Listeners, please welcome Louise Digby to the show, from all the way over from the UK!

It is so nice to connect with an international guest like Louise and to hear, unfortunately, that the same problems that exist in America also exist in Europe, especially when it comes to the issues aging women have with losing body fat. In this episode, you will hear us discuss a variety of topics, especially the roadblocks and main reasons for having trouble maintaining your desired body composition. We discuss the foods that cause system wide inflammation and how chronic inflammation influences fat metabolism and causes your body to store extra body fat, especially visceral fat, as well as the difference between visceral fat and subcutaneous fat.

You’ll also learn about the importance of nurturing a healthy estrogen balance (as well as healthy testosterone balance), why it’s so helpful to manage stress when you’re trying to lose excess body fat, how chronic stress affects your metabolism, how vitamin D health affects fat metabolism, and actionable tidbits from Louise that will help you lose weight easily.

Louise Digby is a BANT registered nutritional therapist, weight loss expert, and the creator of the Nourish Method, an online programme that addresses the lifestyle factors that impact women’s fat-burning and the mindset challenges causing self-sabotage. She also hosts the Thriving Metabolism Podcast, which she created to guide and educate women about the nuances around metabolic health, hormones, gut health, and more in the context of weight loss.


What are the roadblocks for losing excess body fat? [00:47]

If you are stressed, your metabolism isn’t going to work for you. People are doing what they are told to do and not seeing any results. [01:50]

Chronic inflammation is a huge contributor to one’s inability for burn fat. How does one get into that mess? [06:29]

There are some tests that can reveal chronic inflammation. [10:03]

Having optimum levels of Vitamin D is important. [13:09]

Inflammation is a good thing when it helps us repair and recover.  Its uncontrolled inflammation that becomes the problem {19:30]

Magnesium is difficult to obtain in today’s modern diet because of soil depletion but it is very important for your body. [21:46]

Cortisol is the preeminent stress hormone. [22:44]

Nutrient deficient foods hinder our immune system from functioning well. [26:47]

What’s really going on is we are consuming nutrient deficient processed foods that contain edible food-like substances that the body reacts to adversely. [29:56]

What are the particular problems females have when they come to Louise’s practice? [33:01]

When our estrogen is lower, we are more likely to experience insulin resistance so it will be more difficult to manage our blood sugar and therefore manage our weight. [37:40]

Why are women not as interested in strength training as opposed to cardio? [39:03]

What is the difference between visceral fat, belly fat, and subcutaneous fat? [43:14]

What can people do to track their progress besides looking at their scale? The scale is a poor reflection of your overall progress. [52:47]



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Brad (00:00:00):
Welcome to the B.rad podcast, where we explore ways to pursue peak performance with passion throughout life without taking ourselves too seriously. I’m Brad Kearns, New York Times bestselling author, former number three world-ranked professional triathlete and Guinness World Record Masters athlete. I connect with experts in diet, fitness, and personal growth, and deliver short breather shows where you get simple, actionable tips to improve your life right away. Let’s explore beyond the hype, hacks, shortcuts, and sciencey talk to laugh, have fun and appreciate the journey. It’s time to B.rad.

Louise (00:00:38):
Having optimal levels of vitamin D is important, not just having enough. You know, often we go to the doctors and they say,

Brad (00:00:47):
Hey, listeners, please welcome Louise Digby to the show from all the way over in the uk. And it’s so nice to connect with an international guest. But unfortunately, and I’m sorry to hear they got the same problems over there as they do here in America, especially aging females, having trouble losing excess body fat. So that’s what we’re going to focus on in this show. We’re gonna get into a variety of topics, especially the roadblocks and the main reasons for having trouble maintaining desired body composition. And comes down to system-wide inflammation, leaky gut, and those terms that you hear bantered about. Uh, but sometimes they’re, you know, glossed over. And we don’t really get into the details of why processed foods are causing system-wide inflammation, how system-wide inflammation or chronic inflammation influences fat metabolism and causes the storage of excess body fat, especially visceral fat.

Brad (00:01:50):
We’re gonna talk about the difference between visceral fat or belly fat and subcutaneous fat. And we’re just going to then trend into how to solve this problem with a particular interest in females and their essential need for hormone balance. I threw in a little connection to some John Gray’s commentary where the female needs to nurture healthy estrogen balance, as well as healthy testosterone in order to manage stress. And it really seems like managing stress is the gateway before we even talk about losing excess body fat. And if you’re stressed and chronically stressed your metabolism ain’t gonna work too well. So forget about counting anything or measuring or weighing anything until you just take those basic steps to manage overall stress in your life. We’re gonna talk about how vitamin D health affects fat metabolism, and I think you’re gonna enjoy, um, some good actionable tidbits from this show.

Brad (00:02:51):
From Louise Digby. She’s the host of the Thriving Metabolism Podcast, and her program is called The Nourish Method, and she’ll tell you how to connect at the end of the show. You can find her on socials and podcast network and everything. So here we go with Louise Digby, weight loss expert for females. Louise Digby. Thanks for joining me all the way across the world in the UK and we are gonna find out all about what’s going on over there to help females lose weight, especially as they age and love this topic. And I can’t wait to get into it with you.

Louise (00:03:26):
Thank you so much for having me. I’m really pleased to be here.

Brad (00:03:28):
So, the name of your program is The Nourish Method. You have the Thriving Metabolism Podcast. Um, seems like you’re really focusing on this, uh, frustrating challenge for females who in many cases are extremely well intentioned, monitoring their diet, carefully, doing the recommended fitness protocols, which we might get into how some of that stuff is ill-advised, but still people are, are doing what they’re told to do and really struggling. So I want to explore some ways that we can break free from this cycle, especially in the simplified example of watching your calories and then being sure to go burn a bunch of calories and then nothing’s happening, and then you get frustrated and then you tailspin. So, let’s, let’s take it away and set the stage for how to do this right and, and feel good and, and get results without, without stressing and sweating over those results. So the results will be forever. Mm,

Louise (00:04:31):
Absolutely. Yeah. You know, what you said about people, you know, doing all the right things and not seeing results is exactly what I deal with every day with my clients. It’s, it’s such a common struggle and, you know, often they’re doing, doing all the things that they’ve been told to do, whether that’s watching their calories or whether it’s, um, you know, doing Weight Watchers or some sort of diet like that and following it to the letter and staying active as well, but just still not seeing any progress. Or it might be that they lose a few pounds and then it goes back on again very quickly. And I think the problem with these types of approaches is that they’re very kinda like one dimensional. They’re very simplistic, and they’re really only looking at how much food or calories you’re putting in your body and how much you are burning.

