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For everyday gym-goers and fitness enthusiasts, nutrition is pretty simple.

Control your calories, eat enough protein, get a nice mix of carbs and healthy fats from nutritious, whole foods, and you’re basically set if you just want to lose fat, build muscle, and get healthier.

This changes for high-level athletes, though. 

When performance is your livelihood, nutritional optimization becomes paramount because dietary mistakes have bigger consequences. For instance, not properly fueling before a big event can mean the difference between winning and losing, and many athletes need to carefully manage their energy balance to ensure they’re not hindering their performance with a deficit or packing on unwanted fat with a surplus.

While you and I probably don’t need to micromanage our meal plans as thoroughly as athletes, we can certainly learn some useful tips and tricks for making our meal plans a little more effective for our goals.

In today’s interview, Dr. Susan Kleiner discusses how she has the professional athletes she works with eat to maximize their athletic performance, including . . .

  • Carbohydrate timing and fueling around training
  • The problems with the keto diet
  • Tracking calories and macros
  • The importance of whole grains
  • And more . . .

In case you’re not familiar with Dr. Kleiner, she has a PhD in Nutrition with decades of experience in the field, has consulted for various professional sports teams including the Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Storm, and has written many books on sports nutrition for athletes, including her bestseller, The New Power Eating.

So if you want actionable advice on tailoring your diet to improve your performance, listen to this episode!


13:05 – What’s the difference between sports nutrition and everyday gym goers?

20:14 – Why don’t you just prescribe everyone a low carb diet and how do you manipulate carbs and fat?

28:25 – Why the emphasis on carbohydrate timing?

35:11 – Where have you seen the keto diet be beneficial?

43:23 – Is there an app you like to use for tracking?

49:05 – What are some nutrients that are in whole grains that aren’t in other foods?

59:33 – What are your thoughts on supplementation and whole grains?

1:17:25 – How do you approach managing the energy balance for your athletes?

1:26:57 – Where can people find you and your work?

Mentioned on The Show:

Dr. Susan Kleiner’s Website

Dr. Susan Kleiner’s Books

Dr. Susan Kleiner’s Instagram

Shop Legion Supplements Here

What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!


Mike: Hello, my beautiful friends. Welcome to another episode of muscle for life. I’m your host, Mike Matthews. Thank you for taking the time to listen to me and Dr. Susan Kleiner, talk about power eating, which is the topic of today’s episode. Now, what is power eating well? For most of us. And I include myself here, every day, gym goers maybe recreational weightlifters, maybe even lifestyle, body builders, and just fitness enthusiasts in general, nutrition is pretty simple, right?

You gotta control your calories. You gotta eat enough protein. You have to get enough carbs and fats from nutritious foods. And then you can work in some treats if you’d like, and that’s really it, you’re basically set if you want lose fat. And if you want to build muscle, if you want to get healthier or maybe you’ve already really done those things, and you wanna just maintain your body composition, eh, sure.

If you’re an intermediate or an advanced weightlifter, then you do have to pay attention a little bit more than when you did in the beginning. You do have to make sure that you are managing your calories the way that you want, and you can benefit from maybe a little bit. Additional micromanaging in terms of not just eating quote unquote healthy foods, but which foods are you eating and why, but for the most part the fundamentals of energy balance, macronutrient balance.

And I guess you could say micronutrition balance are gonna deliver 80% of the results we’re after, but in the case of high level athletes, it’s a little bit different because when your performance is everything, when it’s your livelihood, then really getting into the nitty gritty details and really working to optimize your nutrition can be an important part of your routine for getting as much out of your body as possible.

And dietary mistakes. For example, can have. Consequences that are big enough to cause concerns. So if you are a soccer player, let’s say, and you don’t fuel properly before a game, that can mean the difference between a very good performance and a not so good performance. And depending on your position and the circumstances, maybe that’s the difference between winning and losing.

Another example is many athletes need to carefully manage their energy balance to ensure that they’re not hindering their performance with a calorie deficit or packing on unwanted fat. In some cases it would be body weight in particular, with a surplus and similarly, maybe an athlete should actually reduce their body weight to improve their performance.

But you have to make sure that you are not trying to reduce body weight when you need to be performing at your best. And you need to make sure that when you are reducing body weight, you’re preserving as much lean muscle as possible and so forth. And while you, and I don’t need to pay attention to as many of the moving parts as high level athletes do, we can definitely look to them to learn some useful tips and tricks for making our meal plans and our nutrition, a little more effective for our goals.

And that’s what today’s interview is about. And it’s with Dr. Susan Kleiner, who has worked with many. Professional athletes and high level athletes, and she’s helped them eat to maximize their athletic performance. And in our discussion, she talks about stuff like carbohydrate timing and fueling around training the athletic related problems with the ketogenic diet tracking calories and macros.

In the context of everything. We’re talking about the importance of eating whole grains and more. And if you’re not familiar with Dr. Kleiner, she has a PhD in nutrition with decades of experience in the field. She has consulted for various professional sports teams, including the Seattle Seahawks and the Seattle storm.

And she has written many books on sports nutrition for athletes, including. Her newest, the new power eating, which is the successor to the previous edition which was just called power eating. And that book has done very well. And so if you want actionable advice on tailoring your diet to improve your athletic performance in particular, this episode’s for you.

Now, before we get to the show, if you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, and if you wanna help me help more people get into the best shape of their lives, please do consider supporting. My sports nutrition company, Legion athletics, which produces 100% natural evidence based health and fitness supplements, including protein powders and protein bars pre-workout and post-workout supplements, fat burners, multivitamins, joint support, and more, every ingredient and dose in every product of mine is backed by peer-reviewed scientific research.

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And if it is not your first purchase, then you will get double reward points on your entire order, which is essentially getting 10% cash back in rewards points. So again, that URL is Legion And if you appreciate my work, and if you wanna see more of it, please do consider supporting me so I can keep doing what I love, like producing podcasts like this.

Hey Susan, welcome to my podcast. It is 

Dr. Susan: such a pleasure to be here. Thanks, Mike. 

Mike: Yeah, absolutely. The pleasure is mine because this is a topic that I’ve been asked about many times over the years, but not something that I’ve really written or spoken much about. And that is specifically the nutritional needs of athletes.

And we can start this discussion by defining, okay, what is an athlete, but to just give a synopsis of what we’re gonna be getting into for people listening. So you have everyday gym goers, you have lifestyle, body builders like me. I’m an everyday gym go. Maybe with a little bit more or a lifestyle bodybuilder.

And there are very simple nutritional guidelines that we can follow. We can just calculate our resting metabolic rate or our Baso metabolic rate. We can even go as simple as multiplying it by a number to reflect our activity level. Anything from one, maybe 1.3 to 1.5 and then we go, cool.

That’s about our daily energy expenditure. And if we wanna lose fat, we just eat about 20, 25% fewer calories than that. If we want to gain, maybe we go 10% over. If we wanna maintain, we just try to hit that target and moving target. We understand that we eat a high protein diet. Most of us probably eat some carbs, eat some fat aren’t too concerned about those ratio.

Most people following me and following my advice, probably try to get 30 ish, 30 to 40% of their daily calories from carbs and the remaining from fat and voila. It works now that doesn’t work well for many athletes because they have unique challenges. And again, I’ve heard firsthand from these people over the years, like very high energy expenditure that can, that’s very difficult to quantify that can make things.

More difficult, highly variable energy expenditure, where it can be very high on some days and much lower in other days when they’re resting and recovering the need for performance above all. I think that’s a big thing that we can get into Susan where that’s not so much of an issue for someone like me and many of the people who follow me.

