Let’s be honest – leaning out and losing weight OR bulking up and gaining weight are real challenges…and often, the biggest hurdle is nutrition. This is why I wanted to bring on the man, the myth, the legend himself, Stan Efferding, so he can break down his vertical diet and share what it is, how it works, why he made it, and some of the common pitfalls. The two of us dive into the essentials for building a sufficient micronutrient base and what you may be sacrificing when you eliminate certain food groups.
We then unpack food allergies and tolerances and the importance in making recommendations based on the individual, not the population. The conversation is steered to the many challenges for getting in enough protein in your diet (eating out at restaurants being a huge factor) and ways to overcome these obstacles.
There are countless dangers behind dirty bulking and over-restricting diets, so listen in as Stan unpacks his simple, yet elegant, vertical diet that can be suitable for those wanting to lose weight, those wanting to gain weight, and everything in between.
What You’ll Learn in this Episode:
- [00:47] Intro to Stan Efferding
- [02:31] What kicked off Stan’s interest in this weight loss, muscle gain and cardio metabolic health world
- [05:04] The insanity behind dirty bulking and over-restricting diets
- [05:44] The simple and elegant plan behind the vertical diet
- [08:27] Essentials for building a sufficient micronutrient base
- [13:10] What you are sacrificing when you eliminate essential food groups
- [16:50] Stan’s biggest lessons learned utilizing the vertical diet
- [17:52] The recommended amount of protein you should be getting in your diet
- [21:16] Why it’s harder to build and retain muscle in a calorie deficit
- [21:48] An explanation for why the low-FODMAP diet is one of the most studied and prescribed diets
- [32:03] Why vegetable oils were introduced in diets
- [34:11] Making recommendations based on the individual and not across the population
- [36:53] Strategies for maintaining your blood sugar levels
- [43:25] The struggle with getting in enough protein, especially when eating out
- [50:45] Where to find Stan Efferding
James Cerbie: Alright, excellent. There we go. And we are live with the one and only great and powerful Stan Efferding. Stan, thank you so much for chucking out some time today to jump on a call with me.
Stan Efferding: Thanks for having me, brother. I just got back from the gym. I don’t smell, do I?
James Cerbie: No, it’s funny actually. I just wrapped up a lift down in the basement myself. I’m like over here shoveling down calories after my lift. I’m like, man, I got five minutes. I got to go. Like me, I know for the people listening that maybe don’t know who you are, right. You’re kind of a man in strength and conditioning, this entire fitness realm, really. He doesn’t need an introduction. But for people listening, they may have never heard you or don’t know you. Can you give them just a quick background on who you are, what you do just so we can kind of bring everybody up to speed before we dive into the real meat potatoes here in the episode? Sure.
Stan Efferding: Ifbb professional bodybuilder and multiple all time world record powerlifter have been competing for over 30 years. Exercise science, University of Oregon trained high school collegiate and professional athletes for 30 years, as well as thousands of dad, bods and soccer moms all over the world published a book. It was the number one new release on Amazon called The Vertical Diet. And I’ve just spent most of my life kind of helping others learn the lessons that I learned a lot by trial and error in order to reach their goals.
James Cerbie: Beautiful. I love it. I’ve got a few notes here. Pull up on the side just so we can. We’ll just name drop a few names for people here listening. Right. Like John Jones, Hathora Gordonson, who is the mountain for people who don’t know that Brian Shaw, Lane Johnson, Stone Cold, Steve Austin. Like, it’s just power hitter after power hitter after power hitter. And I would love to kind of maybe backtrack our way to start this conversation because I know you have a really big interest and you’re really excited about weight loss, muscle gain, cardio, metabolic health, kind of these really big three buckets. And I’m curious, when you really Dove into those three, was it a lot of your own training and trying to figure out outcomes and results air quote problems for yourself? Because I know that a lot of times in this realm we start solving problems because they come up for us first and then as we solve those problems, we’re able to go and help other people do that as well. So I’m curious if you think back what was really the kind of the kick off moment for you that really got you into this weight loss, muscle gain, cardio, metabolic health world?
What Kicked Off Stan’s Interest in this Weight Loss, Muscle Gain and Cardio Metabolic Health World
Stan Efferding: Yeah, you hit the nail on the head. I always say if I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have struggled so much. And so a lot of what I do is really help people avoid some of the pitfalls that I’ve personally experienced. And of course, I utilize my education at University of Oregon. I got into exercise science just so I could try and answer a lot of those questions for myself. I wanted to become a pro bodybuilder and I was a rather undersized College athlete as a College soccer player, 140 pounds. And I wanted to be a pro bodybuilder. I just loved lifting weights. And so I wanted to try and see how much muscle I could add, whether or not I could achieve that goal. And we didn’t have the Internet back then, of course. And so your best source of information was the guy behind the counter at Gold’s Gym, and that was rarely a good source. And so I started making lots of mistakes. And I think people should know that I probably spent, I’ve lost and gained well over 1000 throughout my career, albeit intentionally. I would bulk up to get as big and strong as I could to compete in powerlifting, and then I would die it down to three, four, whatever percent body fat to compete as an IFBB professional bodybuilder.
