Protein Intake is Crucial for Your Health - Dr. Michael Ruscio, DNM, DC

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Protein Intake is Crucial for Your Health

How dietary protein, resistance training, and muscle-centric medicine can help restore your metabolism, build muscle mass, and improve your health with Dr. Gabrielle Lyon

If you haven’t heard about muscle-centric medicine, you might be surprised to hear that skeletal muscles may be the key to longevity. Here to elaborate more on this is Dr. Gabrielle Lyon–a functional medicine physician specializing in this innovative approach. In her practice, she emphasizes building muscle to improve metabolic health, combat diseases, and long-term wellness. Listen in to learn the science behind muscle-centric medicine and how you can benefit from consuming adequate protein and performing resistance training exercises.

In This Episode

Intro… 00:08
Introducing Dr. Gabrielle Lyon and her extensive background… 00:44
It’s not a fat problem, it’s a muscle problem… 09:13
How to get an idea of where your current muscle markers are… 25:54
Here’s how to take action with your protein… 37:22
The benefits of whey protein… 45:16
Protein and fasting… 48:11
Protein as it relates to lifespan… 51:52
An evolutionary perspective… 1:00:51
The problem with pea protein and plant-based diets… 01:07:43
Continue the conversation with Dr. Gabrielle Lyon… 01:14:51
Outro… 01:16:48

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Intro:

Welcome to Dr. Ruscio Radio, providing practical and science-based solutions to feeling your best. To stay up to date on the latest topics, as well as all of our prior episodes, make sure to subscribe in your podcast player. For weekly updates, visit DrRuscio.com. That’s DRRUSCIO.com. The following discussion is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease. Please do not apply any of this information without first speaking with your doctor. Now let’s head to the show.

Introducing Dr. Gabrielle Lyon and her extensive background

Dr Ruscio:

Hi, everyone. Today I spoke with Dr. Gabrielle Lyon and, gosh, where to begin with how important this conversation is. Let me start by saying, I think everyone should listen to this conversation, irrespective of what you have going on, because the information here as it pertains to the importance of optimizing your protein intake permeates into all facets from gut health all the way through optimizing performance. I’m looking at this a little bit differently now in light of our previous conversation. And I think the reason why optimizing your protein intake is so important is it helps to discourage and to slow the aging process really on a fundamental level. And I also feel this to be so important because I’m assuming that our audience is probably tending to not get in enough protein because when your digestion is sensitive, you tend to avoid things, and you may not be getting in enough of one of the easy things that also tends to be well tolerated: protein.

Dr Ruscio:

So we discuss a whole array of ways in which protein optimization can improve your health, from body composition to aging and anti-aging to neurological function and to sleep. So, again, this was a, in my opinion, extremely applicable conversation.

Dr Ruscio:

And a little bit here about Dr. Gabrielle Lyon; she is currently working and is the founder of the Institute for muscle-centric medicine. And she graduated with a fellowship in medicine from Washington University. She completed her undergraduate degree in human nutrition, vitamin, and mineral metabolism at the University of Illinois, and is fortunate to have two of the world’s leading mentors in protein research and protein metabolism as those for whom she studied under and continues to collaborate with. And she also combined this background with a clinical medicine fellowship in nutritional science and obesity medicine and geriatrics. And she’s additionally board certified in family medicine. And what I appreciate about Gabrielle is she has a background in research and in clinical science and in a highly relevant area to where she’s currently practicing.

Dr Ruscio:

And in addition to all that, she seems to have this wonderful perspective that is practical and maps onto this ancestral framework. And we do get a little bit into how important it is to be careful of some of the plant-based messaging that I’ve been concerned about. And I haven’t really voiced that much on this podcast because it didn’t appear to be as relevant as I’m now understanding it to be because of the implications toward reducing people’s protein intake. And while I will always support someone in whatever dietary camp they want to follow, I also want to, at the same time offer the best education as I can so that people are making the right decisions with their health and their diet. So with that, again, great conversation with Gabrielle.

Dr Ruscio:

Please listen to this and please, as I’m about to, do change the way you’re eating. And you’ll see this showcased in the podcast, but apparently the first meal of the day is incredibly important for setting the metabolic tone and there is an important threshold to hit with your protein intake, which I suspect I may not have been hitting. And so there is one definite massive pearl here with that amongst many others. And again, I really encourage you to go through the entire episode, take some notes and take action on this fundamental piece of optimizing your protein intake. And with that, we will go to the show. All right. Thanks, guys.

Dr Ruscio:

Hey everyone. Welcome back to Dr. Ruscio radio. This is Dr. Ruscio today here with Dr. Gabrielle Lyon. And we are going to be talking about the importance of protein intake. And Gabrielle, I don’t recall where I came across your work, but when I did I said, “this is someone who is clearly thinking about this in a multidimensional way.” And I thought this would be a great topic for us to cover. Again, we had Jeff Moss on the podcast talking about this maybe five years ago, so it’s been a while. Definitely something I feel to be important and thrilled that you’re here to help unpack this topic for us.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

Yeah. I’m very excited.

Dr Ruscio:

Tell us about how did you find your way into protein because you have a medical background, so there’s a lot of directions you can go from there. How did you come to maybe personally, maybe it was a personal observation or experience, but curious, what was your on-ramp there?

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

Yeah. I love this question because there’s a bit of uniqueness to this answer and I would say one very serendipitous and that I’ve been very lucky to have some incredible mentors in my life. I actually let me just back up and start with nutritional sciences. And you actually might know my godmother, my godmother is Liz Lipsky. Do you know who that is?

Dr Ruscio:

Oh yeah, I do know Liz.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

She is one of the OGs. She’s great in the functional medicine space. She’s a PhD in nutritional sciences and yeah, that’s my godmother. And I actually moved in with her. I graduated high school early and moved in with her when I was 17 and watched her work. As you can imagine, it changed the trajectory of my life. At that moment. I became very, very interested in nutrition. Then that obviously became a passion. And I went on to do my undergraduate degree in human nutrition, vitamin mineral metabolism at the university of Illinois, where I landed in someone named Dr. Donald Layman’s lab. And for the protein buffs out there, they will certainly know Dr. Donald Layman, because he is one of the really—I don’t want to say grandfather, he would cringe at that as he is past 70 now—he is one of the world leading protein experts and very fine researcher. So I landed in his lab in my undergraduate experience and continued learning from him for the last 20 years. So he has mentored me through two decades and his work has been very pivotal in the world of protein research.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

And that’s really where I got my start. And I started seeing some really amazing things, learning obviously from a world class researcher. Then of course, I went to medical school, which was brutal. I’m sure you can imagine as I’m sure it was for you.

