This is not going to be a short post. But it could be longer, and more accurately titled. As it is, I have been listening to podcasts for less than two months, so my experience is limited. I don’t claim to have researched all the health and fitness podcasts, all the paleo based shows, or “all” of anything. I had an origin point, and guests led to other shows, which led to other shows, and before you know it, I am spending every moment in the car, and while not attending to work or family, listening to a podcast. I’ve mentioned a number of these already, but I thought it would good to put together a page of recommendations, with some comparisons. Each of these is linked to their website in the bold titles, but you can also find them by searching the iTunes store. I use the Podcasts app on iPad.
And as I doubt anyone will get through this whole thing, I want to mention an upcoming event that I am looking forward to. The three most endurance-friendly podcasters I list here, will be in a live spreecast event together on the evening of March 13th. Details here.
Now before I delve into all these, I have to admit, there may be a bit of a confirmation bias problem here. I haven’t exactly gone looking for similar media that tries to say the opposite of all of these voices. I did find a blogger who really has an issue with low carb, going so far as to try to coin the phrase “incenstral health movement.” It isn’t clear whether the beef is with paleo or low carb, but she definitely has some issues. I dug around the site and discovered a few ads and references to lapband surgery, so there’s that. I mean, honestly, what has drawn me into these shows is the major lack of selling. There are just a few paleo folks who push supplements, but none are on these shows. Affliliate links for Amazon, and some sponsors like the Mangrate grilling hardware, Vitamix blenders (beloved by vegans and paleo alike) and some oil sources. That’s about it. This is attractive to me, as I have had it with “revolutionary programs” that require the consumption of powders from a factory. What binds all of these podcasts is a fundamental belief in real food. Supplements are only ever recommended when the perils of the modern industrial food complex have made some of these formerly natural and easy parts of our diet, harder to get.
OK, so enough apologizing for being a paleo and low carb fanboy. Let’s get to my in depth reviews.
We will start with the podcast that got me into this whole movement, and media genre to boot.
Somehow, while seeking information on cutting sugar and maintaining running training, I found a post on Beginner Triathlete about this show, and I downloaded my first podcast on the iPad. I’ve been hooked ever since. Listening to Vinnie and Anna is a lot like listening to Howard Stern and Robin. So yes, sorry to say, if you are easily offended by not just four-letter words but some random sexually explicit comments, then stay away. But if you enjoy a frank discussion, along with humor and solid information, then this is a good place to start.
Vinnie is in the process of finally releasing his book on his basic philosophy of No Sugar No Grains, trending on twitter as #NSNG. The podcast started as a way to get out that message, and generate book buzz. Along the way, he got talking about dietary ketosis as well, though it seems to have been somewhat accidental. For a new listener, a commonly recommended introduction to ketosis looks like this: go back to episode 53, the Andrea Anders interview. Andrea should be a familiar face to NBC watchers. She’s been on a number of shows, and her boyfriend is Matt Leblanc.
What makes the Andrea episodes so helpful: Andrea is a friend of Vinnie’s co-host Anna. She came to the show to talk about Vinnie training her. She had an interest, as many Hollywood actresses do, in more rapid weight loss. They got on the topic of ketosis. In subsequent episodes, they follow up with Andrea. She asks the questions that a non-trainer non-doctor would ask, so it’s a really great sub-series on understanding the topic. Episodes 56, 59, 62, 65, and 73.
Ease of listening: depends on your f-bomb tolerance. I give it a 10. I look forward to each MWF release of a new episode.
Density of information: varies. Because it is conversational, they do go off topic. But let’s be honest, the basics of this philosophy are pretty simple. As you get more into it, it’s the tiny details that become of interest, and they are mined from the show easily.
