NutritionPodcast

How To Solve A Health Crisis With Connor Young

20 Minute Fitness Episode #82

Today on the 20 Minute Fitness podcast we have the second half of our interview with Connor Young, the founder of Ample Foods. As you could hear in the first half of the interview, Ample Foods is a meal replacement company that provides you with your optimal nutrition on your busiest day no matter what diet you follow.

As the head of a “food company”, Connor knows a lot about nutrition, but also about various food intolerances and diets, and he shares it all with you in today’s episode. We’ll cover everything from extreme dieters to fundamental issues of our agriculture & food industry as a whole and Connor’s hopes for a more health conscious future.

Listen to this week’s episode to hear about all the ins and outs of nutrition, Connor’s future vision for Ample and how he thinks our society could be pushed towards healthier eating habits!

Three Things You Will Learn

1) Extremist Diets: Who Should & Shouldn’t Follow Them

Unfortunately not all of us our lucky enough to be able to eat without restrictions. Those who suffer from certain illnesses or food intolerances may not be able to enjoy certain foods ever in their lives. For these people, extreme diets can actually bring amazing health benefits. 

But for those who don’t suffer from any health issues and their bodies digest all sorts of food well, these extreme diets may not be the solution to anything. Finding some moderation in our lives is crucial, as we can’t just think about our physical health, but also need to pay attention to our mental health at all times. 

Press play to hear Connor sharing his thoughts about extreme dieters and his own personal struggles with food intolerances!

2) Challenges of A Healthy Nation Wide Diet

When we think about our society’s health crisis, most of us tend to associate it with the lack of education or affordability issues. While these are both relevant to the problem, these are just the byproducts of some more fundamental issues. 

According to Connor, the whole crisis can be rooted back to the artificially low prices of commodity corps, like wheat, corn and soy. As these low prices had created a surplus of these cheap ingredients for big food companies, they became incentivized to convince people that they are healthy. Which, in reality, caused a nation-wide addiction to these actually not-too-healthy corps.

Learn more about this long-lasting issue, its potential solutions and our responsibilities as consumers!

3) Future Hopes Vs Thoughts On Eating Habits

We all have some big hopes for the society moving into a more health-conscious direction, and Connor is not an exception. He thinks that there are certain measures, which will of course take time and effort, that can be done to push the nation as a whole in a good direction. 

Things like trying to tighten the feedback loop between food company’s products and their consumers’ health, conducting better nutrition studies, and shifting our agriculture to a new direction, are just a couple of examples here. 

However do these “hopes” reflect a realistic picture for our future? Listen to this week’s episode to find out now!


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Full transcript

00:04 Martin Kessler: Hey, hey, hey, it’s your host Martin Kessler and welcome back here to Why I Built This sub-series of a 20-minute fitness podcast. On every episode I really try and bring to you an entrepreneur, an inventor, beside an exciting startup company that is really trying to make a difference in the health and fitness industry. In today’s episode, we’ve got Connor Young, the founder of Ample Foods and he’s pretty much our neighbor here in San Francisco and he doesn’t really fit the regular convention for most Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. Why? Simply because Connor and his team actively promote a much healthier way of living, in which you actually make sure your body gets all the essential nutrients it needs, no matter how many days you have until your MVP rollout out or how many VCs you’re pitching that day, of course.

00:48 MK: Before founding Ample, Connor had gone through a very interesting journey in the health and fitness industry, starting with a degree in biology to owning a cross-fit gym and selling medical devices to hospitals. Connor finally realized that if he really wanted to make a difference, he had to move from reaction to prevention. And so he finally got behind listening to a couple of friends bugging him and he jumped right into building a health nutrition company called Ample Foods. Ample Foods provides the perfect meal replacement for your busiest days, when you don’t have the time to cook a proper meal together for yourself. Tune in and join me today to listen to this week’s episode to hear the second half of the interview where we dig a little bit deeper into all things of nutrition.

01:31 MK: So before we move on, I would like to thank our sponsor, Shape. As you may know, team Shape’s been working on the 3-D body scanner at ShapeScale, and we’re currently looking for new engineers in both hardware and software. If you’re interested or you know somebody that might be, you can head to our careers page at shapescale.com/careers. Finally, if you guys like our podcast and enjoy tuning in every week, please don’t hold back from giving us a five-star review on iTunes or your favorite podcasting app. Really it only takes five seconds to do so. And it could go a long way in helping others to discover our wonderful podcast.

02:07 MK: And I’m assuming, really like that, right now, your audience is really those everyday people that wanna be a bit more healthy, and they don’t have the time, like some hard core fitness junkies that can prep their meals a week ahead and make sure that they have a meal every two hours or so.

