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075: Plant-Based Nutrition And Diabetes with Cyrus Khambatta and Robby Barbaro

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How do plant-based nutrition and diabetes complement each other? Our guests today will tell us.
Cyrus Khambatta is the co-founder of Mastering Diabetes and Amla Green, and is an internationally recognized nutrition and fitness coach who has been living with type 1 diabetes since 2002. He is the co-host of the annual Mastering Diabetes Online Summit.

Robby Barbaro is the cofounder of Mastering Diabetes and Amla Green. He worked at Forks Over Knives for six years before turning his attention in 2016 to coaching people with diabetes full time.
Both Cyrus and Robby have been living with type 1 diabetes for over 15 years and have been successfully controlling it using plant-based nutrition. On today’s episode, they debunk myths regarding nutrition, exercise, low-carb diets, intermittent fasting, and much more.

We start the show by talking about the different types of diabetes. For a long time we recognized two types: Type I and Type II. Then gestational diabetes came along as did prediabetes, Type 1.5, etc. Today it’s far easier to simply distinguish types of diabetes as being autoimmune or non-autoimmune.

There’s called type one and type 1.5 type, both of which are autoimmune versions of diabetes. This means for some reason (environmental, virus, antigens, or some combination) causes the body’s own immune system to begin attacking insulin production in the beta cells of the pancreas.
Effectively what happens is the body’s immune system launches an attack against its own beta cells which results in a decrease of insulin production (as much as 20% of what is normal).

The non auto-immune types include pre-diabetes and type two diabetes and gestational diabetes, these are caused by lifestyle factors such as being sedentary, consuming excess calories, excess alcohol and high amounts of dietary fat.

Cyrus and Robby explain more before we dig into why they believe high fat diets can set us up for insulin resistance. They also talk about the glycemix index rating of fruits, what glucose monitors they really like and much more.

Be sure to join us to hear their enlightening insights on those topics during today’s edition of Awesome Health Podcast!

Episode Resources:

Read The Episode Transcript:

Wade Lightheart: Good morning, good afternoon and good evening. It's Wade T Lightheart from BiOptimizers with another episode of the Awesome Health podcast. And today I've got a couple of special guests that are going to blow your minds. We're going to talk about diabetes. We're going to talk about, insulin is not your enemy, it can be your friend. We're going to blow the myths out about carbohydrates, about sugars, dietary fat, you name it. Be prepared to be shocked and delighted. These guys know what they're talking about, and they're going to transform what's possible and maybe even create a little bit of controversy. Before we get them on here, I want to talk about both of these gentlemen. They have reversed type one diabetes for over 15 years and have been successfully controlling it using a plant based nutrition. They discuss how a plant based lifestyle has fundamentally changed their quality of lives and debunk the myths.

Wade Lightheart: We are all about myth-busting here regarding nutrition, exercise, low carb diets, intermittent fasting, gestational diabetes, and insulin resistance. I made these chaotic times. Robby and Cyrus are sharing immune boosting foods and exercises, as well as lifestyle habits practice and those with or without diabetes can practice today. Plus they have a book "Mastering Diabetes". We're gonna talk about that. And they've got all these nutritious, nutrient dense recipes in the book, and this is really cool, because Cyrus Khambatta and Robby Barbaro are both guys that have dealt with type one diabetes since 2002 and then they're cohost of the annual mastering diabetes online summit as well. Robby was part of the Forks Over Knives for six years before turning his attention to 2006 to coaching people. And they're joining us from the beautiful, tropical paradise of Costa Rica. Gentlemen, welcome to the show.

Cyrus Khambatta: How are you doing? Thanks so much, Wade. Appreciate being here.

Wade Lightheart: All right.

Cyrus Khambatta: Just one clarification, just for this place. We have not reversed type one diabetes, that is not actually possible. We both have type one diabetes and we've been able to get it under awesome control. I just want to make sure your listeners don't think that we've reversed type one diabetes, cause' that's actually not possible.

Wade Lightheart: Yes. And we do not want to make any medical claims on this podcast.

Robby Barbaro: And we're going to connect all the dots, Wade. We're going to connect all the dots, how all the various types of diabetes are connected and you can say we reversed insulin resistance. And that's what we want your listeners to learn how to do today. And we're going to certainly teach them that.

Wade Lightheart: Well, this is a massive topic. We know that diabetes is one of the number one killers in the world of people. It has a horrible consequences if not managing. It seems to be spiraling out of control with all of the things that we're eating and those things. And you guys figured out. And can you explain to our listeners the difference between say the different types of diabetes. We'll start with that. And then, you know why that's so prolific or, you know, it's just going wild any day and you know, the problems with that.

Cyrus Khambatta: Sure. Okay. So there are… Back in the day, used to only be two forms of diabetes - type one and type two. That was it. And then over the course of time, the number of forms of diabetes has actually grown. So it was first, type one and type two. And then this thing called gestational diabetes came around, which is what women get when they're pregnant. And then this thing called type 1.5 diabetes came around, and then a condition called prediabetes, which is, you know, before type two diabetes came around and before you know it, now there's so many different flavors of diabetes that it's just flat out confusing. So to simplify it the way to distinguish between diabetes types is to distinguish between whether they're auto-immune or whether they're non autoimmune. That's the simplest way to do it. There's two types of autoimmune diabetes. There's called type one and type 1.5. Type one is what Robby has, is what I have. Type one is def as is traditionally called juvenile onset diabetes.

Cyrus Khambatta: And it affects people between the age of zero and 30 in general. Okay? And it is an autoimmune version of diabetes, which means that some collection of environmental forces, whether it's a virus, whether it's antigens in the food that you're eating or whether some combination of the two has made it such that your own immune system begins to attack the insulin producing beta cells in your pancreas. And when that happens, the beta cells that secrete insulin get compromised. And as a result of not being sufficient in a large quantities, they can not manufacture a sufficient amount of insulin. So effectively, your own immune system has launched an attack against your own beta cells and as a result of that, your insulin production goes from being what's considered normal all the way down to like 20% of normal, 10% of normal. Some people can always go, can even get to 0%.

Cyrus Khambatta: So type one, diabetes happens in people between the age of zero and 30, approximately. It's considered a strong, autoimmune reaction and it happens over the course of 12 to 18 months. Type 1.5 is the same reaction, it's just slower and it happens in people over the age of 30. Okay? So it's an autoimmune version of diabetes that affects adults and it just happens to be slower progressing. Those are the auto-immune flavors. The non auto-immune flavors include pre-diabetes and type two diabetes, and gestational diabetes. Prediabetes and type two diabetes are conditions that are caused by your lifestyle. So when you consume excess calories, when you consume excess alcohol, when you live a sedentary lifestyle, and as we're going to go into detail, when you consume a diet that is quite high in dietary fat, not dietary sugar, not dietary carbohydrate, but fat that's when you predispose yourself to the development of, first, this thing called insulin resistance, which then progresses to pre-diabetes, which then can progress to type two diabetes.

Cyrus Khambatta: So it's a spectrum, okay? But the beauty here is that even if you have been diagnosed with type two diabetes, you can change your lifestyle, change the foods you're eating, change your movement patterns. And as a result of that, you can go from type two back to prediabetes, and from prediabetes back to insulin resistance, and from insulin resistance back to non-diabetic. So you can kind of go in both directions, right? We can talk a lot about in detail. And then the final one is gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that affects women when they're pregnant. They usually discover it when between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy and similar to prediabetes and type two diabetes, it is induced by lifestyle. It's not an autoimmune version. Women usually get it, because, well, number one, they're growing a fetus and that is a significant metabolic demand on the mother.

