Abel James and the Fat Burning Man Show

I’ve recorded a podcast with Abel James, the Fat Burning Man, which is now available: Paul Jaminet: The Perfect Health Diet, Safe Starches, and Intermittent Fasting.

Abel read the new Scribner manuscript before the interview, and we talked a lot about the new material. The interview can almost serve as a preview. It was a fun interview and I highly recommend listening!

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  1. Great interview as always,

    1)So whats the difference if the wheat (pasta) is cooked, vs.white rice cooked?

    2)After a 16 hr. fast, and you start eating doesn’t autophagy also stop?

    • Hi Herb,

      Wheat still has toxins after cooking, white rice doesn’t. Wet cooking for 30 minutes of wheat reduces toxin levels, dry cooking does not.

      Autophagy may be slightly diminished but it doesn’t stop. Overall, you have highest levels of autophagy, averaged over 24 hours, with a 16 hour fast.

  2. Excellent interview. I thoroughly enjoyed it and can’t wait till the new book comes out.

    Could you explain the benefits of exercising towards the end of your fast? I find it difficult to do that and usually don’t get to it till later on in the day. Sometimes not till after dinner. Perhaps if I had a really good reason to do it befor breakfast I might just do it. For example, would it help me lose weight?

    • Hi Ellen,


      There are a few reasons why it can be helpful to exercise toward the end of a fast. A full stomach will interfere with exercise, and training during a fast will promote adaptations to fat metabolism and aerobic exercise. It’s good to eat a lot after exercise, to promote muscle reconstruction/growth, and fasting before exercise makes it easier to eat afterward.

      The other factor affecting this is circadian rhythms. I think it’s best to exercise outdoors in the sun twice a day, once in the early morning and once in the afternoon or evening, for optimal entrainment of circadian rhythms.

      I do think that because of this circadian rhythm effect, 10 minutes of light outdoor activity before breakfast will promote weight loss.

      • Hi Paul,

        Great interview, as always. I’m starting a new exercise routine to consist mainly of heart-rate monitored erg rowing in the aerobic zone. (I suffer from chronic groin pain/strains following sports injuries and botched inguinal hernia surgeries. To my surprise, erging doesn’t cause flare-ups.) Seems like fasted morning rows make the most sense (recent research shows rowing to be about 85% aerobic/15% anaerobic; speed improvements since the 80s appear to be largely due to commensurate shifts in training towards aerobics). But is 10 minutes of outdoor exercise also enough in the evenings? I’m thinking joint mobility, maybe some suspension training for the core.

        • Hi Shawn,

          More time outdoors is better, due to the benefits of light and sun exposure, as long as it’s not too strenuous. Probably 40 minutes outdoors is desirable. But much of it can be simple walking, or meditative practices like yoga, qigong, or tai chi.

          For exercise, I think a minimum of 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the afternoon or evening of running-level intensity is adequate to get the health benefits of exercise, which come from circadian rhythm entrainment.

          • Okay thanks Paul. If I can get health issues resolved and put some injury-free training together, I’ll join the local club and row at crack of dawn.

  3. Hello Paul — Really great interview; it’s so nice to have you back in action.

    I was very intrigued by your statement that cycling calories (overfeeding on training days, underfeeding on rest days) was really helpful for fitness, and that cycling macronutrients only provided a slight advantage on top of that.

    Per the Leangains protocol (which you spoke approvingly of during the interview), I’ve been doing both… overfeeding on training days, and also trying to keep training days higher carb/lower fat. After being on the “normal” PHD for a couple years, trying to eat low fat is really lame and unsatisfying… I’d much rather just cycle the calories, and keep the macronutrients close to their usual proportion. But the Leangains adherents make a big deal about the macronutrient cycling.

    So I was very interested in your statement that most of the benefit comes from the cycling of calories. Any chance you could expound on that idea a bit, or point me to further reading on the topic?

    Thank you very much!

    • Hi rich,

      Yes, calories matter a lot, carbs are less important.

      If you do low-carb normally, then it may be important to eat extra carbs after workouts to replenish glycogen. But if you eat PHD style carbs, then you really don’t need to add much in the way of carb or protein, as long as you increase calories 20-25% after exercise.

