146 – Dr Ted Naiman – The Benefits Of High Protein, The Truth About Fasting, And The Problems With The Carnivore Diet

Dr Ted Naiman
Does your Doc look like this?

Dr. Ted Naiman (Burnfatnotsugar.com) is a board-certified Family Medicine physician who has used his extensive knowledge and understanding of diet, nutrition, and exercise to treat patients, helping them lose weight, greatly improve their health, and drastically improve – in some cases reverse – metabolic and autoimmune diseases.

Having been a vegetarian and a steady-state runner, Ted’s focus is now on optimizing body composition, strength, and endurance using a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet and high-intensity training.

This is Ted’s third appearance on Corporate Warrior. This is a stand alone episode, but if you fancy it, listen to Part 1 and Part 2.

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We cover:

  • How to optimise body composition with the right protein to energy ratio
  • The benefits of a high protein diet
  • The potential downsides of the carnivore diet
  • … And much, much more.

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This episode is brought to you by MedX Precision Fitness in Toronto, Canada, a leading edge fitness facility co-founded by my friend and former podcast guest, Blair Wilson.

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Selected Links from the Episode

People Mentioned

Comments 41

  • Great discussion guys – covering pretty much all the things that are on my mind at the moment re exercise and nutrition! Ted, I agree with just about everything you said – I was trying to sell Lawrence on high protein over a year ago and more recently the myo reps/ RPT style of HIT – see it’s not just me Lawrence ????! Like you I am tending towards feeeling that ‘pure’ 1 set to failure HIT is not enough for me – those extra Myo reps do make a difference. The only thing I would say is that to date I am only doing a frequency of twice per week to allow adequate recovery after doing a similar workout to Ted’s. BUT maybe the ‘repeat bout effect’ would allow me to go more frequently? I will start by upping it to 3 times per week and see if anything falls off. All in all fantastic questions and very insightful answers – just about to give it another listen!

    • Oh and a question for you Ted – are you familiar with Dr Ron Rosedale, Dr Valter Longo and now Dr Mercola’s contention that we should all be minimising protein to under 100g per day to guard against the so-called ‘deleterious’ effects of excessive MTOR? Even Mark Sisson and Dave Asprey said something similar in a recent Bulletproof Radio podcast although the maximum protein they mentioned was 150g/ day. Their view was that gluconeogenesis is a very inefficient way to produce energy resulting in masses of ROS being produced, so it should be minimised. I know you don’t agree with this and I know why – but why are these seemingly intelligent people so down on protein and when the studies I know of have not shown any negative effects of high protein diets, only the body composition benefits you mentioned? What have they seen that we haven’t?!

      • Half of those “experts” are cranks.

      • Context is really important. I think that if your looking at “healthy” people that do IF and eat in a pulsatile way, then the mTOR stimulation isn’t an issue (according to Carrie Diulus MD who is in the pipe to be published and Skyler Tanner). But can’t say I’ve looked into the science myself!

    • Hey Rob, do myo-reps / rest-pause make a difference? Prove it ;-). I’m skeptical. I think just like any advanced technique – they may help you get past sticking points and get “stronger” but not add mass beyond your genetic limit.

      • Myo Reps, Rest Pause. Money reps. Utilizing the reps with the most muscle activation/stimulation. I’m a believer. Higher frequency as well. I wouldn’t use rest pause every set. Maybe just the last one or 2 sets of an exercise.

        I think the best scenario would be periods focused on strength, followed by periods using rest pause techniques to push hypertrophy. I don’t think it will push anyone beyond there genetic potential. But I do think it will get them there sooner.

  • Love the comments about the wrist size! I’ve got the same problem, puny wrists. Height of 6’0″ and bodyweight of about 170 lbs. It can suck, but I’m still getting stronger, and I feel great all the time except when life gets too crazy. On the other side of it, lots of people are supremely jealous of how much I can eat and not gain weight while I’m jealous that they add muscle mass easily!

    I too, have added in the myo reps and am slowly getting past some sticking points in my upper body exercises. I’m on twice per week right now. My schedule might get fouled up when my daughter starts kindergarten in the fall, but I’ll maybe do one gym session and one bodyweight if needed.

    • Hey Matt – Yea, Ted’s comments regarding his “bird-like bone structure” make me LOL. He’s a joker!

      Exactly! You have a great advantage and it’s good to learn that you are grateful for that! I think there is a huge problem with 1. Hardgainers, like you and I, still searching for the magic bullet, which isn’t helped by mass confusion online and outright bullshit. 2. Hardgainers appreciating their gifts, continuing to train hard and just get on with the more important shit in life! You have no idea how many emails I get from people obsessively splitting hairs. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good debate and strive to stimulate further gain but sometimes I think we go too far in that direction.