Dr Ruscio:

It’s not fun.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

Not fun. And realized actually, so I had done five years of human nutrition vitamin mineral metabolism, was continued to be mentored by Dr. Donald Layman, and Don said what you really need is you really need a fellowship. If you are going to be taken seriously by anybody, you are going to need to do some more advanced training. So then I went to Wash U in an individual named Sam Klein’s lab. And for two years after I finished residency, I did two years of psychiatry and three of family medicine. Then I went and I did postgraduate research and human nutrition, obesity, medicine, and geriatrics at Wash U where I spent two years doing both research and clinical interface.

It’s not a fat problem, it’s a muscle problem

Dr Ruscio:

Okay. So there’s so many directions we can go from here. And it’s a really awesome background that you have, right? Very, again, multidimensional in terms of research, clinical setting. And maybe borrowing from what you said in terms of body composition and psychology, maybe those are two points we can start with. Or maybe let me take a step back. How do you initially frame this conversation regarding protein intake? Where I was going with my question is you can make an argument that higher protein diets are better for body composition. And I’ve seen there’s some decent data there showing that while any dietary shift works, meaning if you’re doing nothing and then you do something that tends to work. This is great so we should acknowledge that. But if you start getting into the more, I think, elegant and informative comparative trials, this is where you’ll see some macronutrient balances have an edge. And the higher protein, at least from what I’ve seen through my minimal examination of this body of evidence, there does seem to be at least some evidence showing that the protein heavier diets are better for body comp.

Dr Ruscio:

You could also make that argument for, let’s say, needing the neurotransmitter precursors to make serotonin dopamine, what have you, that a low protein diet could also be problematic. But I guess before I nerd out and jump way in, how do you frame this high level for people?

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

Well, I think the first thing to understand is that in terms of relevance right now, everybody talks about obesity. And we are very focused on a fat-centric model where we talk about losing weight and that ends up creating a history of yoyo dieting, and really just fixated on this adiposity. Right. And I guarantee you, everybody listening has at some point or another thought about body composition. And we have spent decades trying to address what I believe the wrong issue. I don’t believe that we have a fat problem. What I believe is that we have a muscle problem, specifically, a muscle health problem. And from my perspective, as a trained geriatrician, muscle is the organ of longevity. And I’m giving people this high level view because in order to understand the importance of protein, we have to think about it in context of health endpoints.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

And right now the health endpoint that everybody looks at is obesity and the obesity related issues, whether it’s elevated CRP or ApoB or insulin difficulties with managing blood sugar triglycerides, but at the core of what we really have, and the core of say, for example, insulin resistance, these are diseases of skeletal muscle. First, we are not over fat, we are under muscled. And people will be like, oh no, we really do have an obesity issue. Yes. But as individuals and as providers addressing root cause is much more impactful than trying to fix symptomology. And obesity is symptomology of a muscle problem first.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

Okay. So now from a very broad understanding, we realize that obesity is secondary to a muscle problem. Then when we think about muscle, we have to think, okay, what do we need to do to optimize for muscle health? And from a nutrition aspect, when we optimize for muscle health, we optimize for all other aspects of protein-related needs. And I’m going to tell you why, because the body is going to protect organs and neurotransmitters and other things before it’s going to protect muscle.

Dr Ruscio:

Sure. That makes sense.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

The idea of, from a very fundamental perspective, of how we protect muscle, interestingly, as it relates to protein intake changes as we age. And I will highlight for people that protein is actually the black sheep of the macronutrient family. And I think that we can all agree, especially now that nothing is more controversial in the health and wellness space. It’s interesting, I was putting together a list of the things that we can agree upon. And then on the other side, it was the things that we don’t agree upon. And the one thing that we all agree upon, no matter what health and wellness aspect you’re looking at is that health is important. Sure. And then the things that we don’t agree upon are carbohydrates, fats, fasting, keto, paleo, like the whole list is so long. But ultimately when we think about what we need to do for optimizing health, we really have to think about optimizing muscle mass and the way in which we do that is twofold. It really is resistance exercise and dietary protein.

Dr Ruscio:

And that’s a good lead in maybe to my next question, which is why is it that muscle mass is low? Is it that people are more sedentary? Because I have, again, I’m out of my lane here in terms of depth of knowledge, but from what I have seen exercise is increasing over the past maybe five years or so. And calorie consumption seems to be holding steady or going down a little bit yet obesity is still increasing. So what do you think the main drivers are upstream, leading to this problem of being essentially under muscled?

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

I think that they’re, first of all, I think that’s a great question. You know, we’re now just looking at appendicular skeletal mass. We’re beginning to identify where optimal levels of skeletal mass are. And quite frankly, nobody knows. There are a couple charts and things that individuals look at, but the reality is we typically look at skeletal muscle as it relates diseases, for example, like sarcopenia, which is loss of muscle strength, loss of function as we age, and then even mass.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

The concept of being under-muscled I really believe is, there’s a couple domains as to why this happens, but if we were to start from the beginning, in terms of childhood individuals are very much less active, right? We now have kids on iPads and individuals are moving a lot less, and this is very detrimental as a child, because as a child, you are setting your cellular processes up, right? When you are lean and when you are active, you have a much better chance of maintaining and building lean tissue. And when I say lean tissue, I will differentiate that. And really what I’m focusing on is skeletal muscle.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

The other issue is that with the rising obesity epidemic, we’ve all seen a marbled stake. And what happens is there’s not just the fat that infiltrates around the muscle cells, which is essentially what a marbled stake would look like, but we’re also seeing fat inside muscle. And over a period of time, insulin resistance, and we think about the things that go along with insulin resistance, which ultimately oftentimes is obesity oftentimes is type two diabetes, this insulin resistance of skeletal muscle begins, I don’t want to say a decade maybe that that’s too long, at least a handful of years before we are seeing overt insulin resistance in the body.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

So why do I think we are under muscled? I think that we live a sedentary lifestyle. We do not create enough flux of substrates in the muscle, which means using muscle glycogen, using the intramuscle lipids and really depleting that tissue, right? When it just sits there, it doesn’t do metabolically what it needs to do over a period of time. And ultimately we pair that with a diet that is lower in protein or lower in quality protein. Protein is the only macronutrient whose needs change as an individual ages, or if an individual is more obese, or if they have some health issue or catabolic challenge that’s happening, or are having low-grade inflammation. And it’s interesting because carbohydrate needs don’t necessarily change. We don’t have an essential need for carbohydrates. The body can generate all the carbohydrated needs. In terms of essential fatty acids, it’s pretty minimal what the body needs. As it relates to protein, though, those needs change. They change as we age, we actually need more and we need more of the essential amino acids. We require a meal threshold amount to actually stimulate the tissue.

