Mark Bell
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Juliet: [2:34] Mark Bell, welcome to The Ready State Podcast.

Mark: [2:39] Thank you guys. I have a pair of short shorts that I’m wearing especially for you guys today.

Kelly: [2:43] Oh, you know, I just want to say I know this is your first podcast, and really, don’t be nervous. It’s going to be great. You’re just with friends.

Mark: [2:51] I’ll do my best.

Juliet: [2:52] Just speak your truth, Mark Bell. Speak your truth. 

Mark: [2:54] Just chewing the inside of my cheek as hard as I possibly can at the moment.

Kelly: [2:58] Oh, is that what carnivore is?

Juliet: [3:00] Okay, so you know, we’re here — our entire season is dedicated to sort of demystifying these various nutrition strategies that people employ. And you obviously are a fan of and follow the carnivore diet. But before we start talking about that, can you try to sum up Mark Bell’s pre-carnivore diet life in a short paragraph?

Mark: [3:24] I’ve been kind of on and off diets for a long time, since I learned about bodybuilding and building muscle and the importance of protein. But also, when I got into powerlifting, the culture of powerlifting that I was around, the subset of people that I was around, really no one cared about their nutrition at all. They had really no regard to it whatsoever. And after seeing super strong dude after super strong dude break all these world records and hit all these weights that they wanted to hit, I kind of joined in on the party. 

But luckily for me, because I have always been on kind of a meat-based diet, I still at least had some protein in there to maintain some muscle mass. I’ve always felt like the look is important, even if you end up with a lot of excess body fat on top of muscle. I always thought it was important to try to maintain as much muscle mass. So even as fat and as bloated as I got, it never got sloppy. I would say the fattest part of me was my face. But I was lucky enough to try to keep everything together enough to where now I’m down 100 pounds and I don’t have any loose skin or anything like that. And I think it’s because I tried desperately at that time to really try to keep that muscle mass on.

Kelly: [4:53] For those of you who don’t know Mark Bell, you’re a world champion powerlifter. You have been — you had another pro life as a wrestler. You have really just been the voice of strength athletes for a long time. In fact, your magazine was one of the few magazines sort of dedicated to all things strength sports. So it’s not like you haven’t been around nutrition and diet. And I think one of the things that people forget about in strength sports is there is often a weight class or a weight restriction where people are having to eat to gain weight, which is actually very difficult. And if you’ve ever had to eat to gain weight, it’s worse than dieting, I think. And I know that’s going to blow people’s minds. But you’ve also had to eat —

Juliet: [5:40] There’s no way that’s possible.

Kelly: [5:41] It’s terrible. And you’ve also had to lean down. And even recently, which is really amazing, I think you’re one of the few people I’ve known who is a world champion powerlifter and has squatted over 1,000 and benched 900 and then did a bodybuilding show where your body fat was like three percent and you were very tan. And so I guess what I’m saying is you have always been your own experiment for as long as I’ve known you, and I’ve known you over a decade now. And it’s been really amazing. I met you when you were, what, 308 pounds, 312 pounds?

Mark: [6:14] Yeah. The heaviest I ever was, was 330 pounds. And I think you bring up a good point, is that I was doing it for a purpose. But you can also — in my effort to do it for a purpose, I turned into a porpoise, I think. I think you can overdo it. And you’ve guys seen this with all the athletes that you’ve helped over the years. You know, the athlete just wants so desperately to make that thing happen. They want to do it so badly. And that’s kind of what happened to me.

I got to about 270, 280 and that was a good amount of weight for me at around 6’3, around 5’11, 5’10, whatever the heck I am. You know, at the height that I’m at, that weight was plenty. And I just didn’t recognize it. I just wanted more and more. I wanted to keep lifting more. And really, all that happened is I probably compromised my health more and just got fatter. But you don’t know unless you try. And so you have to go to one extreme to kind of find even where the middle ground is. 

So I just — me and Jesse Burdick devised a plan to continue to gain weight. And one of the key factors was to really just kind of let loose later on in the day. So most of our day would be I would say just like normal. Not anything crazy nutrition wise, just trying to make sure that we’re eating protein with every meal. But we could have eggs and bacon and some toast in the morning. Afternoon could be like a burrito. Dinner could be, you know, steak, veggies, a potato. But then after that, you know, is where you can really kind of get after it and have like ice cream. Or maybe even throughout the day, eating a little bit of stupid stuff like Doritos and things like that because Doritos are kind of the magical unicorn of gaining a lot of size. 

But a weird thing about it is that bloat that you might feel, you know, after eating like a big Thanksgiving dinner or something like that, that is like super advantageous to powerlifting. It feels really good to have that extra body weight on you, the extra mass. The extra mass helps you to move more mass. So that’s what I was involved in for — it was actually a short period of time. I was only like that for about five years. But that’s what everyone kind of remembers me for.

Kelly: [8:43] Well, I think one of the things I just want people to hear in there is it seems very extreme. I met Jesse Burdick, who you just referenced as another incredible coach and a mutual friend, he was 220 pounds. He’d just gone down to 220 pounds. And in the same year, you and he had devised a plan where he was going to go up to 308 pounds. So he put on over 100 pounds in a year to lift and have an elite powerlifting

But in that is this sort of concept of eating for a specific reason, for performance. And the same way we see a lot of our friends struggle with relative energy deficiency syndrome where they don’t eat enough and they’re runners or they’re cyclists or they’re young women growing and they stop getting their periods, it’s always easy to flirt with  nutrition and have it impact your health. And on the one end is this REDS Syndrome, relative energy deficiency, which is called the athlete triad, were we see occult stress fractures, amenorrhea. And on the other side, we had strength athletes who were saying we need to eat more for our sport. It actually was an advantage to lifting more weights. But there’s definitely — we don’t talk about on either side that there is a health detriment potentially and you are flirting with a very short gain.

