Lessons From Over 17 Years in the Health Space with Bestselling Low Carb Author Jimmy Moore: 4
In this episode, I am talking with Jimmy Moore, author, podcaster, and speaker. You may be familiar with Jimmy from The Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Show or one of his many books. Jimmy shares his personal weight loss and health journey with us, which is so inspiring! He lost almost 200 pounds by starting with Atkins, later going keto and to his latest way of eating which is more of a keto/carnivore approach.
You will learn a lot as we go over topics of fasting and how it is so important when trying to reduce inflammation in the body. We also talk about biohacking therapies like ice baths, red light therapy and the importance of looking inward to heal the body from past traumas. Rest is also so important. Jimmy took himself on a sabbatical and talks about why it happened and the benefits he received from it.
Mental health, physical health, cholesterol, and the keto culture are key topics also discussed today. Jimmy shared his whole wellness program, eating regimens and why we need to give ourselves grace.
So many important topics were discussed and I cannot wait for you to hear!
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Losing 180 Pounds, Finding Greater Health and Becoming a Force in the Keto Community
Cheryl McColgan: I obviously introduced you to everybody prior to putting our interview on, but I'd like to hear from you in your own words, you have such a very interesting history about how you got into keto and some of your family health history. Could you share with people a little bit about that and kind of how you got to where you are now?
Eating the Standard American and Low-Fat Diets
Jimmy Moore: Oh yeah. I was eating a low-fat diet before finding low carbs. And I think that we all do that. We all kind of default, when you need to get healthy, when you need to lose weight, what you did, you cut back, right? We all heard that message our whole lives. And if that works for you, you're doing that and over and over and over again. I think what draws people back to it is the reinforcement, when you do that and then you do lose some weight. You feel somewhat better.
I would argue because you get rid of the junk in you feel a little better. For me, I had tried all those things and I had been successful up down, up, down, up, down, up down with low-fat diets. And in fact, in 1999, you mentioned family health problems. My brother had a series of heart attacks and one week, so four years older than me, my brother, Kevin. In 1999, he had a heart attack, he was in the hospital for some routine checkup and had a heart attack while it was in the hospital. Thank God, because it probably would have died had he not been there. Then later, he'd have another heart attack, on and on and on.
He died at the age of 41, but when he had the heart attacks and again, that was a wake-up call for me and I lost a bunch of weight. And at the end of about nine months, I'd lost triple digits of weight, but I was miserable, hungry. I was irritable. I was an angry man and never put two and two together.
I finally learned the importance of healthy fat your brain is 60 percent made of fat. Yes, you're fat head. When you don't eat fat that has a real effect on your brain. So at the end of that bid, because I was so frustrated, well, this is the way I have to eat forever through that.
I'd rather be happy than verbal. And then, and so that kinda got me a full height hall. Ill. I got an eye for fitness and, uh, three, uh, and it was the acting side. I read that book, this guy, he whacked the visual. What? Eat down the car. What do you mean eat more fat than spending 80 cents at all? Based on what we know, but I gave it a go.
And so January 1st I got the Atkins book. So after three or four weeks of this, I thought all right, I feel pretty good, this is kind of cool and I did end up losing three prescription meds. Cholesterol, blood pressure readings problems. So I started getting on course, you should write a blog and this was 2005. And so I started a blog in 2005 called Livin la Vida Low Carb and it's now my trademark kind of name. Everybody knows that's me. Then a year later started the show. It's the longest-running health podcast.
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Keto, Cholesterol and Brain Health
Cheryl McColgan: That's actually how I came to know you because when I started going lower carb in 2015 and keto in 2016. And of course, your work is what I ran across immediately. Similar to you, I think we're kind of a similar age range, I grew up in the whole era of low-fat.
Keto and Brain Health
Cheryl McColgan: To your point about your brain feeling so much better, I struggled with anxiety and depression most of my adult life. After going low carb higher fat, I've been feeling so much better, so that's just an kind of an aside for people to know. Basically, so you really dove in and started the longest-running health podcast and that's how I came across you with the other way that I really came across you was I've always had slightly high cholesterol. And when I say slightly high, I'm talking 220 which I now know that is not even a concern Right now it is higher now that I've been on low carb, but the first book I read of yours and it might've been, might've actually been your first book. Yes, exactly. It was Cholesterol Clarity.
