MDAE E56 – The Irrefutable Power of Consistency in Lifestyle Change – with Nimai Delgado

Article written and reviewed by Cyrus Khambatta, PhD and Robby Barbaro, MPH
Published February 11, 2019

Podcast Transcript

Nimai Delgado: The plant-based diet is such an efficient way of getting your nutrients and getting your calories from foods that actually promote health and promote longevity, as opposed to foods that cause health issues in the long run.

And once you realize that, it's like a win on all accounts. Not only are you getting fit, not only are you seeing the results, not only recovering quicker because it's coming in a more nutritious package, but you're also getting healthy from the inside.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: Welcome to the Mastering Diabetes Audio Experience, where we teach you how to sit in the driver's seat of your diabetes health for the rest of your life. We'll teach you how to reverse insulin resistance, achieve your ideal body weight, gain energy and get your best A1c following more than 85 years of evidence-based research in the Mastering Diabetes Program.

Robby Barbaro: Our program teaches you how to reverse prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, and how to simplify your life with type 1 diabetes by maximizing your insulin sensitivity, using food as medicine.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: We're on a bold mission to reverse insulin resistance in 1 million people. We're glad to have you joining us.

Robby Barbaro: Welcome to the Mastering Diabetes Audio Experience. Thank you so much for taking the time to listen. My name is Robby Barbaro, and you're going to hear Cyrus in just a moment when we kick off this episode.

So, today we have an interview with Nimai Delgado. This guy is absolutely ripped. You may have seen a photo of him if you heard about this Podcast through our newsletter, or you're on our website, so in that case, you can see how rip this guy is. If you are just listening on iTunes or Google Play, I highly suggest Googling his name, Nimai Delgado, check out his Instagram, and just get a feel for this guy's incredible physique. You could also just imagine the Hulk with a really nice smile, that's what we're talking about here.

He's an amazing example. He's a professional bodybuilder and you're going to learn a lot today. He's on the covers of magazines. Him and his girlfriend are on Instagram being super active, showcasing their fit lifestyles, helping other people get fit through their coaching programs, they do retreats. It's really really inspiring stuff.

So we're gonna bust a lot of myths on the show today in the whole bodybuilding world, even outside the bodybuilding world, people are confused about protein we're going to talk about that, they're confused about carbohydrate consumption and bodybuilding. And one of the cool things about Nimai is that the guy has never eaten meat, he's been a vegetarian his entire life. Now he's vegan, but he's a whole-food vegan, so he's really focused on a healthy lifestyle and getting fit, which is really cool.

And you're going to hear him talk a little bit about diabetes today, you're going to really understand how people living with diabetes can become really, really fit and how just doing regular activity is good for you as well. So you don't have to be a bodybuilder to have great metabolic health.

Now, before we get into the show, I just want to say thank you to all of you who have shared this Podcast to other people. It really means a lot. If you've given it a review, you've given us a rating that helps us a lot too. We're just little David over here, David versus Goliath, trying to get evidence-based information into the hands of more people living with diabetes, who are interested in this lifestyle and you sharing, leaving a review, rating the show gives us a huge benefit. So, thank you for taking the time to do that. Really appreciate it. And that's all I got. So let's get into the show. And hope you find it educational and inspiring.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: Thanks so much for being here with us today, Nimai.

Nimai Delgado: Thank you guys for having me.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: So Nimai, tell us a little bit about your background and why you've been a vegetarian your whole life. It sounds like this came from for religious reasons. So kind of give us a little insight here into your childhood.

Nimai Delgado: Yeah. I'll try to make it short, just because it can be a long story. But basically, both of my parents, they converted from Catholicism to Hinduism when they were in their early 20s, and they grew up in Argentina, which is not a very open minded place when it comes to different religions, especially at this time, whenever they decided to switch over. And one of the concepts of Hinduism is a concept called Ahimsa, which is a Sanskrit word that basically means to have compassion, and live a life of nonviolence towards all living beings, which includes animals. So that is why many Hindus don't consume animal products because they don't want to necessarily have the karmic retribution of killing an animal, causing it to suffer and then consuming it for pleasure. So that's why they don't eat meat.

Now, along those same terms, they do consume dairy products. So I was raised vegetarian, so no meat, or eggs, or fish or chicken or anything like that. But I did consume dairy products, which was like cheese, yogurt, things like that ghee for cooking as well. So yeah, that's kind of how like I was raised. But I was also raised in a temple, basically was a Hindu commune in South Mississippi, by this time, my parents had moved from Argentina, to Brazil, to South Mississippi, of all places. And that's where I was raised.

I was raised there until I was seven, they had a temple on the premises, it was surrounded by cow fields, they were like rescue cow field. So they would take in cows from other farms that were kind of maybe to matured, or past their prime for whatever service they were providing to the owners. So they would take these cows and they would care for them. And we also have like a self-sustaining garden where we would grow our own vegetables to feed the community, we would have Sunday feasts, every Sunday. It was really beautiful place. And that's where I was raised until I was like seven. I wore the traditional garments that you would see most people wearing in India and my parents being kind of a more… I guess, in their own world, they thought it was okay for to send me to school, like to assimilate into public school like that. So I would go, I remember going to kindergarten, you know, dressed head to toe like I would in the farm, or how I go to the temple and immediately realized that I was different than the other kids and they let me know right away to how different I was, and…

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Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: Did they make fun of you from a young age?