Endurance athlete friendly: yes, with a caveat. Vinnie had a real anti-triathlete bias, but for all the right reasons. In his early shows he makes some really funny comments about triathletes that hit close to home, because they are so true. Triathletes can be a really ridiculous lot. BUT – he knows he has a big audience of us, and he is himself an endurance athlete. He does 500 mile mountain bike races. His girlfriend Serena is an ultrarunner and chi running coach. (And lest he fail to mention it, a Bond Girl.) He is also great friends with ultra-tri guy Rich Roll. That is one of the best parts of this podcast, BTW, as Rich is vegan and they debate the diet seriously but not adversarially. Anyway, the whole reason I found Vinnie was that his show was the first place I heard anyone talk about doing long distance events without living on sugar. I predict that his show will become a favorite among triathletes, even as they complain that he didn’t say the exact right distance for an ironman swim, or referred to a 140.6 as a “full distance triathlon.” I love that he doesn’t pander to the obsessive details of the stereotypical triathlete. He lets Ben Greenfield do that.
The host Angelo Coppola calls this a nutrient-dense podcast. This is an excellent description. I can’t say enough good about this show. I am still slowly getting through all the back catalog of episodes. Every single show has so much more than the simple show titles indicates. It is definitely the most well-produced podcast, and that’s not just sound quality and slickness. I mean, the research and preparation are top notch.
Along with the discussion of chosen topics, each episode has a philosophical break called Moment of Paleo. This is invaluable for those of us looking to ancestral health as more than a diet. Angelo is a thinker, not just a guy promoting a particular dogma. He will often discuss the intersection of conventional wisdom and ancestral wisdom, and I love his phrase “we may not agree 100% but I’ll call you brother.”
The After the Bell segments are always a treat. Often from TEDTalks, but not always, we get extended pieces of lectures from many types of scientists, thinkers, and people who see the big picture.
I also love his recurring use of Colbert show clips. Colbert really loves to show the insanity of the American food industry.
Ease of listening: top notch. No guests, but many clips from other sources. Angelo has a great voice for it, is well-prepared, and keeps the flow of the show going very well.
Density of information: there are some shows that come close and sometimes equal it, but none surpass it. Any random episode is well worth your time.
Endurance athlete friendly: neutral. Like most paleo folks, Angelo is not a fan of long distance running, or chronic cardio. However, he is a fan of Born to Run, and vibrams. He also operates from a philosophy of “do what you love” and if that means endurance athletics, then have at it. But as for a means to better health and fitness, there are much better ways from the paleo point-of-view.
OK maybe Empire is a bit of an exaggeration, but Jimmy runs three podcasts. Livin La Vida Low Carb, Low Carb Conversations, and Ask the Low Carb Experts.
Jimmy has been blogging about low-carb living for years, and has become a major personality as a result. As with anyone who rises to prominence, he is a lightning rod for controversy. He was once 410 pounds before discovering Dr Atkins Diet Revolution, setting him on the path to low carb living. He got down below 220 I believe. Last year, he had a very public weight regain, getting back to almost 300 pounds. Of course this was fodder for detractors. But I appreciate Jimmy’s openness and honesty. In all his public interactions, he comes off as a very genuine person, and quite likeable. You want him to succeed. He is currently taking time off from the podcasts to work on a book about understanding your cholesterol results. He is not a doctor himself, but has made it a point to access and interview as many medical professionals as you can imagine. I would recommend starting with encore week from LLVLC, a best-of-2012 collection. Ask the low-carb experts is also interview based. Low Carb Conversations is a favorite of mine, which continues on with co-host Dietitian Cassie. Her blog and twitter feed are both very informational.
Right now, there is a strong discussion within the Paleo world about the role of low carb. They are not always the same thing. The paleo diet, executed by its principles, automatically becomes much less carb dense than the typical American diet. But the principles of low carb like Jimmy promotes (especially as he gets into his own ketosis experiment) do not always mesh with paleo practices. It is interesting to follow this conversation into 2013. As Jimmy has tended to use the term paleo more often, the protests of more paleo folks are being voiced. The issue as I am observing is, it to be careful not to conflate low carb and paleo. They are not the same thing, though there is much crossover.
Ease of listening: as I said, Jimmy exudes positivity and is very likeable. He has a Southern politeness that is refreshing.
Density of information: as most of his shows are interviews with experts, there is little fluff.
Endurance athlete friendly: he doesn’t talk about exercise much, but is definitely not a marathoner. Very focused on diet.
