Kelly LeVeque : Balancing Blood Sugar Using The Fab 4

Elizabeth welcomes Kelly LeVeque, certified functional nutritionist, wellness expert, podcaster, and best-selling author. Kelly’s scientific yet simple approach to nutrition has helped thousands develop lifelong sustainable habits and enjoy true food freedom. In this episode, Kelly gives practical tips for balancing our blood sugar using the Fab 4 philosophy and shares examples of her favorite in each category. Kelly talks about her journey into holistic nutrition and dives deeper into her passion for regenerative agriculture. She opens up about overcoming imposter syndrome and why we should always try to look for fun wherever we are. Finally, Kelly gives a sneak peek of her upcoming book and how you can become part of her Be Well community.


Try Be Well by Kelly Protein Powders for yourself here and use code Purelyfive for $5 off.

I really truly try to lilypad the positive moments to keep momentum. -Kelly LeVeque

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Podcast transcript below:

Elizabeth Stein 00:00
Hi everyone. I'm Elizabeth Stein, founder and CEO of Purely Elizabeth. And this is Live Purely with Elizabeth, featuring candid conversations about how to thrive on your wellness journey. This week's guest is Kelly Leveque, certified functional nutritionist, wellness expert, and best-selling author. Kelly makes healthy eating simple, especially with the creation of her Fab Four smoothie. Before starting Be Well by Kelly she worked in the medical field for Fortune 500 companies like Johnson&Johnson then moved into personalized medicine offering tumor gene mapping and molecular subtyping turn colleges for striking out on her own to start her business. Today, Kelly scientific and simple approach to nutrition has helped thousands of clients transform not only their bodies, but also develop lifelong sustainable habits to live a healthy and balanced life. In this episode, we chat about Kelly's approach to nutrition, which I absolutely love since she breaks down the science into super digestible nuggets of information. Kelly shares everything you want to know about balancing blood sugar, fat, fiber, protein, including what some of her favorite sources are. We talked about seed oils, regenerative agriculture and imposter syndrome and so much more. I love this conversation with Kelly keep listening to learn more. Kelly, welcome to the podcast. I am so looking forward to this conversation today. So grateful for your time. And as I said, I'm just such a huge fan. You do such an incredible job breaking down super complicated science to make it digestible. And it's like oh, okay, that makes sense. So, welcome. And I also have to say, I'm having my Fab Four smoothie right now with your Be Well vanilla protein powder.
Kelly Leveque 01:55
Oh, well, thank you actually, I was just on a call with my sister before this, who works for me and she's helping me with my business. The business side of things since I added a product, like my protein powder to the business. It wasn't anywhere near that part of the grand master plan. I mean, you obviously have amazing products but that's like a whole nother beast I needed spreadsheets and operations and inventory and that's her bread and butter. So actually we were talking before I'm like we should give Elizabeth the promo. So PURELYFIVE actually gets anyone $5 off if they want to try it.
Elizabeth Stein 02:27
Awesome. Thank you. Ya know, I want to hear more about protein and how it is working with your sister and all that good stuff.
Kelly Leveque 02:35
Yeah, well, I can talk about anything.
Elizabeth Stein 02:36
All right, well, let's start with your story. Your journey and your journey really becoming a holistic nutritionist. Was this something you were always into health or something later in life?
Kelly Leveque 02:48
I've always been into health. I remember loving my health class actually in high school coach rap. He was the volleyball coach and also the health health teacher at my high school. And it was eye opening to me learning about nutrition facts and calories and macronutrients and just kind of like getting a taste of it. I was an athlete growing up I played soccer club soccer. You know, my poor parents were like on the side of a field for I don't know how 12 years of life or something like what they lost every weekend because of me but so I just loved that stuff. You know, I grew up in a regular Southern California home my parents shopped at Costco there were a lot of like Triscuit Wheat Thins, Bagel Bites, pop tarts, like you name it, like kind of just the prepackaged stuff. But we also were the family that sat down for dinner and it was like a chicken breast, steamed broccoli, some rice and an iceberg salad with like Hidden Valley or the Italian dressing that came in a package that you mixed with canola oil. So it was a traditional in that my parents plated meals for us we sat down for dinner, but it was also a free for all in which I could you know help myself to that half gallon container of goldfish. And so it was interesting because I fell in love with the science at a young age I was really curious about it. I started reading diet books in high school getting Shape magazine and women's health to the house when I would sell magazines for like the school fundraiser I had always asked to get those two and I started reading them a little bit like textbooks where there would be you know, quote from an RD or a scientist or an OB about like a percentage for this or a study about that and it would only be like one or two in every magazine but I remember ripping those pages out circling highlighting. And I started reading diet books like that like mind you I did have my hand probably shoved into that container of goldfish while I was reading the Zone diet but it was mostly like trying to understand what they were teaching and like back then Atkins. The first stage of Atkins is the ketogenic diet like it has been around for so long and the benefits of being fat adapted and being able to use your own fat for fuel and what prevents the breakdown of fat or lipolysis is insulin. And so that takes us back to blood sugar. And I kind of got into autopilot like most kids do in college where I went to USC, I was excited to have friends and like be in, you know, a sorority and like go to football games. And I was in classes, I was actually a business, finance and real estate major at first. And they assess what my dad did. And that's the school where my dad went and the oldest of three girls, so you kind of just like have these expectations, and you do the thing.
Elizabeth Stein 05:30
And if you think at that point, though, were you like, Okay, I have this interest in health and nutrition. And this is just my side interest and not something that you would have ever thought to do professionally.