Louise (00:05:24):
And there’s a lot more that needs to happen in your body for you to be able to burn fat efficiently and consistently so that you can lose that weight and keep it off. And things like hormones and your metabolism and how much inflammation is in your body, how well your gut is functioning, your toxic load, your nutrient status, and lots of things are all kind of physiological things going on in your body that can actually inhibit fat-burning. And so if you have imbalances in any of those areas, and they’re all really common areas to have imbalaces in, then you know, it doesn’t matter how many calories you burn, it doesn’t matter how little you eat. If you’ve got issues going on in those areas, then there’s going to be a very inefficient fat-burning happening. And so, you know, you’re not gonna be getting the results you would expect from, you know, eating very few calories.

Brad (00:06:29):
So inefficient meaning around the clock, your general metabolic function is stalled or log jammed or something, and the fat is not coming off the body, and as we’ve learned from, uh, other guests like Dr. Herman Ponza, we, we have this, um, these, these dials that turn up or down based on, um, you know, the signals that we get from our, our health practices. And so maybe this person who’s devotedly heading to the gym, burning calories, eating foods that might not agree with them, or, or doing something maybe not eating enough calories, um, they just turn down these dials and they, they, um, stay at the same body composition despite efforts to, let’s say, reduce total caloric intake or burn more calories. So what’s going on with inflammation, gut health? And we, we hear these terms bantered about a lot. Um, I’d like to get more detail about how this state of chronic inflammation, inflammation that many experts contend are the root cause of all disease and including, you know, difficulty changing body composition. How do you get into this? How do you get into this mess? And how do you get out?

Louise (00:07:39):
<laugh>? Well, in terms of how you get into this mess, it’s something that happens over the course of many, many years, often times, and it’s a combination of perhaps what you’ve been eating, maybe stress levels, lack of sleep. It could be to do with inactivity or even doing too much exercise for a long time. And it could be being exposed to things like pollution and pesticides and chronic deficiencies. All of these things over many years can come together to cause chronic inflammation in the body and dysregulation in the gut and the hormones. So even though it can kind of develop over the course of a lifetime, you can address it a lot quicker than that. But it does still take time. You know, this isn’t gonna be like an overnight fix. It’s gonna take at least a few months, if not longer, to really get to the root of some of these issues.

Louise (00:08:40):
And in terms of how you start addressing these things, in an ideal world, you know, getting a good baseline for where you are at, you know, in terms of having some tests done, can be really helpful to cut out the guesswork and find out what areas are your priority and what you need to focus on. But if you know that, whether that’s an option or not, a really good way to start is by just starting to make sure that you are focusing your diet on whole foods, trying to reduce consumption of ultra processed foods and those ingredients that sneak into the diet, even on foods that might look healthy. There can be lots of ultra processed ingredients in there, and they can all be very inflammatory. And by basing your diet on a more whole foods diet, you’re gonna be getting in more nutrients, more fiber, more proteins, more healthy fats, and all of those things are gonna lay the foundation for supporting your gut health and reducing inflammation and supporting your hormones and repairing your mitochondria, which are the energy factories that help us to burn fat. So that’s where I would start.

Brad (00:10:03):
But what kind of tests will reveal a state of system-wide inflammation or chronic inflammation?

Louise (00:10:11):
So tests like high sensitivity CRP is a good one for quite a general overview of what’s going on in your body. And then looking at tests that look at things like oxidative stress can be quite insightful as well. That’s one that I do with my clients. It’s a urine test where you test organic acids and looking at oxidative stress tells us about what’s happening in the cells, what level of damage is occurring in the cells. And if there is a high level of oxidative stress, which is so often is, then we know that we need to be working on things like antioxidant status, you know, getting lots of antioxidants into the diet and making sure that we’ve got lots of colorful fruits and vegetables and herbs and spices and things like cocoa are a good source and green tea. So getting all of those high like potent antioxidants in a is really helpful for addressing oxidative stress.

Brad (00:11:24):
So if someone comes in with a high value for H-S-C-R-P as it’s written on the blood test, high sensitivity, C reactive protein, um, over, I think a safe level is three or below or something, or you wanna be under one, ideally something like that, and they come up with a 12 or an 18 or something. That’s when you go zero in and say, look, you’re inflamed and these are the possible causes. And you mentioned them quickly earlier, but let’s get into some of those big reasons that you see for people, uh, walking around in an inflammatory state. And I was particularly interested because one of them you mentioned was too much exercise.

Louise (00:12:05):
Mm-Hmm. Yeah. So when we’re in this chronically inflamed state, what’s what’s happening is our immune system is on high alert, right? So it’s reacting. So we need to figure out what is causing, what is triggering this inflammatory response. And a really good place to start is with the gut, because so often many, many problems in the body stem from the gut. And if we have imbalances in the bacteria or if we have pathogenic bacteria or parasites or various other things going on like that, then that can be a real source of inflammation and immune disruption. So that would be a good place to start. Looking at things like your balance of Omega-3 to Omega six is also important. If you have too much Omega six in your diet and not enough Omega-3, then that can put you in a pro-inflammatory balance.