02:25 Connor Young: Yeah, it’s a great point and I think you’re right, ’cause ultimately, if someone’s so hardcore about nutrition, they’ll find the time, and we’re kinda going after the person who really does know that health is important, but they have their own life, they have their own life that’s not related to health as well, which I will say is actually sometimes difficult, when you actually talk to some of these nutrition influencers, because a lot of those nutrition influencers are like, “You know, I just would never use this because I have all my… I meal prep for four hours a day,” and that’s cool. And if that’s your audience, and of other people like that, that’s great. Most people are not gonna spend four hours a day or two hours a day cooking. And so…

03:03 MK: Have you found an influencer that really speaks on behalf of the average Joe?

03:07 CY: Yeah, totally.

03:08 MK: Yeah? They exist?

03:09 CY: They exist. Yeah, ’cause I think the problem though is that this fitness influencer world, it’s gotten to the point where the more hardcore you are, the “better” you are. And so I think that it breeds this system of extreme-ism. It’s like keto is not extreme enough, so that now we’re gonna have carnivore diet, and then we’re gonna prove how hardcore we are by following the most hardcore diet, which is carnivore, or the “opposite end”, You go complete vegan and you prove to everyone how hardcore you are on that side of things. And both of those extremes are the most vocal. And I think the problem is this like…

03:43 MK: Why do you think that is? Is it because it is the most extreme and sensational story to be a complete carnivore or to be a complete vegan?

03:50 CY: Yeah. I think there’s a number of factors. And this is a great question, ’cause this is the type of thing that I think about all the time because the thing that excites me the most is the psychology of how people eat and also the psychology of just why do people do the things that they do. And so for me, I think that this is a little bit more complicated. One, it’s some of the people who gravitate towards those diets are actually dealing with some pretty severe health things. You try certain things and you realize they don’t work for you, you try another thing, they don’t work and so you actually have to box yourself in this corner because if you have some autoimmune issues you may literally only be able to eat meat and that’s the only thing that you can deal with or you find that hardcore veganism is the only thing that you can stomach, because of whatever reason. And so as a result, you speak to other people, you create this fanaticism, because it’s like hooray this one diet has actually saved my life and because for people like that, it literally is a… It feels like their lives are saved.

04:43 CY: Whereas the average nutrition influencer who doesn’t have that experience who might go for a moderate approach, their story isn’t as knee-jerk. So someone might say, “Hey I did keto because I got cancer and then I became better again, and I’m gonna attribute the fact that I got better with keto.” And I think that there’s some decent evidence out there to say that that’s true, because there’s these hard core problems that are actually being fixed by the more hardcore diets and I would say that those are the things that actually get more publicity, whereas majority of people don’t actually have those problems. The other thing that I would say is that I think that there’s a decent amount of pride, shame, fear, and guilt related to food. And so the more of those that a person has, I think that the more I guess you could say identity is tied up in what they’re eating. For instance, I wasn’t… I didn’t eat paleo, I was paleo. It was an ident…

05:34 MK: You are saying like it’s your own identity… I’m identifying… Yeah.

05:36 CY: My own identity. Exactly. Where it’s like I am Paleo and I am a cross-fitter. Not I do these things or I eat this certain way, it’s because that kind of mindset is so ingrained and you take it on as an identity. Well, first of all, there’s pride that gets kind of caught up in there as well, ’cause if people challenge your diet, well, they’re actually challenging you. You get defensive or you get really excited and you start telling everyone you know. You have even jokes that come out and say like, “Hey, how do you know a cross-fitter who does cross-fitting?” Don’t worry, they’ll tell you. It’s stuff like that, but if someone also has the opposite thing, which is that they have a problem and they eat the wrong way, then they feel the shame, the guilt and the fear, whatever, the anxiety.

06:12 CY: But I would say that this same type of person who has a little bit more of the I wanna say compulsive-ness to them, might actually gravitate more towards these things as well. And when I say these people, I’m also talking about myself, too. I definitely have fallen into every one of these categories over the years, so I’m not trying to be judgmental here, either. It’s just how people are. And ideally, what we find is that someone tries out one of these hardcore diets, it either works or it doesn’t. At some point. I think it’s important to find some moderation in one’s life because our whole life should not be consumed with doing the “right thing” and being healthy…

06:44 MK: Yeah.

06:44 CY: Our whole lives should have a balance. That being said, there are some legitimate health reasons why someone might never be able to have gluten for instance, if you have celiac disease or if you’re dealing with some other autoimmune issues you may never be able to do that and that’s just the reality, but you don’t need to make it part of your identity you don’t need to make it part of the… I don’t know, like social justice warrior against gluten type of thing.

07:04 MK: Yeah I feel like there’s probably more people out there that say they can’t tolerate gluten but it seems like it’s a much higher amount than it used to be like 10 or 20 years ago.

