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Dr. Chad Walding on Collagen, Protein Consumption and Staying “On the Path”

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Katie: Hello, and welcome to the “Wellness Mama Podcast.” I’m Katie, from wellnessmama.com, and wellnesse.com, that’s wellnesse with an E on the end. And I’m here with Dr. Chad Walding. And we talk about collagen, the importance of protein consumption, and what he means by staying on the path, as well as a lot more. Dr. Walding is the co-founder of Native Path. He’s a doctor of physical therapy, a holistic health and fitness coach, a lifetime athlete himself, and a speaker. He’s committed to helping people transform their lives through eating, moving, thinking, and living. And as a physical therapist, he has 15 years of vast expertise in treating the spine and restoring optimal human movement. He also spent time with indigenous people in the Amazon to study ancestral and holistic health, and we talk about that a little bit as well.

 

We talk about problems with our forward-leaning society and how much we sit, what he means by getting on the path and staying on the path, the importance of getting enough protein and his guidelines for this, why he doesn’t suggest drinking liquid with your meals but the importance of hydration at other times of day, why he agrees with me that there’s never a reason to consume processed vegetable oils, how protein in the morning can really help with weight loss and lean muscle mass, what makes collagen different and important and how to add it to your routine, as well as so much more. Let’s join Dr. Walding. Chad, welcome back.

 

Chad: Hello, Katie. It’s so good to be here. So good to be back.

 

Katie: I’m excited to chat with you again. We had a great first conversation, which we’ll get to talk about just briefly, but before we jump into all the fun stuff we get to talk about today, I have a note in the show notes that you lived with the tribe in the Amazon for 40 days completely offline, and I’m so curious to hear more about this.

 

Chad: Yeah. So, in 2018, I lived in Brazil and this tribe called the Yomanowans and they live in Acre, Brazil. And it took four days to get there, and I was there for over 40 days, and was the most magical experience of my life. I’ve always been fascinated by ancestral wisdom and the way they lived, and this opportunity was given to me so I jumped at it. It was quite a process to be offline for 40 days and get my life in order, but it was wonderful. It was absolutely wonderful. And I did an initiation with them. So, it was a lot of time in a hut by myself, in the middle of the jungle, thinking about my life and being completely immersed in nature. And they taught me a lot. They taught me a lot of their songs and their stories, a lot of time just around the fire with them singing songs. And I fell in love with the tribe. I learned a lot about myself. I learned a lot about how our ancestors lived and where we came from. And I’m still integrating that experience and I learned so much from it. It was such a beautiful time.

 

Katie: That’s amazing. I can only imagine how memorable that was. And your expertise, well, you have many, but one of them is that you are a doctor of physical therapy, and we’re gonna talk about some aspects of healthcare today and then even some stuff beyond that. But to start off with for background, can you talk about what got you into that, and what your experience has been?

 

Chad: Yes, I’ve always loved movement. I was an athlete growing up and I played college baseball, and I loved training for baseball more than I actually like playing baseball, so the love of movement and analyzing movement is what led me to become a physical therapist because I just wanted to work with athletes and get to know the human body better in that way. So, that’s really how I became a physical therapist.

 

Katie: And people may be familiar with you because you have been on this podcast before, and we had a great conversation about all the problems with sitting and some really awesome solutions. So, before we jump into all the new topics, can you just kind of give us a brief recap for people who maybe missed that episode?

 

Chad: Yeah. So, that was the first thing I started to notice when I was working in outpatient physical therapy. I started treating a lot of people with back pain and neck pain and shoulder pain, and what I realized with these people is they weren’t coming into me after some traumatic accident. They didn’t have like a car wreck or they weren’t playing flag football or something then got hurt. Most of these people were just sitting all day, chronically. And I started to notice their posture and how they had forward heads and rounded shoulders and hunched spines, and how that was contributing to a lot of the issues that they had.

 

But this issue was not being addressed by say conventional therapy. Conventional doctors weren’t like, “Hey, this is what’s happening.” I realized we were living in what I call a flexion-based society, right? We’re always hunching over, and it’s getting worse and worse. We’re hunching over our tablets, our phones, our computers. Most of us are sitting on the way to work. We get to work and we sit on a computer all day, and then we come home and we sit on the couch and watch Netflix. And that’s kind of what’s happening. And our bodies are molding and adapting to that position, and it’s a large reason why we’re having a lot of the physical pain that we’re having. So, my first effort with the sitting solution was really to make people aware of this, that the environment and the way we’re positioning ourselves, the lack of movement is far removed from the way that our ancestors were moving and the positions they were in. And it was a big effort to give them a lot of corrective exercises to put their body back in a good position.

 

Katie: And I will make sure that episode is linked for all of you guys listening, wellnessmama.fm in the show notes. You’ll be able to find his first episode. And now you’re also spending some time with a new company called NativePath. So, for background, give us an overview of what NativePath is.