And I started that journey back in 1986. I was only 158 pound in my first bodybuilding show, and so I was doing everything wrong on both ends of the spectrum. That’s why when I work with athletes, both from any sport, but also big athletes, powerlifters, strong men bodybuilders, football players and the like, and even athletes who have to cut weight, whether it’s bikini, figure, physique, wellness, as well as wrestlers, dancers, gymnasts, I learned that there were certain things that you needed to do
The Insanity Behind Dirty Bulking and Over-Restricting Diets
on both ends of the spectrum to prevent yourself from having poor performance when gaining weight. A lot of those guys will get dirty, bulk and end up getting metabolic syndrome, fatty liver, high blood pressure, high blood sugars, high lipids, which obviously impairs health and performance. And on the flip side of that, people who are dieting, particularly women, would end up with the female triad. They’d have chronic calorie restriction, they’d get anemia, they’d have amenorrhea cessation of the menstrual period and get low calcium. And so I experienced a lot of that myself and with my clients. And so the vertical diet was really a departure from the poor advice that people had been giving and actually still give to this day, which is so unfortunate to individuals, athletes, normal folks on both ends of the spectrum, the larger athletes are still dirty, bulking, and the weight loss folks are still over restricting and getting insufficient micronutrients and suffering from all those disorders.
And so my goal and my voice has really been to tell people to stop the insanity and just to prevent them from going through all of that unnecessarily.
James Cerbie: Yeah. And I think that I don’t even remember the first time I stumbled into the vertical diet. It was years ago. And the thing that I think that I’ve really liked about the vertical diet from the get go is that it is a simple yet very elegant plan. And so let me expound upon that for people listening and why I think that’s so important. Simplicity means that it’s going to allow you to consistently execute this plan at a high level. Like, complex things don’t get executed well consistently. They tend to drop off, but it’s super elegant. And the elegance is what allows it to scale. Right. So a simple yet elegant plan is something that you can consistently execute that continues to bring you results over time. If it’s lacking that underlying elegance, you tend to get that law of diminishing returns affect relatively quickly, like, I’m making progress. But then I get on the flat part of the curve. And what I’ve loved about the vertical diet is that it has those two components to it. It’s simple, and we can really execute it at a high level, but it’s elegant and easily adaptable. And so it can really continue to provide outcomes and gains for you over time as you just execute the plan. And that’s personally, for me, one of the things I’ve always liked about it the most.
The Simple and Elegant Plan Behind the Vertical Diet
Stan Efferding: Yeah. And on the cover of the book, I put it simple, sensible, and sustainable. My quote has always been, compliance is science. And I don’t want to prescribe a nutrition or training program to somebody that they can’t stay with for a long time, long term, that can’t become a lifestyle because losing weight is rather simple. I didn’t say it was easy. It’s rather simple. Creating a calorie deficit and you will lose weight. Six out of seven people who go on a diet lose weight, but it’s not very sustainable. And the vast majority of the people that go on a diet regain it within a very short period of time. And so I tried to address that. I think the biggest thing about the vertical diet, which I think is actually the way normal people should eat and maybe have eaten until this whole fitness industry business started skyrocketing. It’s a departure from the over restrictive diets that have been prescribed to first competitors and now the general public. You go to a nutritionist or a guru or somebody that is kind of self-taught. Nutritionist, by the way, doesn’t mean anything. My co-author is a registered dietitian that has some value.
That’s an educational achievement, that’s six years of science and nutrition. Anybody can get a weekend certification and call themselves a nutritionist. So those folks have commonly historically what my experience was in the late 80s and early 90s, been prescribing that folks avoid red meat, they avoid dairy, they avoid fruit, they avoid salt. All of the things that I think are essential to build a sufficient micronutrient base for general health have been recommending that people keep those foods strategically in their diet so they can maintain their health and performance while pursuing their goals. And mind you, I understand the difference between health and fitness. I have a video on that. If you want to be healthy, don’t compete. I get it. I’ve been there. I would have and did make almost any sacrifice. As with most athletes who really want to succeed and become a professional, health is not their primary consideration. Fitness is the ability to perform a particular duty or task. The fitness level required to be a world’s strongest man is not healthy. The fitness level required to be a gymnast in the Olympics is not healthy. The fitness level required to be a ten year old badminton player in China is not healthy.
They blow out their lateral ligaments like clockwork with all the repetitive strain. So I’m just saying that I understand the drive, but there’s a smarter way to do it. And a lot of the recommendations that are made by the gurus actually put you at a higher risk of injury and a higher risk of those metabolic diseases that we spoke of earlier. And so my diet was intended to be a departure from that, to get people to help them maintain the foundation on both ends of the spectrum, not to get metabolic syndrome and not to get the female triad. So that’s why I make the recommendations I make. And it used to be isolated to that industry, bodybuilding figure, physique, bikini wellness, whatever kind of professional dieters. And so it wasn’t as prevalent. And then as that industry exploded over about the last seven years with the social media explosion and now everybody’s competing or they’re on social media trying to show their gains. Unfortunately, the soccer moms of the world have started to copy those same diets, and they’ve gotten even worse. Those over restrictive diets, the egg whites, the tilapia, the pounds of broccoli, they attempt to do that, and they suffer all the consequences that I mentioned previously and don’t have the benefit of a lot of the things that the competitors are doing.