Dr Ruscio:

This is a anabolic resistance, for our audience.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

Yeah. Absolutely. So when you think about protein, we have to understand that while we’re eating, at least in my professional opinion, we have to eat to target the changing hormonal mileu in the body. And you target skeletal muscle. When you do that, subsequently you can help correct body composition. You can help deal with hunger. You can really help with protein turnover, which is happening all the time. The body turns over 300 to upwards of 400 grams of protein a day, just in protein turnover, from organs, from tissues. And when we are eating a lower protein diet, which is really interesting, which seems to be pushed more so than I’ve ever seen… So I’ve been in the nutrition space for quite some time and we’re hearing just a bit of misinformation in terms of pushing this lower protein diet. And as an individual ages, nothing can be more deleterious to their health and wellness because the gap of youth changes, right? So when you’re young, you’re stimulated by hormones, your body is incredibly resilient…

Dr Ruscio:

And anabolic.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

…and anabolic. Exactly. And you can have multiple different kinds of diets, but as you age, the one thing that really needs to be prioritized is protein. And it becomes essential in terms of getting high quality proteins in a particular amount to really stimulate that tissue.

Dr Ruscio:

Yeah. I mean, this all makes a whole lot of sense. And reminded of this is way back in my therapy days that the spinal erector muscles in back injury will become deactivated to some extent or inhibited. And very shortly after that inhibition of these muscles, you’ll see infiltration of fatty tissue into the muscle. That’s just one thing that I believe was MRI studies that showed this change, and I’m just seeing that in my head in terms of even your spinal erector muscles and your low back when they’re a little bit defacilitated—and these people are still presumably doing stuff that requires those muscles to work, it’s just they’re not working quite as much—and even that allows fat to infiltrate into the muscle.

Dr Ruscio:

So imagine someone who is sedentary, the degree, of perhaps systemic, you could say, infiltration of fat into the muscles I’m assuming is probably fairly remarkable. But I’m also guessing from your previous comment that we don’t really know a whole lot about this, because we haven’t studied this to a large degree in terms of how much fat infiltration occurs in the muscle of those who are sedentary.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

Yeah. I think what you’re saying is really important. It is not typically measured. It is not the standard of care. It’s also very difficult to measure, right? It is much easier to measure adiposity because typically fat tissue is very homogenous where as skeletal muscle is not, there are different fiber types, it’s just difficult. And when an individual goes from a practical standpoint into their clinician’s office, they may measure BMI, which arguably we all know is, is okay as a baseline, but it really doesn’t tell us much. But they will certainly focus on body fat percentage. And there is very little discussion on skeletal muscle. And part of it is I believe that the context of health and really this “obesity epidemic” has just been focused on the wrong tissue. And as we become more savvy and as we focus more on muscle-centric medicine, then we can begin to move the needle for people.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

I think it is a huge, huge oversight in the literature. In the literature when we talk about muscle health, we really look at cachexia or sarcopenia and very little is discussed about obesity-related muscle health. And people will argue, well, the data shows that obese individuals have more muscle mass because they’re carrying around more weight. To your point, it doesn’t talk about the quality of the tissue. And we know as individuals age, when you get fat infiltration into the tissue, the quality of that tissue changes, the metabolism of that tissue changes, the plasticity of that tissue changes, and that becomes incredibly detrimental because is it reversible? I think it really depends on age. I think that as satellite cells become less robust as cellular senescence really settles in as the, this ability to turn over cells decreases, individuals are playing with fire because skeletal muscle is the metabolic sink, it is an endocrine organ. Skeletal muscle secretes these proteins called myokines, which travel throughout the body (Interlukin 10, Interlukin 6), which interface with the immune system. It also helps with nutrient partitioning.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

For example, oftentimes when we think about exercise, we only think about the fitness aspect, the cardiovascular aspect. Yes, you’re getting stronger. Yes, you’re moving your mitochondria. But there’s a whole other domain to muscle which isn’t discussed, and that is it’s positioning as an endocrine organ. It is very underappreciated, everything that skeletal muscle does. When you contract skeletal muscle, and a lot of the studies are done in cardiovascular activity and this is out of Patterson’s lab and she’s, I believe still in Copenhagen, and what we see is an increase in Interlukin 6, which people will go, oh, well that’s a cytokine, right, for the very savvy, we’ll say, oh, that’s a cytokine. But when these myokines are released from skeletal muscle, they have a different effect and they interface and have an anti-inflammatory effect in the body. And that becomes very valuable

Dr Ruscio:

In terms of how we measure this, you know, totally understandable that more advanced or invasive imaging MRIs or let’s say biopsies are, no one’s going to want to get poked in seven different muscles…

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

It’s never going to happen. It’s never going to happen.

How to get an idea of where your current muscle markers are

Dr Ruscio:

But there is this functional analysis we’ve talked on the podcast, again many years ago, but grip strength is one, there’s also this, I’m not sure how validated this is, but I think it’s called “the old man shoe test” where can you put on, you’re standing on one foot, and with the other foot, you have to be able to bend over, grab your sock, put your sock on your foot, grab your foot, put your shoe on or grab your shoe, put your shoe on your foot and do that all on one foot without being able to need assistance for balance, which presumably is looking at hip muscular strength. So there are these measures. I believe also another one is just muscle mass has a high correlation to all-cause mortality, meaning the more muscle someone has the lower the chance of death.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

Absolutely.

Dr Ruscio:

There does seem to be some, some good functional markers here. What are some that people should be considering that are practical? I mean, I guess it’s not too expensive to buy a grip strength dynamometer, but if someone was saying, okay, I want to do a home assessment of some sort, how would they start?

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

Well, I think that understanding what the baseline is. For example, grip strength is great but when an individual is young grip strength is going to be solid. And we used to do a sit and stand test and walking speed when I was doing my geriatric fellowship, that’s not going to be relevant for the younger individuals. So for them…

Dr Ruscio:

And sorry, really quick, how are we defining young? What cutoff are you using there?

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

Great question. Roughly anyone younger than 60.

Dr Ruscio:

Gotcha. Okay. So a pretty broad audience. So very, very applicable,

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

Okay. Yes.


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Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

What I suggest that individuals do is actually work with a trainer in person to get baseline assessments of squat, deadlift, bench press. It is very interesting because individual strength, it totally varies. Are they trained? Are they untrained? I know this is not a something that they could do at home, but could they do a certain amount of pushups in a minute? Could they do a certain amount of sit-ups, we use this in the military, in a minute, right? How capable of running are they? How fast is their one mile run?