 

Chad: NativePath is really a dream. It’s a dream that we’ve had for a long time. We’ve been around for about nine years, but that vision for that dream really started when I started to work in conventional healthcare as a physical therapist. Like, my first position as an intern in physical therapy was at a hospital in Houston, Texas, that was world-renowned for its treatment of heart disease. And on the first floor of that hospital was a McDonald’s. And I was like, “Why is a McDonald’s in a hospital that’s treating heart disease?” It didn’t make any sense to me. So, I started making this connection, that we have a healthcare system that knows nothing about food, and the food system knows nothing about health, and people are in the middle just being thrown around and given a lot of bad information. So, NativePath really was born out of a desire to help people feel better and get them living back in harmony with the biology. So, I met some people and we started a business. We started writing blogs and started doing podcasts like you’re doing. And it’s grown and grown and grown, and now we have a big audience. We’re so fortunate to help people.

 

Katie: So, let’s talk about some of the ways that you are helping people through this because you have a saying, “Getting on the path and staying on the path.” What does that mean?

 

Chad: So, getting on the path means to start making a decision to live your life in harmony with your own biology. In other words, doing what your genes are expecting of you. If you just follow and do the basic principles, follow the laws of nature, and do what your genes are expecting of you, you’re gonna have a lot easier time in terms of your health and your happiness. But what’s happening is like, over the past 100 years, all these diseases are getting worse despite all our advances in technology. So, for instance, like chronic disease was very rare. The things we’re having today, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, mental illness, a lot of these issues really began to get worse and worse and worse as we’ve grown in technology because we’ve moved farther and farther away from the way that our biology is expecting us to live, right? So, what we’re trying to do is get people on the path and to start doing some very basic things, do the least things that make the most difference to help you feel better right now.

 

Katie: Yeah. That idea that things are just getting worse, that was one of the things that got me into the health and wellness world, as well as reading that our children’s generation is gonna be the first in centuries to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents if we don’t change something which is something I’m hoping to do and it sounds like you’re very much in that as well. And I think a lot about like, you know, if you’re getting poor answers, maybe ask different questions. And I feel like maybe this is something not happening in the mainstream right now is we look at things and make conclusions like, “Oh, the sun causes cancer,” but we’re using more sunscreen, getting less sun exposure, and getting more skin cancer.

 

Same thing with heart disease being on the rise and people eating these “heart-healthy” oils. Maybe we’ve made some assumptions that were incorrect and we need to go back to first principles and create some correct assumptions to actually build on. So, in the interest of that, what are some of those first steps for someone? I feel like my listeners are pretty educated and a lot of them are, like, pretty well versed in a lot of health. But when someone is new to this, what are some of those first steps to getting on that path?

 

Chad: The first step easily is definitely get a better relationship with protein. Most people are extremely deficient in protein or they’re eating poor quality protein, or they’re not digesting it very well. So, it’s creating a better relationship with protein. Protein is the one essential macronutrient. You can live without carbohydrates, you can do fine without fat, but you absolutely cannot do well without protein. So, anytime I was coaching an athlete or working with somebody on rehab, we always wanted to make sure they got their protein right. And one thing about protein it’s extremely satiating and nutrient-dense. So, there’s so many vitamins and minerals in protein compared to carbohydrates or fat, and is satiating. So, if you eat protein, you’re gonna get full and it’s less likely you’re gonna eat all the other stuff.

 

So, we’re real big on, you know, every time you eat, have about a palm-size to two palm-size portions of protein at every meal and eat that first and build your plate around that. That’s the main thing. And that’s gonna make a huge difference in your life in terms of getting you on the path and helping you feel better.

 

And outside of that, the next steps really have to do with hydration, you know, making sure that you’re drinking about half your body weight in ounces of water. I’m also a big fan of not having liquids with your meals. So, you can chew, chew, chew your food and secrete the natural digestive enzymes in saliva that help you break down your food. But first thing in the morning when you wake up, have a big glass of water, have water throughout the day, but not with your meals.

 

And after that, we get into things like you were talking about, removing toxic fats from your home, you know. There’s no reason like vegetable oil or Saffola oil or any of that stuff, canola oil, should ever be in your home. Using good fats, for sure. And then there’s all these other basic principles about aligning yourself with the natural rhythms of nature, so waking up and getting early morning sun exposure, getting sun exposure in the evening, getting your eyes and your skin seeing that early morning and evening sun. That’s gonna help secrete your daytime and nighttime hormones at the right time, to help you feel better.

 

Katie: You are speaking my language. I’m a big fan of that morning sunlight. And when people ask, like, what’s your biggest health advice? This is often one of the pieces I’ll mention because I think we underestimate just how dramatically that can shift your hormones, it’ll improve your sleep, and that affects circadian biology, affects your digestion, and so much more. And I also am so happy that you brought up the protein piece because I feel like for as long as I’ve been in health, this is one of the pieces I really feel like I’m only starting to get right the last couple of years. And I didn’t realize for years, I thought I was eating enough protein. I never really tracked it. When I actually paid attention to it, I was drastically under-eating protein, like drastically.

 

And I think for women, especially, this can be a problem and it can be so profoundly impacting when you actually start getting enough protein. Because like you said, not only is it very satiating, but there’s so much that is in that and our bodies aren’t making it. And if we’re not getting enough, our bodies are quite literally gonna break down our muscle…

 

Chad: Exactly.

 

Katie: So, let’s talk about those guidelines a little bit more because I think I still see this pretty rampant in women, especially, and women being afraid to eat too much or to get too bulky, and they kind of tend to avoid protein on average more than guys, from what I’ve seen.

