Layne Norton Demystifying Nutrition Research

Layne Norton
Full Transcript

Back to Episode

Kelly: [0:00:04] Hey everyone, I’m Dr. Kelly Starrett.

Juliet: [0:00:06] And I’m Juliet Starrett.

Kelly: [0:00:08] And you’re listening to The Ready State Podcast.


Juliet: [0:00:17] This episode of The Ready State Podcast is brought to you by Momentous and the thing we want to talk about today is Grass Fed Whey Protein.

Kelly: [0:00:24] No, no, no. It’s not that. It’s my snack obsession.

Juliet: [0:00:27] Tell us more.

Kelly: [0:00:28] So I’m always chasing enough protein grams. It seems silly.

Juliet: [0:00:30] Me too.

Kelly: [0:00:31] But I just sometimes feel like I don’t get enough protein grams. So right now, currently, I’m taking a little Skyr, little Icelandic yogurt.

Juliet: [0:00:37] Skyr.

Kelly: [0:00:39] Skyr. And then I throw in a scoop of protein.

Juliet: [0:00:40] That’s S-k-y-r. 

Kelly: [0:00:42] Either the vanilla or the chocolate, both are fantastic. So either put into a coffee Skyr or a little vanilla Skyr and I add an apple. Lisa’s loving when I say Skyr. What happens is I get this delicious chocolatey or vanilla-y protein bomb and I’m like, wow, this is like dessert. It’s so good.

Juliet: [0:01:00] You really do eat it every single day.

Kelly: [0:01:01] I eat it every single day. And I’m like, ate an apple, count towards the grams, and 35 more grams of protein. One of the things about this protein, look, I am a child of the ‘90s and when we started lifting weights and we were like, protein, I like protein too. And the issue was not all proteins felt really good on my stomach. This protein has an incredible enzyme for digestion called ProHydrolase. Man, I feel great eating this. I don’t get bloat; I don’t feel sick. I love this protein.

Juliet: [0:01:29] Yeah, and it mixes into stuff like oatmeal and yogurt in a way that makes it super yummy and palatable.

Kelly: [0:01:34] Get those macros.

Juliet: [0:01:35] It’s so good. Head over to and use code TRS for 20 percent off your first purchase. 

Kelly: [0:01:44] Protein.

Juliet: [0:01:45] This episode of The Ready State Podcast is brought to you by Sleepme.

Kelly: [0:01:48] I want to talk about your weighted blanket obsession.

Juliet: [0:01:51] I am obsessed with my cooled weighted blanket by Sleepme.

Kelly: [0:01:54] And there’s the difference.

Juliet: [0:01:56] And here’s the deal: I definitely have phases in my life where I struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Kelly: [0:02:00] True.

Juliet: [0:02:01] Mostly because I am ruminating in my own mind about things that probably are not important.

Kelly: [0:02:06] You know what’s great about that in our life, is that you can ruminate and I can go to bed.

Juliet: [0:02:10] Yeah. And the weighted blanket, the problem with a traditional weighted blanket is that you’re under the weighted blanket and then halfway through the night you have to cast it off because you’re literally 1,000 degrees.

Kelly: [0:02:20] That happened to me.

Juliet: [0:02:21] Yeah. The beauty of the cooled weighted blanket by Sleepme is that it keeps the blanket cool so you can literally keep it on your body all night long and it literally creates this cocoon womb like sleeping environment-

Kelly: [0:02:33] The right temp.

Juliet: [0:02:34] That is so awesome.

Kelly: [0:02:35] Yeah. Thermoregulation is the next frontier in sleep density and sleep quality. Don’t mess around. And so if you need something like a weighted blanket can help you sleep better, super charge that thing and have it also help you to regulate temperature.

Juliet: [0:02:50] Huge fan of the weighted blanket. Head over to to learn more and save off the purchase of any new Cube, OOLER, or Dock Pro sleep system. There is an offer available exclusively for The Ready State Podcast listeners, and only for a limited time. That’s to take advantage of our exclusive discount and wake up refreshed every day under your weighted blanket. 

Kelly: [0:03:14] On this episode of The Ready State Podcast we are thrilled to bring you the brain, the man, Layne Norton. Layne is a big part of our life in terms of understanding nutrition and the current state of nutrition. But it didn’t always start that way. It started because Layne, a self-proclaimed nerd who lifted heavy things, went on to get a BS in biochemistry with honors from Eckerd and a PhD in nutritional sciences with honors from University of Illinois. He’s an innovator in the fitness industry to be sure. He helped popularize flexible dieting in an online nutrition coaching prep platform. From 2005 to 2018 he worked with over 1,700 clients and 500 competitors. By which us saying that he works at the pointy end of the spear, he understands what it’s like to actually work with people. Since moving away from online coaching, Layne is focused on writing books. He’s got a ton: Fat Loss Forever, The Complete Contest Prep Guide. But more recently, developing the Carbon Diet Coach nutritional coaching app that he created, and he creates certification courses through the Clean Health Institute. His passion is for helping others achieve their goals in education and he and his wife, I should say his business partner, are busy humans. 

Juliet: [0:04:23] Yeah, I mean this was such a fun conversation and we actually could do a part two because I think we only got through 50 percent of the things we want to talk about. But what I so appreciate about Layne is the way that he made it his mission in life to demystify research, especially in the nutritional space, and try to break it down for regular people so that people can parse out what is and is not actually correct information in this space.

Kelly: [0:04:46] Yeah. And what you can see is he has evolved and become such a big anchor for understanding nutritional science as it relates to actual behavioral change. He’s also really, I feel like he’s been a voice from this movement away from where we made people fear food and really confused people about, well, what can I eat, and how do I manage this around changing my body composition and eating for performance, which are sort of radically different ideas. 

Juliet: [0:05:13] I think what’s so hard these days with all the chaos and all the firehose information on the internet is to figure out who can be actual trusted sources of quality information. And I know for us and everybody on The Ready State staff, he is one of our trusted sources of solid information in the internetosphere.

Kelly: [0:05:31] Yeah. And again, something that really resonates with me that he has done with the Carbon Coach App is it’s not always working with a person one on one—you can’t beat that, right—but if you can scale 80 percent effectiveness, if we can begin a conversation with people knowing how to fuel themselves, knowing how to fuel their body composition in a really reasonable way and in a sustainable way, that is really the bones of revolution.

Juliet: [0:05:56] Yeah, I mean I think we had a really interesting and wide-ranging conversation with him and I hope you guys really enjoy it as much as we did.

Juliet: [0:06:04] Hey Ready State listeners, if you like what you’re hearing, please subscribe and leave a review on iTunes to help others find our show. 

Juliet: [0:06:11] Layne, welcome to The Ready State Podcast. We’re honored and excited to chat you up today. Thanks for being here.

Layne Norton: [0:06:16] Thank you guys. I really appreciate it. I’m excited to be here.

Kelly: [0:06:19] Everyone knows we are huge fans of your work and consume everything you put out. I feel like it’s such a rationalization or a nice balance between you’re actually at the pointy end of the spear working with actual people trying to either gain weight or lose weight or change body composition—or wait for it—perform, which are not always the same thing. You do such a good job integrating complex nutritional science, slaying cows. We’re such big fans and such a big part of it, even some of our staff came in today so they could lurk in the background and listen to the podcast. So welcome. We’re real excited to have you.

Layne Norton: [0:06:55] Oh, thank you. I appreciate it.

Juliet: [0:06:57] We have so much to talk about, about what you’re doing currently and nutrition and the health and fitness business at large. But beforehand, tell us a little bit about your background, both athletically and maybe educationally because I think it’s relevant.