Nimai Delgado: Oh, yeah, of course. Kids are brutally honest, they'd let you know what's on their mind, no filter whatsoever. And it was interesting growing up around that environment, because I kind of had to learn how to almost deflect who I was, and like, kind of tone it down, so I would not receive so much criticism from like my peers. And in a sense of doing that, this continued from kindergarten to third grade, and by that time I had convinced my parents, I don't know what I said to them, but I convinced them to kind of “Hey, can I go to school with regular clothes?”, and all these things.

So even still, after that, I would still go to school and bring my own lunch, and the food that I would bring had an Indian flavor to it, you know, is Hindu is more traditional to, like, native to Indian. So they would cook a lot of Indian based foods, like different curries, dal, all of these different sub-ghees, and things that have a lot of like, aromatic flavors to them like cumin, curry. If you have a something like a container, like a Tupperware of curry, something that's cooked with curry and you open it, the whole room smells like curry immediately.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: Yeah, I grew up eating this kind of food, too… And it's all over the place.

Nimai Delgado: Yeah. So imagine like going to school and open up my lunch box, and then immediately, everybody around me is like, “What is that?”, because I don't use those flavors down there, you know, it's like, “What are you eating?” And it just looked like a big mixture of different foods, and lentils, and soups and whatever else. And I was just like, “I don't know, my parents cooked it”, and they're like, “Why isn't there any meat inside of it?” And I was like, “I don't eat meat”, and then they would try to explain that- they would ask me to explain why, and I tried to have that philosophical conversation with like a child-like… You know what I mean, in like third grade, and second grade, it was just like, it wasn't worth my… It was like, never going to happen.

So I just learned how to like kind of, like I said, deflect it, deflect that whole conversation of like, not talking about what I ate, not talking about how I grew up, not talking about my lifestyle and how different it was from everybody else at home. And I learned how to just kind of be a chameleon and adapt to whatever social situation I was in. I remember going to like birthday parties and not being able to eat the hamburgers, and hotdogs, and barbecues that everybody else was eating, and the parents would come up to me and asked me like, “Why aren't you eating?” and I would say, I didn't like that stuff, as opposed to having the conversation as like, “Oh, I don't eat that stuff.” It's a totally different way of wording something. When you say you don't like something, people respect it. And they're like, “Okay, he doesn't like it, whatever.” But if you say I have a moral and ethical standpoint against it, then people get defensive, and they want to pry and they want to ask more questions. And I just got so tired of having that being such an emphasis of conversation around me that I just stopped having the conversation altogether.

And like you mentioned in my bio, it wasn't until I was like, much older until I was like in my mid 20s is when I discovered more about kind of the unethical exploitation of cows, and dairy farms, and things of that nature that I decided to make a further ethical standpoint against consuming those products.

Robby Barbaro: So I mean, tell us a little more about that. We get this fascinating background growing up this way, when did you decide to become a whole-food, plant-based vegan and why?

Nimai Delgado: Yeah. So that was when I was 25, so it was four years ago. And it almost happened overnight for me, because ironically, my mom of all people had been pretty active about reposting certain things about whatever she comes across, things that like are conscious things, and she posted a video about what was going on behind dairy farms, and I looked at it from a different set of lenses than I used to, because I used to make kind of this flexible morality behind consuming cheese and dairy products that was like, “Oh, but the cows don't have to die. They're not really suffering. They're not killing them. They're just extracting their milk from them. And I'm consuming that. There's nothing really wrong with that.” But by this time, when I was 25 I had graduated college, I got my degree, I was working as an Engineer in the corporate world.

And as an Engineer in the corporate world my job was to maximize efficiency with whatever processes I was working on. So I actually worked for an oil company, so my whole thing was to optimize how they extracted oil out of the ground, optimize how to transport it, optimize how to save money on different costs, and all these things. So when I saw this video of these dairy cows, of this cow in a dairy factory, I looked at it from a set of engineering lenses. And I saw the processes that go behind it from like a mechanical kind of agricultural viewpoint. And I noticed that there's probably, 100% there is another guy that's just like me, that's sitting behind a desk, looking at these processes, and these charts and these graphs, figuring out how to optimize this process, how to squeeze more juice out of these animals, and how to not make it more convenient for them, but how to make more money for this company.

And I realized that I was paying this guy salary. I was paying him to work harder to think of how to exploit more animals, and how to optimize their processes. And that really didn't bode well with me. I didn't like the idea of paying somebody to work hard to make things suffer. So I just completely said, “I'm done with it, I'm not going to have any more dairy products.” And I just gave it up right on the spot.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: You know, as you're telling the story, I'm thinking back to my experience as well, because you and I are both trained as mechanical engineers, right. So we have sort of the same educational background, and we both decided to apply the knowledge that we had gained to an engineering company to try and solve problems and optimize systems, right? You were doing it in the oil industry, I was doing in the biotech industry.

But I think at a certain point, both of us had the same realization, which is, the systems that we're trying to optimize, may not have that much relevance for the outer world, right? You're helping your company make more money and sell more products, but in reality, it's not necessarily solving the sort of like inner need that maybe you had under the surface, or the inner need that I had under the surface. And then it's not until you see something else, and you say, “Wait a minute, I think I could be using my brain and my knowledge for something else”, that that's when it's sort of like clicks. And that's when you can kind of take over and start moving in a different direction.

Nimai Delgado: You nailed it on the head, man. That's exactly what happened to me. And ironically, that's, you know, at this time in my life, I was into fitness, I was definitely going to the gym. I had moved to California at this point, I went from Louisiana to California, and totally new city, totally new part of the country, didn't know what was going on, but I had this one foundation that I would always go to the gym, and that was kind of like my outlet. So, being in a new place like this, that was my only outlet. I would go to work, I didn't really connect with the people I worked with, so I would go home, and I would go to the gym, because I really liked working on myself, and I was like my next project that I had to work on.