 

Chad: Yeah. It does happen a lot with women, and our audience is mostly women too. So, they have this kind of…a lot of people come in with fear around protein, like is it gonna hurt my kidneys? What’s gonna happen? But it’s something our ancestors were doing for a long time is eating protein and it is what makes up a lot of the structure of the body, and allows you to have a strong mobility as you age, right? So, the basic guideline we tell people is every time you eat, have about a palm-size portion or one to two palm-sized portions of protein on your plate. And we suggest animal-based protein, right? It’s a much more nutrient-dense way of eating things compared to plant-based protein. So, that’s the general thing that we’re talking about there, is making sure you have good quality animal-based protein, one to two palm-sized portions every time you eat, and build your plate around that.

 

Katie: Yeah. And I know that can seem controversial to some people, but I share that advice with you, and I think that distinction is really, really important because people might understand, there’s essential amino acids we absolutely need to survive and to function optimally, and those are present in animal foods in a much different way than they are in plant foods. And not to talk badly about plant foods, but I think that animal foods are the most bioavailable and easiest source of that, and the one that lines up naturally with our body. And I think that, unfortunately, animal foods have gotten a bad rap sometimes in society, but also there’s that component of not all protein is created equal.

 

So, I’d love to talk a little bit about protein quality within that, and also the different types of protein present in different amounts, even within animal foods. Because from what I’ve read, Americans especially, we tend to overeat on just the muscle meat parts of that, and a lot of other cultures, perhaps in the Amazon, I don’t know what your experience was, but they have a much more nose to tail comprehensive approach to when they consume animal protein, which I think is much more honoring of the animal as well. But let’s talk about protein quality and kind of some of those components.

 

Chad: Yeah. The protein quality…and remember, animal-based protein will always be more nutrient-dense than plant-based protein, but it’s also the way the animal was raised, right? It has a big impact on the quality of that protein. So, if you have, say, a cow that was born, you know, at feedlot that is eating grains and because they’re in close proximity to a lot of other cows they get sick and that cow is injected with antibiotics and a bunch of hormones because they wanna fatten them up, that’s gonna radically change the fatty acid profile of that meat and what’s happening there. As opposed to if you have a cow that’s out in grass, roaming the fields, and getting sun, and drinking fresh water and…a cow that’s living the way that its genetic makeup is expecting it to live, that’s gonna change the fatty acid profile of that meat in a very beneficial way that’s good for that person, right?

 

So, we always wanna make sure that you pay attention to the source of where that meat comes from because you’re not just what you eat, you are what you eat eats. And eating nose to tail is something that our ancestors would do, you know, frequently. And then they would make bone broths, and that’s one way that they would actually get a lot of collagen. But in our culture, we’re actually very deficient in collagen because we don’t eat nose to tail. We’ve forgotten how to connect with our food in that way and utilize all parts of the animal. So there’s a lot of deficiencies that we have because of the way we’ve been eating in our culture these days.

 

Katie: Absolutely. I read years ago the book “Deep Nutrition” by Dr. Cate Shanahan and I loved how she explained that all so clearly. If you guys haven’t read it, I highly recommend. That book is a great starting point. And then another piece of this, like you just mentioned with the nose to tail side, is the importance of collagen. And I feel like this has gotten kind of buzzwordy in modern society, but it’s still not completely understood. And I know you’ve done a lot of research on this so talk to us about what makes collagen so special.

 

Chad: So, collagen, first of all, it’s the most abundant protein in the body, right? And it’s what holds the cells of our body together. It’s kind of like the glue that holds together our tendons and our ligaments, all of it is made up of collagen. It makes up our skin, our tendons, our teeth, our nails, our gut lining, even our bones. If you look at bones, you’re looking at a form of collagen, right? But most of us are extremely deficient because we’re not getting near enough of it, right? And our natural collagen production begins to decline the older we get. It starts around the age of 30. So, it’s really important for the structure of the body, and to really keep the integrity of the body, that that person is getting enough collagen.

 

Katie: And there’s different types of collagen as well, right? And from different sources. Can you explain, A, what are sources of collagen in general and what makes certain ones different?

 

Chad: Yeah. So, there’s bovine collagen which comes from cows, there’s pescatarian collagen or marine collagens coming from fish, there’s chicken collagen, and there’s even like new plant-based sort of type collagens coming from, you know, plants trying to mimic immuno acid profile of collagen. But the most beneficial type of collagen, and there’s many different types from like type I, II, III, IV, V, VI on and on and on. The most nutrient-dense types of collagen is, hands down, type I and type III collagen coming from the bovine hide of a cow, right? That’s what’s actually gonna give you the best results and make the most difference in your body.

 

Katie: And you mentioned that collagen production declines as we get older. What is the reason for this? I mean, obviously, babies have amazing beautiful skin and great collagen production, but you said that happens around 30, and then kind of what rate does this decline as we age?

