”
Steve, thank you so much for that question, because it’s one of those examples of a product that is marketed to athletic, outdoorsy people.
And it’s got oats in it, it’s got this other natural stuff in it, so it has to be good for you, right? Just like PowerBars.
I remember that when I was competing in cross-country biking and running way back in the day, and thinking those bars were so good for me because it’s formulated for athletes, and all this stuff.
But anyway, let’s just take a good look at the ingredients, because Clif Bars are certainly not on their own.
It doesn’t matter what the brand name is. There are so many different kinds of these types of bars, and very few of them are good for you. Very few of them will even fill you up.
But let’s go right into it. So looking at the label here, it looks like most of this stuff is organic. That’s good.
But you’re starting with organic brown rice syrup. Then you got rolled oats, soy protein isolate, organic cane syrup, roasted soybeans, rice flour, cane sugar, chocolate, cocoa, soy flour, sunflower oil, oat fiber, alkalised cocoa, natural flavors, barley malt extract, soy lecithin…
So in this one little bar, I don’t have its macro nutrients right here, but it doesn’t totally matter because I can kind of just put it together in my head, and it’s not very good.
You’re starting off with syrup, so pure sugar. It’s going to make you hungrier than you otherwise were.
Oats can be good or bad. Not so great when you look at lectins. They’re definitely a grain. They’re used to fatten pretty much everything they’re fed to, if it’s an animal and a similar thing happens for humans.
Now, that said, we do use oats in some of our recipes.
Sometimes we do soak oats overnight and cook them, and eat them ourselves, but not always. It’s something that you want to cycle in and out.
So, ok. Oats, no big deal.
But soy protein isolate, interestingly, it doesn’t say organic soy protein isolate on there. Whereas a lot of these other things are organic ingredients.
Soy is one of those very common, almost all the time GMOs.
And not only is it genetically modified, but also it’s soy, which we’re not very well adapted to consume. Again because of the lectins and anti-nutrients.
Also, soy can be problematic for men, it can be problematic for people with thyroid issues. There are thyroid issues in my family history, so I avoid soy for the most part.
Ok, so now you’ve got roasted soybeans to add on top of that. And rice flour. So, these are pretty much all carbs.
And a carb-based snack, well, it might be kind of satisfying in a sweet kind of a way.
But this is a Snicker’s bar, except it probably tastes a lot worse.
And who knows, maybe they used to have better ingredients than these.
But I see GMOs, I see a whole bunch of sugar, I see oats, which is just a carb on top of that.
The oats are like their best ingredient here.
As far as allergens go, you’ve got wheat, soy, and a few other things here that are just not good.
Oh yeah, a whole bunch of synthetic vitamins. It looks like that they added those in there to make it appear healthy, kind of like cereal.
But when you look at this, this is a candy bar, as are a lot of the protein “I’m outdoors-y or I’m athletic” bars that are out there.
They’re all just candy bars that are trying to make you feel better about eating them.
When I was a kid, we would eat Smartfood, the terrible popcorn, because we thought it was smart and good for you.
And so food marketers often take advantage of not just those words, but also that entire aesthetic, that whole feel.
“I’m cool because I eat Clif bars and I’m a climber,” type thing.
You know what I mean? So be careful with that.
What I like to do, especially the artist in me likes to look at some of these products and be like, “What archetype is their main demographic? Who are they aiming at here?”
And so for the foods like Clif bars, it’s funny because they’re trying to aim at me.
But it’s almost like the version of me, the 10 or 15-year-old version of me that doesn’t know anything about this, that wants to be the cool climber-hiker who’s healthy and outdoorsy.
But this product is not a way of doing that.
And a lot of the products that are marketed that way are not the way of doing that.
The people who are out there hiking all day are usually not eating six to eight times a day, and eating all these different snacks and all these huge meals.
In fact, when we’re out camping and hiking, that’s kind of how I got used to fasting for the first time.
Because when you’re really using your body and you’re out there and life is simplified, you don’t think about food all the time.
You don’t need it all the time, not in the way that most people in the Western world seem to today.
But anyway, I don’t want to keep jamming on this for too long.