And as I made this decision, I was already getting interested in nutrition at this point, because the same mindset that you and I share Cyrus about learning how to optimize things, I was looking at the fuel that I was putting in my body, and how I could optimize that fuel to produce better results, to produce better gains in the gym, right?

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: 100%.

Nimai Delgado: And it's the same thing as if you have like a Ferrari, you're not going to go and put regular 89 unlimited gasoline in the Ferrari, and expect it to run like a Ferrari, you're going to put the most high quality fuel you could possibly put into your vehicle to make sure it operates at the highest level of performance. And that's kind of how I looked at nutrition, it’s like, what are the most nutritionally rich foods that I could put in my body to help me in the gym, helped me recover, help me perform.

I had already been down that path. So as a vegetarian, I had kind of optimized as much as I could, I thought I did at that point. And by being a vegetarian bodybuilder, I still had a lot of the same kind of paradigms that you see on like websites, or online about having like a 40% of your caloric intake coming from like protein. That's a big number.

So as a vegetarian, I didn't have much to fall back on to meet that number, meet that criteria. So it was it was primarily dairy products at the time. So it was whey protein, I would do like two to three whey protein shakes a day, I would have cottage cheese, I would have Greek yogurt, all these things that are really high in protein, dairy protein, and I was almost like overdoing it, you know, because like a normal bodybuilder might, they have to get a fraction of it, because they do like chicken and eggs and all these other things, so it's like, the dairy is like a very small portion of their protein intake, but mine was like all of it almost.

And once I realized what I realized about the dairy industry, I was like, I'm not doing whey protein anymore. I'm not doing cheese, or cottage cheese, or Greek yogurt or any of that stuff anymore. And I didn't know that how it was going to affect my fitness and my goals, but I knew I had to adapt and find a different way. And that's when I went fully plant-based, and I started experimenting with like, what other foods could I incorporate into my diet that would still allow me to meet these, like, macro requirements that I was aiming for, these targets, and learning how to shift things around and introduce this food, and replace it with this food. And it was a really interesting trial and error process that happened rather quickly too, for me, because at that time I had made a decision to compete, as like my first fitness contest, like as a physique competitor. And there was only like, I don't know, maybe 9 weeks, 8 or 9 weeks to prepare for this show, and I was like, right at the same time I went vegan. So I was like, “Okay, I'm going to learn how to compete and get in stage shape, and do it completely vegan.”

And that was back in, I think, I made the decision back in like, 2014, and like early 2015. And then like, a couple weeks later, I stepped on stage and did it fully plant-based. I never announced it to anybody that was going vegan, because I didn't like talking about it at all, you know, ironically. And I've said this before, but like as soon as you win, like… Okay, so I ended up winning the whole thing too. I won the entire show. I swept all the divisions, I swept the overall, I walked away with like, six or seven trophies.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: Oh, my Lord. That’s incredible.

Nimai Delgado: Yeah. And it was really satisfying to me because I've done it fully, like on my own terms, and plant-based and everything else. And like I said, I didn't announce it to anyone, I wasn't even on social media at the time. And I immediately stepped off stage and got back to life, and people heard about it, and they started… When you win a bodybuilding show, they ask you the same questions. They ask you, “How do you train?” And, “What did you eat?”

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: Nice.

Nimai Delgado: So, it was the question that I avoided my entire life. Like, “What do I eat?” Because I was forced to say that I did a completely plant-based, right? And it really just forced me to answer these people and say, like, “Well, you know, I trained like this, and I ate like this. But I did it without eating any meat, without eating any dairy, no eggs, no whey protein”, and people were just kind of like, “Huh?”

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: I know the look that you're that you're talking about, where you're just sort of like, they don't even know what to say. It's like, “What are you talking about? How's that work?”

Nimai Delgado: Yeah. So, I was kind of forced to start answering these people about what I ate, and it was normally like two reactions, two or three common reactions. One of them was like, they immediately got disinterested in whatever I was talking about, or uninterested in whatever I was talking about, because they're like, “Yeah, this guy's full of shit, whatever.” Or they were just like, “This guy's probably taken a crap load of drugs or steroids, or enhancing drugs, whatever.” Or they're just like, “Yeah, this guy's so reliant on supplements that, yeah, of course, you can get in shape when you just rely on all these supplements.” And it was like, it was such a mixed reaction.

But there was a very small fraction of people that were actually genuinely interested in it. And they were like, “Oh, you know, I tried to be vegetarian before, but I couldn't find a way, how to make it work. And I felt tired or…”, you know, they just like, they failed at being vegetarian, and then let alone vegan. I didn't even know any vegans at the time. And I thought to myself, I was like, “Man, you know what? I have something here, and I figured out how to do it. I’m still not the best, I'm still learning. But I feel like I could share what I learned online, and maybe help inspire people that are trying to do this, or maybe have no idea that this whole other alternative approach exists.”

So that's when I decided to share it online. And that's essentially how I got into social media, I just started making posts about fitness and vegan bodybuilding, and then just started sharing a little bit more, and then it just kind of snowballed, and people were like getting more interested.

