Podcast > Episodes

episode #185

Re-broadcast episode: Interview with Abel James: Abel’s Wild Diet, How to Stay in Shape at Home, Importance of Learning Music

October 19, 2022 in Podcast


This week I decided to re-share a past episode with best selling author, podcast host, and health crusader Abel James! Abel’s work has been featured in WIRED Magazine, Paleo Living, and hundreds of media outlets. He also hosts The Fat Burning Man Show Podcast which is one of the top health podcasts out there!

In this episode, we discuss Abel's health journey, his wild diet, his feasting and fasting routine along with:

  • How to Stay in Shape at Home
  • Abel's Morning Ritual
  • How the Message around Health has Changed
  • Importance of Music for Brain Health
and his one tip to get your body back to what it once was!

Brian (0s):

Coming up on the get lean EAN podcast.

Abel (3s):

It's, it's really amazing. You get a change in brain state is the most important thing. When you go out for a walk and that's just something you need that break, you need the, that time to breathe, that little amount of, of boost to your circulation really, really helps. And so many of us are just, you know, we get sucked into the vortex of, of technology that essentially every incentive for that technology or the overlords of that tech are to keep you glued to it at all times. And so, right, counteract that a little bit, even through your own nervous system and physiology, like get out there and take a 10 minute break a few times a day, and it'll really help your productivity as well.

Brian (44s):

Hello and welcome to the get lean EAN podcast. I'm Brian GRN and I'm here to give you actionable tips to get your body back to what it once was five, 10, even 15 years ago each week. I'll give you an in-depth interview with a health expert from around the world to cut through the fluff and get you long-term sustainable results. This week, I'm doing a re-broadcast of an interview with I did with Abel James, and this was episode 52. Abel James is a bestselling author podcast, host of the fat burning man show podcast. And he's a health Crusader. He's been doing it for a long time now, and we discussed all about his health journey, his wild diet, his feasting and fasting routine, along with how to stay in shape at home his morning ritual, and much, much more hope you enjoy this rebroadcast and lots of great tips.

Brian (1m 34s):

So thanks so much for listening and enjoy the show. All right, welcome to the Getline E clean podcast. My name is Brian grin, and I have a great guest on today. Abel James, welcome to the show,

Abel (1m 47s):

Brian. Thanks so much for having me,

Brian (1m 50s):

Abel. Yeah, you have, I can give you a quite introduction. Author, musician talk show, host adventure. What's your favorite thing to do

Abel (1m 58s):

The thing before I do anything else? Usually I wake up and I play some music.

Brian (2m 3s):

Oh, there you go. Yeah. And actually, I know we'll talk a little bit about music cuz I've, I've taken up piano over the last five, six years, so awesome. Yeah. Really enjoying that. So we'll touch on that. But before we get into that, maybe give a little background. I know you've had SU quite a health journey. I remember reading on your website, you were flabby and miserable to now what you got, like a six pack and long flowing hair. So how, how did you, how did that transformation work for you?

Abel (2m 37s):

You know, it was, I kind of grew up in the world of alternative health because my, as an infant, I got very ill and long story short became allergic to pretty, pretty much every antibiotic out there, which has remained true throughout my life. So health has really been more of a survival skill or at least that's the mentality. It certainly was for my mom who then at the time was a, a nurse in Western medicine and realized, you know, this, the system isn't going to help my kids. What am I gonna do? And so she went back to school, got an advanced degree, studied holistic medicine, as well as herbs for healing and started incorporating those into clinical practice.

Abel (3m 20s):

And so I was kind of raised in this crazy world where if anything went wrong, mom would race into the woods and come back after making like these bombs and tinctures and herbs and teas. And so that was kind of our, our normal back then, right. In a lot of ways. And then of course I wanted to prove that I was better than that, you know, and the first time that I got great health insurance, right after college to pay off my loans, I got a great job for the first time. You know, and, and it just came with this insurance plan that I'd never seen. I'd never seen anything like it. Like I could go into the doctor every two weeks and get my blood and urine analyzed and get all of this feedback and all these, these, the only problem was after following his advice really hard, which was to reduce dietary cholesterol, eat super low fat, you know, eat less exercise more.

Abel (4m 12s):

I was running about 20, 30 miles a week or whatever. After 18 months of that, all of the problems that we were trying to prevent like high triglycerides, high blood pressure issues with thyroid and that run in the family and many other things, those all got worse. I put on about 30 pounds. Wow. And after those 18 months I was, I was basically on a half dozen different prescription medications that really, I didn't really need, this is all in my early twenties. Oh wow. And around the time of all this happening, I, I came home one night and my apartment was up in flames and I lost everything I had to my name.

Abel (4m 51s):

And so when I went through that, I'm like, my life is outta control. This is terrible. What am I gonna do? And I looked in the mirror and it's like, all I, all I had was what I was wearing and my fat face. And I was used to being a runner and, and an athlete growing up. And this was just kinda, I looked and felt like a 40 year old man or someone who was just kind of falling apart and my biomarkers reflected that. And so after going really hard in kind of the traditional Western medicine, preventative health world, iche hard back to kind of the alternative health wacky world. And, and, but one critical piece that I really got into around that time was functional strength training combined with strategic partitioning of carbs, especially, but, but nutrients in general, protein, carbs and fats, if they're not, it's, it's less of eating a percentage every single day than it is partitioning strategically the macronutrients in the, in the calorie load, in the right places.

Abel (5m 53s):

And combining that with fasting, especially within the fasting within a month or two, I was, I was down to single digit body fat, which was pretty much like the first time that I'd ever done that with more muscle mass and less time training. And it made me mad enough to start up my own podcast and blog and the rest, because I, I thought people should know if, if you're willing to do the work and follow the right principles that actually work. It's actually not that difficult. It's, it's way better than following the wrong advice. Really hard and getting fat and sick. Like what happened to me?

