Stephen: Joel, welcome to the Stephen McCain podcast.
Joel: I am excited to be here. Thanks for having me on.
Stephen: Yeah, I mean, I'm really excited for this one because you have a stellar resume that includes being an full-time dietician for the New England Patriots. And you work for one of my favorite companies in the world. Thorne. I'm excited to talk about diet for athletes, non-athletes, supplementation, anything that can help people wrap their head around this topic.
That always seems to be something that is a bit of a moving target and maybe offer some, a little bit of a framework, so to speak, to where people can be like, ah, that makes sense.
Joel: Yeah, no, it's, uh, I mean, it's my full-time job and I've got 20 years doing it and to keep on top of the, the ever-changing landscape is, is hard for me. So, uh, yeah, if I can.
Stephen: Fantastic. Yeah, I mean, I've, I've been somebody who's studied nutrition. I have a little small little tr nutrition certification. I, I, I love supplements. I've studied them for years and decades now. And so th this is gonna be en enlightening. I'd like to start, because I'm sure anyone that is listening is probably pinged by the fact that you worked with the New England Patriots and potentially Tom Brady and this dynasty.
Maybe if you could talk about like, how you got started working with them, because you were the first, correct me if I'm wrong, you were the, you were the first full-time dietician in a professional sports like that. Uh,
Joel: I was, yeah. So the, the whole sports performance, uh, kind of environment is it's, it's really only 20, 25 years old. Um, and a, it does kind of speak to Bill's, uh, you know, he has an answer for everything. And realize there was a kind of a competitive advantage to be had if you take care of, you know, nutri, you know, uh, PTs ATS had been there forever.
Strength and Conditioning was, you know, at that point, probably about 15, 20 years old. And the NFL at the level it is now. And he is like, all right, well that's two out of three, you know. And then, uh, you know, kind of shortly after they started building up, we called the high performance model now, uh, you know, including the, the, um, mental, mental health and kinda, uh, that side of the industry.
So we did, you know, kudos to him for being a kind of an innovator and seeing an area where, You know, kind of when I got there, he is like, your job is to make sure I don't have to think about this, right? Cause he's got so much other things to do. But, um, yeah, so kind of the way I, I found that and he found me, um, was so I, I was working clinically in ICU trauma, which I loved.
And, uh, we can probably dig into it a little bit more, but, you know, kind of a lot of what I learned in the, the trauma nutrition space has kind of rolled over into the performance space. Uh, I like to call athletics intentional trauma. We, we know we're doing the damage to the body, but uh, the body doesn't care.
It still has to have an answer for it. But, um, yeah, it really was all goes back to, I was super fortunate. I went to University of Connecticut in my senior year. Um, the high performance team, the, the exercise physiology dean came over from Ball State and it was Dr. William Kramer who was kind of a, an OG legend in the field and his staff.
And one of the, the professors on staff was Jeff Bowlick, who really. just kind of changed my opinion on, you know, cause at the time, like I said, there wasn't really, there was a couple in college, a couple in, you know, the Olympic and military, but for the most part it wasn't a full-time job to be a sports dietician.
So, um, you know, I, I always had the dual interest in excess physiology and nutrition and it was kind of like, uh, you can do that on the side or you can have a consulting business, you know, for marathon runners. Whoever was, was willing to listen. But I met Jeff and he was a PhD in, in exercise physiology and also dietician, which is what my degree is in.
Uh, so it was the first time I saw like, oh, okay, I'm not wrong in being that this is something right. And meeting someone that was doing it at such a high level and he's, you know, one of the genius in the industry. So he was kind of a known commodity and kind of the Patriots reached out to him, like, do you have anyone ideally locally?
Uh, and he was like, actually just. I think my first week I was supposed to be there 10 hours, and by the end, like by the next Monday, they were like, can you just quit your other job? And I was like, of course.
Joel: uh, yeah. Yeah. So, uh, yeah, and it was, you know, it's, I grew up in New England, so it was the, the hometown team and team at the highest level.
So yeah, I, I did enough to not get fired year one. And then we kept, just kept building the program and watching, you know, the industry grow. It's a responsive industry. So, uh, you know, and now 20 years later there's, you know, most professional teams have someone full-time, if not a pretty extensive consultant.
College, you know, power five down to D two all have at least one dietitian. Sports dieticians focus solely on athlete health, health and wellness. So it's been, for me, one of the, like the most motivating things is seeing how fast, like this concept that was like obvious to all of us, you know, on the health and wellness side.
Like, how do you not, how do you not have an answer for this? Right. Uh, to it being like on the flip side, you know, and it's, you know, high school recruits are looking at, you know, what is your sports medicine team? What's your high performance team? So it is a very, you know, kind of just ingrained part of the, the high performance team now, which is exciting to have seen.
Stephen: yeah. It sounds like you were very fortuitous the right place, the right time, and, and. Equipped, right? I mean you, you obviously did the, the work to, to have that alignment. You know, I always say luck is preparation meets opportunity and you know, you did the preparation. There's the opportunity.
That's luck. What an awesome thing to happen. And you know, it's funny cuz I've, you know, I was sports my whole life and you know, once somebody does something and everyone finds out about it, that becomes the new standard that everyone has to operate off of.
And it, it seems, you know, what's so good about sports is it's like we keep slicing and dicing all of these, parts of the human physiology and, and trying to optimize them and, and it's incredible. I mean, that's probably why sports can people continue to break records, you know, because we're, we're looking at so many more things and applying so much more science to discrete, markers of, of performance.
And, uh, I would love to, to dive in a little bit on what you did with them specifically in terms of like, how do you go about. Managing a team of athletes. And I, I, I guess, off the top of my head, I would, you would imagine like, what does a football player need versus maybe like an F1 driver, right?
There's probably some metabolic different requirements and different things, but then how do you decide what a football team needs? And then how do you decide which each player needs, like what did you set up for them and how did you manage it?
Joel: Yeah. And to me the answer to that is why you need it needs to be a full-time, someone there all the time. Ingrained, understanding all those variables. Cause uh, you know, now in, in my current, you know, role with Thorn, I do a, a bit of consulting with, you know, our partners or teams and whatnot, and you just can't get the level, you know, I can make some really great recommendations and tweak some things here and there, but you have to really be ingrained.
So, um, but to take a step back, it, it really does go back to my clinical training and, and the way I kind of view everything. It's uh, you know, what we now know as the high performance model is the grand Rounds model. Right. You know, and I was working I c u, we had this patient, here's what's happening with them.
Here's the truth. What's from your lens, you're the expert in this. What's, you know, uh, pathology, what's your lens? Nutrition, what's your lens? You know, social work, pt, all this stuff. Uh, so I kind of really brought that model. I can't do my job without the information of everybody else, right? So part of it is, you know, having that information, but I obviously you have to be kind of a, a mix of a, a professor and a coach, right?
You, you can have all the knowledge in the world, but if you can't coach and relate to people or, or understand what their um, kind of drivers are, you're not really gonna make the, the impact you want to. And I made the mistake early in my career where I wanted to fix everything all at once. But in reality, you know, there's a readiness.
There's a, there's a coachability, um, You know, and for some of the players it was just like, oh, you cramped during games. Okay, let's start there. And they're like, wait, you helped me with this. You care about me. Like, what can you do? I'm also having this problem, right? But I, I guess, uh, an even a bigger approach that I've kind of evolved into over making many mistakes and learning from them is, uh, really at the global level, it's, it's the human level, right?
Like I said, there's, uh, there's, it is intentional trauma, but, uh, excuse me, I spent the early part of my career trying to get that one or two extra at the top end of performance and see how we can maximize that. But, you know, I, as I started, went back to my roots and realized, like I, I've set it a hundred times, uh, 20 years in human performance, 80% of what I do is on the human right.