07:14 CY: Yeah, also I actually do think that that’s probably a legitimate thing in the sense that we know that the way the gluten works is that it disrupts our endothelial lining. Gluten is a protein and it’s basically an anti-nutrient that is created by the food itself. Plants don’t really wanna be eaten, the purpose of plants creating fruit is for them to create the thing that they do want to be eaten which is the seed so that someone can pollinate their seed somewhere else, but they don’t want their actual stock or stammer whatever to actually be eaten. So they create anti-nutrients like gluten like lectins like acetic acid like phytates all these are anti-nutrients and so the purpose of them is to actually make the person sick. So red beans, if you didn’t actually soak them or cook them, they would actually be… Like kidney beans are pretty darn toxic, if they’re eaten raw. So things like gluten they are legitimately unhealthy for people in the sense that they disrupt the gut lining and so therefore create what I call gaps in their tight junctions.

08:08 CY: So it’s almost as if it’s like a leaky hose. So there’s things that come leaking out of there. And so I think that there’s good evidence to suggest that that one probably for a lot of people should… You might consider taking it out and seeing how you feel. Do you feel better do you feel worse? So I would say that yes, that is actually probably something that’s increasing over the last 10 or 20 years, but for a good reason because we actually have more of it in our diets over the last 10 or 20 years.

08:31 MK: Yeah, it’s true, there’s been definitely a move towards more and more carbs actually, and there used to be a craze of not having any more fat. And then suddenly we found ourselves like fat free foods that are like full of sugar right?

08:42 CY: Yeah, and I think that the important thing to realize is like foods are not inherently good or bad, in the sense that they shouldn’t have a moral judgment put on them, and ideally, they shouldn’t tell you some social status that you belong to. Like for instance, if you’re health conscious and you eat… You shouldn’t feel guilty ’cause you’re eating ice cream around your friends who are also health conscious and then of course you also shouldn’t gloat if you’re eating better than someone else. So it’s our own personal journey. What we need to figure out is how healthy do we wanna be?

09:09 CY: Let’s figure out and maybe it’s not… We wanna enjoy our lives a little bit more, which I think if you take a zoomed out perspective, you’d say, Well my mental health is really important too. Actually there’s a funny anecdote in… There’s a guy named, Chris Kresser, who’s got a good book and there’s a patient who walked in and had a bunch of auto-immune issues, and was on some super restrictive diet and so his girlfriend actually broke up with him because he wouldn’t go out anywhere and he couldn’t eat, and so his doctor basically had him do all these things, and then all of a sudden the patient got exasperated went away for a few months, came back and he was totally healthy. And the doctor was like, “What the hell happened? How are you so healthy? Did you do a specific diet?” And he’s like, “Yeah I did,” and he’s like, “What did you do?” He’s like, “A pizza and beer diet.” And he’s like, “What?” Yeah, at some point, you just need to live life and have fun with your friends because that’s very, very legitimate too. So to find a balance there, I think is important.

10:00 MK: So you believe there’s no ultimate golden diet for everyone out there? For everyone it’s a little bit different and moderation is key as well right?

10:08 CY: Yeah, moderation is key and I think that… So my diet is different I eat mostly meat and that’s because I actually do have some auto-immune things. I ate a salad on Monday, and I know that something in the salad, I believed the garbanzo beans just made me totally wreck for the rest of the day. So I actually had very little productivity, but that’s just me. There are certain things like avocados, and chocolate that I don’t do well on at all, but that’s really weird for most people. I say, “Just, yeah, eat chocolate and eat avocados.” But for me, no but that’s okay.

10:33 MK: How do you keep track of that? Do you isolate certain components of your meal sometimes just to figure out how tolerant my gut can be to those?

10:42 CY: Yeah and that’s the frustrating part.

10:44 MK: Yeah.

10:45 CY: It’s because we usually don’t have diets that consist of a meal with a single ingredient. And you can definitively say, “Oh well, apples exclusively apples. And that’s what I’m intolerant of,” or whatever. So it does take a little bit of detective work which can be a bummer but once again, most people aren’t me, most people are pretty fine with most things. I happen to be very sensitive about this. One reason why I got into health in the first place, was because I noticed how ridiculously affected I am by the foods that I eat. I’ve always looked healthy, but because I feel so drastically different, when I eat one food versus another it’s made it very imperative to me to actually figure out all this stuff at a relatively early age.

11:23 MK: And was that also a big influence for you to come up with different versions of Ample?

11:28 CY: Yeah, ’cause I definitely relate to people who struggle on different diets, ’cause they’re like, “This is so hard.” One of the reasons why we accelerated the production of our Ample K was because my dad got diabetes and so this was… He told me about this, and then the next weekend, I went to the metabolic health summit, which is a conference which is put on by a guy named Dr. Dom D’Agostino. So Dom has been a friend of mine for the last few years and so he put me on this conference. I learned a ton about the Keto diet and potentially there’s not as much long-term studies on keto just because it’s a very relatively new diet, but the existing small studies are seeing very, very, really good results on potentially treating diabetes.