Louise (00:13:09):
And that means just makes you more prone to inflammation. And something as simple as reducing your intake of Omega six, six rich foods and increasing your intake of Omega threes can make a significant difference to your levels of inflammation for that reason. And then things like vitamin D as well, you know, if we’re, if we are low in vitamin D, then that is gonna impair your immune function and again, make you more susceptible to inflammation. So having optimal levels of vitamin D is important, not just having enough, you know, often we go to the doctors and they say, yep, it’s fine. The levels might be different with your labs in the US but over here, if it’s, if it’s over 50, then you often get the, you know, thumbs up. But actually that’s still pretty low. And, you know, we like to see it closer to a hundred, at least 75. So if your levels are lower than that, then your immune system may not be functioning optimally and you’re gonna be more prone to inflammation as well. Then.

Brad (00:14:18):
Yeah, those are big numbers for reference people. If you’re not familia. I have a vitamin D ebook you can download off my website that gets into great detail. But here in the United States, generally the normal range, starts at 30 nanograms. And so when you get your blood report and go over it with your physician, and in the, in the most general, you know, checkup type of situation, um, anything over 30 is given a thumbs up by mainstream medical idea. And this can be when you, when you look at what the experts are saying and wanting to see those bigger numbers, it can be a serious health risk. That’s why the incidences of reproductive cancers are 84% higher in people of African descent who live away from the equator because they’re not making vitamin D from the sun.

Brad (00:15:07):
And furthermore, most vitamin D potential is coming from sun exposure during the times of day and times of year that you can manufacture vitamin D from, from skin exposure. And we’ve been also told, especially here in the states, I don’t know about over there in Europe and uk, but we’ve been, you know, alerted to the, uh, the dangers of, uh, getting too much sun exposure and getting skin cancer. So I think the, um, the deal here is you want to get out there and expose large skin surface areas to sun as much as you can to the point of, um, maintaining a slight tan and never burning, which is a risk for many things, including skin cancer. But, you can cover your face with a hat all you want and whatever you wanna do to, you know, make sure you don’t overexpose areas that get exposed a lot.

Brad (00:15:58):
But that key is to get the skin in the sun as much as possible and, and load up on that vitamin D. diet is only a small contribution and the numbers are way out of whack when you consider like a good sunbathing session in the warm, uh, months, when the vitamin D potential is high will give you like 10,000 iu. And even the most vitamin D rich diet, you know, the oily cold water fish will deliver like a thousand. So, um, you’re not going to get it from diet alone very well. People take supplements, but supplements are, you know, less absorbable than the actual sun exposure. Um, I’m working with a new company that has a vitamin D lamp. They’re called energy, E-N-Y-R-G-Y, and you can do a little two minute session and start making vitamin D and raise your levels substantially in a short time.

Brad (00:16:50):
So it’s pretty exciting the technology that’s coming out because yeah, especially where you are the vitamin D potential in the higher latitudes is not very good, and it’s only for a certain number of months per year and a certain time of day. So, for those down in, you know, nearer to the equator, they probably have overall much better vitamin D status. But, it’s something that all modern citizens have to have to look at is improving that number. ’cause it has so many wide ranging effects, including, as you mentioned, it’s correlation to monitoring inflammation and, uh, hormone status.

Louise (00:17:25):
Mm-Hmm. Yeah, absolutely. And you know, like you say, for most people, particularly over here, you know, we are slabbing on the sun cream when it is sunny and we’re spending most of our time indoors because most of us work from home or in offices. And you’ve gotta have large proportions of your body exposed to the sun without sun cream on at the right time of the day. It just doesn’t happen for most people. So yeah, getting a good quality supplement or that lamp sounds really exciting. And then obviously when you can getting, getting your skin exposed to the sun.

Brad (00:18:00):
Is, is so we have to get in further detail about what in inflammation is. We hear the term bantered about so much, and I think it would be helpful to like compare and contrast what a desirable inflammatory response is versus this chronic state of low level inflammation throughout the body. Hmm. So when you get stung by a bee or turn an ankle and your ankle swells up, this is the inflammatory response trying to contain the damage to the small area of the body. It’s desirable. It’s okay when we go and, uh, get into the gym and start pedaling the bicycle in the bike class or, or start lifting weights. Our muscles become inflamed to perform and then we finish and we get back to homeostasis. But what’s going on with this undesirable chronic inflammation is the opposite of the acute inflammation, which is in many cases what we want, the, how we want the body to respond to whatever the stimulus is. So maybe you can talk more about how, how we get into this chronic state from consuming processed foods was one example you mentioned. And then there are many other including, you know, your boyfriend’s being mean to you, and every time you, you know, come through the door, you start to, um, bake these fight or flight hormones. And that is also when chronic fight or flight stimulation comes up, you promote chronic inflammation.

Louise (00:19:30):
Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, inflammation, like you say, it’s a good thing, it helps us repair and recover, but it’s when it becomes uncontrolled that it becomes a problem. And when it becomes systemic, so throughout the body, and you know, one of the biggest contributors to inflammation is stress and raised cortisol levels. So like you mentioned, you know, relationship problems, work problems, financial problems, or maybe just not necessarily problems, but just being chronically busy, never having enough downtime, enough me time, enough rest, those are all things that can drive cortisol being higher. And cortisol is an inflammatory hormone when it is chronically elevated. So, you know, when, if you have got a problem, whether that is eczema or arthritis or gut issues, so often stress is something that can really prevent that thing from recovering and repairing because it is perpetuating that immune response and driving that inflammation or the damage that’s happening in those areas.

Louise (00:20:47):
So yeah, that’s one of the biggest things that you can do to help manage your, your inflammatory levels is also to be taking steps to manage stress, alleviate stress and, you know, support your body through stress as well. Making sure that your body has all the nutrients it needs to function properly because stress is really draining and depleting on the body. You know, we burn through things like magnesium much, much quicker when we are stressed. And there’s lots of other things that deplete magnesium like drinking coffee and alcohol and exercising and sweating. So, you know, if you’ve got those things going on, you’re also stressed, probably gonna be lacking in magnesium. And so, you know, having sufficient magnesium is going to be helpful for supporting your body through that stress response and through that inflammatory response as well.