So if, if the human's functioning at 50% of optimal, uh, 2% on the top of that is not as significant as if we take care of, and the human is working pretty well, and then we get 2% on the top of that. So a lot of it is, you know, assessing. I call it biological cost. What's the biological cost of being a football player, of running a marathon?
Like what are you asking your body to do above and beyond just survival? And then what are those nutrients and what are the solutions for them to either, you know, provide you enough to do the thing you want to do and then recover from it and do it again tomorrow? Right? So it really does come back to, I would say that the body is the most, uh, simple, complex machine in the world, right?
Like, there's certain truths that have to be accounted for before it'll do anything else. So, you know, a lot of what we do is like, you know, looking at common deficiencies, whether it's vitamin D or magnesium, is it, you know, do you have enough fuel? Like are your carbohydrate needs there for to do the, do the deed?
Are your protein requirements there to respond to it? So a lot of times it's simple and, and a lot of times it's timing too. It's too many people have. A great idea and they're doing the right things, but they're like, oh no, take that at night or take this around exercise. So the first year, a lot of it was just establishing those habits and really just, you know, making sure the food supply was there.
You know, we were feeding them as often as we needed to. Um, and then kind of doing the one-offs as things came up and as people got to trust me and understand why I was there, right? Because too early, early in the profession, everyone's like, oh, you're the food police, you're gonna put me on a diet. And I was like, well, rarely does a football player need to lose weight, right?
We're struggling to keep the size on. So, um, and then from there, yeah, it does evolve into everybody does have to have their own individual needs, right? Like, playing the sport is only a couple hours a day, right? Like, you know, are you diabetic? Are you, you know, do you have a sleep issue? Do you have this, do you have that?
So you really do have to treat the whole human in order to, to really get that top end profession are, are performance. Um, I would say the body is a survival machine and, uh, the more kind of red lights, warning signs you can turn off the more. Intelligent, it becomes about doing the thing it wants to do.
Stephen: Yeah, I am like, I've worked with a lot of people and I, I've made the same mistake too at the beginning. I've also coached a lot of athletes, and you try to save the world, right? You try to like, or force people down a framework and instead of just addressing the lowest hanging fruit, or well, what's gonna kill them first?
Like, if you're just looking at a person who wants to live a long time, it's like, well, where's the bottleneck in your physiology? What's gonna kill you first? Do you have like, you know, lipid disorder? Do you have, metabolic disorder? Like what is the problem? And then also from like athletes, like you said, the cramping or, you know, they're not recovering.
I used to work with athletes and, you know, they'd come in and they, they were just never, some people were never recovered. Like, they just were always sore and beat up. And I'm like, you're not, you're probably not eating enough protein. Or, or, you know, no, get them on essential aminos. I'd get them on Thorne's
essential aminos, you know, just so this is an elegant way to. Be able to build more out of the protein that you're already eating, you get more utilization out of it. And so I, I imagine that, like for me it has become more about just sort of saying, let's go after the, the big things and, and first the low hanging fruit.
And then let's keep fine tuning and fine tuning and fine tuning. Are you guys looking at biomarkers? Are you like testing their blood? Are you doing genetic testing?
Joel: Yeah, for sure. Uh, you kind of have to, like I said, again, it all comes back to the, uh, you know, the medical nutrition therapy model that I was kind of raised in, right? Like, I wouldn't make feeding or fueling decisions, uh, you know, on a patient with, on, you know, IV feeding without biomarkers, without blood work, without reading the medical chart and, and being fully informed.
So, you know, you can, there's definitely recommendations you can make for the whole, but, uh, it really does come down to look, I mean, there's so many systems happening in the body at any time. You really do have to take that, uh, in, uh, informed, uh, approach. But, um, and the more data points you have, the better.
Right Now it can get overwhelming. And, you know, as we have access to more and more data points with, with, uh, wearables, you know, we are seeing people get overwhelmed by that. Like, you know, you kind of sometimes need to be like, okay, I, this is how this makes me feel. This is what these numbers mean to me.
But understanding like, you're not necessarily the expert to have thought of all the variables, right? So we do see some people, you know, either responding negatively to, uh, a potential, you know, sleep tracker or you know, a lot of people wearing glucose monitoring and don't understand that your glucose is supposed to fluctuate throughout the day.
That's how it works, right? Um, but yeah, no, you do, you do need biomarkers.
I, I don't know why this sticks in my head, but there was a, like a Carfax commercial and they're like, I want a red car. And it's like, you know, the million cars go down to a thousand. All right, I want four doors. Right? And then it, so the more data points I have, the more I can give you kind of a sniper approach where it's a, it's a one size fits, one recommendation as opposed to, uh, yeah, this is, it's gonna help, right?
As opposed to, okay, this is a hundred percent gonna gonna make you better or make you feel, uh, uh, kind of, I would say, uh, minimize the suck of training and, and performing, right? So, uh, I think, I think the more we know, the better, but, um, you know, you, you do have to wait. And, and what I love about Thorn is they're very responsible about testing a biomarker without confidence, right?
Like you mentioned genetics, and it's insane the price of testing your, your genome has come down so much and it's relatively affordable as technology improves. But we don't know. Every marker and what's gonna express and whatnot. So, you know, I've seen people take these tests and, and make these lifetime or lifelong decisions on something that may have a 10% chance of expressing.
So, you know, are you unnecessarily limiting yourself? It's, it's all super good information, but a lot of times we're not there yet. Right. So, um,
Stephen: Yeah. To me it seems
Joel: it's a interesting world. Yeah.
Stephen: yeah, I mean, it seems like to me you use those tests to see, , what potentially could be expressed. And then you maybe use some bio other like testing like blood to see is this actually showing up? Like maybe if you don't convert betacarotene to vitamin A or you have the MTHFR, uh, gene variant then those things will start to show up, in real time on other tests, especially if you get stressed or, overworked and, and, uh, but the genetics is, it's super interesting, but people I think sometimes underestimate.
Epigenetics and that things are turning off and on depending on what your behavior is and what you're doing.
Joel: No, I think, uh, the example I always use to kind of explain it to people is, uh, and I do think what I love about the speed at which science is evolving is that things are making sense to a lot of people. Like a lot of times, like caffeine's, the perfect example. So genetic, we know there's fast metabolizers, slow metabolizers, and super slow metabolizers.
And if you looked at caffeine and the research, it was like, eh, may help, may not. Um, and then we figured out that those three specific genomes, and if you overlay those on top of the data, it's very obvious, you know, fast meta, this is a performance enhancer, slow metabolizer that it's actually not, like, probably should avoid at certain times, right?
So I like that science is, is kind of explaining things for us, but it's until we get that confidence level that make things make sense. So, um, I actually go the opposite way. I go backwards, I kind of do the assessment with somebody like what? What are your pain points? What sucks for you? What would you like to improve?
And, and a lot of times, as in, in the athletic world and really all of us, we kind of normalize the suck. And you shouldn't have to like make those noises when you make wake up every morning or you shouldn't. Athletes just assume their gut's gonna be screwed up. Like it doesn't have to be true. So is that limiting?
Like that's the number one thing that's limiting you. Like you said, I'm not trying to fix every potential disease state, let's fix the, the biggest one. Right? Um, so that's where I kinda go backwards and like, okay, here are the data points that can inform us on that specific issue. And then what I love biomarkers for is proving that what you're changing and what you're doing with intention is working.
Right? Like for years I, I was like, I think this is working. And now as science improves and as wearables, you can be like, okay, yeah, I did this and my sleep got better, or my, you know, my bench went up or my mild time went down. Like making those real world connections and really being kind of your own.
