We’re discussing Chris Kelly’s journey from tech geek to mountain bike racer.

Chris Kelly is the founder of the comprehensive health and peak performance testing and consultation service called NourishBalanceThrive. This is the absolute cutting edge of progressive health for athletes and anyone wanting to achieve peak performance. The NBT program goes beyond traditional medicine to identify hormonal and nutritional deficiencies through extensive blood, urine, stool and saliva testing, expert consultations, and targeted supplementation. Chris is also a high performing mountain bike racer who has overcome serious health challenges and training mistakes to embody a healthy peak performance mindset and training regimen that doesn’t compromise his health. Visit the Primal Endurance podcast channel and listen to my past shows with Chris, and his associate (and future podcast guest) Dr. Tommy Wood, where we detail my journey through the NourishBalanceThrive testing and consultation program. Yes, I play a real-life guinea pig as we talk through the crazy stuff found in my blood, stool, urine, and saliva and how I can fix things up!

Chris talks about his journey from a Silicon Valley tech geek to an intensely competitive mountain bike racer and ultimately to pushing too hard, sleeping too little, eating like crap, and burning out. His journey back to health led to an empowering career change, where he applies his computer programming skills to the challenge of solving health problems that are not generally addressed by mainstream medicine. Chris is deep into making predictive models that can very accurately guess health problems that would otherwise cost hundreds of dollars in sophisticated testing. Chris covers so many interesting topics in this wide ranging conversation, especially the hot button items like gut health and adrenal burnout (is there really such a thing?).

Try taking the “7 Minute Analysis” questionnaire at NourishBalanceThrive.com to identify areas where you might be deficient in your functional health. It’s free and can be highly accurate to help lead you down the path to further healing. Here is a sneak preview of what NBT calls the “five performance killers”:

  1. Low Oxygen Deliverability
  2. Glucose Intolerance
  3. Gut Dysbiosis
  4. Hormone Imbalance
  5. Circadian Dysregulation

Good stuff! Worth doing for anyone, not just athletes. If you are currently spending money on vitamins or meds or super healthy food and have an inflamed gut, you are literally wasting your time until you attack the cause of the problem.



  • What does Nourish Balance Thrive do? [00:02:54]
  • Peak performance and sustained health are two different things. [00:07:34]
  • More important than your speed or distance training is diet, sleep, and mental disposition. [00:11:32]
  • Much of the western medical people (doctors) are ill informed about the importance of diet. [00:13:53]
  • The starting point of cleaning up your diet is essential before exploring the deeper nuances into the functional medicine testing. [00:21:05]
  • Socialized relations and being part of a tribe is a whole new dimension. [00:22:23]
  • How does the testing go at NBT and what do you do with the results from a person’s test? Just eat real food! [00:22:52]
  • Having a gut problem seems to be so common. Why? [00:26:04]
  • Do everything you can by yourself: give up sugars, gluten and dairy and prioritizing sleep for a month or two. [00:33:07]
  • Now after you have the client who has given up the glutens and dairy, what is next? [00:36:42]
  • Some of the things that show up of which we were unaware can be infectious substances and nutrient deficiencies.  [00:39:10]
  • There is not a lot of regulation for multivitamins.  One should be careful and use only high quality. [00:41:15]
  • What is another findings come from testing saliva? What is adrenal fatigue?  [00:44:44]
  • High cortisol suppresses the immune system and can affect the mental attitude. [00:48:09]
  • What are the findings from stool samples? It is easy to see that the patient has been drinking from hot plastic bottles.  Not a good idea! [00:50:31]
  • Most of us are unaware how much lead and mercury are found in many things. [00:53:10]
  • Is the WiFi in your house safe? In your phone? [00:55:58]
  • Sometime overstressed pattern can, for a short period of time, deliver peak performance while chipping away at your immune system. [00:58:04]
  • Which is more successful? Is it being 5 or maybe 10 percent faster and having a pro license and doing the mid-pack finishes or is it just having fun? [01:00:44]
  • It is important to continue being challenged by setting competitive goals. [01:03:06]



“Peak performance and sustained health are two different things.”

“The starting point of cleaning up your diet is essential before exploring the deeper nuances into the functional medicine testing.”

“You never know how good you feel, until you feel better!!”

“Just eat real food!”

“Which is more successful? Is it being 5 or maybe 10 percent faster and having a pro license and doing the mid-pack finishes or is it just having fun?”


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Brad Kearns: Welcome to the Get Over Yourself Podcast. This is Brad Kearns.

Chris Kelly: “I feel now, the peak performance thing, if I can make you super healthy, then I don’t care what you do in your training program. Go do jumping jacks, like some of the best guys. It doesn’t really matter what they do.”

“You just assume you feel as good as possible, and then when you have this tremendous improvement, you’re like, ‘What else is possible? Do I still feel shitty compared to that person I just walked past?’”

Brad Kearns: Here’s a quick thank you to our sponsors. They make this show possible and the tremendous production behind it – online and in audio. Thank you wildideabuffalo.com. Grass-fed, locally raised on the great plains for the last 130,000 years. Quit eating that junk food feedlot cattle and get some quality meat into your life.

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And the Primal Blueprint online multimedia educational courses. To go primal, go keto. Get a stand-up desk going, master the challenge of endurance training. Go to Bradkearns.com and click on the links to learn more about these courses. If you’re sick of my voice on the podcast, you can now get sick of my face too on the videos.

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And Ancestral Supplements. This is grass-fed, liver, organ meat and bone marrow delivered in a convenient gelatin capsule. Don’t stress about cooking liver anymore. Just pop some pills or throw capsules into a smoothie every day like me.
And Tribali Foods – organic beef and chicken patties and sliders with super creative flavors like Mediterranean chipotle and Umami, drop it onto the pan and cook it up in minutes. And now, onto our show.

Hey listeners, it’s Brad. I’m so excited to introduce my recent interview with Chris Kelly of nourishbalancethrive.com. And also, excited to use for the very first time my Zoom H4n Pro portable recording device. This is the first time I get to actually hear myself talk while I’m talking with the headphones on. So, I can tell if I put the microphone too far away and have to bring it back to perfect spot. Same with my guests when I travel around and interview. Oh yeah.

So, Chris is a very interesting guy. I was so excited to get introduced to him some time ago and decide to participate in the Nourish Balance Thrive comprehensive wellness testing supplementation consultation program. And these guys are on the very cutting edge of health science, going far beyond what the traditional medical community has to offer in terms of identifying functional problems in the body, weaknesses, nutritional deficiencies, and addressing those with supplementation, lifestyle, diet modification.

It’s so interesting. We didn’t talk too much in the interview about Chris’s software background. Kind of gets a little bit over my head, but in the parking lot he was explaining some of the ways that the algorithms work, and how they feed all this information into a database. They had access to an insurance company’s blood testing database of, I don’t know if it was tens or hundreds of thousands of people. And so, they have this massive database of information whereby, by preparing these algorithms and getting into the software programming, that’s Chris’s area of expertise.

Before he got into health, he was into the high-tech world Silicon Valley world. That’s why he moved from England over to the bay area years ago. But by inputting all this data and looking at patterns and programming, he can tell you, for example, with great certainty, 97% accuracy that your testosterone is low because you have these other red flags such as low zinc levels or other simple tests that costs $30 instead of $300 to perform the hormone panels.

So, they’re trying to optimize the Nourish Balance Thrive offering accordingly by giving you some more affordable options for testing and consultation, preparing the questionnaire that you see on their homepage. So, if you go to nourishbalancethrive.com, you can take this seven-minute questionnaire and it’s going to inform you whether you most likely have gut dysfunction as many people do, even healthy eaters.

That was amazing about my program. I came out with some really freaky stuff on my blood, urine, stool, saliva tests. I had petroleum by-products, toxic by-products in my bloodstream. I also had by-products of plastic in my bloodstream. He proposed that that might’ve been from drinking warm plastic water bottles. You know, the cheap disposable plastic water bottles. That it might have been left in my car, been heated up, the plastic leaches into the water. And so, I had to do some detoxification and purification program which involved taking Niacin and then going and sitting in 190 degrees sauna until I got really sweaty and uncomfortable.

So, crazy stuff like that that you’re not going to find at your doctor. But what’s so great for me, is that I’ve been on this health journey, this functional medicine journey as an athlete dating way back 20 plus years ago, and back then, it was like putting puzzle pieces together. So, we had to travel around and seek out this known practitioner in San Diego who did this funky testing protocol or go to the natural energy healer in Boulder and see what they had to say because you’re complaining about fatigue or diminished performance despite eating healthy, sleeping a lot, training hard.

Now, basically, everything is under one roof with what they’re doing at nourishbalancethrive.com. And they walk you through the entire program, optimizing your supplements, changing patterns over time, retesting, retesting again, and making sure that you get to some sort of finish line where you’re far better off than you were when you started. And it’s a very expensive program. It’s a pretty good investment to buy into the complete journey. But they’re also looking for ways to make it more affordable to more people.