Yeah, sure. We want to perform in our workouts, but our livelihood, it doesn’t depend on it. Nothing much really depends on it. If we have a bad workout or a bad week of workouts or bad month of workouts, even we go, oh whatever, there’s always the next day, the next week, the next month. But highly competitive athletes, they don’t have that luxury.

They have to be able to perform. And so those are just some of the. Unique aspects of nutrition for athletes that I wanted to have you on the show to talk about. And I know there’s more, and this is something again that you have researched extensively and written about extensively. So I’m looking forward to hearing your insights.

Dr. Susan: Oh, thanks. Yeah. It’s a really interesting conversation with people to determine their own personal image. The question of who’s an athlete, I like to encourage the image of, I am an athlete because to me that definition is anyone who desires to challenge themselves athletically. And that means that.

Pushing out your own walls of performance, whatever those may be. However, , you’re correct in that. If you’re not being measured by anything other than your own personal desires, there’s no other outcome in your life like being kicked off a team or not making a medal or any number of consequences when this is your livelihood or your life’s desire, those consequences are greater.

And so screwing up has a bigger impact on someone’s life. And it’s one thing, if you just Don. Make it, when you really have done everything as well as you can. It’s another thing when you’ve really blown it because of bad advice or bad guidance and direction. And so that’s where I see myself playing a very important role with athletes and helping guide them between the difference of.

True sports nutrition, which is performance oriented and the diet world advice, which has nothing to do with health or physical performance. And typically doesn’t even have a successful long-term outcome on weight loss either. So those are the things that we talk about initially is educating folks on what is true sports, nutrition, meaning that while that the goal of what we’re doing with your diet is to enhance physical performance in any way that you and your trainer or coach.

Think that it will work and let’s 

Mike: get into some of the details there on sports nutrition versus just every day. I don’t know if we need to talk about the mainstream diet advice, which is, I think on the whole improving, at least the trend is moving in the right direction because a lot of the people listening to me know that the.

Regular advice of just starve yourself basically and eat a low protein diet. And these days it’s eat, very low carb and eat a lot of fat. And if you’re lucky, you’ll stumble into a higher protein, low carb, high fat diet, but it mostly, a lot of the advice is just eat very few calories and it’s usually do a bunch of cardio.

So a lot of the people listening know that’s bad advice and that a high protein diet is superior. Pretty much every meaningful way to a low protein one, especially if you’re active, they also understand that carbs are not your enemy and that low carb dieting doesn’t offer any major advantages. It has no metabolic advantages.

It’s really just something to do if you like it. And I would say also just give you some context to who’s listening. Many of the people listening also understand energy balance and they understand the importance of eating nutritious foods. They’re probably not micromanaging the nutritious foods that they choose.

I do that, but that’s just me going above and beyond, but they know that, most of their calories should come from relatively unprocessed stuff that they prepare themselves. They should eating some fruits and vegetables and whole grains and legumes and so forth. And. That’s one paradigm of dieting.

And again, it revolves around body composition. Mostly right. Health is definitely a concern. Longevity is a concern, but at least half of the reason why anyone listening, pays attention to their calories and macros is because they wanna look a certain way or they wanna gain muscle, lose fat, whatever. And so what does the sports nutrition model look like?

Of course, it’s going to incorporate the same principles. You’re not gonna neglect energy balance, but how does it differ fundamentally from what I just described. 

Dr. Susan: So the evidence based Schwarts nutrition model differs in several ways. As I said, number one, we are looking at maintaining performance outcomes even in an off season.

And while we may do cuts because there’s so many factors and the one that is often cited that we know very well is power to weight ratio. And so doing a, I call it a fat loss really cycle rather than a cutting cycle. Cutting is typically going to be more in a physique arena or a fighter, or a box or something like that. That’s gonna have a cut. That’s a different, and certainly we are athletes in every sense of the word, but it is a unique 

Mike: situation simply because they have to make a weight. So it’s 

Dr. Susan: yeah. Yeah. And it’s dramatic in wrestling today. Ideally it in many settings, it’s not as severe that coaches and athletes themselves know that they actually can sustain their sport longer at the next higher weight class, rather than the absolute lowest, most restrictive weight class that they can be in.

But that certainly still goes on. But in a general sense, if we’re looking at finishing a race in any way, That there is fat loss. That is, whether you’re a, sometimes it’s a running back sometimes, it just, it doesn’t matter. Sometimes we go into a fat loss phase in those situations, the differences in sports nutrition is we never eliminate carbohydrates.

You use carbohydrate as your friend and fuel around training so that your training is both effective. That you’re getting a benefit from training and not just sleep walking through it. And you’re maximizing the calorie. During that training session and using as much tissue mass as you can, as hard as you possibly can throughout that session so that the recovery burn is that much higher.

And so we want the carbohydrate there to fuel the training. And again, it depends on what that training about will be. And there may be multiple ones throughout the day, but we. To fully fuel each training about, and then we may alter carbohydrate consumption at another time around the day, but we want to always make sure that training is fully fueled.

Then what we call a high protein diet in sports nutrition is an astronomically high sport protein diet to the rest of the world. I don’t call a true gram per kilogram. Protein intake or one gram per pound. Let’s just round it off and make it easy. That’s not a very high protein diet. That’s just what we eat.

That’s just what most athletes are going to consume. Maybe slightly less, maybe the smaller athlete, maybe the female athlete who is smaller. Maybe we’re talking about a gymnast or someone who their total intake is not so high that we need to keep room for enough carbohydrate and fat. But protein is still going to be closer to two grams per kilogram per day, or one gram per pound than it is the traditional 0.8 grams per kilogram, or 0.4 grams per pound in sort of traditional diet world.

So the words moderate and low and high are very relative and the confusion happens even within research studies where a research study will call a 1.6 gram per I’m. I’m sorry. I apologize. I do think in the metric system where a research study, looking at protein intake of under one gram per pound, significantly under one gram per.

We’ll call it high. And yet in my practice, that’s low to moderate. So the terminology becomes very confusing out in the world and we speak in actual amounts. It’s not helpful to say low, moderate, and high because nobody knows what the definition of that is. We each have our own definitions. And so in sports nutrition, the classic standard diet will be higher than the RDA.

At least twice, if not three times as high as the RDA, the carbohydrate intake will be appropriate for the goal of the diet. And that’s the best way to say it. Always understanding that we’re trying to fuel the training. And then fat intake will be adequate to fuel recovery and health and wellbeing.

And depending on the training stage, what we’re trying to accomplish with that training period, fat will go up or down and in a female athlete, fat and carbohydrate will be altered throughout the month, depending on their menstrual cycle. If we’re working with a woman within her reproductive years. And so there isn’t a standard.

What we do is we understand the body. We understand our client and we understand the goal of the training and the diet together. That makes 

Mike: sense. Of course. And the details though, like there aren’t very many people who would disagree with the overall goal and the general method, but I think we should talk first about carbs and fat intake, because of course, those are the hot buttons these days and not just with the general gen fit crowd or the body composition crowd, but also with athletes, I’ve heard from many athletes over the last couple of years, asking about.

A low carb, high fat diet, a keto diet, even should they be doing that? And you have some notable examples of professional athletes who are following low carb diets. The other big one is a plant based diet. And it’d be worth talking about that too, but let’s talk about carbs and fats first. And, or are you not just prescribing everybody a low carb diet and how do you manipulate carbs and fat in accordance with what you just laid out, in respect of how they’re training and what’s needed for the workouts and for recovery.