 

Chad: It declines pretty gradually, and then it hits… What we’ve seen in the graphs is around like 50 to 60, that’s when it really starts to drop in a major way. I think the natural reason is just aging. I think we just start to age at that natural period, but that’s where the human body is really expecting us to make up the difference in that lack of internal production of collagen through our diet, right? So, that’s why it’s really important around that time of age 30 that supplementing with collagen is so important. And I believe it’s important for not just people that are dealing with issues or trying to recover from an injury or anything like that. I think it’s important for athletes. I think it’s important for generally every age after 30. It’s really important.

 

Katie: And I would say that protein consumption as well, like we actually… It looks like need more of that because we know muscle can decline with age as well, and that lean muscle mass is one of those things correlated with longevity as is having healthy joints because joint issues tend to cause a lot of problems as we enter, like, the older years. So, are there any…? So, you mentioned the different types of collagen, I know you guys have specific products that meet these, like, very specific standards, but when someone is looking at this as like a supplemental addition to their diet, what kind of levels of supplementation do you recommend?

 

Chad: Well, generally, when people are starting out, we recommend anywhere from 20 to 40 grams of collagen and doing like a loading phase for the first maybe two to four weeks when they start taking collagen, and generally staying there until they feel like they’ve addressed their issues, whether they’re out of pain or they’re noticing their hair or their nails start to grow where it should be. And after that, we recommend more of a maintenance dose, somewhere between 10 to 20 grams. And it’s just a simple scoop, right? A lot of people put it in water. Most people put it in their coffee or their smoothies or their tea, but it’s generally pretty easy to get into your diet. Like first thing in the day just put it in your coffee.

 

Katie: And how do you track collagen as far as protein consumption goes? Because I know, for instance, I now have shifted. Instead of, like, counting calories and trying not to eat enough, I’m actually like, “Okay, I have to eat enough protein,” and also still get other nutrient-dense foods at the same time, and so I’m trying to hit a protein target every day. How does collagen factor into how much protein we’re consuming?

 

Chad: Generally, when I’m working with people, I don’t put it into the calculations of total protein consumption. I prefer people just focus on getting…like when they’re counting their macros or how many grams of protein they’re eating throughout the day, I think it’s better to focus on full real grass-fed meats or chicken or animal-based proteins in that way and then supplement with collagen but don’t add that to… I wouldn’t make that part of what you’re counting towards your total protein intake.

 

Katie: Got it. So, protein plus collagen but don’t skip on the protein just because you’re consuming collagen. You want both.

 

Chad: Exactly. Yeah, exactly.

 

Katie: Okay. And so, talk a little bit about the collagen products you guys have created. I’m also a big fan of making your own bone broth at home and getting natural sources like that. But I know for most people, that’s not a daily activity and it’s time-consuming. So, talk about the ways you guys are solving that problem.

 

Chad: Yeah. So, we have Unflavored Collagen, which is our main thing that we do for most people, right? And it’s unflavored type, I type III collagen. We also have a bunch of creamers that you can add to your coffee. So, we have six different flavors that you can add that has some MCT in there. And starting off your day with protein and good quality fats is a great way to start your day because those two macronutrients associating and it’s gonna give you a bunch of energy throughout the day and it makes it less likely you’re gonna eat more later on. We also have a nighttime collagen called Collagen PM. It has some GABA and melatonin in there to help you sleep. And we have some flavored collagens that you can have in the afternoon that have some little flavorings in there. But these are all different ways that you can enjoy the different flavors and just get more collagen in throughout the day.

 

Katie: Yeah. And to highlight something you just said, I think that in the morning part is important as well. There’s actually some really cool studies on this, on protein consumption in the morning. And this is something I’ve been experimenting with shifting because, for a long time, I was doing time-restricted eating and I would wait until later in the day to eat. And I still noticed I felt better eating in a more restricted window when I did that, but now shifting that window earlier in the day, it’s really drastic how much more energy I have when I stick to that. And part of the reason is, like you said, that protein, those nutrients first thing in the morning, they really help with your hormones throughout the day, with not feeling hungry, also with muscle growth. There’s some really interesting ways our body treats protein differently in the morning.

 

So, for people who may be intermittent fast or eat in a time-restricted window, that’s been my advice lately is, I will wake up, try to get sunlight early in the morning, hydrate for that first hour or so, so I’m not eating immediately when I wake up, but then the first meal of the day, make sure to get enough protein that I’m actually satisfied and that I’ve kind of hit my protein spike target and then eat a second, my biggest meal, around lunchtime, also with protein and making sure I’m getting enough calories at that meal. And then I’ve been trying to finish eating around 4:00 p.m. or 5:00 p.m. rather than, like, 8:00 p.m. or 9:00 p.m.

 

And there’s really cool research as well about how if you stop eating a lot of calories right before bedtime your body is able to get into deeper sleep, which I’m definitely seeing reflected in my sleep trackers. But that’s just a piece of advice I love to give, especially if you are trying to consume enough protein and collagen for these anti-aging benefits, especially, is stack it in the morning. And if you’re gonna time-restricted eat, try to do it at night versus in the morning because that protein in the morning… Can you explain a little bit more about why protein in the morning, specifically, is so beneficial?

 

Chad: Yeah, that’s like the first step I always have people do, especially when they’re coming to me looking to lose weight, right? So, the average American diet, the way that most people are starting their day is just carbs, carbs, carbs, sugar, sugar, sugar. And what happens when people do that is they get a big surge of glucose in their blood sugar, and then they get all this energy and they’re really hyped up and then they crash, right? And their blood sugar just dips and the body and the mind is like, “I wanna go back to the thing that gave me energy.” So, they keep going back to sugar and they get very dependent on sugar throughout the day.