Mark: [10:00] Yeah. And it wasn’t until I got around you, where we started having some conversation, and we ended up speaking the same language but coming from completely different backgrounds. But one thing that you mentioned to me was well, yeah, you got to that eating that way, but I just wonder how far you could push it. And that was something I just, I didn’t really think about. It’s very difficult to gain a lot of weight and to hold onto a lot of weight without any junk food in there. But you just brought up a good point. You’re like, I just wonder like if you could recover from your workouts faster. And that’s what really got my wheels spinning, where I was like yeah, you know what, he’s got a good point. 

And so from there, you know, after I did some of the bigger lifts and stuff, I started to move into doing more of a Paleo style diet. And my strength went down quite a bit. But what people don’t understand about that part is that is only because I lost a large amount of weight. If I would have continued to stay heavier, what I think would have happened because I’ve had it happen in different weight classes, is you end up staying at the same bodyweight for a while. Your body gets used to that new weight. You start to get leaner. You just get leaner kind of almost without doing anything. You’re just on the same diet for a while and you’re expending a lot of energy. And next thing you know, you’re continuing to get a little bit leaner month by month, year by year. It’s a slow, slow process. 

But I did get weaker from removing a lot of carbohydrates and removing a lot of junk. But what I always point out, whether it’s Keto, whether it’s carnivore — because people always ask can you be strong on carnivore. It just, it really depends. Like if you’re a big powerlifter and you weigh 300 pounds and you try the carnivore diet and you’re getting down to 260, you will have lost a lot of strength, most likely, if you’re a good powerlifter. If you’re new to powerlifting, then anything’s possible. You could lose a bunch of weight and gain strength really because you’re so new to everything. But for the most part, what you’re going to notice is that if you lose a significant amount of weight, in most cases, you’re going to lose some strength. You’ll lose some leverages. Things just won’t feel the same anymore. And so you’ll just have to make adjustments. 

But I think what you have to put first and foremost is what is the goal. Like what is the immediate goal? What’s the ultimate goal? You know, for me, you know, I wanted to squat 1,100. I wanted to bench 900 pounds. But after falling with 1,085, I was like all right, well, I should probably shift gears and look into doing something differently, you know. Not necessarily do something different completely. Not necessarily just bow out of the sport. But do it in a different way. 

And that’s when I immediately started to — I was like I can’t move, I can’t do anything. I couldn’t do anything for about three months after I fell with that weight. And so I was like well, there are things I can do. I just can’t powerlift at the moment. So I decided to walk. That’s when I started to walk. I started to eat better. And people ask often how long did it take you to lose the weight. And I always tell them it took me like 10 years. But the truth of it is, is that I’m still working on it. Like I work on it every day. Every day I want to eat pizza. Every day I want to sit on the couch. Every day I still have all those urges. All those demons are still there. I still have these desires that call to me multiple times a day where I’m like let’s just fucking eat a donut, let’s eat a cookie, you know. Let’s go eat something delicious, you know. But the desire to be in shape and the desire to stay strong reigns supreme. And so that balances out well enough because I am in favor of the benefits rather than what eating a donut’s going to give me.

Juliet: [13:51] So that is a great segue into asking you what is the carnivore diet. And it seems like just based on knowing you as a friend that you’ve been doing this for a year or maybe 18 months or something. How did you first discover it and what is it for people who’ve never heard of it?

Mark: [14:08] Yeah. I’ve been doing the carnivore diet for probably about three years or so. Not three years straight. I shift around and move around and do some different things here and there. Like at the moment, I eat some potatoes, I eat some rice, I eat some vegetables, I east some fruit. People really lose their mind over that. 

I guess I should explain this, is that in my opinion, there’s a difference between a challenge and a specific style of diet. So I think that it’s safe to do, I shouldn’t say any diet, but it’s safe to do most diets for a month. Not diets. It’s safe to do most challenges for a month. If you were to say, I’m not going to eat any carbohydrates for a month, I think it’s totally fine. It’s a totally fine experiment. I think to say I’m only going to eat meat for a month, I think that makes sense. 

And so I found out about the carnivore Diet, the carnivore challenge, through Dr. Shawn Baker, who started it about three years ago. And every year it’s in January, which I think is brilliant because a lot of people are gaining weight from Halloween, on through Thanksgiving, on through Christmas, and so on. And they’ve got some weight to lose. So issuing that challenge at that time is perfect timing. What the carnivore diet is, is — or the carnivore challenge, I should point out — is, it’s mainly, it’s meat, it’s eggs, bone broth, butter, and then like that’s where it kind of ends. Salt. 

There’s no avocados. There’s no fruits. There’s no vegetables. There’s no — and it’s with the intention of not eating fruit and vegetables. It’s not like, hey, you could still throw them in once in a while. It’s with the intent of don’t eat them at all because you’re trying to see how your body reacts to that. You’re trying to see will this be a positive for your body, will this be a negative. And you could see it with your behavior in the bathroom. You could see it with your sleep. It’ll show up kind of everywhere. And you’ll know pretty quickly whether it’s being effective or not. But to try it out for a month is something I really strongly urge people to do. 