Cyrus Khambatta: But number two, sometimes they don't have a sufficient insulin secretion ability, or they're also eating a high fat diet as well. And as some combination of those factors can make a mother have to secrete a significant amount of insulin in order to maintain her own metabolism, as well as the baby's metabolism. And then that's when her blood glucose can go a little wonky creating this thing called gestational diabetes, which just like prediabetes and type two can actually be reversed. The medical world is not very familiar with the idea of reversing gestational diabetes and the medical world is finally waking up to the idea that you can even reverse type two diabetes. So it can get very complicated, but if you just kind of think about it as though it's either autoimmune or non autoimmune, then it makes your life a lot simpler.

Wade Lightheart: Wow. I just opened up an array of questions, which is awesome and I love that. I love that thing. So right now, the biggest, one of the biggest trends in the health information highway, I would say, is ketogenic diets to manage this, which is basically a high fat diet. And what you've just suggested here is that a high fat diet could actually make things worse instead of better. Is there types of fat? What's the whole story behind that? And what's the supporting evidence? I'd love to know this personally.

Robby Barbaro: Wade, I'm super glad that you asked this question, okay? Because this is, it's like the elephant in the room. It's the major topic that everybody has to talk about when it comes to diabetes and there's so much confusion. I just have to say, we're going to go into detail here. Cyrus has a lot to share particularly on this topic, but I want people to know that in our book, chapter seven was dedicated to this entire topic and it's a comparison between a ketogenic diet and a plant based diet for the short term and long term benefits and consequences. And that chapter we did the most research, the book has over 800 citations,but that chapter, we used to spent an inordinate amount of time to really understand - where's the ketogenic community coming from, what research is being cited, what are they saying? So we covered that first and then we went into plant based information. So all that Cyrus takes from here, but I'm just super glad you asked that question.

Cyrus Khambatta: Yeah, thanks Robby. The confusion is all over the place. And just like you said Wade, ketogenic diets are very popular. Not only are they popular, but I would argue that it's probably the most popular dietary trend that the world has ever seen, period, end of story. And the reason why people flock to a ketogenic diet in the first place is mainly, because it's a very effective weight loss tool. It's a very effective, rapid weight loss tool and what a lot of people who eat a ketogenic diet discover is that within the first month to two months, to three months, they can lose a significant amount of weight, whether that's 10 pounds, 20 pounds, 30 pounds, and this is a conserved effect of ketogenic diets that happens to many people. So let's go backwards in time. Ketogenic diets were originally developed for kids, who had a condition called intractable epilepsy. And intractable epilepsy is basically a condition whereby these kids are sort of prone to epileptic seizures multiple times per day, that can't be treated through any other means.

Cyrus Khambatta: And so back in it was the early 19 hundreds when researchers were trying to find therapeutic methods to help these children what they found is that if they dramatically reduced the total carbohydrate content of these children's diets, that they could dramatically reduce the seizure incidents of these kid, of these children. And so it became a therapy that was effective specifically for intractable epilepsy. And then from that point over the course of time, people have sort of expanded to try and understand, well, if it can do this for an epileptic child, what can it do for heart disease? What can it do for diabetes? What can it do for obesity? And hence the explosion of research that is now happening about - what is the effect of ketogenic diets on all these other different chronic diseases?

Cyrus Khambatta: So a ketogenic diet… There's many different flavors of a ketogenic diet. There's plant-based ketogenic diets, there's animal based ketogenic diets and then there's hybrids of kind of the two of them. But I don't want to lump all ketogenic diets into one particular category, cause' that wouldn't be technically accurate. The research, the most of the research is actually done on animal based ketogenic diets. So when you delve into and you try and look for research on - what happens to people who eat a ketogenic diet, either in the short term or long term? What you generally find are studies that evaluate people who are eating something like 70 to 80% of their diet in fat and less than 10% of their diet, maybe 5% of their diet in carbohydrate energy, and then the remainder in protein. And there are studies that evaluate what happens in people who are consuming a plant based ketogenic diet, which will be more applicable to someone like you, who tends to be very plant-based, right?

Cyrus Khambatta: And then there's a whole growing consortium of people who are just plant-based eaters, who wants to eat a ketogenic diet and as a result of that, they gravitate towards that. So if you delve deeper into the research, what you find is, that when you eat a ketogenic diet, not only as a total fat content of your diet, somewhere between 70 and 80%, it's actually the saturated fat content of a animal-based ketogenic diet is actually quite high. Total saturated fat in the diet can be upwards of about 10% of total calories. But that isn't always that high. Saturated fat comes from things like cheese, and butter, and eggs, and white meat, and red meat, and fish. And you can get a significant amount from vegetable oils as well. So, saturated fat, as I'm sure you know, is a very controversial topic, extremely controversial topic.

Cyrus Khambatta: And there's different worlds. Some worlds say saturated fat is your best friend, eat a diet that's very replete with saturated fats, because there's no evidence that it causes any arterial damage. There's no evidence that it causes heart disease. There's no evidence that it increases your risk for diabetes. In fact, saturated fat is so good for you that it actually is the optimal fuel for your brain and so on and so forth. Then there's the other camp that says the opposite, which is that when you consume saturated fat in your diet, insignificant quantities, it increases your risk for diabetes, for certain forms of cancer, for heart disease, for a thorough sclerosis and it is not a fuel for your brain. So, what's the truth? If delve into the research, one of the things you'll find is that saturated fat is one of the most potent triggers for a condition known as insulin resistance that we alluded to earlier.

Cyrus Khambatta: So when you consume a diet that contains a significant amount of saturated fat, somewhere between 5% and 10% of total calories, what ends up happening is that the saturated fat that comes in your mouth travels down your esophagus, it gets inside of your stomach, okay? And it starts to get acted on by a collection of gastric enzymes. And it then migrates into your small intestine and starts to get acted upon by a bunch of other digestive enzymes manufactured by your small intestine and your liver, and your pancreas. Now inside of your small intestine, the triglycerides, which are the actual molecule that you consume, which is three fatty acids attached to a glycerol backbone, travels down your esophagus gets inside of your small intestine. The triglyceride molecules starts to get ripped apart into its three fatty acids, and then it's glycerol molecule.

Cyrus Khambatta: So the three fatty acids are then absorbed through the walls of your small intestine. They get inside of your lymph system and they are put into these things called chylomicrons particles. The chylomicrons particles are like little spaceships and they contain cholesterol and they contain fatty acids. Their purpose is to circulate through your blood and then deliver cholesterol and fatty acids to tissues that want it or the tissues that can uptake it. So these chylomicrons particles take the fatty acids from your diet, and then they circulate them and they deliver them to your muscle, to your liver and to your adipose tissue primarily. Those are the three main targets. So here's the funny thing that I learned somewhere along the way in my PhD was that, if the saturated fat from your diet went into chylomicrons particles and then ended up only inside of your adipose tissue, then diabetes wouldn't really be that big of a problem today.

Cyrus Khambatta: The problem starts when the fatty acids end up going into other tissues, outside of your adipose tissue in large quantities. So what I mean by that, is the chylomicron particles, they deliver fatty acids to your adipose tissue, and that's okay, because it's a safe place to store fatty acids, especially for long periods of time. They have the enzymatic machinery to be able to uptake fatty acids, to reform them into triglyceride molecules, to store them for long periods of time and then to release them back into circulation when the time is right. So it's specifically enzymatically and mechanically designed to store large quantities of fatty acids. But the fatty acids that you consume also get inside of your liver and they also get inside of your muscle. And that's okay as long as the total quantity of fatty acids is small. But what ends up happening is that when you're eating a diet, that's either medium or high in fat, especially saturated fat, those saturated fatty acids end up getting inside of your liver and muscle in large quantities, in larger quantities than both your liver and your muscle were designed to absorb.

