A healthy lifestyle helps in boosting your performance in your daily life. Following the best practice to create recovery zones will help our minds and bodies become stronger and resilient to function daily. In this episode, Tony Castillo takes us back to how he overcame his ordeal as an overweight student and faced unsustainable weight loss. Today, Tony is an elite nutrition expert, specializing in sports nutrition and aiding athletes, business leaders, and anyone seeking to boost their performance through nutrition. He shares tips for a healthy lifestyle to optimize your performance in every area of life. He also touches on the value of Mindful Eating and how it affects your lifestyle. Tony’s expertise in nutrition brings so much value to this episode. So, join us today to gain insights on helping our body become more resilient.
- 12:43 The 13-Year old Tony Castillo
- 19:02 Busting Hydration Myths
- 26:37 Pitfalls Of Dehydration
- 33:14 Hydration And Inflammation
- 39:52 Mindful Eating
- 49:44 Recovery Ritual For Resiliency
How do we leverage continuous uncertainty to thrive in this unprecedented new world?
The answer is to build the resilience we need to power us through the challenges we face so that we become “Change Proof.” Prepare to tackle the future with confidence by reading Adam’s latest book Change Proof: Leveraging the Power of Uncertainty to Build Long-Term Resilience.
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A Healthy Lifestyle: How To Optimize Your Performance In Every Area Of Your Life With Tony Castillo
You’re going to be happy when you read this conversation that I am about to have with Tony Castillo. He is an elite nutrition expert. I do mean that. He is a true expert, not a poser in that space. He specializes in sports nutrition, aiding athletes, business leaders, and anyone seeking to boost their performance through nutrition. Performance is the key here. That’s what we’re talking about, performance in every area of our lives, whether it’s on the field, the bedroom, the boardroom, or wherever else it is that you want to perform at your absolute best.
Tony’s background in dietetics led him to work with Major League Baseball teams, such as the Toronto Blue Jays and the University of Florida. Tony’s journey started in middle school as an overweight student and continued into high school until he jumped into the diet regimen, resulting in unsustainable weight loss. He is on a mission to teach others about the significance of healthy lifestyle modifications that can optimize performance in every area of life. Sit back, buckle up, and enjoy this conversation with Tony Castillo.
I’m already laughing my ass off at the start of this show. I wish people could’ve read our 5 or 10-minute banter back and forth and the ground we covered in getting our mic set up and getting into the space. I should let the audience know. We each have an ejection button. It’s a virtual ejection button. It means if either of us does not bring it during the conversation, we have the option to eject the other person out of the show. You have an impressive and interesting background. I get to interview a bunch of people. I read a lot of bios. Yours is not an average intro or bio. My question to you is, what’s one thing that’s not a part of that standard intro bio that you would love for people to know about you right out of the gate?
Number one, Adam, thanks for having me. There are no ejection buttons on this show. Hopefully, I’m ready. We’re ready. We have to bring the most important things. It’s to get people interested in the topic. I would say one thing that is not in my bio that I need to share more about my own journey is my own resilience when I was younger. We’re both talking in English. Both my parents are from the Dominican Republic. When I was in first grade, I had a parent-teacher conference. I did it, and my parents did it with my teacher. My teacher said to my parents, because I was quiet, “He will never speak English.” I grew up in a home where both my parents spoke Spanish to me.
At that moment, after that parent-teacher conference, my mother said, “We’re going to stick it to this lady.” I was put into extra classes after school, learning how to read and write even better in English to make sure I knocked it out of the park. I learned resilience at a young age because I wanted to excel, be the best, and show people that I’m going to make it. Adam, we’re talking English. I never got A’s in English. I always got Bs. I’m going to also be honest on the show. That is one thing I haven’t shared about myself. It’s not in my bio, but I got B’s in English. I’m here talking it, speaking it, and doing my best in thriving after the first grade being told that I wouldn’t ever be able to speak it nor have a platform where I could talk. I even almost got ejected on a show, but hopefully not.
When I hear that, I’m thinking to myself, “That’s a great resilience story.” You made it over the first hurdle. You dropped that resilience bomb right out of the gate. What you were saying right before we hit record was that a lot of what you do in the world and a lot of what I do in the world are different things, but one through line and common denominator is performance. When I’m speaking to business leaders and organizations about their performance, sometimes it’s their sales team, marketing folks, and the performance of their culture, and what that looks like because performance culture has changed and will continue to change from one that I refer to as an extraction model of performance culture in the past and old paradigm that isn’t sustainable any longer.
This new paradigm, which we’re talking about at work, our company, and in these things, which is about how you sustain performance, how you create longevity, how you create wellbeing in the workplace, true wellbeing that helps people to continue to grow, perform, and increase their capacity instead of going the other direction to be more depleted and more seemingly burned out all the time. When it comes to performance, whether it’s on the field to play because I know you have a lot of experience there and/or in the bedroom or the boardroom, there are some things that are similar. I’d love for you to give us your philosophy of sustainable performance. That’s my first question. It’s not an easy question, but I want to get your philosophy.
I love that you said sustainable performance because when it comes to nutrition, which is my area of expertise, we always hear about these fads that come up. “What is the next best thing that we can biohack or optimize?” Many people don’t have the foundations right. How many business leaders and athletes that I personally work with skip the foundations thinking that it’s going to be that pair of blue light-blocking glasses, green powder, fasting, ketogenic diet, or mushrooms that we eat, but what are you doing foundationally for your nutrition? How are you going to sustain yourself for that?
One person who comes to mind was a CEO I was working with. He said to me, “If you can get me to look good and feel good while eating pizza and pasta,” because he had a New York Italian background, “You’re going to make me the happiest man alive?” We made it happen. We have to find foods that we love and make it sustainable. It’s like any athlete going onto the field, a CEO going into their boardroom, a husband, wife, or whoever that may be going into the bedroom. They want to make this sustainable. It may be a short ride, but they want to do it for a long time.