You know, running your own, um, research study on yourself. Uh, I think that's where kind of the magic is, is, is empowering people to be the, I would say you need to be the CEO of your own health, right? And yeah, for sure, uh, build a really strong board of directors and advisors, but at the same point, you are the only one that knows everything about you.
So I think that's kind of the way I approach biomarkers is really empowering the individual to make those decisions and that self assessment and what's happening.
Stephen: yeah. , and if you can show that these biomarkers are moving in a po more positive direction and correlate that with their performance, that's job security, right? I mean, it's irrefutable in a way, but, I agree with you. I think that the person has an, an innate intelligence. If you ask someone, if you keep asking them questions what do you feel is wrong with this?
And what do you, why do you feel this is, you know, they know it's just that maybe they've been kind of just accepting it or thinking there's no possible solution and, but they know what they need A lot of the times, in my opinion, like they know what their bottlenecks are, so to speak.
But, what do you do if someone comes to you and they have this great idea where they're like, I just decided I wanna go vegan, or I wanna do the ketogenic diet, or I wanna be carnivore. Do you, did you come up to any of those in the professional athletic realm?
Joel: Yeah. And I've kind of, uh, distilled my philosophy on that is, uh, there are no yeses and or nos. There's yes if or no unless Right. And to me, if you're willing to do it, if you're willing to take attention, and, and a lot of times if you are gonna follow a specific diet, it works because you are more aware of what you're doing and you're paying attention to things that I wish you had been paying attention all along.
Right. Um, so for me, it's all right. Yes. I'm gonna go vegan. Cool. Is now the time to do it is the middle of the season time to do it. This is what's gonna happen as you are, you know, you switch over or cool, you're gonna go vegan. These are the nutrients that are largely missing. Um, these are what needs to be true in your vegan diet, the mix of foods you need to, to kind of be checking all these boxes.
So, um, I'm, to me, I'm, I'm pretty adverse to saying no to anyone. Um, if it's something they're passionate about now, obviously educate and form, and sometimes it's just like, cool, but you're gonna not perform the way you want to. Right. But it's, uh, here's, here's the version of this we can do, or, or, you know, here's the steps we need to do to ease into that.
So, but yeah, like you said, the, the, everybody's pretty innately intelligent about what they are and how they feel. And, uh, to me it's always, rarely do a does an athlete. You know, lie, right? Uh, if they're feeling something and we can't figure out, that's on the science team. That's why there's a, that's why there's an expert in each field to figure out, okay, this guy is, you know, his performance drops off in the fourth quarter.
Why? It's not an effort thing. We know that, right? Like the, obviously their behaviors have gotten them to this point in their career, right? So it's, you know, is it a fueling issue? Is it a, you know, overuse issue? Is it a, you know, a mental focus in just, you know, the, the brain's not getting enough nutrients to be making these decisions as fast as it was at the beginning of the game.
Like if an athlete's feeling something, it's generally true. It's up to us to support that athlete with some information and figure out if we can figure out what is causing that.
Stephen: Yeah. Yeah, that makes perfect sense. Well, let's talk about Thorne because I'm sure this is a whole topic that, uh, I mean this, you're now with Thorne, right? And you're the director of what is your role there now?
Joel: So I'm the director of sports science. So Thorn's kinda a, a 40 year legacy company in the, the health and wellness space. So for the first 30 years you had to go through a healthcare practitioner because, and we still don't think anyone should blindly just take supplements without some guidance, right?
Uh, so, you know, we don't want people just blindly taking supplements and making like, cuz you have, it has to be in the right form. It has to be absorbable, it has to be the right time of day and understanding, you know, so again, the more we can inform you to make those CEO of you decisions, right. Um, But yeah, so my role is to kind of work on the performance side.
So, you know, I went from, you know, life and death in the ICU to wins and losses, right? But, uh, supporting any of our partners or, or anyone who's really trying to make a performance goal, like optimization as opposed to just health and wellness, right? Or kind of being the best human you can be to now be like, all right, let's, let's go above and beyond what, what, you know, kind of just average survival is.
So that's kinda where I do, and it, it's everything from, you know, a lot of times we work with organizations like we're partnered with the ufc, they have a phenomenal high performance team. So, uh, I'm really just a resource to them. Um, and then there's other organizations that really have no, uh, no budget or it's an individual athlete that needs kind of a real full on, let's do blood work, let's look at you.
Right. So I get to do really all the fun things I love to do. Right? And then there's a huge education side of it. Yeah, it's, it's a great place to.
Stephen: Yeah, I bet. ] the one thing I do love about working with athletes and having been one, is that they will do what it takes. If you decide to work with them automatically, they, the discipline is inherently baked into their, you know, their, the way they are, so there's no, they're not kicking the tires, they're wanting answers and they want to implement and try things.
So they're extremely enjoyable to work with. And, the interesting thing about performance versus like health and wellness is performance can imply I am redlining my system in a measured enough way. Where if I wanna win first at something, and maybe you have a philosophy around this, I'd like to hear it.
But if my goal is to win, that doesn't mean that I am optimizing for maximum health. It means that I'm optimizing for maximum performance. So you're willing to say, I'm gonna take a hit in some of these things, whether it's inflammation or, you know, maybe you could, you express a little bit about, uh, what, what somebody, when they're optimizing for performance, what are some of the things you really have to look after so that you're not, um, cutting off the health of the person to some capacity?
You know what I mean?
Joel: Yeah. And I, I think that's kind of why, um, we've seen such the kind of, the, the growth of the, the high performance model is, is people who have the information to realize what they did to themselves, to stay at that highest level, right? And realizing, all right, what can we do to mitigate that while it's happening?
Right? Like, Like, yeah, there's some things like, hey, running a marathon is not smart for survival. The body doesn't want to do it. Right? Like there's a ton of negatives that happen, right? Like anyone, you know, the Tuesday after Boston Marathon this week, nobody's feeling great, right? Um, but it is like, okay, this is, this is my truth.
This is what's gonna happen. What like goes back to biological costs? What do I need to do that and fuel my body? So it's not tapping any of these systems that, you know, are, are gonna cause more damage. Cause the body will always survive, right? Um, you know, in the athletic world, it's just a matter of how can we make it easier for it?
And, you know, uh, for a long time there was the, this idea of over training and, and I think while that can still happen, I, I think a lot of it is mislabeled as under recovery. So it is understanding that it's not just the two hours you're competing, it's one I'm gonna ask my body to do this over and over again and get better while doing it.
And you can't do that without. Taking care of recovery, whether it is, you know, physical recovery, uh, you know, uh, biological, metabolic recovery, mental recovery, like it's, and you have to have all of those, right? You have to have an answer for all of those to stay at the highest level. You have to minimize those, the negatives that, that, that intentional trauma that comes with training, right?
So, uh, a lot of it is just having a plan and an answer for everything. But I think a lot of us do that kind of in the, the day-to-day world, right? Like athletes are, it's, it is great to work with athletes because one, the readiness is there. They want to do things to improve them, right? And they've, you know, generally had access to, to some great people around that.
So their baseline knowledge is a little bit higher, but, All of us have these kind of pain points in our life where we sacrifice. We're like, yeah, all right, well, yeah, I'm, I'm gonna go out and have a drink after work and uh, I know tomorrow morning's gonna stink. Right? Uh, same kind of thing as that. Like, I'm gonna run this marathon.
I know I'm gonna hurt. Right? But the reality is you can do that same kind of philosophy, like, okay, what is, what am I asking my body to do? Or do I hydrate before? You know, are there some electrolytes? Whatever, like anything. And I'm just using that as a kinda an example, but same thing, like if I've got, you know, I'm giving a presentation, I know my stress level is gonna be high.