  4. Thanks Paul. That’s very interesting. The Leangainers maintain that any dietary fat eaten on a day when you have a caloric surplus will be stored as body fat — thus, the overfeeding on training days is supposed to consist mostly of carbs and protein (which will be used to build muscle) and to keep fat to a bare minimum.

    This explanation always seemed a bit strange to me… do you think there is anything to it, or is it a bit of “bro-science?” 😉

    • It’s mainly broscience. Yes, fat will be stored as body fat, but that’s OK, it is promoting muscle growth at the same time. On calorie-restricted rest days the fat will come out of storage. The best thing for muscle growth is to provide a balanced mix of macronutrients.

  5. By the way, Paul — a friend of mine just posted this to Google Plus… I thought you’d enjoy it!

    Last year around the Holidays I was tired of eating too much, of always worrying about my weight, and of pretty much feeling like crap all the time. I had the good fortune to have a friend, Rich, who had done some research on many different diets. He choose one, and I watched as he lost weight and described how he generally felt better.

    He let me borrow the book of the diet he choose, called the Perfect Health Diet. As I read this book, I realized what it was saying was about the exact opposite from what we have been told about how to eat for the last 50 years. But something about it seemed right to me. In my core it made a lot of sense.

    The book described how good saturated fats are in fact good for you. And how the American diet of low fat and high carb was creating a health epidemic of overweight and diabetic Americans.

    I decided to give the diet a try. On January 2nd, I gave up wheat and grains, sugar, and anything with Vegetable Oils in it. I lost 20 pounds the first month. Over the last 7 months I have lost another 15 pounds. But more importantly I feel fantastic. Food no longer has a hold of me. (BTW, I still drink coffee, iced tea, red wine, and beer)

    Being very excited about my progress, I would tell friends about the diet. I received all sorts of reactions. Everything from a quizzical look to some actually yelling at me, insisting that I was killing myself. But for some reason I stayed the course, because it still made sense to me.

    I held off on being a vocal advocate of this diet for a bit. I wanted to get a physical to get a baseline and see what was really going on. Was I really killing myself? Was eating all of this saturated fat causing my cholesterol to go through the roof? I couldn’t in good conscience recommend this new way of choosing food if I was actually killing myself. So I finally had a physical and had my blood work done.

    After 7 months of being the Perfect Health Diet, my blood pressure was good. (I have always been borderline high). My bad cholesterol was good and my good cholesterol was outstanding. My triglycerides were ridiculously low, probably because I wasn’t eating sugar. So the proof, from a medical perspective, was that I wasn’t killing myself, but rather I was pretty darn healthy. But more importantly I felt healthy. And food no longer ruled my life. I eat pretty much what I want, as much as I want, when I want.

    I am now a huge advocate for this way of eating. It has changed my life, and I am excited about it. I will use this area to post occasionally about the shift from the medical establishment that is happening before our eyes; that we have been told exactly the wrong way to eat for the last 50 years. And some of the brave doctors are now coming out and admitting that that they have been wrong.

    We have a ways to go, but the shift is happening. For more information see http://perfecthealthdiet.com/.

  6. 30% carbs? Didn’t it used to be 20%? Are you now eating 150g of carbs a day instead of 100g to slightly undercut your need?

    How does one get this early draft of the book? 🙂

    • Invite me on a popular podcast!

      We always considered a “neutral” diet to be around 30% carb, but advised eating a bit low-carb so 20%-30% carb = 400-600 calories on a 2000 calorie diet.

      Now we just advise eating close to “neutral.” We still have the passage explaining why it might be good to eat a bit low-carb, but don’t emphasize it as much.

      • Hi Paul,

        Quick question. As one’s calorie intake becomes highly does the carb intake stay the same (30%).

        For example, if one is taking in a 4000 calorie diet for training reasons, is the high number of 800-1200 carb calories (30%) healthy in this instance?

        Thanks for the great podcast! Can’t wait for the new book.


        • Hi Kris,

          It depends on the type of training you are doing. Slow hiking will use more fat, sprinting type exercise will use more glucose. But 30% is a good number for a typical mix of activity.