How does that work? In 

Dr. Susan: my book, the new power eating, I really go through all of the science. What do we know? And certainly. I’m not Antifa in any way. And most of the athletes that I work with will be on at least a 30% fat diet. Just so that’s clear when we talk about percentages, which I don’t even really ever use again, I’m working on the gram amount per body weight of the athlete and what their sport and goal is, but to talk about carbs.

If a low carb, a very low carb, high fat diet, like a keto diet were the be all and end all for performance. Believe me, I’d be putting everybody on it. My goal is to create champions. I wouldn’t hold something that was obviously the best thing to do back. I just wouldn’t. And so if it was that easy, all sports nutritionists would be promoting it.

So the first thing to say is any champion athlete that says they are keto is not doing their competition. Following a keto diet. Just to be clear, I work with a number of athletes who are in the press and do follow a keto like diet. At certain times of the year, but as they approach their races, as they, on the days that they do their high intensity training, they are using carbs.

They are not in ketosis at that time. However, there are a lot of questions around this and in fact, the questions and the data and the anecdotal data, the stories drive, the research questions I love when the sort of the standard talking points are challenged because we learn stuff. We’ve increased protein over the years, based on people screaming that you should be eating only protein.

So no, that’s not good, but we did need to increase protein recommendations. And the research bore that out when we weren’t doing that research until kind of the extremes came to the four. So in this situation, it is fueling the training desire. And so with carbohydrate, if you are the person that is really looking to cut fat, that your performance isn’t as important as the way you look then dropping carbs is a super easy strategy for leaning out.

We do drop some carbs, even in a competitive season. In fact, I tell a story in the new power eating of my work with Sue bird, her desire to get a little more. Before the ESPN body shoot in the middle of the Seattle storms, chase for the w N B a title. And so we did manipulate her diet, but it was, I, it was two weeks because I knew she could as a very elite athlete and how well trained her body was over so many years over decades that she could sustain for two weeks.

Now, we didn’t cut out carbs. We put them around her training and we took some of them out from the rest of her day. Now folks should know it doesn’t require dramatic calorie drops. You. Take out about 400 calories a day from your need and not necessarily from what you were eating, unless what you were eating was where you were solidly.

Maintaining. If you dropped 400 calories. You will begin to see a pretty good drop. Now, in some people, it may take a 500 in some smaller folks. It may need only 300, but that classic 500 calories a day, seven days, 3,500 calories, I should lose a pound that never works. And it’s because the body responds to the changing internal and external environment.

We are dynamic as an organic system. We are not static like a car. The body will restrict its fuel utilization when you restrict the income. And so at about 300 to 400 calories restricted a day research shows that the body maintains its higher level of metabolic demand. And what happens is you can still do your exercise.

When you dramatically restrict, you can still fuel your exercise, but the other systems that maintain your immune function, your reproductive function, your bone, mineral metabolism, cardiovascular, all of the other systems start to power down. And this is why over long periods of time, people who dramatically restrict calories and carbs, typically who are pushing themselves at an elite level will shorten their playing life because the rest of their body starts to fall apart.

And this is proven in female athletes and we suspect it in male athletes, such as road cyclists and other, divers, other athletes who are male athletes who do dramatic restriction to enhance their power to weight ratio. And minimizing the restriction is really the key understanding what realistic expectations are, time limits and physical limits.

Making sure your training is matched to your diet and that you’re not going very long periods of time throughout a day, especially after training, without eating, because you go into a deep calorie. At that time, and we also know that those long periods of deep deficit can impact the energy burn.

On a moment to moment basis throughout the day. So you won’t burn as many calories as you think you will because you’ve gone into too deep, a deficit. So recovery is extremely important, not lowering calories dramatically. You do not need a thousand calorie drop, typically, especially someone who was a regularly trained and especially a well trained athlete.

And then as far as carbohydrates, if you want a good fat loss, depending on woman, male or female, are you novice or are you really well trained for a fat loss diet anywhere from one to two grams per pound of carbohydrate is what I’m looking at and to try and coordinate that carb around your training.

Pre and post as much as possible, 

Mike: very similar to the body composition space, at least to people who are on the evidence based in the movement and paying attention to the work of guys like Eric hems and James Krieger, and a Aragon where we know that low carb dieting is even if you’re just an everyday weightlifter who just wants to get lean and preserve muscle and have good workouts that low carb just doesn’t have much to offer.

So that definitely makes sense. Why the carbohydrate timing, why the emphasis on timing? I 

Dr. Susan: find that some of it is behavioral and some of it is I find metabolic. So let’s talk about the behavioral part first when people are. Knowingly, going through some kind of restriction. It is often difficult to control the one thing that you really wanna eat.

And so I have lots of vegetables in the diet throughout the day, but we limit the starch at at meals throughout the day. And then, because the amounts that you can consume are so much smaller typically than what an athlete in full force of a diet can consume. And it just becomes difficult and a little depressing

So I say, let’s just not worry about starches, and typically there can be some, maybe in the meal post, the sort of the post recovery meal, but in the rest of the day, we take the starches out and it may not be a hundred percent. Again, this is a vast generalization, take the starches out from the rest of your day and put them around your training.

And I do use a particular product because I have found it to be the easiest on the stomach. And so if this is especially in a smaller calorie, an athlete that can’t have huge numbers of calories, if I’ve got a dude who normally eating 5,000 calories a day, and now we’ve got him on 4,500, that’s a whole different story than a woman who was at.

Say 3000 calories. Who’s now at 2,600, that’s actually a much bigger difference in how you manipulate that diet and what it feels like to her, that 400 calories was a huge amount of wiggle room. And now we’ve taken that away. And so I use a product called Vita, which is a pure starch, super easy on the summit, super fast.

And so just prior to training or contest or whatever the event is a game, a match, they will consume, close to 300 calories, of, about 70 grams of carb. And again, it depends on the. Athlete and their size and their need and the event and how they consume it. They may take about 70 grams prior to their training or event.

They may not need any during, or they may take some during maybe they’ll take 35 grams at halftime. This is the Sue bird model of what I did with her. And then adding in another 35 grams on the other side. And we’ve given her fuel that she burned during that game 600 calories was at for Sue was her burn rate, her carbohydrate burn rate, playing virtually every minute of those games back then.

And why not fuel the athlete with exactly what they need at the time. And then she didn’t have to worry about eating the starches at other times during the day. So she was fueled and she was recovered certainly with protein post because by the time she gets to her evening meal, after a game, let’s say, it’s 11 o’clock at night.

After media and all the things and her cool down and all the work that’s done on her. So I can’t depend on a post game meal. We need to get food into her or nutrients into her. And this way it’s super easy and super easy on her gut. And then she goes and eats her meal and does, and says, I know I just don’t order anything with starch.

And so it’s the ease factor compliance as well as getting in exactly what we know has shown to enhance performance. And there is performance data. Onar, there’s stomach emptying data. There’s all that. And to be fully transparent, I did work for them in the past. I do not now, but of course I would only work for a company that I truly believed in the product.

So enough said about that. You can do it anyway. You don’t need to use a product, but very often that’s the convenience in working with. An elite athlete. And so they need to be fully fueled and still feel empty enough to train and compete. And so that’s what I’m talking about is the other side, the metabolic side is getting that, you want the blood sugar rise going in.

You want the insulin response, you want carbohydrate metabolism working. That’s the fuel to the high intensity exercise. And it it gets you out of the blocks. It’s all of those things. It’s why even keto athletes use carbs when they compete and they train at high intensity levels and they all do, and they all say, so they may use fewer.