And the competitors are using performance enhancing drugs to offset some of the downsides of those restricted diets. They’re using anavar to prevent muscle tissue loss. They’re using thyroid to compensate for hypothyroidism, which results from those restricted diets. Obviously, they’re probably going to be taking injections of vitamin D and B, twelve and iron, and using stimulants, clenbuterol, loads of caffeine, which is unsustainable to compensate for the metabolism, for the compensation from your metabolism slowing down from those restricted diets. And on the flip side, the big guys are, like I mentioned earlier, they’re still doing the GoMAD gallon of milk a day, really high fat, just a seafood diet. I call it eat every time you see food. And they’re suffering from all kinds of digestive distress and diarrhea and obviously the blood pressure issues and lipid problems and all of that. So like you said, I just came out with something that was a whole lot more sensible. You could get the same results or better, longer term, with much less of the health issues that are associated with those other diets for sure.
James Cerbie: And I think that if we want to use cutting as an example, I think what you’ve hit on here is really important. And we’ve had other people we’ve talked about this before. I can only take away so much. There’s only so much that I can realistically cut. And especially for the women, the females in the crowd listening to this. Your hormonal environment is a very different animal than a male hormonal environment. It’s far more complex. Your percent body fat, the food you need to be getting in the micronutrients, as you mentioned, these are things that you really need to keep an eye on. And so if you just blindly throw yourself on a bikini figure competitors diet that’s super restrictive, you’re potentially just going to train wreck yourself because you need to appreciate the entirety of the physiology and the organism with regards to what’s happening with the food I’m putting into my body, how am I fueling myself?
What You Are Sacrificing When You Eliminate Essential Food Groups
Stan Efferding: Hey, let’s be specific. Let me just walk down five or six things that are blatantly obvious that I see every day in this industry. Your guru coach will tell you to eliminate egg yolks and just eat the egg white. Well, the biotin is in the egg yolk, and that’s for skin, hair and nails. So now that starts drying out and getting brittle and the abandon and the egg white robs biotin from the body. So that’s a problem. Additionally, they’ll tell you not to eat red meat. Well, there goes your iron. Anemia is a huge problem with women in particular. And so the red meat is huge for that. Plus it’s six times higher in B, twelve and nine times higher in zinc. Those all contribute to hormonal function. Then they’ll tell you to eliminate fruit. Well, there goes your thyroid function because your carbohydrates are now below 50 grams a day and you get hypothyroidism and that brittle, dry hair starts falling out. That’s absolutely one of the most devastating things for women on these diets. When their hair starts falling out and they’re cold and their lipids are adversely affected by low thyroid, there’s so many things that are involved with that.
So obviously the low calcium by eliminating dairy, which is absolutely ridiculous. You have to understand the difference between a dairy allergy and a dairy tolerance issue. Allergies are not very common. If you are allergic, then you want to use an alternate source. But you need 1000 milligrams of calcium a day, especially women, because they kind of peak out at their calcium levels around late 20s, early 30s. And what storage they have left is all they have left for the rest of their lives. And so they need to consistently be fueling that with both calcium and protein, along with some other minerals, but also resistance training. This is for your general population to understand, of course, the lifters do that. So then you start Loading yourself full of broccoli to fill your stomach. And it’s really the only reason for that is to prevent hunger, which is important. Society is huge. So one of the biggest reasons people go off diets is because they get hungry. But the problem with that is it can interfere with iodine absorption, which we just talked about, the thyroid and having adequate iodine eliminating sodium. There go your workouts.
You’re tired all the time and dehydrated, and a lot of those cruciferous vegetables cause a ton of gas and bloating problems for people, especially those with IBS and those kinds of digestive distress issues. And you can pick a pallet of foods that are much healthier and have a great deal more micronutrients that will allow you to achieve the same result but make it sustainable with less of these deficiencies. So that’s just a short list of things right out of the gate that I think all women should be paying attention to before they go on these restrictive diets, which ultimately aren’t sustainable, which is the biggest problem. And then they lose an enormous amount of muscle mass, and then they gain the fat back very quickly and get water retention, massive amounts of edema. Of course, as I mentioned, you end up at the doctor’s office getting a whole host of injections for iron B, twelve and those kinds of things that would be unnecessary if they had a healthy diet.
James Cerbie: I would be curious to know. So you’re on the Vertical Diet 3.0 at this point, what are some of the biggest lessons you have learned, specifically with regards to the evolution of the vertical diet over time? If you think from 1.0 to 2.0 to 3.0, what are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned? Are there any big rocks that have really evolved and changed as the diet has grown over time and as you continue to learn more?
Stan’s Biggest Lessons Learned Utilizing the Vertical Diet
Stan Efferding: The big rocks have not changed the same thing I wrote about ten years ago in NPC News and for the magazines that I was writing for Mark Bell’s Power magazine and flex and muscular developments and those I had about the same macro percentages. I’ve always said that calories are King. If you want to lose weight, you’ve got to be in a deficit. But I understand that it’s an energy balance equation, and that includes total daily energy intake and total daily energy expenditure. And things like hormones are accounted for in that expenditure, whether or not you have a thyroid impact or a testosterone impact from the quality of your diet. It accounts for the thermic effect of food where protein Burns, it’s more satiating, and you net out fewer calories per gram of protein than you would for a gram of carbs or fats. And all that’s accounted for in the equation. I go over in great detail in the book my macros have been the same after calories being most important. And the most important macro is protein. And I’ve always recommended getting about 30% of your calories from protein. It’s about a gram of protein per pound of body weight.
