#101: Dr. Tommy Wood

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Dr. Tommy Wood On Optimizing Performance and Diet

Host Brad Kearns talks to Dr. Tommy Wood, Chief Medical Officer of Nourish, Balance, Thrive, an online-based company using advanced biochemical testing to optimize performance in athletes. Tommy is big-time, with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Cambridge, a medical degree from the University of Oxford, and a PhD in physiology and neuroscience from the University of Oslo. He is also Chief Scientific Officer and President-elect for Physicians for Ancestral Health, and a Director of the British Society of Lifestyle Medicine. 

Tommy has put some 1,000 athletes through his comprehensive testing protocol, featuring blood and stool testing and lifestyle evaluations. Tommy hits some hot topics for primal enthusiasts, including: 

  1. Fasting and carb restriction are being used inappropriately, rather than to the athlete’s advantage.
  2. Finding a way to balance the drive to perform at 100% in multiple areas of life without using the appropriate strategies needed to recover.

This fast moving conversation covers many other interesting topics for peak performers including:

  • Difference between subcutaneous fat (okay) and visceral fat (bad, inflammatory)
  • Important blood tests like triglycerides, glucose tolerance, and coronary calcium score (yes, even athletes?especially athletes?can be at risk of heart disease)
  • How to optimize carb intake. Warning – if you have signs of metabolic damage (fat gain even with devoted attention to diet, history of yo-yo dieting), you may need a gradual approach. Warning: If you don’t eat enough fat you can have problems with testosterone, thyroid, and cortisol regulation. 
  • You can eat more and not gain weight if you eat the right stuff that optimizes metabolic function (non-exercise activity thermogenesis)
  • Protein intake should be enough to recover, but not too much to promote excess growth factors (a tricky balance)
  • The challenge between balancing peak performance and longevity
  • When you are fat adapted, you use glucose on a different metabolic pathway than a high carb athlete


Dr. Tommy Wood, the Chief Medical Officer at Nourish, Balance, Thrive talks his background. [00:02:14] 

If one has excess body fat is restricting carbs the path to reducing that body fat or is it not so simple? [00:04:45] 

What is the difference between subcutaneous fat and visceral fat? [00:06:57] 

What about the high risk for heart disease, even in athletes as a result of their training regimen? [00:11:50] 

What do they do at Nourish, Balance, Thrive? [00:15:21] 

What do folks misunderstand about fasting and proteins and all the other health information that is out there? [00:17:27] 

How does a person know if they are getting the most out of their body? [00:23:38] 

If you have excess body fat, you should first ask yourself, “What is it about my body fat that makes me think it’s in excess?”  [00:24:46] 

How does “calories in/calories out” come into play here when we are talking about body fat? [00:27:55] 

What happens if you have a high protein diet? [00:33:42] 

Even if you are fat and keto-adapted, you run the risk of depleting lean muscle tissue to perform. [00:37:55] 

What about fasting after a peak performance? [00:38:15] 

Will my appetite hormones guide me to know when I can get benefits fasting and when I should eat? [00:41:29] 

Can the pursuit of peak performance in the advancing decades somehow compromise longevity? [00:43:33] 


Nourish, Balance, Thrive


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