What we want people to focus on, and the things that I hammer down, is getting the foundations right so they can make this sustainable. Instead of jumping on a plan to plan, having the yo-yo dieting experience, or having their way go up and down, whatever their goal is, we want it to be sustainable. That’s what we focus on. We want them to enjoy it because if we don’t enjoy it, we’re not going to stick to it. It’s going to lead to things such as the binge restrict cycle where we restrict something, we binge it, and we feel guilty. We want to avoid that. That’s not sustainable at all. It’s not a good mindset to be in.
As your book, Pivot, we have to pivot what we’re doing because we hear misinformation from untrusted advisors. What do I mean? We hear from people who say they’re doctors, but they’re psychiatrists. What do they know about nutrition? They do have some behavior change models. What about the food, do they know? There was a gentleman, I’m forgetting his name, but he spoke about his opinion on nutrition. Adam, unfortunately, nutrition is a science, and I don’t care what your opinion says. Science is going to have some backing to it. Nutrition is not an opinion. Many people have their opinions on it. I will state nutrition is not a one-size-fits-all. That is true. However, there is a science that shows that certain foods will give you energy and help with muscle building and hormone health.
I’m going to call time out. I have to whistle around here. I could blow the whistle on the field, and the only reason I want to call time out at this moment, in addition to giving you a chance to hydrate yourself right there, is to say, in the environment throughout my adulthood, the information we’ve been getting about nutrition has gone forwards backward, up, down, side to side. It has changed so much. When you talk about it being science-based and it’s not about opinions, I get that. That makes sense to me. I’m imagining some people are going, “Yes.” Every six seconds, they say, “Eggs are good. Eggs are bad.” How do we get on the same page about what nutrition is when the people that we listen to or hear about are all over the map? Am I imagining that? Did I got that wrong?
You are right. What we can say is that nutrition is constantly changing. It is a science, but it is constantly changing in certain aspects. What do I mean by that? I’m going on the egg one. That’s a great one that I’d love to discuss. It’s a myth. What do I mean by that? You can eat as much cholesterol as you want, whether it’s from eggs, shrimp, or whatever your food of choice is from cholesterol or even red meat. It’s not going to affect your actual cholesterol in your body. There is exogenous, which means you’re eating from the outside or endogenous in the body. The cholesterol we have endogenously is genetic. Ninety-nine percent of it is genetic. You could eat 100 eggs, and your cholesterol would not do anything because it’s going to be excreted. Your body’s going to get rid of it.Nutrition is constantly changing. It is a science, but it is constantly changing in certain aspects. Click To Tweet
That one individual is capable of doing that. We’ll come back to this later. That’s a great distinction there.
To your point, it is right. Nutrition is evolving, but we also have to look at where we’re getting this information from. What do I mean? A lot of studies have been done on rats. They can be transcribed or brought into what it would look like in a human. A rat is not a human. It is close, and that’s why we do a lot of studies on it.
There are a few similarities.
We’re talking about rats. As soon as I saw you say, “Hold on,” I was like, “I see where he is going with this.” When we take these human studies, we don’t have enough time to run it on humans. The most recognized publication is the Framingham Study, which is based in a town in Massachusetts. I believe it goes back to five generations of families where they studied what they ate and how they exercised. I could tell you that would be the best population we can have. If you live in Framingham, Massachusetts, you’re eating something completely different than if you’re living in South Florida or California.
What we have and what’s around us is important. If we go to Europe, we see they eat different foods. They’re walking a lot more, especially with what happened with COVID. I live in South Florida. A lot of New Yorkers and Californians were moving down here. It’s a different lifestyle because, in New York or California, they walk to work and take the train. In Florida, it’s sitting in a car and burning your butt off trying to get to your meeting. It’s a lot more of a sedentary lifestyle.
What we can say about nutrition and what the research says is you have to have someone who can read the research and help you explain it or understand it. A lot of people say, “I know how to read research,” but they read the one study that deals with one person and not how that affects many of us. A prime example was a doctor who’s a doctor of psychiatry and has nothing to do with nutrition, who came on and spoke about spinach being bad for you because of oxalates and causing some organ damage. That was one person in India. They were eating excessive amounts of spinach and green powders. They already had kidney and liver issues.
If you have these issues and you understand it can be damaging, but you’re taking 1 out of 8 billion, and if you had 1 in 8 billion chances in anything, you’re not going to take it. You want to reduce those chances where it becomes 1 in 1 million or even 1 in 1,000. You want to reduce that risk. You want to have a better understanding. As nutrition evolves, we have new biomarkers that we’re looking at. When it comes to longevity, humans have not lived this long. With that, we need to understand that this nutritional science that is coming out, we have to take everything with a grain of salt. We have to make sure that we’re listening and understanding where this is coming from. How was this done? Nutrition is constantly evolving. It is not a one-size-fits-all, but we have to get it from trusted people. Those are people that know how to read research and people that are in the nutritional sciences.
There’s this idea that we’re responsible. We have a responsibility on some level for discernment. Is it yes or no?
Absolutely. We have to because we have to understand who we listen to.
What’s your origin story? I am thinking. What’s that first domino for you? I know a little bit about it because I have researched your history. You talk about diet, the health of the body, and where those things sit. Where were you when you were a younger person in terms of those things? As a catalyst, a pivot into the work you do, would you tell us a little bit about that?
There are many, but I would say the first origin of what happened was when I was thirteen years old, Adam. I was overweight. I got blood work. I remember, for the first time, I had a bone scan to see if I already hit puberty or not. I went to see a urologist with my mother. It was embarrassing because both were female. I’m a thirteen-year-old kid thinking, “I’m in a room with my mom and a female doctor. What’s going to happen?” They told me, “Tony, everything is normal. You’re overweight, and you have gynecomastia, which is a fat mass, and it’s man’s boobs. That’s what it was.” I was being made fun of it, Adam.