And even just to do it for like three days, I think you’d be shocked and surprised at how you felt after three days. Now there is consequences to trying a diet like this. You’ll have a massive shift in the amount of water that’s in your system and a lot of that ends up in the toilet. So getting rid of those bulk fibers and things like that, this is some of the theories and hypothesis they have about why people end up shitting their brains out when they do a carnivore diet for a period of time. Some people might — you might get constipated as well. Like anytime you change any diet, people get all up in arms about their poop. They get all stressed out about their poop. It’s like the first question’s always about the bathroom. But anytime you change your diet, your trips to the bathroom are going to change quite a bit. So it’s not just the carnivore diet. 

Now what I think a carnivore diet is beyond just doing a challenge, and I think something that’s a little bit more rational, something that makes a little bit more sense, I think is probably landing on what we’ve been landing on forever, and that’s a lot of the discoveries of someone like Robb Wolf, where you start to mix in some other things. And if you still didn’t want to mix in carbohydrates or sugars, then you could be careful with the type of vegetables that you eat. You could be careful with the types of fruit that you choose. You can choose olives and avocados and things like that instead of apples and oranges. And you can kind of maneuver your way through it that way. 

I think, kind of just in finishing, people get really crazy about it and they try not to use like spices and anything like that, but I think that using spices and all these different things are totally fine. The truth here is that for most people, and this is not for everybody, but for most people, if you just open up the playbook a little bit, you have a little bit more options. It’s just a little nicer. It’s a little easier. It’s a little simpler when you don’t have to kind of eat the same thing all the time. Now what I’ll say as a rebuttal to that is that if you snack, then you’re not going to be in the mood for the foods that you want. And I think that is a really critical thing. It’s something I may have texted you guys about.

Kelly: [18:42] Oh, dude, tell us.

Mark: [18:43] And I kind of have like a hardboiled egg challenge. Like I know hardboiled eggs aren’t the best thing in the world, but you can throw like hot sauce on there or you can throw salt and different spices on there to try to make them halfway exciting. But if you’re not hungry for hardboiled eggs, it just means that you have fake hunger. And hardboiled eggs is just an example. Maybe you hate them. Maybe you’re allergic to eggs. Maybe you’ve got to find something different. 

But how many times have you left that chicken, have you left that steak in your fridge just rot away, literally rot away, while you ordered pizza or while you ordered something? And probably somewhere in the day you probably had a snack or something like that. I know with my kids, if they snack before — you know, you’ve heard this all your life — don’t spoil your dinner, kids. If you’re eating right before you have dinner, then you’re most likely going to eat a lot less of that portion of meat that you needed. And you’re really, you’re taking up real estate. You’re taking up really valuable real estate in your stomach. 

And I think what we end up seeing is a lot of people have what I’ve been referring to as like a meat deficiency. Because if you have meat in your body, if you have steak and just various forms of meat, you’re going to be filling up various cups. You’re going to be filling up your cup for your macronutrients. You do not need carbohydrates to survive. Your body will produce sugar on its own. But you do need protein and you do need fat. So you’re filling up your macronutrient cup. And then you’re filling up your micronutrient cup. And if you want to get more into micronutrients, then you can start to eat like liver and heart and spleen and you can get a little weird with it. Or you can supplement those things a little bit here and there. 

But what I’ve found to be the most effective and the reason why I like the diet in the first place, is the fact that when I eat meat, I feel very satisfied. I don’t feel like I really need a lot of other foods. Now the second that those influences of other foods come in, then that’s when my mind is racing and thinking about those other foods again. But for the most part, most of the time, I’m able to be pretty calm and pretty relaxed even if my wife and kids are making cookies or brownies or whatever. It just doesn’t bother me the way that it used to. And so that’s how I kind of landed on this diet. And I’ll be messing with it probably the rest of my life.

Kelly: [21:11] And you know, one of the things that is remarkable is your — the transformation of your body. Like I said, I have known you as a very, very strong human, thicker self. We had more neck rolls then. But now, if we just didn’t cut you in half and count the rings and we just looked at your body confirmation, and also the sustainability, this has been really profound. I’ll also add that, you know, you also are getting blood panels all the time. And so it’s not just — you’re not playing in the wind. I mean you’re not — this isn’t just look at how good I look on Instagram naked. You’re also saying, hey, look, my cholesterol is fine, my triglycerides are fine. You’re looking at all of these aspects of your sort of blood marker health. And I’ll point out that something that is — you can’t hear it, but Mark has become the most reasonable man ever. You’re like, you know, if you’re allergic to eggs, or maybe an egg made fun of you as a child and you don’t like eggs.

Juliet: [22:11] You’re like maybe have a potato.

Kelly: [22:14] You know, I have become a lot more reasonable. But one of the things that I appreciate is your sort of experimentation and then willingness to also look at the truth. Because I always say, oh, that diet looks great, can I see your blood panel, can I see your bloodwork. I mean the truth is in the blood. And that’s something that has shown per your genetics and your history and all the things that are working for you, your exercise, it is working.

Mark: [22:43] Yeah, and I just — I feel really good, you know. I was just thinking about it today.

Kelly: [22:46] Well, that has nothing to do with it.

Mark: [22:48] When I was walking today — by the way, I am standing, and I do have a place to rest my foot to do the — we’ll just call it the Kelly Starrett pose rather than a Captain Morgan pose. We’ll just change it.

Juliet: [22:59] Yeah, we should. We should change it. 

Mark: [23:01] Yeah. The Kelly Starrett pose. You need a cape though I think and a — wait, does Captain Morgan? He has got a hook, right, and a patch?

Juliet: [23:07] Yeah.

Kelly: [23:08] Does he? Does he?