But they still use carbs. And those are individual body differences. We use the right diet for the right person 

Mike: who is the right person for a keto diet, because I’ve written about the keto diet spoke by the keto diet. And as far as the gen fit body comp crowd goes, my summary is this diet’s silly.

There’s no good reason to, to follow it. Unless maybe you’re very overweight. You have metabolic issues or you just really like it. But I know from working with thousands of people over the years, most people do not like it. They don’t feel good. They don’t get to eat the types of foods they like to eat.

They are trying to square the circle, so to speak. And so for most people I say, don’t bother with it. You’re not missing out anything. Follow the general advice. I’ve already summarized earlier. And the stuff you’re talking about really, but where. Have you seen the keto diet to be beneficial? 

Dr. Susan: So it’s an interesting thing.

And I agree with you 99.9%. there’s always an outlier. And so that’s why I’m always careful because. I, because that person’s gonna find me when I make a statement of an absolute, because nothing is absolute, 

Mike: I’ve heard from the rare person who actually agrees with what I say, it’s a, I actually, I like it and this is what I notice.

And I’ve been fairly scientific about it and I’ve really paid attention to these different criteria, both with it. And then with a more traditional type of diet and to those people, I say, that’s great. If you understand, that’s what works well for you and you understand why that makes perfect sense, but most people are not going to have the same experience and are going to be miserable for for a lot 

Dr. Susan: of it.

And it’s what are you doing? So there are a handful of type one diabetic body builders. That I have heard from not that I’ve worked with, although I’ve worked with them closely enough that I know that they, they send me their data. They are truly checking their keytones, their blood keytones they’re they really are in ketosis.

And these several gentlemen have been doing it for 20 years. So it didn’t start from the keto fad. And they swear that they have, sustained their wellbeing because of the combination of the lifting that they do. And these are pretty serious body builders and their diet. And so I’m not gonna argue with them.

there’s no reason to, they feel good. They are in ketosis. They do use carbs. On certain days, certain, very high intensity days. And they don’t use a lot, but they do use carbs from the data that they send me. They surprisingly drop back into ketosis very rapidly. I’ve talked Dr. Mike team Nelson, and I have had conversations about this, trying to understand he’s seen it too.

And I don’t think we understand it. I would love to get these guys in a. And study what is going on with their bodies. We don’t have subjects. Typically who’ve been following this diet for 20 years. 

Mike: It’s funny you say that I’ve heard from a number of type one diabetics over the years who said that they felt best and just seemed to do best with a low carb diet.

Now that you say, I just remembered that then, and my reply was always, Hey, okay, great. Then do it. If you know that I haven’t heard from so many, I don’t think keto, but low carb, maybe a cap of a hundred grams per day. So they’re mostly just having vegetables and some fruit and that’s it.

And maybe a few very low, but yeah, I have heard from type one diabetics in particular who found their way. Into that. And it was clear to them based on how their body felt and how their body responded. That was right for them. But to be clear, 

Dr. Susan: those are type one diabetics with a pancreas that’s not working for them.

So this is not the healthy average person and it is a dangerous. Segue to go from their stories to anybody else who is not a type one diabetic. And that’s the problem with our culture? If it works for someone with heart disease, imagine how strong my heart would be. So we make that leap way too easily because there is actually no complete bridge between the two.

But again, just to be honest and say, this is an area. With people with a medical condition that I don’t know if we fully understand, however, as you said, why would any athlete, anyone who wants to push their own personal walls of performance out follow a diet that was designed for epileptic children?

Mike: Because the TV says that it’s good for them and it, and that it enhances 

Dr. Susan: performance, right? Of which there has never been a study to show that it enhances performance in any way, not one study and out of I think it’s 20. I don’t know how many studies at this point 27 studies, the vast majority have shown performance deficits.

And so if performance is your goal, that’s not your diet. And even if sustained weight, Is your goal or sculpting your body is your goal. It’s not gonna be, as you said, sustainable for most people. And yes, there’s a whole cadre of us. And it’s funny because. A Ergon says it openly that what got him into sports nutrition was reading the first edition of power eating.

So I’ve been at this for 30 plus years and I am evidence based, but I am also open to new information. 

Mike: Cuz you’ve seen things change. You’ve been doing it for long enough. You remember times when people were saying Hey, this one study is showing this or even the weight of the evidence seems to be leaning in this direction.

And then as time went on and as more researchers done, and as you were saying earlier, as the right questions were being asked, you’ve seen things shift. 

Dr. Susan: Oh yeah. If you look at the first edition of power eating, it is very high in sugar recommendations com it just blows your mind. When you look at it today, that edition was published in 1997.

There was nothing else. To give people to try and get carbohydrate fuel into them. Unfortunately, certainly there was all the food, but again, around your exercise, there was Gatorade, we just, there was nothing else I put in my own recipe to make your own sports drink, but it still was sugar.

And so that book, you see the remnants of it in my book today because there’s certainly a lineage of science, but today’s book, which is the fifth edition at this point, is remarkably different because science moves on and that’s, what’s so exciting about it. It isn’t confusing. It’s what we expect.

So the biggest things. For, I think people to remember is that there’s always a balance between fat loss and muscle gain and fat gain. And to have your expectations realistically set so that you are not restricting so much, that you’re losing too much muscle and you’re not eating too much, too fast, so that you’re gaining too much fat.

Those are all kind of the balances that we look for. And for someone to determine where are they in their own body, one of the easiest things to do. There’s lots of great ways that as professionals, we determine what are your energy needs, but start to track your diet on a good. System, you can do it by hand you can make sure if you’re on an app that it’s an app that has good data.

There’s always missing data points. There’s a huge amount of. Of variance between what you’re eating and what’s showing up on the app. So don’t take it as absolute gospel. There’s gonna be quite a variance, 

Mike: but is there an app you like in particular? So I 

Dr. Susan: use professional system ESHA, but I have my clients actually track by hand because then they really learn what they’re doing and the easy way to do that.

And I have it in the new power. Eating is the old fashioned way dieticians we used to do it’s as quick and dirty as most of the apps out there. And that is the distribution of calories and macronutrients from the American diabetic association. So you are separated into food groups and it tells you how many calories, protein, carbon fat for a specific serving of a specific type of food.

For instance, a third of a cup of rice is one bread starch serving, and that is 70 grams, approximately 68 calories, approximately 15 grams of carb, one gram of protein and zero grams of fat. So you go through that on a daily basis by hand. And I know this sounds weird, but this is how you really learn what’s in your food.

And you can calculate easily throughout your day. You eat a wide variety of foods, where those foods need to come from. What’s in them instead of constantly having to go to an app to tell you that’s fairly inaccurate anyway, and many, apps have lots of missing data points. And so you go onto my fitness pal and you can choose from, four ounces of steak that will tell you calories.

And nothing else will tell you, you can miss, appropriate what you’ve been eating by hitting the wrong food. But you don’t know that cuz you don’t know how to go in and check whether all the data points are there or not. There’s all kinds of missing stuff. And my clients love it within a day or two.

They have gained more knowledge than they have ever understood about food. It’s for me, I’m giving my clients a graduate course in nutrition about themselves. And the only way you can do that is to actually learn something. And so understanding food is the start of all of that. What is actually in our food.

And so that’s my recommendations. I know people are gonna roll their eyes, but I can tell you that is the best way to understand what’s in your food and you can then determine your own distribution so easily. You don’t need to depend on an app. Oh, I 

Mike: totally agree. Do you like the U S D a? Was it food data central?

