Interview with Dr. James DiNicolantonio

We are so excited to welcome a new partner to The Daily Dose, Dr. James DiNicolantonio. Dr. DiNicolantonio focuses on using nutrition for optimal health, longevity, and performance. He is a Doctor of Pharmacy and cardiovascular research scientist at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute and has published over 300 academic papers in medical literature mostly focusing on nutrition. He has also published 6 health books related to diet, exercise, and nutrition, and testified in front of the Canadian Senate regarding the harmful impact of added sugar. We can all learn so much from him, and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome him to The Daily Dose!

We had the great opportunity of interviewing Dr. DiNicolantonio and are excited to share his philosophy on nutrition and optimal ways to build lean muscle and burn fat. So let’s dive in!

Daily Dose

So glad you are here and thank you for the honor of sitting down to chat! We’ve been long time fans of you and your work but for those out there who are just getting to know you – how would you sum up for philosophy on food and nutrition?

Dr. James

Eat a diet that works for you. There is no magic bullet diet for everyone but there are several principles that apply to everyone and that would be

  1. to eat whole nutritious foods and  
  2. avoid or limit junk food.  

Focus on quality. Something that is not manufactured or artificially created. Something that you can hunt or pluck from a tree or pull from the ground. That is quality food.

Daily Dose

Yes, we agree! We are so excited to launch your new meal plan so we can celebrate this principle. Tell us more about what consumers could expect from YOUR plan? Is your plan intended for specific outcomes – if so – what are they?

Dr. James

The outcomes that people can expect from eating my meal plan are:

  1. to not constantly feel hungry throughout the day,
  2. weight loss,
  3. and… when paired with resistance training, muscle gain.

Daily Dose

Sounds like something all of us want. And your plan is filled with all real food so it’s as beautiful as it is delicious. Is that how you ate growing up?

Dr. James

My diet was somewhat typical of kids growing up in the 1980s and 1990s; so made up of a fair amount of processed packaged foods and beverages. However, my parents typically cooked dinner when I was growing up and that consisted mainly of meat and potatoes.

Daily Dose

Tell us more about what the journey was like to get where you are today? What pivotal experiences or research influenced your journey?

Dr. James

My training as a Doctor of Pharmacy focused on treating health issues with medications. However, it was the failure of this training/philosophy that led me to study nutrition so that I could actually help the root cause of my patients' health issues. The pivotal point in my training was when I found a group of very experienced doctors. We created an email group and I was the only Doctor of Pharmacy in the group. The rest were Cardiologists, Nephrologists, Neurologists etc. I was only in my early 20s at the time I joined the group with the second youngest person in the group being 36, but we had doctors all the way into their mid 80s. This group taught me a lot about evidence-based medicine and to challenge our current nutritional advice.

Daily Dose

Speaking of challenging the current status on what people are eating these days - Let’s say you were in line at the grocery store and snooping at the cart in front of you (c’mon we all do it!), what do you think you’d see that would most stand out as the biggest mistake? Basically – what do people get wrong the most about food?

Dr. James

They shop in the middle aisles and buy mostly packaged processed foods high in refined carbs, sugars and seed oils. People need to shop the outer perimeter of the store and focus on buying meat, eggs, cheese, fruits and vegetables.

Daily Dose

Well, that’s interesting to hear because there has always been the thought that animal protein and saturated fats aren’t good for heart health? It sounds like you’re not concerned.

Dr. James

It's really processed animal protein or overcooking/charring animal protein that is the issue. 100% grass-fed animal protein is one of the most nourishing foods you can eat.

Daily Dose

Let’s get into your thoughts on why high protein is so important, especially since your meals with The Daily Dose will have a minimum of about 50 grams of protein?

Dr. James

Foods that are naturally high in protein tend to be the most nutrient-dense (think red meat, eggs, fish, etc.). So not only is eating a diet high in protein satiating, but it is also extremely nutrient-dense. Protein has less calories per gram than fat and also has the highest thermic effect of any macro, meaning you burn 20-30% of the calories in protein just to break it down in the body. So I focus on consuming high protein (1.25 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass), low to moderate carbohydrate (65-150 grams of carbs) and moderate fat (~100 grams of fat).

Furthermore, a high protein intake helps support the growth of muscle when combined with resistance training.  

Additionally, high quality animal foods have never been shown to be harmful or increase inflammation in clinical trials in humans, the association with animal protein and health issues comes from eating processed food or grain fed meat.

Daily Dose

Some people are afraid they’ll damage their kidneys from too much protein – is this true?