Let me see if I can get to the questions here. Alright, here’s one from Melinda.
Ok, Melinda says, “Hey Abel, I’m new to your program and loving it. I was losing weight fairly steadily then I weighed myself this morning and shot up a few pounds. I didn’t change anything. And I’m wondering if this is normal, how long does it take to be fully fat-adapted?”
Alright, that’s kind of a separate question, let’s start with the first one here.
So I have a scale here, too, and sometimes when I step on it, it shoots up a few pounds, and I’ve talked about it on the podcast and in my blog before.
But on any given day, especially if I’m running a lot or becoming dehydrated, I can gain or lose more than five pounds.
Sometimes even more than that and it’s not a big deal. It’s just not.
Now, if you’re looking weekly or monthly and the pounds are creeping up, that’s not necessarily a good thing, right?
But that’s kind of a different issue. And I think what you’re asking here is, did I do something wrong? Is that why I’m a little heavier right now?
The truth is, it could have been you just went out to a restaurant or you went to a friend’s house, your dinner was a little bit more salty than normal and now you’re retaining water.
Or you ate a little bit more carbs than normal, and so now in your liver and muscle glycogen, you’re carrying a few extra carbs, and a little bit more water weight with that, too.
Or the monthly cycle is such that sometimes you weigh a little bit more, sometimes you weigh a little bit less.
That’s certainly true for women, but even true for men, as well.
We all have various cycles and it’s important to honor those and not beat yourself up too much when you’re on either end of that.
Because for me, I’ll use that as an example.
So when Alyson and I moved here to the mountains in Colorado, we were coming from Texas, we were pretty much coming from sea level and we’re up at 8000 feet of elevation now.
So, anyone who’s ever been at altitude, especially as an athlete, knows that you can’t ignore it. It’s a big deal having 20% or 30% less oxygen.
When you work out a lot and you’re carrying a bunch of muscle or you’re running a bunch, you get a lot hungrier and you have to eat a lot more.
And so, when I was in Austin, I weighed somewhere in the 170s. And then I went down to 160.
I use one of those scales that keeps track of your weight over time, and that’s not a bad idea, to look at your trends to see how it’s going up, how it’s going down.
And like a bear in winter—I was just reading about bears yesterday, and going into hibernation, a pregnant mother bear will not eat or drink or urinate for 5 months.
Basically, mama bear brings a whole bear cub to term, and then she’ll be much skinnier when she’s ready to come out and meet the spring.
Her body has adapted, and she doesn’t worry about being too fat, obviously, for something like that.
It’s a miracle that all of that just happens.
And so, suffice it to say, if you’re a human animal eating seasonally like you should be, your body is going to be going through various cycles, too.
If you’re following your natural hunger cues, you’re going to be going up and down.
So anyway, I was down to maybe 155 or 160 pounds. Now I’m at 180. I’ve put on a whole bunch of muscle.
I’m kind of doing various body experiments and trying different things.
I’ve maybe put on a little bit more fat than I would have liked to at the same time, but that’s another experiment.
And for all of us, we’re always going to be a moving experiment and our bodies will always want different things.
Like when I was at my marathon running weight, I was a little too skinny. I was at about 148.
It’s crazy to even think about. And I did kinda have a hollowed-out face, looking back at pictures.
But I like my weight somewhere between 160 and 180.
I’ve been at 180 before, but in vastly different circumstances when I had much more fat and much less muscle. My face was rounder and my belly was bigger, and I wasn’t carrying the muscles or the shape that I wanted.
And that was really just because of these lifestyle factors, almost all of them dietary.
And so anyway, follow your natural cues, your cravings.
It felt good when we were first acclimating to the altitude. It felt good to be kind of skinny, because I wasn’t working out as much, because I didn’t feel like it.
Some of the side effects of acclimating to this altitude are such that you lose your natural sense of hunger, you might feel a little bit nauseous, and you can’t perform and do the same running events, certainly not at the same speed.
Certainly not on these mountains and grades, as you would at sea level.
It took me almost a full year to get my strength back in terms of lifting weights here at altitude. But now it feels really good to be where I’m at.