Cyrus Khambatta: And as a result of that, as soon as those cells in your liver, and as soon as the cells in your muscle start to accumulate fatty acids in excess, they go into a self protective mode where they say: wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute, hold on, let's block more energy from coming inside of this cell. So if the cells had the mechanism to be able to block more fatty acids from coming in, they would initiate that mechanism. But the problem is that the biological mechanism doesn't exist. So when fatty acids are present in large quantity, it is in your blood, your liver and muscle don't really have a defense mechanism against it coming inside via mass action, via diffusion, a lot of those fatty acids can just kind of gain entry into both of those tissues. What the tissues do is they basically say: okay, if we can't block fatty acids, we can block other forms of energy from coming into the tissue, namely glucose.

Cyrus Khambatta: So let's stop glucose from coming in. How do we do that? Well, we tell insulin to go away. So they initiate this thing known as insulin resistance, which is basically a wall that they construct, a metabolic wall that basically says: hey, the next time insulin comes around here, don't pay attention to it. In that situation, you're eating a high fat diet. You try and eat a single banana, a piece of bread, maybe some beans. Something that has contained carbohydrate energy. The carbohydrate energy breaks down into glucose. The glucose is escorted by insulin. Insulin knocks on the door goes: hey, liver, muscle knock, knock there's glucose in the blood, do you want to take it up? And both the liver and muscle respond by saying: nuh uh, sorry, not going to pay attention to you. I'm not. I'm inducing insulin resistance. I can't hear your signal. I can't see it. I don't really want to communicate with you right now, insulin.

Cyrus Khambatta: So as a result of that, glucose ends up remaining trapped in your blood and insulin remains trapped in your blood. What ends up happening is that people eat a ketogenic diet. They have some, a very small amount of carbohydrate energy. And then they check their blood glucose two hours later and they see a high number on their blood glucose meter. And they say: huh, I knew it. Potatoes are bad for me. Bananas are bad for me. See, I just proved it to you. I had one banana and my blood glucose went up to 220. That proves that a banana is bad for me and it's all in a sugar, and I'm allergic to sugar and I shouldn't be eating that and that's the problem. But what they're doing is they're placing the blame on the banana, on the carbohydrate rich food and they're not paying attention to all the other food that caused a metabolic traffic jam that blocked a glucose from being able to be absorbed at the site of the liver and muscle in the first place. Does this make sense?

Wade Lightheart: Boom. So, that was probably the most articulated piece of information I've ever heard explaining the challenges of a ketogenic diet and what are the consequences are. Now I know for our listeners, it might've been a little science heavy. You know, but so what? Cyrus obviously is a PhD, he knows what he's talking about. Therefore, let's just back the truck up a little bit and explain what happened to people. Adipose tissue, this is your fat outside the body and then the bad fat is the fat that gets in our organs, like our liver. And the fat on the outside of the body, we have mechanisms to use that if we need to, but we don't have the mechanisms as well established to use the fat in the liver and the problem, because there's other things that need to get in the liver. And insulin, which is probably the most anabolic hormone there is. It is the trucks on the road that deliver the nutrients to the cells, right?

Cyrus Khambatta: Yes. It's the signal that allows the truck to open the door to allow the cargo to go into cells.

Wade Lightheart: There you go. And if you're shutting off essential cargo to organs, such as your liver, which Chinese medicine calls your second heart. You can't live without your liver. This has consequences and that starts to show up in your blood sugar readings. So you become a self fulfilling prophecy by saying: well, the more I go down the kketogenic diet, now the more insulin resistant I'm becoming. And therefore, every time I have a banana or I have an apple or I have some sort of sugar or whatever, it goes bonkers. And I go: Oh, can't do that. Let's have another order of bacon.

Cyrus Khambatta: You got it. So the more ketogenic of a diet you eat, the more glucose intolerant you become.
Wade Lightheart: Whoa, Whoa, Whoa. So tell me, what's the timeframe? And folks who are sitting there glued to their computers or their audios right now, you might want to rewind this and listen to this several times. Do you know what the timeframe for these things to start to developing for people?

Cyrus Khambatta: You ready for this one? One meal. One meal. I can prove it to you. Here's why. There are some studies that are performed with people living with type one diabetes. Now, Robby and I always liked to joke about the fact that people with type one diabetes are amazing test subjects. We are like a biological experimenters dream, because we cannot manufacture our own insulin. So if you want to measure how much insulin is required in order to metabolize a specific food, do it with a person with type one diabetes, because you can control exquisitely how much insulin gets inside of their body. Right? If we were to do an experiment on you, it would be a little bit harder to measure how much insulin we have to inject, because your pancreas is making insulin. And therefore it gets a little confusing, right?

Cyrus Khambatta: So there are multiple studies in which you take individuals with type one diabetes and you feed them a meal that contains a significant amount of fat. And then you chart and you track their blood glucose and their insulin requirements over the course of the next 12 hours. You compare that to individuals with type one diabetes, who eat a meal that is low in fat and then you can get an idea for whether their insulin requirements were different between the two meals. What these papers have shown, multiple papers have shown, the exact same thing. Which is, that when you eat a single high fat meal and the high fat meal contains anything greater than approximately 30 grams of fat in one meal, that over the course of the next 12 hours, your insulin requirements increase by 65%. So imagine if you ate a high fat meal, we're talking about a high fat meal that then increases your insulin production, your insulin needs by 65% over the course of the next 12 hours. And then you repeat that again for lunch. And then you repeat that again for dinner. And then you do this over and over and over again, right? What you end up doing, is you put yourself into a situation whereby unbeknownst to you, your insulin requirements are actually slightly increased. Even though you think that, because you're avoiding carbohydrates, your insulin requirements are actually lower. So that's part of the sort of mindblowing science of insulin sensitivity.

Wade Lightheart: That's really wild and I'm going to share a personal story for people to get this. We can all probably relate. About six months ago, a couple of my friends said: Wade, you got to come have one of these sidecart donuts. I'm like: I'm not a donut guy. And they're like: no, no, no, you don't understand. You got to try these sidecart donuts. So there's a place here in LA, we'd go over one night and I've never had a sidecart donut in my life. And one of the people is the ketogenic guy. It's his off day, right? He's gotta eat his carbs. So I'm like: okay, I'll go. So I have one of these sidecart donuts that are just hot out of the oven. So we're talking, this is like sugar and trans.

Wade Lightheart: Like, it is probably the worst thing you could possibly eat in your life. So I eat one of these things and it feels like I'm stoned. I feel like I'm being drunk. And my instant reaction is like: I need to have another one of these donuts and I eat another one, and another one. Like I had three or four donuts and I'm going into this kind of like drugged out state, cause' I've never seen so much whatever hit my brain, like the sugar and fat going in my brain. I was like: okay, this is great. Now the funny part, I don't know how many calories I consumed. I'm sure it was an extraordinary amount. The next morning I woke up and I'm starving. I am dysfunctionally hungry in the morning and I'm going: Oh boy, did we crash?

Wade Lightheart: Did we crash the blood sugar? Cause' I'm pretty tuned into my body. I'm like: I am in a deep pit this morning and I don't normally feel. And the instant thing that you want to do is go get some more carbohydrates. You know, like the simplest, the fastest, the easiest. I'm like, okay, now I have the awareness to go: that's the last thing I need to do. Let's get some protein into the system. Let's like take that, stabilize myself. Let's get some fiber in the system. And I start weaning my way back when I was like: wow, that was a shocking. At first it was very drug-like and addictive. Second thing, then the next morning I woke up and I was like: Oh my God, this is a crisis. And third, if I didn't know what to do on that, I probably would have drove over to sidecart and got some more. What's happening to people nowadays? Do you think that's part of the mechanisms? So I want to get into, we talked about ketogenic, but we've talked about the readily available amount of like. These are highly processed, synthesized carbohydrates in combination with these saturated and trans fatty acids.