It was a hard place for me because both my parents were divorced by then. By five years, I had a sister who had Down syndrome. I was being a helper and caretaker with her. I was going to school being made fun of. It was tough, but I had to be resilient. When I went to that urologist appointment, this is what the urologist said to me at thirteen years old, “You can either get testosterone replacement therapy or plastic surgery.”
How is it that those are the only two options at thirteen years old? It blew my mind. I luckily did neither of those two options. I thought to myself, “Why isn’t there anything else I can do?” All throughout high school, I continued to be overweight. I was an offensive lineman in football, being at 250 pounds. It wasn’t until the end of high school that a friend of mine gave me a bodybuilding meal plan and a bodybuilding weightlifting plan. I lost the weight, but Adam, I went to college. Beer, pizza, tacos, and freedom tasted way better than any of those meal plans that I was doing. I gained all the weight back.
I yo-yo diet. I tried everything, every powder, potion, and pill. Hydroxycut was popular at the time as a fat burner. Fun fact. Fat burners only burn zero calories or up to the amount of calories as a Hershey’s Kiss. They are useless. I also did a ballerina skinny tea, which helped women with weight loss that my girlfriend, who was not my wife at the time, was taking, and I was taking it behind her back because I was like, “Why does this only work in women?” It didn’t make sense to me. It was a laxative.
These things that when I started at thirteen years old. I learned diet culture from my mother because even to this day, she says I can’t keep bread in the house because it makes her fat. I used to keep a bucket of Cheetos cheese balls in my room because my mom didn’t want them out there. I would eat hidden in my room. All these moments in my origin stories led me to this point. I lost weight, gained weight, and went to college. I yo-yo dieted. The same thing I tried. Atkins and the South Beach Diet were popular at the time. I go to the gym and hear people talk about different protein powders and pre-workouts. I’d go to a local supplement store, and they’d tell me, “You need to take this to make your veins look bigger. You need to take this for weight loss.” I’m like, “Why am I taking all these things, and it’s not giving me the results I want?”
It wasn’t until I was working out two times a day. I was eating about 1,500 calories a day. It was a Halloween several years ago. I broke my foot dancing. The first thought that came into my head was, “How am I going to work out?” I knew at that moment that something wasn’t right. I knew that something that shouldn’t have been my first thought. It should have been, “How should I heal?” Not, “How am I going to work out with this broken foot?” From there, I took a year off college. I got my Bachelor’s in Biology and Chemistry. I found out there was a degree in nutrition. I had no clue you could get a degree in nutrition. I thought you worked at a gym, and there it is. You knew the knowledge or a weekend certificate, but there was so much more to it. That origin of a thirteen-year-old kid trying to figure it out started to manifest itself when I was in my twenties. It wasn’t until I faced the music that it showed.
A lot of people have been through that. That’s the reason I wanted you to share your story, and I appreciate you doing that. There were parts of it that I didn’t know. Thank you for being transparent about those things. I imagine what didn’t get said in there, but you said earlier was the fact that you also were learning English. It’s not easy. Being vulnerable in a tender place, we can all relate to that in our own stories. Dieting has been a big deal in the world and in the United States for a long time. There’s a lot of confusing stuff and money spent. It’s a multibillion-dollar industry. Maybe the motors are okay, but in the end, a lot of the ways that those motors are manifested are not ethical. That’s an issue. People have been lied to.
We have access to you now. I want to give people some good information, whatever we can give them that is solid because I find myself, in my resilience, keynote talks, and the follow-up training that we do with organizations, we talk about habits and how you ritualize recovery. Our version of resilience is that it’s not about grit and grind. Those things get in the way of performance when that becomes extreme, which it often does, especially in any performance culture, but you must recover and learn how your body, mind, emotional state, and spiritual state can be stronger when you create these recovery zones, and what you eat ingest makes a huge difference.
I’d love to get some of your best practices. I’ve been fascinated with Blue Zones. I have heard a lot about the Mediterranean diet forever. Whatever myths we can bust in this short little time, whatever things we can provide as solid foundational principles people can start to build their house upon, that would be fantastic, Tony.
The first one was hydrated or dehydrated. It’s one of the most passionate things I am about. It’s ridiculous to hear that I’m passionate about hydration. As we were talking earlier, I love hydration because it’s such a low-hanging fruit. Many of us are chronically dehydrated, and we think, “No, I drink enough water throughout the day.” Our body is 60% water. Anytime we are dehydrated, even by 2% to 3%, that leaves us not only hungry but also with a decrease in performance by anywhere from 7% to 10%. As you’re talking about, performance can range in anything. When we’re talking about on the field, if you were lifting 10% less, that’s a huge difference. If you’re giving a presentation and you’re 10% less there, it means that you’re not giving your full self. You’re doing a disservice not only to yourself but also to your audience because you’re not fully there. You haven’t recovered. You don’t have enough water to get through the day.
When I think about hydration, you can easily manage it by doing three things, which are the WUT method, WUT, Weight, Urine, and Thirst. I’m sure people don’t want to hear about their pee, but we’re going to be talking about it, Adam, in regards to hydration. We’ll go backward. Thirst is the most unreliable because it is located close to the brain where hunger is. Sometimes, when we feel like we’re hungry, we could be thirsty. Urine, you want your urine to look like lemonade. If it looks clear, a lot of people are like, “If it looks clear and it looks like water, we’re hydrated.” It means you’re not getting enough electrolytes, which are sodium, potassium, magnesium, and chloride in that order.
One myth I want to bust is coconut water is not hydrating. It is one of the biggest proponents of dehydration because it is high in potassium. If someone has high blood pressure, they are typically given a potassium pill to help them excrete the sodium. Coconut water is a natural diuretic. You want to stay away from that. You want to make sure you drink water with salt. This is the thing. When we have highly processed diets or ultra-processed diets like we do in the United States, that means we have a lot of sodium. That’s why we are told to stay away from salt in our food. However, if you’re someone who follows the Mediterranean diet or thinks about Blue Zones, you see them add salt. That’s because the foods aren’t processed, and they’re not adding salt to those foods. They’re getting the foods and cooking them and adding the salt. Salt is a necessary electrolyte, especially if your urine’s coming out clear.