It’s spring time, I feel strong and I’ve been going out for runs. I feel like I’ve been kind of cooped up all winter in ice and snow, and I’ve been able to use winter as a time to heal, and learn and kind of get ready for these other adventures.
Because a year and a half ago, I couldn’t go on the run that I went on yesterday. Where I just went out for 5 – 6 miles through the mountains, doing some really intense hill work at altitude. It’s no joke.
But anyway, if you’re following the natural cues, your hunger will adjust.
It’s a lot more difficult to say, “I’m going to go run a marathon” or “I’m going to go power lift all day,” than wanting to do that and then following through.
I want to make that distinction clear because it was relatively straightforward to be at that lower weight, and probably a little bit lower body fat about a year ago, when I was working out way less than now.
It was easier to be in that state because that’s what felt natural for me.
And so, for some people it feels really natural to be skinny. For some people it feels really natural to be a little bit on the bigger side, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
We’re all totally different.
And that will change with each year, with each season, with each decade. It’s always a moving target.
So anyway, getting back to your question, there, Melinda.
It’s not about the weight, obviously, it’s much more about your body composition and how you’re feeling.
And don’t forget that the appearance of your body, especially in this age of Instagram—what your body looks like and your actual health are completely different things.
Your athletic performance and your health are completely different.
All the filters and all of the fake nonsense that’s added to stuff that’s on the internet now, it’s nonsense. And it’s all messing with our heads.
Your perfect weight, your perfect body composition, will change over time. And that doesn’t mean that it’s going up.
It means probably that it’s going up, and it’s going down.
It’s going up, and it’s coming down. And you have to adjust what you’re doing the whole time, and it’s important to realize that you’re never done doing this work.
Similar to music. I’ve been playing guitar and singing almost my whole life, and playing various other instruments.
And I know that if I don’t keep them up, if I don’t play them pretty much every day, I’m going to get worse. And I’ll have to get back in shape on that instrument over the course of the next few weeks, and months ahead to get back to even where I was.
And that’s what health is like, too.
I’ll go into another question here because it’s kind of related what people often ask me.
They’re like, “You say that health and even your body composition is pretty much 80% to 90% nutrition-related and diet-related, not necessarily related to your exercise.”
So I had a really interesting question come in earlier today.
Basically, what happened was, someone was doing high-intensity exercise for a while, CrossFit-style workouts, eating clean, and everything was working. And then for the winter time, they stopped the high-intensity workouts and just did less intense stuff. But pretty much kept eating the same way, and then gained fat, and wondered what happened.
“Maybe I need to just get back in the gym and start exercising a bunch more.”
And I would say, it’s not so much time related. None of this stuff is linear.
You’ve have to see your body as something that’s adapting to the behavior that you’re choosing in the environment around it.
I don’t exercise all the time, but I exercise a little bit pretty much every day. And certain days, like once a week, I think this is a good way to simplify it to some degree.
I do the heavier lifts. I don’t care if they’re fast, I don’t really care about a lot of various things. My focus is strength.
I’m not going on a run usually on Mondays. Now, if the weather doesn’t cooperate with my plans, sometimes I’ll swap days, but that’s pretty much the only exception.
So I do a fun run about once a week, and that could be a fun hike, but basically just get out in nature, hopefully get outside.
There’s a lot of information that comes from your environment, like I was saying. From the pine trees that can actually reduce stress.
There’s so much science coming out on it now. It is exciting to see the things that we already know are obvious, like, go outside, it’s going to help you out.
But anyway, I work on strength once a week. I work on endurance once a week. I work on those fine dexterity skills pretty much every morning when I play piano.
And then some of the other exercises are more body-weight, balance related. So pretty much every day I’m doing Qigong exercises, similar to light yoga or a moving meditation.
I make sure that I can do 15 or so pull-ups. I have a pull-up bar just right over there, and I’ll just do 15 pull-ups a few times a week to maintain that strength.
It’s not about doing 15 pull-ups, it’s about being able to maintain the athleticism that’s required to do that. Does that make sense?