Layne Norton: [0:07:12] Yeah. Great. I’m really trying to get my elevator pitch of my life down because I’ve started to do these things and I’ve realized when I’m in the 12th minute, oh, they probably don’t need this much information. So we’ll see how I do. But I got into lifting weights when I was a teenager because I got bullied a lot in school and didn’t get any attention from girls. And lifting weights didn’t solve either of those problems but I just fell in love with lifting weights. That was really the first thing that made me realize and made the connection that, hey, you could not be good at something and if you work really hard at it, you could actually improve. And it taught me about getting through setbacks and perseverance and resilience and all those sorts of things. So really been an incredible valuable tool that I’ve leaned on my entire life to help me get through harder problems as I got older. So really got into that. And when I got into college, I really wanted to be a marine science major but I was really getting into bodybuilding at the time. And I had a really great general chemistry professor who was like, “Yeah, you don’t want to do marine science, you don’t want to do biology, you want to do biochemistry.” He’s like, “That’s the human body, man. Do biochemistry. And you can always go to grad school or you can go into the work force, be plenty of jobs available to you.”

Kelly: [0:08:26] Real quick, shout that person’s name out because that is a turning point for all of us. 

Layne Norton: [0:08:30] Chris Schnabel. Chris Schnabel was his name. 

Kelly: [0:08:33] Excellent.

Layne Norton: [0:08:33] You look back at the things that caused you, that fork in your life or different choices you made, that’s one of them that just completely changed the course of my life. And I will say I went to Eckerd College as an undergrad and I’m extremely grateful. I had a really great professors that just made a huge difference in my life and he was certainly one of them. 

And so changed my major to biochemistry, got into competing in body building. Did my first show when I was 19. I won the teen division and the novice division. And that was it for me. I was hooked. Competed all throughout undergrad and then graduate school. Won my natural pro card when I was 24. This is 2006. I’m 40 now. And while I was in graduate school… I guess I should back up just real quick. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life because at the time, circa 2003, when I was a junior in college, I started thinking about, well, what am I going to do after this whole thing. And I had started writing articles for and I had started writing for a few really, really small online magazines and basically doing it for free because I just enjoyed doing it. And I was like, well, I don’t know what I want to do. 

And at a time, it was like if you wanted to make a living in the fitness industry, your choices were basically become a personal trainer, start a supplement line, start a gym, or go try to be Mr. Olympia. And none of those seemed really appealing to me because I don’t make any ethical judgments on people who use steroids, it was just never something that I was personally interested in doing. And so the other three options didn’t really look like great options to me either because I came from a pretty, didn’t have a lot of money growing up so I didn’t have a bunch of capital to go open a gym or any of these other things. So I was like, well, don’t know what I want to do, I know I want to be in the fitness industry, so let’s go to grad school and I’ll delay the real world for four to five or six more years.

Kelly: [0:10:26] So say we all.

Juliet: [0:10:27] It’s the best way to delay. It’s great for that.

Layne Norton: [0:10:29] So I figured I’d delay the real world by a few more years and maybe I’d figure out what to do during that time. And I started looking at different graduate school programs and didn’t really know where I wanted to go. I knew I wanted to do something with protein metabolism. And at the time, PubMed had just started. I literally, I’d gone to a bunch of different universities’ websites trying to find an adviser who aligned with my research goals and after about, I don’t know, 50 of those, I’m like this is going to take forever. So I just typed in what I was interested in and then I looked at who did the research and then I just started emailing people. And the second guy I emailed was a guy named Dr. Don Layman, and again, talking about just you zigged and you zagged, just something that changed my life was having him as an advisor. He was an amazing advisor, one of the true pioneers in protein research and the University of Illinois was a fantastic school to go to. 

So I went there for six years, competed all the way through, and started coaching people in 2005. This is before everybody… Well, Instagram didn’t exist, but this was before everybody on Instagram was an online coach. And just through sheer word of mouth, within three years I was making a fulltime living doing it. So I was kind of like, ah, I guess when I graduate, I don’t have to get a real job. 

Kelly: [0:11:49] And this was happening while you were at grad school.

Layne Norton: [0:11:52] Yeah. So I was probably coaching 70 people at a time by the time I was graduating grad school. So did that, competed in pro bodybuilding, did pretty well there, was top five in all my shows and even managed to win a show. And funny enough, the year before I did my pro shows in bodybuilding, I did a couple of powerlifting meets because I was like, ah, I took four years off from when I won my pro card to when I won my first pro show because it just takes a long time to build muscle when you’re drug free. And if I’m doing this, I’m working, and I’m in grad school full time, trying to fit bodybuilding in and competing was pretty tough. So I was like, well, I still want to do something to keep myself engaged, so I’ll try out a powerlifting meet. And RAW really wasn’t a thing back when I first did it in like 2009. But did a few meets and didn’t really think much of it. 

And then after I did my first season in bodybuilding, I was like, well, I’ll do some more powerlifting meets. And a guy named Mike Zourdos who’s a professor at FAU who did a lot of the current research on periodization, he was like, “Man, you really ought to try USAPL meet.” So I did a USAPL meet, and then again, one of these things that changes your life. I mean I won my category but didn’t really think much of it. And then Matt Gary, who is the head US coach, messaged me. He’s like, “By the way, you don’t know this, but you would’ve won Nationals with your total last year. And you would have also finished in the top 10 in the world.” And I was like huh, okay, I guess I’ll do Nationals next year. So by that time, RAW had started to get pretty big. I think it was something like the US RAW Nationals was like 80 people and the next year it was like 150 and then in 2014, when I did it, it was 500 people. So I won that year and then I won the next year, went to IPF Worlds, got a silver medal there, set what was at the time a world squat record. And yeah, just ended up being better at powerlifting than I was at bodybuilding. 

So that was my competitive… I’ve dealt with some injuries on and off after that time. And more recently, I’ve gotten back on the platform and actually qualified for IPF Masters Worlds which I’ll be competing in in early October. Feeling pretty good about that and very excited to get back on the platform, on the big stage, even if it is the old man’s category. So I’m super pumped for that.

Kelly: [0:14:23] It seems like, not to interrupt, but you suddenly have enough space in your life – your business is mature, family is at a certain place—you’re like, oh, maybe I can have one extra hour a week of training. I think that’s a sign of how healthy… or you’re just totally obsessed and you’re going to destroy yourself. One of those two things. But I’m going to go with healthy.

Layne Norton: [0:14:44] Yeah. I think training for me, like I tell people, even if you told me, hey, you could never, ever gain another pound of strength, you could never add another ounce of lean body mass, I would still train because I just love to train. Even 23 years after I did my first squat, I’ll still get butterflies going in for a big squat session. You know, it’s just something that’s never left me. I really, really do have that much passion for it. It’s the best form of therapy I’ve ever had. So yeah, I think part of it is I am at a place now where some of my businesses have gotten to be a little bit more self-sustaining. We’re still working on offloading me a little bit from those things. But if I couldn’t train for two hours, five days a week, I’d probably go insane.

Kelly: [0:15:32] Or in our family we say incarcerated or addicted to drugs. Trying to do anything to get that rush.

Layne Norton: [0:15:39] I tell people it’s possible I’d be in jail or dead if I didn’t have lifting weights.

Juliet: [0:15:46] We feel that way too.

Kelly: [0:15:47] It’s how we self soothe.

Juliet: [0:15:48] We feel that it’s our coping mechanism.

Kelly: [0:15:50] I want you to talk a little bit more about what your business are because they are consequential. What I would love, if you could spend a second even talking today about, one, how did your nutrition grad research map up with being a real-life tip of the spear, pointy end of the stick user because here you are helping people manage body composition because they have real goals around body composition which is a sideshow from health and other things, necessarily, not necessarily. But also, you were trying to get stronger in grad school, which sometimes our nutritional research, how did that impact your thinking and what was happening during research because just for clarity, we opened the gym when I was a first-year grad student in physio and I wouldn’t have had the same physio experienced if we had not had to work with people in a real day.