And so I just want to tell everybody, if you haven't read this book, or if you are worried about your cholesterol, you need to read this book. It just puts everything in a whole new perspective, really. So did your cholesterol go up? Is that one of the reasons you wrote that?
Jimmy Moore: Well, let me say it. So at the end, I lost 108 pounds. My doctors, I think I'm rockstar, he was very impressed by the way. He asked, “are you okay?” I said I did the Atkins diet. I kinda knew what was coming next and I predicted it.
Should I Be Worried About Cholesterol on Keto?
It's “oh, the Atkins diet, let's check your cholesterol.” The medical system is so broken, so numbers-based, but you're looking at a patient, right? He could have easily looked at it as it's obvious you're far healthier than you were, but no, it was no, that's not good enough. Have to check the cholesterol, so he runs cholesterol and it comes back 260 total cholesterol. I said, yeah, but what about the triglycerides? They were 43. Whoa. That's amazing. Then what about HDL cholesterol? It was 70 or 80, really good and kind of what you should be looking at. Not total cholesterol. So he's well, yeah, those are really good, but overall they're up.
In Cholesterol Clarity I explain why doctors are so incredibly clueless about cholesterol. Then it's that rule came out now brand new recommendation came out that they can put you on statins. But they really should be looking at ratios and other things. And looking at a calcium can so they can look at the actual health of your arteries.
Cheryl McCcolgan: Interesting. I didn't know that part of it, but I did actually have that scan eventually after reading your book so I could put that to rest. It was not zero but it was very low, because I think I was a runner for almost 20 years and my doctor actually told me that there's a study that was done on endurance athletes and they tend to have more calcification because of oxidative stress.
Jimmy Moore: Yes exactly. It's the oxidative stress. When you overtrain, that's almost eating all carbs, inflammation rises, but it doesn't mean don't train guys. Don't hear that as the message to not exercise, no, don't do that. But when you exercise, who is smartly, do short bursts of energy, but don't overdo it and get a lot of runners are friends of mine, always talk about their inflammation marker being high. And I'm like dude, back off of the exercise little bit.
Know Your Score, The Calcium Scan
Cheryl McColgan: I found I did actually have to give that up. Over 10 years ago now because of my knees. So I'm hoping between my lifestyle now, where I do a much more reasonable amount of appropriate exercise and eating low carb, that that number either will stabilize or go down. It's only 12 anyway. It wasn't very high.
Jimmy Moore: Oh, it's well, so I was worried about that too but at 12 I wouldn't worry.
Cheryl Mccolgan: Yeah. I'm not super worried about it, but my doctor did still want to put me on Statens after
Jimmy Moore: How old are you?
Cheryl McColgan: I'm not going to be 48 here in a month or two.
Jimmy Moore: Okay. Well that's good. Actually, for a lot of women and guys of course, heart disease is kind of the big concern that people have. We all worry about cholesterol, but we're not looking at what's really causing problems. It's not bad cholesterol it's inflammation. So it was the inflammation, but an anti-inflammatory diet, then you add in a little biohacks, red light therapy and fasting. Everything you can do to bring that inflammation then you can't have disease.
Biohacking and Overall Health
Cheryl McColganYeah. That's, that's what I'm hoping for. That's my belief. So that's the program I'm on now. And actually I'm glad that you brought up the biohacking stuff. Cause another one of your shows that again, how prolific you are with the podcasts, I've enjoyed all of them. But one of my favorites was the Biohacking MD with John Lemanski. I dig all that stuff.
That's how I kind of got into this stuff, the science-based stuff. You mentioned red light therapy, you mentioned ice baths, things that support a healthy lifestyle, but you also ended up taking a sabbatical for yourself. And I know that you have talked about that a little bit, but if you're willing to share about that period, I know that one of the main reasons you did it was to take care of your health because you are such a busy man and so prolific.