It’s having the balance in your body, and the symmetry of muscles and the absence of injury enough to be able to do push-ups.
It’s kind of like having this baseline fitness, right, where you’re able to do some number of push-ups, some number of pull-ups.
And the number is going to be different for everybody, that doesn’t really even matter.
Deadlifts, squats. Some number of reps at a certain weight, and you can play with that. And I always do.
And the fun run isn’t just for endurance. According to our family’s DNA that we’ve looked into on 23andMe and Genetic Genie and some of these other services.
I don’t detox very well and neither does a lot of my family.
And so it was really interesting when I visited my folks in Florida back in February, I had recently been bitten by a black widow spider here in Colorado.
And I’ve been bitten by brown widows before, and it’s really terrible. And this black widow was terrible also, but it did something that was really annoying.
It was on my right leg and the bite mark stayed there for over a month, and my leg was twitching.
You know how when your eyelid twitches? Or a piece of just one random muscle somewhere twitches and doesn’t stop?
It went on for over a month of non-stop twitching. In the middle of the night, in the morning, it would wake me up, I couldn’t get to sleep at night.
It was just such a disaster.
So, it was winter time here and it was icy and snowy, and we’ve got these grades in the mountains.
So we went to Florida. It’s beautiful there, it’s sunny. And so, I just couldn’t wait to go for a run.
And for the first time in over a month after that 5+ mile run, when I’m sweating it out in the sun, my leg stopped twitching.
And I was like, “Wow,” because I always thought going out and running, one of the reasons I like it is because I feel crummy before and I feel pretty good afterwards, but it’s not just the endorphins.
It’s helping to circulate the lymph. You’re getting a lot of blood flow to your brain, and other parts of your body. It’s cycling hormones in and out, it’s helping you detox.
And for someone like me, and probably for a lot of people who are watching or listening, we live in such a polluted world, and sometimes we get bitten by black widow spiders, and you need to detox.
Anyway, the next morning, the intermittent twitching came back from that stupid bite. And this has happened to me before. Spiders and I, I don’t know what the beef is, but we don’t always get along.
If I get spider bites, it’s pretty bad. And so anyway, that came back a little bit, I went on another run and then it stopped again. For days this time.
And then it took like 3 or 4 five-mile runs over the course of those next few weeks for it to go away for good.
And now it hasn’t come back. But there’s something to be said for that, and it’s not just running. I know some people really don’t like running.
It could be biking, cycling, whether inside or out, it doesn’t even totally matter.
I would prefer outside for me. And I think there are a lot of benefits with that, but whatever way you can get it in.
If you’re working up a sweat, you’re doing good things for your body.
To get back to that earlier question or concept about the crossfitter who kinda gained fat by not exercising as much in the winter time.
Yeah, if you have less muscle than you did beforehand, if your body is not sweating it out and kind of getting into that high heart rate zone where you’re really challenging yourself, then you’ll probably gain a bit of fat if all other things are equal.
So yeah, when we came up here to 8000 feet in Colorado, I slowly stopped doing as much of those high intensity workouts, those sprints, burpees, wild workouts. And when I cut that out, I was wondering if I would gain fat.
I was wondering how much exercise exactly do I need to do in order to maintain the physique that I want, and maintain my energy, and that sort of thing.
And so, sprints was the one thing that I didn’t mention. There’s the fun run, that’s more for endurance and detox.
But then the sprints are the opposite side of that. That’s when you’re going for the hills and sprinting as hard as you can. That’s when hills are your friend, because it’s actually lower impact.
Because, sprints, as Mark Sisson says, will cut you up faster than almost anything else.
And so, adding sprints back in, in one form or another. It doesn’t have to be specifically sprints, it can be burpees or that sort of thing. It’s such a great way to get your strength back, your speed back.
And if you’re having trouble with your body composition, if you’re putting on more fat than you’d intended, then it’s definitely a great way to get that back.
So, I think I might have time for about one more here. Let’s end with a kind of easy one here.
This one is from Erica, and she says, “Can I use unsweetened almond milk, cashew milk, or coconut milk instead of full fat unsweetened coconut milk?”