Layne Norton: [0:16:44] That is so important. I mean I think what hardcore researchers do is super important, to get into the nitty gritty and into the weeds and answer those very specific questions. But if you go talk to a lot of them, they have really limited understanding of how to apply it. And that’s by nature because they don’t have the bandwidth. I mean you’re writing grants and you’re doing analysis and you’re mentoring grad students. I mean it’s a very all-encompassing sort of thing. I was very fortunate that my PhD advisor really, really put a hard emphasis on actually being able to give practice recommendations. He wanted his students to come out of his lab and be able to talk to the average person about what their research actually meant. I’ll never forget when I was going to give my exit seminar, Dr. Layman, we were having a discussion, it was my public defense, and I was like, “Well, who should I write this for because there’s going to be some lay people there but there’s going to be hardcore research advisors.” And he said, “I should learn something from your presentation and your mom should learn something from your presentation.” And of course, that is the most difficult one to do because it’s hard to generalize enough so that the average person can understand without losing the appropriate nuance. And I really think that set me up to be really good at that over time. And also, I did a lot of writing. And so getting back to your original question, I think I just had this perfect mix where I was training, I was applying these things to myself, and one of the coolest things is my research actually changed some of the ways I ate, which I think is really cool. People have said, “Oh, you recommend this, do you actually do it? I’m like, listen here, I don’t recommend anything that I wouldn’t do myself, period, you know what I mean?

Kelly: [0:18:36] I’m a user who fights for the users.

Layne Norton: [0:18:37] Right. Right. But I understand because there’s people who don’t walk the walk, right, and it can come across very strange to the average person. And then also coaching people. That was such an enormous… I would say I learned more by coaching people than I did from my PhD in terms of practical application. However, I think doing my PhD allowed me to interpret what I was observing in a much better way than if I had just been coaching people and not had that research background. I think the other thing it did was invariably as a coach, your clients and your staff or whoever, they’re going to bring to you, “Hey, I just saw this documentary. Hey, I just saw this research paper came out. Hey, I just saw this.” And if you’re not equipped to really break that down, it can be a gap for you. 

And so I think what happened with me, if I’m distilling down where do I fit and what is my purpose, I really see myself as being a bridge between hardcore research and the average person and what it means for them. That’s where I truly see myself as filling that gap. And I think when we talk about researchers—I said this on Nick Bare’s podcast—you’re having someone go in a racecar, the engineer who puts together different components of that car, I mean they’re very, very smart. They understand how it works. But they’re not going to be the best person to drive the car, you know what I mean? So I felt like I had such a great experience by having to go through that process as I was working with real people. Because the other thing you understand is, and this became apparent very quickly to me, there’s what’s ideal and then there’s what’s practical, right? 

I can tell somebody, “Hey, eat this diet.” Remember, I can solve the obesity crisis. I’ll just tell people to do x, y, z, right? And you realize it’s like I have a friend and he owns a couple freestanding emergency rooms. He’s an emergency medical doctor. And he said, “What I wanted was employees and what I got was people.” And coaching I think more than anything is knowing how to talk to people. It’s knowing how to get them to buy in and want to, for lack of a better term, make you proud. That’s such an important portion of coaching because if it was just x’s and o’s, I mean the stuff that works really isn’t that complicated. I mean as much as we’d like to make it to be, it’s not. Most people, if they’ve got their head screwed on straight, know what they need to do. But getting them to do that… And I always use financial examples. Nobody’s going to argue that if you want to accumulate wealth, then over time that involves spending less money than you earn. I don’t think there’s anybody out there that’s going to debate that, right? So why do we have so many people who aren’t wealthy because even people who make a lot of money end up going broke. Well, it’s not a knowledge problem; it’s a behavior problem. What you are trying to do is coach people in their behaviors because one of the things I’ve observed is I think most people, most of the things they do are almost on auto pilot. Because you have so much things, so many decisions you have to make during the day, a lot of your life almost has to be on auto pilot because you just don’t have the bandwidth to be able to incorporate that. 

And so one of the things I really appreciated from my time coaching people was, hey, yeah, there can be this idea of what an ideal diet for this person is, but if they can’t stick to it, if it’s too much bandwidth, then it’s just not going to work, you know what I mean? And I think having that perspective of starting there, because I’ll have clients that will bring me stuff all the time, and I’ll say, “Could you do that for the rest of your life?” They’re like, “No.” I’m like, “Okay, well, then why would you do it for a day? You’re just going to end up spinning your wheels at some point.”

Juliet: [0:22:51] So one of the things, and I still want you to just give a broad, 30,000-foot view of your various businesses, but you also work with your wife, which is of course of great interest to us since we’ve been working together for almost 20 years. So I just, maybe you could tell our listeners about the actual nuts and bolts of what the business is, and then what’s it like to be business partners with your wife and how you guys manage that?

Layne Norton: [0:23:15] I should probably get advice from you guys on this. I’ll be honest, and I’m sure it’s been the same for you guys, it’s not always easy. So first off, my wife is very, very intelligent and one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met. We have very different personalities and that can cause some friction. She tends to be, at least in business, have a lot of ideas. She has a lot of great ideas and I’m kind of like always the devil’s advocate. I’m like, okay, but have you considered this, this, this, and this? Because I also know, we actually just had this discussion today, I’m like as our companies grow, as these scale, it’s like a ship. And so if you want to make a quick turn in an 18 foot boat, that’s not a big deal. But if you’re trying to turn an oil tanker, it’s a much more involved process. 

Kelly: [0:24:05] Juliet, quit looking at me. My wife is giving me the stink eye. Thanks. You just threw me under the bus.

Juliet: [0:24:10] He’s the me.

Layne Norton: [0:24:12] I think one of the things that’s really helped us is having some people in our businesses, like our director of operations and then some of our advisors who have become mentors to us, and being able to… I’m not saying we’ve got it figured out because we definitely don’t, but being able to say, hey, you’re really good at this, let’s keep you here, and you’re really good at this, let’s keep you here. I also have to remember my wife is seven years younger than me and I have to remember what I was like seven, eight years ago. I was doing everything seven, eight years ago. I wanted to be involved in all aspects of my business. And now I’m kind of in a place where I go no, that’s Sam’s job, no, that’s Brian’s job, no, that’s not my job, I’m not doing that. Not because I’m lazy but because I know where my time is most valuable. And I think that’s taken me a lot of mistakes and a lot of time to understand. And it’s actually funny, because when it comes to our personal stuff, she’s actually aware of that. She’s like, well, why would you cut your own yard? Just hire somebody to do that. Your time is better spent somewhere else. Whereas I grew up and it was like, well, I just did chores around the house because we didn’t have any money. 

It’s interesting like dichotomy between the two of us and I actually think and our business advisors have said, you guys actually balance each other out really well because if it was one of you, you’d be running around in circles and spread yourself way too thin. And if it was the other one, you’d still just be coaching people one on one because you wouldn’t have come up with a bunch of other ideas for these businesses. So I think it’s been a nice complement to each other even though it does cause some friction. I think one thing we’re still working on is when we have a disagreement in business, when the clock ends, to take off the work hat, put on the personal hat, and be like, hey, love you very much, everything’s fine.

Juliet: [0:26:04] Yeah, let’s make dinner.

Layne Norton: [0:26:06] Yeah, that can be a little tricky. As far as our businesses go, we really are trying to fill a lot of different gaps where we feel like we can help people. And so that’s one thing that’s very common between the two of us. We through our own struggles and struggles with clients, working with clients, seeing just how many people struggle with so many different areas in fitness, and so of course we offer one on one coaching that we offer through our Team BioLayne, which is our team of coaches. And we really struggled with that area of the business because it’s the most time because you’re managing people. And we’ve actually just gotten, I would say in the last nine months, where things are rolling very smoothly, and a lot of that’s just been through making some key hires and just taking our hands off it and letting people who know what they’re doing take over. And that’s been a huge deal for us. 