And then I did another show, and I won another bodybuilding show. And then there's a little bit more credibility to what I was saying, because I won again, and this time in another league with much stiffer competition. And then within a year, I had went to the hardest contest in the league to get your, like professional status. And it was in Las Vegas, and it was like, the classes were huge, and I ended up winning my professional card, which means I beat all the other competitors as a vegan, you know, as a natural vegan on stage, competing against all these are the guys that were taking whatever they could take under the sun, and eating all their protein that they possibly could consume. And here, I was doing it my own way. And I proved that you could become a professional doing this alternative approach, and I remember getting off stage and just being extremely emotional, that I had achieved something great because it wasn't just a victory for me. It was like a serious victory for everybody that had ever said that you couldn't do those things. And I felt like I was kind of representing not myself, but like, representing like a movement and it was like such a victory for that movement.

Robby Barbaro: It really is amazing, Nimai. What you've done, I know you're on the covers of mainstream magazines, you're posting on social media. It really is, it really is amazing. And, you know, it's funny how people ask you those questions: What did you eat? How do you train? I'm sitting here listening, yeah, I want to hear those things too. I'm sure our audience does. I mean, maybe you can give us just a little bit more insight into the changes you experience in your performance and what you actually do eat.

Nimai Delgado: Yeah, for sure. So like I mentioned before, I was vegetarian, obviously, I had one step ahead of most people when they transition, because I had never eaten before, so I didn't have to give that up. So it was relatively easy for me to not ever crave that stuff, but unlike most people, they don't start off as vegetarian since birth.

So I was already eating quite a bit of plants, quite a bit of fruit as well, but once I gave up the dairy, I started introducing more protein packed foods like lentils, legumes, beans, when before I wasn't eating any of those things. And I started replacing my whey protein shakes with, I replaced it completely with a plant-based protein shake. It was like a rice protein, I believe, at the time.

And then I start introducing more tofu, more tempeh, things like edamame as snacks, more nuts, I mean, all these things that are really basic foods, but just combining them in the right- I’m not going to say combining because I don't like that term, because it carries a negative stigma along with it too, I would just say like being more diverse with the foods that I was eating, eating more plant foods. And what I noticed was that these old paradigms of how I used to think I had to train and eat, or mainly eat with, like having 40% of my calories coming from protein, I found that I could drastically reduce that number to about almost less than 20%.

So to get 20% of my calories from protein was much, much easier than getting 40%, because I can still eat things that contain protein and carbohydrates, like lentils, you know, one cup of cooked lentils has 18 grams of protein, you know, I mean, five cups of lentils, you get almost 100 grams of protein, that's a lot. So lentils became a big staple of my diet, along with the plant-based shakes, and just the introduction and more diverse protein rich foods.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: What’s great here is that you're almost using your engineering mind, to sort of optimize a different type of system, going back to what we're saying earlier, right? So, I love the fact that you're sitting here in your 20s like, “What if I increase this, what if I decrease this? What if I change this, you know, the type of protein that I'm eating, the type of carbohydrate that I'm eating? How's that going to affect me?” And what you started to realize is that a lot of the stuff that you had heard before is kind of folklore.

Nimai Delgado: Yeah. It's almost like rhetoric. I call it bodybuilding rhetoric where it's almost like one gym-bro told his successor gym-bro about how to eat, and then that gym-bro told the next gym-bro… A generation of knowledge that just gets passed down from one gym-bro to another. And what's sad is that their approach works, don't get me wrong, it works. But that doesn't mean it's the healthiest or the most efficient way. There's many ways to do something, but you exert or waste a lot of energy when you do things incorrectly, when you could just do it more directly and efficiently. And I see that as the plant-based diet.

The plant-based diet is such an efficient way of getting your nutrients, and getting your calories from foods that actually promote health and promote longevity, as opposed to foods that cause health issues in the long run. And once you realize that, it's like a win on all accounts. Not only are you getting fit, not only are you seeing the results, not only you are recovering quicker because it's coming on a more nutritious package, but you're also getting healthy from the inside. You know what I mean?

And a lot of these guys that I know on stage, and these people that do these crash diets, and don't eat carbs, and just deprive themselves of all these nutrients because they're afraid is going to hinder their gains, or their progress or whatever, they look great on the outside, but they're dying on the inside. They're slowly causing these issues that could come back to bite them later on in life. And that's why I'm so like, adamant about promoting this message because it's not only going to get you the short term results, but it's the long term results that really matter. You know, when you're 50 years old, you don't have to worry about being dependent on some kind of like prescription drug, or taking something to reduce your blood pressure, or taking all these measures to decrease the amount of fat stores that you have accumulated over the last 20 years. Like that's the stuff that I really like thinking about, because it makes the decisions today a lot easier.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: There's a couple of principles here, which I think are super important which is that, like you said, what you look like on the outside has almost no relationship to your metabolic health on the inside. A lot of people think, “Oh, I look good on the outside, I got big biceps and my shoulders are defined nicely, and my hip looks good.” But on the inside, it's complete disaster, as number one. And then also, there's a huge difference between what works in the short term and what works in the long term. And short term diets, short term fads, short term interventions that might make you look better and perform better in the short term, may not necessarily be the best solution for the long term. So, I think that's something that is hard for a lot of people, because long term, it's difficult to see years into the future, and it's much easier to look only at the next, you know, 8 to 10 weeks.