Juliet: [23:10] I do think maybe we should recreate that somehow. Thank you for getting that wheel spinning in my mind.

Mark: [23:17] I was going to say the only thing that bugs me a little bit is my right knee. And I’ve had like tendinitis or something in there since I was a kid. I used to love to play basketball even though I wasn’t very good at it. And I just stopped playing basketball and the pain went away. But now that I’m like running and stuff like that, so the knee will get inflamed here and there. But I can do everything. 

You know, I’ve torn my pecs a couple times. I’ve torn a tricep. I’ve torn a bicep. I’ve torn a hamstring. I’ve torn a hip flexor. I’ve injured myself many, many times over. But I’m still here. And I feel amazing. I feel better than I ever have. Like I was trying to think, I’m like do I legitimately feel better than when I’m 25, or do I just kind of think that I do. And I’m trying to think about what I felt like when I was 25. I don’t know if I feel better than when I was 25. But I certainly feel better than when we first met. You know, that’s for sure. 

I remember going to a Kelly Starrett seminar, and Kelly said something that made me want to just get up and say bullshit. You said the human body is designed to be pain free. And I’m trying to scour my body. I’m like what’s not in pain. I’m like, okay, I think my left forearm’s not really in that much pain. I was like nope, I was wrong there too. Right forearm, bicep. You know, I’m thinking everything’s sore, everything’s achy. But I don’t feel that way anymore. I do get sore, obviously, like if I try something new or there’s some different stimulus going on. I have some inflammation, I have some limitations on certain things that my elbow or shoulder want to do or whatever. But I feel awesome. I can do just about any workout. 

If someone wanted to go on like a trail run, I could go do that. If somebody wanted to go ride a bike, I could do that. If somebody wanted to powerlift, I could do that. I could body build. I could CrossFit. I just, I feel awesome. I feel really good. And I think that in this time where we got kind of shut out from our gyms, it makes me think of you guys. It makes me think of people that I’ve been around that have showed me different exercise other than bench, squat, and deadlift. Thinking of like Jason Khalipa, like what a cool thing to have the skillset of Jason Khalipa, to know how to do all these different various movements because it doesn’t matter if you have a gym or not.

Juliet: [25:54] So are there times when you are not doing the carnivore diet? I know I see you sometimes on Instagram. You’re like — you do eat a piece of pizza. Is that on some kind of official cycle? Like do you do six weeks on carnivore and one week off? Or what’s your sort of — like how do you do that on a rotational basis? 

Mark: [26:12] I just try to kind of pick. I just kind of randomly will pick certain times to enjoy certain things. I know that Andee, my wifey, she likes when I’ll have a glass of wine with her. But she’s made out of something different than I am. She can pound that wine every single day and not have any repercussions and wake up at 7 a.m. in the morning and go swimming and everything. So like I just kind of —

Kelly: [26:41] All-American swimmer. 

Mark: [26:42] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. She’s unbelievable. I don’t really have a — I try not to have a schedule. I’ve learned — over the years, I’ve really tried to — I’ve just done some different things that I think are a little bit weird. But I’ve gotten rid of goals. I don’t have goals. I don’t have expectations. I think I have more of a to do list. Like there’s certain things that I want to do. And I don’t even really look at them as much as goals anymore because I just try not to put that much pressure on myself. 

I know that I’m going to work out every day. I know that I’m — so like I don’t even have a workout schedule. I don’t try to specifically do anything really. Like my goal is to be between like 215 and 220. But I’m not like in some sort of race to do it. I could weigh that probably pretty easily within maybe like 20, 30 days or something like that. But I’m always trying to think about like and then what, you know. So you want to get your company to make $100 million or something like that. But and then what? Like what is that — you guys know, you make it somewhere, and then it doesn’t have — it’s not what you thought it was in the first place, so —

Kelly: [27:57] Yeah. You don’t win your fitness, or win your diet, or win your body composition.

Mark: [27:59] Right. Right.

Juliet: [27:59] Yeah. Yeah.

Mark: [28:01] So I guess what I’m trying to say is I try to just be reasonable with it. You know, if I feel like doing something — I remember one of my relatives, they said, oh, I forgot you’re on that diet, you can’t eat that. And I said, no, actually I can eat that. I can eat whatever I want. I just, I pick and choose when I’m going to do it type thing. And so I think that’s a good mentality for people. I know a lot of people really struggle with their weight and that gets to be really difficult. All I would say on that is like if you can string together five good days and you have one bad day here and there, I think that’s enough. I think that’s — whatever you’re able to handle. You know, whatever you’re able to handle. And if you’re able to — if your goal is to lose weight and you’re able to continue to trend downward, then weigh yourself here and there, make sure you’re heading in that direction. And just follow whatever the heck diet you need to, to help get you there.

Juliet: [28:59] Well, I think that’s super interesting. And you know one thing I’ve noticed is that clearly what works for some people doesn’t work for other people. And I love that you sort of say, look, this works well for you, and what works for someone else may not work for someone else, which leads me into my next question which hopefully won’t offend anyone. But I feel like the carnivore diet is kind of like a man diet. Are there a lot of women that you know that are doing it?

Mark: [29:26] That is insanely offensive. That’s racist.

Juliet: [29:28] I know it’s so offensive. I know it’s so offensive. But I don’t know, I feel like there’s something about it that I could see a lot of dudes getting into the carnivore diet and that style of eating and I don’t really —

Mark: [29:39] No, you’re a hundred —

Juliet: [29:40] Know any women. Are there women?