12:05 CY: And so I was like, “Dad, just try keto for a little bit.” And he’s a pretty motivated guy and so he’s like, “Yeah man whatever.” Well, he didn’t say that, “Yes son whatever I’m totally down,” but he loved it, but ultimately he said, the exact same thing, he’s like, “I also have a business, it’s really hard for me to just stick on keto.” And I was like, “Fair enough. Let’s make Ample K.”

12:23 MK: And do you think… Where do you actually see the bigger challenge for our nation, and for people in general, is it really changing their eating habits or making healthy food more accessible?

12:33 CY: That’s a big question, and I think there’s a few ways to think about it. So if I could swing a magic wand and make one change to do the most good what I would do is eliminate food subsidies for corn, wheat, and soy. And I think that doing that one thing, would even the playing fields because ultimately, a lot of this stuff comes because we have artificially low prices for those commodity crops, because… And we’ve had them for the last 60, 70 years. And so because of this artificially low price you then have large food companies like Kellogg or Kraft or whatever.

13:04 CY: They then have a surplus of really cheap ingredients. So now, if you’re those companies, you’re like, “Well, how do I create products and how do I market those products because the margin is really good.” If we can get 70% margin on… Or 90% margin on X or Y product, all I really need to do is convince people that that is healthy, and then all I need to do is then get them addicted on to this. And then we’ll just continue that for the next 50 years, and here we are with our current health crisis. So now we have a lot of education that’s to the contrary. And the nice thing is that we now have things like grass-fed beef. We have a lot more education. So I think that the education component is really, really important. Even us doing this podcast right now is essential because although it started with this government thing, I think it can change by consumer education because food companies are listening, large food companies are listening.

13:52 CY: I’ve been to several conferences with speakers of Kellogg’s, and Pepsi and Coke, and their traditional businesses are all dying. In fact, the food and beverage industry is one of the most disruptive industries right now in the sense that per year, something like 17% of their market share is being lost to start-ups, who are more health conscious. And so, a lot of this is driven by the Internet, the fact that we now have not just top-down communication, either from government food standards or from advertising on TV, or from our schools, but it’s actually instead by bloggers and health influencers and everything like that. And so, although it’s a more fragmented…

14:29 MK: Yeah but do you think that’s gonna be enough to really even go mainstream to really also like… I think a big problem is also income level. I feel like low-income groups, they don’t have the education. They don’t also have the time to really prepare healthy foods. So, that is a retreat.

14:43 CY: Yeah, so I think it’s gonna take time because I think that there’s always an adoption curve where it’s a bell-shaped curve where you have the early, mid and late adopters. And for some of the middle and late adopters, you actually need a more viable economic incentive for that to happen, so…

14:57 MK: Do you think removing subsidies is gonna be enough or should we also have things like a sugar tax?

15:02 CY: To be honest, if it was me, I would say, the government needs to do not more, but less because the sugar tax, it’s basically… We’re already subsidizing sugar. If you just get rid of the sugar, you don’t need the tax ’cause the sugar price will already increase. So if you do stuff like that, if you just take away those things, you’ll naturally find that the economy balances. The thing is though, it still requires time because you need a lot of time to switch, let’s say, a corn field to a tomato field or whatever, and that’s another thing. And I would say as well that systemically, the hard part is that our soil is actually being degraded by monocrop culturing. One of the biggest concerns long term for the country is the fact that our soil quality is so degraded. You can think about it like the soil is this gut microbiome of the plant world, right? Where the uptake of minerals and vitamins is solely based on how good the soil is, and the way that we do it right now is not sustainable.

15:56 CY: And actually, this is one thing that I’m very passionate about and no one really knows about yet, which is that we have this kind of meat is bad, and animals are bad type of thing in the sense that we shouldn’t be raising them. One thing that I think is really, really important is for us to integrate animals and plants again. Like for instance, let’s have cows. Let’s have grass-fed cows, but let’s have them all on the same pasture because cow’s manure is one of the fastest regenerative agriculture techniques possible. You can regenerate soil quality so quickly with a herd of cattle, and you can also sequester a ton of carbon as well.

16:28 MK: But are we gonna have the space for it ’cause right now cattle is already taking up a huge amount of space and it does require a lot of plant-based food, right?

16:35 CY: Well, it’s taking up a huge amount of space because we separate the two, because we are separating the wheat and the corn from the cattle, which you would say, “Well, okay, actually, both corn and wheat, although they’re less expensive, are actually less spatially efficient than grasses. Grass itself is one of the most quick growing organisms ever. So what that means is that one acre of grass can support a lot of cows versus one acre of, let’s say, corn. And the corn itself is also gonna make the cow super sick. Cows are not designed to eat corn, so which is why they actually get very sick, and you actually have to kill them right before they would have died.