If your urine looks like apple juice, or as I have seen it, like a Guinness beer, I once had a player say, “Tony, come look in the urinal.” I’m like, ”Alright.” I got a Master’s in Nutrition. I get to look into the player’s urinal. I think I made it, Mom. I looked in this player’s urinal, and it looked like Guinness. I’m like, “You’re kidding me. You put something in here. You’re pulling my leg.” He’s like, “No, this is what happened.” I’m like, “What’d you do?” He is like, “This was a pitcher.” I decided to go out with some of the boys. We were drinking beers and doing a couple of shots of fireball. I’m like, “That’s not what you should have done for your performance.” That’s a whole other realm we could talk about.
We tried to hydrate him. We gave him electrolytes and water. He was pulled after the first inning because, if you know anything about baseball, he gave up ten runs. That’s a big number, but the manager pulled him out. He had nausea, headaches, and all these signs. Urine is light, like lemonade. That’s what you want it to be like. We talked about thirst. The final one is weights. In order to calculate your personal hydration needs, you need to take your body weight divided by two. It’s a simple number. I like to use 150. If you weigh 150 pounds, you need to drink 75 ounces of water a day as a minimum. If you’re someone who works out or trains for every pound you lose in a workout, you need to drink 24 ounces of water to rehydrate what you’ve lost.
There are a couple of examples I love to give. I was working with a marathon runner. He was practicing. He was doing a ten-mile run. He lost ten pounds in that run, Adam. Am I going to have him drink 240 ounces of water? No, because then he could be water-locked. This is where we focused on those electrolytes because electrolytes are like sponges. They help hold that water in our bodies. Most people lose anywhere between 1 to 2 pounds during a typical workout, depending on the humidity, the heat, what’s going on, and how hard of a workout it is. That’s where we add another 24 to 48 ounces. You can personalize it by getting on a scale, weighing yourself before your workout and right after your workout, and seeing how much fluid you’ve lost. Some people might gain weight, and some people might maintain weight. That means you’ve hydrated well. It’s not a place of worry, but there are people who do lose it. Hydrate or dehydrate is a simple, actionable foundational tip for people.
I have a couple of micro questions to do with that. I personally use LMNT. I used it in the past liquid IV. I heard there were some things about it that weren’t optimal, like the amount of sugar that was in it. I’m not doing a pitch for either of those two companies, but do you have a particular hydration method as a supplement that is a go-to for you? Are those two or something else, something you use?
It depends on the level of activity. If it’s anything under 45 minutes, I like to use a low-sugar, low-calorie electrolyte replenishment because anything under 45 minutes, you’re not doing anything of enough vigor that you need that extra sugar in there. Anything that’s between 45 to 60 minutes, that’s when you can add something that has some sugar. Why do you need the sugar? It’s not only replenishing the glycogen or the muscle fuel that you’ve used in that workout, but also the sugar that’s used helps your intestines absorb the water. Most people don’t know that. There are five receptors in our gut. One of them is called GLUT4 when it comes to hydration. What happens is when the carbs are in that sports drink, it’ll help the water get shuttled into your muscles, body, and brain quicker. Sugar can be an advantage for some people, depending on the activity they do.
If it’s anything over 90 minutes, that’s when you can have that full-sugar sports drink. That’s when you want something with a little bit more in 90 minutes of continuous activity. I need to be clear about that because some people might do 90 minutes of a walk. I’m talking about vigorous activity. It’s a run, a weight training session, or something of that nature. When it comes to a brand, for a lot of people I work with, it depends on how natural they want to be. I even have a recipe, which I’m more than happy to share. It is four tablespoons of sugar, a quarter teaspoon of salt, and a quarter cup of boiling water. You mix those things together, and you add a quarter cup of any juice that you like, or two tablespoons of lemon juice and three and three-quarters cups of cold water. You mix all that together, and you have your own homemade sports drink.
I said sugar because it could be maple syrup or honey. It helps with hydration. It helps the water get absorbed in your body. That’s the first one. When it comes to any other brands, I do like LMNT. I do like liquid IVs, depending on what you’re doing. There’s even the Gatorades and Powers. They all have a place. It depends on what training, what fuel you like, and what you will be consistent and sustainable with.
Let’s talk about dehydration for a minute because you covered it, but when I’m discussing this, and I don’t have the expertise that you do, I think more than enough information for myself certainly, and it’ll be dangerous for other people. Dehydration is a big deal. People don’t realize how often they are dehydrated. When they have neck pain, back pain, headache, low energy, or any of those things, and they think it’s because they haven’t eaten or they need more coffee or sugar, often it is dehydration.
Many of us start the day waking up dehydrated because we perspire in our sleep. When we wake up, the first thing we do is, instead of grabbing water and doing an H2O flush, which is what I do to start the day, they start with coffee or tea, which are dehydrating things. There’s already something in caffeine that’s going to pull water out. Could you tell us a little bit more about dehydration, what the pitfalls of that are, how do we be aware of it, and how do we avoid it if we can?
Let me ask you a question. If I had a piece of beef jerky in one hand and a piece of fresh red meat, like beef, which one is more flexible?
If I were to bend that piece of beef jerky, it’s going to rip in half. That’s what our muscles look like when they’re dehydrated. You’re talking about neck pain and muscle pain. It looks like a piece of beef jerky. You have pain, and you could injure yourself by doing a little stretch to the side.
People often have those spasms that are excruciating. They go, “Why is that?” There are emotional factors. There are lots of stuff that goes into having a spasm, but often, it’s also a dehydration issue.