Nimai Delgado: Exactly. And you know what too, is that, like that message that you just said is exactly representative of the demographic of people that don't want to hear this message. You know what I mean? Like young people, young people, in particular, don't give a shit about what's going on 20 years in the future, they care about what's going on right now. You know, if I tell you, “Hey, if you eat this way, it's going to prevent heart disease in 20 years”, “I don't care, like I'm 20 years old, why I got to worry about heart disease”, you know what I mean. If I rephrase that conversation, and I'm like, “Hey, man, if you eat this way, it'll give you a six pack”, they’ll be like, “I'm in. What do I gotta do?” You know what I mean? People are massively selfish, vain people, and if you can tap into that aspect of wanting to look better, then a lot more people are more receptive to it, as opposed to, like… I feel like there's a different conversation you have to have with different ends of the spectrum.

Like somebody who’s older, who may be experiencing some health issues and is little bit scared for their health, they'll definitely will be willing to listen about vegan diets, because they understand that it's going to promote their health and longevity. But the younger generation, you have to approach them where they're at, and talk about things that relate to them at this point in their life, and I feel like being strong, looking good, getting defined, building the body that they want, the confidence that they lack, then that's going to really resonate with them.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: 100%, I couldn't agree with you more. So this is actually a perfect transition into talking about consistency because at Mastering Diabetes we are constantly talking about the value of hard work, the value of consistency and the value of effort, and we're trying to communicate to people, developing a lifestyle that's based around consistent behavior can really be a really effective way to transform the foods that you're eating, the amount of exercise that you are performing, your stress levels, kind of changes everything from the inside out. So in your life as a bodybuilder, in your life as a professional athlete, what can you sort of share with our audience about the value and the power of consistency in your life.

Nimai Delgado: Consistency is the main thing that matters. One healthy meal isn't going to make you healthy, just like one unhealthy meal isn't going to make you fat, right? It's a very simple concept to understand. If you're consistent with making the right small decisions on a daily basis, then over time, you will become the person that you want to be. And I know this seems like a very simple concept to understand, but the reality is fitness is very simple, the more effort you put in, the more results you get, right. So that translates to not only the effort you put inside the gym, now, it's very easy to go to the gym, and kind of…

Okay, I'll give you two scenarios. You go to the gym without a structure, you go to the gym without any plan or intention. And so many people do this, they go to the gym, which is really good, but they don't actually go with a purpose. They just go and they wander around, they do the same three or four exercises they know to do, and they do it with kind of a lackadaisical effort behind it. And they're consistent with it, but they're not consistent with truly putting forth the effort inside the gym, because if you worked out, if you say you, you put effort inside the gym, and you worked out with somebody like me, or somebody like another professional bodybuilder, you realize how little effort you really put in whenever you go to the gym. You know what I mean? You realize how much professional bodybuilders approaches the gym as clocking into work, you clock in, you get your shit done, and then you clock out. There's no distractions in the gym, you go in there with a set plan, a certain criteria, and structure to what you're going to do, you go in, you accomplish it, and you leave.

Now, I would say that's the easy part for most people. The consistency and the effort transcends the gym though, because let's face it, you're in the gym for an hour, maybe two hours maximum per day, you're outside of the gym for 22 hours of that day, what do you think matters more: What you do outside of the gym, or what you do inside of the gym? It's like you break yourself down inside the gym, which is what you're supposed to do, and you actually grow outside of the gym. You don't grow inside the gym, you grow outside. So if you're consistent with your sleep regimen, managing stress, eating correctly, allowing yourself to rest and recover, that is when you truly see results. Because you can go to the gym, and we talked about maximizing effort, you can go to the gym and figure out all these new techniques on how to build muscle, how to do a new exercise and tweak your form just ever so slightly to produce more contraction in a certain part of your muscle, and the return on investment on that is like maybe 1%, maybe 1% to 2%.

Think about all the growth and the room for maximization outside of the gym. How much better could you manage your stress? How much better could you manage blood glucose levels? How much better could you get quality sleep, and change your other habits to allow you to rest, to allow you to actually get into that REM state of sleep where your body repairs itself? How much better could you optimize your nutrition? So even making one small change to your diet can have a really profound amount of results, you see what I'm saying?

So instead of that 1% of like pushing yourself to do one more rep in the gym that only produces that 0.1% difference in your results, imagine just this little tiny change you do in your diet, like eliminating junk food, you know, just a very small change, but the return on investment is huge. You see what I'm saying? So it's like really maximizing those things outside of the gym that makes the biggest change in your results. And then being consistent with that.

And I know that seems like an insurmountable feat to do. It's like how can I end up looking like me, or like a professional, the dream body that I want, a professional athlete when it just seems like it's so far in the future, but it's not, it's just about the daily consistent choices that you make. And if you're listening and you have trouble with that, just remember this one little trick that it always helped me, when you're faced with the decision, ask yourself this question, is that: What would that person that you want to be, what choice would he make? Would a healthy person take the elevator or take the stairs? He would take the stairs. Would a healthy person eat this junk food? Or would a healthy person go for the healthier option? You see what I'm saying? Would a healthy person go out and drink on the weekends, or would they stay in and read, and recover from a stressful week of work and practice mindfulness?

Robby Barbaro: I think what you're saying is, is our audience should ask themselves: “What would Nimai do?”

Nimai Delgado: No, definitely not. Don't ask what I would do, just ask themselves what that person that they want to be, what they would do.

Robby Barbaro: I think it's a good method. I think I'm actually going to employ that. And I'm pretty sure I might get some good results.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: That’s right! Actually… This is this is profound, actually, because I never really thought about it in these terms, but what you're saying is, “Okay, let's project 6 months, 2 years, 5 years into the future. If I am the person that I want to be, whoever that person is, whether that person has lost 50 pounds, whether that person no longer is living with type 2 diabetes, whether that person is an active athlete and it has adopted a physical fitness regimen, okay, think about what that person would do, and then just do those habits.” I've never thought about that. And I think that's actually brilliant, because it forces you to constantly visualize who you want to be, and then simply by visualizing who you want to be and making those decisions, you become that person.