Could you talk a little bit about what you did during that time and any changes that you noticed in some of the things that you worked?
Jimmy Moore: Thank you for this, nobody ever asks about this. It's important. In fact, it's probably what you're asking me that as, as of today, I said, I'm off. I'm just sort of step away for a bit. My podcast is so visible. But yeah, in 2019, I decided I in little time off. So a lot of time off, I just thought I had been going for it.
Great. Wow. And because I'm one of those personalities that was…I am very prolific and I'm about my work kind of guy. I had me as a little bit, the way you groove yourself in this book. You work, work hard and you can give it your all, but that's my work.
Why You May Need a Sabbatical for Your Health
So it caught up to me. I was feeling the physical effects from it. So September 1st, 2019. I went into a sabatical. I got away totally, I ditched my phone and every social media app. And the podcasts. I thought I was crazy. Yeah. I was just there for a little bit, but after a while, I don't need all of that to validate my work. But what happened with it? So everything always outward, outward, outward, outward, pouring out. All the things I do…when all that was stripped away… so I started doing some work on myself with my childhood trauma.
I was physically and emotionally abused as a teenager for about three and a half years.
I never dealt with that. I never came to arms with what that meant. I had a breakup in my marriage that time as well. It just really kind of brought up all the things that I needed to deal with, but I was bringing it back to my work. And before I left, I was still doing six podcasts and I did not, I was not working smart. Then when I went away and it was all stripped away… then I'm, oh wow. And how many of us do that? We miss what we need to be working on. And so in that six months from September until February last year I did the work. I looked inwardly. I re-evaluated, where did I mess up in life? What can I do to be a better man? All the things Then I come back March the first and two weeks later COVID happened. So it was not fun, but I learned so much. And I still even now and learning to take that time. It's… we talked about health from a diet perspective or health from fitness, but we very rarely talk about mental health.
We talk about mindset, Oh, you get your head right. So you eat right and say dedicated and have the willpower and all that kind of…that's cool and nothing wrong with that. But I think what makes in kind of the health and wellness community is mental health is just as important as physical health. And yet mental health is tough. Oh, you see, you go to see a shrink and everything will be okay. And it's not always that easy.
Holistic Approach To Health
Cheryl McColgan: No, it's absolutely not. I do actually come from a mental health background. My degree is in psychology and my minor is in addiction studies. And I did some graduate training in psychology as well.
So that is actually something that I really am personally interested in, focused on. And when I put out my content, I do try it. That's why it's called heal, nourish grow, because it's really about a holistic approach. To health, not just what you put in your mouth, because we are finding so many things, like sleep and stress, and a lot of the things that you were dealing with before you went on hiatus were really affecting your health, even though you were doing arguably everything really perfect with your diet and with the with the other therapies that you were doing.
Jimmy Moore: Yeah. I put it on Facebook, it's not that low carb was the answer. It's not and people do that. They say well, if you eat keto, why are you still fat? What are you still dealing with? This is the limit that people put on it that's it's just one thing and I don't think health is about any one thing at all. There are some core things you can do across the board that would make you trend towards health, right? But if you never dealt with what you had in childhood or some other incident in your life that was just so life changing and you never came to terms with it.
Cheryl McColgan: Yep. I a hundred percent agree with you, and I'm so glad that you did take that time and that you, it sounds you're about to step away again for a little bit. So during that time, are you kind of doing hiatus or do you have any special projects that you're working on or what's, what's kind of next on your horizon?
Doing the Inner Work
Jimmy Moore: It's certainly promising because for the six months or you write a book then it's a month off. That's not it for me, I cover up pain and I'm going to, I'm going to admit this on your show. I still use my work to cover a pain. I've been going through a very difficult personal thing on top of the virus on top of all the other craziness in the world that everybody's had to deal with. I've had this personal little albatross around my neck for the past year and a half that has just not gone away yet.