So, let’s hear what Chris has to say. He doesn’t do a big sales pitch for his program. I’m doing that right now, I guess. But more talking about all different aspects of health, peak performance. And that’s one great distinction about what Chris is doing in his position, is that he’s walking his talk. He’s field testing his services because he’s a super competitive athlete who has had to try to heal himself from those burnout patterns, those overtraining patterns that are so common in the endurance scene, and rise back into a place where he’s performing really well in the races on much more sensible training, and also preserving his health as he pursues these peak performance goals.

So, enjoy this recording. I met him at this retreat center in the Santa Cruz mountains called 1440 Multiversity. Fabulous, incredible place where they have all sorts of retreats, but he insisted on recording outside. So, we had to walk around the whole campus looking for a plug. This super high-tech place does not have a lot of outdoor plugs. But we finally found one. So, we stood up, got some nature, beautiful sun hitting our faces on the big deck at the centerpiece, the amphitheater area of the campus. And it was a nice change of pace from sitting down in a quiet room.

So, hopefully you’ll love the sound quality, because Chris brought all this high-tech stuff. We had headsets on with the little microphones and we rocked it. Enjoy, Chris Kelly.

Catching up with Chris Kelly here in his home of the Santa Cruz mountains. I was so close to you coming to this retreat, this totally cool place called 1440 Multiversity. I said, “Hey man, we got to hook up.” So, thank you for joining me. I can’t wait to get into your amazing story, especially this Nourish Balance Thrive operation that you’ve been doing for the last few years and making great waves in the alternative health community, especially with the athletes who’ve been struggling for so long, getting the support they need. Obviously, not there in the mainstream medical approach. So, why don’t you tell us what your operation is all about and then we can take a few steps back and see how you got there.

Chris Kelly: I think I’ll agree with you that we’re making great waves when there’s no alternative, right? Where we can remove the word “alternative” from healthcare, right? It just become healthcare. That’s how I measure success.

But yeah, thank you so much for having me. I love living in Santa Cruz. I’m not from Santa Cruz, that you can probably tell from my accent. But I do love living in Santa Cruz. It’s sunny and the trails here are fantastic. And we’re by the ocean. I live in the Redwoods. We can go to the beach. It’s just such an amazing place to live and yeah, you’re right. This Multiversity here, I want to come and do something here.

Brad Kearns: We got to do some stuff here. You’ll hear about this place because we’re going to put an event on here or something. So, you mentioned the trails and you’re a big-time mountain biking dude, which is critical to the story.

Chris Kelly: Yeah, it is.

Brad Kearns: I see the abrasion on your elbow there. Did that come from yesterday’s race?

Chris Kelly: No, that was actually the week before I got crashed out of a rice right at the start. The gun went off and the guy to my left, he missed his pedal, but carried on pedaling. If you’ve ridden a bike, you probably know how this can go. So, by pedaling really hard without being clipped in, he just went sideways very quickly and took out the entire Peloton of mountain bikers on tarmac. So, all of us went down. I was like, “Oh, my God.”

So, I picked my bike up and my seat was pointing in the wrong direction and my bars were pointing in the wrong direction. I’m like, “Okay, maybe I could fix that and start the race.” And then I saw blood on my crossbar and like looked at my elbow, I’m like, “No, I’m going home.”

So, the rest of my day was spent looking for somebody to put some stitches in my elbow, which was not that much fun. But yesterday, I raised again yesterday, and I had really low expectations. Which I think you probably know this, isn’t it? When you go into a race and you don’t expect to do well because of what’s happened recently. Like that’s sometimes a really good setup, isn’t it? For having a really good day and that’s exactly what happened.

So, I had a really good race yesterday in Wilder Ranch State Park. They held an event here called the Old Cabin Race, now. It had 600 people yesterday, which is great. They only started it a couple of years ago, a fantastic venue. The race really showcases Wilder Ranch State Park really, really well. I came second in my age group, so I was pretty happy with that.

Brad Kearns: So, what are they putting you through at your age group? How long is the race and what’s the terrain like?

Chris Kelly: 27 miles, three and a half thousand feet of climbing. It’s quite bumpy in Wilder Ranch, but it was fast. We probably averaged maybe 40 miles an hour, which is quite fast on a mountain bike, for a mountain bike race. Yeah, it took me two hours and six minutes and I think the top pros probably did it quite a lot. Probably 20 minutes faster than that.

Brad Kearns: Okay, so, this winning endorsement guy for Nourish Balance Thrive, can you tell us about the operation and how you help not only athletes but regular folks too, but especially those people pursuing peak performance.

Chris Kelly: Well, that’s what we do. I realized that I am what we do. We help athletes achieve peak performance and sustained health.

Brad Kearns: Oh, those are two different things. I forgot about that.

Chris Kelly: They’re almost like diametrically opposed, aren’t they? So, that’s how I got into this. I had the peak performance. Let me go right back to the beginning.

So, moved here from London, started working for Yahoo, the big tech company in Silicon Valley. And it seemed like everybody had a road bike. I was the only person that didn’t have a road bike. And I had a ride bike in London and a bike was something you used to get to work, right? It wasn’t something you rode for fun. And nobody owned Lycra, at least no one I knew, owns Lycra. And it was all everyone did here. And so, I kind of joined in with that, did some road rides and really enjoyed it. I thought it was really great.

Then somehow, I got back into mountain biking. I’m not exactly sure how, but I can remember quite vividly being at Tamar Rancho, which is a – some mountain bike trails over in Marin County, which is the birthplace of mountain biking. And somebody saying to me, “Oh yeah, you really fast, you should come and do a race with me at CCCX,” which is where I was last week and got crashed out.

So, I went down there and I did it and he was right. I was quite fast, and I did quite well in my first race and it might as well kind of set the whole thing in motion, right? Like, “Oh actually, I’m quite good at this.” And so, I got a coach and I started riding really hard.

Brad Kearns: This story is starting to turn now. The wonderful, beautiful, innocent start where you had a natural talent for it and enjoyment, then he gets a coach and starts getting serious. Warning to listeners.

Chris Kelly: I guess, I messed a bit out there. So, the first thing I did was I tried to coach myself and I thought that would be … if I did a 90-minute time trial to work every day on the road bike, like literally as hard as I could every day, then I would get faster. So, it works for about a week and then you stagnate, right? And then you start not feeling good because you’re so tired.

So, the coach actually was very helpful. He slowed me down and I started going longer and he started periodizing my program, right.? Like, “Okay, when do you want to be good?” It’s like, “Let’s work backwards from there.” And so, that was very helpful.

But he was somewhat like focused on just one thing that’s probably not very important, which is what you’re going to do on the bike every day or not. I don’t see that stuff as very important now, and I feel now the peak performance thing, if I can make you super healthy, then I don’t care what you do in your training program. Go do jumping jacks, like some of the best guys. It doesn’t really matter what they do-

Brad Kearns: Wow, can we pull that out of the excerpt? That’s going to be the intro to the show because that is just brilliant right there. And I try to say that to people that I’ve coached over time too. Like if envision a top 20 list of the most important things for your success as an athlete, somewhere around 17 or 18 or 19, is the actual workout. And number one is your sleep. Number two is your mental disposition and your dietary habits and all these things are so much more important that by the time you get everything dialed, then you just go wind the pedals up and pedal. If you go fast one day, you go fast and if you take it easy the other day, it’s of minimal consequence because all these other mistakes happen that screw it up.

Chris Kelly: Right. Yeah, so health is really the foundation on which you build performance, but I didn’t know that in 2008.

Brad Kearns: You were just pedaling your bike.

Chris Kelly: Yeah, I’m just doing my thing. I think I had a lot of problems even as a child with food sensitivities. I was making some really poor food choices my entire life. But things got exponentially worse when I moved to the US. I’m sure that-

Brad Kearns: Sorry to hear that. I thought we were the most nutritious diet on the planet, I guess not.

Chris Kelly: No. So, I became very carbohydrate focused and it was cereal for breakfast, sandwich for lunch, pasta for dinner, and eventually I lost my metabolic flexibility. So, I’ve just used a technical term there; metabolic flexibility. And what I mean by that is I lost the ability to use both glucose that’s coming from all that carbohydrate, all the pasture and all that, and fat.

In fact, I wasn’t eating any fat whatsoever. Everything was Teflon. Like a steamed broccoli and cooked chicken breasts on Teflon. And eventually, I found myself having to get up in the middle of the night to eat another big bowl of cereal. So, I wouldn’t make it through the night. That’s how bad it was. I was so carbohydrate-dependent.

Then on the bike, I would start the rides with about three pounds of maltodextrin in those little squeezy tube things in my back pockets, and I was like a dealer. I had to deal. I won’t mention the name of the company, but I was like the guy that had the wholesale account. And I would organize the spreadsheet and everybody put their orders in through me, and I had to do that. So, I’d probably gone bankrupt because I was consuming so much of it. And I got to the point where I couldn’t go more than 40 minutes without having one of these maltodextrin gels.

And if I didn’t have it, I would start to feel lightheaded and dizzy. If I was with someone, they’d start to look tasty. It was bad, really, really bad. Where you just get to a point where something has to change. But the whole time I was doing really well on the bike. I continued to get faster. I upgraded from cut two to cut one and then eventually, I did get a pro license, but not before my health completely fell apart. And really, the low point was (I can remember it), like sat on some girl’s stoop and her saying to me, “Come back and see me once you’ve sorted yourself out,” which basically meant I couldn’t get out, right? I was completely impotent.