Mark: [29:43] No, you’re a hundred percent correct. I mean look at how many people do yoga, right? And then when you go to yoga, when I go to yoga, I’m the only guy in there usually. I mean sometimes there’s a couple other guys in there. But it’s mainly women. And when you go to yoga, how many people are on the carnivore diet? They’re on the exact opposite diet. They’re juicers and they’re vegan and things of that nature, right? So I think one of the most important things, and Kelly being a doctor, I mean this is the most important thing, being able to adhere to something is massively important. And I think —

Kelly: [30:22] It’s the most important.

Mark: [30:23] Yeah. Right. Like if you’re not going to follow it, then it’s like — people do that with books all the time. I have a lot of friends that they tell me all these books that they’ve read. And I’m just kind of thinking like, man, I don’t think you’re using any of the information in these books because that’s probably the thirtieth book you told me you’ve read and you’re not really anywhere, you know. So being able to actually do what somebody suggests and then being able to actually adhere to a diet or a fitness program, you have to like it, you know. It has to be of interest to you. 

I think that people get so confused about success and something that I have seen and learned across the board — my dad lost his job at IBM when he was at like year 19, you know. He needed one more year and then he was going to be able to get like a pension and a retirement and all those kind of things. And he spent every day of his life getting in a suit and tie. And I just knew when I was a kid, I was like whatever the heck that is, I don’t want to do that. But what made my dad super successful was the fact that when he lost his job, IBM downsized in Poughkeepsie, New York, that’s where their headquarters was at the time. And when that happened, my dad just very easily shifted gears because my dad’s always been very interested in finances. He’s always been interested in money, how people could make money, how people could save money. So he became an accountant. And he also became a real estate agent. And he didn’t skip a beat. I think I was not even aware that we didn’t have money. I wasn’t aware that he — I didn’t even know he lost his job. I just knew he started working in the basement and then he turned our basement into an office. 

And my point here is that, you know, if you want to be successful at something, it really just goes very well with your interest. You know, if you find –let’s say you’re extremely shredded, you’re really ripped, you’re in really, really good shape. But you haven’t figured out a way to like monetize that. That’s just because your interest level lies in being in shape more so than it does in making money. You see this with artists all the time. Their love, their passion — they don’t care if they need to sleep in their car. You know, I did pro wrestling for a while. These guys will sleep in their car and they’ll wrestle in front of 10, 20, 30 people. They don’t care how many people are there. It’s their art. It’s what they love to do. It’s what their interest is. 

And I think a lot of times, people are trying to force interest on themselves. So I think that’s a really important thing, that you try a bunch of different things so you can kind of figure out the only way you’re going to learn anything is to mess up a lot of times. The only way you’re going to learn anything is to make errors. That’s where all knowledge comes from. All knowledge comes from error correction. So you have to just try a lot of stuff. 

So I’ve tried as may different diets as I could think of within reason that fit some of my beliefs. I wouldn’t try a vegan diet. I don’t have anything against anything that other people want to try. But I just never felt like it was for me. But I think if you’re going to be successful at something, it just really has to do with the interest level. And if you find yourself wavering and if you find yourself not being able to lose weight, well, that just means your interest level isn’t high enough in losing weight. You’re more interested in continuing to be the same as you were yesterday. It might be like an unpopular truth, but that’s just the way I see it.

Kelly: [34:02] This notion of adherence is really one of the interesting aspects of this carnivore style because what we know is meat, especially red meat, is actually very nutrient dense. And compared to other really crappy calories, even what we’ve heard from our expert friends, is even sort of mass produced meat still has way more B vitamins and micronutrients and it’s calorically much better for you than just pigging out on cheese and beans and rice and grains, right? So we’ve heard that from a multitude of people. However you feel, and we’re not having a conversation about the ethics of meat right now, right? That’s not what this is about. But what we have seen is when people go and try a carnivore diet, their guts clean up. They have much better gut permeability. A lot of their inflammatory problems — it’s like the system tamps down a little bit, stops becoming so twitchy because it’s so easy to eat these things. 

Here’s five things you’re going to eat. It really eliminates the need and sort of pressure to pull other things out. And so it really has been, for us — every once in a while as a physical therapist, I run into someone who is clearly having some kind of systemic inflammatory thing. And it could be as insidious and strange as a root canal infection, something around their gut or their health. But there’s a couple non sort of inflammatory diets we’ve recommended from our friends, which is Plant Paradox, which is really an idea of trying to pull out things that may be irritating the gut. And then carnivore. And so what’s really interesting you’re saying about this is that it really is an extreme elimination diet that people have really excellent adherence to because the parameters are good. And then because they get such good success very quickly in terms of body composition, which is chiefly why people are using this, it’s been transformational for so many people.

Mark: [36:04] Yeah. You get a reward from it almost automatically. Not automatically. But you get a reward from it very quickly. And that makes you instantly feel better. But again, like it’s even just the weight, weight aside, I think that if someone wants to give this an actual try and tried it for just a handful of days, just three to five days, I think you would just learn whether it’s for you or not for you. Maybe you just learn that cutting out a lot of carbohydrates just was really helpful to you. So then when you go back to whatever style of diet that you like, you can make the adjustments as you need them, basically.

Juliet: [36:47] So I mean I know you just said three to five days, but do you think that’s a good test amount of time? I mean if someone’s listening to this and they’re like, huh, that sounds cool, I want to try this, do you think three to five days, or do you think it’s more like a challenge, like 30 days, to really get beyond the toilet issues and sort of get into some sort of rhythm with it? Or do you think you really could see a difference in three to five days?