And so we do offer that one-on-one coaching at a high level and then we have our nutrition coaching app, Carbon Diet Coach. That has been such a massive success. I can’t say that I didn’t think it would be that successful because I understood the value of it. And for those that aren’t familiar, people will compare it to FitnessPal or something else these different tracking apps, but really, it’s not even in the same category. Because what our app does is, if you went to hire a one-on-one coach, how would that process go? Well, what would happen is they would ask you some questions about your goals, they would get some information about you, your anthropometrics, your dietary preferences, and then they’d formulate a plan, and then you’d check in with them, usually like once a week, that sort of thing. And that plan would get adjusted or not based on how you’re progressing towards your goals. That’s exactly what our app does. I’ll never say it’s a complete replacement for one-on-one coaching because I do think that personal interaction is something that is very helpful in a coaching sense because again, you’re coaching behavior. But for people who are a little bit more independent or don’t have the budget for a one-on-one coach, because good one on one coaching is very expensive, for $10 a month, it’s hard to beat what our app does.

So we’ve got that. Then from our workout side, we have our workout builder, which is kind of like our nutrition coaching app, but for workouts. A little bit less… It’s not necessarily an algorithm but we have these training templates. And the real key thing about ours is we have grouped exercises such that if you don’t have access to a specific exercise or you have a preference, you can sub out different exercises, but we have grouped them so it’s still going to have a similar effectiveness as long as you’re going to the appropriate intensity. And so we take care of all that. Reps, sets, intensity. We coach all that. And then the person can select their preference for workouts or preference for exercise. So we’ve got that, we’ve got our supplement line, Outwork Nutrition, which has been doing really, really well. I more recently started doing some online courses as well. I have three short courses that’s a partnership with myself and a company in Australia called Clean Health and they do a phenomenal job. And those have been very, very popular. But more recently, I’ve actually been working on a very long course that hopefully we’re working to get it accredited that will be specifically targeted at people who do body composition coaching.

Kelly: [0:29:44] Oh, fantastic.

Layne Norton: [0:29:45] Because right now, if you think about it, if you’re somebody that wants to coach, online coach, there’s personal training certifications, there’s nutrition certifications, like you have your Precision Nutrition, which is a great cert. You have those, but there’s nothing that really combines the resistance training with the nutrition in a synergistic manner. And so I actually got together with a professor named Bill Campbell, who’s here at USF, who’s a phenomenal guy, and we wrote all this coursework out and we’re in the process of digitizing it. And so we’re going to be calling that Physique Coaching Academy.

Kelly: [0:30:19] Oh, I can’t wait.

Layne Norton: [0:30:20] That’s going to be coming probably late this year or early 2023. And obviously, super excited about it. And then we’ve written books and all that sort of jazz. We’ve got ideas for other stuff as well. Oh, the one other thing that we just launched as well…. See, I have so much stuff I can’t even remember it all. We just launched a monthly research review because I really saw a need for that. With so many people asking me about studies –hey, what do you think about this study, what do you think about that study – so there’s a few research reviews out there right now. And the gap we’re really trying to fill is the research review, I feel like as a scientist, I get benefit out of them, right? But the average person, I don’t know how well they can comprehend it. S

So what we’ve tried to do, myself and my coauthor Jaymes Longstrom, he’s got a master’s in exercise science, he actually came from Bill Campbell’s lab, we try to write it with absolutely minimal scientific jargon. And we always try to, at the end of the article, we say here’s how we recommend practically applying this, here’s what it means for you, and here’s how it fits with the overall consensus of the literature. And we’ll even say, hey, we do or we don’t think they tested these things appropriately based on how they designed the study. So we’ll actually give our opinion on the study design. And so every month we’ll review five studies that we think will be pretty popular in fitness. We do that for our subscribers and that’s like $12.99 a month. And so again, you’re getting the benefits of having this kind of translated for the average person and being educated. So I really see that as a great product that I think a lot of people will take advantage of.

Kelly: [0:32:08] Oh yeah, for sure.

Juliet: [0:32:09] Yeah, it’s really cool.

Kelly: [0:32:10] Crowdsourcing. We have to.

Juliet: [0:32:13] That is the perfect segue into my next question.

Kelly: [0:32:16] First, let me just say he’s so lazy. 

Juliet: [0:32:18] So lazy.

Kelly: [0:32:19] What have you been doing lately? So lazy.

Layne Norton: [0:32:20] Yeah, I don’t have much going on.

Kelly: [0:32:21] How many jobs you got?

Juliet: [0:32:23] So Kelly and I in our advanced year being in the health and fitness business for decades at this point, we started off really caring about performance and working with high level athletes and that was kind of our focus.

Kelly: [0:32:38] Teams.

Juliet: [0:32:38] And teams. And I don’t know if it’s just because we’re both approaching 50 and we’ve been in the business for a long time, but we really have become so reasonable and also, I would say pretty critical of our industry, in that we feel like, okay, we’ve been doing this for 20 years and over that 20-year period, people are getting fatter, the rates of diabetes are higher, people are more depressed, they’re feeling worse.

Kelly: [0:33:00] More musculoskeletal pain.

Juliet: [0:33:01] More musculoskeletal pain.

Kelly: [0:33:01] Surgeries.

Juliet: [0:33:02] Surgeries. And what we feel like we’ve done in our industry is we’ve made ourselves better. We’ve stayed in this little vertical of people who would describe themselves as an athlete. We’ve all been tracking our sleep and sleeping on a ChiliPad taking the right supplements and tracking our macros and doing the right kind of exercise. We are getting better. But we’re like five percent of the population and we’ve really, totally left behind the other 95 percent. And I think part of it… We think at least part of it is it’s overcomplicated, people are being fire-hosed with information, they don’t know what to believe, they don’t know where to begin.

Kelly: [0:33:35] Fitness has become entertainment. Nutrition has become entertainment.

Juliet: [0:33:36] People don’t know. They get on Instagram and they don’t know what’s real and what’s not real. And that was a really long way around saying I get the sense that you feel the same way and that you have made it at least one of your many missions to try this sort of illuminate some of the BS in the internetosphere. I’m not sure how else to put it. And in addition to your awesome straight up educational content, I think you tried to take a swing at what is and isn’t accurate information out there and how do consumers parse out what to actually do and what to apply to their own lives. So I just wanted to sort of find out the backstory of at what point were you scrolling Instagram and you’re like I can’t take it anymore, all of the misinformation? I don’t know. What was the evolution of you thinking, okay, I actually have the educational background and experience and expertise to be able to speak to some of this. And you have the platform. So just tell us a little bit about the evolution of that for you.

Layne Norton: [0:34:43] What you said absolutely rings true. I really enjoyed working as a contest prep coach, which is where I cut my teeth for a long time. I did learn a lot from that. And actually quite a few things I apply even with general population people. Thinking about what difference is this really making in terms of I’ve always wanted to leave the world a better place. And I found that, all right, I’m working this small niche of people who quite frankly, the vast majority, and I’m sure you guys feel the same way, the vast majority of the athletes and competitors that I work with, the good ones are going to be successful regardless. I would like to think that maybe I made their path to success a little bit easier and less stressful.

Kelly: [0:35:27] Oh, it’s easy to work with mutants.

Layne Norton: [0:35:29] Yeah, exactly. So what’s really difficult is people who don’t even know where to start. And you said it so well. We’re tracking all these things; we’re doing all these things. And I think it’s confusing for the average person because the average person doesn’t know how to prioritize in terms of, they’ll get all this information and they have no way of knowing, hey, which is more important than the other one. Because some of this is like contradicting information. I always try to put it in context of where it fits. 

So great example of this that just pops into my head was there was a study a while back looking at processed food and whether or not it reduces the post meal energy expenditure. And the study showed that basically, processed food had a significantly lower energy expenditure than minimally processed food. And so people went crazy with this. And whatever. And one of the things I said, okay, I’m not encouraging the consumption of processed food by any means, but what you’ve got to be careful of is how you talk about this stuff because if people get this idea that they can never have processed food, well, then what happens is if they actually end up having some because it’s impossible, or not impossible, but it’s very, very difficult not to at least have some or be exposed to some. They end up going crazy whenever they just have a little bit of it and just binge eating. This is a very frequent response that I’ve seen because it’s almost like this black or white, all or nothing mentality. 