Nimai Delgado: Yeah. Let's face it, any successful person that you look up to, they are just a product of their decisions. That's all it is. They’re a product of each daily decision that they make. So if you reverse engineer what that person decided, and reverse navigate all of these different decisions back to the point where he was at your point in life, then you just have to follow that path. You know, you have to ask yourself, every single step you take, “What would this person that I want to be, what would he do?” and just take that small pivot, take that small directional change, and then eventually you'll be on a totally different course. Even these small, super small changes can entirely change your course of direction and make something that seemed like it was so far away, making that route so much more clear, and so much more shorter.

Robby Barbaro: I love this. This is a great. Speaking of making decisions, a lot of people in the diabetes community are terrified of carbohydrates, I know you have eating more yourself and working with other people. What type of information can you shed on the concept of eating more carbohydrates for overall health?

Nimai Delgado: Yeah, this is a big one, this is a big one, because I don't think it's only the diabetic community that's afraid of carbohydrates, I think it's just the general consensus at this point, just because of a lot of different things. People tend to think of carbohydrates as being unhealthy, and don't get me wrong, some are very unhealthy, when you look at the finely processed carbohydrates and refined sugars, and things of that nature that don't provide any nutritional value. But when you look at carbohydrates in their whole food sense, in their natural state, then there's nothing to be afraid of, there's actually a lot of really beneficial properties that are combined in that carbohydrates package.

You look at potatoes, most people are like, “Oh, I can't have potatoes, because, you know, they make me fat. I look at it potato, and it makes me fat. I look at French fries, and it makes me fat.” It's like, yeah, don't get me wrong potatoes that are sliced up and down some oil that's got a lot of unnecessary calories along with it, that you're consuming. But if he just bake a potato and don't put anything on it, then that it's still relatively close to its natural state, which can still provide you all those beneficial nutrients and calories that you're thriving for.

And in the fitness industry, it's kind of heralded that the only way to lose weight is to have a very high protein, very low carbohydrate diet, maybe moderate fat, so that that ratio I was telling you about, maybe like 40% of your calories coming from protein, maybe only, I don't know, 30% of that coming from carbohydrates, and the remainder coming from fats.

The diet that I follow… Not diet, lifestyle that I follow is more along the lines of maybe 15% to 20% of my calories coming from protein, but coming from really quality sources that also contain carbohydrates, like I mentioned, lentils, one cup of lentils as 18 grams of protein, it's got about 40 grams of carbs. That would terrify some people, like, “40 grams of carbs, I'm only allowed 100 carbs per day.” I'm getting 60% to 70% of my calories from carbohydrates, and that doesn't mean that since I'm eating more carbs, I’m getting more fat, or I'm becoming fatter. It's fueling me through these workouts, and when you have this relatively natural state of foods, or consuming these foods in their natural state, more whole-food, plant-based, you're able to burn them more efficiently. You see what I’m saying? Everything is utilized in that package, as opposed to eating the more refined, the more processed foods where some of those ingredients and properties have been stripped away, your body doesn't use them as well. It's almost like putting jet fuel in your body, and you're constantly just like burning energy, and using it the moment you need it, as opposed to like, “I'm getting all these calories. And I don't necessarily need it. So I'll just hold on to these for later when I do need it.” That make sense?

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: Yeah. Well, some friends and I used to joke around about the idea of being race ready at any moment in time, which means that you train and you feel your body using the highest quality plant-based foods possible, such that if somebody were to walk in my door right now and say, “Hey, Cyrus, we got this 5K, we need you to hop inside of it. Go, it's happening in 30 minutes”, boom, race ready, ready to go, right? And you would never get there, unless all of the habits that you have in your lifestyle are in place to make it such that you have high quality food, and you've put in the hard work such that you can go at any moment in time.

Nimai Delgado: Exactly. To a much more extreme analogy: Imagine if there was like a zombie outbreak tomorrow, and you had to run away from these zombies, you would have wished that you would have eaten healthier, and trained, and being in a more physical shape just to survive, you know what I'm saying? So just keep that in mind too.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: 100%. There were a couple of times when I was living in San Francisco, where the parking police are so ruthless in San Francisco, that if you don't move- if you park in a parking spot, and you're there for like, 3 minutes too long, boom, you get hit with like a $75 parking ticket. So there were times when I was just sitting there, and I was doing some work, and I would look at my phone, I was like, “Oh, God, I have to get to my car right now.” And I would just bolt out the door, and I'm talking top speed down the road to get to my car, so that I could move it before I would get a ticket. And this happened multiple times. And after a couple of times, I was like, “You know what? If I had tried this, like 5 or 6, you know… When I first got diagnosed with diabetes, I would have failed miserably” because my body was not in the shape where I could just do something right away, but being able to be race ready, and being ready for the zombie apocalypse is a truly fun feeling.

Robby Barbaro: I just love the vision as you bolting down the streets of San Francisco getting to your car before the police.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: I mean, sometimes there were times where I would get to my car, and a policeman was approaching as I would get in the car. So I knew that it was like, super important to do that, right? But like, again, the idea here is that you put in all the hard work, the consistency, the training, the effort, you fuel yourself with the highest quality possible fuel that you can have, such that when the zombie apocalypse come, boom, you're ready to go.