Brian (6m 29s):

Yeah. I mean, for all that to happen when you're in your early twenties is, you know, beyond all those meds, I mean, that's crazy.

Abel (6m 37s):

Thankfully it was only like a snapshot. That's what it feels like now it was like my detour into that world. It's like, oh, that didn't work. Right.

Brian (6m 45s):

Yeah. And you know what to learn that lesson at such a young age is, you know, that's a blessing, right? Yeah. That people don't learn that stuff until they get into their sixties and seventies,

Abel (6m 54s):

For sure. You know, but I think it really helps that, that my mom and my family raised me in a world where it was like, I got acne growing up and like, I wanted to race to go get clearer cell and all these like drugs that you could take to make it better. And they're like, no, that stuff is poison. Like stay away from that stuff. And so I think that was reinforced so hard that, that I certainly can't take credit for that, but I can take credit for when I got the keys to my own health and could choose my doctor and what I did with it. And it didn't work out well. So I think it's important to recognize for everyone that you go through bumps, it's you make mistakes, but those are lessons at their best that can propel you into something that's, that's much better with more meaning and, and more purpose and more just momentum behind it.

Abel (7m 35s):

Like, I'm pretty steadfast in my beliefs now. And I wasn't so much back then. I was, I was definitely trying different things out and exploring.

Brian (7m 42s):

Yeah. And so that led you to what? So that was like 10, well, you're 36 right now. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. So that was like 10 years ago. And then you said you started your podcast and did that sort of lead you into creating, like I know you on your website and stuff, you have the wild died. Did that, that helps sort of forge you into, into creating that as well?

Abel (8m 2s):

Absolutely. Because one of the best ways to learn, I, I mean, it's, it's such a privilege and I'm, I'm so grateful for it. And I kind of got in early when it was easier, but being able to talk to the authors of the books who are writing on the subjects that you care about is freaking amazing like that what an incredible way to learn. And, and before, like one of the ways I think I stood apart and a lot of people do do this, but many people don't is like, before I do the interviews, I read not only their book, but often like their body of work, maybe not the entire body body of work, depending on who's coming on. But it's like, right. I do re a ton of research to make sure that you're asking the right questions and getting to the things that maybe are usually glossed over or somehow unique.

Abel (8m 49s):

But these people who are great writers are great thinkers. And if you ask them something on the, the spot, a lot of the times, their responses are much more nuanced than, than you'd expect from, from their body of work. And so that's been one of the biggest pieces that I've taken away from this is, is it's. So when you're talking about health or medicine or healing or recovery, it's so individualized, and it's not just based on genetics, but epigenetics and lifestyle factors different, you know, I've been wearing a CGM or a continuous glucose monitor, and the same foods will have a completely different effect on me on different days, depending on sleep or my insulin response based on how much I've exercised that day, you know, and how ready my muscles are to, to get that glycogen into the right places.

Abel (9m 40s):

Or if I've just been on a rest day, like eating that cake might not be such a good idea, whereas you can get away with that stuff in other cases. So I think the nuance piece is really important, but also just being able to learn direct from the, you know, researcher, a lot of these people are researchers and being able to ask them questions directly is fantastic because you also just asking them, revealing things about their personal lives. Like, what did you eat for lunch today can be very revealing as well.

Brian (10m 7s):

Yeah, no, that's the one thing I really enjoy about having a, my own podcast is, you know, you meet people, you never thought you'd be able to meet, like, I'm, I'm. I mean, I'm a big golfer. I got the interview, like a PGA tour guy. Who's big, big into fitness. And I, you know, I would never thought I'd be able to interview him. And obviously people like yourself. And I'm curious, what would you say the best way to describe your wild diet? Is it a, a basis of macros or how, how, how would you best describe that?

Abel (10m 41s):

Yeah, I, I think it's important to have something where you can kind of be grounded in the same idea, the problem with, you know, terms like paleo keto and, and a lot of the popular terms that come about and kind of rise in popularity and come back down is that they lose their meaning over time. And so at least for our own coaching community, that's where I kind of came up with the idea wild, which connotes a relationship to the environment and honoring the environment. And so if you're going to eat the way that that would manifest to me and, and to our community generally would be whole unprocessed real foods as a start, we, we don't have to be anti-tech necessarily, but, but it's important to understand that most of the processed foods that are available or the mono crops, the foods that are grown on a large scale are done.

Abel (11m 39s):

So for reasons of profit, not our health. And so you have to have your shields up and, and kind of define what are the foods that are going to treat you best. And those are the ones from mother nature. So that's the prism to see the world through that hopefully will help people navigate on their own because I do have more dogmatic, you know, just like here are the macros, if you wanna achieve this, here's what the plate should look like, which generally speaking should be not afraid of real unprocessed traditional fats, especially from healthy animals that were raised on pasture, not being afraid of ruminants either. I'm a, you know, I tend to actually eat more red meat than poultry, especially here in Colorado.

Abel (12m 23s):

And making sure that you're getting your protein kind of as a minimum nutrient, it's not even like a caloric. Like I, I tend not to really count calories and encourage other people as a lifestyle don't either, but it's important to know how to do that and build that skill. At some point, being able to kind of eyeball some tuna or a steak or chicken and being like, okay, I, I can kind of guess what the macros are in the caloric load. That's an important skill, but generally speaking, it's pretty reasonable veggies and meat with a good amount of fat to make the veggies taste good, not being afraid of traditional, you know, unprocessed salts and then carbs tend to be the majority of foods that are out there for most people, but they're totally scalable based on your, your goals and lifestyle.