Kelly Leveque 05:40
Well, I think it's probably something like you are you just become super passionate about something like for you making granola or like getting in your kitchen. You're like, how could that ever be a job Candace Nelson, we were talking about her before the podcast. She's the founder of sprinkles. She just loved making cupcakes for her friends like she, it's a multimillion dollar business for her now. And for me back then being an RD met, you were working in a hospital, you were putting together meals that were really like, unfortunately, high glycemic, and a lot of times being fed to people with pre diabetes, diabetes, heart disease, like ailments where they're not getting the nutrition they need, because it's kind of a sort of flawed system and following the US government guidelines around exactly what was considered nutritious, which, in my opinion, is just, it's a big problem, like just the amount of payoffs and poor studies. And I don't think a lot of people realize that the dietetics Association was founded by seven Ventus who are traditionally like vegetarian. And so of course, like there is going to be that that teaching and dogma throughout the whole program. And so and it's hard because you think about what what products are getting, like what crops are getting extra funding. I mean, it's it's soy, it's corn, it's gluten, it's, and so of course, those become then affordable, and then staples of the American diet, and we are the sickest we've ever been with the highest rates of diabetes and chronic lifestyle diseases that are 100% preventable when we eat whole foods. And when we eat clean animal proteins and fats and nuts and seeds and produce like, it's, I did get on a soapbox. I get so passionate about it. But anyways, I saved my science classes, actually, until my senior year. And I took nature of human health and disease. I called my dad in tears. I was like, I'm literally getting, this is like a perfect score in this class. I do not have to try. I read the book, it sticks in my brain. I can't tell you why I should be pre med. I don't think that I'm in the right even like major and my dad was like, That is great. Kelly, you are more than welcome to pay for an extra year or two at USC. Your time has come with me. We'll stop there. Yeah, the buck stops here your graduate I was so lucky to have my parents support through college. It's an absolute privilege. So many people don't have that opportunity. And they are my husband is one of them strapped with debt when he graduated, I have paired paid my fair share of student loans, being the breadwinner in our family. And, and and you know, we're a team. And so that's what we do. But those are not fun. Those are not fun bills to pay, because it's in the past and you're trying to move on in the future. I was very lucky to have that with my dad, I ultimately ended up taking extra classes, and switching. I was business finance with nature of human health and disease. And so I ultimately pivoted and decided to go my first job out of college was in pharmaceutical sales. I was reading studies I was learning at j&j about how to read studies look for significant p values. How what's the study design? Is it a double blind, you know, randomized trial? How many sites have they recruited, like how many how many people are involved? It's, that was an education on the job that it was a little bit irreplaceable in regards to my ability to jump into PubMed research or Google Scholar and look at studies that I was interested in, and those are the nutrition studies. And every single year, I would get bored with my job and I would think I need to switch companies or I need to change it up. And so I made my way from pharma sales, which lasted about a year because it is a little bit like Love and Other Drugs. You're just like a glorified caterer and everybody just wanted frappuccinos and I was like, How is this health? How is this house? So it's, you know, that that it's okay, but it was And it's funny because I tell my friends now, if I had had this job that job as as a mom with young toddlers with a lot of other things going on, it would have been a completely different experience. I would have punched my ticket had security, and this great page back 401k car and I could have poured that income into things that I was excited about and passions that I was excited about. But as a 21 year old, because I was young, when I graduated, when my friends were making friends at work and dating guys at work, and I was like, I'm single, and driving all of Southern California to people who don't really want to talk to me, but just want me to bring food, it was not fun. But I ultimately made my way into cancer and genetics. So I started talking about more scientifically advanced things. And I ended my career in genetic mapping of tumors and understanding genetic pathways in tumors, fed specific tumors, why metastasis was happening. And it's an interesting field. But it was also really heartbreaking because it kept reminding me like, every time I think it would get a new job, I would get on college websites and look up rd programs. So you know, like 80, grand or 40, grand or whatever it was, and then so many years, and I always thought I was too old, or I had already, you know, so funny when you're young, and you're like, change careers, or I was, and there's a you're never too old, it's never too late. It's never too saturated. It's, it's do you want it? Are you passionate about it, if you're talking about it all the time, you should think about it. And so ultimately, one of my best friends when I was in the end of my coming round, I think my six, almost seven year in the medical Western medical field was like Kelly, get it together, like, all you do is talk about this to all of our friends. You educate us on things we've never heard about, you're following the weirdest podcasters you're reading the most obscure books, you're on these websites that no one would understand how to search, like, just do it. And so the easiest way for me to get into the field was to go back as a health coach. Just to see like, Okay, what does it like to work with people I loved it ultimately went back in nutrition first.
Elizabeth Stein 11:57
Did you do Integrative Nutrition first?