Nimai Delgado: Exactly, exactly. And our bodies are designed to process these carbohydrates too, right? I mean, you know it better than most. Our brain operates on carbohydrates, so we have to feed at these quality packages of carbs to where we can think clearly, you see what I'm saying? But the same thing with our muscles, you know, our body operates on this glycogen. So it's like, if you deprive yourself of quality containing foods that will replenish the glycogen that you deplete during workouts, then you're more likely to feel yourself better through those workouts, when you when you eat the right foods.

And let's face it, I know guys that, like I said, they look great but they deprive themselves of these nutrients, and like how good do they really feel. So that's what's great about this diet, and the plant-based diet, it's almost like a secret weapon that we forgot about, you know, over time, with different societal conditioning, and marketing, and all this stuff, that we forgot about, you know, this is the food that brought us, that evolved us, that brought us through the ages. It's not this highly processed food that just came around the last 20, 30, 40, 100 years, you see what I'm saying? It's the food that sustained us to make it this far. So we have to go back to our roots, and remember that we are, you know, what's been shown in different studies that we were always predominantly plant-based. That's what allowed us to survive. So, we have to go back to that, because that's what we're designed to consume.

Like I mentioned earlier about the analogy of having a Ferrari and wanting to put in the best fuel, but it's not necessarily just so you put it in the right fuel, so your body can go really fast in that Ferrari. It's about the maintenance work that you have to do. The last thing you want to do, if you own a Ferrari is change the valves, you see what I'm saying? Because it's going to cost a shitload of money, it’s going to be a lot of effort that you have to do to change those valves, and replace that engine. So if you do preventative maintenance in the future, so choosing the right type of fuel to put in your body, you don't have to worry about changing the valve later on, because that Ferrari will last you a lifetime. The same thing goes with our body. If we choose the right fuel, we don't have to have surgeries, we don't have to take prescription drugs, we don't have to do these drastic measures of undergoing valve surgery, you know what I'm saying? That's so extreme to me, that people don't realize it's like, how is that not considered extreme, but just choosing to eliminate animal products from your diet that's considered extreme.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: You know, it's funny that you bring this up, because one of the things that I think would be more helpful in getting people to change their lifestyle is, if the food that they ate actually had a physical feeling associated with it, right? If I eat a bowl of meatloaf, sorry, a plate of meatloaf, and it physically hurt me, and I could feel that inside of my heart, or I could feel my blood vessels contracting because they're less, or they're more rigid as a result of that, I probably would think twice about eating meatloaf the second time around, right?

But because the human body is capable of withstanding an unbelievable amount of damage over the course of time. I mean physical damage, I mean metabolic damage, I mean emotional damage, it's very easy to just continue in your habits over, and over, and over again, thinking that, “Oh, don't worry about it. I'm impervious to this, I'm invincible. I can continue with this”, right? But if you treat your body like a Ferrari, you treat it like a temple, then it's going to reward you tenfold.

Nimai Delgado: And as an important message along with that too is that, I'm sure you've had it before, where you have clients that tell you that they may have been scared of going plant-based, right? They’re like, “I don't know, if I'm going to do it. I don't want to eat these foods, I don't want to…” they're just scared. They're unsure, right. But then 3 weeks afterwards of following a strict plant-based diet, they come back to you, and they say, “I got to tell you that I feel incredible. Like my clarity, my mental clarity is just increased by tenfold. This chronic soreness that I've been experiencing for so long has vanished. I can breathe better, I feel more energized.” All of these things that are very, very difficult to detect, whenever you're eating a certain way, they all of a sudden surface and you can physically feel the difference.

Like I mentioned before, you can't really tell if you're in a chronic state of inflammation, you might be able to, you know, like “I feel a little sore” but once you completely remove all inflammation, then it's like, “Wow, I feel incredible.” And like, “How did I go so long feeling this certain way”, because we create these baselines for ourselves, our body goes back to this state of homeostasis, right? So it's like, we stabilize back to this certain level of general feeling within us, and you don't know that you feel sick all the time. You don't know that you feel bad all the time, or inflamed all the time, because that's just how you've always felt. That's just how you've always ate. But once you make these changes, you can physically feel different. You can go from feeling like down here, to feeling up here. And you're like, “Man! I feel great.” You know what I’m saying?

Robby Barbaro: That is such an important point. People truly don't know how good they can feel. They haven't been to that point yet.

Nimai Delgado: Exactly, exactly. And that's why I love what you guys are doing because we just want to show people it's not that we want to convert them, and we want to like, somehow join our vegan propaganda or something like that, you know what I'm saying? This is like, I just want you to feel as good as I feel.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: Right! The cult. Come join the cult.

Robby Barbaro: But seriously, I mean, that's why we resonate with you and your work so much, we're just trying to educate people about this option. “Hey, if you want to do it this way, we're here. We're happy to help you. We're not about changing people. We’re not about saying you're doing things wrong. We're just here to provide you with this option.”

Nimai Delgado: Yeah, yeah. And that's all it is. It's an option, it's an alternative approach. If it's not for you, it's not for you, thank you and goodbye. It's not going to affect me at all, or anybody else. I mean, it will, in the grand scheme of things, but it's your decision, and that's why I'm so adamant about not ever being pushy, not ever being judgmental on anybody, because everybody's at their own point in life, and you have to meet them there.

If somebody's willing to accept the information that you're sharing with them and apply it then they're ready for it. If they're going to resist it, there's no point in wasting breath on trying to change somebody that they don't want to change. You see what I'm saying?