Mark: [37:08] I think it’s really important to lie to yourself, you know. When I go out on my runs, I start out walking. And then I’m like ah, I’m just going to run to that stop sign. And then once I get to the stop sign, I run a little further. And it’s encouraging once you have a little bit of success and once you get that ball rolling. So I would say doing it for three days is probably going to get you started, you know. It’s just such an easy thing to say to yourself. Okay, I’m going to buy a couple chunks of meat and I’m going to do this for three days. And it won’t upset anyone else in the household. Like your wife or your husband won’t think you’re crazy, that you’re trying something that’s going to hurt you because you’re only doing it for three days. And you can say, look, I just want to try this for a couple days and see how it feels. 

Most people that don’t eat very healthy, I think will notice an impact enough to encourage them to say, ah, you know what, I did it for three days, I may as well stretch it out for a week. Doing it as a challenge and doing it for like a whole month, that can work great because again, you’re giving yourself an x amount of time to do it. But a month is a long time. You know, when you’re addicted to food and you have trouble with food — you know, my entire family is fat. I come from a long lineage of people that love to overeat. And when you’re addicted to food, a day isn’t long, but every hour is super long, you know. Like every opportunity to eat is another opportunity basically to screw up, is the way that you look at it when you are addicted to food, rather than from the other perspective of hey, look, this is an opportunity to launch myself forward, this is an opportunity to do a lot better. And I think for some people, what they might notice is, so we did mention that everybody is different and we did mention that it’s important that if you don’t like meat, there’s no reason to even probably mess with a carnivore diet. Some people really don’t like red meat. Some people don’t like fattier meats. So then, you know, you’re left with trying to figure out — you know you’d have to look into some other options. But we’re all very similar too, so I think that’s important to understand. As much as we are different, we are massively the same.

Kelly: [39:35] We don’t need massive, massive amounts of carbohydrate necessarily.

Mark: [39:39] Right. We don’t need massive amounts of carbohydrate. We don’t need massive amounts of food, you know. We just don’t. We could probably — you know, people feed their dogs twice a day, you know. And then you’re like, well, why don’t you feed him three or four times a day. And they’re like, well, my dog will get fat. And so I think —

Kelly: [40:00] Which reminds me of a story where I gave my cat diabetes.

Mark: [40:04] Oh no.

Kelly: [40:05] Feeding him cat food.

Mark: [40:06] Yeah. People should really just try to find a diet that allows them to eat a food, eat a certain amount of food that allows them to maintain a weight that’s reasonable for them. And then so where we’re all similar is this idea of protein leveraging. And there’s a guy named Ted Naiman that talks about it quite a bit. He does like TED Talks on it and all kinds of different stuff. But protein leveraging is this kind of idea and concept that the more protein that you eat, you will eat less calories overall because there’s a belief and a theory that all living things are always in search of protein. And so while we’re rummaging through our Cheez-Its and while we’re rummaging through cookies and things like that, they have massively produced these things, they override our body’s ability to recognize when we’re full, our body’s ability — it’s so over satisfying, it’s so overwhelming that you kind of can’t stop. They even dare you, they say try to eat just one and things of that nature. 

But protein doesn’t work that way. Eat two chicken breasts and then tell me how hungry you are. I sometimes will use that leverage to my advantage. I will, it was probably like a week ago, I just felt like eating a sandwich. So I was like that’d be really cool to go to this store over here and get just a deli sandwich. It’ll rock. I’ll get it on — they have this like Dutch crunch bread and it’s freaking amazing. So I was like all right, you could do that but you’ve got to eat two chicken breasts first. It’s still extra calories, okay? It’s still extra calories. 

But protein, protein’s kind of screwed up. Protein in my opinion shouldn’t even count as calories, and there’s a lot of other people that have been studying this for years and years that would agree with that statement or at least say that maybe it should only count as one calorie. But anyway, protein is going to help you and assist you to eat less overall. So even though I ate the chicken breasts and the sandwich, which is more food, it’s — technically it should be helping me, it should be assisting me not to have cravings later on that night. And that’s what I’m into. I’m into the long game. So if I — I’m not trying to be fancy, I’m just trying to be consistent. So wherever I can, I try to figure out, okay, if I’m going to eat that, how can I augment that? How can I change that a little bit? How can I make that more satisfying? Because we know eating peanut butter cups is amazing, but again, it’s not going to do anything to fill you up. So try to make sure that you’re actually full, along with being satisfied sometimes with some of these delicious foods that are out.

Juliet: [43:04] So I have to tell you a story, Mark Bell, and maybe I’ve told you this before. But this is actually something Kelly’s been doing since probably before I met him. And he calls it pre-eating. If you’re going to go to like a Christmas party where you know all there’s — you know the only will be served is like a cheese plate and wine, he always got in the habit of what he called pre-eating. And there was a time actually when Georgia was a little baby.

Mark: [43:27] – There’s science behind it, Starrett.

Juliet: [43:29] Yeah, there’s science behind it. Science. Georgia was a baby and we were going to a Christmas party, staying with my mom, and you could see Kelly was panicking about his future eating at this Christmas party. So my mom actually lived in a place at that time where there was an elevator. So we get all of us packed into this small elevator. Kelly’s holding Georgia as a baby. And literally, you know, he has pretty big cheeks, like a pretty big face. And his cheeks were just full. And I was like what is in your mouth. And he could barely talk because he just stuffed all this leftover pork into his mouth. And he was having trouble chewing it all because he just pre — and so we’ve called that pork cheeks ever since. And I don’t know. We’ve gotten a lot of lifetime value out of this whole pork cheeks concept. And I’m sure you can envision Kelly’s pork cheeks right now. 