Ok, so there are no 100% yes or no’s here. It depends on what your goals are.
Out of the ones you listed, the unsweetened coconut milk is going to be your best option.
If you’re talking about using it in recipes, unsweetened coconut milk with that fat is going to be a fundamentally different thing than the almond milk, cashew milk, coconut milk that you talked about.
It can be really confusing, it doesn’t make sense. None of them are milks.
They’re all made with a whole bunch of nonsense that is mostly not almonds, or mostly not cashews.
Cashew milk—I would say absolutely no to that one. Too many lectins.
It’s basically the stuff that you don’t want from the cashews, which are problematic anyway, and probably should be avoided.
Coconut milk, if you’re talking about the kind that you drink, that’s supposed to be like milk, not the fatty kind that comes in a can, then I would say it’s probably okay, but look at the ingredients.
I’m sure there’s nonsense in it. It’s not great, but you can make your own using the full fat, unsweetened coconut milk yourself, and that’s actually pretty easy.
But in recipes, the almond milk, cashew milk, liquid coconut milk in a carton, and all those other kind like vegan, non-dairy milks or whatever, won’t work the same as the canned full-fat coconut milk.
Just try a little bit of that full-fat canned coconut, and there’s no going back to those wimpy, fat-free, disgusting non-dairy milks.
I thought they were healthy many years ago. And good gracious, no thank you.
But anyway, thank you to everyone who joined in for the livestream. I really appreciate it.
If you do have any questions for me, don’t be shy. I’ll be doing a lot more of these Ask Me Anything Q&A’s coming up.
The best way to get in touch is to sign up for my newsletter. I’ll send you an email, and you can just reply to that email to reach me directly.
I can’t respond to every single one, but I do read them all, and I love hearing from you.
In fact, I’m really excited, because a few listeners, especially a lot of musicians, have been getting in touch recently for, I think, obvious reasons.
But we’re going to be having a few listeners who have had great results come on the show to talk about it.
They’re not in the health world, professionally, or anything like that. But they’re going to talk about what worked, what didn’t work. I’m really excited about that.
Also, in the past few weeks, I’ve been stockpiling a whole bunch of new episodes for the podcast that you’re going to dig.
And we have more virtual reality music videos coming out, and more virtual reality adventure tours coming out on abeljames.com.
And this summer, I’ll be releasing my new book about Designer Babies. It’s a book of satire and poetry and other…
Mostly silliness, but a little bit of seriousness, too. Definitely going to ruffle some feathers.
And I don’t want to spoil it, but it’s going to involve designer babies, and why they might not save us.
So suffice it to say, stay tuned for that.
It’s going to be really fun in the next few months. There are a lot of surprises coming up, so make sure you sign up for the Fat-Burning Man newsletter.
And then wherever you might be watching this, make sure to follow me here on fatburningman.com, subscribe to the podcast, leave a review, if you can.
Also check out the YouTube channel. They actually support 360° VR with spatial audio on there. So, subscribe on YouTube, and you can subscribe by following me on Facebook.
Hopefully we’ll have some more stuff coming out on Instagram, as well.
There’s an endless amount of platforms that I could keep rambling about, but mostly I’m just procrastinating before my next thing, so thanks for indulging me. And I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Before You Go…
I just want to say thank you for following, subscribing and leaving reviews. It totally helps so much more than you know.
You might not be aware that we have a whole VR channel that you might be interested in checking out.
If you have a VR headset, make sure to look up Abel James on whichever platform you’re using.
And even if you don’t have a headset, I already put out hundreds of 360° videos and virtual tours on my website, including over 300 original tunes, and Virtual Adventure Tours of the Yellowstone supervolcano, the Badlands, Grand Teton National Park, Mount Evans (and the highest paved road in America), the Oregon Trail, Dinosaur National Monument, and tons more. You can check all that out at abeljames.com.
And if you’d like to join in and ask your questions in my next livestream, make sure you’re subscribed.
Sign up for my newsletter, and make sure we’re connected on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
Make sure that you’re signed up so that you can ask questions, because I love interacting with folks like you.
What did you think of this Ask Me Anything? Let me know with a comment below!