I always tell people, “Nutrition is a piece of the pie.” Some of the things go into it. My goal is to make sure we dot our I’s and cross our T’s when it comes to nutrition. What that means is making sure you’re hydrated. If you do have a back spasm or neck pain, we want to make sure it’s not due to dehydration. If it’s something else, you have to go to another recovery. The other thing with dehydration, most people forget, is when we’re on a plane. You spoke about waking up from sleep. When you’re on a plane, it is suboptimal for human performance. What I mean is the pressure on the plane is like being on a mountain because you’re at a higher altitude. The pressure up there is tighter. You breathe more out. You don’t notice it. That’s why people get jet lag.Nutrition is a piece of the pie. Click To Tweet
A lot of the people I work with travel for work. If they’re on a plane cross country, that’s a six-hour flight, and the number you need for that is eight ounces per hour of flying. You’ve now dehydrated yourself. If you don’t like to use the bathrooms on planes, add an electrolyte packet. The signs and symptoms of dehydration are headache and nausea. It can go all the way to a heat stroke. I’ve seen many signs of people passing out due to dehydration. It is scary. It leads to a drop in performance, fatigue, and concentration. These are things we think about all the time. How can we better it? I tell it to many people that I work with, “Start drinking more water.”
To your point about coffee and teas, what’s been shown more in research is that caffeine helps excrete sodium. If you’re a heavy coffee drinker, I always recommend adding some salt to that next meal because that will help keep the water in. You want to do that. I’m 100% with you. I love the idea of an H2O flush, but waking up and having that glass of water in the morning not only gets rid of that dry mouth but also gets you ready for the day. It’s such a low-hanging fruit that we can get our muscles to look like that ni nice, fleshy beef so we can move around and be mobile and ready to go versus the beef jerky.
Sometimes, I will take a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and put it in that water to flush at the beginning of the day. I want to say, “It’s disgusting. It’s gross. It’s the worst-tasting stuff on planet Earth.” I will take orange juice, but often vitamin C, and one of those emergency packages to make the taste tolerable for myself because I’m such a weenie. I got to have things taste good for me. I do that because I’m trying to affect the pH in my body. Do you know anything about that? Can you say anything about how important it is to manage and create equilibrium in our pH?
Our pH is an exponential growth. That’s what pH is. It is a logarithm if we’re talking about mathematics. If anything we ate or drank changed the pH in our blood, we would be poor at what we’re doing. We would die. All the pH water, adding that lemon juice or vinegar, is going to get to your stomach and get acidified no matter what. Having alkaline water is not helpful. It’s not going to do anything for your blood because if it did, we would all be dead.
When I say exponential logarithm, if we even go up a little bit, it could be called acidosis or alkalosis in our blood. That could make us die. When it comes to those things, and we see alkaline water, it does no change in our body. What it could do is make you do number two quicker. We did have that in one of the facilities that I worked with because one player liked his water to be basic. What happened was he was running to the bathroom and getting more bowel movements. However, if our body did not know how to manage that, we would probably all be dead because it’s such a small range that we’re in that the body is great at optimizing and surviving.The body is great at optimizing and surviving. Click To Tweet
You’re saying, “I torture myself in this way for no good reason.” Thank you, I appreciate that. I’m happy that you did say that. It’s not only for my benefit but for everybody else’s benefit. It’s perfect. Thank you for that. I appreciate it.
With the vinegar, the one thing I will say is I’ve heard from dentists, and I don’t know the side of it, but it says, “I’m glad at least you put it in water, but it could erode your teeth and esophagus.” It can cause things later on. It’s good that you have water in it because if not, you could be causing teeth erosion and esophageal erosion as well, which we want to avoid.
Let me go back more to the reason or what my motivation is up until this point doing this, which has to do with inflammation. We think about hydration and the purpose of hydration. In addition to everything else you’ve said, it helps with inflammation. A lot of people who are experiencing pain, whether it’s in their back, knees, shoulders, brains, or wherever they experience their pain, is inflammation related, and we are inflamed in more ways than one in our world. What can you say about anything to do with the hydration piece and inflammation or anything else that you know about that would be anti-inflammatory for people in the ordinary course of a day?
When it comes to anti-inflammatories, one of my favorites to talk about is fish oils, fruits, and vegetables. Why? Fruits and vegetables have all the vitamins and minerals we need. It also contains the fiber that feeds our gut bacteria, which will help them proliferate or grow more than any probiotic we can take. I can state that with 100% certainty at this moment because science doesn’t know what these probiotics are doing. We don’t have the research to understand them. I would like to explain the probiotic, and then we’ll go into inflammation. Adam, if we lived in the Amazon jungle and we were to throw a house cat into the Amazon jungle, what do you think would happen to that poor little house cat?
It would be eaten by something quickly.
That’s what happens when we buy these over-the-counter probiotics. We’re putting them into the Amazon forest in our gut. Is it helping with inflammation or not? We don’t know yet. We don’t have the research yet. In 10 to 20 years, Adam, I’m going to come back on this show because you’re not going to shoot me out, and we’re not going to go anywhere. I might have an answer for you to say, “This probiotic is helpful for that.”
For inflammation, I like to think of inflammation as firefighters in a forest. When we have one fire, our body sends out those firefighters to put out that fire. When we have 100 fires in the body, we don’t have enough firefighters to help with that inflammation. Some inflammation is good. What am I saying with that? When we have a workout, we want to have an inflammatory response so we can build muscle. If we don’t have that inflammatory response, we’re not building muscle.
Meaning it’s that inflammation followed by recovery that creates that. We have to add that recovery piece because otherwise, the whole thing doesn’t work. If you were to go to the gym and stay in the gym, you’d have inflammation. At a certain point, you peak and decline. You have depletion and injury.
With the fish oils, they have these things in them called Omega-3s. We might’ve heard of them. These are the things that are going to be those anti-inflammatories. If you eat fish, you should have anywhere between 3 and 4 servings a week. On top of that, you should most likely be taking a fish oil supplement. You can get tested. There’s an Omega-3 index that you can test. It’ll measure your state of inflammation based on how much Omega-3s you’ve had in the last several months.