 

When you start your day with protein and fat, it’s almost like exact opposite. Instead of having a big spike, you just have a little heightened part of your blood sugar and then a little dip. You can go a lot longer periods of time without the need to snack. Like, I’m not really a big fan of snacking either, but protein is so satiating and so nutrient-dense that it allows you to get everything you need and your body isn’t searching all over the place for snacks or sugar or anything like that. So, yeah, for all the reasons that you said, satiating, starting your day off with protein, one of the easiest things that you can do.

 

Katie: And I’d also love to talk about the difference, if there is any, between powdered and liquid collagen because I’ve seen liquid collagen coming online and being talked about more and more. Is there a difference in the types of collagen that are included in that? Or what do people need to know about the different types of collagen supplements that are available out there?

 

Chad: Yeah. There’s a lot of hype in the marketing, especially when it comes to liquid collagen. And what we’re seeing there is it’s really overpriced and it’s not giving you all the things that you need. It’s not as nutrient-dense as say type I, type II bovine collagen. You’ll see a lot of multi collagens. And really what you’re getting with multi collagen is very like watered-down collagen. It sounds fancy but all these different types of collagens, they’re not as nutrient-dense. So really just sticking to type I and type III is where you’re gonna get the best results.

 

Katie: Another question I know that we will get is, for people who are doing time-restricted feeding, for instance, and there’s…like if they’re trying to not eat right before bed, I know you guys have a sleep formula, does collagen have enough calories and enough metabolic inputs that it’s kind of breaking that eating window? Or what are your guidelines around people with fasting and collagen?

 

Chad: It depends on like, I guess, your degree to what you want to fast, you know. There’s so many different ways that people define fasting and how that works. But generally, if I’m recommending people to fast, if they’re really wanting to do it, I recommend just not have any collagen at all. So, if that’s something that you want to do, then I would say stay away from the collagen in the evening.

 

Katie: Because it does have like… It has the protein, it has some calories, and so it is gonna take you out of an eating window, but then you can obviously make that up by consuming it earlier in the day.

 

Chad: Exactly. Yeah.

 

Katie: Okay. You also mentioned in passing that there are supplements out there trying to essentially create plant-based forms of collagen or mimic the benefits of collagen. I’m curious your take on those, and are there actually any plant-based options? Because I do get that question from plant-based listeners sometimes when I recommend animal products, so like what is a vegan alternative? And at least, to my understanding, there is no vegan alternative that I know of that actually does the same things in the body as these types of collagen that we’re talking about.

 

Chad: Right. Right. They’re trying to take the amino acids and combine them and do all the things that the normal collagen would do, but it’s just not complete and it’s not as bioavailable as it would be if you got natural type I, type III collagen, so you don’t get the results. Another thing I’m seeing a lot recently is taking, like, eggshells and trying to make collagen out of that way. And that would be a better option, if you’re someone who is okay with eggs or you’re vegetarian in that way, at least getting…and you don’t wanna take natural collagen coming from bovine hides then doing it with eggshells would be the next best thing. So, I’ve seen that too. But both of them, whether it’s plant-based collagen, which is kind of mimicking natural collagen, or you’re doing some egg-based shell collagen, both of them are gonna be inferior compared to type I and type III collagen.

 

Katie: Got it. And I know something else that you’ve talked about quite a bit is what is the key to lasting positive change and actual transformation? And I think this is actually one of the things you mentioned, you might even do a Ted Talk on if given the chance, but I would love to hear this because I feel like a lot of people can get started in any of these aspects of health and then do great for a while, and then kind of run into a wall, and then fall back into past patterns.

 

Chad: Yeah. Well, I’m fascinated by the nervous system and how it works, right? The nervous system is so… Like working within physical therapy, we would see people who would come out of surgery and they would develop a pattern, right? And they would develop a pattern, and we as physical therapists would have to correct that pattern and get them moving correctly. And once we do that, then we have to repeat it, like, over and over and over and over again. So, the key to really lasting change is three things, is first having the right intention for where you want to go and knowing that you’re a human and you can direct things wherever you want to, as long as you focus on it and you repeat it. And when you think from like getting healthy to losing weight to learning a new movement or a skill or learning to play an instrument, you can change anything through focus and repetition with the right intention.

 

Katie: And back to collagen briefly. So, you mentioned the hair skin, and nail benefits, and I feel like this is also a big one for women. These are all areas that I think, well, it’s humans, in general, but women especially they’re top of mind for me. So, can you talk about some of the ways that, like, dietary collagen especially supports those processes in the body?