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

And listen, if an individual is totally untrained, are they going to do that? Probably not. They should really check with somebody. So I think really having an expert. And this is where medicine really needs to interface with the fitness professionals. I honestly believe that that is the way of the future, to really get a good understanding of what someone’s baseline strength is after that using a bio impedance to get also a better sense of what is their body fat percentage. And listen, we could argue that it is not the gold standard, but it’s workable, doable and available. There’s very little friction to getting those numbers.

Dr Ruscio:

And you’re more concerned regarding the bio impedance specifically, or I guess all these measures, you’re looking at change from baseline, not necessarily what the absolute value is.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

Yes, yes. Change in baseline of body fat percentage, change in baseline of lean muscle mass, all of that is very valuable. The other thing is then interfacing that with looking at their blood work, what is their fasting insulin? What are their triglycerides? It’s really interesting. Exercise can actually lower triglycerides. There’s a bit of a delayed response, but exercise bouts of exercise can temporarily lower triglyceride levels independent of diet, which is incredibly fascinating. Just getting a sense of what is an individual’s fasting insulin? What is their fasting, blood glucose? What are their triglycerides? If you wanted to get crazy, which you don’t necessarily need to, but you could even measure leptin levels, which can track with body weight, right? The higher, the more body fat. Typically the more leptin an individual has, again, that’s a little more esoteric out there, but certainly looking at those baselines like triglycerides, insulin, CRP, those kinds of things can be very valuable.

Dr Ruscio:

And with these labs, what are you thinking is a normal cutoff or fasting insulin and glucose and triglycerides. I think that would be helpful because there’s… And the one thing, just to frame where I’m coming from in this question, I’ve seen some of the keto community that they don’t want your fasting blood glucose to be above 80, I’ve heard some recommend. And I have some concerns about that. Maybe those concerns are misplaced, but seeing some patients who have fallen into this ARFID (overly avoidance of food, under eating), I wonder if that’s too low. So yeah, I’m curious what you’re looking for here.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

Yeah. I think that it really depends on the whole picture of the person. I believe in terms of triglycerides, it’s a great marker of how an individual is managing their carbohydrates. Now this is assuming that they are not a they have some genetic abnormality. And I like to see triglycerides, well at least under a hundred. I’m happy with under a hundred, at least under a hundred. Right. The data is, could be 80 or less. People will argue and say, “ah, the lower, the better,” but you know, again, we have to look at the whole picture. So between 80 and a hundred or less right. Less. In terms of fasting insulin, I, if this is a fasting insulin number of five, I’m fine. Could it be higher? Could be a little higher, really just depends on the individual.

Dr Ruscio:

So, and I’m sorry, just to frame that one. So if you’re seeing fasting insulin in someone who maybe is an athlete or who has pretty good composition, are you less concerned? In someone who is maybe you’re assuming a little bit sarcopenic and unhealthy for whatever reason are you more concerned? Or how are you contextualizing this?

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

I think high fasting insulin is a problem in general, right? That’s showing that there is some metabolic dysregulation by the time that an individual is having elevated insulin say above 25 or whatever it is. But you know, the higher it becomes the more I am definitely concerned about actually the quality of their muscle tissue because insulin resistance—and this is really by, there’sa guy at Yale, he really has pioneered this over the last 20 years, his name is Schulman and he really talks about skeletal muscle as the primary side of insulin resistance. And I also believe there’s many models and many schools of thought as to why we get obese and all these metabolic issues, but from my perspective, muscle is really where it starts. And he’s done some great work to show that even when someone is young and healthy and fit insulin resistance in skeletal muscle shows up.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

So, and again, this comes in… And the way in which they show this is somewhat unrealistic. These are U glycemic clamp data, which I did in my fellowship. And that really is not necessarily can’t be done to/for individuals that are not in research. And some of the data is U glycemic clamps, obviously not all of it. So I do become concerns when I do see elevated levels of insulin above 15/25. Again, it depends, but yeah, there’s some, there’s some dysfunction happening.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

Now, let’s talk about blood glucose, because I think that there’s a lot of controversy in terms of blood glucose. If an individual is on a higher protein diet, their blood glucose, number one, will be higher because the body is going through glucogenesis, it’s very efficient at creating its own glucose. I actually don’t have a problem of blood glucose above 80, even upwards of a hundred. Again, you’re looking at the whole picture because the body is effective and efficient. It’s generating it’s own blood glucose.

Dr Ruscio:

And I was assuming that you’re going to be a bit more scrupulous with the insulin as compared to the glucose. Yeah. And I also know that people who are keto can sometimes have this dawn effect where they have this, I guess you could call it, a paradoxically high morning fasting blood glucose. I know I, as someone who is on a decently high protein diet for at least a fair amount of the time, I’ve had that higher blood glucose in the morning. I mean not super high 101/103, maybe.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

Yeah. Same, same. And I don’t actually think that that’s an issue.

Dr Ruscio:

Okay. And I just want to underscore that for our audience because there’s been a handful of people who’ve walked into the clinic and said, well this and that and also I’m prediabetic. And I look at them like, where are you getting this diagnosis from? You know, blood glucose 102. It’s like, okay, hang on. And I think this is one of the things that, at least I can say in my realm of functional medicine, sometimes people are a little bit too quick to make diagnoses. So I just want to put a pin on that for our audience.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

I love that you point that out. And I actually really appreciate that we are in alignment in that. I think that a higher protein diet, and yes, we can talk about the various kinds of proteins, whether you’re getting it from plant-based sources or animal-based sources, protein is essential. It is an essential macronutrient. It’s very complex, quite frankly. There are 20 amino acids, roughly 20 amino acids, as it relates to humans. Nine of those are essential, which means we must get them from the diet. And then the next level of that is that they each have their own role. That’s fascinating. Each of these amino acids have their own role in the body. They also are disposed differently. They have different metabolic effects.

Here’s how to take action with your protein

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

And when we are thinking about body composition and really managing blood sugar and managing triglycerides and managing some of those other markers that we discussed, we really have to think about what does that mean and how do we translate that to your listener so that they can go away and go, “you know what, I know exactly what I’m going to eat.”