Until that's lifted, I'm not going to feel fully able to kind of move on with my life, so to speak. So I have this idea of covering up that pain by pouring myself into my work. Well, now I'm at the point where today I announced that I'm going to step away for a week or two or whatever, just to kind of take that big breath and go, all right. It's going to be okay, I think. If we talk kindly to ourselves and try to show ourselves the grace, we want other people to show us, then we need to do that. I think we're sometimes are our own worst critics and enemies, and we need to be our number one champion.
Cheryl McColgan: Couldn't agree with you more. And I am so happy for you that you were working on all that. And I'm sorry to hear about the trouble part, but obviously I think you, again, taking this time and taking care of yourself because you have been such a wonderful part of this community and offering people so much information and so many good things. Things that the only way that you can continue to do that is if you take care of yourself first, right. And I think so few people and especially women get in that pattern, but men too, obviously, but of not feeding themselves first, the whole putting on your oxygen mask before you help others, they forget about that.
One Step Deeper Podcast
Jimmy Moore: I'm a bit of a different guy. I've always been one, a little more in touch with my feelings. Doesn't make me gay. It just means I'm in touch with my feelings. And so when I went away that became all the more accentuated. So now I can talk very deep with people in conversation. In fact, some of my best friends are girls. And so it's, it's funny. Cause it's guys don't go there in conversation and guys, you should go there. I didn't realize the power of letting go of kind of the stereotype of what a guy should be until I started having these meaningful conversations and going, “I do a show on this.” I do a podcast now called One Step Deeper. And it's literally about mindset beliefs. I do with my best friend who is 20 years younger than me, married, has kids.
And so we're very different people, very different age range. And yet we connect on that deep level of conversation. That mindset it's ageless. It doesn't matter what your mind, what your age is. You all can make change it. That can be meaningful wherever you are in your life right now,
Cheryl McColgan: That's so powerful. And I love that you encourage other men too, because I think it is healthier. Not that you have to be in touch with your feelings all the time and make it into somebody that you're not, but it is part of your health really to recognize those things.
It's a stereotype and I always feel it's just been beat out of them and it's emphasized in our culture.
Jimmy Moore: It doesn't make them less of a guy.
How To Keep Low Carb Sustainable
Cheryl McCoglan: Absolutely not…so just to pivot a little bit, if you take nothing else away from this conversation for the people watching or listening is that you do need to focus on not just what's going in your body, but your whole, your whole self awareness and your whole wellness program. It's not just eating, but to go back to eating, because that is what we're kind of talking about here at the end of the day. No, no, no. I love, I mean, this is what I hoped for is for people is to just hear from real people…how do they deal with things? How do you do low carb and keto for the last 20 years, 15 years, whatever it's been now that you've been doing it and make it sustainable.
And part of that is around mindset, obviously, but for that part of it, can you talk a little bit about how your eating has evolved over time? So when you first started Atkins, it was one thing. And then you've messed with carnivore and you've done experiments where we've done 90% fat. And so maybe you could talk about some of that stuff with the eating.
Jimmy Moore: Oh, I did a lot in between when I went on the Atkins diet. I didn't care about food quality at all. I think some of my first meals that first week. What's American cheese and processed turkey and rolled up in mustard or mayonnaise, and I ate it and hard-boiled eggs. So it was very rudimentary. But it was, it was what got me off this “crappy carrbage,” I call it. And then yeah, over time I evolved the eating to more of kind of a paleo low carb approach. Cause paleo came around I was involved in that community. I wasn't saying no to some of the other themes and so what would healthy carbs be? Let's try that. Then I took that real food approach and I said, well, I want to maximize what this does. Let's see what happens about the measurements for what I eat…okay, I'll test my blood. And, well, I'm not actually burning fat for fuel. So then I honed it in and started.
Eating Clean, High-Quality Food
So I was doing a one-year experiment on me. Then I wrote Keto Clarity. If you're not watching the video, I was just saying, keep the name of the book in case people were watching the video it's called Keto Clarity. It's what I'm most famous besides my podcasting is Keto Clarity. So then keto was around and I was kind of there before the trend, but keto happened but all the while I was noticing I was personally trending towards more animal-based, more animal-based less carbs and less carbs. And Ijust naturally fell into kind of a keto carnivore kind of lifestyle.