 

Chad: Well, collagen in and of itself is magic, right? I think collagen is a magical molecule because of the way it works. And it has this kind of like attracts like thing. They’ve done studies with mice, where mice have had arthritis and they injected these mice with radioactive bone broth, right? They could see what is happening with the bone broth under an MRI, right? And what they found was that the collagen didn’t just go to random places all over the mice’s body. Like, the collagen went specifically to the areas where the mice had damage, right? So, it knows where to go to. There’s a certain intelligence with collagens that makes it really special and really unique. So, if you have damage in your hair or your nails or your tendons and you consume collagen, that collagen is going to go there and fix it in a beautiful way. And the thing about our community is we get so many testimonials of people. They’re taking pictures of their nails and their hair and their skin, they’re like, “This is what I looked like before. This is what I look like now. I’ve been taking collagen for two months.” And at this point, it’s well understood with our community of how well this stuff works. So, that’s why I say collagen is really magical in the way that it works.

 

Katie: Yeah. I’ve been a collagen fan for a long time. And for me, personally, adding in that protein piece and making sure I’m hitting enough protein, enough collagen, enough hydration is, like, better than any skincare routine I’ve ever found. And I think skin health totally comes from the inside out.

 

Chad: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. Protein and hydration is like step one for everybody.

 

Katie: Absolutely. Are there any synergistic supplements or added pieces that you recommend for people? For instance, I know sometimes people if they’re not used to eating a lot of protein, they might have some stomach acid reduction. So, for me, it was helpful to take HCL for a while when I was upping my protein, things like that. Are there any supplements that you either personally take or often recommend that can be really synergistic in this?

 

Chad: I don’t take any supplements around protein, but a lot of people do benefit from digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid. And I think the reason is because most people, because they’re coming from the context that maybe consuming too many easily digested carbohydrates their mouth has adapted to not secreting the natural gastric juices, so they need a little assistance, some little supplementation to help break down the food. It’s another reason why a lot of people when they try to eat more protein they just get constipated or they feel like they have acid reflux and like, “I can’t do it.”

 

But the issue is getting the digestion back in order. So, that’s why I’m a big fan of, you know, use HCL and digestive enzymes if you need to, but really first try to chew, chew, chew your food, like, more than anything else. And what’s happening with a lot of people is they’ll put protein in their mouth and then they chase the protein with water. And what happens there is it’ll lose the natural gastric juices in saliva that’s beneficial to break down that protein. So, that’s why I say remove the liquids from the times that you’re eating protein and focus on chewing, chewing, chewing very slowly, and also pay attention to the state that your body is in.

 

So, if you’re like watching a football game and you’re really hyped up or it’s a scary movie, then your body is not really in a state where it can digest and receive the benefits of the protein that you’re eating. So, eating very slow, eating very calm, and chewing, chewing, chewing your food is gonna make a huge difference and also removing the liquids. Those are simple things that make a big difference with digestion and absorption.

 

Katie: Yeah. Especially removing the liquids. That’s a simple piece of advice that can make a big difference. I’ve noticed that as well, and I’ve noticed most people actually only consume liquids or consume the majority of their liquids with meals because they’re sitting down and they think to drink. And the morning hydration, especially, like I drink a quart of water when I first wake up on an empty stomach, and I think that alone will give you so much energy you literally might not even need coffee if you get used to that habit.

 

Chad: Totally. And that’s another thing I’m a big fan of is, first thing, big glass of water. I like to put a little pinch of salt in there just so I have some electrolytes and absorb the water better. But I recommend that to everybody. And one of the things that it does it helps regulate your digestive system too. I mean, it’s like clockwork, you know, as far as like moving things along and staying regular. So, yeah, you’re taking care of, big glass of water first thing in the morning as far as hitting your watermark already.

 

Katie: And it makes sense because I’ve seen varying statistics but we lose quite a bit of water while we’re sleeping just in respiration, and because we’re not obviously drinking while we’re asleep. And not to mention our body is doing all of its normal detoxification mechanisms while we’re sleeping and while we’re recovering and resting in deep sleep. And so, your body is pushing all of that into your digestive system, all that extra waste, and so getting water in there before you’re adding sticky food or especially those horrible carbohydrates that we talk about, the processed ones that many people turn to, that gives your digestion a much better start than just starting with food.

 

Chad: Yes. Yes. Totally. Drink more water. Fix a lot of things.

 

Katie: Yeah. Water and sunlight, the free and amazing health tips that we often ignore.

 

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I’m also curious, for you personally, what your sort of health non-negotiables or your own 80/20 of things that you feel like have the biggest bang for the buck that you do for your own health.

 

Chad: For my own health, so I love lifting, without a doubt. I love back squatting and doing kettlebells and doing resistance exercise. And with that, I also do a lot of aerobic work. So, strength work and aerobic work, like steady state where I can keep going for like 30 minutes but mixing in functional movements, as I’m a big fan of that. My diet plays a big part of it, obviously. Like, I’m aerobic on protein, I’m aerobic on water. Non-negotiables for me would be my sleep. I have to be in bed by like 9:30, and I love waking up early around like 5:30 in the morning and watching the sunrise, right? So, those are pretty much non-negotiables for me. And also watching the sunset in the evening. Those are actually have to haves.

 

Katie: Yeah, definitely. I echo those as well. I love that you brought up strength training as well because this is another area… Most of our listeners are women, and I feel like this is another area that women have been kind of gotten the short end of the stick with a lot of mainstream exercise information. And we know, for instance, that having lean muscle mass helps you age more gracefully, helps your skin look great but also helps keep you healthy throughout your whole life. And I feel like a lot of the exercises traditionally that have been recommended for women are not actually really targeted for strength training. Women typically get kind of urged into more cardio-only type classes. And not that that’s not great as well, but I feel like a lot of women are a little afraid of strength training, and especially like lifting anything really, really heavy. But, I mean, you have a degree in physical therapy so you can probably explain this much better than I could, but why is this so important?