17:10 CY: So, yes, you can raise a cow within around 16 months when it’s fed on corn versus like 26 months when it’s fed on grass, but if you were to wait 18 months, that cow would be dead anyway, because of what they’re eating. So, I think from both an environmental as well as like an animal rights thing, it would make sense and also from a health perspective, I think it always makes sense… More sense to have grass-fed animals. Once again, though, it’s hard from the barrier of entry in terms of like, you just can’t tell that to a person who makes minimum wage.

17:37 CY: So I think that we can do all we can I think that ultimately like, I wanna have a lot of compassion for lower-income people and say, there’s no judgement if for right now, they have to make do with what they have but I think that in the long term, if we can think about this agriculture as a real thing and improve our biodiversity there, but also increase the education around it through means like podcasts right here, and then also voting with your dollars because that ultimately changes where the big food companies change with their resource allocation. They don’t wanna die. Pepsi doesn’t care if it sells a can of Pepsi.

18:09 MK: Yeah, they wanna make money in a sense, right?

18:10 CY: Exactly.

18:10 MK: They don’t have necessarily like a mission.

18:12 CY: No, exactly, but what they do is they have existing profits from Pepsi, but they’re losing them. So they’re saying, “Okay, how can we transfer that to new products as quickly as possible while still milking as much profit that we can out of the existing structure?” So, they’re changing right now, but we as a consumer base, need to demand those products faster, so that they can speed up that process as well.

18:33 MK: Yeah, absolutely. I’m drinking Bubly here which is a brand of Pepsi actually. I never realized until I checked the label. Kinda like La Croix, better to buy Pepsi because they have to catch up, right? People are not drinking sugary soda anymore. They don’t wanna consume all the calories through drinks, right?

18:49 CY: Exactly.

18:49 MK: Yeah, and if you had a time machine, and you took a trip down 2050, what would you expect to see? Do you think we’re still gonna eat solid foods or?

19:00 CY: Expect or hope?

19:00 MK: Hope. Okay. [chuckle] Maybe hope, and then maybe what do you think is really gonna be the case?

19:05 CY: Yeah. I’m gonna say it. I’m gonna say “hope” first. I hope that it looks better in the sense that we’re still always gonna have CPG products, Consumer Packaged Good products, like Ample, but I would say that I’m hoping that we have more sophisticated ones. I think that we, as a brand, can become more sophisticated about what does health really mean? Let’s do some experiments. Let’s research Ample’s effects on consumers from a physiological perspective, and make sure that we’re always iterating and always improving the quality of our product based on the actual physiological effects it has on people, so that when you say it’s healthy, it actually is healthy. That I think is one thing that we could improve on in the sense that let’s tighten the feedback loop between product and health. No one’s really doing that right now. What’s gonna…

19:44 MK: Nobody’s running any clinical studies of how long-term effects of their own foods?

19:49 CY: No.

19:50 MK: No?

19:51 CY: If they get repeat purchases, it’s all good.

19:53 MK: Yeah.

19:54 CY: And the lifetime value of the customer is relatively low for a lot of these customers or for a lot of these brands. So it’s a lot more important for them to just get a product that tastes good and is perceived as healthy and has good margins. So I would hope that as we get better access to these things, and I will say it’s hard to run Nutrition Studies.

20:12 MK: Yeah.

20:12 CY: So Nutrition Studies are notoriously the hardest thing to study but I’m hoping that in the next 50 years or so, we get better at them to the point where it would be really nice to be able to study something definitively and know whether it’s healthy, and then have the food industry in terms of its CPG products, reflect that. Secondly, I would love to have a system like we have just talked about, where there’s actually about probably the same amount of cattle in the US but it’s all shifted towards grass-fed and pasture-raised where we have a significantly reduced amount…

20:38 MK: So you think we’re still gonna have cattle by then?

20:40 CY: Well, definitely.

[laughter]

20:40 CY: Why would we not?

20:42 MK: Well, there’s like certain companies out there trying to get rid of…

20:45 CY: Yeah.

20:46 MK: Animal produce.

20:47 CY: Yeah. I think that’s really short-sighted. In fact, actually I wanna plug a thing that’s not mine. I think this is really, really important. So, Diana Rodgers and Robb Wolf are creating a documentary called the Sacred Cow where they actually go into all of the reasons why cows are really important and we need them because… Think about it this way, before the westerners came to the US, we had 50 million bison on the Great Plains. They were needed in the ecological system to maintain the balance. What we also needed was wolves and other predators to predate and eat these bison.

21:20 CY: What we have right now though is if we actually just get rid of all of it, is a completely artificial system that’s really, really fragile. The less kind of, I guess you could say like diversity that you have in the less trophic levels, which is basically like herbivore or to carnivore to a higher carnivore to whatever, the less trophic levels, also the more fragile an ecology gets. So for those reasons alone, I think it’s really important. And then finally, it’s just by far the most nutrient-dense stuff. So I would posit that…

21:47 MK: But do we really need more nutrient-dense food?

21:49 CY: Well, so I’m saying “nutrient-dense”, I’m not saying calorie, calorie density.

21:52 MK: True.