  7. Hi Paul,

    Awesome podcast! Can’t wait for the book to come out. I’m very interested in the discussion about things we can do to aid circadian rhythm. Will that topic be discussed in the new book?

    Also, in PHD (p. 99), and in certain blog posts, you are pro whey, as a good source of extra protein because it is “rich in ketogenic and branch-chain amino acids.” Do you still stand by whey, or have you changed on that?


  8. Hi Paul,

    Thought you’d be interested in this if you haven’t seen it already:


  9. Hi Paul,

    Interesting info on potato handling.

    An Asian market recommended I steam Okinawan sweet potatoes (purple flesh) for the best flavor and that boiling them will remove flavor. Is steam cooking as good as boiling to remove toxins?

    I’ve also found some Asian markets will “refrigerate” Okinawan sweet potatoes and taro along with other foods. While it’s good to keep potatoes cool, it seems it’s not good to store uncooked in mid-30F temps typical of household refrigerators. It makes me curious how cool the storage is in the Asian market.


    The ideal way to store potatoes is in a dark, dry place between 45F to 50F …
    Potatoes should not be stored in the refrigerator, as their starch content will turn to sugar giving them an undesirable taste.


    • Hi Mark,

      Steam cooking is generally healthy as the steam temperature doesn’t normally get much above boiling.

      I haven’t heard about differences in steam and boiling water in degrading sweet potato toxins. Good question.

      Some people like the sweeter taste from refrigerated potatoes, but I would agree that 45 to 50 F is best.

  10. Hi Paul,

    Enjoyed the interview so much, I listened to it twice! Lots of great info.

    The bit that I found most intriguing was that if you only eat muscle meats then you are only providing the nourishment that muscles need, and for that reason we need bone and joint broth for our bones and joints. Can I extrapolate from that, to say that we would then need liver for the nourishment of our liver, heart for our heart, brain for our brain, eyes for our eyes, etc?


    • Yes, to some degree. Some tissues don’t turnover often so the amount you need to eat doesn’t correspond to mass in the body. But liver and organ meats are great to eat.

      Chinese medicine has a rule: Eat the body part that is ailing. So with kidney problems eat kidney, liver disease eat liver, stomach problems eat stomach, etc. It’s good advice.

  11. Hi Paul,

    Enjoyed the podcast and a few questions popped in my mind.

    1. In PHD there is a lot of talk about how the natural plant toxins are the majority toxins in our food. Does that mean that there is not a huge health difference in organic produce and conventionally grown produce?

    2. You touched on the subject in the interview, but I want to change my dog’s diet on a budget. Trying to get it closer to the carnivore ratio compared to the 50%carb currently in the dog food. Would it be wise to supplement salmon/eggs/chicken hearts to make it more protein and fat dense?

    3. I make sweet potatoes in the microwave, is that an effective method to kill the natural food toxins?

    Thank you for the great diet. I have been on it for the past year and at 24, I reap the benefits of eating once a day, hunger normalization, and clear skin. I know those can be attributed to PHD because when I eat donuts/pizza, my skin breaks out the next day and I crave those foods for a week.

    • Hi Ryan,

      There shouldn’t be a huge health difference between organic and conventional plant foods, but many organic farmers seem to put more loving care into their produce, and our experience is that organic vegetables generally taste better and are fresher / last longer, so I think they are quicker to market and spend less time in boxes or storage equipment.

      2. Yes. Give him a similar mix of meats to PHD, include organ meats, fish, bones with joint material to gnaw on, and a bit of fruit or vegetables, maybe some soup, but definitely a low-carb diet.

      3. Microwave cooking is excellent.

      Glad to hear you’re doing well!

  12. Just to say, this podcast presentation of yours is excellent. I’ve learned stuff I didn’t know, and I’ve also learned how well you know your stuff.
    Interesting that you reference original pacific diets; these are mostly safe starch and SFA, no grains or legumes, few or no sweet fruits (breadfruit is mostly starch), animal protein from fish and game.
    Very low in omega-6 PUFA and fructose.

    • Thanks, George. Yes, Pacific islander diets were less than 2% omega-6, high in safe starches and healthy fats, and almost toxin free. And they were very healthy.