So when I broke down this study, I was like, okay, this may be true. Now there was a couple issues with the study, right? The protein wasn’t equated and the fiber wasn’t equated, which is a problem because both those things have effects on thermogenesis. But let’s look at what it actually means practically. I went in and just did the math in terms of what it meant on your total daily energy expenditure, what it would mean, and it was about 100 calories or less, which isn’t insignificant, but it’s also like, okay, if you can’t sustain it, if you can’t sustain that style of eating, or you decide you want to have some processed food, it’s okay. You’re not just going to spontaneously get fat from it. Just make sure that you’re controlling your overall energy intake. That’s the biggest thing. But people don’t understand how to create that hierarchy. And in my book I wrote, Fat Loss Forever, I talk about the fat loss forever pyramid which is like our rock down here which has to form the basis of everything we do is adherence. We have to… none of this stuff matters if we can’t get you to do it consistently. And I’m sure you guys have seen this too, even with training and rehab, if you don’t do it consistently, it doesn’t matter if you come in and rehab for 12 hours in a day, it’s not going to offset the fact that you only came in three times and did it. It’s not the way this stuff works. It’s what you apply consistently. 

And I think, yes, where did this come from because now, I’m known as the guy who just BS all the time. Well, I’ll tell people where do you find this stuff. I’m like I don’t find it people send it to me because they just know that this is what I do. But I really think it started back when I was in graduate school because I would see some of the claims that were made by various people in the fitness industry and I’d had this experience of my own PhD advisor or other graduate students or whatever, I’d make a claim and they’d be like, uh, yeah, that’s actually BS and here’s why. And I’d be like, I guess I can’t make that claim. And I’m a very logical person. If you show me the information and it makes sense, I’ll just change my mind. I don’t get married to my beliefs. That’s one of my things I’ll say, is don’t marry your beliefs. You should date them. Just don’t make that ho a housewife. The divorce is a bitch if you want to get divorced from your beliefs. I just started questioning a lot of these things. 

I’ll never forget one of the first sacred cows that I went after, was this idea that you should cut water in sodium before a bodybuilding show and I’m like this just doesn’t make any sense. I’m like your muscles are 70 percent water. And it’s not like there’s no evidence that you can just selectively target your subcutaneous water without also affecting the water that’s inside your cells. So I did these long breakdowns of why I thought this was a really silly thing to do. And it got a whole lot of pushback. And just would end up consistently backing up my claims or my thoughts with logic and data and whatnot until people started asking me other things. Well, what do you think about this, what do you think about that? I would give my thoughts just based on the evidence that I saw. And more recently, you guys talked about the article I just wrote about why I don’t believe, I don’t think that sugar caused the obesity epidemic and the research behind that.

Kelly: [0:40:34] Yeah. Please tell us a little bit more about this.

Juliet: [0:40:37] Yeah. I was literally just going to ask you about that.

Kelly: [0:40:37] Great article.

Layne Norton: [0:40:38] Yeah. So this all started…. So this is a great example of something I actually changed my mind on. Because people are like, oh, you never change your mind on anything and I’m like, you just haven’t followed me long enough if you think that.

Kelly: [0:40:51] You haven’t seen all the little pictures that make the sailboat.

Layne Norton: [0:40:53] Right. So when I went to University of Illinois, I believed that sugar and especially high fructose corn syrup was inherently fattening. And what I mean by that is fattening beyond just the energy content. So if you compare high fructose corn syrup to straight up carbohydrate, another source of carbohydrate, it would be fattening compared to that, even if you equated calories. That was my belief at the time. But again, I date my beliefs, I don’t marry them. 

So I was at a grad school mixer for new grad students. And there was a guy there named Manabu Nakamura and he was actually one of the people who did some of these original fructose where they showed in rodents that overfeeding fructose caused all these weird effects. And I just overheard him talking to another professor and the other professor was saying basically that he thought high fructose corn syrup was a big cause of the obesity crisis and Manabu Nakamura responded with, “Yeah, just because it’s energy dense and it’s not very satisfying and it’s in sugar sweetened beverages and it’s so easy to drink a Coke and it’s not like you drink a Coke, well, that was 40 grams of carbohydrates so I’m not going to have pasta tonight. People don’t do that.” And the other professor was taken aback and I was taken aback because I’m like, well, this guy was doing the research on it and the thinks it’s calories. So I just was like, okay. So I did a little bit of looking into the research. I’m like, huh, yeah, there isn’t really any good human evidence to show that this stuff is fattening outside of calories. And I just put that in the back of my mind and moved on. 

And then years later when I was talking more about flexible dieting, and people say there’s no way you can eat sugar and lose weight. And I’m like, okay, here’s pictures of me in a bodybuilding show where I’m shredded beyond belief and I pretty much had some ice cream every day because I love ice cream. 

Juliet: [0:42:55] Hey guys, we just wanted to take a little break in this podcast episode to actually tell you about one of our own products and that’s our Ready State Virtual Mobility Coach.

Kelly: [0:43:04] Yeah, the app literally is the first place you should go if you’re trying to feel better, if you’re trying to solve an old movement related problem, if you’re just trying to just not be as sore from your workout.

Juliet: [0:43:16] There is so much going on in this app. We have a mobility test that is comprehensive and designed by Kelly Starrett himself.

Kelly: [0:43:24] It’s pretty good. 

Juliet: [0:43:24] So you can figure out what your biggest limitations are and start to work on that. There are sports specific mobilizations if you want to try to lift more or run faster. There is a pain area. And we even have a ton of bonus content. You can do challenges around squat and ankle and a bunch of other specific body parts. So you can just generally get more supple and awesome.

Kelly: [0:43:45] JStar, you’re killing it. You should talk about this app more often. We started the original mobility project back in 2010 trying to help people solve problems for themselves. We think that every human being should be able to perform basic maintenance on themselves and we want you to be able to engage in self-care in a really reasonable, responsible way. One of our favorite parts of it, daily mobility. You have a 10, 20, 30-minute follow along with me if you just have a ball and a roller and think you want to feel better, move better, play along. I mean we really feel like that’s the base camp practice and you can add in what you need.

Juliet: [0:44:18] Were really proud of this and what we’ve created here and we think you should give it a try. Head on over to and use code Pod 20 for 20 percent of your first month. And just FYI, including your two-week free trial, that’s literally six weeks for $11.99. You can’t beat that. There’s so much amazing content to help you feel better and move better for $11.99.

Kelly: [0:44:42] In the words of our podcast producer: bananas.

Kelly: [0:44:47] I think you use an example where you had one of your clients preparing for a bodybuilding show eat a Snickers every day; they didn’t eat anything else. But you were like I wouldn’t recommend that just because it sidetracked lot of things you could potentially eat, but it wasn’t the Snickers.

Layne Norton: [0:45:02] Yeah, so this was I think Sohee Lee. She was a client of mine at the time. I didn’t instruct her to eat that but she wanted to do an experiment. So yeah, she ate a Snickers every day. And the funny thing was, and this is the way flexible body really should work, and she was like by the end I just didn’t want to eat the Snickers because it just wasn’t very filling; I would’ve rather had a big salad. But she ended up doing really well on her show and she lost plenty of body fat and whatnot, and so when people started making these claims, I’m like, okay, well, let me really go back to this literature and look at it. 

And again, just looking through the research literature, it was very clear to me that it just was not fattening independent of calories. Now I’m not saying it did not contribute to the obesity crisis because again, sugar is a part of hyper-palatable foods that people tend to overeat, but it’s not because there’s something magically inherent to that food that makes it fattening; it’s just people eat too many calories. And so more recently, you’ve had people like Gary Taubes and Jason Fung coming out and saying, well, the root cause of obesity is you’re eating these processed carbohydrates which cause your insulin to go up and you cannot lose fat if your insulin’s high. And I’m like, ugh, is he aware of bodybuilders who use insulin and get really, really lean? I mean debunked right there, but then they’ll always come up with some kind of, well, they’re on steroids. Okay, well, then let’s look at all these natural bodybuilders who get really, really freaking lean and they’re still eating sugar. Not all of them, but quite a few of them. 