Mark: [44:15] Pork cheeks. Yeah. It’s called protein leveraging. Look it up.

Kelly: [44:19] Pork cheek leveraging.

Juliet: [44:19] It’s science. It’s science. 

Kelly: [44:21] One of the things that I — you know, we say it all the time. You reinforce it. You’ve got to be consistent before you’re heroic. And the best plan is like — I’m just like, look, it takes time to make change. And changing behavior’s the most difficult human being thing we do, whether it’s a cognitive behavior, whether it’s a movement behavior, whether it’s a reaction to something. One of the things that I appreciate that I’ve heard you say here, and something that was echoed in our friend EC Synkowski who has the 800 Gram Challenge, she says the model of her eating is great, don’t worry about the rest, just stuff 800 grams of vegetables and fruits down your palate every day. And people are stuffed. They cannot eat any — they’re like I’m so full. 

And what I’ve just heard you say is why don’t you get full on something that you have to eat first and then see how much is left over for your other crap on the other side. And it really does — when we don’t take things away but we add things in, it really has been transformative. These two styles — pulling things out and realizing we’re in these little experiments and challenges, like a Whole30, where you’re like, hey, I’m not going to drink dairy for a couple weeks and see how I feel, or I’m not going to eat grains for a couple weeks. But oftentimes, they’re not very sustainable. Make real changes in people and bring consciousness. 

But I really appreciate the simplicity of what you’re saying is hey look, let’s leverage this first. And what you’ll see is that there’s not a lot of room. And you’re very sated. And you’re not cutting calories or feeling like a failure. You’re like what are you doing, Mark. I’m like gorging on chicken breasts and hardboiled eggs. And you’re like, dude, fatty. No one would ever throw that at you, right? And you’re stuffed, which is a really remarkable kind of hack here.

Mark: [46:07] I think it’s just important too to understand that like nothing can make you fat except for yourself. There’s some people that maybe have some genetic predispositions to being heavier than others and things of that nature. But for the most part, the only thing that can make yourself heavier than you want to be is your own behavior. And I think to understand that is really crucial so that that way you’re not ever — even with the knowledge that we have that we don’t need as many carbohydrates as we previously thought, even though we have some knowledge towards move more, eat less type stuff, even though we have this knowledge, it’s still a very difficult thing to overcome all these amazing foods that are around all the time. 

But there’s kind of two ways to look at it. You know, I’ve heard people say, well, there’s so much just amazing, just delicious, unhealthy, convenient foods. And I’m kind of thinking to myself, well, there’s the opposite of that too. There’s a lot — I mean there’s food prep companies. I mean there’s all these different apps to help you track stuff. You know, you can wear a heartrate monitor, you can — I mean there’s just so many different things that you can do. 

And from a food perspective, I think we live in — minus what they’re saying about a meat shortage or whatever. But we live in a really good time where we have access. Most people I know have a refrigerator full of food, a freezer full of food, a pantry full of food. And sometimes even another refrigerator full of food. And so we have a lot of food options. It’s just that I think all our eyes see and all our nose smells are the pizza and the donuts and a lot of those things. And we’re just not paying attention to the fact that there’s convenient foods that are super healthy that are at our disposal at all times. 

And I like what you said about the pork cheeks because I’ve been doing that for years as well. It’s like sometimes I’ll even just throw down a protein shake on my way out the door just because I don’t know. I don’t know what I’m getting myself into. I don’t know where we’re going. I don’t know what foods are going to be there. And it’s almost like an anxiety, right? You’re not sure what the situation is going to be so you’re trying to set yourself up for success so that way you don’t end up eating some garbage when you go. And I advise people to do that when they shop. I think that you should always eat before you shop. Throw down some protein before you head out because all of a sudden that Ben and Jerry’s is going to talk to you as you walk down the aisle. So I think loading up on some protein’s a great idea.

Juliet: [48:57] So your mention about the protein shake leads me into hopefully my last question so we can let you go here in a moment. But can you eat protein powder on the carnivore diet? And also, just to sort of tack onto that question, are you taking any particular supplements on the regular when you’re carnivoring?

Mark: [49:17] You know, I think it’s important for long term to not be too dogmatic about anything. Again, if you want to view something as a challenge, I think that that’s great and that can be fun to get behind that. But if you like protein shakes, just drink them, you know. I heard a quote the other day, said one thing that troubles people is that when they’re hungry they don’t eat and when they’re tired they don’t go to sleep. And it’s like wow. That’s like — and if you think about it, it’s not so much that they don’t eat. It’s more about you’re stressing about what to eat, where to eat, when to eat, how much to eat. And then same thing with your sleep. You’re like aw, I’m kind of tired, I should probably just lay down. But even if you have an opportunity to, you never do, you know. And we just don’t simplify things enough. And I think that it’s an important thing to do. And as I was saying a little bit earlier about not thinking that a carbohydrate’s going to make you fat or not thinking that a fat’s going to make you fat or not thinking — it’s just a matter of how much you eat overall. And I think that if you can figure out ways of kind of skewing so that you eat a lot more protein, you end up with some of that protein leveraging, I think that you’ll find this whole nutritional riddle ends up being a lot easier to handle than you probably initially thought. 

Kelly: [50:47] But I just did three sets of five and squats, don’t I need to refuel with my carbohydrate, Mark? Mark, just want to say how much we appreciate you. You’re one of my few friends who went from clinically obese to even more jacked and tan. And it’s not that — I feel like I have a lot of jacked lean people who’ve been jacked and lean their whole lives, who don’t come from a family full of eaters, who don’t have this appreciation for what it’s like to be on the other side and use food to self-soothe and manage.