Cyrus Khambatta: Boom. You just hit it on the head. It's the combination of the two of those that is just a recipe for complete metabolic disaster.
Wade Lightheart: Let's get into that. Let's get into that guys.

Cyrus Khambatta: Okay. So this is actually fascinating if you'd take a look at diet on a spectrum, right? I could put ketogenic diets on one hand of the spectrum, which is basically high fat, very low carbohydrate. Then I could put what Robby and I advocate for on the exact opposite end of the spectrum, which is very low fat, high carbohydrate from whole fruits and vegetables. So we have low fat plant-based whole food on one side, ketogenic diet on the other side. And then right in the middle, we have the standard American diet. The standard American diet is just kind of this like melting pot of like fatty acids or sorry, I should say dietary fat and carbohydrate. And it turns out that the standard American diet, which is like the worst invention that, you know, the world has ever made dietarily.

Cyrus Khambatta: It's a combination of saturated fat plus not carbohydrate, not whole carbohydrate, but refined carbohydrate. So the refined carbohydrates are things like sugar sweetened beverages and highly refined breads, and cereals, and pastas, and grain products, and artificial sweeteners that get put into food packaging that you and I don't even know about. So when you take the refined carbohydrates and the saturated fat together, that is what is going to dramatically increase your risk for heart disease, and cancer, and diabetes, and autoimmune conditions, and Alzheimer's disease, and fatty liver disease, and chronic kidney disease, and the list goes on, right? If you move over to the ketogenic side, you see a lot of improvements, right? The last thing I want to do is sit here and say: you know, if you eat a ketogenic diet, you're not going to see improvements in your overall metabolic health, because that is not a true statement.

Cyrus Khambatta: Like we talked about earlier, people who eat a ketogenic diets end up losing a tremendous amount of weight and as a result of that, they see reductions in their total cholesterol, and their blood pressure, in their fasting insulin, and their fasting blood glucose, in their A1C value and a lot of them get dramatically improved energy levels, right? So there's a number of benefits that come from the ketogenic side. But what I'm saying is that those benefits that you get from being on the ketogenic side of things are benefits that usually last during an active weight loss process, and when the weight loss slows down and/or when the weight loss stops, then there's a much higher risk for increased metabolic damage. That's when you end up developing much greater amounts of insulin resistance, you end up significantly damaging arteries, you end up significantly increasing your LDL cholesterol, which has been reported time and time and time again, and the evidence based literature.

Cyrus Khambatta: And when you increase your LDL cholesterol, you are putting yourself at risk for a future cardiac event. And so the ketogenic diet is a good short term strategy. It is a terrible longterm strategy. And what we advocate on the opposite side of the spectrum is a low fat plant-based whole food diet, which does everything that a ketogenic diet can do. Weight loss, decreased insulin, decreased blood glucose, decreased A1C, decreased blood pressure, decreased C reactive protein, you name it, the list goes on. A low fat plant-based whole food diet can achieve all of that and it does it in a short term, and it does it in the long term

Wade Lightheart: Powerful words. Robby, maybe you can add some pieces that you've want to say from your experience in the puzzle here, that's kinda going on. Because we've just blown up a couple of industries and we've probably shocked people into a ketogenic nightmare. So tell me…

Robby Barbaro: I mean, is there anything to add, Cyrus explained it all beautifully. But if there's anything to add here, it's just that the scientific research is incredibly clear on this topic. It really is. It's black and white. As far as like, what you can do to improve your glucose tolerance, improving some sensitivity and what you can do to worsen it. And it just happens to correlate with both of our personal experiences. So I happen to have tried a plant based ketogenic diet for an extended period of time. And Cyrus and I like he said earlier, we both like to explain how people living with type one diabetes are just these fascinating test subjects. So I know exactly how much insulin I'm injecting. I know exactly what my blood glucose readings are throughout the day.

Robby Barbaro: I'm counting the carbohydrates that I'm consuming. And it's just this great experiment. One way to look at it is to actually observe how much glucose are you consuming per day, and how many grams of carbohydrate are you consuming per day. So when I did the comparison on a ketogenic diet, I would need one unit of insulin for every gram of glucose. And that's a one to one ratio. On a low fat plant-based whole food diet, eating unlimited amounts of right fruits and vegetables, and greens, and non starchy, I eat well over 700 grams of total carbohydrate per day. But when you take out the fiber, you take out the fructose, when you only have a glucose left, my glucose to insulin ratio becomes 10 to one. So that's a 900% change in my body's ability to metabolize glucose, changing from a plant based ketogenic diet, to a low fat plant based whole food diet.

Robby Barbaro: And we will see this repeatedly in people living with type one diabetes and people living with prediabetes, type two. They'll come in, they'll follow these recommendations, and all of a sudden they don't need metformin anymore, they don't need glipizide anymore. All of a sudden their insulin needs become zero, because they can actually use their exogenous insulin effectively. So it's really fun to see this put into action and people experience it through the benefits of just having more energy, getting their skin cleared up, seeing all their numbers change and diabetes medications go away. We need the exact opposite foods they've been told to eat.

Wade Lightheart: I'm curious as to how long that you did the plant-based ketogenic diet, because there's a big, there's some people in the plant based community that are getting influenced by, what I would say, the ketogenic trend and they're doing this plant based ketogenic now. How long did you try that for and what was the total result and when did you abandon it?

Robby Barbaro: Yeah, it was about three months was the time when I really did disciplined, hardcore every single day having no more than 30 grams of net carbohydrates per day. It was about 70 grams of total carbohydrate per day without it, because there were 40 coming from fiber. So that's happens when you do the plant based keto version. And the reason I abandoned it is, because I had no energy. I was a freshman at the university of Florida at the time, and I was losing weight. I was not able to play pickup basketball anymore at the gym and was just getting frustrated. There was one particular situation where I basically blacked out on campus. And at that point I was scared. I was lost. I went back to a Natural Path and she made some suggestions, but before I decided to go do her culation therapy suggestions, I heard about this low fat plant based whole food approach on a podcast. Which makes it really fun to be sitting here, talking on a podcast and hopefully changing some other people's lives and getting them to pick up our book and really learn the science and then how to apply this.
Wade Lightheart: This is awesome, because, in my role here at BiOptimizers, and of course, Matt and I on these polar ends, I'm subjected to a lot of keto, keto'ish kind of podcast. And this is some great information, some scientifically backed stuff. So what are some things that people can do if they want to, say, move away from that type of thinking or move away from the standard American diet? What are the recommendations that you guys think that they need? Is there a transition stage if you're coming off a high refined carbohydrate or a ketogenic diet that you're going to have to account that your body's going to adjust through? What are the suggestions and recommendations for that process?

Cyrus Khambatta: For sure. Yeah. So people who are eating ketogenic diets oftentimes come to us, because they say: hey guys, I've been doing this ketogenic thing, or I've been doing, you know, maybe not a ketogenic diet, but just like a low carbohydrate diet for a number of years. And they find that either their insulin requirements are increasing over time, or their blood pressure is getting worse, or their cholesterol level is increasing, or they just can't seem to lose any more weight and it's frustrating, right? So a lot of people come over to us and then as soon as we educate them about the system that we've developed and they start to eat lower fat, but higher carbohydrate foods like fruits and starchy vegetables, and legumes, and whole grains, guess what happens? Their blood glucose goes through the roof, because of what I just explained earlier, right? There's a metabolic traffic jam inside of their liver and muscle that is preventing them from consuming carbohydrate rich anything.

Cyrus Khambatta: So what we do with people who come into our coaching program, we first assess their level of insulin resistance. And we ask them to answer some simple questions, which basically puts them into one of four buckets. Either you have a low amount of preexisting insulin resistance, medium, high, or very high, depending on what you've been eating, how often you move your body, you name it. Once people put themselves in one of these categories and they say: oh, okay, cool. If I'm in the like high or very high in some resistant category, then I'm going to go through a transition phase to eventually earn the ability to eat more carbohydrate rich foods. And the transition phase usually is not that exciting, I'm not going to lie. But it involves eating lots of non starchy vegetables, like tomatoes and cucumbers, and broccoli, and carrots, and onions, and cauliflower, right?