And then you look at the actual tightly controlled research studies, like the classic one I always refer to is the one from Surwit in 1997, they did a six-week study where they fed both groups of people 1,100 calories, but one group was getting 10 grams of sugar a day and the other one was getting 120. So a huge gap in sugar intake. And I’m like, okay, if there is anything to this hypothesis, certainly we’re going to see something with that big of a gap. And what they found was absolutely no different to weight loss, fat loss, nothing, because they equated calories and protein and carbohydrates and fats between the two groups. Now again, people will straw man my argument and say, well, Layne is advocating for sugar consumption. I’m not. I’m just saying that if you want to include a sugary food here in there as part of your diet, it’s certainly not going to harm you in your body composition goals as long as you account for it. And so now we have multiple meta-analyses looking across dozens and dozens of studies and it’s just there is not a single study, which this is so rare, by the way, because usually if you hunt enough, you can find a single study to support what you’re saying. I have yet to find a single study where calories are equated and proteins equated and they vary the amount of sugar and it actually makes a difference on body composition. 

So to me, that’s pretty clear. But again, these beliefs die hard. And I think a lot of it too is, and I’m seeing the extreme examples of this now on social media, people don’t like the idea of personal responsibility. And a lot of the verbiage around the anti-sugar or anti-carb or any kind of anti-nutrient folks has been, well, obesity’s not your fault, it’s the fault of these ingredients in food that made you fat or you became addicted to it, which by the way, there’s not really evidence for sugar addiction either. 

Kelly: [0:48:37] I just have a cookie preference. Thank you.

Layne Norton: [0:48:40] So I think what’s being lost… And the extreme example of this is the extreme anti-diet people who say, well, dieting actually doesn’t work and people are just born into certain bodies and you can’t actually change your body. I remember being in a debate with all these people. I’m like, well, what about people like Ethan Suplee who lost 300 pounds and kept it off? How do you explain him? The mental gymnastics that have to occur for them to explain this. Well, he was actually a thin person who just was… He was actually originally a thin person and just… And they can’t explain it but they go through all these mental gymnastics to try to. And what I’ll tell people is, listen, I’m not somebody who thinks that obesity is 100 percent the fault of the individual, especially when you look at the research that shows, for example, women who are obese are much more likely to have sexually assault trauma in their background than women who are not obese. And when they actually went in and interviewed some of them, they identified whether it’s conscious or subconscious that they didn’t want to be looked at and they wanted to feel protected and they felt more protected by being overweight. So again, it’s like this is a complicated issue. The root cause is overconsumption, but the problem is overconsumption isn’t necessarily a conscious decision. And so what I always tell people is, listen, and this goes for any trauma in your background, well, what happened to you may or may not have been your fault. But it doesn’t matter whose fault it is because it is your responsibility to make the change that’s required in order to move on from in, in order to change things. 

And there was a really interesting systematic review by a gal in England named Marie Spreckley. And she actually went and tried to find studies where they identified successful weight loss maintainers. So people who lose weight and keep it off successfully. And most of the stuff I already knew, like the characteristics of a lot of them I already knew. But one that actually really jumped out at me was most of these people said that they felt like they had to form a new identity. And you hear that from people who were alcoholics as well. They say I couldn’t hang out at the same places. Some people have to change their job. I had to get new friends. Because their whole life had revolved around this lifestyle they had created. And one of the things I’ll tell people is you can’t create a new life while dragging your old habits behind you. You are going to have to become a new person if you want to create a new person. And I don’t know if you guys are familiar with Ethan Suplee, but he was an actor who lost over 300 pounds and kept it off. And he always posts, every day he’ll put up a picture of him after having worked out, and it’ll say, “I killed my clone today.” And I actually messaged him and I asked him, I said, “Is this what you mean, forming a new identity?” And he said, “That’s exactly what I mean. I killed the person I was because that person was not capable of doing what I’m doing now.” And I just think people don’t think about this stuff enough. 

So bringing that all back in, I think one of the things we really need to do when it comes to discussing this topic of obesity, which is really difficult for some people, is to acknowledge that there are outside factors that affect this. Just because somebody became obese doesn’t mean that they’re lazy or that they’re a glutton or anything like that. In some cases, that’s true, but not necessarily all the time. And so I really think we need to approach this with two things, and that is accountability with empathy. Because if you’re only giving the empathy portion, it’s like, well, nothing’s your fault. And nothing’s your fault, then you can’t change anything. You don’t have power. It makes you powerless because you truly can’t change when you’re powerless. But if it’s only accountability and it’s like the drill sergeant yelling at you every time you screw up, well, people tune that out too. So I really think the balance has to be this empathy with accountability. I realize that is a very, very long-winded answer to your question.

Juliet: [0:53:04] Oh no. I mean it’s fascinating. I have to tell you a really… I mean the other thing I would add, from what I understand about the changing your identity, it’s also about the community you’re in. If you tend to associate with people who don’t drink and eat healthy food and exercise, then you’re going to not drink and eat healthy food and exercise. So some of that changing identity is, okay, I’m in a community of people who do x and if I want to do y, I need to join the community of people doing y because that’s going to motivate me. So I think that’s an interesting way of putting it. I wanted to tell you one story that drove me temporarily insane. I don’t know if you have kids.

Layne Norton: [0:53:38] I do.

Juliet: [0:53:39] I was at my kids’ middle school and there was this debate about selling soda at the gym café thing. And there were a bunch of parents who were like, no, no, no, we can’t sell Coke and Pepsi and traditional soda, but we’re going to sell IZZEs because IZZEs have just normal sugar and all those other things have high fructose corn syrup. And this was back in 2013. And I’m like, hey, raising my hand, like I don’t know, I’m not an expert, I don’t have a PhD, but from what I understand, the moment it passes your lips and is in your body, your body doesn’t really know the difference. And so what are we even talking about here? And again, I wasn’t necessarily advocating for having Coke, but I was like-

Kelly: [0:54:14] And you are the woman who after swim meets was like your daughter should have a donut, not a Costco muffin.

Juliet: [0:54:18] And I was like, okay, and I did do a lot of posts about the donut v Costco muffin. But I think the message was lost, which was I was just trying to say we probably shouldn’t have sugar soda of any kind at the school. Maybe we’re beyond that as a culture. But I lost out and they sold IZZEs because they had regular sugar in them. But anyway, I wanted to ask you about the sugar thing too, you kind of became known for the if it fits into your macros. That’s connected to you. And that’s part of the whole sugar thing; if it fits into your macros and you’re going to have a Snickers bar, then good, that’s not necessarily what you’d recommend though.

Layne Norton: [0:54:54] Correct I always use a budgetary example. You ask anybody, cars are a horrible way to spend your money. Cars depreciate in value. They cost money to maintain. And they have horrible resale compared to what you pay for a new car. But let’s take two different examples. If someone makes $50,000 a year and they want to buy a really fancy sports car but it means they can’t pay their mortgage or they can’t put money away for retirement or they can’t pay their utilities, well, it’s a really terrible idea. But if somebody makes $1 million a year and they can still meet all their obligations, they can pay their mortgage, they can save some money, all that kind of stuff, they say, “Hey, I just really like cars and I understand it’s not a good investment, but I’ve already taken care of all my obligations over here and this is going to make me feel really good, and also it’s kind of like that carrot on the end of the stick for me,” then I don’t really have a problem with that.

 I view food the same way. Hey, if you’re a 100-pound woman and… let’s not use that example. If you’re a smaller woman and you’re relatively inactive but you want to lose body fat, eat pretty low calories, and fitting a slice of cheesecake into your macros is probably not conducive to being able to get enough fiber in, enough protein, and feel satiated. But if you’re somebody who has a very high activity, you have a lot of lean body mass and you can eat 3,000 calories a day and drop weight, which I do know quite a few people out there like that, if you are able to eat enough fiber and reach your micronutrients and your protein and you’ve got a bunch of calories left over and you enjoy that sort of food and it keeps you being able to have that as part of your diet actually keeps you more adherent overall because you can be consistent, you don’t feel deprived, then what’s wrong with that. To me, there’s nothing wrong with that. But I think that’s the response I’ll always get is—I got this yesterday on my sugar article—well, you can’t tell me that somebody eating 2,500 calories of Skittles a day is going to have the same health outcome.