So, I thought, “Yeah, she’s right. I got to do something about this,” and I’ve joked before in the past. It is true that men and you go to the doctor when one of two things is wrong, right? Like if you’ve got pain in your chest or your dick doesn’t work. And so, for me, it was the latter. And I went to the doctor and he was useless. He was worse than useless. He was just not really thinking about what had gone wrong. As an engineer, you get the sense for someone who knows what they’re doing, that’s right. Thinking in processes and thinking about cause and effect and what might be going wrong, and there was none of that with this doctor.

Before I’d even really told him what was going on, he went straight to the solution, which is well, Viagra. Don’t you know that Viagra is fantastic? Like it takes literally less than a few minutes to come to that. And the drug does work. I think it’s actually a great drug, but it’s not really doing anything to address the root cause of your impotence.

Brad Kearns: And what are you in there? 30 something, how old are you?

Chris Kelly: Yeah, early 30s.

Brad Kearns: So, you’re sitting in the waiting room with the rest of the humanity and dealing with this, oh boy.
Chris Kelly: And that’s a good point actually. And I think there’s some of that, where the doctor is very difficult. I mean, he didn’t look good himself. He had what I know now is the visceral adiposity, right? So, like the centralized, the big gut thing. That’s not good. In fact, I went to see one doctor a couple of years ago that had that. And I recognized it. I knew more about my situation much later and I had a doctor like that. And I went to that doctor just to get some lab work ordered. By the time the results came back, the doctor was dead. I know. Actually, I got a letter from …

Brad Kearns: As an aside.

Chris Kelly: As an aside. Yeah, so I realized this doctor didn’t really know what was going on. He wasn’t making really a genuine effort to understand the root causes of my situation. And he referred me to a gastroenterologist because I had so many gut symptoms. You know, I was blown up like a balloon. Talk about the central adiposity, I actually had that similar shape, but it wasn’t-

Brad Kearns: It was air.

Chris Kelly: It was air, it was gas.

Brad Kearns: Yeah, inflammation. Cellular inflammation.

Chris Kelly: Yeah, I think it was just air. I would go for a massage and the masseuse would say, “There’s air in there. I can feel it. I can feel it moving around.” Yeah. I went to the gastroenterologist and they said, “Oh, it’s nothing to do with what you’re eating. We can put cameras up both ends basically. You know, an endoscopy and a colonoscopy and we can confirm what you’ve already told us, and then we have steroid, anti-inflammatory drugs and when those stop working and they will start working, then we can move over to surgery.” And I’m like, “Okay, I’m not really sure how this all fits together, but I trust you.” Like that model of medicine, it’s very paternalistic, isn’t it? Where you accept the doctor’s advice without really questioning it in any way.

So, yeah, there was kind of mixed feelings there. But at that time, I got lucky. I just met the woman who’s now my wife and she had just finished her master’s degree in food science. And she’d spent a lot of time in the lab studying food allergies and she said, “You should really try an elimination diet before you move onto the steroids and surgery.”

Brad Kearns: Just for fun, what do you have to lose?

Chris Kelly: Yeah, exactly. And so, I did the paleo autoimmune diet and it was wildly successful. Within a few weeks, my blood markers of inflammation, C-reactive protein had come back down into the normal range. I was feeling tremendously better and it was a revelation. It really was. That was what started the journey, if you will, really.

That wasn’t the end. At the time, I thought it was the end. I thought, “Oh, this is it. I figured it all out. I can fix anyone just with this one diet thing.” And then the last five years, it’s been five years coming up since I quit my job with a hedge fund to start Nourish Balance Thrive. And I really think that’s the start. Just like finding out all these other dimensions to health. It’s not just about the food that you put in your mouth, it’s so much more than that. And that discovery has come through the podcast interviewing experts every week, and having some tremendous people in the community come along and put their arm around me and say, “Hey Chris, you’re probably going to go out of business unless you figure these other things out.”
So, I’ve been very lucky and all the people that have helped me get to where I am today with Nourish Balance Thrive.

Brad Kearns: So, that starting point of cleaning up your diet is essential to exploring these deeper nuances of functional medicine testing and tweaking the diet even further. And I think that’s an important point to make because a lot of people are blowing their hundreds of dollars on supplements, but they’re still slamming the sweetened seven pumps of Starbucks drink and hitting all this sugar and having that metabolic dysfunction. Even the gut health, if that’s not handled, then all these other downstream problems are probably not worth addressing in terms of your thyroid medication or taking your Viagra or whatever. So, it sounds like you had that nice entry point where you cleaned up your diet, the inflammation went away, you got your functioning back and so forth.

Chris Kelly: Yeah, I mean it just kind of opens the idea of there might be something else out there for you. Like, “Maybe, I can feel better than this.” You don’t really know how good you feel. Like I don’t know how … like the person I just walked past, how good they feel. There’s no way to know that. You just assume you feel as good as possible and then, when you have this tremendous improvement, you’re like, “What else is possible? Do I still feel shitty compared to that person i just walked past?” You don’t know. And so, you start investigating.

I feel like – I hope I’m at the point now where it’s diminishing returns. I don’t think I’m going to find another thing that’s a whole new dimension. So, for example, social isolation and being part of a tribe, I think is a whole new dimension that I had not even considered in 2012 when I was eating or discovered the paleo autoimmune diet. And now, I know that’s maybe as important, right?

When you look at the epidemiological data, people who are lonely, that’s the same risk as smoking. And so, it’s maybe as important, but I didn’t know that then. I only know that from doing the podcast interviews. There’s all these other vectors that you need to explore other than food.

Brad Kearns: So, with the program that you guys designed, heavy emphasis on healthy nutritious diet, you’re not pegging yourself into these tiny little camps like veganism is a way to go or you have to go keto or all that. So, you have sort of a general recommendation to the client, and then how does the testing work and what are you going for that’s deeper than that?

Chris Kelly: Yeah, you’re right. So, the food is still the foundation. We’re not married to any one particular way of eating.

Brad Kearns: But what are some of those pillars that are non-negotiable? Like is it okay to eat refined sugar in the Nourish Balance Diet program or are you kind of setting some standards at the gate where the person can go, “Oh, I see what this is all about.”

Chris Kelly: Yeah. So, we definitely still start from what we call a paleo primal template. There’s no question about that. I mean, if there’s one unifying idea, it’s just eat real food. I mean, I think that’s … would your great, great grandmother recognize this as food? If the answer is no, then don’t eat it.

Brad Kearns: Oh, that’s a good one. Instead of the cave man, how about your great, great grandmother.

Chris Kelly: You don’t have to go back that far. I mean, in the UK, cereal – people have only been eating that since the 1950s. Everybody had bacon and eggs for breakfast before that. And then Kellogg’s came along with a tasty corn flakes.

Brad Kearns: Well, even the bread that was homemade in the late 1800s was vastly different than the modern genetically modified crop and far less offensive to the body and less gluten and all those things.

Chris Kelly: I mean, I remember when I first came to the US, scouring the supermarket, trying to find a loaf of bread and all I could find were these things that had 60 ingredients. And like, “Why does all the bread have sugar in it.?” Bread doesn’t have sugar in it. It should have like, well, the ingredients like wheat and salt and water. I mean, you can make bread with just those three things. Like why has it got 60 ingredients? And yeah, so there’s definitely something different.

But we’ve seen people get really good results on a variety of diets. When you consider gut health in the equation, it gets more complicated. So, in general, we’ve had really good results with clients eating a high-fat diet, not necessarily ketogenic. I mean, that’s a very subjective, I should say term. So, some people can be in ketosis eating 400 grams of carbohydrates per day, which most people will consider to be an awful lot. You’d have to be extremely active to-

Brad Kearns: Sami Inkinen had his blog. He’s a multiday mountain bike stage racer. He’s going out there for hours, and I think he was consuming up around 200 grams of carbs per day and putting up these big ketone numbers. But of course, a function of how much energy he’s burning.

Chris Kelly: Yeah, so, it totally depends. If you’re completely sedentary, you’re going to have to eat an awful lot less carbs than that in order to be in ketosis. And we’ve had some great results. I’ve eaten the diet for a couple of years myself and felt like I got quite good results. And especially, in the beginning and then towards the end I’m not quite so sure about that.
But then with the gut health thing, we’ve seen people whether the fat really makes them feel bad. So, there’s this idea that saturated fats … it’s not really an idea, I think it’s quite well described in the literature, actually. That saturated fats can translocate endotoxins across the gut where they just cause metabolic mayhem.

So, some people, they don’t feel good when they have a bulletproof coffee or something. They feel terrible.

Brad Kearns: So, describe how that’s happening. They up their saturated fat intake from whatever baseline they’ve been eating for decades and maybe trying to stay away from it. Then what happens to them?

Chris Kelly: Yeah, well they’ve heard the high-fat diet’s now the thing. I’m like, “All right, I’m going to try that and let’s try putting butter in my coffee,” and they’re like, “Jesus, I feel worse.” So, there’s these things called lipopolysaccharides which appear in the cell wall of gram-negative bacteria. And so, if you’ve got a gut full of these vipers and then you down a bunch of saturated fat, like you drink it literally as in butter in your coffee, that will actually translocate. It just means to assist with moving this endotoxin across the gut wall, into the lymph and then into your system overall, and it causes metabolic mayhem.