Sure. Yeah. I think that’s a good resource for, especially if you’re eating. Really, it’s the way that you should, again, if most of your calories are relatively unprocessed things that you’re putting together, even if they’re in recipes and you make it taste good, it’s still individual nutritious foods you’re combining, then you can find probably most everything you need on that website.

That’s how that’s one of my go-tos. And the 

Dr. Susan: other thing is if you eat out and, during these times amazing how good people’s diets are, , it’s just like astounding the differences of, and the amount that people are eating at home. But combination foods from restaurants, you can often look up online.

So not if it’s a small, restaurant, but any chain, all of. Nutrient data for their foods are typically online. And then you can distribute that throughout your food groups, was there potatoes in this? Were there peas in it? Were there, this was starch. That’s where the carbohydrates go.

And we start to understand that. And it’s ideally for me, I want people to begin to have a deep understanding of food. There’s a talk that I give about whole grains and it’s not about bread. It’s about whole grains and how critically they are in the diet and to our overall health. And it is the number one reason for global chronic disease.

And particularly in the United States is lack of whole grains, not too much sugar, not those things are a problem too, but number one is the lack of whole grains. And what happens is when we have this. Conversation all about macronutrients. It’s a reductionist view of nutrition. Food is so much more than macronutrients, and we know there are certainly the micronutrients, vitamins and minerals.

There’s food factors, phytochemicals, fibers, so many things in food that we have yet to discover. And when we think only about macronutrients and not about a wide variety of food in the diet we limit we can easily limit or restrict whole food groups. For instance. Grains, you can get carbohydrate, as you said, from vegetables and fruits from beans.

Why bother with grains? If you can get carbs. And if that’s all there really is in whole grains, but that’s so far from the truth, it’s light years from the truth on what is. In whole grains and the things that are in whole grains that are not in any other food. And so what are 

Mike: some of those things? I feel like this is news to me.

my diet doesn’t contain much in the way of whole grains. Depends what I’m doing with my calories. If I’m maintaining or if I’m even lean bulking I’ll probably have some oatmeal. That’d be my grain of choice to go to. But my normal diet’s mostly fruits, vegetables, lean protein, some healthy fat, maybe in the form of some olive oil and some avocado and then grains.

It might be whole wheat PI bread, which is not really what you’re talking about. And maybe some oatmeal. Again, it’s just grains have not been something that I’ve prioritized much. And cause I figured that, yeah, I’m getting plenty in the way of nutrition through all the other stuff that I’m ed, I’m getting plenty of fiber from all the other stuff that I’m eating.

What am I missing out on? Okay. 

Dr. Susan: So particularly in whole wheat, when we think about vitamins, it’s the B vitamin group. So they’re not all added back to that enriched flower that we don’t want people eating anyway. cause it’s so ultra processed. So they’re. Thiamin riboflavin. So it’s B one B2, B3, niacin, and Nide, vitamin B five.

We call it, we don’t really talk about it so much in nutrition is B five. We talk about pan athe acid, biotin, folic acid. Those are abundant in whole grains, not abundant in any other food group as they are in whole grains. And so when I say whole grains and people keep thinking whole grain bread, I’m talking about Pharaoh and you could say brown rice and spelt and corn, and there’s ancient grains, but there’s quinoa, which is actually a seed, but it is in the whole grain group.

Arant also a seed, but in the whole grain group, all of these Aran, probably not, but all of these others are available on your grocery store shelf. And certainly available on Amazon. So that’s just to start, the B vitamins are most important from whole grains. Most people don’t think of vitamin E. Is coming from grains because the grains, the processed grain foods that we eat don’t have fat in them, but in a whole grain in the germ, there’s a wonderful rich source of vitamin E.

And it’s an array of the vitamins E there IST one single one, what we usually think of as tocopherol, but there are to triol there’s a host of vitamin E that are critically important for total health and wellbeing, and particularly people who exercise for just the benefit of. Each cell for the maintenance of joints and all of that.

So vitamin E rich in whole grains and will not be even in a hundred percent, whole wheat flour that is not stone ground. And so this is a whole talk. I actually just gave this virtually to the north central region N SCA, and I’ve given this talk at ISSN and I’ve given it at the fitness summit, and it is this sort of stunning information about what has been going on with our food supply and what is a hundred percent, whole wheat just to begin with.

So steel rolled classic a hundred percent, whole wheat flour is actually white flour with stuff added back just to begin with. So if you wanna blow your mind. If it’s not stone ground, it’s white flour with stuff added back. 

Mike: Interesting. So you’re really talking about the paradigm of eating that is prevalent here in the west right now, because these grains that you named.

Some people listening. We’ve probably myself include, we’ve probably eaten quinoa now. And again that’s something I will go if I’m gonna have a rice, it could be like a brown rice or maybe I’ll do quinoa. I like both of them. But a lot of the others that you mentioned, Pharaoh Amran, that people, I very few people listening probably by those and cook those.

So you’ve 

Dr. Susan: probably eaten barley. 

Mike: Yep. What comes to mind is in some soup, some soups that I’ve made. Yeah. 

Dr. Susan: Soup. So that’s good oats. Those are whole grains so we are increasing our oat consumption and and buck weight. So I don’t know if it’s typically. It’s more of a cultural food when people eat Kasha, which is Eastern European buck, wheat is also Asian.

And it just depends on sort of cultural food and family foods that are more familiar. But the, probably the most common thing that people have tried that’s buck wheat is either buck wheat, pancakes that are very barely buck wheat or the real thing that people get. If they like French fruit are like buck wheaty, little teeny.

And if you’re very fancy with cream, cheese and caviar, , but even corn is a whole grain, right? But it’s the variety. That’s lovely, but it’s having some, and it is, we talk about three servings of whole grains a day. That is not astounding. It is a third to a half a cup cooked. Is one serving.

It’s a teeny little, if you put that on your plate, 

Mike: you’d go. That’s not a, and cook people should make sure you heard that cooked. Think about a cup of cooked rice. So there you go. There’s your you’re done for the day. You’re 

Dr. Susan: done. Yeah. But make it brown or black or red. There’s all these different, lovely colors now.

And so all of these bring with them critically important nutrition. When we talk about minerals. So the most abundant and whole wheat boron chromium is so important for carbohydrate metabolism. And so many people have very low intakes of chromium because it predominantly comes in from. Not a surprise starchy foods.

Nature is wonderful in that way, what we need to digest it and metabolize it is in the food that it comes with. But if you take that food apart, you don’t have what you need. And so in a whole grain, you’ve got chromium required for healthy carbohydrate metabolism, copper, certain of the micronutrients of the minerals.

If you are eating a very high fiber diet may not be quite as available, but we have all kinds of solutions for that. So in whole grains, there is iron and zinc. Adding tomatoes or orange juice or any, or citrus, anything that is acidic with that grain will help you absorb iron and zinc. Magnesium manganese, Meli, inin phosphorate potassium, selenium, Silicon neat eye.

Go on. So that’s just the be, that’s just the beginning impacting anti-cancer anti diabetes, weight management, mood stabilization, cognitive health prevention of birth defects immunity in a huge way, which is like today’s buzzword. So the things in grains fibers, OIDs, lignins, phytosterols all affecting detoxification pathways, certainly modification of gut bacteria and the biota and our environment, the biome prevention of gut inflammation.

People think of grains as promoting inflammation. It is the opposite. What’s promoting inflammation is the ultra processed grains that they’re eating. They’re no longer grains, it’s flour with so much stuff in it, starting from the farm and getting to your plate that it doesn’t have the benefits. Any longer.