21:52 CY: So you can have a lot of caloric density without any nutrients at all. But I… For lunch today, I had liver which is not as popular but it’s about…

22:00 MK: That’s maybe another factor. How much food we actually waste? How much of a cow do we actually consume?

22:07 CY: Yeah.

22:07 MK: How much is being sent to other places…

22:09 CY: Yeah.

22:09 MK: Where it’s actually being eaten like China?

22:10 CY: Yeah. Exactly. And… But liver is one of those nutrient-dense things. I would probably say that it’s the most nutrient-dense food that you could possibly eat. So that for me is great. But so I guess… Back to the point. I think that we would still have cattle raising and I would also say that we would ideally have a lot more natural vegetables and natural fruits rather than grains being planted. And then, ideally as well, we have our supply chains to the point where like… Right now, I think that there’s this locally raised and you wanna eat local, which is great. I don’t think that that’s going to be able to be sustainable because I don’t think that the way that humans… The fact that we’re gonna be more rather than less centrally located.

22:44 CY: And so I think the better way to solve that is to get more efficient with our supply chain, make cars and boats and planes and trains that have better fuel efficiency to the point where our carbon footprint to ship something from Australia to the US is actually not that much anymore. And I frankly see that happening a lot more than just making the whole locally grown thing. I think that’s… I think it’s always gonna exist but I think it’s probably gonna be utmost like 5% of the caloric value that people have. So I think that if we can just… If we can improve the sophistication of that, it’ll help quite a bit.

23:14 MK: Yeah. There’s definitely a lot of challenges around that.

23:17 CY: And then one final thing is I think… This is gonna probably piss off a lot of people, especially in Silicon Valley. I don’t think we’re gonna get far on the lab-grown anything, lab-grown meat, lab-grown whatever… [chuckle] Hydroponics. It’s just really inefficient considering the thermodynamics, and like just realizing that the sun is so hyper-efficient that it’s 2 or 300 times more efficient to grow something just outside than it is in a lab. We have to convert all these energy to electronics and then all this other stuff.

23:46 CY: So, I’m expecting, and I hope, that we can just have more efficient and more kind of integrated agriculture systems so that we don’t have to necessarily worry as much about innovating in the sense of… Because there actually is enough food on the planet. It’s just that it’s not allocated in the right way, and it’s that we’re, unfortunately, incentivizing the bad food with both the government structures and the economic structures as a result.

24:09 MK: Right and actually on that note… I still wanna… I’m still kinda curious about you being here in San Francisco and maybe Silicon Valley, if you would consider San Francisco as part of that, but do you see certain positives and negatives about being here? Did you ever think about being elsewhere located?

24:25 CY: To be honest, no. For me, this place is just too good in terms of the culture. I think that the…

24:30 MK: And what do you think defines the culture around here?

24:34 CY: There’s the startup crew which is obviously… That’s obviously there. But I also think that open to very new ideas and open to mental and spiritual development as well. I think that the kind of mental and spiritual development space is going to… I don’t even wanna spy… I’ll say the word “consciousness” ’cause I think it’s really, really important, but I don’t see that happening all that many other places, or at least, I haven’t found a lot of friends who I can kind of talk about those subjects with, outside of the city. So, to be honest, for me, I’m saying but I can totally see us like if we ever needed to becoming more distributed around the country because it is expensive to hire here and to build a business here as you obviously know as well.

25:10 MK: Yeah, yeah. It’s definitely challenging to be here, but lots of good positives around here as well. Alright, I really just want to finish off with a quick fire round. So I’m going to ask you a few different questions, and I really just want to get a quick answer from you off the top of your head. You don’t wanna really think too long and too hard about those. They’re really simple questions. I just want to hear what comes to your mind.

25:28 CY: Let’s do it.

25:29 MK: Okay. So right now, if you take a look on your phone, do you have any particular health or fitness Apps installed?

25:35 CY: I don’t know. No. Actually no I don’t have a… Oh, yes. A timer. A workout timer.

25:38 MK: And that’s what you use to go to the gym, to go in between sets or, what do you use it for?

25:42 CY: Yeah. So I use Seconds Plus, or Seconds Pro, I don’t know, but I still do a decent amount of CrossFit types of activity at the gym. And so I need to kind of like… But I create my own workouts. I program for myself. So I’ll just kind of like create a Tabata timer or three rounds for time or whatever type of thing, and I have that for my fitness.

26:00 MK: Do you have a regular fitness routine?

26:01 CY: So the only thing that I’m regularly doing right now… So I work out maybe two or three times a week, and that’s perfectly enough for me. One thing that’s…

26:09 MK: That’s mostly resistance workouts or what type of workouts?

26:11 CY: Yeah. So it’s a combination of HIIT training. So high intensity interval training, and then strength training. The thing that I’m doing right now is a one by 20 squat program, which is just a single set of 20 squats. It’s by far the most effective training program I’ve ever done. And I’ll do that first, and then I’ll do some kind of other type of compound movements. But the beauty of it is, although it’s a terrible, terrible set…

26:30 MK: 20 reps. That’s a lot.