And it's not that everybody needs to go animal based. It's just, I know, I feel that eat mostly meat and most of animal foods. If you don't feel good doing that then don't do that, but it's worth trying something if you're not feeling great. Always tweak what you're doing, pay attention to how you feel and don't go based on what the scale says throw the stupid scale away. You want to because it just hurting people left and right. And it really doesn't need to be the whole story, there are so many more and better health markers.
Cheryl McColgan: Yes. And I think what you're saying about noticing what you're eating, a lot of people aren't very in touch with their bodies. And that was one of the things I also come from background of yoga I've taught for over 10 years. And that is one thing that, yes, that is one thing that yoga and meditation definitely help in relation to your health. people think of it for mental health, which is true, but it also allows you to become more in tune with your body where you notice for me, I've always been a whole foods based person for the most part, but when all these keto treats and stuff started coming out, it's kind of exciting.
Like “Ooh, I can have a cookie again,” or whatever. And I still make some of that stuff for myself when I want it. But those packaged things what I observe in myself is if I eat something with coconut flour, man, that just. It just feels a rock in my stomach. It feels horrible. And the first time I noticed it, I was thinking, wow, people go around eating these all the time.
Getting in Touch With Your Body
And I'm not saying everybody has the same reaction, but I'm willing to bet that some people just don't even notice that that is the trigger that's causing them. “Oh, I don't feel so good today,” right? And the thing that frustrates me. Well it's not off-limits and that doesn't mean that it's not still a cookie. That shouldn't be a habit, just on occasion but then o it becomes daily. People forget…even when I ate how I ate before, I was vegetarian for seven years and, but again, always whole foods based. But, what I never did was never, and this is just a personality trait…I think I never allowed myself to have a treat every single day. If you eat dessert every day, for most people, that's not gonna work out very well beause it's taking the place of foods that are nutrient dense and that you actually need. And so I'm not saying tonever eat a cookie, but I think this idea that we can just eat all this “keto” stuff all the time. It's kind of a weird thing that's come around in keto. Well, our culture make this whole appetizers, desserts, everything…very normal. Here's the appetizer. Oh, okay. Here's the main entrees. Oh, would you want some dessert?
A lot of people come to keto for weight loss, I mean, there's so many other benefits as we just talked about the anti-inflammation and the brain health benefits and all of those things, but a lot of people get here because they want to lose some weight. So over your years of doing this and having experimented with all the things you've experimented with, are there any tips or tricks or nuggets of wisdom that you can offer for people whose main objective is weight loss? And I do love that you said throw away the scale, because you do need to focus on how you're feeling, measurements…things other than the scale. But some people do need to lose weight to be healthier.
Thoughts on the Scale
Jimmy Moore: Can I tell you what happens then when things aren't moving on the scale? Getting rid of scale is important. What do they do? They do two things when the scales not moving. They cut fat and they cut calories. Cut. Cut. You're asking for it because the body can only handle so much protein and there's the same problem in the body. It squirts out glucose. Even sometimes we'll eat the right amount of fat but I'll cut her out now. For calories when you to below a certain threshold you're telling your body that there's some crisis. They don't have enough food. Why would people go on fasting?
Cheryl McColgan: Yeah. I'm so glad you mentioned fasting because I would be remiss to not chat with you about fasting after all of the amazing experiments you've done and the other book, The Complete Guide to Fasting. I'm a huge proponent of fasting as well because of my health history and also there's a lot of cancer in my family. So I'm really focused on making sure I have a good amount of autophagy every single month. Your experiments and your work…obviously was really interesting to me once you started doing some of these really longer, fasts and stuff and it's a pretty good tool for people in relation to weight loss as well.
Maybe you could expand upon that? I mean, I talk about this a lot about the fasting versus the starvation experiments. So your body's starving with calorie restriction as opposed to pure fasting where your metabolism actually speeds up. Dr. Fung's website is where I first ran into that about those studies and why your metabolism doesn't slow down when you fast. Maybe you could go into a little bit more detail about that part?