It may. And I believe my clients when they come in and they say, if I eat bread or noodles or anything, flower based, my gut is a mess. Why should I not believe them? It may not be particularly the gluten. Maybe it is lots of commercial bread. Add so much gluten to make bread really fast. When I make bread, it takes, 20 hours, 24 hours, because I’m doing a slow ferment rise.

I’m using flour from a local mill grown very local to my home. I know exactly what’s in it. Now, I, this is this talk, teaching people how to get, how to find these bakeries. If you’re not gonna bake yourself and you never have to eat a piece of bread again, I am not saying that I’m saying eat whole grains.

So this is a whole, obviously a whole talk in itself.

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And if you appreciate my work and want to see more of it, please do consider supporting me so I can keep doing what I love, like producing podcasts like this. What are your thoughts of how supplementation can fit into what you just laid out? So again, take me my normal day to day diet. On some days it’s, I’d say it’s with grains and starches.

That’s where I’m most flexible. Like I’m very rigid on getting in my, not just vegetables, but leafy greens and colorful vegetables and garlic. And even I’ve micromanaged it down to the specific variety of vegetables. I wanna be eating for different reasons and getting in my lean protein, getting in my healthy fat, but depending on maybe how active I am or.

I’m in a permanent maintenance at this point because my body composition is not gonna change. I’m not gonna be gaining much more muscle ever. Like I’m just at the end of my genetic rope. And so it doesn’t mean that I guess I, I could do a lean bulk, maybe just for the performance. Maybe try to gain a little bit, but I like to stay lean and I guess also it’s it’s at this point, it’s my job.

If I don’t have abs, then I don’t know what I’m talking about. 

Dr. Susan: oh man. 

Mike: yeah, that’s the reality for me, at least maybe it’s not that bad and that, and I’m just using that to cover some of my narcissism of wanting to always have abs, but I’m most flexible actually in terms of grains, meaning that sometimes I’ll have some sometimes not.

However, I take a multivitamin supplement that has proper doses of everything that you mentioned in addition to a lot more, but I’m assuming that you’re gonna say. Yeah, that’s good, but not as good as eating the foods, right? 

Dr. Susan: Because number one. Yes, of course the flexibility comes with carbs because carbs, fuel exercise.

And so you eat carbs for, you don’t drop them out to zero on a day that you’re sedentary, but a day that you’re sedentary, you don’t need as much as you do on your high energy days. Even 

Mike: on the high energy days though, I’m just like, for me, I tend to go for more fruit. For example, I’d be more likely to do that than to go for grains and for no particular reason, I don’t know, just preference, but it sounds like I’m missing out 

Dr. Susan: inhabit.

So yeah. And it’s. Doesn’t you know, you just have a drawer full of fruit and you’re good. So every food has something different even within a food group. So if you said to me, I have five fruit servings a day, and they’re all grapes. I’d say not, that’s not really the best nutrition for you. You need to have a variety of fruits.

So even within each food group, because that’s like 

Mike: the people that say, oh yeah, I get three servings of iceberg lettuce today. I’m good. Yeah. Not quite, 

Dr. Susan: And a banana has something different than an orange then has something different than grapes than cherries. Then an apple, they’re all different.

And it’s the variety. Variety is like the watchword of good nutrition. Variety is the most important really. And it is through variety that we get the distribution of all of the. Nutrients that we have identified and all of those we have yet to identify. And 

Mike: that’s the key point there, right? Where again, yes.

I can take a supplement that hits on all the things that we’ve identified and some of the basic vitamins in minerals that. You listed and I’m certainly not deficient in any of those, maybe without the supplement. I don’t know if I’d be deficient, but maybe I wouldn’t be getting enough of some of what you mentioned because my general intake of grains is relatively low, but then there’s a lot of stuff that we haven’t identified yet.

And that is not in the supplement. So it can’t fully replace. And this, and I’m saying this as somebody who owns a supplement company and sells supplements, but I always talk about how supplements are supplementary by definition. You’re not supposed to use these to try to replace nutritional needs that really you have to satisfy with food.

There’s so 

Dr. Susan: many unique things in properties, in each different food. We name one, I say, okay, this is what’s unique about this one. When it comes to whole grains and the gut again you asked me about keto. What we know is people. This is, again, this is data. This is evidence. People who have cut carbs out of their diet have a much higher inflammatory environment in their gut than those who, 

Mike: which is very interesting.

Cuz a lot of people cut carbs out to try to reduce information, right? That’s one of the, I think the primary pitches for keto, especially with people who are active oh, cut your carbs. And then you’ll bring down inflammation in your joints and you’ll recover faster, 

Dr. Susan: right?

Especially if your carbs were coming in from donuts and cookies and chips, those are all pro-inflammatory, but it’s not the carb that’s doing it. It’s everything else. And even the ultra processed carb does have, as I said, all purpose flour is it does nothing, not everything. It is somewhat harmful.

The highly processed white flower is certainly. Can be somewhat harmful now, small amounts, no big deal. I just talked about using a pure starch as a sports nutrition supplement. But again, that is within the context of a very well-balanced diet. So whole grains to speak to those in particular. And the fiber from whole grains is somewhat unique in the plant kingdom of foods that we eat in that they act as we call them prebiotics, they feed the gut biota or the cultures in our gut.

Those fibers are required to keep the healthy, bacterial, and yeast communities in our gut abundant and to assist with tamping down the pathological. Communities. And so when we don’t have any whole grain, and this is the direct connection to that chronic disease problem is that we do end up with chronic systemic inflammation, which is partially at the root of chronic disease.

And so it starts in the gut. It spreads because our gut is connected to everything. And we associate the lack of whole grains to the development of chronic disease. Very much through chronic systemic inflammation in the gut. And you can measure it by looking at sea reactive protein and people on some people are on grain-free diets because they have to be, be honest, there’s an array of medical conditions where you need to be on a grain-free diet.

And we know that C reactive protein, a measure of chronic systemic. Inflammation is higher. So including those whole grains. And like I said, the easiest for so many people is actually to just cook up some whole grains. And any of these grains that I talked about are not much different to cook than rice.

And most people know how to cook rice. And so you follow the package directions and if it’s not on the package, you ask Google and you 

Mike: get a rice cooker and you just dump it in there, put some water and hit go. 

Dr. Susan: Exactly. It’s very simple. You will find, and there are anyone who likes to do a little cooking, the sort of these heritage grains, Pharaoh spelled F a R O not like Egyptian Pharaoh.

And there are wonderful cold salads. It’s got a little more chew to it than rice. It’s not much it doesn’t get real soft and they’re nutty and delicious. You’re gonna start to use them and go, oh my God, these are fabulous. And you cook it up at the beginning of the week on a Sunday, or whenever you do your week’s cooking for those who do that.

And it lasts because it’s a whole food, so it doesn’t go bad in the refrigerator. I’ll cook up enough for 20 servings for. My husband and I and my daughter is now working from home, living here and the three of us. And I didn’t do it on Sunday. If there’s anything left by Saturday, which is unusual, it’s actually still good.

It hasn’t gone sour in the refrigerator. Think of whole grains as fresh foods, just like you think of your other plant foods or anything else you buy and think of flour. The same way flour is, should be a fresh ingredient, but we are buying flour when you can get it off the grocery store shelf that is months old by the time you buy it and you may keep it in your cupboard for years.

First of all, that’s weird that it stays fresh. It’s not fresh, but that it hasn’t gone ranted. In that time and it’s whole wheat flour that tells you there’s no fat in there that’s your first clue that it isn’t really a hundred percent, whole wheat. If it’s stone ground, then it is a hundred percent, whole wheat.

