The Healthy Skeptic Podcast – Episode 1

May 18, 2010 in Food & Nutrition, Myths & Truths, Podcasts | 51 comments

obesityWelcome to the first episode of The Healthy Skeptic Podcast! To listen to this podcast and subscribe to future episodes in iTunes, click here or click the new iTunes podcast button in the sidebar to the right.

If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to the file by clicking this link. If you’d like to download it, just right-click the link and download it to your computer. If you’re an Android user or prefer subscribing to an RSS feed of the podcast and blog together, click here.

We’re kicking things off with an interview with Dr. Stephan Guyenet, Ph.D. on obesity, body fat regulation, and weight loss. Stephan is a researcher at the University of Washington studying the neurobiology of fat regulation. He also writes one of my favorite blogs on nutrition and health, Whole Health Source.

Topics covered include:

  • The little known causes of the obesity epidemic
  • Why the common weight loss advice to “eat less and exercise more” isn’t effective
  • The long-term results of various weight loss diets (low-carb, low-fat, etc.)
  • The body-fat setpoint and its relevance to weight regulation
  • The importance of gut flora in weight regulation
  • The role of industrial seed oils in the obesity epidemic
  • Obesity as immunological and inflammatory disease
  • Strategies for preventing weight gain and promoting weight loss

It’s a bit long at 1:20, but I think you’ll enjoy it if you’re interested in this topic.

Please let me know what you think!


{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

john May 18, 2010 at 12:08 pm

I don’t think the file is available. iTunes says this URL is missing:


Chris Kresser May 18, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Ah, technology. Can you try now John? I re-uploaded the file.


john May 18, 2010 at 12:30 pm

I can get the file directly, but iTunes still thinks it is missing. I’ll wager they’ve cached its original missing status and if we wait a bit, it’ll work in iTunes also when they retry.


john May 18, 2010 at 12:33 pm

Sorry, the URL itunes thinks the file lives at is this:
I had an underscore between the 5 and 10, but I iTunes thinks it is a dash. :-)


john May 18, 2010 at 12:38 pm

It’s working now in iTunes.


Chris Kresser May 18, 2010 at 12:42 pm


How do you check to see if the link is working with iTunes?


john May 18, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Hi Chris,
The easiest way is to Subscribe to the podcast and see if the episode downloads. When it fails, iTunes adds a little icon next to the episode in quesiton. Clicking on that icon will give you the error, such as what URL was not found, etc.


Bryan Opfer May 18, 2010 at 3:49 pm

Can we get an rss feed for the podcast for us Android users?


Chris Kresser May 18, 2010 at 4:38 pm

I’m working on that. I submitted it to the iTunes store yesterday, but it hasn’t been approved yet. Should be soon – I’ll post back here when it’s ready.


Chris Kresser May 18, 2010 at 7:42 pm


I’ve configured Feedburner so that audio and video podcasts should appear in my regular RSS feed, which is:

However, for some reason this episode isn’t appearing in the feed.  I’m investigating.  This podcasting world is all new to me.


Chris Kresser May 18, 2010 at 7:44 pm

Correction: it seems to be working now.  You can subscribe at


Bryan Opfer May 18, 2010 at 9:35 pm

Beautiful.  Thanks Chris.  I am looking to future episodes.


Paul May 19, 2010 at 10:16 am

So what do you think it is about sugar and white flour that is bad? As for sugar it could be the fructose or the glucose or what the body has to do to break the bond between the two or the fact that it is an empty calorie.
Animal studies have shown that they will eat not so much to calories or even volume, but to nutrients. They will eat huge amounts of calories and huge volumes of food until they have gotten enough nutrients.
Wheat starch (white flour), is made of long chains of glucose. The only thing that sugar and white flour have in common is that they are empty calories and good sources of glucose. But of course, it’s entirely possible they are bad for different, not the same, reasons.


Chris Kresser May 19, 2010 at 12:59 pm

In short, they both cause blood sugar imbalance, hormonal dysregulation, intestinal dysbiosis and inflammation – all of which contribute to obesity.


Milk May 19, 2010 at 12:19 pm

Hi Chris,
the podcast doesn’t work on the ipod. Can you change the encoder and upload the new podcast?
Thanks in advance


Chris Kresser May 19, 2010 at 12:50 pm

As you can see, I’m new to the whole podcasting thing. I didn’t realize the file I posted can’t be played on an iPod.

I’m uploading a new file now (AAC/MP4) that should work on all portable devices. Thanks for the heads-up.

Apologies to everyone for the rocky start. I thought I had it figured out, but clearly I didn’t! Should be easier going forward.