Jimmy Moore: Again, it goes back to our cultural norms of oh, breakfast and, and then snack and then dinner and then another snack and the midnight snack. Many are down on fasting because they have preached the opposite. You mentioned the autophagy that generally happens fully within 72 hours of a fast…don't freak out, three days. It's not a long time to fast. I fasted for 21 days, three times. One month I tried to go a whole month, but then I traveled and I found out that stress is, when you're traveling for me, at least. So I ate that day. I was trying to drive and concentrate. But in that month I had all but two of the days that I fasted. So that was cool. But yeah, you do need to speed up your metabolism, Fasting boosts human growth hormone. There's so many things that happen. The fun part is when you start testing blood sugar in a deep, fast, in a long, fast, and you see a 112, you're how in the world would I have that? Well, that's good news guys.
Getting Rid of Stored Sugar
What happens, Dr. Fung and I talk about this in our book, is you have pockets of sugar hidden in your fat stores. So as your fat stores are released, that sugar gets released into the bloodstream. So if you're sitting there thinking, I haven't eaten, wow, my blood sugar should be great. And then it's 112, what the hell? You don't realize you should celebrate at that point, because it means that sugar had been tucked away protecting you from all kinds of toxins. It's now out of your body. Getting getting rid of it is awsome and I think fascinating magic.
Cheryl McColgan: Yeah, that's I keep saying I'm actually doing a little talk for this keto diet smit about intermittent fasting and fasting in general. I like to say it's really the most powerful health tool in your bag. That's pretty easy to do, even if you decide, even if you never change your diet, I think you can get a ton of the benefits that we've been talking about just by getting a really good fasting regimen. Well, and everybody says, oh, you're just starving yourself.
Jimmy Moore: Let me make that clear, fasting is not starvation. You want to eat? You eat. You can eat anytime you choose.
Cheyrl McColgan: Yeah. And I love that distinction. As a woman and as a smaller woman, I've actually gotten some pushback on that. Occasionally I'll hear, oh, you must have an eating disorder. But if you have a family that's got as much cancer and health problems as I've had…and I have a tool that I could possibly prevent that just by not eating in the morning. I mean, why wouldn't I do that? It's silly…I don't know. I have to keep reiterating that to people. It's not to that, it can, I do think, attract some people that are in it for the wrong reasons.
And I actually think that you could make the argument, eating in this way without the carbs, because it evens out your blood sugar so much, you lose these high and low cravings. I think it can actually be really beneficial for people with certain types of eating disorders.
People can do fasting without changing their diet, but keto definitely makes it a hundred percent easier. I did some fasting long before I was keto and it was way harder.
Is Keto Sustainable?
Well finally, I've already taken up so much your time and again, thank you for being so generous with it, I mean, I could talk to you all day long, but I know we both have other work to do! Any final thoughts or advice for people? I get this question all the time. I see it in the media, that keto is not sustainable, even though we both know that's not true. Meanwhile, we've there's plenty of us have been doing it for, for a year, two years, three years, five years so long. Any final words of wisdom or advice about that?
Jimmy Moore: You know, it's sustainable. Oh, it's sustainable. Trust me, low-fat diets are the least sustainable diet ever seen in my life. Nobody puts up with prolonged hunger. Prolong. Are you ever hungry? Eating keto? You're eating. The desirability of the diet and then the outcomes that is produces are all the proof needed that it's sustainable.
Cheryl McColgan: I couldn't agree more. I think we just have to keep putting the word out there and hopefully, eventually, somebody will believe us or if they finally just try it, if the proof is in the pudding, I mean, once you do it, it's, this is a thousand times easier than vegetarian, I can tell you that!
Jimmy Moore: I've been at this 17 years is why I still remain so passionate about it.
Cheryl McColgan: Thank you again for all the work, all of the things that you do for this community, and all the wonderful information that you put out there. And thanks again for joining me today.