Somebody who has a significant excess of weight may use a gram of protein per pound of lean weight or goal weight just to make the distinction. But that’s the most satiating. It has the highest thermic effect of food. You’re only going to net out about 70 calories for every 100 calories of protein you consume. So that’s the food you could eat the most of and gain the least weight on if I want to simplify it like that. It also helps with retention of lean mass, although I will say that in the absence of some sort of Loading, that protein in and of itself is not enough to maintain lean muscle mass. While dieting, you have to have some sort of stimulus from weight training. Now, probably the big thing is the carbs and fats, and the studies show us. Now the Diet Fits trial out of Stanford, which was a yearlong trial, and 900 participants, which was funded, by the way, by Gary TAB’s Nucy group. Gary Taobs is a keto advocate. It showed that where you put carbs and fats, once you control calories and protein, where you put carbs and fats does not matter for weight loss, for insulin control, et cetera, it’s really a matter of personal preference at that point.
Now, I recommended the fat stay at 30% or below, and the carbs account for 40% or the rest. Once you subtract your protein intake and your fat intake, the rest is carbs, mainly for performance. That was my biggest thing. I think there’s an athlete in all of us. I want everybody to lift weights. When you go to the gym and lift weights, carbohydrates improve your performance at that one. Bounce one more set, one more rep. You can cumulatively over time, that’s going to provide you a better long term return. But I don’t care. I have keto clients, I have intermittent fasting clients, I have vegan clients, and I just make sure that we account for calories and protein first, and then I get them sufficient micronutrients. That’s one of the big components of my diet, adequate potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, all the things we just discussed, and that’s in their foods. I’m not supplementing it and putting it in their food. I address the reason for that in the book as well. So all that has stayed the same. I’ve been very consistent with that. I’ve added it to the book. Even the original book came out with the other big rocks, which is sleep, which is a huge component, of course, the nutrition we just discussed and then training.
An Explanation for Why the Low-FODMAP Diet is One of the Most Studied and Prescribed Diets
I probably put more weight on the training component as it relates to weight loss previously, and I no longer do that. What we’ve seen now is more exercise does not equal more weight loss. Going to the gym and doing Metcons and swinging battle ropes and jumping up and down and sweating and the like is not a good way to lose weight. It’s not sustainable, it’s not terribly effective. Your body compensates for it by making you tired and hungry. So we use more caloric control and weight training to maintain lean muscle mass and then work on satiety. And one of the downsides of more training is that it impacts satiety. And so we’re cautious about that. We are very careful in a calorie deficit, plus, your return on that investment, if it’s intended to build or maintain lean muscle mass diminishes in a calorie deficit, it’s harder and harder to build muscle and even to retain muscle in a calorie deficit. So that’s probably a big one I’m trying to come across. Probably some of the nuances are that I originally rolled out a pretty strict FODMAP, low FODMAP diet, fermentable oligo diet, monosaccharides and polyols.
And that’s because a lot of my clients on both ends of the spectrum, chronic dieters and chronic Overeaters, had significant digestive distress, gas and bloating diarrhea constipation. And so the low FODMAP diet is the most studied, most accepted, most prescribed diet for IBS, with the highest rate of benefits. Somewhere between 60% to 70% of people who go on a low FODMAP diet have significant decreases in symptoms from IBS. And so I was pretty harsh, pretty consistent about kind of prescribing that right out of the gate. Now, I understand that not everybody is the same. They’re individualistic. Not everybody responds poorly to higher FODMAP things like garlic and onions and high cruciferous vegetables. Some people can handle those. Their stomachs are like garbage disposals and they can eat anything. And I don’t want to restrict people. That’s not my goal. I don’t think it does any benefit to restrict people. I want them to choose foods that give them the biggest return on investment, the ones that have the highest micronutrient value. Because if you’re on a fixed number of calories, if you’re a diet or on, say, 1700 calories, all of those calories have to be very carefully selected to make sure that once you’ve eaten 1700, you’ve gotten 4700 mg of potassium, you’ve gotten 1000 mg of calcium, and you’ve gotten 400 milligrams of magnesium.
All of those things are important. And if you’re doing kind of and it fits your macros diet and substituting Pop tarts for carbohydrates that are more micronutrient dense, then you’re losing an opportunity for good health. So that’s an important distinction. I understand that FODMAPs are, again, individualistic. They’re dose dependent on how much you consume matters. How you prepare them matters. And they can be cumulative in nature if you eat them throughout the day. It’s kind of like a bucket filling up eventually like sugar alcohols. You might be able to handle a serving of Halo top ice cream, but when you go to serve two or three, all of a sudden you’re running to the bathroom with diarrhea. The sugar alcohols are indigestible. And so I just ask people, when they asked me, was this allowed in the diet? I’m like, well, it kind of depends on how you respond to it and what is it replacing, what are we substituting that might have a greater value, higher in protein, higher in micronutrients, as mentioned. So I’m really cautious about the exchanges that I make. But I want people to have an opportunity to still include the foods that they enjoy.
But be cautious about the quantity. If weight loss is their goal, or even if weight gains their goal. If certain foods fill you up and so that you’re satiated longer, that might delay an opportunity for you to get an extra meal which will help you meet your calorie requirement for the day, which for those people can be a challenge. Lane Johnson for the Philadelphia Eagles. He needed to eat 7000 calories a day to maintain his weight. He’s one of those guys with a hard time holding onto his weight. He got a prescription from a registered dietician. And this is not an indictment on registered dieticians. My co author is a registered dietitian, but they gave him like six cups of quinoa and a whole bunch of chicken every day. And it’s obvious to me that an individual has never eaten that diet. One of the things that I like to pride myself in is that I make recommendations for things that I have experience doing. And I’ve tried to make sure it works for me and make sure it works for my clients. And I’ve interacted with, as you mentioned, since releasing Vertical one point, oh, I’ve had over 1000 DMs, and I respond to over 90% of them.