So, we’ve had people, we do some gut testing on them. “Okay, we can see that you’ve got a lot of dysbiosis here,” and then we’ll work on a protocol to resolve that dysbiosis. Usually, it’s herbs. And at the same time, we’ll go the other way, right? Eat a really low-fat, high-carb diet. And people usually complain, “I’m hungry all the time. I don’t like being hungry all the time. I like the way that when I eat a high-fat diet, I’m not thinking about food constantly, but I don’t have brain fog and so, I’m going to live with that very low-fat diet for a while whilst we fix your gut.” And then we’ll experiment and play around.

But usually, people, yeah, they end up on a somewhat high-fat, somewhat low-carb paleo, primal type diet where everything, as fewer ingredients as possible, and as minimal processing as possible. So, you’re not eating say white flour that’s highly processed and then cooked. It’s all minimal processing, minimal cooking.

Brad Kearns: So, this gut problem, which seems to come up as a huge health topic over and over, and you guys mentioned that, I think is the highest percentage of people taking your questionnaire, come up with that possible gut dysfunction. Talk about how do you get that and how does it manifest?

Chris Kelly: Well, I’m not sure that anyone really knows, like what exactly is going on here. I mean, so, it’s a complex system and my guess is that there are many interacting factors that are leading to the end problem. And I think the athletes are particularly susceptible, and you do see that in studies. Where you just take a bunch of marathon runners and then you test their poop afterwards. They’ve all occult blood, which is like hidden blood in their stool.

So, something is going on with the gut when you’re exercising really hard and that kind of makes sense when you think about it from a physiological standpoint. Because when you’re running away from a tiger, you don’t really want to invest in long-term building projects. And digestion is a long-term building project, right? So, you divert blood away from the gut, towards the exercising muscles and then hopefully at some point soon, you get away from the tiger. And then you can go back to the rest and relax and digest and all of that.

But of course, that’s not really the way that we train nowadays, is it? It’s like you run away from a tiger for two hours, and then you’re going to do it again the next day, right?

Brad Kearns: And then slam sugar into that stomach that’s not prime for digestion because you’re functioning.
Chris Kelly: Exactly. So, maybe some of the carbohydrates you’re consuming, these acellular, powdered carbohydrates, they may be creating dysbiosis in themselves. Maybe, some of that basketball belly that I had was being created by these damn maltodextrin gels that I was consuming, and it was just like all fermenting away in there.

Brad Kearns: Let’s take a midroll break, this show is sponsored by GU and Power Gel, packet sugar down your throat while you’re training so you can keep going if you’re in a carbohydrate dependency diet. No, this is serious stuff because if you’re talking about like the triathletes, we’re out there for hours in a day, training, doing these different workouts and slamming so much … acellular is the already broken foremost carb-

Chris Kelly: Yeah, it’s all powdered. You think about a banana or a sweet potato, and you’d cut it in half, the carbohydrates, the starch granules are still inside of a cell for the most part. Whereas refined sugar is not. It’s all ground into – that’s just glucose and fructose mostly that’s just ready to go. And you can always absorb it through your mouth. You don’t really need digestion, right?

Brad Kearns: Right. So, you’re consuming a lot of that during exercise and in and around exercise. And during a lot of that time, you’re not really prime for healthy digestion. You’re not in that parasympathetic state. You’re in that kind of running from the tiger type thing. I imagine that would stress digestion as well.

Chris Kelly: Yeah, exactly. And then so, when you stop, there is this thing, they call a reperfusion injury. So, when you diverted blood away from the gut, and then you stop exercising and then the blood comes rushing back, and that can actually cause damage. It’s a bit like I’m asking you to put your foot on the end of a hose pipe and you turn the tap on. I don’t know, maybe it’s a stretchy host pipe. And then when you finally release it, there’s like kind of this sudden rush of fluid that comes back and that can cause injury.

So, maybe that’s part of it. Why we’re seeing so many athletes with gut dysbiosis, is a combination of too much exercise maybe, which is fine. I do too much exercise still too, but my goal is performance and not longevity.

Brad Kearns: For now.

Chris Kelly: For now, that’s right.

Brad Kearns: How old are you now?

Chris Kelly: 42.

Brad Kearns: Okay. So, this is like your mid-30s, is when you put these roadblocks. Now you’ve cleaned up your act and you’re squeezing out a few more years of peak performance with the masters.

Chris Kelly: Yeah. So, there’s that. And then there’s the carbohydrates, which we talked about. And then also, you think immunity is also a long-term building project, right? So, you’re running from a tiger for two hours, you’re not going to be investing in immunity at that time. Why would you do that? That doesn’t make any sense. If you’re about to be eaten by a tiger, why would you invest in immunity? That’s something that maybe’s going to kill you next week at the earliest, or if it’s cancer, then that could be years away.

Brad Kearns: Right, you’re talking genetically speaking because we only have a certain amount of energy and resources to devote when we keep pumping out energy to – you’re saying being chased by a tiger. But that’s also working 12-hour days, going to the gym for those 6:00 AM workouts and just pumping out too many stress hormones. This is a pattern that all of us are locked into where we’re trying to go, go, go all day. So, what’s getting sacrificed? Immunity, proper digestive health.

Chris Kelly: Right. And so, you see this. Everybody knows athletes … In fact, I know a really talented athlete that dropped out of the sport altogether because every time he raced, he got a guarantee, “I’m going to be sick on the day after or the day after that.” And he wouldn’t know what it would be, not always the same. Sometimes, it would be the flu or just a common cold or something, but it was enough to make it unpleasant and enough to – where he didn’t want to take part in the sport anymore.

I’m sure that’s what’s happening with the gut as well. Especially, when you combine that with a sport like triathlon where you’re swimming, you’re going to suppress your immune system, you’re going to do all these things, then you’re going to jump into a dirty lake and then swim for however many minutes, like probably the recipe for disaster.

But to be fair, I’m a mountain biker and I don’t swim in dirty water and I’ve still seen that same – looking after my gut has been an ongoing process. So, I do tests fairly regularly. And sometimes, I find stuff that I’ve never seen before. I’m like, “What the heck? Now I’ve got H. pylori, where did that come from?” So, it feels like a bit of a process, like anything else, where you’re looking after a machine and if you’re running that machine ragged, then you’re going to have to do more maintenance than if you’re taking it easy.

Brad Kearns: So, this concept of gut health is so new that most likely if you go to mainstream, your family doc or your gastroenterologist, they’re going to tell you the same story today, even though that was five or six years ago. They’re going to want to stick a tube up there, give you a steroid, something like that.

So, if we’re interested in improving our gut health, or investigating whether we have problems or not, what kind of steps would we take?

Chris Kelly: Well, I mean you’ve got to do everything that you can buy yourself first. So, most of the people we work with, they’ve already been through quite a long process of trying things for themselves. And then you get to a point and you’re like, “I think I’m stuck. I’ve still got diarrhea quite a lot and it’s not getting any better, and I’ve tried the AIP diet.” So, there’s probably something else there and at that point, you need some help.

But you got to do to the basic stuff first, right? So, you’ve got to eat the primal diet, which is probably going to be free of gluten and dairy. The two most common food sensitivities that we see. So, you should at least do an experiment where you don’t eat those things for a month or two, to see if that helps.

Then, obviously sleep is a big part of it and all these things they kind of tie in together. I talk about these really restrictive diets that require a lot of willpower in order to execute. But if you’re not sleeping well, you’re just not going to have the willpower to make those decisions, right? And so, they’re all tied in, but at the same time, it’s very difficult to sleep well if you’ve got seven gut infections and you’re not eating well, right? There’s always like a catch-22. But you’ve at least got to make your best effort at trying some of these things, like prioritizing sleep and eating the diet and then maybe some techniques that can help you handle stress better.

So, guided meditation was quite important for me in 2012, and maybe less so now. And then making sure you’re not lonely. That was probably a part of my thing as well, right? In 2012. I come here from the UK, all of my friends and even to this day, all of my best friends are still in the UK. Not all, but mostly. And so, I didn’t really have a very strong social support group at all. And I think that’s important too. I mean, there’s definitely some stuff, like listen to some podcasts. That’s what I did too before I got into the testing now. I listened to a bunch of podcasts and I just tried about 13,000 things by myself, and then eventually, I’m like, “Okay, I need someone to help me here.”

Brad Kearns: Yeah, the stress part is a big one. I’ve just finished this leadership retreat where they’re talking about your fears and how we operate so often out of fear and anxiety because we’re worried about what people might think of us or we’re worried about the end results. We’re attached to the results of what we’re doing in our career or as athletes. And my presentation was about getting over yourself. Noticing that when you have a pure motivation for whatever you’re doing, that’s when you get the best results, instead of being fixated on the outcome and attaching your self-esteem to the outcome. And there’s no blood test for that at your doctor, and they’re probably not going to mention that at your doctors.

But I think when you take these steps in the name of protecting your health, respecting sleep as a top priority, then you can start to make the progress at the cause, rather than – I think we’re fixated on how do we address the symptom. We take the Viagra, how do we address an inflamed gut? We take – whatever you take, Maalox or some of those aids that are right on the counter and they seem like an easy solution. But we got to take those baby steps first.