Kelly: [0:57:13] That’s right. 

Juliet: [0:57:14] And you’re like, well, that’s not really what I’m saying.

Layne Norton: [0:57:16] As 2,500 calories of beef and this and that. So kids, this is what we call a false dichotomy. Also, a reductionism. And it is a situation that actually is not going to happen because people just don’t eat that way. So this idea that I have to choose one or the other-

Kelly: [0:57:38] No, I think we just coined the Layne Norton challenge. Eat 2,500 calories of Skittles and let me know how it goes for you. I’d like to actually see that. I’ve got a full year of The Ready State for anyone who can videotape them eating 2,500 calories of Skittles only in one day. You’re welcome, Lisa. Lisa’s going insane. Don’t do that. You keep going back to, I’m hearing really this word adherence. The thing that I looked at and examined in my doctoral work was variance to adherence and we just have become more and more that we have to take these good practices, we fit them into people’s environment and lifestyle. That is the first piece. 

And you said that over and over again. I just want to give you some credit because I’ve been quoting you recently. Got a post that said… this is going to hurt some feelings, so just trigger warning everyone. You said that you don’t just need adherence for six months, you need adherence for six years, decades. That’s the level of adherence you’re talking about and consistency. I just point at that piece all the time. We are playing this short, short game like we are going to win fitness tomorrow or a week from Tuesday on the internet, ripped off my shirt and I was jacked and I retired from health. Can you talk about just for a second, just make sure I’m getting that clear, because I think that is such an important point here around reframe everything you’re doing?

Layne Norton: [0:58:55] I think I know the post you’re talking about. I was like you don’t need a bio hack, you don’t need a supplement, you don’t need all these different things. What you need is brutal bone crushing consistency. That’s what you need. Soul sucking consistency. And when I say that it doesn’t mean no days off or anything like that. That’s not what it means. It means, yeah, there are some little things you can do that might make a difference. 

But I always use this example: Kelly, if I said to you, I want you to become the best three-point shooter you possibly can be, but you can get absolutely no coaching, you can just practice yourself. But if you went out and for four hours, or for let’s say for two hours, every single day for 10 years, all you did was shoot three pointers, you’re not going to go to the NBA, but I bet you’d be pretty damn good at three pointers. You know what I mean? And you’d be certainly a hell of a lot better than you are right now. And so I do that to highlight the fact that consistency is powerful. It is so powerful.

 People ask me all the time, “Layne, how did these bodybuilders get so jacked? Look at the way they train.” I’m like, “Because they train really freaking hard and they do it every day.” And you know what? I see a lot of people try to science their way out of hard training. And you know what the one thing I’ve noticed with people who are pretty successful even though they may not do everything perfect? They go pretty hard. You know what I mean? If you’ve been around professional athletes, with few exceptions, they are some of the hardest working people there are. And so hard work and consistency can offset a lot of doing things wrong. And quite frankly, when you just look around at people who have had success with all kinds of different methodologies… I mean when people say you can’t get lean eating carbs, I’m like how many examples of people do you need who get really lean eating carbs before you go, okay, that can’t be true. Or people say you can’t get jacked being a vegan. I’m like how many examples of jacked vegans do you need before you go, okay, that’s not true? There are so many roads to Rome. 

And we can argue over… This is what professionals do, we tend to argue in the margins of that two, three percent. But that’s not really helpful for the average person. Unfortunately, that arguing in the margins is what is sexy and what people like to listen to because it’s interesting. But I mean when it comes to actually making a difference, that’s the stuff that makes a real difference. The stuff that makes a real difference is consistency. I’ve followed a guy named Dave Ramsey in the finance sector for a long time because I don’t agree with everything he says but I think a lot of what he says makes a lot of sense. And has something, he’s big on getting people out of debt one of the things they do is what’s called a debt snowball. By the way, I promise I’m going somewhere with this. So he’ll tell people if you’ve got a bunch of credit card debt, pay off the smallest one first, then whatever you were paying on that one, now that it’s paid off, throw it at the next one. Pay minimum payments on everything else and just knock them off one by one. And people all the time will criticize him and say that makes no sense, you should pay off the one with the highest interest rate first. And he goes, yeah, that would make sense if we were doing math, but if we were doing math, we wouldn’t be in debt in the first place, now would we? Because this is a behavior issue, this is not a math issue. 

And I think that people could learn a lot from that in fitness as well because, again, they’ll get really hung up on, well, what ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, and I’m like, yeah, maybe it makes a difference but you’re not even being consistent. Why are you worried about this thing? You’re consistent during the week and then on the weekend you go and you have 15 alcoholic drinks and then a bunch of burritos and you’re wondering why you’re not making progress. Do you think that it’s the carbs in the burrito or the fact that you’re just eating a crapload and not being consistent? And that’s the other thing I’ll say. People will say, “This thing did not work for me.” And I’m like, “Did it not really work for you or did you try everything or did you just-

Juliet: [1:03:15] Not really do it. 

Layne Norton: [1:03:16] Get frustrated and give up?” And so I’ve yet to meet people who have been really brutally consistent who-

Juliet: [1:03:24] Don’t see success. 

Layne Norton: [1:03:25] Didn’t get some pretty good results. And what I’ll tell people is you have to understand, success looks different. You might have a picture in your mind of what you want in terms of your body and that may just not be possible based on your genetics. But if you’re really consistent, I promise you, you’ll be better than you thought you were. And I always use the example of I had really skinny legs growing up, really skinny legs. I ran cross country in high school. And even after three years of hard training and bodybuilding—I trained hard—my legs still sucked. And everybody on the bodybuilding boards would make fun of me when I’d post, like, “Do you even train legs?” It was actually really hurtful because I did train legs really hard. And when somebody has a big upper body and skinny legs, that’s like, oh, you’re lazy, you just do the T-shirt muscles. 

And I remember getting so frustrated and I just said to myself, “You know what? Maybe I’ll never have a good set of legs but I’m going to go hard for 10 years and be really consistent for 10 years, and if after 10 years, I don’t have a decent set of legs, then I’ll allow myself to quit bodybuilding.” And this funny thing happened after 10 years, it was about the time I was getting ready for my first pro show, I was doing some posing practice for one of the judges in the organization to get some feedback, and I had just gotten so used to saying that my legs were a weak point, I said, “I know my legs are a weak point so I do this thing.” And she looked at me and she goes, “Your legs aren’t a weak point. I mean they’re not going to be the best ones onstage but they’re not a weak point; they’re balanced with the rest of you.” And I was like (gasps). And then I’ll never forget at IPF World, so this is 15 years after I made that kind of pact with myself, so IPF World, 2015, I set a world squat record, I squatted 668 pounds RAW in the 205-pound class. And my coach at the time, his name is Ben Esgro, funny story, I actually coached him for bodybuilding when he was young and then he ended up coaching me for power lifting years later.

Kelly: [1:05:30] Love it.

Juliet: [1:05:31] That’s cool.

Layne Norton: [1:05:32] After the meet, I came back from my drug testing and he’s sitting on some kind of crate in the warmup area, he’s got his head in his hands, and he’s not an emotional guy, and he’s crying. And I’m like, “Ben, dude, we did it.” And he’s like… Can I curse, by the way?

Kelly: [1:05:48] Knock yourself right out.

Juliet: [1:05:48] Yes.

Layne Norton: [1:05:50] “What are you upset about, man, we did it.” He looks at me and he goes, “How the fuck did you do that?” I’m like, “What do you mean? We trained for this.” He goes, “You were the kid with skinny legs that everybody made fun of and you just set a world record in the biggest powerlifting organization on the planet at the biggest meet they have.” He’s like, “How the fuck did you do that?” I’m like, “I trained really hard for 17 years.”