As you know, I saw you and I communicated originally. When you reached out to me, it was a DM. That to me is my clinical experience. I get questions from people, I respond to those questions, I get feedback from them. And that helps me expand and develop the Vertical Diet 1230 based on what my clients are asking me. What information is not in the diet? And so it just kept growing. I started adding chapters after chapters. That was the High Blood Pressure Quick Fix Kit, the High Blood Sugar Quick fix Kit, and Cholesterol reduction. So a lot of the stuff started to get more into, I don’t want to say medical, but clinical nutrition from my PhD, RDN, co-author, we started addressing things with more depth that were kind of medical. I hate to say medical conditions because a lot of them are lifestyle. A lot of these problems are caused by lifestyle changes that you can make. So I don’t know if I veered off of any of those topics, but that is kind of how the Vertical Diet expanded is really from feedback from my clients and just me adding in information that I thought that more people would want to know.
And it’s a living document. So anybody who bought version one got version two and three for free. And so I just keep expanding on it based on questions that I get. I added grocery shopping lists. I added a lot of menu plans from 250 calories up to 5000 calories. I added a checklist, a simple daily checklist of taking pictures of your meals and tracking your morning weight and your hours of sleep, et cetera, et cetera. So just little links to things that make my life easier makes me able to comply with the diet, places to find things that I recommend. So all of that, I started just kind of adding in there so that people could quickly even a quick start guide. So in five minutes, you could calculate your BMR, get a menu plan, get a grocery shopping list, and get started without having to read the whole book. Just things that made it easier on people. That’s how it developed. If I have to say I was wrong about something, I came out pretty hard about vegetable oils. But I was from day one. In my video where I talked about it, I said, they are a poison to me.
They caused me gastric distress. I was very detailed about sprinting to the bathroom after eating vegetable oils. But I made the inference or the statement that they were poisonous. And that’s another one of the things I’m really cautious about now is not to demonize foods in general, because other people may be able to tolerate them just fine. I just don’t see anywhere in my diet that you would replace any of the whole foods I recommend with an oil. A seed oil?
James Cerbie: Yeah.
Stan Efferding: Because the seed oil will be absent protein. It would be absent of any micronutrients whatsoever. What food in my diet would you pull out and replace with a seed oil? Plus, my fat recommendations in my diet is 30% of total calories. The lean sources of protein that are in my diet have only 30% saturated fat as a percentage of total fats in those foods. That includes steak, that includes salmon, that includes eggs. That includes not even any saturated fat in the yogurts, the fat free yogurts I recommend. So let’s do the math. If 30% of your total fats in the diet, or if your total calories are from fat and 30% of those fats are saturated at most, that’s 9%. That’s well within the recommendations of the American Heart Association’s 10% saturated fat number. And the research suggests that until you get north of 18% saturated fat, you don’t start to see an elevation in LDLs unless you have a familial hypercholesterolemia condition, in which case you may have to take extra precaution. But my recommendations have always been one third fat. One third of those fats are saturated because it’s lean sources. That gets you down to 9% so I don’t fear monger about saturated fats, but that’s because I don’t include massive amounts of butter or bacon or lard in my diet.
It’s not a fat bomb diet. One of my biggest precautions with people who do go keto is that it can’t be a bacon double cheeseburger diet with the buns off, because you will end up at 30 40% saturated fat, which can be mitigated, as we saw in the Greenland Eskimo research, which is kind of where Omega three originally came from. They were eating north of 80% saturated fat in their diet from whale blubber, but they also had 6% Omega three s from salmon intake from fatty fish, and that mitigated their heart disease risk. I make those recommendations along with blood testing, which I’ve expanded on substantially over the vertical diet. One, two, three. I go into great detail on which tests to get what they mean, all of those things, but that’s a lot. And I could probably sit here and start going through it’s grown to well over 225 pages, with now 500 references to peer reviewed published research, as well as links to other experts in the industry, their videos and articles. To me, it was really an opportunity to provide education to my clients as well. I don’t just want to tell them what to do.
I want to make sure that they believe in it, they buy into it, they understand it, the science behind it. Because some of it’s just getting someone’s compliance has a lot to do with how committed and how much they believe in the process.
James Cerbie: Yeah, I love that. I think that there’s just so much there to potentially, potentially unpack. No, that’s great. I love people. Sometimes when we do the podcast, I feel like I talked a lot. I was like, yeah, that’s fantastic. It means I have to ask those questions. It’s great.
Stan Efferding: Just a diet. It’s not just a diet. There’s so many things in there, from digestion to nutrition to hydration to blood testing to all of those things that are in there. Sleep. Yeah.
James Cerbie: I mean, it’s a phenomenal resource, and I think of just a few things that come top of mind here. From what you were talking about there, I wouldn’t have to agree with the vegetable oils. I just don’t see where vegetable oils fit. Why would I choose to use vegetable oil when I could use something else? It’s like, what does the vegetable oil bring to the table for me to research?