 

Chad: Well, strength is a big indicator for how long you’re gonna live. The more muscle mass you have and the more dense your muscles are, the stronger your body is gonna be, right? And less likely it’s gonna be fragile and break as you get older. But, yeah, using weight and resistance training is gonna be one of the best things you can do for your longevity, right? And I’m big fan of functional movements that are applicable to life like pushing, pulling, squatting, and bending, and carrying. Like, those things right there can go a long way. And just doing the right dose with as far as the loads and the sets and the right rep schemes can go a long way. Yeah.

 

Katie: Yeah. I’ve been learning that the last couple of years and it’s been new. I grew up with the idea that I wasn’t an athlete and I was very academic-focused and that was kind of the culture in our family. And now as an adult, it’s been really, really fun to get to learn that and to become more athletic. And I know I had…even though I understood the logic of it, I still had that kind of societal filter of like I don’t wanna get too muscular, I don’t wanna get too bulky. And now that I’m actually training really hard and trying to lift really, really, heavy things, it’s so funny to me that I used to think that because I’m like, “Oh, this is…” Women, especially, you’re not gonna get bulky by accident. If anything, you’re gonna get leaner and look thinner and more shapely but lifting really, really, really heavy things.

 

Chad: Yeah, absolutely. Well, with the right prescription. I’m a big fan of tempo training too. So, like tempo training would be, you know, going down… Like say if you’re doing a back squat, like taking three seconds to go down, pausing three seconds at the bottom and, then coming up. And then doing…for women, it’s gonna work really well in a higher rep range like 8 to 10 reps or maybe 12 to 15 reps, and doing maybe 2 to 3 sets. Like, that right there is a prescription for women. And doing that with whatever movements you want. Aut that right there is going to give you muscle density but also lean you out in a major way. When you combine that type of programming with the right amount of water and the right amount of protein, it’s like…losing weight is very easy. Getting lean becomes very, very easy.

 

Katie: Any guidelines on how many days per week of training? I know I’ve read somewhere that women can actually get away with a little bit more training to your point than men in some areas as long as it’s done carefully. But there’s also all kinds of prescriptions out there for how many days you should train, which muscles per week. What do you recommend for that?

 

Chad: Well, I move every day, but not everybody can move every day. So, most people they’ll do great, just put two to three times a week for lifting, right? And the body, it’s amazing, it can do multiple things with the same muscle groups in the same week. It’s not like you can only back squat once a week or you can only push once a week. Those things can be mixed in very well with the right programming. But, generally, for most people, if they just lift two to three times a week and after that just go for walks, sleep well, get adequate healthy sun exposure, do all the things we’re talking about with protein and water, that is plenty. That is plenty.

 

Katie: Yeah. And mixing it in. I love doing the walking post-meal which helps bring your glucose back down after eating, and helps with digestion as well. I feel like those are pieces that are missed often, at least what I see people doing in gyms. People wanna do kind of like steady-state cardio but maybe either too low or too high of what the range they should be doing and there’s not enough just like walking, swimming, gentle movements, and then those more intense strength-based workouts.

 

Chad: Yeah. I think walking is one of the best things, like, ever that we could do, you know. And not only does it align you with the sun but just getting out and walking offline and getting away from computers and screens and clearing your mind is incredibly beneficial.

 

Katie: What if someone is new to strength training and weight training? And I know this was me a couple of years ago, the idea of putting a bar on my back and trying to do a back squat seemed very, very scary at first. Is there a good jumping in place to learn some of that?

 

Chad: So, a lot of people can’t get into position with a back squat. So, for them, I would recommend a goblet squat, you know, just hold a dumbbell or a kettlebell under your chin right here, and then even if you can’t go down to the bottom of squat, just sit down on a chair and barely tap it and then go back up. But, like, just imagine that and having your knees over your toes and your feet just a little bit wider than your hips and when you go down into a squat, take your hips straight down where your heels are but do take about three seconds, like I was saying. And what that does is it teaches your brain the proper movement pattern, right?

 

That’s a big part of it, is learning how to move the ankle joints, knee joints, and the hip joints and keep the spine erect and straight, all while you’re doing that movement. So, learn the movement first with the right load, with higher reps, more like 8 to 10 or maybe even 12 to 15 for women, but repeat that over and over. And that’s how the brain starts to learn that correct movement, and over time then you can start adding more weight, and maybe go on the other side and use a barbell on your back.

 

Katie: Yeah. You feel very powerful the first time you actually get it and do it. It’s so much fun. And I’ve been experimenting with split squats lately, and I love those.

 

Chad: I love split squats. I love all unilateral work because it’s so good for correcting imbalances, you know. So, like if you have a weak side like a left side and the right side is strong, if you’re always doing bilateral work, people tend to favor the good side, right? And over time, they’re favoring the good side, favoring the good side. But the unilateral work, like if you’re doing a split-squad, always focusing on the weak side first, whatever that is. Like if you’re less…the weak side first, do that first. And whatever reps and load you use on the good leg, match that with the good leg but don’t do more. And that’s how you fix the imbalances. So, you can do that with that concept with pushing or pulling or anything unilateral. But I’m a big fan of unilateral work, a major way to fix, like, anatomical imbalances.