Kelly Leveque 12:02
I did IIN first. And it got punched my ticket enough to sit down with someone and talk about food and their life and their lifestyle choices, and everything like that. And then beyond that, I ultimately ended up going back and getting all my pre med Sciences at a junior college, and then doing an additional year of schooling to take my clinical nutritionist exam. So board exam, and it's a year of nutrition courses. So an RD is an exam, they do two years of school, I was excited to be able to cherry pick a lot of the classes that I took, there were multiple classes that I dropped nutrition 101 was the hardest class for me to take because what was being promoted in that course was a vegetarian diet, a high grain diet, a high seed oil diet, where they were still reading, I was reading in the textbook that plant sterols and margarine would protect against heart disease. And this was not that long ago. So we have to remember that the science that is being preached calorie counting like not including any, there's just it's very behind because not only does it take on average, 19 to 20 years for science to be applied in a medical office, you have to remember that publishing has to keep up with the science as well. And you have associations and boards of doctors that are approving this science to be added to these textbooks. And then it needs to be really, the educators need to be educated on the new science and then they need to teach the class that so I ultimately felt like I had to learn the wrong science to pass the class at UCLA. But I did. And and for me, it it was just it was because I had imposter syndrome. I feel like I was the same coach and the same nutritionist prior to the courses that I took at UCLA and Berkeley online. That I was when I finished but I just had this block about I'm I'm just a health coach or, and so in my business like I have a business small group where I mentor help coaches and a lot of it has to do with getting rid of their imposter syndrome. And really working through that and feel feeling worthy because they are sharing their experience. They're sharing the experience of all the people that they're working with. They're infusing what's been working, what's like they're really just helping people, they're holding them accountable. And they're infusing them with a little bit of empowering them with science and that that really is the most freeing I think for a lot of people. And so yeah, I'm, I am a clinical nutritionist and a holistic nutritionist. I have a health coach. You know, I just think it's part of the process and the journey when you value education, and you go to college and he graduate, that when that's held that at such esteem like my parents really valued that it was something growing up that I didn't have the choice I was going to college I was going to graduate, it would have been had put up a real fight not to do that it became part of something that I cared about. But in today's day and age with access to science, people can really educate themselves and really make a difference in other people's lives. There are health coaches, and RDS that aren't keeping up with with current research, and there are health coaches, and RDS who are and I think that's the rub is that you either love the science and you want to immerse yourself in it and absorb it and understand it and be able to distill it down for your clients and your community. Or you did what I did in college and you went well, I thought that would be a cool career. And so I got into it, but my passions aren't really there. I think I was sort of influenced by someone to be in that space.
Elizabeth Stein 16:02
I think it's super interesting to think about a how much what you're saying is like the time that it would take for textbooks and education to catch up that one of my questions was going to be like, when do you think that catches up? Or does it never because we're learning so much about health and the body and the gut and all the immune system and all of that is evolving? So a Does that ever catch up? But then be I really like what you said of, you know, you can, you don't necessarily have to do all those steps in education. And you could be a health coach, and you can keep up with everything and learn and having that imposter syndrome. I heard you on another podcast, talk about how you got yoga, your yoga teaching certification at one point during this time. And so I went to IIN. And during that time, I too, got my yoga teacher certification because it felt like I had to, like do this other thing and then start teaching other classes.
Kelly Leveque 16:59
I mean, it's, it's, it's the Wild West, in the wellness industry. There are people who have zero degrees who have a million followers online, who could care less about credentials that feels zero imposter syndrome, and are just sharing and being a value every single day. I think the rub for me is troll trolls, people being hard on you, if you're not used to conflict, like I had a situation where I was trolled this year. And it was really hard for me, like I just have spent the last decade putting my heart and soul into sharing the science and motivating people and writing books and starting a podcast. Ultimately, I'm doing it for my community, like I am not Tuesdays are days that I take podcasts for my podcast, there are block schedules where sometimes it's not healthy, like I have 15 minutes between podcasts to pee, grab a water and get back at my desk to sit down and interview someone else. That's an entire day that could be spent with my children that could be spent developing more products for the brand working with clients. It I love the podcast. But I also think when you're putting yourself out there and you're doing all this work, and you're not used to, I mean, people just use before social media, they wouldn't say mean things to your face, they would leave you alone. And they would only say nice things if they only say something nice if they had something nice to say, you know, it wasn't this negative conflict space. And I've seen Instagram turn in the last few years. And it's it does take a little bit more effort for me to show up online when when those things happen. But there there are people who are just going for it. And they are not afraid to be trolled. And they are not afraid of meat comments in their caption and I just like my, I like the space and community that I'm creating to the loving supporting environment. And if it doesn't feel supportive, or it doesn't feel loving, I may delete a post or I may block a person or delete a comment because it just it's I want it to be a safe space for my community a space a safe space to ask questions and to learn doesn't mean that if someone disagrees with me that I will delete a comment I'm just talking about just plain negativity and you know it's it's a sensitive world right now. So you just it's been a little bit hard to navigate if I'm being completely honest.
Elizabeth Stein 19:39
Yeah, no, thank you. Do you have any tips for what you've done to omit what you just said like deleting some things that to take out that negativity but it's like, you bring so much you're such a positive person you bring so much positivity and, and joy and knowledge and you know it all authentically feels like it's coming from carrying that, to have that, I hate that for you.
Kelly Leveque 20:05
I mean, it's, I feel like I was joking around with my husband because he's like, you've had a decade of amazing success. And definitely you've fallen down and had road bumps. And I do feel like I am wired. And I can think I think it's just my dad, my dad was this way, and I was raised this way, and I just can't really explain it. Like I do really focus on the silver lining when things are really bad. I feel pretty resilient. And I don't remember the things that went wrong, where my husband can literally list everything that's gone wrong in my business in the last day, you remember that one time and that one time, and I'm always like, oh, yeah, I totally forgot about that. It's really stressful, you know, but I really, truly try to lily pad, the positive moments to keep momentum because you can really, and that's where, you know, some negativity can really slow down your momentum. And when you focus on it, when you like, marinate in it, when it like infuses into you, it can break down your confidence, or it can get in the way of you be organically and authentically yourself, which I feel like this generation, you know, in our generation, and our parents or prior to social media, there was this innocence and this protection that you everyone's just trying their best. And they're they're out there doing good in the world. And you don't have to really work through those things. But now more than ever, I think we need meditation, we need breath work, we need boundaries, and we need to find ways to stay on those lily pads of positivity to jump from one place to the next. And Chris asked me, you haven't had any negative press or anything really bad happened in the entire 10 years. And I mean, he's like, I can name bad things that have happened, but you haven't ever been really, truly affected in the way that it's stopped you from your mission and your goals. Would you ever, would you? It seems like it's affecting you would you want to give it all back? Because it's like, what am I doing, I just go be a real estate agent, like I'm putting this effort in for events. And I could do 10 to 20 other different jobs, you know, and he brought it to a point for me and like ahead was like, would you rather give up the last 10 years of helping people and sharing and putting your like light into the world? Knowing that this would happen? Would you still give it the 10 years, I was absolutely like I'm gonna hit bumps. And now it feels really small. At the moment, it didn't feel small, it felt like why am I doing this and so I think that can be scary for new health coaches, new nutritionists RDS people creating their own companies, the competition out there, the negativity out there, getting a look, whatever it may be, it can feel a little bit overwhelming to get started. And so I always now, you know, all my coaching calls, like if you it's, I still would do it, even when the bads if you can get back up, and you still would want to have the career that you've had and put in the effort and created the product or did the thing, do it? Because you're not gonna remember those little bad moments if you keep lilypad leaping.