I have to be smart enough to do some things for myself that I know are strategies that work for me to kind of minimize my stress so that I can be optimal, Joel, when I'm giving that presentation. So the idea does translate kind of into the general population as well, and it really just comes down to asking your body to do support it, do anything above baseline.
Stephen: Yeah. Let me ask you this. What separates Thorne, because I'm always trying to tell people, don't go buying your supplements , on Amazon. There's a lot of counterfeits out there. There's a lot of expired supplements that have been sitting on shelves for a long time, and there's a lot of supplements that have been run on machines that, were one run versus many.
You don't know what fragments of, you know, were left on from the previous runs. Like, why should somebody choose Thorne? What? What makes you guys different and special and.
Joel: So, yeah, so, uh, say I, I found Thorn working through athletics cause I just needed, I knew there was certain, you know, I'm informed in the industry to some degree at the time. Um, and I knew there were, there's a difference between really good supplementation that's actually to do what I wanted to do.
And then things that are labeled that may not be, you know, and, and, uh, you know, we've had someone in our company made a, an allergy recently. You know, the drop off between, you know, the highest level of supplements to the lowest is, is probably bigger than it is, like, you know, farmer's Market or Whole Foods to McDonald's, right?
They're both, you know, Beef. But, uh, there's a difference in how your body uses them and how they, how they, uh, kinda work. But I think what a lot of people don't realize is a lot of supplement companies are kind of, um, really the way I look at it is they're marketing companies that are selling a product, and then there's the few supplement companies that are, you know, they make their own, um, make their own products.
So a lot of supplement companies, it's, it's kind of the ingredients are coming from these major manufacturers and they're just kind of picking their specs and putting their label on it. But there's not many supplement companies. You can go and visit the facility, right? You can, you can visit their website, but there's no physical.
Structure where they're actually producing them. And that's kind of where Thorn's different, and it, you know, it goes back to our legacy of doing this for 40 years. But, um, you know, by doing that, we have, you know, I think at this point, uh, over 30 credentialed healthcare practitioners that are full-time, right?
It's not just an advisory board, like the fact that my job exists within Thorn and I'm one of, you know, many, um, whose job is to make sure we're doing everything right, we're educating people the right way. The resources there to make you make these decisions for yourself, um, I think that's different. And then by, by manufacturing your own products, you, we have a, a very strong, um, control on ingredients and quality.
And so there's for, I don't know, I'd say like early two thousands there were some bad players who were intentionally spiking their products with, with. You know, bad ingredients, but then there's kind of the, the secondary leg. Is it gonna work the way I want it to? Right? Like, it's not a bad product, it's just not, you know, if I'm, you know, using numbers, but say you think you're getting 20 grams of protein, but it's, uh, in that 20 grams, 5% of it's filler and then it's only absorbed at 70% instead of 90%.
So at the end of the day, how much usable protein are you getting there? Right? So it's not that it's a bad product, it's just not doing what you think it is. Right. And then the whole idea of absorption, uh, I've got a, a colleague that says, it's not you are what you eat, it's are what you eat, you eat and can absorb.
Right. And that's a lot of times we'll see, you know, you put, you know, to, to make a multivitamin. Yeah. At the start, there may have been those ingredients in it, but is your body, you know, the binders, fillers, and the form, is it gonna break down in the right place in the body? So the nutrients that are supposed to be absorbed in, um, small intestine are absorbed there and not broken down denatured beforehand.
So, Those are all things you have to like put work into. And it's, it's hard to make that final product, the one that the body is gonna use optimally. Um, and that's where it takes a company that is really put doing the work and, and putting it in there. You know, we've got a full on quality control lab.
We've got, you know, we're always doing research, not just, uh, um, on potential new products, but our existing products and partnering with some really great, um, you know, trusted, uh, partners and research companies outside of the company. So it's not just like, here's this paper we wrote about our product that solves the exact problem we wanted to find.
Joel: it is, there, there is a responsibility, I think because you are dealing with, with health and wellness in people's really, you know, kind of performance. But, you know, health and wellness is, is even bigger than performance. There is a responsibility and kind of an ethics to make sure that what you're putting out, what you're saying is, uh, There's no, you're not hiding anything.
You know, there's full transparency so that, you know, everybody can make that, that individual, uh, decision for themselves. So I think that's, uh, that's what a lot of people don't understand about the industry. It's not just like, all right, I got this banana from this store. Like, I can look at it, I can see it's a banana.
Right? Um, you know, but then there's, uh, you know, when it, when it comes to supplementation, people like, it's, it's not something people are super well-informed on and, and don't understand the, the what needs to be true, the checks and balances that need to happen in order for the supplement to be something that you wanna put in your body, and is it gonna work the way you think it is?
Stephen: Yeah. I mean, I look at supplements similar to food in the sense that. You can buy a piece of meat and you can buy your vegetables. But there's a, a big difference between just going to any grocery store and getting any, traditional meat that is, laced with antibiotics and fed a grain diet as opposed to feeding on grass like with your meat or fish that's been, wild caught versus farmed or your vegetables that have been biodynamically grown, where the soil is optimized for, where the nutrients are still there versus just traditional farming practices where it's single crop and supplements are, are very similar in the sense that I think you're being very kind and the supplement industry to me is borderline criminal in some aspects because it's not regulated by the fda.
Some, so people can put in whatever they want. And like you said, they're marketing companies. They're bringing in this stuff from China. There's really minimal quality control. They're slapping a label on this. Without even getting into are these that types of molecules or compounds or nutrients that are bio available.
They're the, they're in the right form that the body can use as opposed to just being like, uh, and you know, when I try to sell people on Thorne, I say, look, each supplement's tested four times for purity. They have a team of researchers and doctors that formulate their supplements. They're held to the highest manufacturing standards in the world.
I mean, you guys have that Australian manufacturing certificate, right, where you get randomly audited and you've passed. And there was this interesting thing I read on your website like years ago that was less than, I think it's of the 15,000 supplement manufacturers globally, some tiny, tiny percentage gets randomly audited, and of the ones that do, a third of them fail.
Do you know that statistic
Joel: Yeah. Uh, so there's a couple different things you can look at. So, um, a lot of our products that we use for athletes are what's called, uh, NSF certified for Sports. That's an outside, um, company that's a quality control company, or it's minimizing what they do. Uh, but so we do a ton of testing inside very few companies do the amount of testings we do to make sure what we're putting out is what's on the label.
Um, but that's an example of one where we send those products out to make sure that they're a guarantee outside of our company that they're guaranteed ban substance free. So any drug tested athlete can, you know, have some, uh, assurance that, or some peace of mind that, okay, this has been tested, this has been looked at.
This has been, you know, I know if I'm taking only this and this only, you know, this is not a source of contamination, right? So, um, but the first step in that is to be, it has to be made in a, so that's every batch of that product. Has to be certified. So, you know, okay, if I took this bottle, this is a certified lot, right?
But the first step in doing that is to be an NSF certified facility. And that's a pretty massive undertaking where they look at everything, you know, like what, what people wouldn't, you don't, and I didn't think about it until I got into the industry like, you know, we, we don't allow wooden pallets into the facility cuz they could be a source of contamination, right?
So that's things like an NSF audit we'll look at and it's pretty stringent. And yeah, there are companies that are, you know, there are companies that are just cheating and then there's companies that are like, oh, I didn't even know to think about that, because they're not historically in this industry.
Right? Like, especially, you know, and it's a whole other conversation, what the rise of like social media influencers where, you know, somebody's like, alright, we're gonna make this company, we're gonna hire this person. And no one on that, uh, side of the business is, you know, educated on what goes into making a, a supplement and, and really what they're putting their name on.
So, Um, but yeah, so it is a pretty, yeah, it's crazy. Um, and that's all we could, yeah, we could do an hour on that, but.