26:31 CY: Yeah. It’s a lot. But I can increase my weight 10 pounds every week basically without fail at least for eight weeks straight. So in the past, the three or four times that I’ve done this, I’ve increased like 70 pounds in eight weeks. So it’s pretty…

26:45 MK: Oh, that’s incredible. Yeah.

26:46 CY: Yeah. Like right now, I’ve gone from 195 to 255 in the last six weeks or so. And I’ll probably stop around 285.

26:54 MK: And what will be your weight if you do just five reps?

26:56 CY: I don’t know. I have no idea. I really… I don’t…

27:00 MK: You’ve never tried?

27:00 CY: I have not tried in years. My best squat back in the day it was four or five, and then my best one by 20, I did 20 reps at 315, but I’m not like I used to be [chuckle], and I’m totally fine with that. So I mean, I enjoy that…

27:11 MK: But do you have any goals right now in mind?

27:13 CY: Yeah. I want to get to 275 for 20 squats, and then after that I’ll probably want to snatch 230 again. So I love Olympic lifts. So snatching 230 is really fun.

27:25 MK: That brings me actually to my next question. Do you have a favorite workout?

27:28 CY: Oh yeah. My two favorite movements are snatch, so a squat snatch and then muscle-ups. If I could just do those two things all day long.

27:35 MK: Yeah. Super effective combo.

27:35 CY: Yeah they’re just… Either of them is a total body workout. And so both combined are fantastic. So they’re my favorites.

27:41 MK: And do you have any particular habits in fitness and health that really changed up things for you in a positive way?

27:47 CY: Meditation. I assume that counts.

27:48 MK: Yeah, yeah, yeah. That counts. Do you meditate in the morning or at certain times of the day or?

27:54 CY: It depends on how much you want to get into this ’cause I can go on this for hours [chuckle] This is the thing that I’m the most passionate about possibly ever right now. So I meditate for an hour a day in the morning.

28:02 MK: Wow. One hour.

28:03 CY: Yeah. So the last two mornings I woke up at 5:00. Usually, it’s somewhere between 5:00 and 6:00. And I have three segments. I do three segments and then a fourth that’s kind of interspersed. So the first segment is a loving kindness meditation, where I imagine love and kindness and gratitude towards myself as well as everyone else in my life. I usually start with the people that it’s easiest to have love and kindness towards, then work towards the people that are more neutral, and then work towards people who I’m more negative on.

28:27 CY: So it’s kind of an active process of loving even when it’s hard. And so while that’s happening though, there naturally is… There is negative emotions that come up as well. When those negative emotions come up, I then clear them, I look at them, I give compassion around them, and then I basically breathe them out and I know that sounds ridiculous, but I’ve kind of gotten to the point where I’m very, very good at identifying which negative emotion is, where it comes from, did it stem from a 6-year-old event or whatever?

28:53 CY: I’m pretty darn good at that now, and to the point where I can kind of process most emotions pretty darn quickly, which is really effective because I feel like there’s a lot of meditation out there right now where we’re only talking about basically mindfulness meditation, which I think is very important. But it’s not all of it. If you’re mindful, but you still have negative thoughts and negative emotions that are weighing you down, it doesn’t make the mindfulness as effective. And I would also say that if you want to… There’s a lot of this kind of positive thinking and visualization meditation as well, which I also do. But if you’re thinking about positive stuff but you also have this negative doubt or fear or anxiety or shame or anger in your mind as you’re thinking about this, the actual visualization process itself is useless.

29:31 CY: So for me, it’s loving kindness, then it’s actual mindfulness meditation. And I’ll cycle between a few of them, but whatever I’m kinda feeling like at the time, and then I’ll go to a positive visualization thing where I kind of think about my day and my month and my year and my five years and everything like that. And not just think about but also emotionally connect with the future in a way that is exciting, and then kind of give thanks for that as well. So that’s my whole process and all the time as these kind of negative emotions come, I deal with them and I let them in because I think it’s important to really let in those negative emotions and actually face them and work through them rather than just to either bottle them up or deny that they exist in the first place.

30:09 MK: That’s incredible. And what would you recommend to any of our listeners that really would like to get into meditation but that really struggle to even make it beyond two minutes?

30:18 CY: I would say… You can check out Calm and Headspace and everything like that, but what I would also say is, okay, a couple of other resources. One is Jon Kabat-Zinn. Check out any of his books, he’s the best. And the other thing that I would say is actually, it’s crazy, but a lot of people when you tell them, “Oh, you only have to meditate for 5 or 10 minutes a day.” In their mind, they actually think, “Okay. Great. I can do this whenever.” But if you actually say, “No, you have to meditate for a half an hour, or 45 minutes or an hour,” well, then that’s actually not a small enough time where you can fit it into a random time. You actually have to put it in your schedule, and so sometimes for me, I’ve said, “Hey. Try a longer period of time.” And then if you get 15 minutes into your 30-minute meditation, you’re doing 10 times better than you were before.