Unfortunately, the government has allowed the labeling of whole wheat flour when it is steel roller milled, meaning that the kernel is sheared apart. And you have only the endosperm, which contains starch and glue that’s white flour. So they use white flour and then they add back brand. And they say, maybe they add back some of the germ that’s supposed to have more of the sort of fat and nutrients added, but they either don’t do that.

Or they deactivate it so that it, the enzymes are no longer active. So you don’t have bioactive enzymes. You don’t have so much in that flower that actually through the baking process becomes beneficial. And then on top of it, the way when you buy double plastic wrapped a hundred percent, whole wheat bread in the grocery store, it in no way resembles what was always called the staff of life.

It’s a completely different because of the way it is handled and treated. And without that slow fermentation, And not using real a hundred percent, whole wheat flour, but this sort of shadow of whole wheat flour. And there are dozens of additives so that it can rise and be out the door in two to three hours.

Instead of, as you heard me say about 24 hours. It is highly likely that it is causing 

Mike: and now is a great time to be having this discussion. Cuz bread baking is at an all time high. I think everywhere I in the world where there are quarantines, I’ve seen, I’ve never seen so much baking going on social media and bread cookbooks are, have exploded in popularity.

So now’s a great time for people to experiment with what you’re talking about here. 

Dr. Susan: So that what I’m talking about when I say a slow ferment is the sourdough technique and this, and you’ll sourdough to most people in the us, you think San Francisco sourdough bread with a sour sort of. Taste.

That’s not what I’m talking. So there’s a whole something different called the sourdough technique, which is using a natural yeast starter. In some cultures, it’s starters, in some cultures it’s called a mother, different. And then there’s different techniques within that and different cultural techniques of the styles of baking, manipulating that to make different kinds of bread.

And there are some just marvelous things going on with people experimenting on their own. And I was laughing. I said, what about coronavirus has taken people away from low car diets? Something about the coronavirus has increased our consumption of 

Mike: carbs. I think it’s just something soothing about baking I’m guessing.

Dr. Susan: And also, we know actually that carbohydrate in the diet, if, when your diet. There’s risk. Good research for people who are susceptible to depression, diets that are lower than 40% of total calories from carbs can increase their risk of depression diets that are lower than third, 25 to 30% from fat in people who suffer from anxiety and inability to cope with stress.

It can make them worse. So we’ve got real data on why certain diets feel better. So that 40, 30, 30 concept has real data behind it. Other than what it does for body composition, which is always, oh, it’s the best weight loss diet or it’s this, or it’s that it’s actually, there’s an association with how you feel and how you get through life.

I’m not saying it’s an absolute for everybody. I, but I clearly said if you are. Prone to depression, or you are prone to anxiety and inability to cope with stress, the amount of carbohydrate and fat in your diet can matter. And so there’s so many things, fish oil, we could go on and on, but it is again, variety.

That’s so important. Fresh foods, plant rich diets. You asked me about what about plant-based diets and more vegan style of eating or vegetarian, the more plants in your diet, the better, but there is nothing healthier about a vegan diet versus or performance oriented versus a well designed Omni diet. There just isn’t I don’t 

Mike: care.

That’s gonna be plant centric anyway. 

Dr. Susan: Exactly. And so distribution of foods, again, a wide variety, that’s the key. And so if all you’re eating is meat and potatoes, it’s not a healthy diet. You may get along for a really 

Mike: long time. So you don’t endorse the carnivore diet. you don’t have your athletes just eat steaks all day, not 

Dr. Susan: in the least.

And there is no wellness in the extremes, but like I said, these extremes make us question what we’re saying and make us defend what we’re saying. And maybe sometimes we figure out we can’t defend it that well, we better get back to the lab. And I like that. It forces me to think it forces all of us to think if we can’t fully defend our recommendations, then we need to get back and do more research.

And we may find that there is something. More toward the middle and that has 

Mike: happened. And that’s how best practices evolve, right? That’s the process. , 

Dr. Susan: The biggest thing for me, as I said is I encourage people to investigate and think about variety as the driving mission of the diet.

Look at food as much more than just macronutrients, but it is an easy back of the napkin calculation. If you include variety in your setup to use those American diabetic association, distributions of calories and macronutrients in food groups, and that will help you see how certain foods are similar or different from each other, where nutrients come from.

But then to know that. If you cut out a whole food group, there are a whole host of things that you are eliminating from your diet. And if you need to cut that out, then be aware of it. And that’s where supplementation becomes important. Melody Feld is a vegan and she’s a strong man, strong woman, and a fabulous trainer and educator.

She has written a book about being meatless and talks about the true science that she didn’t choose this lifestyle because of health reasons. She chose it because of philosophical reasons and how she keeps herself healthy and strong, and the strategies that she uses and needing to be clear eye about what you’re doing and well informed is important.

No matter what you’re doing, whether you’re building your house or 

Mike: you’re building your body. Yeah. That makes perfect sense. And I have one more question for you. It’s gonna seem a bit out of place because I’m referring back to something you were talking about. Earlier in the podcast, but I’m curious myself and the athletes who are listening, the people who are diligently taking notes right now and deciding how they’re gonna change up their meal plans and their dietary strategies are probably wondering about energy balance.

We spoke a bit about fat loss and how you go about that. But that’s obviously you use that when you need to use that, like you were saying, maybe to improve performance, bring down some weight and allow them to get more performance out of their muscle. But how do you generally approach managing the energy balance of your athletes?

Are you shooting generally for a maintenance or are you intentionally going into a surplus during periods? How do you do that? 

Dr. Susan: Yeah depends on, on, on the goals. Sometimes it’s a surplus, sometimes the slight deficit, sometimes maintenance, sometimes we’re fueling well, we’re looking at fueling the day, fueling the week, fueling the month , and then females versus males.

And so for female athletes, I use energy availability and that is really good data to help us determine you need to have the exercise energy expenditure, how much energy you’re expending during your exercise and the activity of highest energy demand. And as I mentioned, the body will fuel the activity of highest energy demand first, and then the energy left over.

Is what is available to fuel all of the, less than absolutely essential systems in the body to stay alive. And so that’s the concept of energy availability, what energy is available to fuel. As I said, reproductive system, which we see go offline very quickly in female athletes because of under fueling immune function, bone, mineral metabolism, et cetera.

So we can determine that number by understanding energy intake, how much fuel are you consuming energy expenditure of exercise? What are you using during that greatest demand of energy? And then understanding fat free mass, which is different than lean body mass. We wanna know fat free mass data. And those three things. Many people can’t determine on their own, but that is what I use to determine the needs of my female athletes. And we have data to say that once you get under 30 calories per kilogram, fat free. You will very quickly start to see alterations in reproductive hormone function. So deficits in reproductive function, that’s the tip of the iceberg, the first thing.

So never go below 30 and ideally be at least 45 calories per kilogram, fat free mass. But you can have wiggle room in between when you are trying to create, depending on the athlete, her maintenance or her, or a slight deficit. And then I have athletes who are higher than that, who go up to. Depending on what their sport is, female rugby players and that sort rowers, very high energy demand needs.

They can handle the weight that they have. And and the muscle mass that they have with a man, we’re trying to understand energy availability. There’s very little data. It’s so ironic. We have so little data on female athletes, but the one thing that is the most important data point to have is energy needs.

And we understand that better in women in this framework than we do in men. Appears to probably be a little more wiggle room. Although once they get to deep deficits, they are suffering in SA the same ways. And we see reproductive hormone deficits as well. And that’s this whole concept of red S that has come out of the international Olympic committee, relative energy deficiency in sport.