Elizabeth Stein 23:27
Totally, I could not agree with that anymore. And I also think, when you do look back, or like you have Chris tell you, hey, remember that that thing good or bad thing. It's also just such a great reminder when you're going through the hard things that you're like, oh, wait, I've been through something really hard. And I got through that. And that, you know, I moved on to the next thing and, and so it sets you up for the mindset, I think of working through harder things on the journey, because this journey, is going to continue being hard. And for me 13 years later, every year, there's something else it's hard and difficult. It's like how do you get through this? So it's definitely that optimism that pushes you through for sure.
Kelly Leveque 24:10
Yeah, and I I don't know if you feel this way. But I feel like every parenting book, you know, we there's parenting movement where you're snowplow for your kids, you make everything easy for them. You don't want to allow them to be touched by trauma or disappointment or adversity, but it's resilience training. And so now anytime that Sebastian Taschen is not really there yet, he does get upset about things but bash like, obviously, and outwardly will be very disappointed in something. And I do have to remind myself like, this is resiliency training. This is him getting through stuff he doesn't want to get through. It's teaching him to do that in his adulthood. Yeah, we could all use that for sure.
Elizabeth Stein 24:51
Alright, so that's jump in to fab four. Okay. And your approach to working with clients and really diving into all things, blood sugar, because I still like, the thing about blood sugar to me is it needs to rebrand. And I think so many people that hear the word, they think it's Oh, it's just something for diabetics like that isn't something that I need to worry about. But we all need to worry about that.
Kelly Leveque 25:18
We absolutely do. And it's something that is so it's so sad that we don't learn it in health class in high school, that it isn't a part of our curriculum. I mean, among other things, like finances, and just a personal accounting or whatever the case may be saving for your for 401K, but when it comes to blood sugar, so taking you back to USC nature of human health and disease, my final paper, all I learned about in that class was metabolic syndrome, type one, type two, type 1.5 diabetes, it was amazing to learn about it, I learned all about insulin all about blood sugar, other hormones that can impact it like cortisol, adrenaline, I loved it. And so I started to let look at things through the lens of blood sugar, things like the Atkins diet, South Beach, Paleo protein powder, like old school, things where when you start to understand how to support your blood sugar, that balancing your blood sugar, or eating to support the balance of your blood sugar gives you more energy, less cravings, natural weight loss, better sleep, more focus, the benefits are all there I get really excited about it absolutely needs a rebrand. And I feel like for a lot of people, the science of it is overwhelming and hard to understand. And so for me, when I would have an hour to 90 minutes with a client, I wanted them to understand the science of blood sugar so that they felt empowered to eat to support it. So your blood sugar ranges anywhere between in the normal range between 70 and 120. And that's milligrams per deciliter, meaning, if I were to take a little bit of your blood, I would see a specific amount of blood sugar or sugar in your blood, right? It's called glucose, that type of sugar. It goes up and down throughout the day, based on what you eat. Primarily, there are hormones that can affect blood sugar, but for the most part for the simplicity of it, when we eat foods, they can affect our blood sugar. So what affects blood sugar, carbohydrates, sugar and starches. So sugar and starches break down to glucose or blood sugar. And it's the same thing. So when you think about starting your day with a piece of toast, chop, chop, chop, you eat it, it goes in your stomach, you have acid and enzymes that break it down, it's absorbed through your intestinal wall, one cell thick into your bloodstream. So I always tell my clients pitcher toast emojis floating in your bloodstream. Now, if you had one low carb piece of toast, that might be one or two toast emojis. If you had a super dense, glutinous big sourdough piece of dots that might be four or five pieces of toast. Well, what if you had two pieces of sourdough dense bread? Well, that might be six to 10 Toast emojis. And that is, that's just like the simplicity of understanding when I eat a sugar or a starch, there is glucose present and that food on my body is gonna digest down to that glucose and bring it into my bloodstream, my blood sugar is gonna go up after that meal. And so for me, I wanted to give my clients the freedom to eat, I wanted them to prioritize the foods that didn't break down to blood sugar, because there are so many foods that have little amounts of glucose, little amounts of sugar in that in them that would provide their body with blood sugar provide their body with energy without having a major spike in a crash. Now, we talked about toasts. So let's talk about orange juice for an example. Let's say you drink orange juice. Well, that's one of the ways if someone has low blood sugar, we get their blood sugar jacked right back up, because they don't have to digest down the toast, right? It's liquid sugar, it hits your mouth, it hits your intestines, very, very quickly. Within a few minutes, your blood sugar is rising, because there's nothing there's no fiber folding onto that sugar that you need to digest. So depending on the type of carbohydrate, the density of that carbohydrate in regards to how much carbs are present, that will dictate how fast and how high your blood sugar goes. Now let's talk about the things that don't break down to blood sugar, protein, fat, fiber and greens. Those are the Fab Four. So protein breaks down to amino acids. This is chicken fish steak eggs. We'll get to vegetarian based proteins in a second. But for the most part, these are having little to no effect on your blood sugar. You might see a bump, a little bump but for the most part amino acids can be, you can create sugar from amino acids. It's called gluconeogenesis, the creation of glucose, new glucose from amino acids, but it's not happening in the same way as having carbohydrates and having that carb load hit your bloodstream. So protein also provides your body with all the essential amino acids you need to get from your food. So it's satisfying, I wanted the shortlist of the fab four to be the things that didn't crazily impact your blood sugar. But also, were critical to get from our food, no matter whether you're vegan, raw vegan carnivore, it doesn't matter, you have to get amino acids from your food, you cannot just produce them internally. So you have to eat amino acids. So that's protein, fatty acids. These are like your Omega three, six, and nines, Omega three being the most anti inflammatory. And we need it the most based on the amount of omega six that we have