It’s a simple blood test that you can get at your local store. You can ask your doctor to do it, or you can order one online. I don’t have any affiliation with any company. That’s not why I’m mentioning it. I do it a lot for my clients because they prick their fingers, put three drops of blood, and send it in. The standard American has 4% or less of that omega index, and that shows inflammation. We want to be at 8% or higher. Why? That shows that our body has enough Omega-3s to fight off that inflammation with our joints, tendons, ligaments, gut health, and brain health. One way to do that is by having high-quality fish oil.
There’s a simple way to figure out what high-quality fish oil is. It’s how much EPA and DHA are in that fish oil is closest to the amount of total Omega-3. A lot of people might buy a fish oil that is buy one get one free at their local pharmacy. However, those typically, to give you an example, have 1,000 milligrams of Omega-3s but only 300 of EPA and DHA. That means 700 of it is total crap, and you’re wasting your money. You’re hurting your body versus helping your body. You want to make sure you have a high-quality fish oil to make sure that you’re fighting that inflammation. When we’re talking about inflammation, I think, “How is your fish quality or fish oil?”
I want to pause there for anybody who’s going, “If I’m going to the store to buy this, what am I looking for?” Is it 1,000 milligrams of EPA and DHA? Is that what we’re talking about?
It depends on the person, but anywhere between 1 and 3 grams of total fish oil a day with anywhere as close as possible to that 1 to 3 grams of EPA and DHA. You want it to be as close as possible to that 1,000. Anything in between, you’re getting a lot of filler.
Nobody can believe that.
A lot of these supplements are shown, like Omega-9s and Omega-13s. They’re trying to promote it as health benefits, but unfortunately, those are more pro-inflammatory versus anti-inflammatory. The unbeknownst consumer says, “If Omega-3s are good, Omega-6s, Omega-9s, and Omega-13s must be better.” They are not. You want to have a balance of both. I had a client I was working with who took this to the extreme. They started to have fish for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They were taking a high-quality fish oil. This was a wide receiver in football. He went out for a pass. When he came back, he started to have a nosebleed because he was anti-inflamed. The way we stopped it was within seconds. I opened a bag of chips. He ate a couple of chips. Those Omega-6s that came from that stopped the nosebleed almost immediately, which is insane to hear. Sometimes, these processed foods have a role in helping us balance what our diet should look like. That’s extreme. Most of us don’t eat to that level. A high Omega-6 diet is going to be a lot of processed foods. That’s when we hear about metabolic syndrome, overweight, Type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol.
Is it true that so much of what consumers do, people are doing, and doctors are dealing with are the issues that people have further downstream? It’s rarely on the side of prevention. What you’re talking about is prevention. More often than not, it’s more when things become acute. If we were to travel further up the river earlier in time, would it be important to talk about how we eat? I know this’s going to be weird.
Let’s say we’re back to sitting around listening to a lecture from our grandparents or our great-grandparents about chewing your fricking food. I’m asking you, Tony. How important is it that you chew your food? Do you oxidize your food better? Are you able to take in the nutritional value of that food better if you chew your food more in your mouth and slow down your eating process than the way people typically woof and scarf their food down, no matter whether it’s good for them or not? Can you say anything about that?
That’s more about mindful eating. That would help a lot of what’s going on. What we do, especially in the States, is we eat and eat. We don’t even pay attention to what we’re doing. How many of us are on a work call, writing an email at our desk and eating whatever’s given to us? It could be a salad with chicken, which a lot of the people I work with, that’s what they define as healthy, versus taking ten minutes out of your day, stopping what you’re doing, and eating, chewing slowly. You understand that you’re eating something to nurture your body versus, “What I can shovel down my throat as quickly as possible to get back to work?”
When I lived in Europe for several months a couple of years ago, I noticed no one was eating in their cars or on public transportation. Everyone would sit down and eat. It was a long event, whether it was breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It’s such a mindset step because when we have working lunches, we’re at work. We’re trying to get this lunch done, get back to the office, and get back to the grind. We’re not taking the time to mindful eating. If we think about it, I’m not sure about your grandparents, but my grandparents most likely lived longer than my parents because of the food choices they’ve made and their lifestyle choices. When our grandparents were around, they ate foods that they had to cook. They didn’t have the option of as many processed foods versus I grew up with because my mom didn’t have time to cook. My dad didn’t have time to help make some other meals.
Going back to not only chewing and taking the time but seeing what foods are available. If we were able to go back in time and slow things down for us all, even if we think about lunch and school, when I went to school, I was like, “How quickly can we get these kids in and out to get them back in the classroom?” versus, “Let’s take a one-and-a-half-hour lunch so they can sit, eat, talk, socialize, and move forward with it.” If we could go back in time, if we could eat more whole foods, if we could slowly and mindfully eat and reduce the amount of ultra-processed foods we give, not only to ourselves but to the kids and anyone around us.
I appreciate very much you saying that, Tony. I know it’s not terribly sexy, but it’s an important thing. When I’m making a recommendation in that area, or at least sharing my own practices, I give thanks for my food. I think about what I’m grateful for and what it took for that food to end up where it is. I chew with gratitude. I try to slow up the process so I can enjoy my food and experience of eating, but also to think in a grateful and loving way what that food is doing for me and what it took for it to be there for me. There’s a lot of people. A lot of things went into that process.
That’s a tool that I use to slow up and chew a little bit more slowly, mindfully, gratefully, and with love, however, that might sound for some people. Some people are happy to hear that. I feel it has helped me greatly. Getting the most out of what you eat is the key here. Making better choices is no news to anybody. That’s something we’ve all heard. How to do that? What does that look like? That’s where some confusion lies.
I also think whatever you’re eating, if you could simply be more mindful about what you’re eating, even if it’s a bag of Cheetos, that wouldn’t be my recommendation for lunch. I’d rather do this. Take a banana break as opposed to a Cheeto break, but whatever you’re eating, eat it mindfully. I got whole cashews sitting on my desk. I want to graze and eat. I like to eat, and I’m going to burn up calories and have neat energy. Same as everybody else on a continual basis. How do you set yourself up for success? People don’t think that far in advance. They, by default, are setting themselves up for failure. When you’re training and teaching these things to people, athletes, or business folks, are you coming at it from that mindset standpoint?