Milk May 19, 2010 at 1:34 pm

Thanks a lot. Listen to it already, a great interview. Thanks


Chris Kresser May 19, 2010 at 2:24 pm


After researching this a little more, I’m confused about why the previous format didn’t work on your iPod. It was an .m4a (AAC) file, which I believe is a format Apple developed specifically for iTunes and iPods. iTunes University recommends .m4a (AAC) for podcasts, so I don’t understand why it wouldn’t work on your iPod. Am I missing something here?

I prefer .m4a because the file format is smaller, I can insert graphics into the episode and create enhanced podcasts, and listeners can speed them up if desired.


Milk May 19, 2010 at 3:23 pm

There is no problem with m4a (AAC), it’s great and I’m also use it. But the used encoder is lavf… And this encoder doesn’t work for me. Maybe it’s a problem of a setting. There are many results on google for “lavf ipod”. Maybe “lavf -lavfopts format=ipod” will help you, that’s what i found… I don’t know which program you use to create this podcast etc. I just want to give you a hint.


Chris Kresser May 19, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Ah, I see.  I used Audacity to convert to .m4a.  Audacity does this w/ the “ffmpeg” encoder, which from a quick Google search seems like it may use the “lavf” format.

Next time I’ll try a different process.  Thanks for the tip.



Sue May 19, 2010 at 7:11 pm

Great interview.  Chris, I liked the way you summed things up after each topic.  Also, you were very knowledgeable about what Stephan was going to talk about which was good. 
Watch the breathing over the mike - there were a few times when there was this weird breathing sounds.


Chris Kresser May 19, 2010 at 7:40 pm

Thanks for the feedback, Sue. I noticed the breathing but decided to go ahead and publish it. I’ll have to play with the microphone position to find the optimal spot. Hopefully it will be better next time!


Sue May 19, 2010 at 7:51 pm

By the way, I totally love your accupuncture series – reading part V at the moment.  I’m a naturopath and have been a bit so so about accupuncture which I haven’t studied.  I need to understand things Biomedically.  I’ve pointed some of my accupuncture friends to your articles. Thanks again.


the healthy back May 20, 2010 at 1:29 am

I’ve pointed some of my accupuncture friends to your articles. Thanks again.


Christian W May 20, 2010 at 9:27 am

Awesome interview. Cutting edge in terms of covering the best current thinking about obesity, but presented in an accessible way.
By the way, it’s amazing how an ancestral diet tends to adress all of the factors (even those poorly understood) involved in obesity, and this without side effects.
Food really is medicine.


Chris Kresser May 21, 2010 at 7:22 pm

Glad you liked it Christian! I completely agree with you about ancestral diets. They address so many issues at once.


Cassandra May 21, 2010 at 7:16 pm

Thank you very much for this wonderful interview.  You are to be commended for deciding to interview Dr. Guyenet, and you brought out a lot of information that was varied yet cohesive and easy to understand.


Chris Kresser May 21, 2010 at 7:22 pm

Thanks, Cassandra. I’m glad you enjoyed it.


Medical Student May 22, 2010 at 8:51 pm

Great interview Christian, I am a long time reader of Stephan’s blog and I just discovered your blog. I really liked how you conducted the interview…you really allowed the guest to speak and everything you said only added to the conversation. Also, the depth of detail was really great, it was not just a cursory look at diet but covered a wide range of topics in great detail. All in all, wonderful. Thank you!


Chris Kresser May 22, 2010 at 8:56 pm

I appreciate your feedback. I’m glad you enjoyed the interview.


John Kuzora May 23, 2010 at 5:29 am

I really enjoyed the podcast.


ka May 23, 2010 at 5:41 am

Excellent interview. High quality information. I appreciate what you are doing and wish you success in the future. Can’t wait to hear another interview.


Mandy May 23, 2010 at 8:38 pm

Hey, listened to the Podcast. This was comprehensive in terms of the dimensions of the discussion, yet succint and I actully understood it. Loved it. Great stuff.


Mandy May 23, 2010 at 8:39 pm

PS. My appalling spelling suggests I may not have the capacity to understand much. Cin cin!


Jay May 27, 2010 at 3:21 pm

I understand that wheat and its bi-products are not in the overall sense, healthy.  What about turning to a long grain rice flour instead?


Chris Kresser May 27, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Rice flour would certainly be better than wheat flour for most people.


Sam June 1, 2010 at 8:54 am

I Hoped Stephan would have touched more the HIIT training protocols for fat loss – there is a lot of hype yet only some really impressive results so far.
I’d really like that it would work. :-)
Nice interview,  I enjoyed it.


Chris Kresser June 1, 2010 at 8:59 am

I’ve seen some good evidence for HIIT and fat loss in Body By Science, and the mechanism is certainly plausible. Epinephrine triggers hormone-sensitive lipase, which mobilizes free fatty acids from adipocytes. Since epinephrine isn’t likely to be reduced during low intensity, steady state exercise, this effect would only happen with HIIT. HIIT also depletes glycogen stores in the muscle, which improves insulin sensitivity. I think as more studies are done we’ll see the evidence accumulate.