Stephen: yeah, I mean, I've seen, uh, companies that do a hundred million in sales that are a small team of very young marketers. And there is no underpinnings of a real supplement company there. It's all a hundred percent a marketing company. And this is stuff that you're putting in your body to try to make yourself more healthy.
You know, I tell people , go with somebody who has been through all of the proper channels and, it holds themself to a standard that would allow people , to use them in clinical trials all over the world. There's a reason why Thorne is used in clinical trials, right?
Because you know what's on the bottle is in the bottle. So you're not tainting a, uh, a very expensive, uh, study, right?
Joel: Yeah. And I, I think the, the big issue there is, is just an awareness. Like if I go to the grocery store and I get a, you know, a thing of peaches, canon, heavy syrup, I'm under no illusion that that's the same as a peach that I'd picked off a tree in Georgia, right? But with supplements, it's not that easy, right?
So a lot of things I tell people look for, to find the good companies like Thoner, you know, if you go to the website, do they have education? Right? Are they trying to inform you, right? Are there healthcare practitioners that are using them or, you know, that are kinda referenced? And then I'll, you know, I'll recommend, uh, you know, doing little research and, and finding, you know, a, a doctor dietician or healthcare practitioner or, you know, a hospital system or a, um, like a edu type website, right?
And, and look at what form, like if you're like, Hey, I wanna take magnesium, right? Okay, this is the form magnesium, uh, glycinate is, is, you know, the one we use a lot. Um, is this company providing in that form, right? So you, there are some things you can do to learn, okay, this is the difference between a supplement company that I at least feel good about, um, is doing the work and taking the extra steps, right?
Like you're not forced to be an NSF certified facility, right? You're forced to be NSF certified for sport if you wanna work in professional sports, right? But what are there companies that are going above and beyond and doing those things that you wouldn't ask them to or you don't know to ask them to, but they're doing it anyway and have been right?
So I think that's a good way to kind of start educating yourself on, on what. you're putting in your body, right? So that you can make those, those kind of educated decisions. But yeah, for me it's always are they providing education? Are there, you know, if they link you to more information about the product and there's not a, you know, a, um, a link to the article there quoting, right?
Joel: of started to ask myself why. Right? And it doesn't mean, you know, it doesn't mean they're, they don't have those references and they don't have those, you know, scientists on their team, but show your work. Right? So, uh, I think there's, there's something to that. And, and working with athletes specifically, even before the social media influencers, I would say.
Like if you read the label in like Monster Truck voice, there's just tons of adjectives blazing. Like that's not a biological term. Right. Um, and then the other thing about is. But under FDA regulation and, and the Federal Trade Commission, which kind of governs what you can say about a product, no supplement can cure anything, right?
So if it's curing anything or treating anything or using any of those words, uh, making claims about, you know, really impacting disease states, that's not a company that's following the rules, right? So if they're not following them on how they talk about the product, that's a pretty big red flag that you want to do a little bit more work there.
So, yeah, uh, supplements can, what they're, you know, they supplement a diet, right? They supplement what the body can do, so, You know, you can, you know, you can improve the body's response to inflammation or response to training, but you, you know, you can't, uh, like if a supplement says, for example, anti-inflammatory is not a thing you can say about a supplement.
No supplements are approved to treat inflammation. Right? But we can know what the body does and the response to inflammation, right? So while that sounds nuanced, um, those kind of things, yeah. If it's treating a condition that that's not something that's allowed, uh, in, in America. So if, if they're making those, those claims, then that's pretty quick red flag that they're probably not doing the quality control to make sure that that product is, is what you wanna put in your body.
Stephen: yeah. And Thorne can end up being not as sexy as some social media, like just rogue, supplement company that is making some of these, blazing, what did you call it? Blazing, uh, I dunno what you
Joel: Blazing intensity or white hot heat.
Stephen: white. But, um, well, look, you know, what I would like to talk about is, A little bit of some strategy around some of your NSF or sports line of supplements, cuz I've, I've used all of them most likely.
And, uh, there are a few, I haven't used your quil or maybe the recovery protein, , maybe we'll start with vitamin D, the vitamin that's so important that you make it from the sun. So it's baked into our physiology, right? But then you have these kids or athletes who will be in school all day long.
So they're indoors and then they drive to a gym and then they might train four or five hours in an indoor facility and then they go through, Some sort of puberty where their bones are growing, right? And they're, and then you always see these stress fractures that come up during these time periods of when they're growing.
And to me, there's some pretty staggering statistics on your website related to Vitamin D deficiency with athletes. Could you maybe just talk about the importance of vitamin D and a little bit of the use case for that.
Joel: Yeah. So I think vitamin D is a perfect example of, of when to supplement, right? Like, you know, I'm a dietician. We always say food first, right? But sometimes food's not enough, right? And, and either in the case of vitamin D, there's just not that many great sources of, of vitamin D and the diet, like it does some exposure is a major part of it.
And you know, if you're living north of Atlanta for half the year, the Strong's not, uh, the sun's not strong enough, even if you're outside training, right? And then you add. Sunscreen and protective clothing. All these things that, you know, we, we use for different reasons. Those all kind of block. Or, you know, you're a football player and you're wearing a helmet and you know your face is blocked, right.
And your eyes are blocked. Right? So, um, that is something where we see, I mean, it's a, it's an issue in the population deficiency, um, as well. But then you look at athletes who are asking more of their bodies, like, are their needs higher? And then, um, you know, we've, we actually worked with, um, uh, NFL Combine guys, and we, we didn't, wasn't an intervention study.
We just took a snapshot, right? Of all these athletes coming from Power Five conferences where they have unlimited feeding, they have dieticians, they have all this stuff around them, um, and things like vitamin D and magnesium were, were on the lower end for a lot of these athletes. Pretty staggering number.
Um, so it is just kind of going to show that, you know, sometimes the diet just isn't adequate or the diet you're eating, right? Like, I could probably design a perfect diet, but unless you have the, all the commitment in the world, the personal chef, right? Um, is your diet actually meeting those needs? So a a lot of times it is falling short and then there's the whole conversation and then science is improving.
Um, you know, we kinda went back to the, the biomarkers, but is there such thing as the difference between adequate for survival and optimal for performance, right? So that's where we're looking at too. Like, you know, vitamin D for example, if you get to say 30, um, nanograms is your level is 50 better, but a hundred.
Bad, right? Those are all things where the science is looking at to kind of understand like, okay, there's, there's recommendations to like, not be deficient or not promote, uh, negative situations of the body. And then is there something where there is an optimal level? Right? And that's kind of where it comes back to the, the education and, and what I feel a responsible company, um, anyone that's kind of making recommendations around health and wellness is where's the show your work?
Right? Like you mentioned, you know, thorn, we have a pretty extensive, um, blog series where, you know, you start reading about vitamin D there's six other articles, uh, you can read about to inform yourself, and each one of those has references if you want to dig in and nerd out about it, right? So, um, it it, it does go back to both the responsibility of the company to educate so that you're making those decisions and then, uh, you kind of really taking the responsibility to understanding like, okay, is the supplement the right answer for me?
Right? And then there, there's other supplements like. Protein, for example, or, or amino complex as you mentioned. Um, yeah, there's plenty of ways to get 20 grams of protein or leucine, the kind of amino acid that triggers kind of muscle recovery to kind of stop the breakdown and start the recovery process.
And you need about 2.5 grams, give or take, depending on who you read. But I can get that from a chicken breast, I can get that from a scuba way. But for me personally, uh, you know, and the earlier you turn that on, the earlier the recovery starts, right? But for me, my gut is not accepting of even a protein shake isn't gonna make me feel great.