Dr. James

Only in someone who has kidney disease do they have to watch their protein intake. There is no evidence that a high protein diet is bad for the kidneys in someone with normal kidney function, especially if that meal also contains some plant foods (which my meals do).

Daily Dose

A lot of women wonder if they’ll “bulk” up consuming high protein with resistance training. Is this true or a myth?

Dr. James

This is a myth. The only time you can start to bulk is when you start adding large amounts of carbohydrates into the diet and my meal plan is low to moderate carbohydrate intake.

Daily Dose

That makes sense and Im glad you’re touching on the carbohydrate topic. So – what about carbs – do we need to worry about them?

Dr. James

Most grains are highly refined and even unrefined grains are different compared to what our ancestors ate, they are also much less nutritious because they are not grown on fertile soils like when the ancient Egyptians or Hunza ate them. I do eat some legumes but I find they are not super filling and are fairly high in carbohydrates.

Daily Dose

So your plan is moderate in carbohydrates but what about fat? Do we need to worry about fat in the diet for heart health?

Dr. James

The main fat we need to worry about is cooking with refined omega-6 seed oils (like corn, safflower, soybean, canola, sunflower, etc.). Eating natural animal fats is something we have done as humans for thousands of years.

Part of the reason why there is so much controversy [on this topic] is because omega-6 PUFAs have different effects when they are heated. Studies that show positive effects on blood lipids, blood pressure, etc. with PUFAs always use uncooked omega-6 seed oils. However, to my knowledge, every study that has used omega-6 PUFAs that have been heated have shown harm on cardiovascular risk factors.

Daily Dose

Okay, let’s bring it home and make it real for everyone. What does a high protein diet look like in your life? What did you have for breakfast today and what’s for dinner?

Dr. James

Okay, let’s bring it home and make it real for everyone. What does a high protein diet look like in your life? What did you have for breakfast today and what’s for dinner?

Daily Dose

Yum, you had us at peppers and onions! Well now that we covered the macros and you’ve explained why macros matter and particularly why protein matters for sustainable weight loss, what are 3 other pillars of health that matter to you?

Dr. James

Sunlight, sleep, exercise. Hydration with salt and electrolytes is also a big pillar but you only asked for 3 :)

Daily Dose: THANK YOU DR. DiNICOLANTONIO! 

We could not be more excited about this plan that Dr. DiNicolantonio created for us, here at the Daily Dose. If you are someone who wants to work on building muscle, burning fat, reducing inflammation, and losing weight, this plan is ideal for you!

This plan is about 1500 calories a day and is made up of 133 grams of protein, 110 grams of carbs, and 59 grams of fats. If you feel like you need to add more calories to your meals, specifically from fat or carbs you can check out our snacks and desserts on the market section of our site. You can also add nut butter and fruits to the meals too!

As for protein, remember that each of us is unique and some people may prefer a combination of animal protein along with fiber-rich plant proteins to get that feeling of satiation. That’s okay! You can still enjoy the metabolic boost from this new line but make a couple tiny tweaks to personalize it.

Here’s how our staff dietitian recommends you make it work for you – first, listen to signals your body sends you and honor what you know is true for yourself. Next, you might find you need a little more or less of something. Maybe for some of you, a little less animal protein might feel better.

It’s a simple fix! Just cut some of the protein off and set it aside for a later meal or snack and round out your Daily Dose meal with some lentils, beans, or an extra serving of vegetables.

The art of weight loss is gaining self-awareness around what works for you. We want you to do you.  Like Dr. DiNicolantonio said, “Eat a diet that works for you. There is no magic bullet diet for everyone…”

Lastly, heads up! This plan is live beginning on Thursday, 6/30, and we know you are going to love it! Trust us, you will not be disappointed with the quality and taste of these meals. Get your metabolism fired up for summer, here!

Dr. James DiNicolantonio

is a cardiovascular research scientist and doctor of pharmacy at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, Missouri, and author of The Salt Fix and Superfuel. A well-respected and internationally known scientist and expert on health and nutrition, he has contributed extensively to health policy and has even testified in front of the Canadian Senate regarding the harms of added sugars. Dr. DiNicolantonio serves as the Associate Editor of Nutrition and British Medical Journal’s (BMJ) Open Heart, a journal published in partnership with the British Cardiovascular Society. He is the author or coauthor of approximately 200 publications in the medical literature. He is also on the editorial advisory boards of several medical journals. He has shared his expertise on The Dr. Oz Show, The Doctors, and international news media outlets.

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