Robby Barbaro: Exactly right. Exactly right. Well this has been amazing, Nimai. Thank you so much for taking the time to be with us. Before we go, please tell people everything about what you're doing: How can they be coached by you, how can they find your podcast, how can they connect with you?

Nimai Delgado: Yeah. The easiest way to connect with me is through Instagram, I’m the most active there, just follow me @Nimai_Delgado, it's basically my username for everything on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube. I try to put out a lot of educational content, inspirational content as much as I can.

I have a separate food page where I show exactly what I eat, for those listening that want to see exactly what I eat, I got so tired of people asking me what I ate, so I made a separate account, and I break it down for you guys. I show you exactly how much protein is in each meal, exactly how much carbs, how many grams of fat, and most importantly, how many grams of fiber is in each meal. It's like the forgotten macronutrients. So I show everybody that you can definitely follow that.

If you want to listen to more of my banter, and other really interesting and incredible individuals, like you guys, you guys are on the show, you can go to subscribe to my Podcast: Generation V, it’s available on everywhere you can find podcasts.

And if you want to get coached by me directly and join one of my programs go to VeganFitness.com. And that's like my passion right now, is just trying to reach as many people, and help as many people as possible transition into a plant-based diet, and if they're already plant-based and optimize what they're doing to align them with their fitness dreams as well.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: I mean, Nimai, these pictures are just unbelievable… I’m looking at your Instagram profile as we're speaking and I'm like, “That guy has to be on steroids. There's no way.”

Nimai Delgado: Yeah, it’s a common statement, but you know, you never know something until you try it. That's why I always recommend people, I'm like, “Dude, just try to change your lifestyle. You don't have to take any of those enhancing drugs. You can still achieve the results that you want, and sustain them and live healthy at the same time.”

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: 100%. You are sage, I feel like I can sit here and talk to you for hours, but in the interest of time, I totally appreciate everything that you do. I know that you're helping thousands, tens, maybe even hundreds of thousands of people understand how they can transition their diet to a more plant-based diet, or a fully plant-based diet. And you're doing it using your fitness background, using your emotional intelligence, and also from a position of spirituality as well, which I think is absolutely fantastic. So, that's a long winded way of saying thank you for doing what you do. And we really appreciate it.

Nimai Delgado: Thank you guys, both, for having me on and letting me share my story. And I just want to say, express my gratitude for everything you guys are doing too. Thank you so much for that.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: We hope you enjoyed this episode, and can apply some of these principles to your personal life. Now, we have an Online Group Coaching Program that has helped thousands of people living with all forms of diabetes, reverse insulin resistance, drop their A1c, lose weight, and gain tons of energy. And also reduce their need for oral medication and insulin using, their food as medicine.

We like to call ourselves the world's most robust, and ridiculously affordable, Online Coaching Program for people with diabetes. And we've helped people living with type 1 diabetes, type 1.5 diabetes, prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes living all around the world.

Now we provide you with three tools that are specifically designed to put you in the driver's seat of your diabetes health. The first is an Online Course that gives you step by step instructions on how to change your diet. Starting with breakfast, then lunch, then dinner.

We teach you exactly which foods to increase, which foods to limit, and which foods to avoid entirely. The course is designed with you in mind. We provide you with relevant information, and we do our best to reduce overwhelm, because we know just how confusing the internet can be these days, when searching for simple ways to improve your blood glucose control.

The second tool is even better than the first. We provide you with access to our online community, with thousands of people that are going through this process with you. You'll be able to interact with our team of coaches, including Kylie Buckner, a Registered Nurse who is brilliant. She also happens to be my wife, and is one of the most kind and compassionate human beings that I've ever met. Adam Sud. He reversed type 2 diabetes. He lost more than 160 pounds and he de-addicted himself from both food and prescription medication at the same time.

You'll also get to interact with Mark Ramirez, who lost more than 50 pounds, reversed type 2 diabetes, and is a certified Food For Life Instructor, through the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. You'll also get the ability to interact with both Robby and myself in the online community. And we guarantee that we’ll answer your question within 24 hours to help you solve problems in real time.

The third tool is a twice monthly Q&A video conference, where you can ask our team of coaches any question that you have about your personal program, and meet others that are going through this process with you. Now, we're proud to say that our coaching program is very popular, and because of that, we've instituted a waiting list to join. The reason we created the waiting list in the first place is because we have more than 2000 active members in our program and want to provide excellent service to our existing members. You can still join the program, but in order to do so you have to put yourself on the waiting list and you'll be notified of when we open next. When we do, we'll send you a personal invitation to join.

To join the waiting list simply go to www.masteringdiabetes.org and click on Coaching in the navigation bar at the top of the screen, or click the link below in the show notes. We can't wait to help you transform your diabetes health from the inside out. We hope to see you on the inside.

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About the author 

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD and Robby Barbaro, MPH

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD, and Robby Barbaro, MPH are the coauthors of the New York Times bestselling book Mastering Diabetes: The Revolutionary Method to Reverse Insulin Resistance Permanently in Type 1, Type 1.5, Type 2, Prediabetes, and Gestational Diabetes. They are the cofounders of Mastering Diabetes, a coaching platform that teaches people how to reverse insulin resistance via low-fat, plant-based, whole-food nutrition. Cyrus has been living with type 1 diabetes since 2002, and has an undergraduate degree from Stanford University and a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry from UC Berkeley. Robby was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2000, and has been living a plant-based lifestyle since 2006. He worked at Forks Over Knives for 6 years, and earned a Master’s in Public Health in 2019.