present in our diet. But fats slow down the digestion of that meal that's going to elongate your blood sugar curve, you're going to have zero effect on your blood sugar, but they're going to slow down the digestion of your meal, making it easy, making it slower to release the sugar that you have eaten, or the starch that you have eaten into your bloodstream. Super cool. Fats also do this amazing job of creating satiety in the body and helping us absorb fat soluble vitamins. Plus things like omega threes are critical for brain health, cognitive development, all that good stuff. So you have protein, you have fat, let's talk about fiber. So fiber is I kind of alluded to it earlier, but it's the coolest thing ever. Because think about that orange juice I talked about. Or let's say you're using apple juice to jack up your blood sugar. What if we take the whole fruit, the whole fruit has fiber cells that wrap up the sugar. So if it's a fruit, it's wrapping up sugar, if it's a vegetable, it's wrapping up a form of starch or and or sugar. So let's say cucumbers, asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, like all of your and the fiber and greens piece, I kind of pair together sometimes, because a lot of times there's some green, there's some color. But fiber is so cool, because it's wrapping up that sugar and starch. It's, I think, whatever you believe God or nature or Mother Earth's way of keeping you healthy, because what happens is, is you have to break down that food you have to chew it. And then you have to digest it with enzymes and hydrochloric acid. And then that, then it's going to go into your intestines and your microbes, all those gut microbes like you, if you take probiotics, that's you're taking microbes, but all of the microbes that live in your gut microbiome, are fermenting that fiber, they're creating short chain fatty acids, they're creating what we call post biotics, which are highly bioavailable nutrients that fight oxidative stress in our body. It is it's like It's nature's way of letting you have your cake and eat it too. Because you're getting all this nutrition you're getting. And it's wrapped in fiber. So it's not a fast spike and a hard crash. It's slowly released into your bloodstream. And you're getting all these extra benefits of the post biotics and then just a shout out to the greens. So we look at research, leafy greens, or eating a cup of leafy greens a day on average showed that people's brains perform 11 years younger. And so yeah, if you do that if you have a couple of leafy greens every single day, and so I am looking for nutrient density in the food, I'm looking for diversity, I'm looking for diversity and color. We know that the most wrote most robust and microbiomes. And healthiest guts can tolerate the widest diversity of foods. And that means colors, textures, varieties. And so the fiber and grades pieces looking for clients, people who follow me whatever, to put vegetables, and produce and seasonings and spices and color and leafy greens on their plate because the benefits of that are phenomenal for brain health, body health, fighting inflammation, fighting oxidative stress. And it's so cool because the hit to blood sugar is not that high. And so beyond the Fab Four, it was never that this is the only thing you were supposed to eat. It wasn't like I'm not ever going to have a bowl of granola I'm not never gonna have an ice cream or a cookie with my kids or something like that. No, no, no, no, no. This is the reality of how do I support blood sugar when most people are like, well, I know that if I put almond butter on an apple that's supposed to be good. I mean, you have like little examples that stick in people's brains. But if you understand the science of well what doesn't break down blood sugar or what breaks it down to a very small amount of blood sugar in a very slow way. And you fill your plate mostly with that. Then you think about the party plus one is sometimes what I call it which is like that might be the cookie that you have after or that protein and fat loaded salad or that lettuce wrapped burger with avocado or the traditional dinner of a protein a veggie a salad. And then maybe your your party plus one is the starch, you're adding some quinoa to the plate, you're adding some rice to the plate. And so that reminds me that just kind of touch on vegetable based proteins. So these are beans, nuts, seeds, some, you know, nuts and seeds, for me primarily are a fat. But for plant based clients, I did write a whole chapter in my second book about this. It is interesting because they are a lot of times really like zoned diets. There's protein, fat and carbohydrates in these. And depending on the choice you make, they may be more carbohydrates than protein or fat, so or they may be more fat than protein and carbohydrates. So for a nut, it's more fat than anything else. For a bean, it's actually more carbohydrates than anything else, even when you account for the fiber. Fiber doesn't break down to blood sugar. So I always use NET carbohydrates with my clients, which is total carbohydrates A minus the fiber, that's what's actually breaking down to blood sugar. So if you have 20 total carbohydrates, and there's five grams of fiber, it's 15 grams of blood sugar, quote, unquote, like 15 grams will turn to blood sugar. So let's say that your toast was 20 total net carbs and it had five grams of fiber, then I'd say imagine 15 Toast emojis floating in your bloodstream. It's gotta go somewhere, right? And so for most of us, our blood sugar goes up. Not for most of us, for all of us, our blood sugar goes up when we have a sugary or starchy meal. And insulin is released this hormone to put it away. And so we put a little bit in our liver, we store it in our muscles. If you're ever an athlete, that's carbo loading. And then the excess, unfortunately, we can have blood sugar, that is has elevated elevated sugars in our blood. So elevated fasting blood sugar, elevated blood sugar all the time as metabolic syndrome, and then you would get a diagnosis of type two diabetes. But what your body tries to do to compensate is it sends that sugar back to your liver and it's repackaged as a triglyceride or a fat. And then it's easy to find a storage space for that, because we can always add fat cells and we can always fill fat cells. So for me, I just wanted clients to look at their plate, and I use it with my kids to have a little source of protein to have some healthy fat. A lot of times you're cooking with Fat, whether that's olive oil, or avocado oil or something, it's pretty easy. And then fiber and grains was just like, Hey, how are we adding a veggie to this plate? How are we adding a green to this plate that I am to the point where if I serve up a meal and I make for example, lentil pasta with a meat sauce for my kids, I know there's veggie and the tomato sauce. But if I didn't make a veggie like roasted broccoli or something, I will literally cut up cucumber and put it on their little kids like because I am looking for ways to just add it at it. But what that does is it adds fiber it slows down digestion, it elongate their blood sugar curve and sells them up.