31:00 CY: So I guess in that sense, it’s kind of setting a more audacious goal, but the reason why is because it creates the intention in your mind to say, “Okay. This is a big enough deal that I’m gonna put it in my calendar and I’m gonna schedule a real chunk of time here,” versus right now if we’re just told, “Oh, you can do it whenever.” But you’re not going to do it whenever because it’s always the thing that you can very easily just say, “Oh, I’ll do it another time,” or, “Oh, I’ll find five minutes after dinner.” And then you’re like, “Oh, well that’s cool. I’ll just find five minutes in the morning.” And then you can always push it away.

31:27 MK: Yeah. It’s really about having that habit going on, like where you really go every single day and have that time frame set aside.

31:35 CY: And if you’re really serious about this thing, which personally, I find that even more than nutrition finding out how to be mentally clear, and stable and devoid of negative emotions or having moved past and moved through negative emotions, which therefore levels up your entire life, that to me is the most foundational aspect of health. And if you’re serious about it, what I would actually suggest is a program called The Finders Course by guy named Dr. Jeffery Martin. I did this. It’s where you do actually meditate for an hour a day and then there’s additional video lectures which what he does is he actually walks you through 16 different meditative practices that work well for different people because just like nutrition meditation is something where it’s different for everyone.

32:14 CY: You might have a different meditative practice that might work better for you than it does for me. And so he walks you through 16 of them over the course of 16 weeks and you have a system of accountability because you actually have a small group that all hold each other accountable and you meet up once a week. So he, I think has the most sophisticated process on this ever. So that’s pretty much jumping into the deep end.

32:33 MK: That’s actually what has also been helping me just to have that level of accountability. I have a good friend and she started a meditation group and she’s texting everyone every day, every morning. And then we have weekly check-ins to discuss a bit about meditation. It’s really helpful.

32:50 CY: Totally, that’s great. And if you already have that that’s fantastic…

32:53 MK: She’s been asking me every day, like, “Oh, have you been meditating?” “Yes yes yes, I have.”

32:56 CY: Have you?

32:57 MK: Yeah, I have, yeah.

[laughter]

33:00 CY: I’ll also keep you accountable.

33:01 MK: And yeah, do you have any other books in general? In fitness and health, that you would recommend to our listeners, to read? Or even any blog or any other resource that you think is super helpful?

33:12 CY: Okay, a little bit more if you want to know about the nutrition side of things I think that one of the best books I’ve read recently is Chris Kresser stuff, Your Personal Paleo Code, I think is what the book is called and then if you want something that’s a little bit more like meditative such spiritual I’m a big fan of the Tao Te Ching by Laozi and then in terms of emotional wellness and well-being I would say Power Of Vulnerability by Brene Brown, so.

33:35 MK: A lot of good books.

33:36 CY: Yeah those are I think my three. And then in terms of fitness, I don’t really read fitness books, because that’s a little bit more of an experiential thing, where blogs and YouTube videos are probably a little bit more helpful or just joining a gym.

33:46 MK: Right. And my final question, do you have any particular brand in fitness and health, that has been an influence on you that you really admire or follow?

33:54 CY: Tonal.

33:55 MK: And why is that?

33:56 CY: Because my friend Aly is the founder and he’s a great guy and he introduced us.

34:00 MK: Yeah it’s an amazing product, and yeah, I think we just aired the episode, actually, last week.

34:04 CY: Fantastic.

34:04 MK: Yeah. Well, thank you so much for coming on the show. Do you wanna still share anything with our audience?

34:08 CY: Sure, yeah, so if you wanna find out about me or Ample checkout amplemeal.com and check out Optimum Nutrition Simplified or Evolved, how to live well in the modern world. That’s going to be what we change the podcast to.

34:20 MK: And what can they learn on your podcast? [chuckle]

34:22 CY: All of the things that we’ve just been talking about. Usually…

34:24 MK: That’s great, well thank you so much for coming on the show, Connor, it’s been awesome.

34:27 CY: Thanks so much for having me.

34:28 MK: Alrighty, and that pretty much brings our today’s show to an end. As usual, we do have everything on our show notes, everything that’s been mentioned on the show at 20minute.fitness and again, if you like our show, if you enjoy tuning in, don’t hesitate to leave us a review or better yet a five-star review and also do give us an email, do tweet to us. We would love to hear from you what you think about the show and also if there’s like a potential guest that you would like to see on the show. Thanks again and thank you also to our wonderful producer, Lilla Laczo. It’s been a great show today, and I hope that I see you again next time.

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Lilla Laczo

Lilla is a content writer and community manager at Shape.
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