I have only recently begun to listen to this show, but so far I am deeming it a keeper. I have been following the BB twitter feed since I joined. I find something useful in their tweets all the time. They are touring in the PA, DC and NJ areas right now, with a sugar detox program. Check the website for details. Edited to add: the sugar detox event is specific to DC. They do a number of teaching events.
Ease of listening: I’ve gotten spoiled by some studio work, so the skype/phone format isn’t the absolute best recording, but still very listenable. As most shows with two hosts, the give and take conversation makes it very smooth to listen to at length.
Density of information: so far so good. What I’ve gotten into so far reminds me of the latest in paleo show, in that it’s not just diet advice, but the intersection of philosophy and practice. Both Liz and Diane publish books on modern, practical applications of this way of eating. I especially enjoyed episode 22, with Liz’s trip to Polyface Farm. (Shocker, I know, as I am such a Salatin devotee.)
Endurance athlete friendly: I haven’t determined a bias one way or another yet. More diet focused.
I probably have a natural bias for this show, since it is recorded in Philadelphia, and the doctor is soon moving back to Pittsburgh. I want to invite them to record here, as I’m close to halfway.
Like a lot of these shows, this podcast often focuses on health news and deconstructs it. The benefit of the perspective of an MD is helpful, especially in a movement with few doctors on board. We can’t keep citing the same couple of guys all the time, and Taubes is a journalist, not a doctor. For the unconvinced, having that title brings some credibility. The Caveman Doctor is really Colin Camp M.D., a radiation oncologist. His interest in paleo living is primarily in cancer prevention. If for no other reason, you need to listen to the show for that alone.
Ease of listening: Not as smooth as Angelo, but who is? But not as wonky as Ben. A nice, no-frills back and forth between two hosts who really know their stuff. I can put this on while cooking and not feel like I am in class, but yet I still end up writing down notes anyway.
Density of information: high. They banter a bit, but not much. Just enough to keep the show flowing.
Endurance athlete friendly: not at all, to be honest. They really hammer the “Chronic cardio” practitioners. They are much more in tune with a weights-oriented workout, but I think more of us soft triathletes need to pay attention to these guys. They do talk about exercise a lot, and it’s worth your time to listen.
My main man Vinnie is fond of pointing out that every diet or fitness guru has to be photographed with his shirt off. Well, whether that’s a good thing or not, I can tell you that if a cat who looks like that tells me how to eat, I am probably listening.
But seriously, this is the #1 rated health and fitness podcast on iTunes. So far, it is also commercial free. I respect that.
I don’t have much to say about the show, other than it’s a winner. He interviews major guests every week. From the familiar names like Sisson, Taubes, Jaminet, Moore, Greenfield, Cordain, Ferriss, to a few folks you might not encounter otherwise. I really enjoyed the interview with James Clear, which was more philosophical than most others. I am now subscribing to his newsletter.
Ease of listening: Excellent interviewer, and a velvet voice for broadcast that makes me even more jealous. It’s like when I opened the dust jacket to a Nicholas Sparks novel I bought my wife, to see he wasn’t an old bald man. I can handle a beefcake, I can handle a smooth intelligent voice. But man, put them together and I have to find a way to pump the testosterone and ditch the insecurities. Dude probably drives a porsche and is president of his mensa chapter too.
Density of information: like most of these, it’s a smooth delivery with lots of information and food for thought.
Endurance athlete friendly: not so much. But to be honest, the more I get into this world, the less I am sure I want to be an ironman and the more sure I want to pump iron, man.
That brings me to:
For the triathlete interested in low carb or even ketogenic training, you cannot go wrong with Ben Greenfield. Ben is the epitome of a biohacker and fitness nerd. He’s not as trendy as Tim Ferriss, but he has an attention span beyond HEY LOOK A BUNNY!
I will be honest though, Ben’s own show is very dense for me. I mostly enjoy when he is a guest on other podcasts. The upcoming live spreecast is something I am looking forward to greatly.
Ease of listening: Demanding. Each episode is very focused on a topic, and basically shoots for the person who wants to “geek out” on every detail.
Density of information: like lead. Almost to the point of being overwhelming if you’re not a high level, detail oriented biohacker.