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

And I’m going to tell you that first meal of the day, whenever that is, is the most important meal for setting an individual up for metabolic health for the rest of the day. And I’m going to tell you why. And I know that this is a bit nebulous, but this is really actionable item. So we’ve we talked a little bit in the beginning of this podcast and it may be a little bit heady for people and hopefully they haven’t turned us off. And if they haven’t turned us off, then we can really get into the kinds of proteins, the qualities and protocols of how we can use this most critical macronutrient. And I will say the first thing that everybody needs to understand is how much protein they’re going to get in a day and how much protein.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

I recommend one gram per pound ideal body weight. That means if you know, I’m 115 pounds and that’s my ideal body weight, I’m going to get 115 grams of protein. If I am doing some calorie restriction, I will probably go even higher than that, right? Because you do want to maintain that lean mass at all costs. Now, we’ve decided in terms of the hierarchy of how much protein an individual needs. And I will say that the average—I’ll just mention the RDA here for people that say, well the RDA has set at 0.8 grams per kilogram—that is the bare minimum. That is not an optimal number. That is the minimum. And within the next coming years, that will change. We know for aging individuals, we know for obesity, those individuals will likely require nearly double the RDA just in general. So I will put that out there that will be changing after we determine how much protein individual is going to eat, which I believe is one gram per pound, ideal body weight, which is defendable in the literature.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

We now have to think about protein dosing. And that first meal of the day should have between 40 and 50 grams of high quality protein. What I will define as high quality protein is a non-emotional hard-based science number. Okay. The way in which we define quality of protein is really based on the amino acid composition. And people are like, well, I don’t know what that is. And I would say, well, you know what? You are not alone. And what that really, what we need to think about that is in terms of quality protein, it is what proteins have the ratio and amount of protein that matches the human body, essentially. That means that they have the correct ratio to sustain the human body. And that would be animal-based proteins, whether it’s whey protein, eggs, beef, chicken, fish, even dairy these proteins have a amino acid profile similar to humans.

Dr Ruscio:

This is fantastic. Yep.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

Which is really important for your listener because I’m sure they’re completely confused and rightfully so. And understanding that the limiting amino acid for adults is leucine. And I am pointing this out because are there limiting amino acids? Lysine is limiting amino acid. Methionine is limiting amino acids. And vegetables there’s limiting amino acids, but for humans, the main limiting amino acid for optimal health is this amino acid called leucine.

Dr Ruscio:

And this is because it’s not, sorry, not to cut you off, but I just want to tie this quickly back to that podcast with Jeff Moss. I think if people are finding this conversation interesting, I think these two are important just to listen to together because what’s nice is they say the closer you get the truth, the more commonalities you find. And you’ll hear a lot of commonalities between this conversation we’re having today and the one from a few years back with Jeff Moss. And not to steal your thunder here, Gabrielle, but Moss pointed out, and this is one thing I really appreciate about him bringing this to the forefront or at least to my forefront a few years back, was that leucine is very anabolic. And it’s one of the amino acids that can help with this age-associated anabolic resistance.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

Yeah. And actually […] this science was brought to the world from my mentor. He actually discovered this, Dr. Donald Layman, discovered that leucine is a meal threshold response. And what we have to understand is leucine must be…

Dr Ruscio:

I’m sorry. Really quick. What do you mean by meal threshold?

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

Yeah. Yeah. Here I go. Ready?

Dr Ruscio:

Okay.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

When we, and I had mentioned earlier, that really this idea of protein is very complex and that there are 20 amino acids, nine are essential. Of those nine essentials we have branched chain amino acids, we have leucine, isoleucine, and valine. And they are extraordinarily important in muscle health. In fact, they are a key regulator. So when you eat, for example, like the majority of Americans will have two eggs for breakfast and they’ll get 12 grams of protein and maybe a piece of toast and something else. So we’ll get up to, I don’t know, 20 grams of protein. That is sub-threshold in terms of dietary leucine. So you actually will never stimulate muscle protein synthesis with a leucine below, depending on your age, 2.5 grams of leucine per meal. And that, for a listener, that equates to a minimum of 30 grams of high quality dietary protein, just to trigger this mechanistic response in skeletal muscle.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

If you take away nothing else from this episode, you must understand number one, that your first meal of the day must be optimized for dietary protein. And that is between ideally 40 to 50 grams of dietary protein. If you are a plant-based individual, you, I would suggest that you use some shake or add in an amino acid, a branched-chain amino acid blend to bring up the quality of that protein. 2.5 grams of leucine is the bare minimum, depending on your age.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

And when I say, depending on your age, when you’re young, you could do whatever you want. You literally could eat Twinki and probably one egg and stimulate your tissue. But as you age, if you have any body composition problems, if you have really any issue, […] if you have inflammation, you have any of these things, all of this affects skeletal muscle. So you need to be able to leverage protein to stimulate this muscle tissue.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

And the way you do that is by having, if you were going to have eggs, it would be like six eggs (that’s a lot of eggs), a whey protein shake, you could have 30 grams of whey protein or 20 depending on (whey protein’s a little bit of an outlier because it has such a high leucine content), or you can have five ounces of a steak patty, or five ounces of chicken which will give you 35 grams.

The benefits of whey protein

Dr Ruscio:

And let me just flag one thing here. Also for our audience, we make this hypoallergenic meal replacement shake Elemental Heal, and there’s always this headwind of the fact that one of our versions in our traditional version is whey protein-based. And I understand that as a gut health clinician, dealing with things like IBS and food reactivity, that dairy can be a problem, but I continually have to encourage people, especially at the clinic to not carry forward and conflate all dairy intolerance with a high quality lactose and casein-free whey protein. And this is one of the reasons why.

Dr Ruscio:

And you’ll even see in some of the literature that looks at a elemental diet that is whey protein-based as compared to amino acid based, you tend to see better weight regain in underweight populations. And this is probably why. So just a flag for people, unless you’ve really qualified that you have a problem with a clean whey protein, don’t just go to this highly conflating remark of well all dairy is bad therefore, I can’t have any whey. Because I think you’re missing out in a really easy way to get a healthy protein into your diet.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

Absolutely. And not only that whey is phenomenal. It has Alpha-lactalbumin, has Lactoferrin, it has immune modulating food matrix components that are incredible for the body. And I think that that’s a really good point. And it’s really important to understand that […] you are catabolic by the time you are coming out from an overnight fast. You are in a catabolic state, you must get this first meal, right. When you do that, you stimulate muscle protein synthesis. And then as long as you get the rest of your protein in throughout the day, do you have to meet the leucine threshold? The data doesn’t necessarily support in every meal, but you’ve really set yourself up well.

Dr Ruscio:

And what about a leucine supplement? This is one of the things that, again, Jeff Moss put on my radar and he offers just a specific, leucine supplement probably for this reason to assist the meal, if it’s not there of its own.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

So you never want to supplement. I don’t know, Jeff Moss, I’m sure we would get along amazingly. You do not want to supplement with leucine by itself. It must be given in the full branched-chain amino acidprofile, because the way in which it metabolizes in the body, it will create a depletion of the others and you will utilize and push other substrates.

Dr Ruscio:

Oh, so you wouldn’t even recommend adding this to like a pea protein.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

Never, never.