Kelly: [1:06:15] Bone crushing consistency.

Juliet: [1:06:15] Bone crushing consistency. Okay, so I love that story, by the way.

Kelly: [1:06:20] BCC.

Juliet: [1:06:21] We have totally gone over time, but this is a rare event in our podcast history where our own staff has submitted specific questions, which I feel compelled to ask you before I let you go.

Kelly: [1:06:30] Speed round.

Juliet: [1:06:31] So maybe they could be sort of speed round.

Layne Norton: [1:06:32] Yeah. Okay. I’ll do my best.

Juliet: [1:06:34] But the first one is about high cholesterol, which I think a lot of people have. People get a high cholesterol number and then their doctors say become a vegan and don’t ever eat meat again. So what’s the research say, what’s your advice?

Kelly: [1:06:47] You were like shoulder pain, go. Back pain, go.

Juliet: [1:06:50] Well, I know. But I mean I realize that’s not a simple question. But I think people are either told become a vegan or eliminate all processed foods or don’t ever eat bread again. I really think nobody knows what to do if they are actually determined to lower their cholesterol. 

Layne Norton: [1:07:02] I wouldn’t worry so much about total cholesterol. The research on total cholesterol seems to suggest it doesn’t matter that much. But LDL cholesterol specifically is most certainly an independent risk factor for heart disease. Or I would say most certainly… There is very convincing evidence to me that it is an independent risk factor for heart disease. So I would target, try to lower LDL cholesterol. And there are people out there who will say, well, it’s not about LDL, it’s more about the ratio of HDL to LDL. Listen, they have made drugs that raise HDL. They don’t reduce the risk of heart disease. HDL is just an indicator of metabolic health. So if you have high HDL, it’s good because it indicates that you’re metabolically healthy. But you still want to have low LDL. There’s even a Mendelian randomization trial showing that going from a lowish LDL of 90 to even lower continuously even further lowers your risk of heart disease. 

Now how to reduce LDL, I will say part of this is genetics. I am somebody who I actually have slight familial hypocholesterolemia so I actually take a mild statin because even with doing these different dietary interventions, my LDL is still around 150. So but what you can do is, one, you can reduce your saturated fat. So saturated fat does raise LDL cholesterol. The other thing people say is, well, it’s not LDL, it’s Apolipoprotein B. That’s actually true but it practically doesn’t matter because Apo B and LDL are like this. They go right together. So you can lower your saturated fat. That will help. 

Recommendation wise, recommendation is try to keep it below 10 percent of your total calories. If you are somebody who runs pretty high LDL, maybe below seven percent of your total calories. As low as you reasonably can. Then the other thing you can do is increase your fiber intake because fiber can bind to cholesterol and has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol and it’s just a good idea to eat a lot of fiber anyway because I mean-

Kelly: [1:09:14] Fiber is fruits and vegetables, and those are dangerous.

Layne Norton: [1:09:16] Oh God. Of all the things that I thought people would say are bad for you, I mean the fact that now we have people who think vegetables are bad for you is pretty intense.

Juliet: [1:09:28] Yeah, that is intense. 

Layne Norton: [1:09:30] We’ve got I mean multiple, and again-

Kelly: [1:09:33] Fiber, fiber, fiber.

Layne Norton: [1:09:34] You look at the research on meat, it’s kind of all over the place. Some studies show it increases the risk of cancer and heart disease; other studies don’t show that. You look at the research on fiber and fruits and vegetables, there’s literally no disagreement in the human research data. It is the more people eat fruits and vegetables and fiber, the less risk of disease they have. In fact, there was a couple of meta analyses that looked at the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all cause mortality risk. And they basically found, they did a regression analysis, which is basically a dose response analysis, and found that for every 10-gram increase in the diet, there was a corresponding 10 percent decrease in the risk of mortality. So I mean-

Kelly: [1:10:19] Ten grams, 10 percent.

Juliet: [1:10:21] Oh my God. Okay. 

Layne Norton: [1:10:22] If you want longevity hack, fiber is like a longevity hack, okay? So you can raise your fiber intake. What do I recommend? If you can get… I don’t like to always say more is better because I feel like there’s always going to be outcomes where that’s not true. But about 15 grams per 1,000 calories of dietary intake. Not because more isn’t better but because it’s just hard to get much more fiber than that at those levels of calories. But definitely for most people, try to get at least 20 grams a day. But the average American gets about six grams of fiber a day which is just gross in terms of what that’s doing for your health. So those two things. 

But as far as the meat things go, because you guys asked about becoming vegan, you could go vegan and still not have a good effect on your LDL cholesterol. If we’re talking about vegan plant based where you’re eating a lot of plant based whole food stuff, yeah, it’s probably going to help your LDL cholesterol quite a bit because you’re eating a lot of fiber and a lot of fruits and vegetables. But you can also do vegan where it’s like, hey, I’m having vegan mac and cheese and vegan chicken wings or whatever. That’s not going to help you. And by the same token, it’s like the ketogenic diet. There’s a good way to do keto and a bad way to do keto where keto where you’re doing a lot of vegetables and fish and salmon. Then there’s also a wrong way to do it where you’re just eating a lot of bacon and putting butter on everything. That’s not good. Or you’re buying keto ice cream which actually has more calories than regular ice cream, which is insane. 

Juliet: [1:12:05] Yeah. Okay, well, that’s awesome. Okay, so rapid thought number two, what are your thoughts on Impossible Burger, Beyond Burgers?

Layne Norton: [1:12:13] I mean I think a lot of people just have a pushback against this. I’ve seen the images; they list the ingredients of the Impossible Burger and then they list the ingredients of beef as like beef and then everybody jumps on the bandwagon. Yeah, okay, but they’re literally picking out every different chemical and ingredient in the Impossible burger. Well, if I went through and broke down every chemical that’s actually in beef, I could make it look scary too, you know what I mean? So I mean I think that’s one of those things that if you are somebody who’s chosen to be plant based or you’ve chosen to be vegan, I think it’s a perfectly fine option if you want, if you want to get the taste of beef and those sorts of things. If you don’t want to consume it, then don’t consume it. I wouldn’t say either one is healthier than the other. It just depends on the context. If you’re talking about lean beef versus a fatty burger, I would say that the lean beef is probably—this is going to lack context—but better for you in terms of a body composition standpoint. By the same token, if you’re talking about 7525 beef that has a whole lot of saturated fat, well, then maybe the other one’s better for you. It’s completely contextually dependent. 

I just feel like people have these disingenuous arguments where they appeal to naturalism. The fact of the matter is these naturalistic arguments don’t have a lot of weight because I don’t know if anybody’s really noticed, but we’re not living in 5,000 BC anymore. And so we should really assess each food and each component of food based on the data about whether or not it is safe and healthy and stop having these silly arguments about naturalism.

Juliet: [1:14:05] Awesome.

Kelly: [1:14:06] Layne, we follow you. Can you tell the people where they can find you on social and go down the rabbit hole of all Norton family power business?

Layne Norton: [1:14:14] Sure. So you can find me on social media pretty much everywhere as biolayne and then my website is and that’s kind of the hub for everything we do. And you can find the workout builder and you can find our courses and you can find our reps, our research review on You can find our Carbon Coach on iOS and Android. And you can find our supplement line on And then also probably be good to give my wife a follow @hollytbaxter. She puts out some great information as well and she’s way better to look at than I am. 

Kelly: [1:14:51] Heck yeah. Hey, Layne, thank you so much-

Juliet: [1:14:53] Thank you so much

Kelly: [1:14:53] For being on The Ready State. We really appreciate you.

Layne Norton: [1:14:55] Yeah, thank you guys for having me. I really enjoyed it. 


Kelly: [1:15:03] Thank you for listening to The Ready State Podcast. If you like what you’re hearing, check out all our episodes here or at And be sure to subscribe and leave a review on iTunes to help others find our show. 

Juliet: [1:15:14] Check us out and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @thereadystate.

Kelly: [1:15:19] Until next time, cheers everyone.


Back to Episode