Elizabeth Stein 38:03
So what if we break down each of those? What are your favorite sources starting with protein of protein, I guess both specifically vegan and non vegan. And as you think about animal protein? Well, I was gonna read it. I was gonna say how you think about like the quality of that as well.
Kelly Leveque 38:23
Yeah. So last year, I went to the regenerative farming conference in Austin. I know sort of like nerd nerd alert, right. But I was really excited to go. It's like the only conference that I traveled to a way for my children because it was so important to me. And regenerative farming is this amazing type of farming where the animals graze on the land, and they defecate on the land. And that's fertilizer for the ground and the aerate the wetland by grazing on it. And what we see is an increased diversity of grasses and, and those grasses those roots dive deep into the soil, which increases the nutrient density of that soil. It increases the microbial density of that soil. So like our gut microbiome, the soil has a million micros millions of microbes living in it. And when those root systems dive deeper and deeper and deeper, they create this web like system which actually holds on to water so we don't have runoff. We don't have a dust bowl. We have more nutritious animals who are eating more nutritious grasses. And if there is a true regenerative farm or there are perennial plants and maybe their orchards or they're growing multiple things, plants and animals on the same land, you're gonna get the most nutrient dense plants and you're going to get the most nutrient dense animals. And so it's funny that you asked this question because I was just creating some content this weekend and I was like, I just want to share some brands that you can that you can get excited about for Regenerative farming. So I get a box of beef protein, which also includes bison and ancestral blends, which includes liver from force of nature, of nature,
Elizabeth Stein 39:55
I get theirs too, so good.
Kelly Leveque 39:58
They're amazing and if you haven't been able to incorporate liver into your diet liver is the animals multivitamin from minerals to fat soluble vitamins to literally anything that your body needs. They blend 10% 15 to 10% liver into plain muscle meat and so it's really easy to make a meat sauce or meatball or something that you're going to like sass up if you're not a big liver fan, I was never able to get into a consistent habit of having liver like how to chop it myself or you know, and I tried desiccated liver capsules for a little while. This is twice a week, once to twice a week for my family. My kids are eating it super easy and I and I'm so thankful for them for creating that product. And then when it comes to chicken, we get a box now of pasture bird from there from Temecula and I met Paul and Lindsey at the regenerative farming conference. It was like a passion project where they were growing chickens in their backyard. And now they have a multiple acre chicken farm that they graze cows on so the cows graze. They've created this beautiful lush grass. That is it was a it was a barren land. And now it's covered in a variety of grasses. They don't have to spray anything those grasses act as antibiotics and antivirals for the animals and plants which is so cool. And as the cows graze, they graze the grass they trim it short and they push these coops which allow the chickens to run out of the coops or into the coops over the the basically pre mowed by the cows grass and then they eat the rest of the grass and are able to get to the bugs in the grass which increases the nutrient density of that chicken and increases the Omega three and the protein content and so I chickens are hard to come by and so I'm really excited about that because that is a pasture raised chicken company and chickens can like I said it can just be hard to get quality chicken so and no one's perfect like I get my box from a force of nature and I get my box from pasture bird. But if my kids are eating a lot or we run out I'm grabbing something from Whole Foods or I'm getting a delivery from Thrive Market and I'm not worried about it but I want to invest in those brands. And to the point where I'm like I bought a dress from Christy Dawn which is a brand in Venice that does regenerative farming clothing
Elizabeth Stein 42:26
Oh wow so cool!