      • Yes. We can easily get obsessed with gains and adding weight / muscle mass. I want more of both, too. But, reread Body by Science, especially the focus on health v. fitness. I have to think that most of the health gains come early in training, and from improvements to diet.
        If I could double my strength again, would that make me twice as healthy? At this point, as I said initially, I basically feel great all the time, unless life fouls it up (like kids getting up 6 times at night). I have the energy to get up, get two kids going, work all day, get home, get kids to bed, do something fun after that, and still have something left in the tank at the end of the day. I have the strength to do everything I want to be able to do. Thus, in some senses, I’ve gotten what I’m going to get out of HIT, and now, the job is to fight to keep it as long as possible, so that I still feel great 50 years from now.
        In Doug’s interview with Dr. Mercola, he has a quote about the effect of getting this right. It’s something like, “you will literally be astounded at how good a human can feel.” Yes, I want to lift more weight, but I’m strong, happy, and healthy. Getting this from HIT makes it a worthy pursuit, that I want more people to know about.

  • Another awesome interview with Dr Naiman! He’s really great at getting to the key points, but at the same time disseminating the information in a way that makes perfect sense. And at the same time while he’s had dramatic results from switching from Vegan to Low Carb himself, he’s able to talk about it objectively. We’ve talked about this before Lawrence, there are people who have ” Cured” themselves following a variety of different diets including Zero Carb etc But god forbid you suggest some sort of alteration to their protocol, because it’s like you attacked their religion, or kicked their Grandmother down a flight of stairs ha ha ha.

  • Such a coincidence, I listened to your part 2 (I was missing ted), and the day after there was part 3! You asked all the follow up questions from part 2 I was really interested in, great interview. Any chance you and ted could do a weekly QnA podcast, that way I wouldn’t have to wait so long for part 4 ;-).

    • Hey Steven! Haha really glad you enjoyed the episode. I’d LOVE to do a weekly Q&A podcast with Ted, but I’m pretty sure he has better and more important stuff to do. Hopefully we’ll do a Part 4 next time and perhaps, I’ll just prep based on questions from you lot.

  • Now am i correct in saying that Ted workouts every day! Is it the same exercises everyday and if so where is the recovery? I know a guy that was in jail and he said the guys worked out every day and they were huge. So maybe there is something to this.

    • I’m guessing that jail food typically isn’t high in protein either. Maybe some of them end up in jail, in part from having high levels of testosterone that make them excessively aggressive, and prone to reckless risk-taking???

    • Correct, Ted practically works out everyday, full-body, one set to failure with some rest-pause sets thrown in. Clearly this works for Ted. Doesn’t mean it will work for you, and doesn’t mean Ted wouldn’t get better results with less frequency, though I’m inclined to believe that most roads lead to Rome and perhaps, in his case, it doesn’t matter? Personally, I think that most people will get great results from 1-2 HIT workouts per week performed to MMF, maybe with some adv techniques thrown in when one is more advanced and desires it.

      • His results are awesome though! I may have to try that method as an experiment. Is the rest pause part of the myo rep workouts?

  • I understand what Ted is trying to do but to approach a subject scientifically you need to pose the question “what would I have to do to prove my hypothesis wrong?” Instead of tripling down on his biases of protein/anti-carbs and frequency.

    Also, the same tired fallacies surrounding “hunter gatherers”, assuming that they all had perfect health and ate the things that you want to eat. The amount of high sugar fruit and honey available in the areas we are purported to have evolved along with the tubers is ignored instead cherry picking for your own preferred foods.

    Also, you see a lot of sick vegans? Of course you do, you’re a doctor. You see a lot of sick people full stop. There are a ton of really healthy vegans out there, there are a ton of healthy people out there that eat processed carbs every day too. You see a load of sick people that eat like crap, no matter what their preferred way of eating and it’s not always because of the way that eat.

    • Hey Andrew – Ted isn’t a scientist, this is just his opinion and what works for his patience so why does he have to?

      A ton of healthy people eating processed carbs? Really? Where?

      • Because he’s not presenting it as his opinion, he’s presenting it as “democratising information”. opinions mean diddly squat in the face of facts. I’d be interested to see the results if he say followed a eucaloric diet with adequate protein and but incorporated rice/bread/pasta into his diet and reduced his training frequency by half for 3 months while recording the results honestly. I bet the difference would be insignificant.