Why Vegetable Oils Were Introduced in Diets
Stan Efferding: I’ll tell you why it was introduced. It was introduced because if you replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats, it helps lower LDL. But now you’re talking about things like using vegetable oil instead of butter. But in the research, they’re actually using palm oil. Nobody uses palm oil in significant amounts. And the research was also over feeding studies where they feed people 700 calories extra calories from palm oil and compare that to 700 extra calories from vegetable oil. And we do see that people who use the vegetable oil in the excess as compared to the palm oil in excess, the vegetable oil people do not have as significant of an LDL elevation. That’s really it. But none of this is done on a healthy diet. It’s all done on the standard American diet, replacing very high saturated foods which test rated fat foods, which I don’t include in my diet. So there’s nothing you could replace with vegetable oil. And I just also have found that, as mentioned, it’s a poison to me. It causes me gastric distress. And I’ve come across many clients who I caution. I don’t say good food, bad food. I say caution.
Stan Efferding: Here are some food items you might consider because they could cause these problems. Even some of the best researchers out there names are escaping me right now, but have written that anything in excess, even fiber, even Dr. Gabrielle Sundaro, who is, as you know, a PhD who has a book on the microbiome, even she and her post will acknowledge that you can get too much fiber and that’s on a continuum depending on the individual and the current state of their digestive health. Would you want to eventually introduce more and more high fiber foods over time? Sure, as they can tolerate, but there’s a limit to that. So I’m cautious to make recommendations that are based on the individual, not across the population.
Making Recommendations Based on the Individual and Not Across the Population
James Cerbie: That point right there is the one that I think is really important that I was going to highlight, which is that in this realm in particular, the research can be really hard to parse apart because of what we’re comparing back to and just because of how the research is going to be structured. And it makes so much sense because it’s so easy to end one yourself with this and just to pay attention to how you as an individual are responding to the things you’re putting in your body, because that’s going to be the most useful data to you. Right. We can use the research, we can use the population data to get us a starting point. But then let’s just pay attention to how you’re responding to the food you’re putting in your mouth.
Stan Efferding: Right.
James Cerbie: Because you’re going to be very different from, say, the 100 people that went into this study, like the 100 people in the study, who knows what the circumstances are? Maybe they’re eating McDonald’s every day and they’re having giant, like Frappuccino, frappiato things with tons of sugar and all this other stuff. And then it’s like, well, we went from McDonald’s to eating cereal, which was a major improvement. And it’s like those things to be hard to parse apart. So use the research and data. I think what you’ve done a good job of is to get us to a really solid baseline. And then as you use the plan, adapt it to what you’re noticing to how you’re feeling? How are your energy levels, how’s your digestion a tool that’s finally becoming available now. And this is something that really annoyed me for a long time. It’s becoming easier and easier to actually see what your blood sugar is doing over the course of a day or a week when you’re consuming food and training. And for the longest time, like if we had clients, it’s like, hey, ask your doctor if they’ll give you a CGM. It’d be great if we can just see, like what is your blood sugar doing when you consume different types of food, right?
We can start to parse apart this idea of how well do you tolerate carbohydrates versus how well do you tolerate fats? But most doctors like, well, you’re not diabetic, so we’re not going to do that. Why do you need to look at your blood sugar? Fortunately, now there are enough private companies coming out with CGM and things of that sort. It’s making it more of a reasonable option for people. So I think the point you just made is hugely important to pay attention to yourself as an individual.
Strategies for Maintaining Your Blood Sugar Levels
Stan Efferding: It’s interesting that you brought up blood sugars because you’re right, that’s very individualistic as well. Using the glycemic index is not a very good reference because the glycemic index was created with sugars in isolation and when you eat them with proteins and fats, it dramatically changes the rate of absorption. Also, different people will metabolize different fruits or carbohydrates or sugars differently. The CGM is the only way to really determine how you metabolize those and whether or not you have an unhealthy spike or duration of elevation of blood sugars. Because no matter what you eat, even fats is going to cause insulin to be released and to elevate your blood sugars. So you have to determine whether or not usually you don’t want to get over about 140 and be kind of a healthy individual and how they metabolize carbohydrates, but you will have some elevation. There are some strategies that we use that’s in the book to talk about blood sugars, one of which obviously is losing weight. That’s the major one. The carbohydrate insulin obesity model has been disproven. Gary Tower’s work has been picked through and studied at length. I just mentioned the diet fits trial when you’re in a calorie deficit where you put carbs and fats don’t matter as long as you get sufficient protein.
And getting sufficient protein is the second thing. After losing weight, getting 30% protein in your diet or having sufficient protein in each meal blunts the post glycemic response so your blood sugars don’t elevate as high or for as long when you get sufficient protein. And there seems to be some Chrono nutrition benefits to eating a larger high protein breakfast. I know a lot of people consider intermittent fasting to be skipping breakfast, but if you’re going to do intermittent fasting, you’re better off skipping dinner. It’s better for your sleep cycle. It’s better for your glucose metabolism to eat that protein earlier in the day. That doesn’t mean you have to wake up and jam down a meal. It’s just you can get up and start your day, but within a couple of hours you should probably preferentially tilt. If your windows are 16, eight, make that 8 hours. Start somewhere around ten in the morning, as opposed to two in the afternoon, because each subsequent meal after a hearty breakfast high in protein also has less of a postprandial glycemia blood sugar response. So that’s another big one. And eating protein first in the meal.