Absolutely. We have to plan. Most of the time, my role is planning throughout the day. What does it look like? What can you keep at your desk? Is it for some people, because they don’t have time? I love that you have the banana and cashew. Those are two wonderful snacks that are easy to have. For some people, it is a protein shake that they can have because that’s easy for them. For some people, it’s cottage cheese or Greek yogurt. Maybe they have a mini fridge at their desk. What are the things that they can keep around them? That’s the first thing.
For people who travel, we sit on a call, and I’m like, “What are the places you have to eat around you? Let’s make a plan of what those healthy lunch options are that you can get delivered to you.” Many people have points with the hotel that they stay at. Can you call your hotel and ask them to save some things in your fridge because you have such a high level of points with that company? When I worked in pro ball, we had to do those things. We had to set that up for the players. It can be done. We don’t know that because we’ve never been on that side of it. It’s all about planning, but the goal is not to always be meticulous about it. It’s what are the things you have set so that it can be sustainable?
I also don’t want people to have nutrition to be the only thing they constantly think about. It’s what can we plan, set, and redo so that it’s sustainable for you? It’s not about, every time we go, we have to think about all these things. No, what are the simple things you can focus on? I tell the people I work with, “Where can you get fruits and vegetables at one of your meals?” You may not be able to control other things at this moment in time, but how can we make it simple for you to get breakfast, lunch, or dinner for you to get one fruit or vegetable?
If you had to get one fruit or one vegetable, and we’re going to wind down here in a second, what’s your go-to fruit? What’s your go-to vegetable?
My go-to fruit is blueberries. I love them. They’re full of antioxidants. It’s one of the best ones or any berries. I love bananas, oranges, and apples. Now, I’m big into blueberries. With vegetables, I’m big into broccoli. It is not a good-smelling vegetable, but it is quite delicious in my head. I prefer it at the moment. Those are the two I geared toward, and maybe artichokes. I love artichokes. That’s one that not a lot of people like to utilize. It’s one of those two, but that’s what I’m typically having with my rotation.
We get that in the salad. I travel a lot. Artichoke is easy. In most hotels, you can get that, or it’s part of the salad. That’s already there. Broccoli and blueberries, I love them. Last question for you, Tony. I’ve enjoyed this tremendously. I’m sure our folks are enjoying the heck out of it. We’ll do a part two. I could see that coming.
You let me know, but what’s your favorite fruit and vegetable? I need to cut you off. I need to know what yours are.
First of all, I held up the banana. When I play golf, what am I taking in my golf bag? It’s a meatball sub. In the middle of my round, I was like, “Hold on guys. I have to have this meatball sub now. I need energy.” I love a meatball sub.
That would be fantastic. Now I need to see a video of you with a meatball sub.
“No, it’s a banana.” I take out the banana. That’s a lot easier to navigate on a golf course than the blueberries are. What do I love? I love those blueberries and bananas. That would be my go-to there. I had spinach partly because I wouldn’t eat it. Look at it. I wouldn’t smell it. I certainly wouldn’t eat it when I was a kid. It grosses me out. The fact that I will eat spinach, I’ll eat it. I clean and wash, but raw, in a salad or cook it and rock it arugula. I love those green leafy things. That works for me. Broccoli is always great, but to me, it must be broccoli sauteed and have garlic and olive oil. That’s how I like my broccoli.
That’s the way you have to have it.
We have a little more time. Tony, there’s no ejection button. My last question for you is you think about your rituals for recovery. I’m being self-serving here, but I want to get your insight. When it comes to resiliency, what’s your go-to recovery ritual? Do you have a go-to?
We have to. When we’re talking about sustainability, if you don’t have these rituals, you are doing yourself a disservice. You say you’re doing something for sustainability, but if you don’t have a ritual or practice around it, how are you claiming that it’s sustainable? Define recovery, Adam.If you don't have these recovery rituals, you are doing yourself a disservice. How are you claiming it's sustainable if you don't have those rituals? Click To Tweet
It’s how you recharge. Recovery is the capacity to recharge your battery. The best analogy I can use these days is a stupid phone. Everybody is obsessed about keeping their freaking phone charged because, God forbid their phone ran out of juice, their life would end. We wouldn’t be able to find our way around. “Where am I? North or South? I don’t know.” I use this thing a ton. We won’t let this thing run out of juice, and yet we let ourselves run out of juice all the fricking time. In many different contexts, people want the best performance from themselves. Everybody lead but don’t understand the foundation for what performance is all about, which we started with, and we’re going to end with. That is sustainability. How do you sustain? Keep your energy high and your ability to keep going. You can’t keep going without recovery. That’s our definition of that word. Do you have a ritual for your own recovery?
I do daily recovery. What does that look like for me? That means ten minutes of meditation. I have to meditate. I need to be in a place of silence and be present. If you had asked me that several years ago, I’ve been like, “That’s woo-woo. That’s soupy, crunchy granola. I would never do that.” Now, if I don’t do it, I notice that I’m off keel. I get impatient more often than not. It’s interesting to see that. The first thing has to be ten minutes of meditation. I sit down and quiet and breathe. That’s the first thing.
The second thing is the stretching routine. I have to get some stretching in because I work out. I do high-intensity interval training, strength training, running, and a mix of things. If my body is stiff and crunchy, I know things aren’t going to go well. I do a nice light, 5 to 10 minutes of stretching, and finally, some hydration. If I don’t stick to hydrated-dehydrate, no one will. I always make sure I have some hydration beverage around me to keep me ready for the next movement because I don’t want to have my beef jerky muscles. I want to have them looking like fresh beef. Those are the three things that I think about. The fourth one is to find a way to laugh or to be a kid again. I have two kids. Adam, anytime I can laugh with my daughter. It makes my day so much better. I’m not a big fan of playing dolls, but I love to take her out to the park. When we can go to the park, run around a little bit, and act like kids, it reminds me of my recovery. This is why I do what I do, and I love what I do.Find a way to laugh or to be a kid again. Click To Tweet
If we were in the movie Bull Durham, I’d be calling you Meat. I’ve enjoyed this conversation. I would say out to our community now, if you’ve enjoyed this conversation and more than enjoyed it and you learned something, if there’s something valuable here, what I’d ask you to do is to share it with a friend or somebody that you think would benefit from it.