Dr Ruscio:

Okay.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

If an individual is going to do that, they must add a branched chain amino complex, which is typically a 2-to-1 ratio of leucine, isoleucine, and valine because of the mechanistic behaviors of the body.

Protein and fasting

Dr Ruscio:

Gotcha. Okay. And this is a good lead into one of the other questions I wanted to pose, which was how this maps on the fasting or intermittent fasting. Did you recommend someone does a branch chained amino acid if there—and the length of the fast obviously matters here, if you’re eating maybe a couple hours into the morning window as compared to doing a one meal per day, I’m assuming this is going to be a little bit different—but how do you think this pertains to fasting?

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

Well fasting in and of itself, you know, again, I come from the camp of the more healthy muscle, the better. I believe that fasting, intermittent fasting depending on the length of time can be valuable, right? Especially for bowel rest, especially for hunger control, and you know, there’s new evidence to support how there’s circadian rhythm entrainment, those kinds of things. When it relates to fasting and muscle health I still believe that meal that you come out of the fast with is the most valuable.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

If you are fasting, would you add in branched chain amino acids alone? I would say no, because you know, for what purpose you really do need all the amino acids for muscle. You couldn’t just give someone branched chain amino acids. It would be like starting a car and then not having gas in it. I don’t think that there is benefit for starting the process, the molecular processes of protein synthesis without having all the protein. It’s unnecessary. If an individual now wants to, or is concerned about their muscle tissue, if they are fasting, then you should train, should work out, you should stimulate that tissue a different way.

Dr Ruscio:

I’m sorry. Let me linger there just for a second, because this is something I’ve heard conflicting things regarding, and myself I’ve experimented with exercising while fasting. Hasn’t been a problem. And I don’t know that I can really get on board with the “well you’re fasting therefore you shouldn’t exercise.” Especially when I look at this through an ancestral framework. If we were in a famine state, you’d have to be able to not be fed and go out and kill an animal or forage or what have you. So it doesn’t make sense at least from a crude evolutionary perspective that, oh my goodness, if you’re not eating you shouldn’t exercise. I mean sure, if we broaden that out to an extreme you’re four days into a water fast, should you be on your fourth day of CrossFiting? Okay. Maybe that’s a little bit of a stretch, but it sounds to me like you’re not someone who advocates for avoiding any sort of strenuous activity while you’re fasting.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

No, humans are resilient. Obviously, obviously I’m not their doctor, but we were designed to be tough. And your body will rise to meet the challenge. So yes.

Dr Ruscio:

Yeah. I love it. That’s very well said. And I think a lot of our audience could probably benefit from hearing that, and this is not a dig. It’s just something in the clinic, I think one of the double edge ends of the sword is some healthcare providers, probably while trying to help people in doing this inadvertently can lead people to think that they’re they’re broken and they’re weak and they require supplement for everything and they have to get copious amounts of rest. And sure there are some exceptions to this, but I think the general tone and tenor that patients often take away is this disempowered frail mentality. And I think it’s just always helpful to give people the beautiful reminder that you just issued, Gabrielle, that we are strong and capable beings. So I just want to echo that. And I think that was incredibly well said.

Protein as it relates to lifespan

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

Thank you so much. And I think as we turn our attention to nutrition for resilience, protein is really the focal point because we are aging, unfortunately, and the muscle that we have ages. While I think a lot of the confusion comes from, oh, eat less protein because that’s going to create an increase in lifespan. That actually has never been shown in any human trial. Where that comes from, and I think that this is important as we look at the history of it, this is mechanistic data in rats and insects and things of that nature, sea elegans and rodent models.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

That does not translate to humans. And in fact, actually on my podcast that is, quite frankly, launching tomorrow, I have a world leading expert. Her name is Tracy Anthony, she’s the world leading expert, one of the world leading experts on protein restriction. And one of the things that she had mentioned is she said we don’t know what protein restriction does in real life rodent models. These are in clean environments, they are non-stressed environments, they are not having to do anything, they are not exposed to anything, and, quite frankly, we don’t know how that would translate to a human.

Dr Ruscio:

And this is a good segue into a question I wanted to ask, because you’ll see these, I guess we could say counter arguments, from the blue zone sort of camp and look at the centenarians from Sardinia. It’s a crude comparison because they have vastly different lifestyles. But one of the observations that seems to come out of this camp, if you will, is a moderate to lower protein intake and a diet that’s rich in antioxidants. You know, what’s your response to people who would cite that as a counterpoint?

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

I would say, well first we have to specify in terms of lower protein. There is some work coming out by Stu Phillips who actually reanalyze that data in terms of looking at mortality, all-cause mortality from cancer and there’s no association. What happened was…

Dr Ruscio:

Between protein intake and cancer?

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

Protein intake and cancer, protein intake and cardiometabolic health. Yes, none. And this was in response to a 2014 paper that came out in Cell. And what we must understand is that nutrition data really needs to be, and typically depending on what it is, so if this was large population databases like the HAINES, there are experts that know how to manage and look at that data. Some of the research that has come out is really based on epidemiology data that then combines mechanisms with kind cherry picking some of these groups.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

And in the scientific community, especially in the protein world, there was actually a counterpoint and a letter to the editor that was written and never published by Cell in terms of questioning the way in which this was statistically done. And they are now coming out with a paper that actually counters and explains where these errors of thinking and just where the errors are. And the unintended consequences of recommending people go below the RDA. We already have established that the RDA is the bare minimum, and that’s actually based on nitrogen balance studies, which we also know is probably too low. To then say, to go beyond below the RDA is incredibly irresponsible.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

And I don’t care whether you’re getting your protein from plants or animals. A higher protein diet will always be better. There is tons of data out of Stu Phillips lab, there is data out of Dr. Donald Layman’s lab, Tipton’s lab that show from increasing from 0.8 grams per kilogram beyond one gram per kilogram, those individuals always do better. Calorie control, obviously calories matter. But optimizing for protein, those individuals show lower triglyceride levels. They show more retention and lean muscle mass. They show better metabolic markers, right? And this is we’re talking about data that’s been around for decades.

Dr Ruscio:

And you know, one of our health coaches, Aimee Gallo, shout out Amy, she’s actually working with my mother. And one of the things she’s been really encouraging her to do is optimize her protein intake. And my mother has remarked that she does feel different when she’s getting in a higher level of protein. And it seems to help with, to tie into one of your earlier points about satiation, it does seem to really help my mother’s ravenous chocolate cravings.