Abel (13m 13s):

So if you wanna lose fat, that's the one to turn down, generally speaking. And if you wanna pump up your performance or gain a bunch of mass, that's the one that you pump up, but you keep the protein there pretty much all the time. Fat is also scalable depending on kind of your goals, but protein is the one that most people should be focusing on.

Brian (13m 32s):

Yeah. I completely agree. I've talked about it before. It should be like the staple of the meal and then everything around that is just sort of like, you know, like you said, healthy fats, and then, you know, I know PE some people are afraid of carbs. I think as long as it's nothing processed you're you should be just fine. And then it just sort of based off how you feel like I used to have like a huge big salad in the middle of my day with maybe some fish, which is not sounds fine, but like, actually I found that it weighed me down a little bit. Right. And so I've actually for my own good, I've actually pushed a lot of my carbs if I'm gonna have 'em towards the end of the day.

Abel (14m 8s):

Yeah. Like what

Brian (14m 9s):

Yeah. Is what's your routine like that? Your fasting and feasting routine.

Abel (14m 13s):

Yeah. It that's the longer that I've done this, the more it looks like that. But when I first started, it was more a 16, eight, where I just basically pushed breakfast, breakfast into the more like noon territory. Sure. And then stopped eating after dinner. But the longer that I did that, the, the more I found it, I could push lunch a little bit far. Like I wasn't hungry by lunch and I'm like, well, if I'm not hungry, then why would I eat right now? Let's, let's try 2:00 PM. And you can push that too far. And you, you like experience what that feels like. There's no Nirvana waiting at the end. Like if you're fasting for 40 days straight, no, you'll die at some point. It's not the answer necessarily, but it's a really important skill to build metabolically speaking.

Abel (14m 58s):

And I really experienced a lot of the benefits running too. Like for me, I used to run marathons. I don't run that far anymore, but it's one of those things where if, if you have to be sucking on go packs and making sure that you're car bloating the night before with all this pasta. And I mean, that's not re that's not ideal because with health as a survival skill, thinking that way, you know, when things get real, it's not when you're well slept and well fed it's when you know, you haven't slept, you haven't eaten. And so I think it's important to kind of train for that, even if that means just not eating for a certain portion of the day or going dinner to dinner, to dinner, or even every once in a while, I'll do a two or three day fast where I'm still drinking water.

Abel (15m 45s):

I wanna be clear about that. I, I don't do dry fasting. I don't tend to do long, fast all that often, but I, the longer I do this, the more it's closer to one and a half meals a day, maybe even one meal a day where I'm eating for about four to maybe six hours or so. And I think it's important to, I go to bed early. I try to go to bed with sundown most of the year, and I try not to eat. I do eat carbs later in the day, especially postworkout. And I tell workout in the afternoon, but I try not to eat it too close to when I go to sleep, because that can interfere with glucose during sleep, and then even the next day and the next morning, and, and lead to hunger and just kind of you're feeling off the next day, because it's not best to raise your blood sugar right before you go to sleep.

Brian (16m 32s):

Yeah. I, I, I, I agree. And I'm in the same camp as you. I, when I started fasting, it was like just traditional 16, eight, and then you start to realize you're like, well, I don't, I'm not that hungry around noon anymore. You realize you don't have, when you start fasting, you don't have to eat as you don't, you're not right. You don't have to eat as much when you eat. It's awesome. You're full faster. And you just, I think, you know, you hear about, I know there's some books and like intuitive fasting or intuitive eating, it's sort of a hot trend word, but it is true. You sort of start to realize that I'm just gonna, when I'm hungry, I'll actually eat. Instead of just like following the clock, you know? Yes. Most people do.

Abel (17m 11s):

And when you're able to do that, it, it allows you to realize that some days you're hungrier than others and that's okay. Some, some season, some weeks you put on weight, you put on fat or muscle you're, it just feels right. And then other times it feels right to, to undereat. And I do find that it's based on season or timing or a cycle, but it's not predictable for me, but it's definitely real. Like, I definitely experience it. And I don't mind going up or down five or 10 pounds, kind of just knowing that you can always turn that dial whichever direction you want, depending on your goals. And that's an, for most people, you know, before all of this, I didn't have that.

Abel (17m 55s):

I didn't have the confidence that, you know, if I wanted to lose five or 10 pounds of FLA or whatever, if I wanted to lean down and get cut, I didn't have confidence that I could do that. But now after doing this for a while, coaching people and experiencing it myself, like once you have the confidence that you are able to do that, man, that makes a big difference for, for peace of mind and for maintenance as well. It, it's easier to have more fun and moderate, I think for a lot of people, if that makes sense.

Brian (18m 23s):

Yeah. And, and by no means, I, at least for me, like, I don't look at like fasting as calorie restriction, right? Like you're, you're eating to you're satisfied and yeah. And, and I'm in the same boat and I don't count calories or I don't have my clients count calories. You just sort of, you eat until you're, you're full, not like over full. Right. And, and then you move on with the rest of your day.

Abel (18m 46s):

That's a really important point too. Yeah. After I stopped eating a lot of garbage, you know, typical processed, breads, lots of gluten and grains. I still eat, you know, sourdough and, and homemade things and ancient grains. But, you know, I would get heartburn. I would get this feeling in my stomach where I was still hungry, but it was completely full. Just, just really uncomfortable. Yeah. And that went away. Like I haven't, I haven't really experienced that sense either of those things. And I'm not sure exactly what the causality might be there. I did clean quite a few variables up, but I think probably it just allowed my body to heal to the degree where, where that's not normal.