And that’s trying to translate this female-centric data to men , which is just, I think so ironic. In determining the needs of the male athlete. I do have, as I said, in power, eating 30 plus years of data that I have on my clients, I look at research data. And so depending on I have five different scenarios, are you trying to maintain, are you trying to build, are you cross training for performance?

Are you trying to lose fat or are you in a cutting phase and the cutting phase? Typically I limit to two weeks. And within that, just like I give macronutrient distributions, I give calorie recommendations based on whether you are male or female novice or experienced. And this is primarily people power eating is all about people who are strength training, but today.

Most athletes are strength training as well as doing their sports. So that’s where the cross training diet was added. 

Mike: Even golfers are lifting weights now, even that’s becoming a thing, right? 

Dr. Susan: so power eating started where I started, which was all my research and strength and power and muscle building and strength training.

That was my research area in the 1980s. But of course over the years, not only has strengths training become. Part of cross training for all athletes, but I have worked with every different kind of athletes from water skiers to ice climbers, and everything in between. So when we think about the sport and the need of the specific athlete, you can.

Look up data on what people have been doing successfully. What may show up in the lab as an energy determination, as well as I said, a distribution of all the clients that I’ve worked with all these years and all of that has been rolled into my recommendations in the new power eating. That’s great.

Mike: That’s great. And it makes sense to try to stay out of a deficit unless you explicitly want to be in a deficit because that’s, when, if you’re an athlete, that’s what is gonna hurt your performance. The most, as far as energy balance goes, there’s probably not gonna be much of a difference. I would assume between hovering around maintenance or maintaining a slight surplus.

But if you go into too much of a deficit, that’s where they’re gonna be like something’s wrong. 

Dr. Susan: And the other side of that is of course recovery. And all the other things that are so important, right? There’s diet recovery, but then there’s, your rest, your sleep, your stress reduction, all of the other things that are so critically important and are not separate from what we’re doing, because if you don’t recover, then the body demands more.

And if you’re not sleeping, it’s gonna want you to eat because you’re screwing up your appetite hormones, everything is linked. The questions that I get about my diet, isn’t working sometimes. Isn’t food related at the crux of the issue, right? It, the crux of the issue is lack of sleep, lack of recovery and what that does to drive other behaviors and you can easily correct.

The other behaviors when you correct. Whatever is driving them. 

Mike: Yeah. That could make for another discussion. I’d love to have you back. We can set it up when it works best for you, but I’d love to have you back to talk about recovery and maybe we could reference people if they want, or about the nutritional side, they could listen to this.

But then as you said, there’s a lot more that goes into that. And that’s relevant, not just to athletes, but also to, again, a lot of the people who are listening, who wouldn’t consider themselves athletes per se, they’re not competitive athletes, but they do demand a lot from their body. They’re, let’s say lifting weights intensely for four to six hours per week.

They’re doing a couple hours a week of cardio and they do care about getting more out of their training, even though there’s not much riding on the line other than maybe just it’s just a game. If you’re gonna play the game, you might as well play it well. And that means at least competing with yourself.

And so that, that could be a great follow up, discuss. 

Dr. Susan: Absolutely. I’d love to come on, and the question of who’s the athlete, I think to myself, I work with people in all walks of life. I say, what are you training for? And they say, I’m training for life. And they’re challenging themselves, athletically in body and mind taking care of yourself.

Like you’re competing in the game of life. And I think that’s so critically important instead of thinking when am I gonna really be an athlete? Or I’m not really an athlete because I’m not wearing a gold medal. That’s just like a musician saying I’m not really a musician because I don’t play at Carnegie hall.

I think we are innately what we desire to be when we are acting on it. And so those labels, if they matter and they may not matter to some people, it just doesn’t matter. But to those. Who it does. It’s okay to call yourself an athlete, even if you’re not competing for anything except life. 

Mike: I totally agree.

That’s a good way of putting it. Susan, this was a fantastic discussion. Very insightful. I thank you again for taking the time and let’s wrap up with where people can find you and your work. Obviously there is the book power eating, which is the newest edition is the new power eating, right? That’s the right, the latest and greatest, right?

If you have a website or if you have any other projects you want people to know about anything else? Exciting. Definitely let ‘

Dr. Susan: em know. Yeah. So Dr. S DRS, K L E I N E is where you could find me on the web. I’m at power. On social media, Instagram and Twitter. I have to admit, I am not the best on there.

I’m already busy and have built a long and successful career and I’m not working on gaining followers, but I do like to have my voice out there. And so on Instagram, you’ll see that I actually do bake and I travel and I speak and I do that kind of stuff. And occasionally I say something of meaning on Facebook.

It’s Dr. Susan Kleiner, D R S U S a N K L E I N E R is where you’ll find my professional page. And I do put stuff up there and the new power eating is available everywhere as well on, as on my site and other books that I’ve written and really, today, I really am on this tear with wholegrains and it is the talks that I’m giving, because I think it’s a huge missing link.

In the sports world in particular. And so I’m trying to do as many podcasts as I can. And I’ve been on with Mike T. Nelson and with you and Mitch har and Zach Tyler on on their podcast and revolutionary you and oh, a ton of them over time. So you can search and see, I don’t always post all of it cuz I’m, I just, as I said, honestly, I’m not that great on social media I might come out with something one of these days, try and figure out how to get this message out because I am worried.

Cause the data are so clear. Yes. It’s epidemiological data and it has its flaw. But when you’ve got decades of data and millions of people, it gets a lot more clear. 

Mike: And when the current dogma is completely contrary to it without good data, it’s just marketing. It’s just bullshit. 

Dr. Susan: I agree. A hundred percent.

I couldn’t have said it 

Mike: any better. it’s unfortunate, but it’s, new cells and sexy cells. And so a lot of, and this I’ve spoken and written about this a lot of the basic fundamental stuff that we’ve been talking about here. And I’ve been writing about and talking about for a long time, there’s not much sizzle to it.

There’s stake, but not much sizzle. And so it doesn’t make for the easy marketing pitch and it doesn’t tell people what they want to hear. So it doesn’t get as much air time. As just take contrarian statements like that alone is a powerful marketing strategy to say, oh you’ve always heard that eating whole grains is good for you.

What if I told you that it’s the worst thing you could do? Like you now have people’s attention. You know what I mean? But at least there are people out there like you spreading the good word. And again, I think that there are a lot of positive trends in the fitness space. The evidence based movement is growing bigger and more and more people are caring.

I think that’s at least a good start. More and more people are caring about the right things too, like exercising and moving that alone. Even if you have a bad diet, if you start exercising regularly, that can have profound effects in the body that can make big differences. And I would think with the popularity of, I think of stuff like paleo and even how.

A lot of the popular keto protocols are laid out. Like they’re not the true ketogenic, low protein for the medicinal version of it, low protein, super high fat. It’s a high protein, very low carb. Okay, fine. But emphasizing eating nutritious foods. And so I think things are generally moving in the right direction, but that’s just the nature of progress.

It’s never just a straight line. It’s a messy squiggle that hopefully goes in the right 

Dr. Susan: direction. And I think when people really want performances, their goal, they figure out what works and what doesn’t work fairly quickly. 

Mike: True. True. Yeah. There’s a very objective metric to judge by.

But anyway, thanks again, Susan. And I’d love to follow up with a discussion about recovery. I’d like to hear your thoughts and your strategies, and what’s worked best for you and with your clients to be able to train hard without falling apart. 

Dr. Susan: oh, happy to 

Mike: talk about that. All right. That’s it for today’s episode.

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