Brad (00:21:46):
It seems like that keeps coming up. Magnesium is one of the most favored supplements to go looking for. And I’m trying to downsize my supplement regimen ’cause I’m trying different things and I keep ordering more and I’m testing and I’m experimenting. But then it gets tiring and I know a lot of people are in my boat where they just forget to take ’em or it just feels overwhelming and confusing. But magnesium is, uh, difficult to obtain in the modern diet because of soil depletion. And, um, one of the best places to get it is mineral water. So I’m going ungreen and, and have been back to my commitment to drinking the glass bottles of water imported from across the world because, they’re rich in natural minerals being that it’s mineral water. Um, mm-Hmm, <affirmative>. And, you know, also the considering to take, uh, the inexpensive supplement of magnesium that’s readily available, um, is a good move, especially in this state of chronic stress that we all exist in.

Brad (00:22:44):
You mentioned cortisol, most people are familiar with this term. ’cause again, it’s bantered about just like inflammation is bantered about. Uh, but we should, uh, you know, detail that cortisols the preeminent stress hormone or fight or fight hormone. However, it’s super important and in healthy amounts and with a healthy curve. You mentioned those urine tests where you can also do saliva tests and track your cortisol levels over the course of the day. But we want a desirable spike of cortisol in the morning. ’cause that’s what helps us wake up. And then when we’re performing, working out, doing the exercise class, asking for a peak performance effort, when we’re called upon to deliver our presentation in the conference room, we want that cortisol spike running through our veins because it helps us feel alert and in tune and ready for peak performance. And then we want to, again, return back to baseline.

Brad (00:23:38):
You mentioned things like self-care and me time, and all those things that moderate the stress hormones and start stimulating, uh, recovery processes. So it’s that chronic cortisol production tied to chronic inflammation and no downtime and not enough rest. And then what we have is this inflammatory response cooking in the body all the time at a low level rather than the, you know, we wanna see like the earthquake Richter scale where we have high stress periods. That’s just fine. It’s part of life, it’s fun and exciting, and then we wanna have downtime. So I’m wondering, your clients are probably presenting with these flatline graphs where they’re stressing one way or the other. And when we say stress people we’re talking about things that are both positive and negative. You mentioned that earlier too. It doesn’t have to be terrible. It can be a really exciting job where you work a whole bunch of hours and then you go to your really exciting health club and do an exciting workout and then watch an exciting show late into the night instead of going to sleep. It’s all thumbs up, but then you’re going to deplete drain exhaust and inflame yourself over time.

Louise (00:24:52):
Yeah, absolutely. You know, it can certainly be all good stuff that is depleting us. We just have to build in these rest periods or these, these times when we are doing kind of less stimulating things. And I know we spoke about exercise before. This is something that I see quite a lot is people, you know, particularly women who are doing really intense workouts. And that might be they’re doing it like five, six times a week because they’re desperately trying to burn those calories and get the fat off Mm-Hmm. But what it’s doing is on top of their busy day and they’re, you know, jam day, they’re doing this spin class or intense workout, and that is just driving up those stress hormones even more. And they actually tend to benefit from doing something lower intensity, which has more of a relaxing impact on the body, more of a cortisol modulating impact. And, you know, it always blows their minds because so often, you know, I’m telling ’em to eat more and do a bit less exercise, but actually they’re seeing the weight come off and it’s because it’s helping their body to lower that stress response, the inflammatory response and get into rest and digest as opposed to being in fight or flight mode all the time.

Brad (00:26:20):
I want to kind of, um, turn over to all the positive and wonderful things we can do to heal with the special focus on women. Uh, but before we, before we leave the inflammatory scene here, the scene of the the crime, um, I wanna get into a little more detail about how consuming nutrient deficient processed foods prompts an inflammatory response in the body.

Louise (00:26:47):
Yeah. So, we, we need nutrients for lots of things. Lots of all the different processes in the body, and when we are lacking in nutrients, then our immune system doesn’t function so well, and that makes it more likely that we’re gonna have an inflammatory response. It also impacts the, the lining of the guts, which is also very involved in our immune system and our inflammatory responses. And you know, these, these low nutrient foods, they tend to be ultra-processed, which include a lot of ingredients that, you know, are not technically food. You know, they’re made in the lab <laugh> and, um, I’m trying to remember what they’re referred to. There’s a really good book, called Ultra-Processed People. And, they refer to the ingredients as something like edible, edible

Brad (00:27:45):
Substances. Edible food-like substances, is it Michael Pollen? Yeah. Yes. Yeah, I think we, we talked over each other, but that’s a big one. Edible food-like substances is the literal definition people of what’s in that package. And, it’s pretty scary to think that we, you know, routinely consume these thinking that it’s okay or that it’s, you know, it’s not gonna be health destructive. Um, now I understand the release of, uh, endotoxin, lipopolysaccharide in the gut when you consume processed food is something that really drives inflammation. And maybe you can, um, provide some details about that or what you’ve seen with your clients.

Louise (00:28:28):
Hmm. Yeah. So, when with so many of my clients, there are imbalances in the bacteria in the gut, and sometimes that’s a lack of beneficial bacteria. Sometimes it’s an overgrowth of not so beneficial bacteria or yeasts. And, you know, when those become imbalanced, they can release substances, toxins, things like lipopolysaccharides, which, you know, are inflammatory and can cause the gut to become leaky. And when the gut becomes leaky, then it can start allowing absorption of things into your circulation that normally wouldn’t get through, which might be bacteria and yeasts or food molecules that aren’t fully digested, or maybe it’s toxins or pesticides or things that we’re ingesting that would normally get flushed through. When the gut comes leaky, these things can get into circulation, and then your immune system, which is always on patrol, will detect them and attack them, basically. So it triggers an immune response, much like in the way if we had a cold and we had a bug or a virus, that same thing can happen, but to the foods or foods quote unquote, that we’re absorbing. And so that is something that can very much drive inflammation as well.