Abel (19m 29s):

You should not feel like that. But I think for a lot of people that is nor that's that's par for the course for them is just feeling after every meal burpee and just a little bit upset stomach, but that's a good sign that something you're eating is not working, working for you. And the longer we do this, the more we see that different foods have a completely different effect on, on different people. And, and that is something that you have to account for. It's not always convenient, but you know, like if, if my wife doesn't do as well with dairy as I do, you have to account for that. And, and also I think there's, there's a lot of, you can, you can get momentum that way, because if, if she's going dairy free for a couple of weeks, it makes it a lot easier for me to at least turn it down or experiment with kicking it out too, which oftentimes kicking out some stuff that you love is very, at the very least educational and sometimes really useful too.

Brian (20m 24s):

Right. You learn a lot from just abstaining from things, right. Totally.

Abel (20m 28s):

You don't for granted as much, like even kicking out coffee. I don't do it on a regular basis, but the times that I have, it's like, I do miss coffee. I do.

Brian (20m 37s):

Right. You appreciate it more when you bring it back. Right.

Abel (20m 39s):

Yeah. And then, and then it's like, okay, I know why I do this. And, but every once in a while you forget, then you take it for granted. That's a good time to kick it out again. And then, then, then you remember, but this is one thing you have to be very protective over your good habits. Because like, I was just talking to a guy yesterday who listens to my show and he is just like, yeah, I was doing so great. I was working out all the time throughout the whole, you know, like terrible year when we were locked in our houses and, and all that stuff. But then contractor came over and ripped up my basement. So I haven't worked out since, and it's like, well,

Brian (21m 10s):


Abel (21m 11s):

Can do better than that. You know? And like I understand, but you still have to keep it going. Otherwise, you, you completely lose it. And, and once you're in the good groove of those habits, it doesn't take that much effort, but you have to play self-defense and adapt all the time to try to protect that because life just throws you curve ball after curve ball. That's the biggest challenge with staying true to all of this is, is being honest when those curve balls happen and then making a quick adjustment to make sure that you can keep those good habits going.

Brian (21m 39s):

Yeah, no, that's a great point. And what would you say as far as staying in shape? I mean, obviously with the whole quarantine that's past year, I've sort of changed my methods around a little bit. What would you say the best way to stay in shape even when you don't have a gym

Abel (21m 58s):

Show up, you know, and, and be honest about it because it doesn't take a ton of knowhow. It really just takes showing up and doing it. And I would say not on a daily basis, that's too much pressure for most people, but on a weekly basis. Right. So the way that I like to think about it, I think it's achievable for me, but it's different being in maintenance than it is, you know, doing it for the first time. It's harder to get back into shape. It really is than it is to stay in shape. So I like thinking about it on a weekly basis where one day a week I'll do something that challenges my muscles and nervous system where I'm going not quite to failure, but I, it is definitely challenging.

Abel (22m 40s):

So heavy ish deadlifts, but not monstrous monstrous, you know, like having to go into the gym where you're dropping the weights with all these crazy, no, just like body weight, maybe a little above body weight, but doing it and, and getting some good solid reps until you can't really do that anymore. Or you can't do it with good form, but always focusing on safety. So anyway, if you don't have weights at home, that's, that's probably fine because you don't really wanna start with loaded weights. You wanna start with good form. And so try to go down, but to the floor in a good, honest squat with good form, when you can do that without weight, then you can start loading it up with cattle bells, with dumbbells free weights, whatever it is.

Abel (23m 23s):

But I would encourage people to just focus on body weight stuff at the beginning, even just going through the motions of dead lifts, squats, pushes, presses, pulls great stuff. And that's kind of the goal there. I don't split it up into leg day and chest day and stuff like that. Like a lot of bunny builders do I mostly just do, let's say all the muscles today, let's do a strength day. So usually I do that on Mondays. You don't need to do that really more than once a week, especially for most people you don't need to. And then another thing I do once a week is high intensity interval training, usually sprints. And we live in hilly, Colorado. So I tend to do hill sprints and, and the longer I've done that, the more I appreciate the luxurious rest periods.

Abel (24m 11s):

Yeah. Allowing your body to fully recover in between these bursts of high intensity activity. So what it looks like is sprinting for about 20 seconds or so uphill, but that could also be sprinting on something that's, that's not that doesn't have an impact, you know, on your joints. Something like doing cycle spins on a stationary bike, or even mountain climbers, you know, just like jumping back and forth. Jumping jacks could even work, even

Brian (24m 37s):


Abel (24m 37s):

What's that? Even

Brian (24m 39s):

Interval swimming,

Abel (24m 40s):

Swimming. Absolutely. Yeah. Great one. Yeah. So just hit it hard for about 20 seconds. Then take as much time. I would say, especially if you're just starting as much time as you really need take, take minutes, even if it's five or 10 minutes in between these sets, make sure that you've recovered enough to be ready to go for the next one. And if you're just starting, this six are probably gonna be enough, which is if you add that up, that's 20 seconds, times six, in terms of actual workload, it's very, it's small, same thing with these heavy lists. The actual time that you're doing work is ridiculously low. It's not a suffer Fest where like, most people think you have to go two hours on a treadmill just like killing yourself the whole time.

Abel (25m 22s):

But this type of training really isn't like that. It's, it's training your body to adapt, to go hard and then recover and then go hard again, then recover. And you reach a point where doing more of that does not help. So I encourage people. And then this is what I do as well. Strength day, one day, a week, plenty. And then more of a sprint day type workout. One, one day a week is also plenty. And then the other ones, the other days of the week are just, I'm trying to break a sweat just with something usually light like a walk, maybe a couple of kettlebell swings or a couple of dips in between interviews today, or a couple of pull ups between these kinda like micro workouts,

Brian (26m 3s):

Right? Micro workouts. Yeah.