So then it's like, okay, amino acids, let's take the leucine. But if you take leucine alone, There's a reason that like a, proteins are a whole, uh, you know, kind of mix of amino acids, right? So then we had like the sciences, like, all right, leucine is important for this, but the rest are for muscle, you know, kind of recovery turn on, but the rest of the body's still happening, so we need to provide it in the, in the, uh, presence of the other essential amino acids, right?
So it's that kind of degree of detail. Like, yes, I can show you this research paper that says ellucian's important, but then let's take a step back and realize, okay, why? Like, why are whole proteins, you know, why would they be better? Okay, let's answer for that. And then it's, uh, um, you know, that's when it is the informed decision, but you have to be educated enough to know that right.
Stephen: Yeah. Yeah. I mean it, for someone like me, I work out , a lot and to me, I'm, I'm almost 50. And to keep an appreciable amount of muscle on my body, I think is correlated with longevity. I don't wanna be fragile when I'm older. , I wanna be very active. And as we get older, we start losing, you know, a pound of muscle on average every year because of, you know, sarcopenia, we become, uh, resistance to ana anabolic sort of signaling.
And, for me, protein is one of those things that, of all the things that I would count, that's the one that I, I'm usually keeping track of. , I'm really good listening to my , hunger hormones about, my energy. But when it comes to protein, and for me, i, I just as protein is, is difficult to digest, especially as you get older, you might need some digestive enzymes cuz you're not making as many digestive enzymes to, to break this stuff down.
I mean, 30% of the calories of protein are used just in the digestion of protein. It's very interesting. So, for me, something like a whey protein or an amino complex is a godsend in order to, be able to reach a level of that I wanna reach without shoving, a ton of food down the pipe, so to speak, and, potentially affecting my digestion.
Joel: Yeah, so I, I think that's kind of just why, like we kind of educate around supplements. It's, it's, it's an option, right? Like for me, like I travel often trying to get quality protein sources in a, in an airport and not just necessarily something my body wants
Stephen: Good luck.
Joel: on a plane for six hours, right?
So I always travel with amino complex and for me, I'm using that as a cheat code to protein or just an alternate solution, right? But, uh, you know, kinda as you mentioned, it's, it's okay truth, I need X amount of protein per day. I can do it through food choices, I can do it by behavior changes. Like, okay, I'm gonna make sure I have this protein containing snack, whatever in the middle of my already full feeling.
Or it's, you know, I don't want to cook three eggs in the morning, but I will do a protein shake. Right? So it's just, uh, there's things like vitamin D where it's like, okay, this isn't necessarily a great choice, uh, stores in the diet. And then there is kind of, am I using supplements as just a tool? Right? So I think there's kind of a different ways to look at it.
Um, but again, it is an option, but you have to be pretty intentional about who you're choosing. So just as you would with your food, right? So you wanna know where it comes from, how it's made, how the body uses it, what quality is it? So yeah, to me it's, it's, you know, supplements are there to supplement a, a diet, but, um, you know, they are a true solution for a lot of people for a lot of different situations.
Stephen: Yeah, I mean, I agree with you a hundred percent on the airplane. I won't touch a piece of airplane food. I mean, I'll usually even take like some, ketones or something just to kind of get me through the flight. They're all just fast. You know, there's some interesting stuff where if you, when you eat, your body turns on mTOR and your, , DNA will expose, so it can be read, and then that's where the radiation in the plane can actually break apart and get some double stranded break DNAs, you know, so when you, when you're fasting, when you're on an airplane the DNA's coiled up and it's protected more and mean, this is kind of nuanced and probably some people are like, Jesus, that's way over the top, but.
I just don't eat food, airplane food, period. Because I just think it's absolute garbage. But, , that's a little side note, but I You do, you have brought up magnesium a couple of times, and correct me if I'm wrong, magnesium is the second most efficient nutrient in the standard American diet, right?
Joel: Yeah, and that's kind of, uh, it's one of those, it, it doesn't get as much attention as vitamin D and you know, 10 years ago people, I was still convincing people that vitamin D was, or you know, or was something that you should be at least aware of, right? So magnesium, it's kind of dropped in our soil, right?
So it's not similar to vitamin D, it's just not as prevalent in the diet, and it is one that does your needs. Change the more you do or the more you ask your body to do, it's involved in like 600 enzymatic reactions. So it touches kind of everything. Um, but it's until like relatively recent, you have to get an extra blood test to see your kind of true levels, uh, because
Stephen: Red Blood Cell.
Yeah. Right. So you want, you red blood cell magnesium can tell you just like vitamin D, you have to do the serum vitamin D. Like, that'll tell you more of what's actually happening in your body. And you know, now that's pretty much the standard. But yeah, so a lot of people that aren't aware of kinda the prevalence of, of magnesium deficiency or insufficiency or suboptimal, whichever levels you wanna look at.
But uh, for me, because it's involved in so many different things, um, it is, if I had to pick a favorite nutrient, uh, I think it's one that a lot of people see benefit from, you know, both in, you know, muscle health. And, um, for me it kind of helps me. Kind of get in that idea of sleeping right? Like nothing in magnesium sedates you.
But uh, as you're kind of switching into that, and especially me all over the place, different time zones or being active, like when my clock tells me I should sleep and when my lifestyle tells me I should sleep, not necessarily in the same place. So, uh, you know, and it's, if you think about it, magnesium, Epsom salts are magnesium.
It's why we take Epsom salt baths to kind of relax the muscles outside in similar kind of role in the body. But yeah, it's just, it's involved in so many different things and where science is looking at it more and more so if, I mean, if you were to Google Scholar Magnesium, uh, it's, people are looking at it in so many different ways.
So, yeah. And it's, you know, it's a, it's a core mineral, you know, it's, it's something that traditionally was involved in our diet pretty frequently and it's one of the ones that is, you know, from soil content in different reasons, has kind of dropped in our food supplies. So that's why it's kind of crept up as a deficiency for a lot of people.
Stephen: Yeah, I mean, I've heard you just can't, pretty much, almost impossible to get it from the diet. Just, a lot of the, um, leafy greens and all this stuff have been, you know, as the time's harvested and it's sitting on the shelves and then it's sitting in your, your drawer and your refrigerator all that time, it's starting to lose.
, it's, , potency. But for me, I don't think I've missed a magnesium supplementation over a decade. I mean, maybe I could count him on one hand, obviously, , there has been a few times, but for me, I think magnesium is, I, I love it. I was listening to this guy, Chris, master John, he's a PhD nutritionist, and do you know who he is?
Joel: I, I know that, yeah. I don't know personally, but yeah.
Stephen: Yeah, and , he has this supplement guide for non people like you that are like really, really, you know, versed in the subject, but he kind of boils the stuff down. And, if you just stripped everything away from magnesium, it would be you needed to make protein and you needed to make energy.
And I agree with you sleep, when it's, chelated with glycinate, which is already an inhibitory neurotransmitter, super relaxing, you know, magnesium in itself is soothing and, and calming. And I just think , it's a perfect, um, very first one to put in your sleep stack if you're trying to devise a sleep stack.
It's like, well make sure you got your magnesium glycinate first. Cuz you probably already are deficient in some capacity in magnesium. Have you seen, or know about these calcium volted, channels that get triggered from emf? And so E m F basically allows calcium to pour into these cells and it, and it, it's, it's making, you know, the magnesium kind of protects against that.
Have you done any research on that?
Joel: Uh, I'm aware of the concept. I can't speak, uh, with confidence to it. Uh, I need to, you know, educate myself a little bit more before I try and make any recommendations to anybody listening. But yeah, it's, to me that's just, it's, I love the access to science that we have, uh, is kind of improving, so you can do a little bit more research and inform yourself.