 

Katie: That’s helpful. I have definitely instability on my left side more after having six babies, and so that’s great advice. I’m gonna stick to that. From your background in physical therapy, are there any other kind of movements you would suggest to people or ways we could modify our environment? I’m a big fan of the idea that while we can shape our environment, our environment is also, like you said, very literally shaping us. So, for instance, in my house, we have a climbing hangboard in the kitchen and we have gymnastics rings in the kids’ bedrooms, and a bouncy gymnastics mat down the hallway so we can tumble. But what are some fun ways we can incorporate movements that are gonna do things like you just mentioned or change our environment to improve our movement patterns?

 

Chad: So, first, I think it’s helpful for people to know where they need mobility the most, right? And it’s kind of like, you go up the chain… People really need mobility in their ankles, they really need mobility in their hips and their thoracic spine, that’s like the midback. So, if you understand where you need mobility the most and focus on movements that do that, that can help. I’m a big fan of sitting and standing throughout the day, and also when I work. So, there’s three stations. I work crosslegged on the floor, I’ll work sitting on my desk, and I’ll also work standing up. And that allows my hips to get mobility, that allows me to just straighten out my body. But the variation throughout the day is a major thing.

 

I’m also a big fan of intermittent movement throughout the day. So, like every 45 minutes or every time I get off a call, I’ll go outside for a two to four-minute walk, just real quick. And what that does is it allows me to get natural sun exposure but it prevents my body from being so stagnant in one spot for so long. Because that’s where we get in real big trouble with the lack of movement, chronic sitting, the blood stops moving around as much. So, just a simple thing, every 45 minutes go outside for like a two-minute walk and then come back in, get some sun. That’s one of the best things you can do. And like I said, just changing your workstation so you have three different levels, on the floor, in your chair, and also just putting some things up and working standing for a bit. Just rotating that.

 

Katie: Yeah, that was one of the takeaways I had from our first episode is like sitting in and of itself isn’t necessarily bad. It’s partially how we’re sitting and also the amount that we’re sitting. And like you weren’t saying we should never sit, you were saying let’s be aware of how we’re sitting and let’s mix it up and not just sit.

 

Chad: Exactly. Sitting is not the enemy. Sitting is fun. I like to sit down and take a break every now and then, but chronically and slouching and not moving anything to correct it, not do anything to offset the sitting is a real big problem.

 

Katie: And as we get close to the end of our time, a few more questions I love to ask, the first being if there is a book or number of books that have profoundly impacted your life, and if so what they are and why.

 

Chad: So, “The Power of Now” was a big aha moment for me like when I first read that. I read it when I was around 30, and it completely shifted the way I look at my life. And I started becoming aware or at least let’s just say, I started watching my own thoughts. I started noticing my own conditioning and the way it was working and why I had thoughts and where they came from and how those thoughts were imprinting in my emotions. And it allowed me to focus more on the present moment. And that book changed my entire life.

 

And I remember listening to that book when I was going around and doing physical therapy. I would go around and treat people in their homes, and I probably listened to that book 20 times, like over and over and over until I really got it. And I still revisit it once a year. But that was a book that has had a profound impact on my life. And the other one would be “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. I’m a big fan of that, and always doing your best, not taking things personally, right? And so, yeah those are two books that had a profound impact on my life.

 

Katie: And then lastly, any parting advice for the listeners today that could be related to something we’ve talked about or entirely unrelated?

 

Chad: Well, one thing I’ll invite people to look at is the state of their body, right? A lot of people pay attention to what they’re eating or how they’re moving maybe, you know, talking about things like the sleep and aligning themselves with the sun. But there seems to me like when it comes to the nervous system, there’s two different states that we’re in. We’re either in a state of fear or we’re in a state of trust, right? And that has a profound impact on our physiology, the way our heart beats, the way we digest things. And that trust, that state of trust, it can’t be thought, right? It’s not something you can think your way into, it can only be felt. And like it’s actually in your heart and saying to yourself, “It’s okay. I don’t know what’s gonna happen, but it’s okay.” And I think that that state is a very important thing that can help anybody. It’s just learning how to find that sense of trust no matter what’s going on in your life because it is a choice, really, when you think about it and setting into that. So, that’s my advice.

 

Katie: I love that. That’s a beautiful place to wrap up. Chad, thank you so much for coming back on the podcast and sharing your wisdom once again. It was great to have a conversation with you.

 

Chad: Awesome. Thank you, Katie. It’s good to be here.

 

Katie: And thanks as always to all of you for listening and sharing your most valuable resources, your time, your energy, and your attention with us today. We’re both so grateful that you did. And I hope that you will join me again on the next episode of “The Wellness Mama” podcast.

 

If you’re enjoying these interviews, would you please take two minutes to leave a rating or review on iTunes for me? Doing this helps more people to find the podcast, which means even more moms and families could benefit from the information. I really appreciate your time, and thanks as always for listening.





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