Abel (26m 5s):

Yeah. That add up brat currents, big fan, right? Yeah. Of that. And, and so essentially that allows you to just, instead of putting your workout into one thing, when you're wearing all your workout clothes, you can, you can put in a few reps, not to the point of, of sweating. And that adds up to like a good amount of volume over time. And that's what matters is pushing weight or pulling weight, moving weight over time is what matters on a, on a weekly and even monthly basis, far more than a daily basis. So I, if you do that, and then the rest of the days, you try to just like be relatively active, you know, instead of sitting for my interviews, I stand instead of sitting, when I play guitar for the most part, I'm standing up and you can make those decisions throughout your day to take two steps at a time, instead of one, when you're going up the stairs, just little things like that, trying to be more active than not.

Abel (26m 58s):

And one of the biggest reasons I do that is just the mental, the cognitive benefit of that, your nervous system's fired up and ready to go. You get blood flowing everywhere. You think better. And so it's really in terms of minimum amount of workout. It is minutes of work a week, but most of the time that you're gonna be working out is recovery. And, and so I think a lot of people that's the secret is showing up and being willing to do those things, sleep well, stay hydrated. These are not sexy novel ideas at all. These are the pillars that everyone who's healthy just does every day and shows up. And doesn't usually talk about it because it's almost like it's just an assumption that you have to do these things for the people who have done it long enough.

Abel (27m 47s):

But some of the people who are newer to it might not be aware of that, you know?

Brian (27m 51s):

Yeah. And I always say it's like the small little things that you do over time that make the biggest difference. And one of those things that I think it's probably been a positive to the quarantine is more dogs were adopted. Right. So people were getting dogs and like, I have two, I know you have a dog. I have, there's my dog right there. I actually have two now. So I might have to change my logo.

Abel (28m 14s):

Oh yeah. Gotta include the other one.

Brian (28m 16s):

Yeah. I feel bad. So I gotta put him in there, but so two dogs I'm out walking more than I've ever walked in my life. And I usually do it after meals, which is great. Cuz it sort of blunts that, that insulin rise a bit when you go for a walk after a meal. So that I, I, you know, I talk to a few, a few interviews regarding just the positivity of having a dog and the impact that can make on your life.

Abel (28m 42s):

Yeah. Yeah. And I encourage people who don't have a dog to pretend that you do and for a walk.

Brian (28m 48s):


Abel (28m 49s):

You, what happens when the dog doesn't go for a walk it's, it's unacceptable, but people don't carry that over to their own lives. It's, it's really amazing. You get a change in brain state is the most important thing. When you go out for a walk and that's just something you need that break, you need the, that time to breathe, that little amount of, of boost to your circulation really, really helps. And so many of us are just, you know, we get sucked into the vortex of, of technology that essentially every incentive for that technology or the overlords of that tech are to keep you glued to it at all times. And so right. Counteract that a little bit, even for your own nervous system and physiology, like get out there and take a 10 minute break a few times a day and it'll really help your productivity as well.

Brian (29m 34s):

Yeah. So don't go out there and walk with your cell phone, looking at yourself. Yeah, exactly. I see people do that. I'm like, yeah, they're on a walk with their dog and they're looking at their cell phone half the time. I'm like, what's the point of that?

Abel (29m 45s):

Yeah. I agree.

Brian (29m 46s):

What would you say? So you've been in this game for a while in podcasting, your health podcast, what would you say some of the biggest things that have changed over the last 10 years, as far as things that are just being, you know, spit out or spew out, you know, with all these health experts, what has sort of been the shift would you say? Or some

Abel (30m 7s):

The shift, I would say it's so much more saturated now and most of the messaging is so much more superficial w bam click bait. That it's a little frustrating for some of the, the old timers, like as we've been at this for a while, when it's, you know, because originally if you searched for something that was around ancestral health, these professors who had been writing about it on blogs since 1996 would be the first ones who come up and now it's just fricking MSNBC and Fox news and all of these, you know, kind of corporate mainstream websites and all the people who are doing the deeper work or have been doing it for longer or are doing it on their own terms or whatever have been delisted or buried or just put over.

Abel (30m 50s):

And that's, that's a little frustrating. But one way around that I find is just, is by reading books. People don't actually, so 10 years ago when I started this, a lot of people read books and that it was the assumption that, that you would, and now, because I think there are so many other alternatives because you know, there are interviews of people who are in video form and then there's there's audio. So why would you take the time to, to read their book? I would argue it's because it's so much deeper most of the time. And, and that's where you get the, the real insight is by not just listening to bits and bites here and there, but really going deep and looking into the references and then exploring those and looking into the similar books or bodies of work and, and all of that stuff is as relevant as ever.

Abel (31m 40s):

You know, even if you're looking back in time, many of the best books are, are decades old and it doesn't matter because they all knew like most of the people who practice good health and medicine have known this for well over a century, it's just been buried in different circles. And, and now when you try to look something up or you try to get health information, it's hard to know what the incentives are and which words are sponsored. And,

Brian (32m 6s):

You know, even the studies, right. All the studies that are just being backed by big pockets. Right. And big companies. Yeah.

Abel (32m 14s):

Yeah. And, and just talking head celebrities and all these sponsored posts and stuff like that. And, and I definitely partner with other companies too, but I think, you know, now it's such a mix of corporate messaging combined with free information that it's hairy for people who don't already have their feet on the ground in, in this world and kind of have good habits. You, you definitely have to practice your self defense, but I would explore anyone to, to really go into books, even older books.

Brian (32m 44s):

Is there a book that sticks out for you

Abel (32m 48s):

Every time I do? So I'm doing like 10 or 12 of these interviews in a couple of days. Cuz I like to batch 'em before that I just have a stack of books where I'm not like for the whole weekend and usually a few days, sometimes a whole week. I'm just reading these books in terms of a body of work. Dr. Ann Louise Gitelman I think is, is totally underrated. She has some great books that cover some, some vast territory. I'm talking to Rob Wolf after this sacred cow is a great, great book that he wrote with Diana Rogers about regenerative meat and sustainability. Let's see, those are the two ones that, that stick out. Yeah. Right now.