So not only higher protein, but eating it first in the meal and eating it earlier in the day, along with weight loss and sufficient sleep, has an enormous impact on blood sugar sensitivity and affects your IGF one almost within the first night. So there are plenty of tips and tricks that you can use. And another huge one is the ten minute walk after meals. Don’t sit, get up and take a nice brisk walk. It could be ten, it could be 15, I don’t care. It could be a recumbent bike, it could be a StairMaster. I don’t care. It could be something you put in your living room, in your garage. You have to go to the gym. And if the weather doesn’t permit and you can’t go outside, then it’d be nice to have a little apparatus that you could use post meal. It’s twice as effective as metformin for reversing and preventing type two diabetes. Just taking a brisk walk or moving, I don’t care if it’s 100 air, squats. It doesn’t matter. As long as you’re moving your muscles, your muscles will uptake glucose from the bloodstream without the need of insulin.
And so not only will your blood sugar not spike as high, but it won’t stay elevated as long. And what we call the area under the curve for your insulin elevation will be lower. And that is ultimately kind of the driver of metabolic syndrome is blood sugars. And high insulin for blood pressure, for fatty liver, for lipids triglycerides in particular, will be elevated from high blood sugars for too long. So all of those things endothelial function in terms of damage that might cause atherosclerosis or create the need for the cholesterol to go in there and repair the damage. There has to be some sort of endothelial damage in order for the cholesterol to start to build up there. So all of those things can be very helpful for blood sugars in particular. The reason I spent so much time on it is because if you want to look at hazard ratios, if you want to look at the reason, the highest risk for things like heart disease and all cause mortality. Type two diabetes is it. Type two diabetes is number one after things like smoking and alcoholism, type two diabetes is much more dangerous than elevated LDLs.
We talked about saturated fats earlier, and it’s not something to ignore. It’s not unimportant, but it’s not anywhere near. It’s ten times more dangerous to have high blood sugars for extended periods of time. And it’s important to understand that when you’re going to get a blood test at the doctor’s office and he tested your fasted glucose and your Ha one C. Those are lagging indicators. Those can stay in a normal range for a decade or two while you have hyperinsulinemia. That’s causing you health problems. That’s undetected because you haven’t looked sufficiently at your triglycerides and your fasted Insulin. Those are leading indicators. Those are the two blood tests that you should spend most of your time focusing on. Don’t say, oh, MYC is fine, but your triglycerides are over 150 and your fasted insulin is like 16 should be under six. Your fasted insulin. If you want to look at something as a healthy marker, that would be one way to do it.
James Cerbie: Yeah. In the blood sugar realm, just as a quick example of people listening to you, you can see pretty big inter individual differences with this.
Stan Efferding: Yeah.
James Cerbie: I’ll just use me as an example. I’m a pretty high carb tolerator. I’ve worn CGM for over a week with other friends and buddies. And we trained, we lifted, we ate, and we wanted to see how everyone responded to different intakes and different levels of carbs. I can Slam 500 plus grams of carbs a day, and my blood sugar never goes over about 105. My buddy Dan eats like a rice cake or two, and he’s at like a buck. And he’s like a buck 80. It’s just like you look at the CGM data, it’s just like through the roof. And it’s like, all right, Dan, maybe this is a poor option for you.
Stan Efferding: Dan. I’d like Dan to eat his protein first. Eat more protein, eat a fibrous carb like a fruit, eat oranges, and then take a ten minute walk after. And let’s see what his numbers are. Same quantity of carbohydrates that stays consistent. And let’s take a look at his numbers. I’d love to hear that feedback.
The Struggle Getting In Enough Protein
James Cerbie: Yeah, absolutely. I’ll get in touch with him. I’m sure he’ll love to run that. We’re about 45 minutes here. So I want to start wrapping this thing up soon. And I think where I would like to transition to here, because the point that you made is really important regarding protein. And I think that protein is one for people that is often the hardest for them to get in. And I think that it is the hardest for them to get in because they spend a lot of time eating out. And whenever you eat out and my wife makes fun of me for this all the time because whenever I come home from eating out, I got to eat more food because it’s very like everywhere you go to eat out is going to drastically underserved you on protein they’re going to drastically over serve you probably on fat and maybe carb via something that’s really sugary, right?
Stan Efferding: Yes.
James Cerbie: And so I think that distinction is really important for people to keep in mind. You either need to Cook your own food or you need to find a meal prep service that will actually deliver you enough protein in a meal. That’s a big one. I think people just aren’t aware of it. Like they’ll go out and they’ll eat food and they eat out all the time. And yeah, but your protein is just so low because these restaurants aren’t really serving you much protein because they don’t have great margins there. And it’s expensive.
Stan Efferding: No, you hit the nail on the head. That’s absolutely right. Protein is expensive, and that’s why they try and serve as little of it as possible. Or you might get some protein out of the beans on the plate or the potato on the plate, as opposed to actual animal protein, which has the necessary leucine to trigger muscle protein synthesis. So I focus on animal proteins first for that reason. And it’s also, like you said, it’s high in fat. Usually it’s the proteins that are higher in fat because those are the cheaper proteins to get. So it’s harder to get a sufficient amount of proteins without going over on calories or fats because you’re not getting lean proteins. That’s another reason why I don’t like snacking throughout the day, because you need a minimum of about 20 grams of animal protein to have sufficient leucine to trigger muscle protein synthesis. And so somebody tells me they’re going to have a protein bar. I’m not a fan. Plus a lot of the protein bars, if they’re nut protein, don’t have adequate leucine the way bars could be fine. But are you going to get a weight bar that’s big enough to supply you at least 20 grams of protein?