And man, I just appreciate you sharing what has worked for you and being so reasonable about it because you have become really a voice for control. And you have plenty of friends who — Stan Efferding is one of your besties. And he feeds the world’s strongest men, Brian Shaw and Hafthor. And there’s a lot of carbohydrate in his fuel because of what those guys are doing. So you aren’t the only — you aren’t just advocating for a single style. But I really appreciate that you’ve said this is what’s worked for me and you have become really, truly, finally, the people’s coach. People kind of bandied that around for a long time. And if you’ve ever been to a powerlifting meet or if you’ve been to an Arnold or a big show, Mark is a celebrity. But now finally, I think I can put on you — you’re the doctor of powerlifting coaches. So I know that you and Juliet like to say that you’re world champions and I’m not, but you guys are truly world champion. You are my world championest friend.

Mark: [52:27] Thank you. I appreciate that. And again, I just want to kind of reiterate that, just give it a shot. Just try it out. Whatever that diet is you’ve been thinking about doing, doesn’t necessarily have to even be the carnivore diet, just do it, just try it. I think I put out a video about six weeks ago and it was pretty cool because I was talking about the future. I was talking about right now. I was talking about now times. And I said imagine if you started something now where you would be six or eight weeks from now, while we’re in lockdown, while we’re in quarantine. And just try to just do your best, man. Just try to take it day by day. You’re going to have a lot of ups and downs. I had a guy message me this morning, and this is the way I wake up almost every day, I had a guy message me and tell me that he lost 60 pounds. That is just —

Kelly: [53:16] Impossible.

Mark: [53:16] That makes me feel amazing, the fact that he was able to take some advice that I threw out there, and the fact that he was able to implement it, and the fact that he was able to insert that into his life and make these big changes. He was 350 pounds and now he’s 285 or something like that. It’s like that’s just amazing. And I love seeing that. And that’s kind of been — it’s been weird because I’m the guy that taught people how to get fat and how to bench, squat and deadlift. And now I pull the rug out from under you and say, hey, look, we’re not doing that anymore. We’re going to — it’s time to lose a bunch of weight.

Juliet: [53:54] Mark Bell, where can people find you, follow you, learn more about what you’re up to?

Mark: [54:00] I’m in Bodega Bay. I go on a lot of walks out here, so if you see me walking, come up and say hello. No, you can find me on social media. I’m @marksmellybell on Instagram and on Twitter. I have a YouTube channel as well. And then we also have a gym, 855 Riverside Parkway, West Sacramento, California. Gym is free. So anybody that wants to come by, as soon as we are officially open to the public, I’d love to see you there. So I think we’re going to open her up in a couple of days here. I’ve been putting a lot of pressure on the wifey because I think what’s going on right now is total bullshit. So I think it’s time that as citizens we maybe have to just try to open up the country ourselves. I’m not sure what’s going to happen here. But this doesn’t seem good.

Kelly: [54:54] And I’m going to sidestep the politics here just for a second because I appreciate it’s complicated. But I do want to just point out that you are being true and honest. You can come by the gym and train.

Juliet: [55:06] It’s actually free.

Kelly: [55:07] And there are world class athletes hanging out there. And the rule is, what? Don’t be a jerk. Clean up your weights. Make the place a little bit better.

Mark: [55:16] Yeah. There’s really no rules. You can’t wear a tank top unless you bench over 405 or unless you have arms that are over 18 inches. And you can’t wear headphones. But other than that, I just want you to participate and have some fun, yell at some people, make sure we’re getting each other fired up. And I just want to add that it’s been amazing to be friends with you guys. You guys have added so much value to my life as a lifter inside the gym, my life outside of the gym. And it’s been amazing to watch the progression that you guys have been making over there. I still watch. I still check out all the stuff. You know, I’m the guy that does those kind of cheap lunges I’ll call them. I squat my lunges is what I’m trying to say. But I’ve learned so much over the years from you. And I really appreciate your friendship and I appreciate all the great information that you guys give out. So thank you so much.

Juliet: [56:15] Thank you, Mark Bell. We feel the same about you. It’s just always a pleasure to have you in our lives and share you with people listening because I think there’s a lot to learn and you really are the people’s coach. So thank you for being here.

Mark: [56:27] Kelly, do you remember when Juliet stole my gum?

Kelly: [56:33] Juliet’s a gum thief.

Juliet: [56:34] It turns out when you go to a super training gym, the gum is also free. 

Mark: [56:37] Yeah, you guys came and you —

Juliet: [56:38] If you just take it.

Mark: [56:40] You like pillaged the place. I was like yeah, grab ahold of whatever you want. And you’re like okay, cool. And you grabbed ahold of a couple hip circles and a couple T-shirts. I’m like all right, that’s cool. And then you guys started taking staplers and pens. 

Kelly: [56:52] You said the gym is free and what Juliet heard was —

Juliet: [56:54] Yeah. I was like the gum is free.

Kelly: [56:56] Free the gum.

Juliet: [56:57] Free the gum. Free the gum. I know. I need to come back there and get some free gum. So I look forward to seeing you there. 

Mark: [57:03] Was this officially The Ready Steak Podcast?

Juliet: [57:07] It’s the pork cheeks podcast. All right, thanks again Mark Bell.

Kelly: [57:11] Best to your family, Mark. Love you.

Mark: [57:13] Thank you guys. Have a great rest of your day. Bye.

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