Abel (33m 28s):

But, but I would say for anyone who catches your fancy, it's a bargain to get it for 15 bucks. You know, it's usually the value much more of a value than buying someone's course or some other like bigger hundreds of dollar program or even in person stuff. It's really just, if you go in there, it's incredible. The generosity of knowledge that's, that's usually available, especially when you go back historically. And it gives a lot of perspective to know that people were doing essentially keto, diabetic diets a hundred years ago and arguing with vegans a hundred years ago,

Brian (34m 4s):

It's like, it all comes full circle happening

Abel (34m 7s):

The whole time. It's it's entertaining to know that.

Brian (34m 10s):

Yeah. I mean, well, I always say that you're never gonna hear much about fasting in the mainstream because no one makes money when you fast. Right, right. Right. So, you know, but fasting's been going on for a long, long time and you know, almost every major religion, you know?

Abel (34m 27s):

Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And, and fasting is one of those things where I think it's, it's part of the human experience that a lot of people are missing out on it. Does you grow in terms of strength, resiliency, and I think even mental

Brian (34m 40s):

Strength. Oh, for sure.

Abel (34m 41s):

You put that into your practice to some degree.

Brian (34m 44s):

Yeah. It gives you the flexibility. I always say, I mean, you know, when you start getting into fast and you realize you don't need to eat all the time and it right. Sort of yeah. Just like, so if you're traveling or doing whatever and you miss a meal, it it's not a big deal. Yeah,

Abel (34m 59s):

Exactly. Yeah. Which becomes a superpower.

Brian (35m 1s):

It does. It does. Yeah. And I, you know, I know I wanted to touch a little bit on, I know you're obviously big into music and musical training. What are, what would you say some of the benefits of doing that? That's part of the reason I sort of got into piano was I was like, well, I work my mind. I work my body a ton and I've been into fitness for so long. I wanna, I gotta start working in my mind other than maybe reading and yeah. So I know you studied that a little bit. What, what would you say some of the benefits of that are

Abel (35m 30s):

There are so many, but I, I studied this for a while and my first research project in book was about this called the musical brain. So some of this stuff is just, I think the most important stuff is more like N equals one, your own personal experience. But this part is proven by research, active listening is improved, which basically means, well, I'll explain it this way. They did several studies of musicians in their brains and, and it was based on language and the way that you understand language and they found that musicians could better understand the, the inflection of those words.

Abel (36m 12s):

Mm. And the added meaning behind those words, whereas regular non-trained or, or non-musicians right. Non-playing musicians. Weren't able to hear the inflection and the emotional information that was in that. So like an example is I'm fine. If anyone's significant, others says I'm fine. Like oftentimes that's not what they mean. And so those examples of the, the inflection of our language, not reflecting the meaning in the words are more common than most people would expect. And so that's an example of active listening where you're, you're kind of picking up on what someone's actually saying in a, in a bigger picture, but you can hone in on pieces of that to get more specific meaning.

Abel (37m 2s):

So how that shows up in music is a lot of people who aren't necessarily trained in playing music, can't hear the trumpet or the baseline, right on its own, you know, in the same way that a dog can sell the can smell the tomatoes in the soup and the garlic in the soup. Right. And all these things separately, cuz they have this, it night heightens your senses. Right? Exactly. Yeah. It, it heightens the like fidelity of your senses. It allows you to deconstruct sounds and go in there and be like, what is that? And, and isolate that. So that's, that's definitely a powerful skill for language communication and, and active listening also in nature.

Abel (37m 42s):

You know, I, it helps me pick up bird sounds, but that's one of our hobbies is just like which birds are around based on, you know, which national park we're in or whatever. And, and being able to pay attention to those things is really important. But also dexterity obviously reflexes for me, I, I, I've learned a lot about tendonitis recovery and, and, and training even from running scales on the piano to a fast tempo, because that's pretty much the same thing as running a sprint, you know, and if you develop tendonitis, then the way that you resolve it is similar or, or even the same based on these different domains. So I think it's, it's a way to cross train for fine dexterity, which is more important than people realize one, this isn't necessarily supported by science, but when you look at different, like I remember seeing in junior high BB king, who was diabetic and, and not doing well later in life, just wheeled out there on stage.

Abel (38m 43s):

And then he just ripped up a car, you know, for out just ripping. It was amazing. And so cool. And he did live a relatively long lifetime, even though he was otherwise completely, you know, out of shape and, and really in horrible metabolic health with different manifestations of advanced disease, really. And you see that all the time with these different, you know, musicians who are, who are, if they don't die by 26 or 27, then they live until they're 80 or 90. Even if they're chain smoking for 90 years, even if they're completely overweight. And I think a lot of that has to do with the health of their nervous system, because one of the biggest reasons that people die is, is muscle wasting falls, you know, your nervous system failing.

Abel (39m 27s):

And if you can still rip on guitar, or if you still have the technique to do something with your voice or with, with piano, then your nervous system is going to be trained and finally tuned to, to have that snap that goes away from that quickness that does go away. And that's what, you know, once your nervous system starts degrading, then you fall ill and, and kind of die. And so if you can preserve that from multiple directions, sprinting with a whole body, big, heavy lifts and doing fine things, just tinkering around on the piano or guitar or other instruments. I think that's a great way to, to preserve the health of your nervous system and a target for longevity.

Abel (40m 7s):

And it's a it's if you're not growing and getting better, then usually you're atrophying in some way. And I don't feel unless I'm in Friday, I like on guitar, you know, I just don't feel right. And I think that's a healthy way for people to exercise frustrations, to grow, to make mistakes without the stakes being too high publicly. And it's just like a, it's fun to have multiple hobbies. It's good to have to practice in multiple domains, just like we all did in elementary school. We should never give that up.