      • I found the Pacific diet analogy very useful last week when talking to my nutrition group (alcohol and other drug detox clients). Instead of having to convince them that I know what the cavemen ate, I can just use these diets they already know about as a model. It makes delivering the whole evolutionary argument much simpler and more credible.
        Great idea.

        • I think I remember from Oliver Sacks that there are some very specific food toxins that cause disease in some Pacific islands, and I also know that the Maori had a high rate of liver diseases from consuming bracken root.
          But in terms of food toxins pervasive in the food chain as we know them today, only oxolate from taro greens, which is easily cooked out.

  13. And inversely, with seed oils, grains, and sugars now added to their diet, these populations have some of the world’s worst rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and gout.

  14. Yes, my kids grew up in Hawaii and when my son had to play ball against the Samoans he teared up and asked “are they children???!!” 😯

  15. Paul, I have the first book, and I’ve pre-ordered the next which I understand contains some revised recommendations on supplements.

    Do you mind sharing with us a few highlights of what changes you’ve made in that area? I’m interested in everything, but maybe especially regarding thyroid function.

  16. Just wanted to tell you that I loved the podcast! You were great. I’ll definitely pick up the Scribner version of your book (the podcast was a good preview)

  17. I enjoyed the podcast too, have sent to my work colleagues and will listen again myself. I’ve been on PHD for just one week now and coming from Atkins then a LC Paleo I’m finding it quite weird throwing back in carbs again. My weight has actually gone up from 87 to 88.5kgs – is that a result of these carbs or are there other factors at play? I suspect I’ve added these carbs and the coconut oil on top of what I was eating on Paleo, so maybe I’m just eating too much.

    I also was taking psyllium regularly to keep my bowels moving, but I stopped that 10 days ago because I read it was actually not very good for you.

    And finally, this week I was mortified to get an attack of gout, but when I read up all the potential reasons I’m not suprised: I have a high uric acid (9.6), 10kgs weigh loss in the last 8 months, I’ve been fasting, I think I’m vitamin D deficient, and then, perhaps the final nail in the coffin, I ate sweet potatoes at the weekend, which I heard on this podcast are high in oxilates – also pushing the uric acid.

    So actually a bit of a disaster for me on PHD, but I’m convinced it’s a good path and I just need to tweak things a bit – starting with a macronutrient analysis of what I’ve been eating.

  18. Hi Dave,

    Weight gain when first starting can have several causes. One is gain of glycogen + glycosylated proteins (eg glycocalyx, matrix, hyaluron) when carbs are restored to the diet, plus the water that associates with them. You can easily add 500 g sugars + 1 kg water in a few days.

    More generally, there may be initial weight gain as any nutrient deficiency is relieved. If your previous diet was malnourishing, then the nutrient deficiency will upregulate appetite until the deficiency is eliminated. This can lead to weight gain at first. Once the deficiency is gone, appetite goes down and the weight starts dropping.

    The best fiber is resistant starch (eg potatoes) and pectin / water soluble fiber (eg berries).

    There are a variety of things that can be done to reduce uric acid and avert gout. I should do a blog post on it, but I believe Julianne Taylor has already done one. One thing you should do is eat more coconut milk (or oil), this will prevent breakdown of adenosine to uric acid in the liver.

    Best, Paul

  19. Around the Web: Back to School Edition | Perfect Health Diet - pingback on September 8, 2012 at 5:07 pm
  20. Hi Paul,

    Big fan! And a quick question: do you think that someone who has a history of adrenal fatigue can still fast for 16 hours without having any relapse? Or, specifically, “skipping” breakfast (i.e. morning feeding), even though that seems to be one of the big recommendations for an adrenal healing diet…that is, to eat a good breakfast after waking.

    • Hi Martin,

      I think you should go by how you feel. If you don’t feel well or have low back pain, I would eat. But if it feels good to fast, I would still do it. You have to do only what your adrenals are capable of accommodating. But if they can handle it, then it is probably healthy for you.

  21. And inversely, with seed oils, grains, and sugars now added to their diet, these populations have some of the world’s worst rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and gout.

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