Kelly Leveque 42:27
which is really cool. And but like fond bone broth is another brand now they're they have they'll be 100% regenerative by next year, but they send their broths and sipping broths in glass you know mason jars and so when it comes to protein, our family leans a lot on beef and bison and chicken and we do do seafood you know is using a box from vital choice for a while but now you know the quality I believe of Dr. Market is really pretty good. And we also have a company called Wild fork where I am so there are options for us when it comes to seafood. If you're vegetarian eggs are a great option. If you are getting dairy dairy is a hit or miss it depends on the person like if they're if they're plant-based or if they like to have dairy. If you're doing dairy, I think it's great to do like a raw sheep or goat. If you have a lactose issue, the harder the cheese like a parm is a great option I do when I'm pregnant rely heavily on cottage cheese and yogurts because of food aversions and getting the protein into my body that I need for this grow for growing child. And I don't know when this is coming out. But if someone Well, there you go, so it'll be out. I'm pregnant with my third which explains why I am totally out of breath. She does like a side effect for me whenever I get pregnant no matter what stage. But yeah, so it's something I rely on. And then if you're plant-based, I love I do love nuts and beans and seeds. Not a fan of any of the processed proteins that are out there impossible burger, beyond meat. I think people who don't understand that components or ingredients in that product might think it's a great option. But it is very aggressive on the gut microbiome and on the gut lining in regards to the emulsifiers present in those foods, the dyes and additives in those foods, the protein sources, they're using gluten, soy, corn, really, truly industrially raised, industrially raised crops, and then the seed oils present in that as well. So it's a bit of a disappointment like I get where they're trying to provide an easy source of protein, but it's making people sick, and it's not and it's not something I would recommend. So stick to Whole Foods the benefit of that, even if they're higher in carbohydrates like beans or lentils for example. You have that fiber there To support the digestion and slow down the spike and crash of that curve and creates a true elongation. So the goal always, when working with clients is for them to prioritize putting the Fab Four on their plate, and then whatever comes up for them as like an added starch or a little bit of fun or whatever it is cool. But the goal would be that this meal is slow to digest totally satisfies you regulate your hunger hormones, it keeps you full for four to six hours, because we are in a generation of snackers. And little bites of highly palatable dopamine releasing foods that make us feel out of control. And so I always proactively get clients excited about when they want to break their fast and I know intermittent fasting is so popular. I'd rather have a client eat at 10 or 11am, and finish dinner at five or 6pm, I get 10 times better results in regards to body composition, sleep inflammation levels, improvements in insulin, blood sugar, a one C inflammatory markers like C reactive protein, like eat one it's light out. And don't be afraid to have breakfast. Because if you have breakfast and regulate that hunger, and then can go hours, if we wait too long, it sometimes can backfire especially for women.
Elizabeth Stein 46:17
So you just touched on seed oils and coming back to like what your favorite fats are. I would love to hear your perspective. And just like shed light on why are seed oils bad and your perspective on that? Well, yes. So this is what I was trolled on, because this is a topic that people it's to in today's day and age, it's a very chart, a very charged subject. Because polyunsaturated fats have always been known to be heart healthy, based on the scientific literature. So looking at polyunsaturated fats versus saturated fats, they have been linked and a lot of the studies fall short. And unfortunately, when we're talking about polyunsaturated fats in let's say, almonds, or in salmon, great, totally whole foods heart healthy, we look into it at seed oils, they can be referred to as industrial seed oils, because they were always just a byproduct of the industrial process of using other parts of the soy, for example, or the sunflower. So when you think about industrial seed oils, these are high omega six oils that a lot of times are oxidized in the process. So to get the most oil out of these processed foods, they're using chemicals like hexane, and high heat and multiple step processes that oxidize these delicate Omega six oils, making them inflammatory. And when we look at the percentage of omega six oils present in our cells, an increase over the last 50 years, it's over two and a half fold in us on a cellular level. So we are what we eat, our body is a memory of what we're eating. And these oils, on average have a two year half life, meaning if you're eating french fries that are fried up in soybean oil, those oils are going to potentially be present in your body for two or more years. And so what we eat is is influencing us on a cellular level. And so it's so so I safflower sunflower, canola grapeseed oil, I said soybean oil, I mean, those are red is that one rice, bran oil, these are the most prevalent and they're omnipresent in our food supply, because they're cheap and affordable. They replaced trans fats when trans fats were taken off the market. But they weren't supposed to be used as a food source. And they were considered waste for a very long time. And now they're getting associations. And there have been studies where that people lean on and rely on. The hard part for me is the toxicology research is not out in the public right now. So Kate Shanahan, who wrote deep nutrition is someone I think everyone should follow. And she's writing. She has enough toxicology research. So she's writing an entire book on seed oil. There are multiple chemical byproducts that are produced in the production of these oils in the heating of these oils and the extended shelf life of these oils when processed foods sit on the shelf for six months. What does that oil look like what chemical byproducts are present and these are, are inflammatory and toxic to the body. And so I'm really excited for her book. She's definitely the expert in this space, but it's not mainstream yet. Unfortunately, there are so many times when I'm now it being that I've been doing this for a long time where I'll get a deck from a brand new food company that's so excited Add to break into the stay CPG small passionate, and they want to do a grain free this are a low carb that are keto this and it does contain safflower, sunflower, soy, canola, a blend, you name it. And another word for Canola is rapeseed oil. And unfortunately, I just can't get behind it, I just I have to wait. And what we know is that it can, it can just have an inflammatory effect in the body and inflammation lays the groundwork of chronic lifestyle diseases. And so I am not perfect by any means, like there are crackers that are in my cabinet right now that use a sunflower oil, it's not going to be perfect. But if I'm going to try something new, or if there's a plant, like we'll grab a CAVA hummus over a different hummus because they don't use any oils, we'll you know, we'll I won't buy oat milk, because it's 99% of the time, it has rapeseed oil in it. And they're doing that for mouthfeel. It's not necessary. But in a world where we're creating new foods with with ingredients like this, especially because the plant base base base movement is so popular, whether it's an alternative, not play base, yogurt, or milk or bar or whatever, it's everywhere. So try to stick to whole foods as much as possible. Don't hold yourself to some on attainable standard. I eat out at restaurants, I think it's important to like make that make it clear that I'm probably ingesting these things at least once a day. But I'm really trying to look for alternatives when it comes to prepackaged dressings, shots or primal kitchen, condiments, things were dips, like I said, dips and and anything that sort of like prepackaged, where I can make the choice to have something with olive oil in it or coconut oil in it, or avocado oil in it. And you know, the avocado oil piece gets a little murky too, because depends on how its crushed. They a lot of times are crushing the pit with it. And that's a seed. So I'm I'm hit or miss on the avocado oil, I want to ensure that it's avocado oil consumer reports have been a little bit. There have been some light shed on the avocado industry in the last year or two. But for the most part, it's like if there. If there's an option to go without it, I'm doing that. Well, and I think you bring up a great point of like, you want to control as much as you can at home, but also realizing you can't be maniacal about it elsewhere and do what you can at home. Exactly. All right, well, we are gonna hop into some rapid fire Q&A. Unfortunately, we could have gone on and on and on. But what do you wish more people know about you?