We’re heading with the show, we’re progressing toward that point where we’re going to get into what kind of testing are you doing to your Nourish Balance Thrive client who’s said, “Okay, I cut the sugar out, I’m managing my sleep. I feel like I’m checking a lot of these boxes off and I want to be better.” Maybe, I don’t even know I’m suffering. When I started taking your tests, I felt pretty good, but I had those complaints and I wrote on the questionnaire.

Yeah, sometimes I crash and burn with my energy patterns. It might be a day or day and a half after I do an intense workout and I feel like crap the following afternoon, and I also want to improve this or improve that. Then we’re going further down the road after agreeing that we’re on a healthy path. So, what’s next for that enthusiast?

Chris Kelly: Yeah, for the enthusiasts. And you can do this by yourself as well, honestly. Like go get a basic blood chemistry and then do your best to try and figure out what it means. And so, we’ve developed some software now that does exactly that. You can take a basic $50 blood chemistry. Most people will be doing this test anyway with their doctor. The doctor that I went to see that I said wasn’t very good, he still did most of the markers that we use now in our practice. That’s the first place to start, right?

So, blood chemistry is the cheapest, it’s the most well understood. It’s ubiquitous and it’s going to tell you something about what’s going on in your body. And it doesn’t need to be a fancy a thousand-dollar panel that you found from some athletic specific package. You don’t need to do that first and so, that’s got to be-

Brad Kearns: Dang man, I did several of those before I met you.

Chris Kelly: I’m not saying that nobody should ever do those ever, but it’s just not the place you start. There’s so much to be learned from a basic blood chemistry. And I’m talking about a CBC, a Metabolic Panel is normally called an Iron Study and that’s about it. 38 markers is what we use and then, we develop some software that allows us to get more of that basic blood chemistry.

So, as you said, we do all these fancy tests. We do a DUTCH urinary hormone test. We do urinary organic acids. We do two types of stool tests; PCR DNA analysis and a stool culture. But we can predict a lot of that stuff just from the basic blood chemistry now. And we do that using some machine learning techniques that recognize patterns in the basic blood chemistry. And they can say, “Oh, well, I think there’s a 90% chance that this guy has been exposed to H. pylori. Like he looks like someone that has the IgG antibodies.”

So, that gives us a place to start. We can use that as a navigational aid. The tests are not perfect. My algorithms are not perfect. There’s a chance I got it wrong. And in fact, the IgG antibodies are not diagnostic of an infection anyway. You’ve always got to do some follow-up testing. But it gives us a place to start now.

A few years ago, we would just shotgun. We would just have people do all of the tests and that works, especially for the type of people that we work with who’re maybe cash rich-time poor. “I just spent $10,000 on my bike, I’m hoping to go to Kona – I don’t really have a year to work on this.” “Okay, well let’s just do all the tests, right? And then fix the problems we find.”
That can work well too, but as we scale beyond that kind of cash rich-time poor individual, then working more methodically, I think is going to be important.

Brad Kearns: Some of that stuff I think is obvious if you’re feeling lousy. And you can predict maybe that you’re … I used to go get tested because my brother worked in the lab when I was racing as a triathlete. And I’d go in there when I felt like crap and my hematic rate would be down to 36 or 38, instead of normal in the 40s. Now, these days doped off your ass up to 50.0, right?

But what I would do is I’d go home and rest and I’d eat a lot of meat and sleep and then I’d go back and start feeling better and my hematic rate would be back in 43, 44 because there was a function … and same with my testosterone numbers, would be down in the dumps when I felt like crap. And when I felt good, my blood was better.

So, making it more than a numbers game I think is important. But at the same time, my experience with you, I went through the entire program with all the testing and you identified these random things that I had no idea were holding me back, and then target the supplementation. So, we can talk about my particular case if you want. But for someone who’s reporting pretty good on so many levels, what are the patterns that you see through these advanced tests that you might not get at your general medical approach and your medical check-up?

Chris Kelly: Yes, so we’re definitely seeing a lot of infectious stuff in the gut that’s very fixable. And you can fix that using botanical herbs and we have really good results doing that. And it’s all evidence-based. I can send you references for everything that we recommend, and the program includes everything. So, we run a $10,000-program and it includes all the testing and supplements, everything. So, we’re not going to send you on a shopping trip to try and find some botanical herb.
Brad Kearns: Oh, so you enroll in the program?

Chris Kelly: Yeah.

Brad Kearns: And it includes all testing, all the re-testing-

Chris Kelly: All the testing, yeah. Everything, totally inclusive. So, that’s how we know that the botanical herbs are working, is because we’ll redo the test and see that it works. And you can also go to your doctor as well. We’ve had people do that. H. Pylori is another good example, actually. You can go and see your primary care doctor and they know exactly what to do about that. And H. pylori is classified as a carcinogen because if left untreated and with stress, probably is that crucial factor, then you can develop stomach ulcers which can become cancer.

So, even the traditionally trained primary care doctors are interested in that particular box. And we see infectious causes of problems, but then we also see a lot of nutrient deficiencies. Stuff that they don’t really seem that interested in that. Vitamin is not really … that’s not really proper medicine, is it? Or vitamin deficiency, we don’t see that. But we do and it’s subtle, but I mean we’re working with people that care about that last five or 10%.

So, as an example, you may have a B vitamin deficiency that’s leading to that lower level of hemoglobin. So, for example, you need B12 and folate in order to have a mature red blood cell. And so, when you run a basic blood chemistry, you get the CBC, that’s a $13-test that you can order for yourself. You’ll see your mean corpuscular volume is up into the high 90s maybe, and it’s because you’re deficient. So, there’s lots of reasons why that might be the case.

But one of the reasons are you might be deficient in B12 and/or folate, and I can predict that using my algorithms. And there’re some really easy fix. You can maybe even fix it by taking a multivitamin, a really good quality multivitamin. Not the $6-Walmart multivitamin that might even make it worse.
Brad Kearns: They are different in quality?

Chris Kelly: Yeah, they’re terrible. I just got my dad off the most saddest multivitamin I’ve ever seen in my life. It had all the non-bioavailable forms of every single vitamin. Like Cyanocobalamin, which is not really even B12, which is so sad. And it had loads of binders and fillers.

Brad Kearns: Yeah, I like looking at the label. If you’re an amateur and you go to Costco and it says “other ingredients” on your multivitamin, and there’s a huge list of them. So, I guess if you’re just a novice, maybe going to a specialty store or an internet resource that has a lot of backup and maybe some customer support, rather than buying the giant bottle for $9, is a good step.

Chris Kelly: Just go to Thorne Research. Like if you’re an athlete, just got to Thorne. I mean, we do sell Thorne products but I don’t have an affiliation with Thorne in any other way. And they just have the best stuff, right? So, you have like really good MDPHDs designing their products and you know you’re always going to get the best stuff in them. And they do mass spectrometry, which is the same technology we use in our clinic to test all the supplements three times as they go through the production line. And so, you know it’s not going to be contaminated with arsenic or lead or it’s not going to have something that shouldn’t be there.

We work with some Olympians, National Champions, other people who get tested and the last thing you want is for them to get busted for something that was in their multivitamin. Like that’s just dumb, right?

Brad Kearns: And guess what? There’s not a lot of regulation here. This is not an FDA-

Chris Kelly: No, it’s the Wild West.

Brad Kearns: It’s the Wild West. You slap a label on there and you buy your Chinese herbs and we don’t know if they’re from toxic waste dump and some other country. Yeah, crazy stuff. So, you got to be careful and go for those reputed brands. I mean, that’s been Mark Sisson’s business for 20 years.

Chris Kelly: Yeah, of course. Actually, I was just reading an article by him, that’s a really good litmus test actually, he was writing about it, the 5 methyltetrahydrofolate, which is the active form of folate, and he just reformulated his multivitamin to have that end. And I was really excited to-

Brad Kearns: At the behest of Christopher Kelly.

Chris Kelly: I don’t think so.

Brad Kearns: Sitting in his porch, talking about some of the individual ingredients, that latest research is making and breaking. So, yeah, staying on top of it. Good example though. I mean, you got to constantly see what the best thing to put in your body is.

Chris Kelly: I’m sure that Mark heard about that from nine different sources before he made the change. But yeah, good for him that he made that. And so, that’s actually a really good litmus test. If you pick up a multivitamin and it says folate as 5 methyltetrahydrofolate or folinic acids, it’s probably a good product.

Brad Kearns: Oh, good product.

Chris Kelly: Yeah, you’re not going to see that on a Walmart multivitamin. That’s for sure.

Brad Kearns: One of the other interesting tests, I’ve had these over the years. I had that salivary cortisol done where I’m spitting into the container. It was five different times a day or something, right? So, what is that all about? Because I know so many people are worried about adrenal burnout and you get these terms of that nature, and this is kind of tracking your regulation of your stress response.

Chris Kelly: The art is formerly known as adrenal fatigue.

Brad Kearns: Right, the catchall term slapped on everything.