Dr Ruscio:

And as you’re outlining some of this, I think about this question I posed to Eric Trexler, who is a bariatric researcher and he didn’t feel there was any association between this observation of age associated weight gain and it being caused by people eating more calories. He posited the problem was people are less active, which partially maps on your hypothesis, but I’m thinking there’s another layer to this which is, this is where insufficient or imbalanced macros becomes more important as you age.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

Yes, very astute of you. Absolutely true. It is interesting because, well, number one, we are certainly less active and with the natural decline in skeletal muscle, as muscle as this metabolic sink and as the acid reservoir, when you begin to add dietary protein and you add it in a Bolut amount defined by between 30 to even 55 grams per meal, you increase the thermic effect of food. Not only that, but the other reason that—and when I say thermic effect of food, it means that the energy as you ingest that protein, and obviously it’s not purely protein, but upwards of 20% of that energy just from calories will be utilized to deal with that protein—and that thermic effect of food, I believe, comes from muscle protein synthesis the mechanism of actually turning on the expensive process of muscle.

Dr Ruscio:

Sure.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

Why this becomes so important is if you underdo protein and you are constantly feeding below a certain threshold, you’ll never create that opportunity for the muscle. And then as you age, when you are now more anabolic resistant—and anabolic resistance really is defined as this inefficiency of protein utilization by skeletal muscle. So what that means is, is when you eat a meal with protein, the body has a harder time. The muscle has a harder time sensing that protein. So it doesn’t easily turn on. The way to overcome that is through exercise and then adding in dietary protein, either post exercise or eating more protein at one meal to overcome that resistance, to actually stimulate the process.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

So from a practical standpoint, your mom, I would say, go lift some weights, when you’re done lifting weights have your protein shake because your muscle is already primed. And it’s okay if your protein shake is a little bit lower because you’ve now stimulated your muscle tissue. So the synergistic effect of exercise with dietary protein can help overcome anabolic resistance.

Dr Ruscio:

Brilliant. Love it. One other question I wanted to pose. Okay. So if we zoom way out, people listening to or reading this are likely confronted with totally dissonant claims, “go plant-based,” “lower your protein intake.” Like you said before, protein can be associated with bad things like cancer, heart disease. Again, I think this is a misportrayal and there’s often been a baby with a bath water with protein, but people come across that people come across other messaging from maybe the paleo community that I think is a little bit more on the mark in terms of unprocessed foods and a diet that centers around healthy meats, fats, fruits, and vegetables.

An evolutionary perspective

Dr Ruscio:

One of the ways that I think you can help ascertain where the truth lies, if you’re not someone who has enough training and science and medicine to analyze these claims, would be looking at a more evolutionary or ancestral framework—and everything that I’ve seen as like wannabe anthropologist, and this is one of my hobbies is studying evolution, whether you watch a documentary or read a book, you or even look at modern day hunter-gatherers—protein and organ meats, and specifically I don’t mean peas, like, “oh my God, let’s get the protein in the peas”…

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

And I want to come back to peas. I do want to come back to peas because there’s something that we should mention about that. So remind me.

Dr Ruscio:

Noted. Okay.


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Dr Ruscio:

It it’s really animal meats and organ meats that are prized and people went through a lot of trouble to procure these. So at least from my position, it seems that your hypothesis, Gabriel, is very evolutionary sound, but have you looked at this at all from that angle? Or do you have any thoughts in that regard?

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

Thoughts of specifically in which, the evolutionary aspect of protein?

Dr Ruscio:

Yes, in terms of, if people are grappling with this, maybe we can just look to where we came from as an indicator. And maybe to build into that question, do you have any semblance of what hunter gatherer protein intake looked like?

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

Well, I think that you bring up a few good points and number one is there is a lot of confusion out there and we are getting messages to go more plant-based. And I want to say, I believe that phytonutrients are very important and that there are many nutrients in plants that are very valuable. There’s anthocyanins, there’s all kinds of vitamin and minerals. However, we were designed to eat animal-based products, and I can mention simply how else would we get the B vitamins that we need, the B12, the highly bio-available iron and zinc and selenium, even calcium. Right? So one could argue that while some of these vitamins and minerals are available from plants, well, I mean, you’re looking at the bioavailability from animal-based products is always better. Just from a…

Dr Ruscio:

And sorry, let me slip in one thing there, because there was this great debate between Chris Kresser and whoever the guy from Game Changers was. And I might be a little bit off here guys, so forgive me, but I just want to try to tie an insight together. And I believe he was making the claim that the reason why cows have B vitamins is because cows were eating fortified grains. Therefore it invalidates Chris’s argument. But you can look at seafood, like clams are an excellent source and presumably clams are not eating fortified grains on the sea floor. So I think that debate was interesting. But there was a lot wrong with, I think, the supports. And so if that’s a counter argument that you’re entertaining, keep in mind that seafood is not eating fortified supply, unless maybe it’s something like farmed salmon.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

We do not. Well, first of all, the ruminants are a whole other animal. Right. And I don’t, I don’t remember what the argument was, but you do not get B12 from plants. You also don’t get creatine. You also don’t get taurine and you also don’t get anserine and other kinds of nutrients, you just don’t get it. And not only to mention that, when you look at the composition of these proteins, they mimic the composition of the human muscle. Grains are deficient in lycine and other plants are deficient in methionine and tryptophan. Well, what if this was all we were meant to eat? Why would it be so complicated? It’s just, there’s no evolutionary perspective.

Dr Ruscio:

I’m there with you.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

I mean, it’s just, it doesn’t make sense. And not only that, the amount of if we know that the minimum amount of protein people should have is 0.8 grams per kilogram, how are they going to get that if they are just plant-based?From a whole food perspective I think it’s going to be really difficult. And listen, I am not against plant-based individuals, if that is your like moral view. I can appreciate that. But where I see the challenges are is we have to be able to have transparent conversations. And it is not better for health. It is not better for an aging individual. It is not better for muscle mass. And I think a lot of that it is dangerous. It’s dangerous to say go more plant-based because it’s very challenging. How easy is it for your, I mean, first of all, as you age, you’re eating less and when you are eating less, it just is difficult to meet those protein requirements.

Dr Ruscio:

Like my mother, right. Take my mother’s case. She struggles.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

Exactly. So she, as individuals age, their appetite goes down. The most important macronutrient we know changes or the needs change, protein needs increase. We were not designed to be vegan. Can you do it? You can totally do it. Again, we also have to keep in mind in terms of the plant fiber matrix, the bioavailability of the amino acids that are in plants are less.

Dr Ruscio:

Is this where the peas come in?

The problem with pea protein and plant-based diets

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

The peas. Okay. So people are saying, well, I’m just going to eat shakes and pea protein shakes and these kinds of shakes to offset my protein needs. We have no idea the long term effects of those other ingredients in isolated pea. For example, we know soy has isoflavonoids. When you now create a shake where you are doing something different than it was designed to, we are highly processing something. 70% of a pea protein shake is pea protein like there’s, but they don’t know necessarily what the other ingredients are. And when I say ingredients, there’s other chemical compounds that we don’t know over the long term, what implications that’s going to have, because it doesn’t exist in nature.