Brad (00:29:56):
Okay. Now we’re getting to a really clear and easy to understand story. I appreciate that. Great explanation. So if you’re, um, not wanting to, uh, get into deep into the science or some of the terms are, flying through too quickly, really what’s going on is we’re consuming these nutrient deficient processed foods that contain edible food-like substances that the body reacts to adversely with an inflammatory response, just like the bee sting <laugh>, you’re putting poison into your body and then you’re doing it every day. You’re doing it chronically, you’re doing it three times a day, whatever. And so you, you build up this state of chronic low level inflammation. Now we have that tie into the digestive tract with the term leaky gut. And we’re talking about the very delicate lining of the intestines becoming inflamed and thereby becoming permeable when they should have this beautiful, intact system.

Brad (00:30:56):
They’re called microvilli. They’re brush borders that line, the small intestine that let in stuff that’s supposed to come in like carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and micronutrients into the bloodstream for nutrition. But when those get damaged and inflamed, literally you said stuff, but what we are really talking about is shit gets into your bloodstream that’s not supposed to be there. And when I say literally I’m talking about shit waste. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> bad things come in and of course your body’s gonna see, hey, something’s wrong. This person’s circulating a bunch of, uh, pathogens and I’m gonna attack those in a mild manner all day long for years and years, as you mentioned earlier. And so this is where it’s time to slam on the brakes. And I would say the first intervention is to say, look, you wanna be healthy, you gotta cut out these processed foods that are causing low, low grade poisoning all the time. So that, I think you have anything to add to that summary of what’s happening when you, when you consume processed foods and, uh, bake up inflammation and, and cause your gut to become permeable.

Louise (00:32:08):
I think you’ve pretty much covered it. The only thing I would add is that, um, you know, when it comes to reducing your intake of these ultra-processed foods, it it doesn’t necessarily have to be a complete elimination of them. ’cause that can actually be quite difficult to achieve. You know, particularly if you’re starting from the point where a significant proportion of your diet is ultra-processed. And I think possibly a lot of people might not realize that they are consuming ultra-processed foods because a lot of foods are packaged up as something that looks very healthy, but actually there could be a lot of ultra processed ingredients in there. But just starting to reduce your intake and, you know, there are lots of simple swaps that can be made to reduce your intake easily. So that’s where I would start. And then just make it an ongoing project to keep trying to find alternatives to the things you might have usually had.

Brad (00:33:01):
Yeah, I appreciate that clarification. It’s gotta work for the individual and can’t be overwhelming and all those things, but I’m putting in a vote for everyone to really scrutinize, especially when you’re dining out. And we know now that, uh, almost all restaurants use refined industrial seed oils to, um, cook their food. Even fine restaurants cooking expensive entrees are doing this, and you can do a little bit of inquiry when you’re dining out and, and ask them to cook your meal and butter instead of the oils. And, generally, you know, try to navigate to more health conscious restaurants. Fortunately, there’s a lot of ’em out there, and that segment of the market is growing, so we can do much better than just the indiscriminate approach that we, we still see continually. So now how about let’s zero in for all males listening to this point, it’s been super helpful because this is stuff that affects us all in, in, in a similar refrain. But then what are the particular problems that females come to come to you with and the particular concerns that they need to, um, to watch out for? You mentioned hormone balance, so we’ll get into that now as we, as we transition to the good stuff and how to solve problems and how to get that excess body fat off.

Louise (00:34:19):
Hmm. Well, for women, particularly after the age of like late thirties into their forties, weight loss can become a lot more tricky. And a big reason for that is because of how their bodies are changing as they approach menopause. And you become a lot more susceptible to higher cortisol levels because of the way that your body is changing, the way that it makes its sex hormones. So basically, your ovaries begin to shut down and produce fewer sex hormones, and your adrenal glands or your stress glands start to take over some of the production of those sex hormones. So when you are stressed and busy, your, the result can be that your sex hormones are suppressed even more so than they usually would be. You know, they’re declining anyway as you go through perimenopause. So they can be, that can basically be accelerated when there’s a lot more stress about, and it’s a time of life when you are likely to be stressed.

Louise (00:35:27):
’cause so often there’s children around, you’re still working full time, often elderly parents to support and all sorts of other things going on. So it’s kind of like a bit of a recipe for raised cortisol and unfortunately, therefore more inflammation and hormone disruption, which can make it more tricky to lose weight. So ultimately what that means is that when you’re trying to lose weight in your forties, we need a different approach. You know, the, the typical diets of eating less and doing more exercise probably isn’t gonna cut it. You know, even if they’ve worked for you in the past, they’re probably not gonna work so well now. So taking a more gentle approach and doing some things that we spoke about before, like focusing on low intensity exercise, making sure you are eating enough and fueling your body properly and getting all those nutrients in, focusing on stress management, plenty of sleep or all things that are absolutely integral to not only weight loss, but just feeling well and thriving into your forties and beyond.

Brad (00:36:40):
So the suppression of the sex hormone production, as we learn from my great series of shows with Dr. John Gray, females have an essential need for testosterone as well as estrogen, much more estrogen than testosterone and much less testosterone than the male requirement. It’s like a 20 to one ratio, but you still have to have that testosterone level optimized for all the widespread benefits that testosterone provides. And we usually think of this as sort of black and white where oh yeah, the men they need their testosterone and the women need estrogen. But it’s important to point out that both of those, um, are, are critical for female peak performance and when they’re suppressed due to the ovaries slowing down and getting tired and saying no more babies and whatnot, um, how does that, how does that directly, um, inhibit, um, uh, fat metabolism or the ability to manage body composition?

Louise (00:37:40):
So where your estrogen is quite involved in your insulin regulation, and when we have lower estrogen levels, we are more likely to experience insulin resistance, so we’re gonna find it more difficult to manage our blood sugars and therefore we’re gonna find it more difficult to actually get into fat-burning mode. So that is one of the big ways. And then along with that, your testosterone, when that is lower as well, it’s, it’s more difficult for you to maintain lean muscle mass and your muscles are so important for helping you to maintain a healthy metabolic rate. You know, less lean muscle mass means fewer calories burned at rest. So this is part of the reason why it’s also a good idea to not be focusing wholly on cardio and start doing some more strength training, because, you know, again, too much cardio can drive up that cortisol level. And so many of the women that come to me are just completely focused on cardio. We’re not doing any strength training, but if we can building a little bit more strength training along with adequate protein and rest and repair, then we can start building up some muscle and helping to support healthy metabolic rate.