Endurance athlete friendly: Well, Ben is an Ironman Triathlete, and won the Leadville 125 on a ketogenic diet. He coaches triathletes. Need I go on?
This is a brand new, or at least re-branded/re-launched podcast that bears mentioning. The main host Jon is someone that many of us can relate to. He was overweight and got into triathlon. He became inspired to follow a vegan lifestyle and lost a lot of weight. He started the Garden Variety Triathlon podcast, and promoted veganism. Eventually he became frustrated that his weight loss stalled, and he was still “skinny-fat.” He evolved to embrace a ketogenic diet, and the vegans turned on him. He recently went so far as to attend a seminar with Bob Seebohar of Metabolic Efficiency Training fame, to become certified in this method.
I like following someone who has been searching for improvement and is willing to challenge his own direction if the evidence supports it. This relaunch has just happened, so it’s interesting to listen to his conversion process. Of all the podcasters, this is the person I can most relate to in terms of my own life and process. But that also means he is less an “expert” and more someone guiding us through a journey. That’s a good thing. That’s the way I see this blog, and the future it will have.
Ease of listening: decent. Not as slick as other professionally produced hosts, but that come-with-me-as-we-learn approach is appealing to me.
Density of information: pretty high. The current incarnation of the show is still very new, but appears to be more content oriented. The old podcast had a good bit of personal stuff that was more blog-style. Not a bad thing, just describing.
Endurance athlete friendly: he’s a triathlete seeking ketogenic answers to endurance training. An ally.
I include this for a few reasons. Rich is not a paleo fan, but a vegan. I am skeptical of his claim that it is not ideology driven. But when compared to the Standard American Diet, paleo and vegan are more alike than different. And even if a person is hardcore in their point of view, listening to the intelligent opposition is the sign of a truly open mind. Unlike, say, every single incaration of American cable television news.
Rich’s story is one of breaking the chains of addiction. He is definitely worth knowing. At the very least, listen to his cross-podcast visits and interviews with his good friend Vinnie.
Ease of listening: the podcasts are quite long, and more narrative oriented than they are detail-rich. That’s a welcome change from the constant classroom that podcasting can turn into if you let it.
Density of information: varies by guest.
Endurance athlete friendly: He jumped from zero to ultraman, which makes ironman look like a warmup.
SOME BRAND NEW ENTRIES ON THE SCENE
The magazine was launched in fall of 2012, and the podcast has had four episodes. I have listened to the first three, just downloaded the fourth. Short episodes, nothing stand out yet. This may be a good entry into the paleo world for someone just starting out, for whom the hundreds of hours of these other shows can seem daunting.
Dan French is a favorite of Jimmy Moore, and just started a podcast. His appearances on Jimmy’s show and his twitter feed tend to be a bit broader comedy than I tend to gravitate to personally, but I found the first episode of this show really compelling. I don’t know if the format will remain like this, but let me explain. He has a co-host who is a dietitian, and plays the role of the expert. Then they also had a fellow comedian who struggles with weight, and tried paleo but didn’t do well with it. They have an honest conversation about his experiences, and his attitudes about it. It is funny, honest, and not a claim on solving all his problems. This isn’t the show you go to for tons of details like Caveman Doc or Latest in Paleo, but it’s a good voice from a different angle, and hearing the friend who struggled and giving him advice that he might hear better, this is a very valuable show to the average person. I look forward to future installments. I really had no idea what to expect off the bat.
I honestly have not had time to listen to this yet, and I just found it. So I have no idea if it is any good, but it has over 100 episodes, and I had to include it here based on the title alone:
I love provocative titles like this. One of my favorite books that I intend to revisit now that I am not so sure it is as reactionary as I first thought, is Death By Supermarket.
So there you have it. It took me about four hours to produce this post. I hope it is useful. I am still seriously considering entering the podcasting world, as a natural extension of this blog. I need to focus on its purpose and voice before I delve in. If I just turn on a mike and start talking, well, you’ll get hours and hours of repeating rants. I would enjoy that as catharsis for myself, but I think it would wear thin on others quickly. I have been looking into the tools and production end of it, and I may be ready to throw my hat into the ring soon. As soon as I commit, you will be the first to be invited to hear