Urgelt June 12, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Very good interview, thank you.
Incidentally, most of the mic problems can be solved inexpensively with a pop filter.  They go for around $20 US, or you can make one with some pantyhose stretched over a 6″ diameter hoop of wire (bend a coat hanger, it’s ideal).  Position between lips and mic (touching neither), fasten  it to the mic stand or whatever is solid enough to hold it in place.  Once in position, it’ll catch plosives before they hit the mic surface and yield much better voice recordings.
Be wary of low-carb diets.  Low sugar diets, fine.  Low refined grain products, fine.  But demonizing all carbs is dumb.  Fruits and many vegetables are largely carbs, and they’re mostly good carbs: fiber and micronutrients ‘n stuff.  Eat them whole and raw unless cooking is required to make them safe.
Also, low-carb means high fat.  All fats are not created equal.  That’s a subject much too complex for a comment, but I’ll just say that some fats may turn out to be very bad nutrition, and they may not always be the fats you have been told are bad by the FDA and the food industry.


secret agent girl June 18, 2010 at 8:09 pm

Any chance you might create a transcription? I understand there are some newer products that can do that almost automatically? Voice is so slow plus there’s no scan-and-select ability with it. An hour twenty is just too long compared to reading speed.


Chris Kresser June 18, 2010 at 9:17 pm

No plans to do that right now – I’ve got a lot on my plate. If you’re motivated and want to research it and figure out an easy way to do it, I’ll consider it. Otherwise, you can always listen to it in the car or doing dishes or something.


Jocelyn May 25, 2011 at 9:57 pm

On my ipod you can play the podcast at double speed. That would make it only an hour long. I find the pace of these podcasts very soothing. Perfect bedtime “reading”.


Kurt G Harris MD February 6, 2011 at 12:47 am

Outstanding interview. Congratulations to both of you.

The best podcast I’ve heard in quite a while.

You need to have Stephan on about once a month to update us on obesity research – and then maybe you could put up a post with links to the papers mentioned (like you don’t already have enough to do : )


Chris Kresser February 6, 2011 at 8:44 am

Thanks, Kurt. Your timing is good, because I’ll be starting up the podcast again very shortly. Hope to do it bi-weekly going forward. Q&A format like Robb’s show, but with regular guests (like Stephan) as well. Would love for you to be one of them if you’re willing.

I’m not sure how to reach you – I see an email address on the comment you left here, but not sure if it’s bonafide and actually goes to you or is just one you use for blog comment forms. Please send me a note via the contact form on this site with your preferred email. Would be happy to have you as one of my first guests.


Kurt G Harris MD February 6, 2011 at 11:03 am

You can use the email – it’ real.

I am laughing at myself because I thought this podcast was brand-new but now I see it was done a while ago. I’d be happy to be a guest.


Jared March 12, 2011 at 3:47 pm

I really like the idea that you are trying to bring out newer information about diet and nutrition.

I was put off by this interview though. I felt like whenever you presented something to Dr. Stephan Guyenet, Ph.D that he doesn’t fully understand (gut flora comes to mind first), or hasn’t heard before, he discredits it and writes it off. I would prefer a more honest answer like “I don’t know” or “I haven’t heard that before.”


Chris Kresser March 12, 2011 at 3:55 pm


That wasn’t my experience of Stephan at all. He’s the first person to admit when he’s not knowledgable in a particular area, and like all good scientists he makes it clear when he’s speculating and not on solid scientific ground. He also happens to be one of the smartest and is without a doubt the mildest-mannered blogger in this niche. Check out his blog at I think you’ll be impressed.


phyllis anderson May 4, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Very interesting. Trying to figure out weight loss and Hashimotos. Have 30 lbs to lose. Exercise doesn’t seem to help and low calorie diets don’t work. Though exercise makes me feel better.


Razwell May 23, 2011 at 8:46 am

Stephan Guyenet is a top notch scientist. I cannot wait to learn more on May 24th about this. I am just a layman.( well informed but still a layman)




Jamie Wolff May 24, 2011 at 7:06 pm

This podcast was fascinating. I listened to it for the second time today and learned so much from it. Stephan is a great guest, very intelligent and he explains things in a way that is easily understood. I’m looking forward to listening to more of what he has to say in Podcast 10. Thanks for a great podcast!


vicky nicholas July 13, 2011 at 7:18 am

Here in the uk no one has the level of knowledge that stephan has, he has answered so many questions for me today which i have asked of all my consultant and its fantastic to find someone who realises that its not what you eat but your body and its regulation system etc., thankyou, thankyou thankyou


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