Cyrus Khambatta: And then also in addition to that, eating a significant amount of calories coming from a legumes, which is beans, lentils, and peas, right? So if you kind of like focus your diet on mostly those for calorie sources and then a small amount of fruits and maybe a tiny, small amount of whole grains, or a small amount of starchy vegetables, then your blood glucose stays under control while you are in the transition phase. And over the course of about one to two weeks, you then can dramatically start to increase your intake of fruits and more starchy vegetables. And when you do that, your blood glucose stays nice and controlled without going very high and without increasing your insulin requirements dramatically.

Wade Lightheart: Beautiful. Robby, maybe you want to talk about this. I think it's really important for people to understand, because I really feel that fruits get a really bad name when it comes to insulin, and blood sugar, and stuff. They're like: Oh, don't eat that orange or did you know, carrots, you know, are high in the glycemic index? And like, my answer has always used to be: it's impossible to eat enough carrots and get fat. And it's impossible to eat too many oranges or too many apple. Like you just can't do it. There's also a saturation factor that when you hit a point, your body automatically switches off. Can you talk about this particularly? Maybe lead to some of the information that our listeners are now like wide open ear to.

Robby Barbaro: So you're exactly right. You bring up a very important point here, which is that fruits in particular, they're self-limiting, because they have so much water and so much fiber, in addition, to their nutrient density. So full fruit is a complex package compared to something like fruit juice or carrot juice, or even dried fruit. You've taken out the water content and it's the package that is going to act differently inside your body, and it's going to have a dramatically different impact on your glucose levels. In addition, to making sure that you are consuming fruit in a low fat environment. So just like Cyrus was saying earlier, you have those spectrums of the diets. If you're in the middle and you're following a standard American diet, you're eating a lot of fat, a lot of garbage, even if you're, let's say following a really healthy version of a standard American diet, you're having a lot of avocados, lots of nuts and seeds like excessive amounts.

Robby Barbaro: And then you try and add a significant amount of fruit on top of that, you're going to run into a disaster. You still have excess fat stored in your muscle and liver cells, which is going to prevent you from seeing the steady blood glucose profile you're looking for that you hear us talking about. So you do have to take care of that and just like Cyrus was saying, you do that transition over a period of weeks with some, you know, particularly, lower carbohydrate fruits and vegetables, okay? You can do that. Berries might be a good thing during a transition. The glycemic index, it actually correct on accident. There are some aspects of the glycemic index, which do make sense. Berries will have less of an impact on your glucose level than grapes or watermelon, but it doesn't mean don't eat watermelon and don't eat grapes.

Robby Barbaro: It means be careful with what you eat them with. You can have a grape salad, okay? That's where the glycemic index misses the bigger picture. You don't eat individual foods, you eat meals and you eat things in combination and you can make intelligent decisions. And just because the glycemic index says it has a low impact on how quickly it's gonna raise your blood glucose, does it mean that's something you want to eat? So it's not the guideline, isn't like: oh, I'll just listen to that. It's like: okay, well, let's pull out a little bit of pieces of information from that, that makes sense and make intelligent decisions. And one of the things we're big advocates for here at Mastering Diabetes is continuous glucose monitors. Are you familiar with these Wade?

Wade Lightheart: Absolutely.

Robby Barbaro: Okay. I mean, this will give you so much insight into your lifestyle habits, your dietary choices and your blood glucose control. These are new monitoring devices that will provide you with a blood glucose reading every one to five minutes now. The new FreeStyle Libre Two will give you a data reading every single minute, and you can see it on your phone. These devices will beep at you and warn you when you're going high or when you're going low. They're very helpful for people living with insulin dependent diabetes. I wear a Dexcom G six continuous glucose monitor. And so you'll be able to see what happens when you eat some fruit and what happens to your blood, when goes one hour, two hours, three hours after you eat that food. And I learned a lot. I gained so much insight when tapping into this Dexcom software. And really the true key is, are you eating these foods in a low fat environment? And when you are, you can eat large quantities with excellent blood glucose control.

Robby Barbaro: We have many clients who've been through our program, who absolutely completely reverse type two diabetes. They wear a continuous glucose monitor, eat all the fruit they want, all the potatoes they want, all the rice, the beans, lots of greens, lots of non starchy vegetables. And their blood glucose profile stays between 80 and 130 over entire 14 day period. That's consistent, steady blood glucose management. And you want those little elevations. The ketogenic has confused the entire public and thinking that your blood glucose should be 87 all day long, a flat line, there should be no elevations. And that's actually not part of healthy human physiology. You're designed to go up a little bit and come right back down. And we are designed to thrive on glucose. And without that, you're putting yourself at risk for Alzheimer's disease and a lot of other chronic conditions.

Wade Lightheart: Wow. So similar insulin levels are almost like HRV. It's like you need heart rate variability is a good idea. It's not just be at a steady state. Can you handle the highs and lows? Can you, and is your cells able to absorb the nutrients that might be coming with those grapes or, you know, with that vegetable that you're adding as opposed. And we're going to kind of top into this in a second. If I'm doing high insulin with something that's creating a high insulin response, that's driving chemicals or additives, or things like artificial sweeteners, or things. Can you guys talk about the effect of artificial sweeteners on blood sugar? Because you see all of the diet sodas and all of the sugar-free this and the aspartame that, and then, you know… Is there better nutrients sweeteners or replacements, like, you know, does Monkfruit fall in that? Or is it a bad thing? Like, can you kind of go through the array of sweetener replacements that people are using that may have some detrimental effects or ones that would have some positive effects?

Cyrus Khambatta: Yeah, for sure. That's a great question actually. Cause' they're all over the place, unfortunately, and people get very confused and the artificial sweetener world is some of the most captivating marketing that at least I've seen in a long time. It's very easy to believe that aspartame has no longterm negative effects, has no short term negative effects, but in reality, that's not even close to the truth, right? So there's a whole collection of these artificial sweeteners and they include things like aspartame that you find them in products like equal and sweet splenda, and sweet and low. And then there's natural foods that have been turned into refined sweeteners like stevia, okay? So it actually comes from a plant and it's actually a powder that you can add to your food and it's also put into packaged foods. And the nice thing about stevia is that yeah, technically it has zero calories and it's incredibly sweet so a small amount goes a long way.

Cyrus Khambatta: The question is, well, is that safe or is that safer? Okay. So first things first, artificial sweeteners. I don't know of any at health advocate, that's telling people to go eat more refined sugar or more refined high fructose corn syrup. Even sugar sweetened beverages, we know without a shadow of a doubt at this point as a scientific community, that those foods, those drinks cause severe metabolic damage. As far as sugar sweetened beverages are concerned, they cause dramatic problems with your liver and they dramatically increase the speed at which your liver becomes insulin resistant, and the speed at which your liver progresses towards fatty liver disease. I don't even want to talk about that anymore, because it's already known and we got to go beyond that as a scientific community. The question really becomes about things like stevia, like, is that safe for you? What about monkfruit? Is that good for you? And even if a sweetener has zero calories and all it does has a sweet flavor, one of the things that we find empirically is that when we work with people who have been eating a significant amount of stevia, as an exampleit's hard to eat real whole foods.