And then where are the micronutrients? Where’s your iron B, twelve and zinc and those kinds of things? You hit on something. You talk this second time we talked a little bit about fast food or restaurants. You mentioned McDonald’s earlier. Back to the seed oil conversation. Reheated oils do cause inflammation and elevated blood pressure. There’s plenty of research on that PubMed I was just sending off to a friend yesterday. I don’t know how often which restaurants and for how many times they’ll reheat the oils before disposing of them and using a new oil batch. But that’s kind of why I like to avoid the French fries and the chicken Nuggets and things, anything that’s deep fried, because I don’t know how long that oil has been in there and how many times it’s been reheated and at what temperature and then how much oxidation has happened as a result. And the proteins that most like McDonald’s, are usually 75-25% beef, which is about 80% fat or 70 plus percent fat, which is damn near that of a hot dog, to be honest. And so it’s hard to get sufficient protein without shooting your calories through the roof.
And this is kind of a little inside story on my good friend John Jones, who I’ve been training, the UFC light heavyweight champion, who’s training for the heavyweight Championship.
James Cerbie: Yeah. Tell him I’m really wanting to see that Francis and Ghana fight. So hopefully that happens. Did Francis look good in his last fight?
Stan Efferding: He did. It might be Francis’ problems with his contract negotiation this time, not John.
James Cerbie: Yeah.
Stan Efferding: But this is a neat story about John, but it’s typical of how parents have to deal with kids as well. And the recommendations I make because don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. You can make recommendations all you want, but if your client isn’t going to comply with them, or if you’re not going to comply with them, it’s a bad recommendation. It has to be something sensible and sustainable. So here’s my point. I gave John a diet plan. It was pretty strict, obviously, for an athlete. John is kind of on the go. He’s busy all the time, and so he stops by fast food places relatively often, and he prefers the taste of some of those foods. So I had to go in and pull the menus from all the fast food places that he would typically frequent and find everything that was a higher protein, lower fat. I look for a two to one protein to fat ratio. In terms of grams, they’re usually equivalent in terms of total calories. But in terms of grams, I like to get 20 grams of protein to 10 grams of fat, for example. And so I would go in and look at Subway.
If you get the meatball sandwich, you’re going to get a one to one because the meatballs are really high in fat and they’re bread and there’s not a lot of protein in those. But if you get the steak sandwich and get extra steak now, you can get your protein up and then kind of watch that. You don’t put things like mayonnaise and stuff on there to jump your fats too high. So I had to go into each of the restaurants and find menu items and screenshot them and send them to him and said, okay, here’s the ideal menu item to order at those restaurants. I have been through this many years ago with my business partner. He’s up in Seattle. He travels all the time. He’s on an airplane 20 days a month. And so he’s always staying in hotels or eating at restaurants or at airports or room service. So he came down here and he stayed with me for three weeks at an Airbnb here in town. And we ate out at restaurants every single day. We went to the airport, and we ordered food from there. We ordered room service to the house, and he lost 20 pounds in three weeks just because I taught him which menu items to choose and showed him where the pitfalls were, what items were calorie bombs and fat bombs and carbohydrate bombs and just generally highly palatable, ultra-processed, easy to over consume foods and tried to get him focused mainly on protein, mainly in proteins and showing which menu items afforded in that.
And he was able to lose weight eating out. We didn’t Cook one meal at home during those three weeks and so that’s a good strategy. Kids too, are at school or high school and in sports and they go to the fast food place. Maybe if they’re traveling for the weekend playing sports somewhere, you’ve given these options and they’re just better able to navigate with good choices.
James Cerbie: Absolutely. Stan, this has been fantastic. I love this conversation. I feel like we can keep going for hours on this one, but we are at 50 minutes so I would love to start to wrap this one up and let’s do this. We’ll keep this really simple for people listening to it that are really enjoying this conversation. Like, man, I really would like to know where I can go to find out more about what you’re doing to find out more about the vertical diet. Where’s the best place for them to go? Look, we’ll obviously throw that in the show notes for everybody as well.
Where to Find Stan Efferding
Stan Efferding: Yeah. Everything’s at Stan Efferding, my website, stanefferding.com. My Instagram is @Stanford and my YouTube Stan Efferding. I have a bunch of rants on there which are kind of fun. People really love them. I spent a lot of time and energy on them. I talked through a lot of the things that we talked about today and that can be found there. And then I have a nationwide meal prep company, the vertical diet, which is high in protein, lower in fat, low FODMAP menu. We make a lot of our food with bone broth so it’s really delicious. And that’s a nationwide you get that? You get the link at Stan Efferding as well. And my book, my vertical diet 3.0 ebook is at Stan Efferding or on my stanefferding.com website.
James Cerbie: Excellent. Well saying thank you again, man, I really enjoyed this. Everybody listening, do me a favor, go check out everything Stan’s has going on. Look at Instagram, look at the website, check out YouTube. Definitely pick up the book. I think it’s 100% worth it. Yeah, that’s all I got for you guys. Have a fantastic rest of your week. Thank you, as always for tuning in and staying. Thank you again.
Stan Efferding: Thanks for having me, brother. Appreciate it.
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