Chris Kelly: Yeah, I must admit, I did fall for that. In the beginning, I did these training courses and it was all about adrenal fatigue and it was a very stress-orientated approach to health. And there’s definitely something to it. That’s been a reoccurring theme that I’ve learned in health and fitness, is you’ll hear lots of people talking about stuff and they’re like talking about it as if it was the only thing in the world that mattered. And usually, what it turns out to be, is there’s something there. You hear people talking about MTHFR or Candida or SIBO or I’ve just been talking about gut infections or carbohydrates and metabolic – but they’re never quite as important as the person who’s talking at that moment makes them out to be.

Brad Kearns: Especially, if they’re selling something or a supplement for adrenal fatigue. It’s called Chill Out.

Chris Kelly: Yeah, myself included in that list there. But yeah, so adrenal fatigue, it’s a very misleading name because there’s almost certainly nothing wrong with your adrenal glands and the problem is in your brain.

Brad Kearns: Right, Dr. Kate said that too. That your adrenal glands are fine, they’re just working too hard because-

Chris Kelly: They’re just doing what they’ve been told.

Brad Kearns: … of your stressful ass life where you can’t slow down and get enough sleep. And it was a real mind blower to me because when I was an athlete, I started to study more and more about the stress response and cortisol and the balance of all that. And I concluded that like my success as an athlete was all about how well I could recover and manage stress. It wasn’t about the workouts anymore. At a certain point where, “Hey, you got to get in shape and if you’re three minutes behind out of the water, guess what? Get your button in the pool and swim more and become more competent.”
But at a certain point, it was like, how do I maintain performance? Let’s say my best performance ever, I won the race. So, why can’t I win every single race? It’s managing that stress response, and you get into that terminology of, well, I have adrenal fatigue because I raced 27 times around the globe and traveled all over, and now I feel fried. Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that, it’s an incurable disease. It’s like when she said-

Chris Kelly: Courtesy of exercising.

Brad Kearns: Yeah, when there’s nothing wrong with your adrenal glands, that was a big epiphany for me. Like, oh my gosh, so if I went to Hawaii and laid on the beach for 14 days, my adrenals would probably – maybe it would take six days to recover, and then they’d start regulating the salt balance and doing all their jobs properly unless I have Addison’s disease or something crazy. But now, you’re talking about the 8 million people that say that and almost all of them are fine from that disease perspective, but it’s the inputs, the sources, what’s screwing them up.

Chris Kelly: Right. Yeah, so that’s definitely true. But there are some other factors as well. When I started Nourish Balance Thrive, we did a ton of those salivary adrenal test. And nearly always what I saw was very, very low cortisol. So, the situation that you’ve just described that it’s kind of stress bunny, you’d expect to see high cortisol and you usually never do. And so, the adrenal fatigue thing kind of then makes makes sense. And we only guess the … “it’s burned out, I just can’t make it anymore.” But actually, that’s not what’s going on. And probably, what’s going on, is it’s related to immune function.

So, remember cortisol has really potent immune modulating effects and that a high cortisol is going to suppress the immune system, but that’s not what you want when you have an infection. So, it depends on the type of pathogen. And the person that’s been truly wonderful about teaching me about this stuff is a naturopathic doctor by the name of Brian Walsh. And he did an interview with Robb Wolf (I’m sure you can find with Google) where he talks about this stuff.

So, basically, it depends on the type of pathogen that’s present, what part of the immune system is activated. And sometimes you see high cortisol, sometimes you see low cortisol. In our experience, we only saw low cortisol. But it’s not a deficiency of some adrenal supplement that you need to fix the infection, and then once you fix the infection, the cortisol can just like literally pope back up overnight, and then with it … because it doesn’t feel good.

I just bashed on this term “adrenal fatigue” and it’s quite a good name in that it does encapsulate how you feel. So, I did one of those saliva tests in 2011 or something and mine was really, really low. And I was really tired and some of-

Brad Kearns: Are you saying low all the time?

Chris Kelly: Low all the time.

Brad Kearns: Like the cortisol is supposed to be in a pan of spiking in the morning and moderating in the evening. So, I remember that graph had constraints on the upper and lower level. So, you’re saying that most people you test are showing lower than they should be even in the morning, even at night kind of thing?

Chris Kelly: Yeah, sorry. That’s a very good point. I didn’t empathize very well there. I’m just assuming that people know that it’s a multi-point test. So, cortisol has a normal daily rhythm and so there’s something they call “the cortisol awakening response”. When you get up, your cortisol is supposed to be rising quite rapidly and then it sort of tapers off from there to an idea that comes late at night. And what we would normally see is just flatline. Like nothing, all day long. But that doesn’t feel good.

Brad Kearns: Right, the symptom is you feel like crap in the morning, you can’t get going.

Chris Kelly: Yeah, so, for me, the feeling I guess would be lack of energy and then also, maybe mild depression. So, not really enjoying things that you previously used to enjoy – was like my number one complaint. I had been through a long list of sports, wakeboarding, snowboarding, kiteboarding, you name it. I tried it and loved it. And then suddenly, I didn’t love it anymore. That for me, was kind of a definition of mild depression. Like finding it very hard to take pleasure in things. It comes back, like suddenly you’re stoked on stuff again. And of course, I’m oversimplifying here. There’s a lot going on.
But yeah, when you see a normal cortisol rhythm, you can expect the person to be cracking jokes versus someone with flatline cortisol, they’re not cracking jokes.

Brad Kearns: Yeah, your mood’s flat as well, right. What were some of the other stuff? You talked about the stool testing and the urine testing. What are those going for? What insights are you looking for?

Chris Kelly: Yeah, so the stool testing is how we’re finding these gut infections for the most part. But then we also do find some stuff on the urine test. So, this urinary organic acids test is a very clever technology where they look at metabolites in the urine and they’re not looking at anything directly. They’re looking what you might describe as the exhaust fumes in a car. So, it’s almost like that you take your car into the shop and the mechanic puts a probe in the tailpipe and they look at what gases are coming out of the engine, and they can tell you something about the way that it’s burning. So, they’re not looking at stuff directly, they’re looking at these metabolites.

Brad Kearns: Is that where you found my crazy ass plastic water bottle and petroleum rubber?

Chris Kelly: Oh yes, we did find that.

Brad Kearns: I mean, that was no fun, man. I remember that phone call we had where you did my consultation. It’s very, very intense. I mean we went over every aspect of my results and then we got down to this, “Well man, are you doing a lot of sweating on a rubber mat and soaking up?” I’m like, “As a matter of fact, no.” He goes, “What about drinking hot boiling hot water bottles that have been sitting in your car?” I’m like, “Once in a while.” But I guess those metabolites, those disgusting chemical by-products were in my urine.

Chris Kelly: Yeah, so we’ve actually stopped running … that was [The Great Plains TOX 00:52:22]. And it’s a good test, but I don’t need it anymore because I can predict a lot of that stuff from a blood chemistry now. So, we’ve been not running that test for a while. But yeah, that’s another dimension. I talked about, “Oh well, you’re lonely and that’s part of the problem.” Environmental exposures is also, I think, another dimension that’s as big as that. The people are not really thinking about the chemicals that are in their environment and the things that they introduce into their body.

Cyclists, especially, I mean I’m still doing it, because I’ve not found a good solution. I’m hoping that somebody’s going to come along and make a water bottle for cyclists that doesn’t include any of the plasticizers. And I know someone’s going to say, “Oh yeah, I know, my bottle’s BPA-free. It says right there on it.” But there are other plasticizers BPF, and BPS which are less-well studied, less-well understood, but almost certainly have some of the same estrogenic effects, and so they’re not a solution.

Brad Kearns: Especially when they heat up, right?

Chris Kelly: Yeah, exactly. So, you think the cyclists, those bottles are on the bike frame for maybe hours in the sunshine, and then you’re drinking that stuff. I mean you’re almost certainly ingesting some plastic when you drink up those things. So, there’s so many other things as well. I mean, heavy metals from even now to this day as we speak. I have a mouthful of dental amalgams and I know I need to go get that taken care of at some point.

Brad Kearns: Everyone’s telling me the same, man. You think that’s legit? Like it’s a true source of toxic inside the blood stream?

Chris Kelly: Oh yeah. I mean, it has to be true because there’s no way to make a dental amalgam without using some mercury.

So, I think a dentist in San Francisco lied to me in 2008 or something and said, “Oh yeah, we don’t do that anymore. It’s a silver filling, it’s got no mercury in it.” I don’t think that’s possible. I think it must have mercury in it. And I think there’s a pretty good evidence that mercury amalgams do release some mercury vapor and then where does that go? You don’t breathe it out. It has to go into your body and there’s no safe level of mercury. It exerts its toxicity in many ways, but it displaces selenium. So, any selenium dependent enzyme of which there are many important ones, are going to be broken by mercury.
That’s not the only thing either. There’s lead that’s in bloody everything. Like don’t ever drink out of a garden hose pipe because it might have lead in it. Get rid of all your antiques because that’s probably got lead in it too. Like old glass and stuff that’s got lead in it, lead paint, all kinds of places you can get lead from. We’ve even seen it in protein supplements, recently. So, not companies like Thorne that are doing mass spec three times on every single thing as it comes through their production line. Less, well-

Brad Kearns: Less expensive.

Chris Kelly: Less expensive, shall we say.

Brad Kearns: Bulk protein on the shelf.