Brian (40m 39s):

Yeah, I agree. Yeah. I mean just, you know, learning an instrument or anything at an older age, you know, I'm 40 and you just get, have a greater appreciation than when, if your parents just force you to do it when you're like 10 years old and you don't really wanna do it, but when you learn something at an older age, you're like, wow, you really appreciate that learning. And, and just what it, what it takes to get better.

Abel (41m 1s):

And it's a luxury really. You only have so many things that you can do that with. You only have so much time and willpower. And for me, it's like, we, we didn't always have the luxury of having a, a piano or a keyboard around. And like, you didn't always have the time because you're going to school and you have to go to work and all this other stuff. So really, if you are able to, to set up your life and carve that out, I appreciate now that it is a luxury to be able to spend your time doing those things, creative things, but you have to prioritize that and protect it. And it's not easy. It's not easy, but it's worth it,

Brian (41m 36s):

Right? Yeah. No, I, I try to do a little bit every day. Right. It's like anything else? Yeah. Yeah.

Abel (41m 42s):

It's so much better. That way. I used to teach guitar in college and the adults would pay me money and they're like, why am I not getting better? And the kids would come in, they'd play a little bit every day, you know? And they would always get better. They would, they would come in every week and they would get better because they would play a little bit every day. And the adults would just think that they would get results, cuz they paid money. And, and we have to coach that out of our own thinking, cuz for some reason we're all conditioned that way. Once we reach a certain age or majority or something, we all just kind of have these expectations.

Brian (42m 14s):

Same thing. I mean I coach golf a little bit and it's like, I, I, I tell them, I'm like this lesson that I'm helping you with. It's a waste of time. If you, if I see you in a month and you haven't done done anything with it. Right. Cuz golf lessons, you know, they can be expensive and a lot of people get 'em and they never do anything with them. So

Abel (42m 32s):

Yeah. Yeah. You gotta put in the work, but that becomes fun. That becomes very rewarding. Right? It's not supposed to come from the teacher. It has to come from you and that's what keeps you going.

Brian (42m 43s):

A few more things I wanted to touch on routine. I'm a big like morning routine and night routine. What, what type of things that you do that make, you know, let's just say your morning and night routine unique to yourself.

Abel (42m 58s):

I'm really protective of the first part of the day. Yeah. So when you first wake up before anyone's gotten to you with text messages, with emails, with whatever expectations or responsibilities are there for the rest of the day, treasure that time because it's, it's kind of, you have a purity of mind that you just won't get back. Once you start checking your email, once you start getting into this reactive state. So I wake up and typically try to hammer out a lot of stuff that I know is going to be good for me all at the beginning. And that way no one can touch me for the rest of the day, cuz I've already done the things that I wanted to do. And then I just have to show up for my commitments.

Abel (43m 39s):

It, this is the way that I think of it, you know? Yeah. Or so the first, third of the day is kind of that protected time, the creative time. So the second, third will be more fulfilling my responsibilities for, for work or for just things that are more procedural or administrative. And then the end of the day is more where I'll put the, I guess, consumption. That's where I'm eating, that's where I'm kicking back. And that's where I'm actually like watching an interview or listening to something or kind of relaxing. Cause I'm, I'm a bit outta gas by the end of the day. And I like that. I like being tired by the time I go to sleep. But so in terms of the beginning of the day, waking up hydrate, a lot of these things I take for granted.

Abel (44m 21s):

So I have to like,

Brian (44m 23s):

Right, right. And they're big things, but they add up, right?

Abel (44m 26s):

Yeah, exactly. But hydrating for sure with actually some electrolytes I enjoy, I, I make just one cup of pour over coffee that I drink over the course of like literally two hours of practice, sometimes an hour and a half, sometimes an hour. If I have to squish it in, you know, and it's a really busy day, but I'll practice running scales and just drills and technique to warm up on the piano and then I'll play some stuff that I wanna work on. Then I'll do the same thing on guitar. Then I do a little spirit reading. I, I read the ITing every day and some other just kind of studying, I'm reading a book about phar ruins and what the meaning behind those are symbolism and things like that.

Abel (45m 13s):

But, but things to try to advance our spiritual understanding in some way for just a few minutes. But I usually do that with my wife and then let's see, what am I, what am I missing sometimes a little micro work. Do you take your dog for a walk? Yeah, my wife usually does it in the morning and later in the day, but Chiang, I usually do like right after I've finished my practicing music. So it's kind of like yoga or Tai Chi where I'm, I'm moving through different positions, squishing my organs and just kind of doing things that aren't taxing to the system, but do require balance and do require mental concentration.

Abel (45m 57s):

And breathwork along with that, I don't count it as breathwork cuz I just, I've never gotten into breathwork on its own, but I find if it's included in something else, I love it. So those are breath holds there. I'm kind of manipulating my breath throughout those different positions and things like that. So I think that's a really important part of the day that adds up over the long term. I meditate afterwards for just a couple minutes and that adds up over the long term to just kind of a balanced piece of mind that I didn't used to have where you have more control over that. Just all the voices in your head that are nagging you to say this, or do this or interrupting your thoughts that calms down a little bit.

Abel (46m 39s):

Once you have this daily practice of, of calming yourself down and trying to separate all that stuff out. So I think that really helps. And also usually do red light and near infrared in, in the first part of the day, sometimes in the later part of the day too, in like a targeted part of the body. But there's some biohacking things, blue blocking glasses. I try to get sunlight as soon as it comes up over the mountains in the morning. It's it's, it's usually I'm playing piano and the sun is rising and it's coming in hitting my eyes. That's important for regulating melatonin, things like that. So also grounding. I try to go outside a few times a week, at least barefoot, even if it's really cold and just have my feet, touch the ground and experience a little bit of cold, but I don't do cold pledging plunging or, or too great cold thermogenesis or anything like that.