Cyrus Khambatta: Because whole foods just don't taste as good. So imagine if your new diet, you're eating a collection of foods and you're putting stevia and more stevia, and more stevia, more stevia. And you're having that on a daily basis. What ends up happening is it's basically communicating with specific cells, specific receptors in your brain that are eliciting a dopamine response. And that dopamine response is getting larger and larger and larger over time. And what that response is telling you is: I like sweet flavors, give me more of that. Right? And so people who come to our program and we basically are educating them about eating more whole food plant based. At the beginning, if you've been eating a lot of artificial sweeteners, even again, if there's zero calorie, they say: Oh, you know, that fruit bowl wasn't really that tasty.

Cyrus Khambatta: I don't really like oatmeal. Can I put stevie on my oatmeal? Can I put stevia on my French fries? And our answer to them is like: hey, listen, I want you to get to a point where you're not putting any stevia on your food, because when you get there, normal, real food is actually just going to taste better to you. So in reality, what you gotta do is desensitize your taste buds to an abnormally, artificially concentrated sweet flavor. And when you can do that and you can return your taste buds to a much more normal physiological function, then your tongue isn't going to be asking for highly sweetened, refined, concentrated sugar, or artificial sweeteners. And your brain is not going to basically respond to that as much anymore. So you're basically breaking like a neurological pathway between your mouth and your brain.

Cyrus Khambatta: And as a result of that, you're going to be desensitized to these artificial sweeteners. It's just going to make normal food tastes better. Do I have a scientific papers at my disposal that say that stevia is bad for you in the long term? Truth be told I don't. In this situation I wouldn't need that in order to educate people about the fact that having a little bit here and there is not the end of the world is totally fine. And if it's something that you have to put in your food to try to help you make a plant based diet, a little bit tastier, that's fine. I'm not going to be the food police here. But in reality, I'd like you to get to a point where you don't rely on any artificial sweeteners that you can just truly love the taste of whole food. And when you do that, then your tongue and your brain are going to be acting in a much more sort of a physiologically normal state and your microbiome, in addition to that, which we haven't even really touched on, your microbiome is also not going to be assaulted by concentrated sweeteners, which can dramatically decrease the sort of biological complexity and diversity of the microbes in your large intestine.

Wade Lightheart: Awesome, awesome information. So let's talk about, guys, let's dive into the microbiome a little bit and the relation between say maybe sugar fats and sweeteners and how they might impact the microbiome. Because one of the things that Matt and I always joke about is we run a company that, you know, advocates for digestive health and these types of things. And if you took a sampling of our biomes, well, we know that they're very different, because of the diets that we both choose. What have you guys learnt about this process in how all these things, sugar and saturated fats and sweeteners and all this, how does it impact microbiome?

Cyrus Khambatta: Yeah. Good question. So just out of curiosity here, when you and Matt went and tested your microbiome, what differences did you guys notice? Like, was it a difference in species diversity?

Wade Lightheart: Different species, diversity, all that sort of like. It was a pretty big difference. It was a pretty big difference. I won't get into all the details, cause' he's not here. So I don't want to reveal anything that wasn't unreal. Not that he would, but it was… Let's just put it this way, there's a significant difference.

Cyrus Khambatta: Sure. Okay. So, the microbiome is actually fascinating. Basically the microbiome is what we're referencing here, is a collection of almost 40 trillion bacteria that live inside of your large intestine. Truth be told there's microbiomes all throughout your body. You have a microbiome in your mouth, you have a microbiome on your skin, you have a microbiome in your armpit, you have a microbiome inside of your large intestine. And microbiome just refers to like a collection of bacteria, that's all it is. But the microbiome inside of your large intestine is the microbiome that scientists really care about these days, because it is ground zero for chronic diseases. And that's what they're discovering. Is that if you can really understand how the microbiome is responding to your food, then you can optimize the function of your microbiome, such that you reduce or eliminate your risk for chronic diseases.

Cyrus Khambatta: And there's studies that demonstrate that your microbiome health is not only kind of connected, but strongly connected to your risk for diabetes, your risk for obesity, your risk for cancer and your risk for heart disease and your risk for autoimmune disease as well. So one of the things, one of the components of a whole food plant based diet, that you just don't get nearly as enough of when you're eating a ketogenic diet, is this stuff called fiber. Now people in the ketogenic world often, you know, even in the carnivore world, we've heard these things like: fiber is toxic for you. Don't eat fiber rich foods, because they also contain anti-nutrients and those anti-nutrients, they damage your microbiome, right? The question is, is there any validity to that story or is it true that fiber is actually protecting against chronic diseases?

Cyrus Khambatta: So if you delve into the research a little bit more, what you'll find is that scientists used to believe that fiber was just this like stuff that was inert. It came in your food and it just acted like a chimney sweep. It just kind of went through your small intestine and your large intestine and it remained undigested or partially digested. And then it goes out into the toilet and you poop it out, and then boom, end story. That's literally what the story of fiber was up to like 30 years ago. And then as scientists got deeper and deeper, deeper, and they realized, they were like: wait a minute, human beings cannot digest fiber, because we don't have the cellulase enzyme to break down the cellulose. But the microbiome in your large intestine has trillions of bacteria that manufacturer cellulase. Isn't that interesting?

Cyrus Khambatta: The fiber is not a food, technically speaking, for human beings. It's a food for the bacteria in your large intestine. So when you're eating a fiber rich diet, the bacteria inside of your large intestine are literally getting fed every single meal with fiber. They break down the fiber by secreting cellulase. They cut the fiber molecule, the cellulose molecule into individual glucose units, cause that's what fiber is. It's literally a string of glucose units. So you cut it into glucose units. The bacteria absorb the glucose. They then use that to replicate themselves and then they also manufacture this stuff called short chain fatty acids, S C F A. Now these short chain fatty acids like butyrate and propanoate are the two that the scientific world has discovered are unbelievably powerful. Are these fatty acids that are signaling molecules to go talk to tissues all throughout your body?

Cyrus Khambatta: They talk to your brain. They talk to your thyroid gland. They talk to the insulin producing cells in your pancreas. And they have very specific instructions to help those cells return to a more normal state of physiological function. So there's plenty of studies that actually demonstrate that when you get a fiber rich diet, the saturated, the short chain fatty acid concentration goes up, and that actually is beneficial to the insulin producing cells, because it allows them to manufacture insulin. It's also beneficial for certain cells in your brain because it allows your brain to actually restore itself to a more properly functioning cognitive ability. So the story goes, fiber rich diet, fiber becomes food for microbiome, microbiome secretes short chain fatty acids, short chain fatty acids are signaling molecules to go help tissues retain their sort of, you know, normal physiological function.

Cyrus Khambatta: So that's one of the, I think, fundamental aspects of a whole food plant based diet that many people in the ketogenic world unfortunately overlook or they basically say: hey, you know, like, I don't believe this story. But if you actually really look at it you know, human beings have a baseline requirement for fiber. I don't remember the actual number, but I think it's for women is somewhere close to 30 grams per day and for men it's as close to 40 grams per day. People who are eating low carbohydrate diets are just straight up fiber deficient. A majority of Americans are fiber deficient and that can be related to chronic disease risk.

Wade Lightheart: That's what I was going to talk about is. What are the consequences of having a low fiber diet? Because I don't know. Do you remember? Remember there was like years ago, there were these people on TV going: yeah, I'm taking two scoops, I'm getting my fiber, I'm regular. This whole fiber thing started to come out. And then of course, you know, as you get older, that's all people talk about is their crap literally. And you know, they get them on fiber or something like that. But what are the consequences of having a low fiber diet?

Cyrus Khambatta: Okay. Low fiber diet consequences, number one, digestive discomfort. That's not a disease, that's just a symptom. Number two, gas, bloating, constipation, all of those can happen in a low fiber environment. Number three low fiber diets can dramatically increase your risk for autoimmune conditions, one of them most notably is Hashimoto's hypothyroidism. Some researchers have traced a Hashimoto's hypothyroidism risk to the functioning of your large intestine and found that people who eat fiber poor diets who developed leaky gut syndrome over the course of time, which is increased intestinal permeability. That happens as a result of many packaged and processed foods can dramatically increase your risk for thyroid dysfunction over time. So there's an access here between your large intestine and your thyroid gland. And then there's also increased risk for diabetes.