But yeah, I mean, magnesium, calcium, they're both kind of minerals. They both kind of play in the same way. So there is always, you know, a question like, do I take them together? Do I take them separately? And depending on what you're trying to do, you know, the answer may be different. So it's one of those, I would say like, uh, there's, uh, I think, I know we can prove, and, you know, until we get to the, you know, like if you're doing a decision for yourself, you're like, all right, it's leading this way.
And from what I've read, there's no, uh, Warning signs are, are things I shouldn't do. So if it's a first do no harm and the research is leading that way and you're doing it yourself, but for me as a practitioner to, to really make a recommendation on anything, it has to be the what we can prove, you know?
So what I may do as my n of one study on myself is a little different than what I would know, be able to, to be on record saying. But yeah, it's interesting and, and that's where I, I love, I love science and I love the access to it, which is double-edged sword cuz there's, it's harder to find, you know, the, the true sources of, of, uh, resources and not just like a cherry picked.
We, we always hear like some wild headline and then, uh, two days later, all the experts come out and be like, they cherry picked this little bit of information, didn't read the rest of the study. And that's not what it said at all. Right? So, um, you know, I think generally if it's, if it's a sensational headline, wait a couple days and see what the consensus is from people you trust.
Stephen: I think you're absolutely, well, you, it is a hundred percent correct what you're saying. Let me, lemme see about fish oil. Cuz fish oil has been, Really one of those supplements for me, just it improved my cardiovascular panel. , a lot of people in the standard American diet are getting a ton of omega sixes, their ratio of omega threes.
So omega sixes is way off and we need omega sixes. But when they're that far off, you need it for what blood clotting it is a pro-inflammatory, whereas the omega threes, like the fish oil are, uh, non-inflammatory. Right. And so that, that balance, and for me from like my joints, my blood flow, , it was, it was paramount for me.
Like I, to me it was one of those things that it, I could really feel the difference when I dialed in my fish oil and I use the super e p A product. Can you talk a little bit about that? I know it's in , the athletic, the NSF stuff, so for athletes, what is this providing for them?
Joel: Yeah. So it, it goes back to that, that foundational, uh, part of the, the treating the human and human performance. So, I mean, fish oil is a perfect example. It's there, there's three macronutrients that's protein, carbs, and fat, right? And it's, we've got, it's a little bit easier to make, you know, smart carbohydrate sources knowing depending on what you want, fast or slow energy, right?
Uh, protein, you know, there's all kinds of education on what quality protein are or what the body absorbs, but fats aren't as easy for people to put a handle on. So it, to me, uh, omega threes and whether it's from fish oil and, you know, fish oils a good source of omega3s cuz of the algae they eat, right? So they have a good diet, so their oils are, are uh, you know, kind of, uh, healthful.
Um, but it, it goes to me, it's a little bit kind of like, yeah, so true. We know having a good balance is great. Um, you know, It's kind of like the, the protein amino acid, like how many eggs and avocados and salmon can you eat a day? Are you gonna, like, it's just not realistic for me to get, um, you know, and I'm not, you know, doing shots of olive oil or anything like that, which there was a time where that was a, a, a fad for a while.
There's GI con uh, considerations of doing that, but yeah, no, so to me it's just, it is like, it's pretty undisputed that fats are one of the three major things you need in diets are essential, right? Essential fatty acids. Um, which means you, you can't make enough in your body, so you have to take them in from the outside.
So, um, I think that's, you know, a very well known kind of te in, in medical books and nutrition books and whatnot, that, uh, healthy fats are, play all these roles in the body from, you know, skin and membranes to, you know, the integrity of your, uh, red blood cells to re so many different, just like maybe it touches so many different things in the body, that having a beneficial source of the right source of fat allows your body to do smart things.
Joel: So for me, yeah, it's just kind of, uh, it, it is the kind of that cheat code's not the right word, but it, it's just a good backup plan of, you know, healthful oils. So, um, yeah, I think it's, it's one that's, it's been around and, uh, you know, but, and then it comes down to what is the source of it. You have to look at, you know, you know, look at as farm raise tilapia as as good for you, as as FreshCo.
Same thing, you know, uh, is the source of the fish oil you're getting, you know, is it a bunch of other oil? And then Yeah. Or is it like, you know, there's, you look and there's, you know, I don't know, a thousand milligrams of fish oil or oil in there. And then you get into it and you're like, oh, I'm really only getting 200 of that thousand is the, the, the Omega-3, the, you know, EPA or DHA or the type of, um, fatty acids in Omega3s, right?
Am I, is that, and it's, you have to know to look like, you're like, oh, well this one's 5,000. Milligram, I'm making these doses up, but, and this one's a thousand, like clearly this one's better. It's five times better. But then you look and like, oh, providing me.
Joel: it's, it's one of those like, yeah. Have to,
Stephen: Yeah. And then for like an athlete, you probably would lean a little bit more on a larger e p A side than you would the d H A. Well, I guess it depends. If you're an F1 driver, you might lean more on the D H A. Right? But the, the E p A is more noted for, the inflammation aspect. Right. Whereas the DHA is more for the brain.
Joel: Well, DHA is, yeah, so you hold DHA in your, in your brain, right? It's one of the things that we see, uh, if there's any kind of insult to the brain, a lot of times you can get natured or dropped. So that's why you see it in, uh, a lot of, um, concussive protocols or, and on the flip side, developing brain and, and, you know, prenatal and, and youth and infant when the brain is growing, right?
So it's definitely, uh, integrated in the brain quite a bit. But, um, yeah, for me, you know, if you're, and, and I, you know, there's sometimes where you'll take DHA alone, but for me, the body, because the body uses them differently, and even if you're not forming the one driver, you're making decisions to be an athlete, you're, you're using your brain to be an athlete, right?
So, um, while EPA and d h a, they have some commonality and some differences in the body, um, for me, I generally recommend, like, generally you'll probably need both. Um, so, uh, I generally look for, unless I'm, you know, having an informed decision of why I choose one or the other. Um, to me, I, I look for like a good mix of both.
Stephen: What about creatine? Because creatine is a very well studied, it's been around, we're seeing a lot of stuff , with brain health with it. I imagine any football player that's taking impact.
Would probably bode well on, on five grams of creatine every single day,
Joel: man, I like if we had, if we had planned this before and you asked me to like, plan my greatest hits, you're, you're, you're hitting all my favorites here. But yeah. So creatine is, it's uh, it's one of the most re uh, research supplements out there, if not the most. Um, so I like that. So there's a, a, a body of work to stand iron and, and further education you can give yourself, but.
Yeah. So, uh, creatine, it's, it's, you know, it's one of those things, and this is again an analogy, not true numbers, but say you can hold 10 grams in your muscle, right? The average diet will probably get you to six, right? So it's just one of those why not optimized, right? And, and it provides a source of energy, right?
So in the muscles that makes sense. Um, but your brain is 20% of your calories to the brain, right? So that's why it's getting attention around, um, brain health in general, cognition. And then, you know, when your, your brain is dealing with an injury, um, you know, the metabolic needs of the brain go up, just like if you tear your hamstring, the metabolic needs of the, or the biological needs of the hamstring increase, right?
So it is one where, you know, they're looking at, if we provide this energy to the brain, does it have some, you know, outcome, right? So what we do know is that creatine is a source of fuel that can, you know, cross into the blood, crosses the blood brain barrier. So we know that there's a ton of research, uh, then looking at.
Does creatine, can it impact resiliency, for lack of better word, can it shorten the, you know, kind of, or, or improve their recovery time from a brain injury or from minor to major? So those are all like, again, what do we think? What do we know? What can we prove? Right? We're in the process of looking at it so that hopefully we can definitively say, yeah, of course this should be part of your protocol.