Chris Kelly: Yeah, and so, lead displaces zinc in those enzymes, and you can’t make testosterone without zinc. You can’t make red blood cells without zinc. So, these metals can also be a problem, and I can predict those as well with pretty good accuracy from a basic blood chemistry, using the same similar machine learning techniques. So, you just have to do your best to try and get all this stuff out of your environment. And that means for me, it means … okay, so, I still use the plastic bike bottles, but everything else in my kitchen is either glass or stainless steel. And even stainless steel isn’t perfect.

Actually, I was just reading about this the other day. Did you know the Instant Pot … I don’t know you guys have gotten an Instant Pot … Yeah, I know I almost cried when I saw it, but it can actually leach nickel and chromium into the food. Like there’s some really good data where they’ve looked at this and it depends on a lot of things. Like if it’s a really acidic source, like if you’re using tomatoes or something, then there’s a lot more off the metals in the food –

Brad Kearns: Oh mercy. Okay, so we’ll skip past those recipes.

Chris Kelly: Are you kidding me? Tommy’s like, “Oh yeah, I’ve got a ceramic one.” I’m like, “Are you kidding me?”

Brad Kearns: That’s right, it’s an accessory, you can order that. All right, we’ll switch over to ceramic.

Chris Kelly: My wife said, “You’ll pry my Instant Pot out of my cold dead hands.” Like, “No way.” I mean, you have to be careful because at some point, worrying about this stuff might become as dangerous as the stuff itself, so you kind of just have to-

Brad Kearns: I mean, I heard the Mercola Podcast where he’s talking about the Wi-Fi signals and unplug your router every night, which sounds very reasonable to everybody or switch the power main off in your house every night, which is a little bit more difficult. You got to reset all your things, but apparently, he like won’t take a picture unless you put your phone on airplane mode so that he won’t get exposed to that thing.

Digging a little deeper and I asked some experts about this, and the people that are vulnerable and sensitive, this stuff really does matter and it can really eff you up. And maybe, some of us are more fortunate where we can eat those meals out of the Instant Pot and suffer no ill effects, but I’m looking at big picture, like I want to live to be 123 as easy as one, two, three, break the record. It’s now 122.

So, if I have an ambition to have nice longevity and peak performance for a long time, then you’ve got to start looking at these little things like mercury fillings and all that. But not before we address the big picture stuff because I think some of these health freaks that we’re immersed with, you see them going off on the different topics, but the emails are being sent at 11:45 at night. It’s like, “Wait a second, shouldn’t you be sleeping rather than doing more research on the toxic effects of your plastic water bottle in the bike cage?” And at least you’re out there riding your bike and pedaling and monitoring your heart rate rather than indiscriminately slamming yourself.

Chris Kelly: So, Tommy Wood is my MDPHD. He’s the architect of our program and I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for him. He was one of the guys that came along in the very early days and took me under his wing and mentored me quite closely. And I think he nailed it when he said, “Look, if I can do something about this and it’s not going to make a lot of difference to me, then yeah, sure I’ll go ahead and do it.” And so, yeah, turning sending off my Wi-Fi router at night is something that I do, because it makes literally zero difference to me. Like flipping that switch late at night and then-

Brad Kearns: Well it’s good to refresh your pipeline, I think.

Chris Kelly: It’s very doable. But if I were living in London and I turn on my phone and there’s like 19 Wi-Fi signals-

Brad Kearns: I hate that, man.

Chris Kelly: I mean, what are you going to do? I think that worrying about it is probably going to do more harm. And so, these are Tommy’s words now. “Worrying about is probably going to do more harm than the actual thing itself. So, forget about it. Pull the levers you’ve got access to and then forget about the ones that you don’t.”

Brad Kearns: Right, don’t stress. I want to go back to your story a little bit there when you were this young, racing dude who’s succeeding and performing well, but meanwhile your health is cratering before you know it. But for that time period there, where you’re still performing and still winning races and doing magnificent athletic feats, how does that work?

I know Maffetone has mentioned this a little bit where this overstress pattern or this overstimulation pattern can for a short period of time, deliver these amazing results and you’re setting PRs because you’re bathed in these stress hormones that deliver peak performance effort while chipping away at your immune system.

Chris Kelly: Yeah, I think that’s exactly right. You just answered your own question quite well there. I think that’s exactly right. Yeah, I noticed that on the bike was about the only time that I felt good. And it wasn’t immediately but I wouldn’t want to do it. I’d finish work at 1:00 in the afternoon and go ride my bike.

Brad Kearns: What time did you start work?

Chris Kelly: Five o’clock in the morning.

Brad Kearns: Right. So, you’re going five to one, then hitting more stress after that? Crazy times.

Chris Kelly: Yeah, I mean, it wasn’t an entirely stressful job, but I’d be sat there at midday thinking, “I really don’t want to go ride my bike right now. I really don’t want to go.” But then, I don’t want to go home either. I’d get the train back home and that wouldn’t be fun either. I’d get home and I’d be sat there, miserable. “Why did I do that? That was stupid. I should have gone ride.”

So, I would invariably go ride instead. And then, it would take a while, usually about an hour and then an hour in, you start to get some of that cortisol going that we’ve already talked about, is really, really low. And yeah, I would start to feel good. And that was one of the few times where I would feel good and that’s kind of addictive, isn’t it? If that’s what you need to do in order to feel good, then you’re probably going to do more of it.

Brad Kearns: You’re getting a hit of dope like a drug user, right? Because that cortisol is spiking due to the fight or flight stimulation of your ride. And I know that pattern very well myself where I was exhausted during daily life, but as soon as I jumped in the water, I rallied because I was so focused and driven to be a competitive athlete, and that sets you up for a very slippery slope downward, when you can’t even function normally and healthily in everyday life.

Chris Kelly: Right, I think this does lead into exercise dependency, where you can’t … and I used to be that guy that couldn’t go anywhere unless I had a bike on the back of the car. I couldn’t possibly go on holiday unless I brought my bike with me. And I’d be on the turbo trainer if it was raining outside. On the six days a year that it rains in Northern California, I’d be indoors on the turbo trainer.

Now, I’m not like that at all. I can just take it or leave it. “Okay, should I ride it today? No. All right, that’s fine. I’ll just ride tomorrow or maybe the day after,” and that’s okay. And I don’t really notice if I take three weeks off, off to cyclo-cross season, I don’t really notice that I’m really missing the exercise. It’s just all the same now. I think, and this has got to be part of it, isn’t it? Not being dependent on exercise.

Brad Kearns: What’s happening to your race results accordingly?

Chris Kelly: Yeah, so I did get the pro license, but I was never competitive as a pro. Like a mid-pack result was-

Brad Kearns: Wow, he’s actually admitting this, a former pro athlete. Usually people, if they had that pro license, that’s all they talk about – is I was pro this and pro that.

Chris Kelly: I knew exactly what was going on. So, it was something I’d wanted to get and I did get it, and then I joked when I got it. The USAC just gave me permission to never win another race ever again, right?

It’s not that much fun actually. And eventually, I realized that it was really taking the enjoyment out of this sport. I would turn up and I would ride and I wouldn’t even look at the results because I knew that it wasn’t going to be good. So, I just stopped looking at them and it kind of took a lot of enjoyment out. And I’ve gone back to race in the age group and it’s more fun. It’s like guys that I know and we kind of juke out and we talk before and after the races, and it’s just a lot more fun racing age group.

So, you have to kind of define success, like which do you think is more successful? Is it being maybe five or 10% faster and having a pro license and doing those mid-pack finishes or does success look more like it did for me? Yesterday where I just had some fun with some local guys that I know. And some other guys from out of town showed up and they’ve probably done really well in some other big race, like Sea Otter came recently. And there were probably some guys there that did really well Sea Otter and they were kind of in agro. At the beginning of the race, we were racing along the bluff and it was like sandy kind of fire roads and it was all kind of really wiggly. Like there was a good chance you’re going to fall off.
And they were kind of getting agro and shouting and they probably thought they were going to do really well because they’d been out to Sea Otter and done well. And they didn’t realize that there’s a bunch of like local guys in Santa Cruz that were actually quite fast.

Brad Kearns: Watch out.

Chris Kelly: Don’t come out and race Sea Otter anymore.

Brad Kearns: Watch out for local guys, period. Wherever you are, wherever you go, there’s some local guy that is going to mess with your head for sure.

Chris Kelly: Yeah. And so, I mean, maybe what I’ve done is I’ve just reframed success, right? Like success to me. And I take great pleasure, my daughter is doing the kids’ races as well now, especially the cyclo-cross races. And there was a really good one yesterday as well. She was on her little strider bike and-

Brad Kearns: Wait, she’s four-years-old? She’s doing a little race? That’s cool.

Chris Kelly: I mean it’s just a kid’s race. I’m sure that people that have been to bike races, they’ve seen what they do. But yeah, it’s just a little kids race. Yesterday, was mostly older kids, maybe 10 years old or something on much bigger bikes. But she really loves doing the kids race. And that’s a big part of why I go as well now. So, you have to kind of reframe success a little bit.