Cyrus Khambatta: There's a communication between your large intestine and the beta cells in your pancreas, again, through these short chain fatty acids, as one of the players that can predispose your beta cell population to burning out quickly over the course of time. And when you eat a fiber rich diet, you can actually slow down the amount of insulin that has to be produced from the beta cells. So I don't mean to be pointing a finger at, you know, the ketogenic world saying: how dare you guys, you don't know what you're talking about, right? Cause' there's definitely some scientific validity that comes out of the ketogenic world, but this idea that like fiber is not necessary, that fiber is toxic, and that fiber is not an important component of the human diet is just patently false information.

Wade Lightheart: So great. I'm going to just scroll out, just for a quick second, and say, in your guys' experience, do you monitor macros in how a, person's doing a plant based diet? Because, and what I would like for you to kind of say is typically, I don't know, that's a terrible thing to use, but you know, people are really into their macros if they're on a ketogenic diet or if they're on a paleo diet, or if they're on a plant based diets. I find people in the plant based side tend to be less aware of the macro conversation than people who are on these other diets, which I find fascinating. So can you have too much carbohydrates? Can you have too much protein? Can you have too much fat or can you have too much fiber? And what's kind of that range that you guys have found in your experience to kind of optimize your insulin and blood sugar levels?

Robby Barbaro: Okay. So what we like to do in our coaching program and everything we do is simplify, simplify, simplify. So people can actually apply this in their life, get back to feeling good and stop thinking about food, stop thinking about their next meal. It's just easy. It's gracefully. You just follow your diet and you go and follow your passions, pursue your passions. So the way we set this up, as we have green light foods, yellow light foods and red light foods. And if people focus on eating predominantly from the green light category and become cognizant of how much food they're consuming from the yellow and red light, the macros take care of themselves. You don't need to start counting. It becomes ridiculous and becomes unnecessary. And it ends up falling into roughly somewhere around like 70% of calories coming from carbohydrate, roughly like a maximum of 15% coming from protein and a maximum of 15% coming from fat.

Robby Barbaro: So the key there is, is the minimum and the maximum, like we're not trying to hit a specific target. We're not trying to tell people to enter the food and nutrition software and then, you know, eat a little bit more of this so you hit that exact ratio number like. No, no, no, no, no, just eat the whole foods. You're going to fall into that healthy range naturally. And for people living with diabetes who want to optimize their insulin sensitivity, see their A1C lower, get off diabetes medications, we have found and through an extensive amount of research, the ideal thing is to not exceed 15% of calories from dietary fat. And as long as you meet that, which again becomes very easy to do once you identify which foods are particularly high in fat. So the yellow light category is going to include things like nuts and seeds, and avocado, and you could have olives in there, coconut, meat.

Robby Barbaro: You'd also have a high fat fruit in there, but once you're aware of those foods and you limit, you know, about one serving of one of those per day, you're going to absolutely meet your central fatty acid requirements through just following our breakfast. Our breakfast recommendations, having a ground up tablespoon of chia seeds or flax seeds, boom, right there, you met your essential fatty acid requirements for Omega three fatty acids. And then you're just getting more from the whole foods that you're consuming. So people don't really understand that when they have bananas, and lettuce, and quinoa, and beans, you're getting not just fat in every bite, but essential fatty acids. And once you eat enough of those foods to meet your caloric requirements, you get a significant amount of total fat and you're meeting your requirements. So it's really not a huge focus on any particular ratio, but if there is one macro nutrient that we're teaching people to pay attention to, at least in the beginning to become aware of is the dietary fat. And once you lock that in, don't think about it, just eat delicious foods. Our book has 30 recipes, we have two 21 day meal plans and when people follow it, the results are extraordinary.

Wade Lightheart: One quick question I want to ask that a lot of athletes are going to say. They're going to say: Robby, I'm a hard training guy, I'm lifting a lot of weights, I'm hitting the gym hard. How do I recover? You know, when I'm carrying this type of muscle mass, and one of the complaints that you know, I've seen with people on a plant based diet, when they're trying to lose weight, if they're coming from a refined thing is they find that if their protein content isn't high enough that they tend to get hungrier. So is there an adjustment phase, or you just say, no, just keep with this, and also, can you flesh out what's a red light food and what's a green light food? We talked about the yellows.

Robby Barbaro: So I'll answer the food categories and then I'll throw out the Cyrus for the athletic component, that's why I got him on the team here. He'll take care of that one. He'll go toe to toe with anybody in some prospect games. But the green light category is listed in a specific order. Number one is fruits. Number two, we have starchy vegetables. So that's going to be potatoes, yams, butternut squashes. Number three is beans, peas, lentils. So all kinds of legumes there and then intact whole grains. Then you move into leafy greens, non starchy vegetables, herbs and spices, and mushrooms. But the first four categories are very important in a specific order when you're adopting the Mastering Diabetes method. If you want to succeed long term and enjoy your meals and not be hungry in between, you have to eat a large quantity of calorie rich plant foods.

Robby Barbaro: If you start adopting this diet and you eat a bunch of salads with lettuce and carrots, and cucumbers, and that's it. You're going to get hungry. You're going to say this diet sucks. It doesn't work. You're going to go have a cheeseburger. You're going to get energy again. And you're gonna be like: yep, I need more protein, I need meat, this plant based thing doesn't work. And that's because you didn't eat enough calorie dense, calorie rich plant foods. And again, people living with diabetes, they're scared. They're afraid of having these foods, cause' they're going to see blood glucose spikes, but that's not the potatoes fault. It's not the banana's fault. It's the food they ate prior, which set themselves up for a state of insulin resistance. So that's the green light category. In addition to the yellow light foods, I already covered, we put processed foods like ZKO bread or brown rice pasta.
Speaker 2: We put that in the yellow category just to basically signify that it's better to eat the whole food. Eat brown rice, eat, whatever that is ZKO bread was originally made out of in its whole intact form rather than the process version. And all breads are a little bit more calorie dense so they end up hurting people in the process of trying to lose weight, which a lot of our clients are trying to do. The red light category, that's where we're going to put in animal products, so red meat, white meat, we have fish. You're going to see eggs and dairy in there, as well as processed foods. So things like impossible burgers, beyond meat, all these new processed vegan foods, or whether they're keto foods. It doesn't matter. Just their process have lots of added sugars, added ingredients, preservatives. Those are gonna be in the red light category. They have been shown to cause insulin resistance and they are not going to help people achieve the goal of reducing their diabetes meds or getting off their diabetes meds. So it's very simple. And when you learn how to eat these new recipes, it becomes really exciting and really tasty. So I'll let Cyrus talking about protein.

Cyrus Khambatta: Yeah. Okay. So the first thing I would say is that when it comes to protein, I mean, this is like the first question you get asked when you eat a plant based diet, I'm sure you've been asked this a thousand times Wade.

Wade Lightheart: A thousand would be lucky if I got.

Cyrus Khambatta: Okay. So for anybody who's listening to this who wants a lot of information about protein and how you can eat a plant based diet when transitioning, when you are an athlete, please watch the movie The Game Changers it's on Netflix. It's a phenomenal movie it's made by James Cameron. He was the executive producer and there's a whole film crew of plant-based experts, who created this movie to dispel a lot of the folklore that exists in the broad science world. So when it comes to how much protein is required in order to get you to, number one, recover from intense exercise properly, and number two, keep your appetite at bay so that you don't feel like you're having to eat all the time. A simple way to do the calculation is to do it on a gram per kilogram basis.