        Here’s my anecdote, I recently upped my carbs from sub 50g per day to around 150g while maintaining a caloric deficit and found it made me feel much better re “energy level” and cognitive function wise. In fact I’ve been able to drop my calories even lower with no ill effects. 5 KG to go until BMI 25…

        As for healthy people eating processed carbs. Let me reframe that. Almost every healthy person you know eats processed carbs. Hundreds of thousands of people put sugar in their beverages, eat white bread, eat cakes and sweets, pasta and cola while maintaining a healthy bodyweight. “Carbs” aren’t killing people by virtue of being carbs. Eating too much and not exercising are making people obese. When Ted writes “eating carbs is the new smoking” he’s talking literal garbage.

        • This isn’t to denegrate your podcast Lawrence, I’ve learnt more here than anywhere over my journey these last two years.

  • Questions and comments:

    He again repeats the idea that organisms will consume food until they hit their ‘target’ intake of protein. This is a new idea for me, so I wonder what evidence exists for it in the scientific realm? Is it a hypothesis he has formed from reading a lot of studies, or is it established science? References?

    I’m was confused by his discussion of protein to energy ratio. Early on, he talked about grams of protein to grams of fat; later on he talked about grams of protein to grams of carbohydrate. Neither accurately reflect what I think he was talking about, as grams are a unit of mass, not energy. Now it wouldn’t make any difference if all macro-nutrients had the same energy to mass ratio, but they don’t. It is 9 calories per gram of fat vs 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate. So 1 gm of protein to 1 gram of non-protein energy could range anywhere between 0.111 to 0.25 grams protein per calorie of energy, depending on the relative proportions of carbs and fats. The terminology of the discussion just seems a little sloppy.

    My current protein intake is something like 150 gms per day, or about 25% of my calorie intake. That is 0.833 gm/lb at my current body weight, and 0.9 gms/lb at my target or ideal body weight, so only slightly below his 1 gm/lb of bodyweight recommendation. It is well above the minimum recommended levels for protein that you get from prevailing nutritional guidelines. Yet despite this relatively high protein level, I definitely do not lose body fat while eating ad libitum. I still have to weigh my food, track calories, consciously limit food intake despite wanting to eat more, etc. That is a real drag. I wish I could eat ad libitum and get lean. Maybe you naturally lean guys are outliers, well adapted to an age of plenty, but not well equipped to live in the feast and famine world of our ancestors.

    His food template sounds good, but recognize that it is a pretty expensive way to eat. In my area, wild caught fish is expensive, $16-$25/lb. Organic grass fed filet runs $25-$30/lb. Getting 150-200 gms of protein per day without whey protein supplements will bust the budget.

    • Ted’s appetite could just be lower or he could be chronically undereating (total calories) without even knowing it or he could be lying. It wouldn’t be the first time someone has bent the truth to fit their agenda.

      Btw I get 60g of protein most days from a tin of line caught tuna, pretty cheap. I don’t know how it compares to whey powder.

      • As far as I know, there is no farmed tuna, it is all wild caught. But being long lived fish at the end of the food chain, it can still have a lot of mercury in it. Your best bet is wild caught, cold water fish of other varieties. But given the rate at which wild fisheries are being destroyed, and the high global demand for fish, that means it will be relatively expensive. And can you really trust the labeling?

        Even grass fed beef may have issues – a lot of grass fed beef is finished on alfalfa. Unfortunately, it seems that Monsanto already sells roundup resistant strains of alfalfa, which means that glyphosate may still be getting into your pastured beef, via the round-up treated grasses that have been used to feed the beef.

        The point is that truly pristine sourcing of your food means it will be relatively more expensive. That will be an issue for many people.

        • Hey, yeah the line caught thing is more ethical than provenance. Aside, UK beef is much “cleaner” for want of a better word, better still UK lamb.

    • Good questions Greg. Appreciate you taking the time. I’ll ask Ted to review but can’t promise he’ll be able to make the time.

      • Aside from keeping protein high, and trying to track and control calories, there is no simple way to describe my diet. A lot depends on how often I eat out, and what we cook at home (which depends in part on what my wife wants to eat.) But I thought his point was that if you ate enough protein, you could eat what you want, and will not overeat. ( Ad libitum means “at one’s pleasure” or “as you desire”.)

        I agree if you eat a lot of protein, AND stick to a highly restrictive diet (only meat, eggs, and green vegetable), it might be harder to overeat. But isn’t compliance the failure point of most diets? You try, but fail to control calories; you try, but fail to avoid tasty snacks and desserts; you try, but fail to avoid all carbohydrates; you try, but fail to eat nothing but meat and veggies. High protein doesn’t kill my desire to eat stuff that makes weight control difficult, so I don’t consider that it allows for ad libitum eating.

