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Layne Norton on Carbs vs. Fat, Metabolism, and Personalized Nutrition

Updated: Sep 2, 2020

Layne Norton, PhD - Peak Human Podcast
Layne Norton, PhD - Peak Human Podcast

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Welcome back everyone, I’m Brian Sanders and I quit my job and have dedicated my life to the investigation of nutrition and lifelong health. I’m creating the feature-length documentary Food Lies, this podcast, and a health technology company here in Los Angeles with a doctor and 2 other partners.

Today we have Layne Norton who I had a great time talking with and has a lot of good messages… Nobody should get too caught up in one way of doing something, even if it has tons of apparent benefits. I’ve always tried to keep an open mind and have repeatedly talked about how many different dietary strategies can work, especially on the two opposite ends of the spectrum. Just don’t get caught in the middle like most Americans.

This wasn’t supposed to be a debate. Previous guest Dr. Dom D’Agostino recently had a quote debate with Layne on Joe Rogan’s podcast which I recommend that everyone check out. I don’t think Dom challenged him enough so I wanted to have him on and ask a few more questions. I believe people can do fine running on fat or glucose, or both, there's just benefits and downsides depending on which. I see almost no downsides to fat, it’s working for me, I see way more lines of evidence pointing to this being our default state, and so I continue to lean on this side as the preferred metabolic state.

We talked about a very interesting study that just came out in November that I feel puts a big hit on his position that if you keep protein and overall calories consistent between to groups of people, the fat and carb content doesn't matter. This study which I linked to in the show notes by Dr. David Ludwig controls for these, lasts 20 weeks - so long enough to actually get the subjects fat adapted (which I wanted to make a bigger point of that almost all other big studies fail to do) - and clearly shows as you drop your carb intake and replace it with fat, you burn more calories. If you’re burning more energy, you're losing weight.

I have so many regrets on things I could have brought up and I’m sure I left things out. Many people listening will probably be yelling at their phones that I could have contradicted the old Kevin Hall studies in this way or brought up some point here or there. I’ll just say it’s hard to get everything out in the moment, live on air.

One thing I was was going to say was NuSi funding the study doesn't make it biased. They purposely found researchers that don’t agree with the hypothesis to run the experiments with Dr. Ludwig. The subject changed and I forgot to bring this up.

I also wanted to point to the blood markers that improved in the low carb group in this study compared to the higher carb group. This is important no matter what, but even more important to me because they weren't in a calorie deficit - they were just maintaining weight. That’s huge. Layne always says all the benefits of low carb can be attributed to being in a deficit. He said he didn’t get a chance to go over the study yet though. I’ll have to ask him about this another time. I posted the images of the graphs from the study on Instagram so you can see them there if you go back a few posts. Just search for @food.lies.

Also, I’m not diminishing all the great aspects of keto. I feel like I’m going to piss off the keto community in this episode because they think I’m dismissing it or not bringing up all the studies showing the unique benefits. That’s for another time - I’m talking to Dr. Ryan Lowery about coming on the podcast soon who is the guy Layne is having a little online war with that comes up in this episode. He’ll talk about all the great studies on the benefits of a ketogenic diet. I wanted to focus on other things with Layne. We agree on a bunch of stuff in the first half then start to debate things in the second half.

A bit more about him; he has a PhD in Nutritional Science and a background in biochemistry, he’s a professional natural bodybuilder, he’s won a bunch of competitions, he’s published a number of scientific papers, he’s a bodybuilding and physique coach, and also an author of a new book on weight loss.

Before we get to the interview, I want to say if you have gotten any value out of the last 24 podcasts, the best way to show your support is to click through the link in the show notes and preorder a copy of the Food Lies film on Indiegogo. You can also find it by going to I’m doing everything I can on a daily basis to spread information and create content to help people find unbiased and accurate information on something that should be everyone’s top priority in life - their health. Thanks so much for your support, and here’s Layne Norton.


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Show Notes

  • He recently debated previous guest and keto researcher, Dom D’Agostino on Joe Rogan’s podcast

  • He’s main goal is to call bullshit on bad science and bad dietary advice

  • Dr. Mark Haub and the junk food diet

  • Calories in = calories out will always stand, there’s a lot more to it though

  • The real problem is excess eating, so find a way that works for you to not do this

  • He just finished an Ebook on losing weight and actually keeping it off called Fat Loss Forever

  • Everyone has their own hack or restriction they prefer. It could be keto makes you never feel hungry, for him it’s tracking his calories and macro intake

  • People get really zealous about one way of eating when it works for them

  • Exercise doesn't contribute a ton of weight loss by burning calories unless you’re doing a ton of it

  • Exercise lowers the set point your body defends

  • Some research showing exercise or activity sensitizes you to satiety signals

  • Bengali workers study

  • Recency and delayed gratification

  • Change your reward structure

  • The real problem is fat and carbs together

  • Why do diets fail?

  • Rodent study showed it took twice as long to lose weight the 2nd attempt at dieting and they regained the weight 3 times as fast

  • 4 basic components of your metabolic rate: BMR, NEAT, TEF, activity expenditure

  • Don’t ever attempt a “diet” that has a start and end point, it’s destined for failure - choose lifestyle modification you can stick to

  • Diets fail when things go wrong in people’s lives - limited will power

  • I believe there are benefits to being fat adapted

  • New study showing more energy is burned on a low carb diet compared to low fat, when calories and protein are controlled

  • Here’s one study about the brain (in rodents) using ketones preferentially over glucose

  • Here’s another in humans

  • Also from a Biochem textbook: “Many tissues prefer to use fatty acids and ketone bodies as oxidizable fuels in place of glucose. Most such tissues can use glucose but prefer to oxidize fatty acids and ketone bodies”

  • Thomas M. Devlin, ed., Textbook of Biochemistry with Clinical Correlations

  • Humans can only store around 600g of glycogen in the muscles and liver yet we can store basically unlimited fat - we’re meant to run like batteries. Glucose wasn't always around.

  • Metabolic flexibility

  • Layne Norton’s keto experiment

  • More carb vs. fat debate

  • He is doubting if Tim Noakes actually had type 2 diabetes symptoms

  • TOFI Thin on the Outside, Fat on the Inside

  • Protein leverage hypothesis and Dr. Ted Naiman

  • Eating pop tarts and their expensive toll

  • Evolution and fat

  • Eating at a deficit might be all that matters

  • What about all the micronutrients?

  • His angle is coming from bodybuilders who have a lot of energy to burn and are already good at tracking things like calories and being disciplined

  • What he’s changed his mind on

  • He’s debating Dr. Shawn Baker on Mark Bell’s podcast about vegetables

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