Kelly Leveque 52:55
Well, I think it's on the heels of that last question. I'm actually a lot more flexible than maybe I seem, I do like to share the science. That is sometimes the results could be black and white and less gray, but I live in the gray. I live in the flexibility. I am not a perfectionist. I am an 80/20 Gal. And sometimes that's 70/30 and sometimes that's 90/10. But I get motivated by the science. So if something comes out, I'm like, Ooh, Oh, that's not a great study on emulsifiers. I'm not going to hate myself over it. But I'm gonna look at my cabinets and go well, that nut milk I had does have that emulsifier that was called out in that study. Let me look then I turned into a little detective, let me look for what I might might be able to swap to know I tried to get my family in the habit of say like buying a Three Trees nut milk or a MALK nut milk where I know I don't have to do that or maybe occasionally make my own. So it's, I'm a home cook. I'm a mom and business owner. I'm just trying to make it easy and try my best
Elizabeth Stein 53:59
in addition to your own must-read health book.
Kelly Leveque 54:03
Oh, I think that's Steven Gundry's new book, Perfect Keto is pretty cool, or the Keto Code. And I mean, there's been there have been so so many I think I've been interested a lot more in things like Melissa Urban just wrote a book called Boundaries. So and my next book is actually called It's Not About The Food. It's just like things that impact our relationship with health and our food choices that go beyond the food. And so for me, I'm really interested in the lifestyle piece, the habit piece. And the mental piece of what really allows us to feel food freedom to be in our bodies and to be following through with our goals. So that would be those would be my favorites right now.
Elizabeth Stein 54:53
When does this new book come out?
Kelly Leveque 54:55
Right now it's slated for December 26 of 2023.
Elizabeth Stein 55:00
Well that's exciting.
Kelly Leveque 55:01
A lot going on right now.
Elizabeth Stein 55:04
Three things that you're currently loving.
Kelly Leveque 55:08
Well, I love element that has been an addition in the last two years that's an electrolyte drink that doesn't have any added sugar right now in pregnancy. It's been phenomenal for me for morning sickness like the citrus is next level. I would say there's a company called speaking of regenerative ag called Toups Organic and they have this coconut vanilla body balm that's made with tallow. And I never really got on the Paleo skincare routine. But I got this stuff and it trumps any lotion I've ever had. I love oils. Sometimes oils make you crazy. This is like, this is perfect for winter and I'm obsessed with it. And then I have to give a shout out to level CGM. I mean in the last year having access to this for my clients to understand how food choices really impact you and your blood sugar has been a game changer because it doesn't make people obsessed with food, like the scale makes you obsessed. It makes you curious. And it also gives you answers to things that you might not have ever understood. Like I had a client who drank two cups of coffee a day of first cup she's fine second cup empty stomach still no breakfast major spike in adrenaline and cortisol major crash and blood sugar and she was finding it really hard to stick to healthy choices come breaking her fast. I said either the second cup of coffee has to go or it has to be after with a meal changed everything for her she was able to follow through stay consistent on the rest of her meals throughout the day. So that kind of knowledge is just a game changer.
Elizabeth Stein 56:38
Yeah, love my levels. Yeah, Words To Live By. Present, being present. Fun like always find the fun in life for me that's been hitting the beach with my boys and being in nature. And then I have to say sleep because I have two young toddlers and that is that really changes the way you show up for yourself your family you follow through with your goals. It is low hanging fruit when it comes to metabolic health, body composition. That's just a game changer. And lastly, what is your number one non negotiable to thrive on your wellness journey?
Kelly Leveque 57:17
Me is nature. I have to get outside and I have to make time for that. Because no matter what whether I'm pregnant like I'm really missing hot yoga, not gonna lie. I got pregnant I was like dang it that on hold but that membership on old but the seeing that horizon getting outside for me here, California seeing the coastline, doing the stairs at the beach, doing my beach walks. I mean, I'm a completely different person when I get those in.
Elizabeth Stein 57:48
Kelly, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. This is so great. I could have stopped you for another hour. So everybody go follow Kelly and get all of her amazing knowledge and her books and wait for the new book.
Kelly Leveque 58:01
Thanks Elizabeth
Elizabeth Stein 58:02
Thanks for being here.
Kelly Leveque 58:03
It was my pleasure.
Elizabeth Stein 58:06
Thanks so much for joining me and Live Purely with Elizabeth. I hope you feel inspired to thrive on your wellness journey. If you enjoyed today's episode, don't forget to rate subscribe and review. You can follow us on Instagram at purely_elizabeth to catch up on all the latest. See you next Wednesday on the podcast.