Brad (00:39:03):
Louise, why do you think that is that the, the females trend over to the banks of machines and are averse to strength training? Is there an intimidation factor? Is there a fear of getting too bulky, as we always hear, um, it seems like the information’s getting out there, but we still have this trend and you can go into any health club and see this.

Louise (00:39:28):
Yeah, I think it’s a few things because we kind of told that, you know, but to burn calories, we’ve gotta be doing cardio. And you know, I think when, when people are looking at their Fitbits and they’re logging their workouts, they’re seeing the highest calorie burns from doing intense cardio sessions. So I think it’s partly that, and a lot of women are worried about getting bulky. I think also if you’re already carrying some weight, the thought of adding muscle to that can be concerning. But the reality is, is that we don’t actually need to have big muscles to achieve this maintenance of our metabolism. You know, it’s more about leaning out on muscle and making sure that the muscle that’s there is completely muscle tissue and not like streak with fat like streaky bacon, which is what we see when, when you have like a cross-section scan of an older person’s, you know, leg, let’s just say, you’ll often see it streak with fat. So it’s, it’s often the same size as a leaner person’s leg, but it’s streak with fat as opposed to being lean muscle.

Brad (00:40:40):
You can pretty much discern that visually when you look at people of the same size and one of ’em going to the CrossFit games and one of ’em is going to the supermarket here’s a huge difference in appearance from, um, that nice toned muscle and muscle that’s marbled, which is, mm-hmm. Tastes good in a steak. But yeah, we mm-hmm, we definitely wanna get away from that. Interesting. I just only learned this actually, but, um, endurance training, when you, when you talk about cardio and focusing too much on cardio, especially extreme cardio, um, there’s so much, call for prolonged production of energy that the muscles tend to store triglyceride so that they can perform over a prolonged period of time. And so you are actually in a small way developing marbled muscle from your endurance efforts versus the strength training and doing high intensity exercise, which also develops those fast twitch muscle fibers that decline more quickly with age and also gets you more toned and, more, a more pleasant appearance because the muscles, uh, rock solid toned muscle rather than marbled muscle.

Brad (00:41:54):
So another, another vote in favor of at least integrating an appropriate amount of, uh, resistance training and high intensity exercise, especially as you age, and especially as a female who’s not going to build muscle as easily and naturally as a male walking into the gym, you know, the couple goes up and signs with the trainer for 12 weeks and then coming out of it, uh, they look differently because, um, it’s, it’s more of a challenge in the first place. So, the great leaders like Tara Garrison, she’s been on my podcast and has great Instagram content, encouraging those females to get over there to the, the weight side of the gym and learn to put their body under resistance load and get tremendous benefits.

Louise (00:42:36):
Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, it can be intimidating to get over to that weight section of the gym because, you know, it’s knowing where to start and what to do with all the stuff and, you know, feeling like you look like an idiot because you are wandering around, look at this stuff, not knowing what to do, but you know, that’s where everyone starts. And so it is just kind of a case of doing it. And, you know, I I think often just booking a session with a personal trainer for your first time mm-Hmm. You know, if it’s something that you can’t afford to do regularly, then just doing that for your first time to get familiar with things or having an induction, usually the gym will support you in some way. Yeah,

Brad (00:43:14):
Great suggestion. And also just it can, it can become so simple and we can overcome those intimidation barriers so easily just by purchasing some equipment in the home and everybody learned to do that during quarantine. But, I have these stretch cords that are hanging from my, my pull up bar, and I’ve used them for, um, you know, over 30 years back from my swimming days where they’re a key swim training device, but you can do a complete upper body exercise, and there’s so many other examples of things that you can just have in the home that will get your muscles under resistance load and add that important element to your, your fitness program. Let’s talk about the difference between visceral fat, belly fat and the other kind of subcutaneous fat that collects all over in our unwanted deposit areas in the body. But, these are kind of two disparate situations with different metabolic consequences and possibly, um, different, uh, concerns when you’re trying to drop excess of both.

Louise (00:44:22):
Yeah. So visceral fat is the fat that can accumulate around our organs and, you know, you can be relatively slim and still have quite a lot of visceral fat. You know, I used to have some really fancy scales that would measure people and tell people what their visceral fat was. And it was interesting how often, you know, the visceral fat doesn’t necessarily correlate with the overall body weight. Um, so yeah, the visceral fat is the stuff that can be sort of linked to more chronic health conditions. And then your belly fat is, you know, tend, it can often correlate with the visceral fat. We tend to see belly fat on a lot of our stressed clients, and it can be very, very stubborn. Um, you know, even when they’re kind of doing a lot of the right things and they’re losing weight for elsewhere from elsewhere, often this fat around the tummy can be persistent. And it’s often not until we’ve addressed stress levels properly and also got hormones more balanced that we see that starting to reduce.

Brad (00:45:30):
And to be clear, the subcutaneous fat collects wherever it feels like on the body, strongly driven by familial genetics. So some people look down at their thick calfs and they’re, they’re disappointed or they collect in the thighs or the butt, but you can also collect this fat in the abdomen. But it’s different. And, uh, metabolically different than the visceral fat, so visceral fat, you can see a lot of times in aging males, this hugely firm giant bowling ball stomach where you flick it and your finger bounces back, there’s no softness to it. And so this fat that’s underneath the skin is soft and flabby, and it’s no fun either. But if you’re looking at that firm protruding abdomen, that’s when you realize that you have a problem with visceral fat. And I’m saying, I’m saying the distinction here because someone who’s frustrated that they can’t lose more fat around the belly, that might just be, um, a genetic predisposition to collect the subcutaneous fat in that area. But if it’s soft and you can pinch it and squeeze it and move it, um, that’s a different story than this firmness and this swelling, uh, around the abdomen. And, uh, maybe you can talk about the adverse metabolic consequences of visceral fat that make it, you know, an extreme, uh, health, uh, risk and also a proxy for general overall health or lack thereof if you’re collecting visceral fat.