Dr Ruscio:

And you’re referring to, these are part of what allows the extraction of the protein from the pea?

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

It’s just in the pea, yeah. It’s just in what else is in. It’s not just pea protein, there’s other components.

Dr Ruscio:

Because it’s so isolated and people would never eat the amount of peas needed to get 30 grams of protein. I see. And that’s a great point. That’s a very good point.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

So we have, we have no idea. And that is…

Dr Ruscio:

So it’s a processed food. Yeah. I mean, not to cut you off, but we could, we should really look at that as a processed food, not to say everything that’s processed is bad, but I think it’s important just to make that reiteration, that that is processed. You don’t find that naturally occurring.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

Well, it’s not naturally occurring. And now what’s happening is individuals are having to make up for the demand. Listen, there’s two ways to stimulate skeletal muscle exercise and dietary protein. We are no longer living in an environment where exercise is a necessity. typically all the data out there with active individuals is probably 50% as active as we should be. Right. Sedentary is not a sedentary state, it’s a disease state. And now we’re further reducing our dietary protein. We are going to have major problems. Not only that, I think we’re going to see an osteoporosis epidemic.

Dr Ruscio:

Mm.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

So now what happens is, is we have to completely rely, could you live on rice and beans and get all your proteins and lentils and tofu and things of that nature. Yeah. You are now looking at an astronomical amount of carbohydrates, which the majority of individuals cannot handle. And I think that it creates metabolic derrangement. Again, it can be done, but the way it just has to be offset. And you know, when individuals are younger, they can do it because they’re very active. Like you said, they’re anabolic. I am more concerned about the long term effects of the messages that we’re giving. Yeah. Because the primary bone building times and muscle building times are really, before you get to midlife.

Dr Ruscio:

And as you’re saying this, I picture the Instagram influencer who’s plant-based and has a great physique and maybe their late twenties/early thirties. And they’re in that time of life to your earlier comment, that they can probably get away with doing things suboptimal, or they might just be genetically very gifted. And this also applies to someone who’s, let’s say, on the other end of the spectrum, carnivore, and doing the same thing. We should be careful about being influenced by gurus, who just look good, because that could happen because of their genetics predominantly, and try to look to a body of evidence that informs what is the best thing to do for you so that you can get healthier. And maybe you’re someone who’s never going to be ripped, but you can at least see your body composition improved by 10% from making these changes.

Dr Ruscio:

So just keep that in mind for our audience. Be careful not to be swayed by how good someone looks. It is important. And I don’t refute that. You should also to some extent be looking at well, there is some proof in the pudding, but there’s also some people who have been gifted genetically, and you could argue that they are looking good despite what they’re doing, not because of it.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

I think that that’s a really good perspective and what you say makes a lot of sense. And there is good scientific evidence that is in humans. We really have to lean on that. And we also have to lean on what is going to support healthy aging. And we know healthy aging comes from healthy muscle. And the only way to do that is really, we cannot lose sight of optimizing for dietary protein. And if we lose sight of that, we are in a whole host of problems. We’re just setting ourselves up for a lot of problems.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

And yes, does someone need to look good? Yeah, totally. If you want to listen to them, you want to make sure that it’s they’re not not doing what they say. There needs to be some alignment. But the confusion, and it’s interesting, we are going to see a more clarifying data, come out without a doubt. Yeah. And that they, that will be coming out. And then the question is when the science comes out, that there is not an association with protein and all of these other things and that animal-based products are nutrient-dense sources of foods. The next question will be when evidence is provided, what is the next step going to be?

Dr Ruscio:

Sure. Well, I think for people like those, listening to this podcast who tend to be predominantly evidence-driven, they’ll continue to make changes. I’m also disheartened by the fact that there seems to be this tendency toward groupthink. And I’m sure someone from the plant-based community will find w half-cooked cherry-picked data point to refute that. And the people that want to believe plant-based is the way to go, will follow that. And I’m also not professing I have all the answers, but as someone who’s weighted a fair amount of evidence in this regard, especially through the ancestral framework, I’m pretty tenuous about any diet that goes to an extreme. And that would include definitely a diet that moves far away from the ancestral framework of just eating only plants. And Gabrielle, you’ve done a fantastic job of helping me better understand our audience better understand the importance of protein.

Dr Ruscio:

I’m actually going to up my protein intake and definitely get my morning meal, my first meal of the day to this threshold. And I’m actually quite curious to see what sort of impact this will have, because I doubt actually that I’ve been hitting that threshold. So hopefully for others listening to this also there’s some low hanging fruit there where one somewhat simple change can help catapult you to feeling better.

Continue the conversation with Dr. Gabrielle Lyon

Dr Ruscio:

And Gabrielle, I’m sure people would love to hear more from you. And I feel like I could talk for another hour here, but is there a website or a blog or a book that you would want to point them to?

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

We will do this again and chat more because I really do believe that by changing this perspective to a muscle centric perspective, we can change the face of health. If people are interested in hearing me talk more about this, they can. So I have a show. They can subscribe to that. It’s on apple. In fact, like I said, I launch tomorrow. The Dr. Gabrielle Lyon show, Apple, Spotify, all that. I have a great YouTube that they can also find. On my website, DrGabrielleLyon, they can apply to be a patient. They can sign up for my newsletter. I’m very active on Instagram and Twitter.

Dr Ruscio:

Awesome. Well, yes, we will definitely have to chat again because this conversation’s…

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

And I have a book coming out in a year.

Dr Ruscio:

Oh, awesome. So we’ll definitely have you back on around the time that book launches. And yeah, I think we’ll definitely want to do another follow up because I do suspect that this could be an area where a fair number of people in our audience haven’t give adequate attention or given adequate attention too, especially because there’s only so much one can focus on. And I think a lot of our audience is grappling with dairy free, gluten free, low FODMAP, how do I get these triggers out of my diet? Okay, I’m with you, understandable. But we can’t only ever focus on that and this could be something that the protein optimization could help with the energy, with the sleep, we’ve talked about the B vitamin implications for sleep as just one reminder for people coming back to our conversation with Dr. Stasha Gominack. So yes, guys, keep this in mind. And Gabrielle, this has been a fantastic conversation. I really, really appreciate you coming on and this will not be the last time that we talk. We’ll definitely have a follow up on this.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon:

Sounds great. Thanks so much for having me.

Dr Ruscio:

Yeah. Thank you again.

Outro:

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