But, uh, on the flip side, just looking at the kind of physiology and, and me metabolism that the brain kind of lives in. Yeah. Creatine is a source of energy just like it is for the muscles. And, uh, for me, uh, as much as it is, like if you think about, yeah, it's great for athletes especially, you see most of the, um, Hype around creatine, especially in the nineties, was Oh yeah.
Like, you know, youth, I'm starting, I put 20 pounds on my bench. Well, it's cuz you're asking your muscles to do more. You're creating new muscles, your tank's getting bigger and a lot of times you're, you know, and you're youth and you're still growing, so you're, your tank is actually getting bigger. Right.
So yeah, you're making adaptations because you're doing more training. Right. But I find it more, uh, recommended or, or I use it a lot more in, like you said, to sarcopenia, just providing the muscle with health. Right. And, and providing the muscle, the best environment it can possibly be in, um, to be able to continue to do what you want to do as.
There are predicted declines in muscle health over time. Like why not provide, uh, ate a great source of energy and just create an optimal environment in the muscle. And, um, you touched on something before about, you know, wanting to age gracefully and quality of life, being able to move and there's so much information around, uh, movement, exercise, muscle health, bone health and, and quality of life as you age.
But, um, me, I would say like performance is personal. So yeah, you may be trying to medal or you may be trying to just pick up your grandkids, right? Or, or run a 5k, right? Like that's as personal to you as it is, as any other performance goals. So just kind of taking stock on, okay, what am I asking my body to do?
What are ways I can just make it easier for my body to do that? And that's kind of, that's how I boil down nutrition, right? It's just,
Joel: you know, if you wait to fix the problem after it's an issue, what can I be giving my body to allow it to perform optimally and do what it wants to do? And, you know, Just stay at the level I I expected to be at.
Stephen: Yeah, it's a great point. It's almost like a, nice cherry for the, the end of this podcast, you know, what you just said. For someone like me, I have felt what it's like to be in that tiny 1% of, of the world. And, at elite level of athletics for 12 years.
And when I retired, it all went to garbage. I mean, the whole discipline, the rug just got pulled and I'd made the choice. I said, I want to feel like a professional athlete again. That's the way I want to live, but I'll, I'll be a non-professional athlete. I'll just, I wanna feel that way. Now, obviously, I'm not at the same caliber, but I have the same energy.
I have no joint pain. I, I maintain single digit body fat. Like I'm super active. And I'm like, that, that's my motive, you know, is to, to go after. The health and wellness and then the performance aspect to not cross the line on the performance, you know, to not go into something that is going to be detrimental to my longevity.
Because at the end of the day, that's now the priority, I'm super appreciative of, I mean, I, I really could a abuse your time and have you on here cuz I would love to cover, your mariva supple. I mean, I could go down the whole list, but the thing is that Thorne provides a ton of information on their website.
I think everyone is probably gleaned from this, that you guys are a real. Serious, legitimate, in my opinion, the best player in the supplement. You know, I've seen you guys grow. I'm very impressed with the quality of humans that are working, , for Thorne like yourself. , I cannot thank you enough for coming onto this podcast because I have been a big advocate of you guys for well over a decade.
I've been partnered with you for a decade, and to have someone, like you, who is a director of the sports stuff, I, I really thank you for your time and giving us , some insightful stuff,
Joel: oh, happy to be here. And I, like you said, I could talk for hours. So, uh, yeah, we'll, uh, we'll have to do another one. Uh, any, anytime I can get, share my, my knowledge and education that's, you know, I've been able to glean if I can pass that on and make, make something, make sense for somebody or, you know, inform their, their health decision and, and really allow them to, to optimize who they're being, uh, whether it's health and wellness, whether it's performance, that's, uh, that's a place I'd love to be.
So happy, uh, happy to be here and thanks the opportunity. Share some knowledge.
Stephen: Yeah. Thank you. Joel Totoro, , you can find him on LinkedIn. Do you have any other ways people can, maybe if they have some questions about some stuff you said that they can contact you?
Joel: Yeah, I, uh, Unfortunately not a a, a big social media guy, so I don't have a, I don't share a lot there that's educational, but Thorn does. So follow, you know, thorn on all platforms. And really to me, uh, the, if you go to the, the Thorne website, uh, take five daily is our kind of educational spot on the, on the website, so on, you know, if you start searching in there, uh, there's multiple articles on multiple topics.
So, uh, you can generally find some information there. And I do write some of those. Um, and we do have a, a, a Thorn podcast. So we have kind of everything from pretty deep dives into a specific topic to, uh, I host a performance one, so that's a little bit more talking about the stuff. We're talking about some real world kind of, uh, what, what I can learn from this athlete or, or, you know, from this practitioner and just kind of just some tidbits that, uh, you know, Can, uh, can go a long way to improving your, your knowledge.
So yeah, any, any kind of, uh, thorn's pretty great about putting education out, so that's where you can find a lot more of me. Um, and then, you know, there's always the, uh, you know, uh, contact information on Thorn specific, you know, that eventually gets triaged down to, uh, if it's a sports question, it'll, it'll get to us.
Or like I said, I'm one of 30 plus credentialed folks, so I may not be the best person to answer. And, and we'll person to triage that to is, uh, get you the information you need to.
Stephen: Fantastic. Well, I'll include everything in the show notes in terms of like the Take five and the podcast. I wanna listen to that too cuz I'm surprised that I haven't, um, that's, I feel irresponsible that I haven't done that. But, , I do know your product line very well, so, uh, again, thank you so much for coming on, Joel.
I really appreciate it. I look forward to another one in the future if you can make time for it and for everyone that's listening, thank you for tuning into the Stephen McCain podcast and we will see you on the next one. Stay healthy, everyone.
This week's episode of the Stephen McCain podcast is all about optimizing performance with nutrition. My guest is Joel Tortoro.
Joel is a registered dietitian and Director of Sports Science at Thorne. He oversees human performance integration with Thorne's sports partners and serves as a liaison to the medical affairs, research and design teams.
Totoro also served 8 years as team dietitian for the New England Patriots becoming the first full-time sports dietitian in professional sports.
Let's do this!
Joel Totoro is a registered dietitian and Director of Sports Science at Thorne. He oversees human performance integration with Thorne's sports partners and serves as a liaison to the medical affairs, research and design teams. He worked on the Performance and Innovation Team at EXOS following a stop as the sports dietitian for University of Michigan.
Totoro also served 8 years as team dietitian for the New England Patriots becoming the first full-time sports dietitian in professional sports. Totoro also served as the assistant chief dietitian at St. Luke’s Hospital, specializing in trauma nutrition.
He holds a B.S. in Allied Health-Dietetics from the University of Connecticut and is an original member and former BoD chairperson for the Collegiate and Professional Sports Dietitian Association.
[00:01:18] Working with the New England Patriots.
[00:04:19] Building the sports nutrition program.
[00:08:41] Human performance and optimization.
[00:11:23] Athletes' recovery and nutrition.
[00:14:38] Genetic testing and biomarkers.
[00:16:01] Assessing pain points and improvements.
[00:19:08] Vegan diet and performance.
[00:22:18] Optimizing for maximum performance.
[00:26:14] What makes Thorne different?
[00:28:00] Manufacturing quality control and transparency.
[00:31:30] Supplement industry regulation concerns.
[00:35:41] Supplement company awareness.
[00:38:00] FDA regulation and supplement claims.
[00:41:22] Nutritional deficiencies in athletes.
[00:45:04] Digestion and protein breakdown.
[00:48:06] Magnesium deficiency and benefits.
[00:51:49] Calcium and EMF effects.
[00:54:53] Fats and Omega 3.
[00:59:12] Creatine and brain health.
[01:04:39] Thorne's growth and quality.
[01:06:06] Thorne podcast and education.
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