        • To give you a further example: I’m pretty sure that if you (a) only eat potatoes with little added fat, and (b) only allow yourself to eat between 8:00 AM and Noon, you will be able to eat as much as you want in that eating window, and you will lose weight and see your lipid levels, and other markers of metabolic health improve. But being able to eat as much as you want under those very restrictive conditions isn’t really a workable and sustainable weight loss strategy for most people. And you will truly learn to loath potatoes….. 🙂

  • To begin with, I respect any doctor who treats addiction. That is a hard job and demands my respect. That said, such respect does not transfer to expertise on exercise and diet. Few registered dietitians (the real diet experts) would agree with Dr. Naiman’s dietary advice. Similarly, many “exercise” experts disagree with certain “Dr.s” on SuperSlow exercise. I found Dr. Naiman omitted many dietary and exercise facts and logic in this episode. I’m not interested in his “exercise/diet opinions,” as he is not an expert in either. Dr. s’ opinion are not automatically valid when involved in the field of exercise .

    Arthur Jones stated:

    “While it is certainly not my intention to imply that diet is of no importance, I do want it clearly understood that the “amount” of food is of far more importance than the actual makeup of the diet – so long as any reasonable attempt is made in the direction of providing a balanced diet: which points should be obvious to anybody merely from a careful reading of the advertisements for food supplements – in an advertisement for protein supplements, great stress will be placed on avoiding carbohydrates, but in an advertisement for “fast weight gaining” supplements, equal stress will be placed on consuming a heavy load of carbohydrates.”

    Rest pause training has 2 advantages not mentioned…..

    1) Recruiting the fast twitch fibers early while ATP supplies (alactic) are fresh, unlike Superslow exercise sequential recruitment where the fast twitch fibers are recruited while the muscle is failing. Of note, all strength athletes train the alactic system……FACT!

    2) Eccentric exercise and rest pause are less detrimental to blood vessel compliance as cardiac demand decreases as noted. I’ve used rest pause and eccentric reps successfully in COPD patients.

    • Muscle fibers are recruited by force & effort not speed . Eccentric emphasis has been shown to have many benefits for the muscles as well as at the cellular level .

  • about the downsides of the carnivore diet, sounds like the problem is because of people only eating meat, and not eating enough eggs/liver

  • […] Dr Ted Naiman – The Benefits Of High Protein, The Truth About Fasting, And The Problems With The C… […]

  • […] Dr Ted Naiman (Listen to my episodes with Ted here: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3) […]

  • Hey Lawrence, check out the new JRX podcast with Rhonda Patrick #1178 usual caveats for those two…!

    • I listened. It was quite interesting. I eat vegetables and tubers 20-30% just in case! But very skeptical of Rhonda’s POV to be honest!

      • Interesting comment Lawrence – I’m about 2/3 of the way through that podcast with Rhonda Patrick now (thank you for the heads up Andrew), so maybe I am missing something, but exactly what do you disagree with her about? She has always advocated a mixed, whole-foods yet lower carb diet, with plenty of lower starch veggies/ fruits – which seems to be in alignment with yourself?

        My particular take on the carnivore diet is that I can see it being a ‘no-brainer’ as an absolute last resort for those unfortunate individuals who happen to be stricken with auto-immune related conditions. But as Rhonda mentions, why not go down the better researched routes of periodic fasting/ ketogenic diets first instead, and only turn to a carnivore only diet if it truly is the last resort… And even then, after a a certain period of time I would be in favour of an individual trying to slowly and gradually transition into more of a ‘mixed omnivore’ diet along the lines of Rhonda Patrick or Chris Masterjohn once their underlying conditions have resolved.. I would be incredibly wary of the long-term consequences of following a carnivore-only diet for life when so much is unknown, and what we do know would suggest that long-term issues are more likely than not to surface. Although I commend Shawn Baker for his achievements in turning his auto-immune conditions around and his fantastic athletic and body re-comp achievements, I really doubt the wisdom of throwing his reputation 100% behind such a restrictive strategy with unknown long-term consequences.

      • Yeah, Rhonda “so that cures cancer?” ”I saw a study that supports by bias” ”pfft, that’s just anecdotal….tells own anecdote” “antioxidants” but it’s hard to dismiss a large proportion of her points out of hand.

  • There is a “theory” called nutritional ecology. Many studies pointed out the “nutritional target” of animals and even humans. It is not just Ted idea. He studied that a lot. There is a book called “the nature of nutrition” about this.

    And there is a study with low carb setting, 1 group 15% protein, another group 30% protein. Iso caloric. The protein group was much better.

    He has a video in diet docter where he shows all the science behind what he talks.

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