Louise (00:47:01):
Yeah, so visceral fat, it can increase what does increase your risk of diabetes, of heart disease, stroke, all these metabolic conditions. You know, you tend to see raised cholesterol levels and those sorts of things going along with higher visceral fats. So, you know, monitoring things like your blood sugars and insulin levels are an indication of, you know, whether there could be something going on there as well. And certainly managing your blood sugars is a key way to try and start reducing some of that visceral fat.

Brad (00:47:48):
Visceral fat is classified as a separate endocrine organ, just like the adrenals, just like the thyroid because it has the ability to secrete inflammatory cytokines into the bloodstream. So it’s a pretty shocking revelation to think that this stuff that we don’t want on our body and is not supposed to be there. And it’s really a sign of the body’s metabolic system being overwhelmed and not knowing what to do with the extra fat that’s running through our bloodstream and we’re gonna store it somewhere. So when you exhaust your ability to store subcutaneous fat, you start collecting it, especially around the liver because that’s where the fat conversion is happening. And so you get, uh, what’s called fatty liver, which is a huge condition that’s becoming more and more prevalent, and then it’ll collect around other organs, uh, like the heart and the intestines and, and things like that.

Brad (00:48:43):
So we’re talking about putting another organ onto your body that’s not supposed to be there. And what’s interesting is when you accumulate a bit of visceral fat, it begets the accumulation of more visceral fat because it suppresses sex hormones like you mentioned earlier, and throws your metabolism out of whack. So in little is a slippery slope downhill into metabolic disease patterns, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, all those things. And so, it’s now being presented as like the ultimate battle to fight as you progress through your decades to keep this stuff off your body. So whatever hormone status you can muster from your sleep habits and your exercise and your healthy eating, you can leverage and enjoy the benefits of maintaining testosterone as a male throughout life and maintaining healthy estrogen and all the other things that, uh, visceral fat affects adversely, get rid of that and then be the best you can be.

Brad (00:49:43):
You’re still gonna age, you’re still gonna get old. But what we now seem as see as normal, this steady accumulation of a bit of visceral fat with each passing decade is actually completely abnormal and resulting in widespread accelerated aging that’s so prevalent that we come to see this accelerated aging as normal, where you’re way worse off when you’re 60 than you were when you were 50. And then, you know, you keep going down faster and faster rather than being able to stave off a lot of problems if you can remain metabolically healthy.

Louise (00:50:19):
Yeah. Like you say, it’s kind of just the norm, isn’t it? And it’s, it doesn’t have to be like that. I see plenty of women who turn this around and feel better than they did when they were in their twenties. You know, many of the women that I work with have been struggling with their weight or their health for most of their life, but actually, when you get the foundations right and you give your body what it needs to thrive, you can feel better than you did in your twenties and age in a really healthy way. You know, these chronic conditions that are kind of seem inevitable are, are not, you know, they’re things that can be avoided and actually you can spend are are later decades feeling really good and remaining active.

Brad (00:51:07):
Yeah. What’s interesting also is the, the very reason that visceral fat is so health destructive because it’s so highly metabolically active whereby subcutaneous fat is just being stored there. It’s not metabolically active at all. Um, the, the fact that it’s highly metabolically active makes it the easiest to remove off your body if you do it correctly, so you can lose that belly fat quickly. But as you mentioned with your clients, it’s stubborn because the approach to fat reduction is flawed. And I’m gonna guess that in many cases it’s just the indiscriminate restriction of dietary calories and then burning more calories through exhausting exercise, which guess what spikes those stress hormones chronically keeps that visceral fat on the body, but maybe results in a temporary loss of some other fat that’s destined to come back on. Is that kind of what we’re seeing here with the, the frustration that they can’t drop visceral fat?

Louise (00:52:11):
Yeah, definitely. You know, they seem, seem to get stuck in a cycle where lose a few pounds, or they might spend a few months losing a couple of pounds, and then as soon as they either go back to normal or just relax things slightly, the weight just goes back on again. And, and then each time they try and lose it, it gets more and more difficult. And, you know, it’s because the actual cause of the stubborn weight isn’t being addressed. They’re just eating less. They’re just giving their body less than what they need and, and putting their body through more stress than it needs by exercising more.

Brad (00:52:47):
It’s also possible that, you know, our bodies fluctuate significantly in body weight. So if you’re looking at a scale, you can gain,10 pounds on your luxurious cruise and then go on as sauna and do a hard workout and, and lose seven of those pounds quickly. But none of that’s, uh, really relevant to, um, changing your body composition and your metabolic health. So, I don’t know, do you have people, um, with an evolved approach to tracking progress, such as, I mean, you can use those expensive scales if you’re at a facility, but what other ways can people track progress appropriately rather than doing crash dieting and looking at a low number?

Louise (00:53:32):
Hmm. Well, I often think it’s good to throw away your scales if you can, because they’re just such a poor reflection of your overall progress. But if you do have to weigh yourself, then just doing it less often is helpful. And, you know, particularly for women, I suggest only doing it once a month because as you go through your menstrual cycle, you’re naturally gonna have more weight at some points and less at other points. So yeah, once a month if you’ve gotta weigh yourself, but doing measurements is another way, particularly around your middle. Um, and just looking at how your clothes feel is a really good way of monitoring progress. But it’s also important to look at the whole picture and monitor things like your energy levels and your sleep, you know? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, The quality and how long you’re sleeping, how your cravings have been, how resilient you felt to stress, and kinda just scoring these things out of 10, doing that once a week or every few weeks is a really nice way to see are you making progress overall because it’s all well and good, you know, getting a bit of weight off.

Louise (00:54:41):
But actually, if you are sleeping terribly and you’re craving constantly and you’re tired and you’ve got terrible acne or eczema or whatever, and that those things are getting worse, then you are not actually really making progress. The weight loss is probably quite superficial and will likely just go back on.