Abel (47m 26s):

Oh you gotta get into that. Yeah. Are you into it? Yeah. Yeah.

Brian (47m 29s):

I've gotten into, well I know Brad, Brad Kerns is big into that. Huge into

Abel (47m 32s):

It. Yeah,

Brian (47m 33s):

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I, I love it. I think, I think you should give it a go it and it's just another way to just, it's a stressor, but it's like, it's, it's almost like fasting, it's just sort of a mind thing. And once you just learn, you know, talk about breathing, that's what it's all about. And so that'll actually help with breathing. And so I would definitely even, you know, even if it's just like filling up your tub and just going in there for a minute or two, I'm sure that I'm sure you can get your tub pretty cold here in Chicago. I can get mine pretty for sure. Pretty cold. So yeah, no, I, I think it, you would enjoy it. I really do. Cool.

Abel (48m 8s):

Yeah. I'll give it to shake.

Brian (48m 10s):

You'll have to let me know. I also wanted to ask a question. I asked all my guests what would be like your one tip. If you had to give someone who's like middle aged and they wanna get their body back to what it once was back when they were, you know, maybe in their twenties,

Abel (48m 28s):

I would say practice intermittent fasting or, or, or cycles of undereating and then partitioning your indulgences, especially your carbs to after those workouts. So a lot of people say, and, and I agree that nutrition, if you have to put 'em next to each other is more important for getting back to your ideal body size or body composition than, than you know, working out is. But you, you just can't really get there once things get hard. I think, especially if you're talking about middle aged hormones or, you know, not what they were when you were a teenager in your twenties, once it starts getting difficult, then I think you just have to be a little bit more strategic, a little bit more specific to your own individual needs, but combining the intermittent fasting with the partitioning of carbs, which are scalable, I think you, for most people, they do better with, with some than none.

Abel (49m 28s):

And so putting them after an honest workout, you know, once or twice a week can lead to just wonderful changes over time. And I have coached people down really fast to lose weight extremely quickly. I don't recommend that for most people, but if you're motivated, then essentially a protein sparing modified fast, where you get your protein in first, you scale your fat based on your hunger. And then you kind of just avoid carbs. You still eat some veg, but you basically just avoid carbs for as long as you want to lose weight, you can lose an incredible amount of weight over time, oftentimes pretty quickly because instead of you're getting plenty of protein from, from your diet, you're getting a little bit of fat, but most of the fat is coming from your body fat stores.

Abel (50m 16s):

And then you're not really getting carbs, which prevents you from going into a, a, a storage state with nutrients that are coming in. And so that can be really effective for, for some people. But it's really about the try not to think about it in a daily way. Think about it more in a weekly schedule. And that will help a lot of people cope with the days where they feel like they should eat more or the days where they feel like they should eat less. And intermittent fasting is a great inroads to understanding true hunger.

Brian (50m 52s):

I love that lot, lot of good insight in that. And we didn't have a ton of time to, to touch on your, your kid's book that came out. And it's interesting, cuz I actually wrote a kid's book about five years ago. Huh? Yeah. So I saw that you wrote a kid's book. I'm like, oh, yours is designer babies still gets scabies. Is that right? Gies yeah. Kies okay. Anyways. Yeah. I, I wanna check that out. I, I came out with one called the magic zoo and I know yours is based around poetry, right?

Abel (51m 22s):

Yeah. Yeah. And it's more for teenage and up than necessarily

Brian (51m 28s):


Abel (51m 28s):

Kids, but it's one of those things where I realized that I could get away with saying some relatively scandalous things if I was willing to rhyme them. So I, I made sure to rhyme a lot of the poems, but it's one of those things where I find that creating music, art just expressing yourself in various ways is a great way to exercise your emotions and get rid of all of the frustrations that come with living in the modern world. And there are plenty, there are, there are plenty. So when I feel a little bit down, a lot of times I try to create my way out of it. And hopefully by adding a, a little bit of humor or a little bit of satire, you can, you can just laugh off all, most of the darkness in this world.

Abel (52m 14s):

That's a great way to cope.

Brian (52m 15s):

Yeah, no, I love that yeah. And where would be the best place for people to find what you're doing next?

Abel (52m 23s):

Probably fat burning man.com or just looking up able James, the podcast is also called fat burning man. And then for the more music and artistic minded stuff, it's a, B E L james.com for that one.

Brian (52m 35s):

Awesome. Well, this was great. We probably could have talked for another hour, but

Abel (52m 38s):

Yeah, that would, that would be great. Anytime you wanna do it again? Just tip me up.

Brian (52m 41s):

Awesome. All right. Well, thanks so much for coming on. I appreciate it.

Abel (52m 45s):

Thanks for having me.

Brian (52m 48s):

Thanks for listening to the get lean EAN podcast. I understand there are millions of other podcasts out there and you've chosen to listen to mine. And I appreciate that. Check out the show notes@briangrin.com for everything that was mentioned in this episode, feel free to subscribe to the podcast and share it with a friend or family member. That's looking to get their body back to what it once was. Thanks again, and have a great day.

Abel James

Abel James is a New York Times bestselling author and modern-day Renaissance man. He stars as a celebrity coach on ABC television and has been featured in People Magazine, Wired, Forbes, Entertainment Tonight, and NPR. As host of the #1 podcast in 8+ countries, Fat-Burning Man, Abel has helped millions reclaim their health and perform at their best with cutting-edge science, outdoor workouts, and outrageously good food.


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