I want you to do that for your benefit, for their benefit, but for our benefit as well. I don’t know how the algorithm works. I know everything relates to the algorithm. When you share this stuff, it makes it more accessible and available to other people. The other thing that will help us in terms of how that all works is simply to give the show a five-star rating if you are willing to do that, or whatever rating makes sense to you, honestly. Take the time on your platform that you’re consuming this and provide a five-star rating or whatever rating. Thank you so much for taking the time to do that.
If you’ve got questions for Tony or myself, AdamMarkel.com/podcast to leave a comment. It will not be a bot, some other person, or AI that responds. It will be us. Thank you so much for that. Lastly, if you want to check out exactly how resilient you feel at this moment, what’s your resiliency score? It’s simple. All you do is go to RankMyResilience.com. These are sixteen questions, but in 2 to 3 minutes at most to answer those questions, it’s going to give you a snapshot of how resilient you are mentally, emotionally, and physically, which we spent a lot of time talking about, and even spiritually speaking.
Take the time and give yourself that gift. That’s entirely free. It’s an important insight to check in and go, “How am I doing?” Apply the things that you heard Tony talking about to make an improvement. Any incremental improvement is a big deal. In every study I’ve ever seen, I’ve written books, the latest one called Change Proof, all about how you create change. Change is most effectively created in small steps, not in trying to take one big thing. It’s why the resolutions at the end of the year going into the new year don’t work. It’s extreme. All we’re looking to do is create these micro changes and pivots. Over time, you get the compounding effect. You get the hockey stick improvement because you’ve stuck with something, small, tiny, little incremental changes.
Whether that’s to start your day by hydration, meaning that you flush your system at the beginning of the day by drinking an 8 or 12-ounce glass of water. You remind yourself in the middle of the day. You put it in your calendar to remind you to drink water throughout the day. Do that one tiny little thing. Tony, thank you so much. This has been a blast. I wish you all every happiness and great health. Thanks to Tony.
Thanks for having me on, Adam.
I don’t even know where to begin. I love that conversation. Tony is a great guy. Before we started our interview, we are chatting and getting our mics set up. I’ve never said this to anybody else. I go, “Tony, I hope you’re feeling like you’re going to bring it.” He goes, “I’m going to bring it.” I said, “I got an ejection button over here. If you don’t bring it, I’m going to hit the ejection button.” At a certain point, we’re goofing around and laughing about that. I said to him, “You have the ejection button too. If I don’t bring it, you hit the ejection button. It’s not a one-way street. This goes both ways.” We started off laughing. The laughter, fun, and insights did not stop. I found myself leaning in hard to what he was saying. We’re talking about sustainable performance.
What does sustainable performance look like in a world where we’re constantly being depleted, where so much is being asked of us, and we’re being drained? Whether we’re consciously aware of it or not, we’re always in this state of being drawn into other agendas and other things. That is depleting. What can we do physically, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually to claw back our capacity and true performance capabilities?
That’s what we talked about. It’s everything from hydration, how important it is to not be dehydrated, and where it is that we can make simple, small changes to that which we do on a routine and a ritual basis even that creates that dehydration state. How it is that we can take better care of ourselves in a busy world on the move, in travel, hotels, and elsewhere, and thinking about nutrition from a more realistic standpoint, not from the standpoint of the latest fad, diet, decision, or soundbite around whether this is good for you, that’s good for you, this is bad for you, or that’s bad for you?
We were able to debunk a number of myths. He even debunked one of my myths. I’ve been talking about the value of changing your body chemistry, at least your pH, using apple cider vinegar. He debunked that myth for me. I benefited from him, from that, and a number of other things. This conversation covered everything from our favorite fruits, vegetables, and go-to’s, especially when we’re on the road. We’re talking about fish oils and other important supplements. We’re going to do a second show on supplements. We agreed that we’re going to have a supplementary episode that’s about supplements. If you want to read more about supplements other than the ones that we did discuss, we’re going to have another episode about that.
That was a blast. I hope you enjoyed it. As always, if you did, please share it with a friend, a family member, a colleague, or somebody that you think could benefit from getting the information and insights that you read. Rate the show. If you loved it, a five-star would be helpful to us. We appreciate you doing that. If you’ve got a comment or a question for Tony or myself, AdamMarkel.com/podcast, leave the comment there, and we will get to that ourselves, I promise. I wish you the best in your day. Check out how resilient you are. Go to RankMyResilience.com. In three minutes, you’re going to get your own resilience score. Check it in and see how you’re doing. Be more conscious and aware of your own rituals for recovery. That’s what resilience is. It’s about recovery.
If you’re not planning for your recovery and you’re not thinking about it ahead of time where it is that you can incorporate recovery as a ritual into your daily practices, you’re not going to perform as well as you can. The people around you are not going to benefit from your great example either. With that, I will say thank you so much for being a part of our team and community. We love the fact that this community is growing. We appreciate your participation in all of that. For now, I will say ciao and thank you.
- Tony Castillo
- Change Proof
About Tony Castillo
Tony Castillo is an elite nutrition expert, specializing in sports nutrition and aiding athletes, business leaders, and anyone seeking to boost their performance through nutrition. Tony’s background in dietetics led him to work with major league baseball teams such as the Toronto Blue Jays and the University of Florida. Tony’s journey started in middle school as an overweight student and continued into high school until he jumped onto a “diet,” resulting in unsustainable weight loss. Today, Tony is on a mission to teach others about the significance of healthy lifestyle modifications that can optimize performance in every area of life.