Brad (00:55:04):
Yeah. It seems like stress, managing stress is the gateway to addressing the topic of fat reduction, but it’s sort of like a door you have to enter to, to meet with Louise. You gotta get your, you gotta get your together first, and then we can talk about, um, how you wanna reshape your body, um, managing chronic stress, I should say. Yeah,

Louise (00:55:26):
Yeah, definitely. And often it’s one of the, the things that people leave until last to work on, you know, they, they wanna get their nutrition right and they wanna get their exercise right, and they’re receptive to working on sleep, but so often there’s this resistance to tackling the stress. And I think a lot of people seem to be in denial about how much stress or just pressure that they’re under and how it’s impacting them. But if we can start working on that a bit sooner, and it doesn’t have to be that you, you know, overhaul your entire life, just some simple things each day can make a difference. Like integrating a few minutes of deep belly breathing or, you know, taking a cold shower or doing 10 minutes of reading before bed, you know, it doesn’t have to be things that take up a huge chunk of your time.

Brad (00:56:20):
Oh, sure. I mean, a five-minute meditation exercise just to say, and to prove to yourself that you have the ability to, unplug and do something like that can be super valuable. And I see continuing to be the number one bestselling book, in the world is Atomic Habits. And that’s one of the great notions from James Clear that you, you set these, tiny little habits into, into action that are so easy and so doable that they’re almost laughable. And then what happens is they build momentum and then you can stack other habits and you start to slowly but surely turn your life around. Speaking of the scale, I totally support your idea not to, not to become obsessed with that, but I heard, um, an interesting, um, counterpoint that I’ll, I’ll lay on you and for all the listeners to consider.

Brad (00:57:16):
This came from Dr. Ron Sinha, host of the Meta Meta Health podcast, author of the South Asian Health Solution. And he said, he likes his patients to that are, that are striving for weight loss goals, weigh yourself every single day so you can kind of have some accountability and see how you’re doing. And also perhaps get comfortable with, uh, the typical five pound fluctuation or, or whatever it is in your weight over time. And I’m like, you know, that, that’s an interesting way to look at it. He also, um, contends that if he’s up from his usual baseline, um, he contends that he’s glycogen full, and he can go and, you know, push himself with some challenging workouts ahead. But if he’s down on the lower level of his usual range of let’s say five pounds, it might be an indication that you’re a little depleted and you might want to, uh, nourish yourself and back off on the extreme exercise. And I thought that was an interesting new fresh take and see how that might line up with someone who, uh, you know, is having more stress coming from weighing themselves too frequently, or, you know, the reason you make those recommendations is not get too attached to that.

Louise (00:58:38):
Yeah, it’s interesting. It’s a entirely different way of using the scales really, isn’t it? And um, it’s almost like he’s not using the scales to monitor his weight, but more looking at it to see, you know, whether he, what type of workouts he might be doing. And, you know, I think a lot of it is to do with mindset and how that individual views the scales, as in so many people who have caused themselves a lot of stress through worrying about those day-to-day fluctuations and have made worse progress because they’re constantly in a panic about their weight going up 500 grams, down 500 grams, whatever. When actually it may just be that they didn’t have a bowel movement yesterday. And, uh, you know, I think if you, if you’re using the scales every day and that works for you, then great. And if you are considering doing that, then you’ve just gotta be mindful that there’s so much that can affect your weight day-to-day. And it’s probably not always to do with how much you are eating. But for some people it works better for them to distance themselves from the scales a little bit because it can just cause them to spiral.

Brad (00:59:52):
Oh, yeah. Well said. And I think we have to always be extremely sensitive when it comes to the topic of diet and how much emotion is tied to it, and the prevalence of mild to severe eating disorders that people are, are navigating through. And some of this information that’s spewed out there, I think is, uh, not sensitive enough to that. And, thinking of the, you know, that the popularity of continuous glucose monitors, it’s a great tool to track things. I’ve seen people become way too obsessed with them and somehow develop the notion that they don’t wanna see any glucose spikes. And so they’re going for like a flat line life when in reality, the glucose spikes are highly desirable, just like the cortisol spikes. You’re gonna go into the gym, you’re gonna dump glucose into your bloodstream, you’re gonna eat a nutritious meal, you’re gonna have another glucose spike, and then you’re gonna manage it effectively. But it’s an example of technology and obsession with, uh, self quantification potentially getting out of hand and causing the person to become too wrapped up in this stuff rather than just enjoying their life, making good choices, being intuitive about their eating and their exercise habits rather than regimented, robotic and obsessed.

Louise (01:01:05):
Yeah, it is about how you interpret this information and that now there’s so much information for us from continuous glucose monitors and, you know, I dunno about over there, but over here in the UK, more and more people are doing their own blood tests through finger prick collection that you can just send off through the post, which is great because it’s so difficult to get in to see the doctor, but people don’t dunno what to do with that information. And even though they get like a doctor’s consultation as part of it, it’s just a case of, yes, you’re fine, or no, you’re not fine. And a lot of people are looking at this information and, you know, they might be striving to try and get something in a particular range when it, it doesn’t really matter that much. Whereas there’s other things where it does matter. And so it’s difficult for people who don’t have that background to know what to do with this information. And it can lead people down paths that are, you know, not healthy and can cause a lot of stress and obsession and, you know, develop quite a disordered approach to, to eating or, or trying to manage their health.

Brad (01:02:16):
Louise, how can we connect with you globally and tune into your podcast and your Nourish Method offerings?

Louise (01:02:24):
So my podcast is called The Thriving Metabolism, and you can find that by searching on any podcast platform. And my website is louise digby nutrition.com and you can also find the podcast on there. And then in terms of working with me, you can find out more about that on my website as well. And you can connect with me on socials by searching at Louise Digby Nutrition.

Brad (01:02:49):
Louise Digby everybody.

Brad (01:02:50):
Thanks for listening. That’s a wrap. Thank you so much for listening to the B.rad Podcast. We appreciate all feedback and suggestions. Email podcast@bradventures.com and visit brad kearns.com to download five free eBooks and learn some great long cuts to a longer life. How to optimize testosterone naturally, become a dark chocolate connoisseur and transition to a barefoot and minimalist shoe lifestyle.



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