Brad Kearns: I love that. I mean speaking of health and promoting your health and getting to topics like this after we finish with the diet discussion and the supplements and all that, I think that’s a huge thing. And it’s really healthy to have a competitive goal to be out there and putting yourself on the starting line. Especially as I get to my age group, I’m 53. I’m long since done with elite racing. But to have that part of my life where I can pursue a competitive goal and try for it, the context is less important.

So, like when I clear the high jump bar in an empty stadium and I scream for joy in the pit because I just had a great jump, it feels the same to me in every single way as winning a big race in 1991 with people clapping and TV cameras filming me. Because there’s just a personal challenge, a personal goal.

I think a lot of athletes let that go because they’re all or nothing self-absorbed in the importance of their top level. They’re racing in the pro division. So, now, why should they even bother with that lower goal. But there’s that magic in saying, “Hey, this is what I’m all about right now. I’ll never go as fast as I did back in my prime. But who cares? Because I can still have that same sensation of going for it.”

Chris Kelly: Yeah. I mean, one of the traps I fell into was the constant horizon seeking, right? I almost caught myself doing a little bit of it yesterday, actually. Whereas you win that race and you get that upgrade and then, wow, I’m not really satisfied now because there’s that bigger thing that I should be aiming for now. And so, there’s always something. There’s always someone that’s faster than you.

I mean, this is true in many things in life. So, for example, we’ll work with clients who have a weight loss goal and they’ll say things like, “I’ll be happy when I’m 20 or 30 pounds lighter.” Well, guess what? When you’re 30 pounds lighter, they’ll be something else you’ll be miserable about, right? You have to be in love with the way that you are now and stop with the constant horizon-seeking.

Yesterday, I turned up, I said I had no expectation because I’d been crashed out the race before, and I had stitches in my elbow. But the moment I realized that I was going to get on the podium, right? I was in the top three and I just had to drop this one last guy and I’d be second and immediately I thought, “Oh shit, did I really try? Could I have won that race?” I mean, it’s the same thing, right?

Brad Kearns: The ego rises above, yeah.

Chris Kelly: Yeah, it’s the constant horizon-seeking, and it’s a terrible trap that you have to be aware of, I think.

Brad Kearns: Love it. Chris Kelly, thanks for catching up, man. Great close there.

Chris Kelly: Well, thank you for having me.

Brad Kearns: Yeah, nourishnalancethrive.com. You want people to take that free quiz, which was so enlightening? That’s the first step to-

Chris Kelly: If people are interested in hearing more about the things that I’ve learned over the last few years that help athletes achieve peak performance and sustained health, then come listen to the podcast. It’s the best place. I really feel like I’ve had a lot of fun and learned a lot of things with the podcast.

Brad Kearns: I love that podcast. That’s where I learned all about dark chocolate. From Toréa Rodriguez, and going deep into interesting topics. Yeah, very eclectic.

Chris Kelly: Yeah, and I realized that was one of the smart things that I did not … My mother-in-law came up with the name Nourish Balance Thrive. But I realized that it gave me permission to talk about anything on the podcast. Anything that would help people live better lives. And so, the scope is quite broad. I’m so glad that I didn’t call it the “Keto anything”, because I really would have gotten bored of talking about keto by now.

So, yeah, it’s a very broad range of topics. And if you’re interested, we’ve used some similar techniques actually with some machine learning algorithms that allow us to try and predict some of the problems we find on the advanced testing that we do and we can do that. You just spend seven minutes clicking on radio buttons. We call it our seven-minute analysis. If you come to the front page of nourishbalancethrive.com, you’ll find a link to the seven-minute analysis. And we made some whiteboard to explain videos, to explain some of the problems that we find using the prediction. So, it’s all personalized.
That’s a good place to start as well. Just to give you some ideas and sort of think about things, places you might want to go next.

Brad Kearns: Go check it out. It’s top, top, top stuff. Thank you for joining us. Thanks for listening.
Hey, let’s get real about salt. I want to talk about a product called Real Salt; the finest natural mineral sea salt you can find, coming straight to you from an ancient underground salt deposit in central Utah, left there by their pristine ancient sea that covered North America millions of years ago. I first bought this product (thank you Elle Russ-Primal Blueprint Podcast) and it actually tastes great.

I can’t believe this when we’re talking about salt, but it adds to the flavor value of your meal. Why is salt so important? Geez, we’ve heard our whole lives about, “Watch your salt intake or you’ll get high blood pressure.” Oh, my goodness, it’s such baloney, especially those of us in the ancestral health movement, eating healthy diet without all those ridiculous high sodium processed foods. Guess what happens? Even when you transition from regular high carb diet over to ancestral style or even keto, what happens is you reduce the inflammation and water retention in cells throughout your body because finally, you’re healthy.

You’re not triggering systemic inflammation and battling the adverse effects of consuming gluten and sugar and having it mess with your autoimmune function in your intestinal lining. So, with that reduction in inflammation and water retention, when you cut out crappy foods, oh, you’ll look great. You’ll lose all that fat weight in your face and your friends say, “Hey, did you lose weight? You look great.” You say, “Yeah, thanks.”

But guess what? It’s time to increase your consumption of healthy salt. And I’m not talking about that ridiculous junk food that’s iodized salt. So, if you’re shaking a white salt onto your food, you are consuming a product that has been bleached and stripped of its natural trace minerals. Real Salt, on the other hand, is completely unrefined and full of supporting natural minerals and flavor the way salt was meant to be savored.

And what a cool company. These guys are so chill. I met them in person at Paleo f(x). They’re committed to the greatness of the team, the employee. Listen to their philosophy. “We believe that profit is the means, but that the end goal is human development and life enhancement. We’re committed to improving the community and promise to provide continual growth opportunities for our employees.”

Realsalt.com, wherever fine foods are sold, support these guys. Get your diet right, add more salt. It’s delicious. Thank you.
Let’s talk about Tribali Foods. If you’re super busy and you want a convenient meal to make in a short time, but you don’t want to compromise great taste – gosh, doesn’t that sound like a commercial? It is a commercial, but it’s for something super awesome. And these are frozen organic beef and chicken patties and sliders, with awesome creative flavors like Mediterranean chipotle, Umami with the mushroom mixed in. And also, these sliders, chicken, apple, and pork sage.
What you do, is you take this frozen box, cut with the scissors, the beautiful little premade patty. Drop it on the pan, cook it up and it’s ready in a few minutes. And this company is a real, live, authentic girl power entrepreneur small business success story, home kitchen inspired. Welcome everyone to the new world where the big multinational beasts that make garbage food are getting knocked off by people who care about what they eat and about their health.

Tribali was started by my friend Angela Mavridis in Southern California – lifelong family restaurant business member. She was a vegetarian for 35 years and one day she had a steak, felt great, and started on this path of experimenting with creative ground beef recipes and flavorings in her kitchen. All her friends loved it. She was buying tons of ground meat from Whole Foods and they’re like, “Hey, what are you doing with this?”

So, she brought them in a little sample. They loved it. They flew her to Texas to meet with the national buyer and they said, literally, start a business and we will place a large order.

So, this is a wonderful small business success story with love and attention to everything that goes into this product. Delicious, totally keto-friendly. Go, look at the pork mini sliders. We’re talking one gram of carbs, 11 grams of protein, 17 grams of fat, and you get 15% off.

Just visit tribalifoods.com and enter “Get Over Yourself” in the coupon field and you are good to go. Shipped directly to your door, cold-packed, frozen stuff, thought out in a day, and you have quick dinner, quick lunch. And also available at finer stores like Whole Foods, Whole Dude’s, Nugget, Natural Grocers, Super Targets and launching into Walmart as well. Good job, go girl! Tribalifoods.com.



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The MOFO Mission (you should choose to accept it!) is off and running and lives are changing.

TJ Quillin
Success Stories

MOFO has been nothing short of an incredible addition to my daily life. After a few days of taking this stuff, I started noticing higher energy levels throughout the day (and focus), increased libido (no joke!!), and better sleep (didn’t expect this at all!), not to mention better performance in the gym. I was finally able to break through a deadlift plateau and pull a 605lb deadlift, more than triple my body weight of 198 pounds! I was astonished because other than the MOFO supplement (and it’s positive, accompanying side effects) nothing else had changed in my daily routine in order to merit this accomplishment. I’m a big believer in MOFO and personally, I like to double dose this stuff at 12 capsules per day. The more the merrier!”


28, Union Grove, AL. Marketing director and powerlifter.

Success Stories

“I’ve been taking MOFO for several months and I can really tell a
difference in my stamina, strength, and body composition. When I
started working out of my home in 2020, I devised a unique strategy
to stay fit and break up prolonged periods of stillness. On the hour
alarm, I do 35 pushups, 15 pullups, and 30 squats. I also walk around
my neighborhood in direct sunlight with my shirt off at midday. My
fitness has actually skyrockted since the closing of my gym!
However, this daily routine (in addition to many other regular
workouts as well as occasional extreme endurance feats, like a
Grand Canyon double crossing that takes all day) is no joke. I need
to optimize my sleep habits with evenings of minimal screen use
and dim light, and eat an exceptionally nutrient-dense diet, and
finally take the highest quality and most effective and appropriate
supplements I can find.”


50, Austin, TX. Peak performance expert, certified
health coach, and extreme endurance athlete.

Boosting Testosterone Naturally
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