Cyrus Khambatta: So what you do is you take your body weight in pounds, you divide it by 2.2 in order to get your body weight in kilograms and then you multiply that number times a correction ratio. So the correction ratio would be… For somebody who's non-athletic, I would give them 0.8 grams per kilogram body weight, as the baseline requirement. For somebody who is more active, I would go upwards of 1.0, to 1.2 to as much as 1.4 grams per kilogram body weight. So let's do a quick calculation. Wade, how much do you weigh?

Wade Lightheart: 200 pounds?

Cyrus Khambatta: Okay. So you're 200 pounds, which means if we divide that number by 2.2, that tells you that you are 91 kilograms. So I'm going to take Wade's 91 kilograms, and I'm going to multiply it by some number. Wade, how many times per week are you training?

Wade Lightheart: Six.

Cyrus Khambatta: Six times per week and you're doing mainly a resistance weights?

Wade Lightheart: Yeah, weights and I do the attack bikethings like that. I do the attack bike, and I like to rebound. And then you know, I do for my low kind of impact cardio, I just go walk on the beach or go for long walks and that sort of thing.

Cyrus Khambatta: Okay, perfect. So I'm going to put you in the extremely active category, which is great. That's where I am also living. By the way, when I come to Venice, we're going to be doing some working out together, so I can't wait for that.

Wade Lightheart: Yeah. Look forward to it, man. Gotta see the new bio home that we've putting together. It's epic.

Cyrus Khambatta: Yeah. You got a home gym inside I'm assuming?

Wade Lightheart: On the roof.

Cyrus Khambatta: On the roof. Man, I'm getting jealous. Okay. So I'm going to take your body weight in kilograms, which again was 91 kilograms and I'm going to multiply that by 1.4, cause' 1.4 is the upper end of grams per kilogram. That's the upper end correction ratio. And when I do that, I get 127 grams of protein per day. Okay. So the question is, can Wade eat 127 grams of protein per day from only plant sources? Wade, do you measure your protein intake on a daily?

Wade Lightheart: Yeah. You know, it's very interesting because for me, when I'm harder training, I've noticed… I went to the Mr. Universe contest or some of the world championships in 2007 and I was eating 85 grams of protein a day. I do use an enzymatic supplement that helps me break down the food so that gave me an advantage. What I have noticed as I've gotten older is if I am at that above a hundred grams a day, I feel awesome. If I go below 75, I don't feel so good. And if I'm not active, I can go down much. I just don't need to eat that much. There's a big spike in my eating. So I'm right in that framework that you just illustrated. And I can absolutely tell by the intensity of the training I have, if my intensity goes up, I eat a little bit more protein. If the intensity freakly goes down, I eat a little bit less. And I'm just kind of self regulated now.

Cyrus Khambatta: Exactly, right? So it's actually not a very complex equation and there's sort of like a lot of mathematics that goes into the actual development of this equation. But the idea here is that, you know, you could go even lower. You could go a 1.2 grams per kilogram, and you'd still be getting about 110 grams of protein per day. And I'm at somewhere between 110, 127 grams of protein per day. That's plenty of protein. Trust me. That's plenty of protein in order to meet your protein requirements, in order to provide enough substrate for your muscles to rebuild themselves and your connective tissue to rebuild itself and for you to be able to recover efficiently in preparation for your next training session.

Wade Lightheart: Yeah. And the big thing for me is a satiety thing. I find that if I have a little bit of protein usually it comes with fiber, cause' I use like hemp and these types of things that are five resources or legumes. I just find, if I'm in a calorie restriction, cause' I want to cut my weight a little bit more. It's a little bit easier. And if I'm not in a calorie restriction, I don't need as much, cause' I find that if I have more food, if I don't need to drop any weight, then I don't need as much protein. So like carbohydrates spare protein.

Cyrus Khambatta: Exactly right, exactly right. You hit it on the head.

Wade Lightheart: Yeah. Wow guys, this has been awesome. Can you tell us about where we get this, fucking read this? I want to download the whole thing. I want all my listeners to listen to it. I want to see how they can get access to. I know there are some people out there that are struggling, they've probably bounced around for a lot of things. You've dropped some serious truth bombs here on the podcast that I think are going to have repercussions out into the health world. Let us know where we can get this book, how we can find you guys, all this sort of stuff?

Robby Barbaro: I hope there are some repercussions out there and people have questions. Come and interacts with us. We are active on social media. So Instagram @masteringdiabetes, YouTube of Mastering Diabetes channel, Facebook. We also have a podcast. So check us out all over the place. But the best place to get started is go to our website, and in the upper right corner, you can click, am I a candidate, and you get to take a quiz or just go to and find out how insulin resistant you are. That is the best place to start. And you'd be shocked. I think a lot of people are gonna be surprised at what they find out, but I go through a series of questions and you get the results right away. So you can do that. And then our book is available everywhere. So it's on Amazon, Barnes and Noble. We also read our audio book, which you can get on Audible or Google Play. We add an extra information at the beginning of each chapter, sort of talking about the writing process, what we were thinking. So the audio book is kind of a bonus, it's best to get both. You can also get the Kindle version and the Nook version. It's available everywhere, Wade.

Wade Lightheart: Robbie, Cyrus, this is awesome. I got so much information today. I can't wait to go back to those arguments with all my ketogenic friends. And I've got some more fire power coming in here from you guys,. Beyond that, I think you've really dispelled some myths and that's really what it's about. It's not about taking anybody else out. It's a vote optimizing our own health and making the right choices. So if you're out there and you're listening, and you're confused, and you got struggling or this opened up some doors in your mind, make sure you go to And the links are all in here. Check out the podcast, download the book. You know what? It's never enough to kind of get the nuances out. You need to immerse yourself in the information, reach out to these guys, check out their coaching program. Look, at the end of the day, left by their own devices chances are you're going to default back to the old program. Get some coaching in your life. Every professional athlete chooses coaches for a reason. They know that left to their own accord, they will not get the most out of their capabilities and their talents. Do the same. These guys know what they're talking about. Guys, thanks so much for joining us today on the Awesome Health podcast. Any final words that you want to share with our audience?

Cyrus Khambatta: Yeah. Carbohydrates are not your enemy. People have been told for the longest time that carbohydrates your enemy, fruit is your enemy, fruit equals sugar. Don't eat fruit, cause' it's gonna make you fat. Just please understand that there's a huge difference between refined carbohydrate and whole carbohydrate. And if you just simply make that distinction between the packaged refined carbohydrates and the whole carbohydrates, literally just that distinction right there can make a massive difference to your overall health. And so gravitate towards whole, put the refined carbohydrates in the trashcan and just watch as your whole life improves in front of you. No questions asked.

Robby Barbaro: Simple as that. I got nothing else to add. Go eat some fruit.

Wade Lightheart: Beautiful. Guys, thank you so much for joining us today. This has just been a phenomenal podcast. You guys are a wealth of information. I'm going to be downloading that and get grabbing a copy of that book. I'm looking forward to going in, cause' I know there's a lot of nuances inside of there that I want to grab and dive into for my own repertoire of information. Gentlemen, wish you the best of success. And next time you guys are in California, make sure you hit me up and we'll take you upstairs to the top of the gym here in Venice beach at the Bio home. I think you're going to really love it.

Cyrus Khambatta: You gotta deal Wade. Thanks so much for having us on the show and for, you know, really getting into the nitty gritty details here that tend to confuse a lot of people. We really appreciate it. And we'll be hanging out soon for sure.
Wade Lightheart: Well, there you have it folks. Mastering diabetes, carbohydrates are your friends, not your enemies. It's 

Wade T Lightheart from BiOptimizers, another episode of the Awesome Health podcasts. We'll see you again on the next episode. Until then, quote and have an orange. Take care.
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1 Comment

  1. Rose Nicholson on October 3, 2020 at 8:43 pm

    Great information–thanks!

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