MDAE Podcast E31: Vegan Athletes Unite in the Plant Fit Summit

Article written and reviewed by Cyrus Khambatta, PhD and Robby Barbaro, MPH
Published August 14, 2018

Podcast Transcript

Luke Tan: Being fit is one thing, but living a long, and healthy life, and aging well, is another. And we take those points of consideration. And it's a step by step process. And I've experienced this change in my life. And I've seen so many people on our forum experience incredible sustainable changes. And I believe that everybody has the power to really turn their lives around, and to be free from the confusion, and all the diets, and all the B.S. that's out there. Because we know that there is a lot of B.S. out there and just finally feel, you know, that they have a chance at life.

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

Today I am honored to be here with Tobi and Luke, from the Plant Fit Summit. You guys are going to get to learn a lot about these two guys, they're awesome, they're super gregarious, and they have a wealth of knowledge.

Luke is based out of Singapore, and he is a plant-based athlete, and the co-host of the Plant Fit Summit. He has published the books "A.W.A.K.E and Alive", and "Live Green Live Lean", and founded the plant-based athletic team, Evolved Generation. As you can tell by looking at his monstrous arms, which I'll show you some photos of, Luke is passionate about championing individuals to a fit, healthy and conscious plant-based lifestyle.

And Tobi. Tobi is the co-founder of the Plant Fit Summit, and he is the founder of 10X Active. He worked in renewable energy for many years before realizing that his plant-based nutrition is not just healthy, it's also the single, best thing, that we can do to save the planet. So thank you so much for being here today with us, guys.

Luke Tan: Thank you for the opportunity.

Tobi Weihofen: Thank you for having us.

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Cyrus Khambatta: Absolutely. Absolutely. You know, I met you guys, probably less than two weeks ago at this point, through some mutual friends. And when I saw what you guys were up to, I felt compelled to get you on our Podcast, on the Mastering Diabetes Audio Experience, because you guys are doing incredible things for this world. And I really want our audience to get to know you guys, because I think they can learn a lot from you. So let's start at the top here. Talk to us about the Plant Fit Summit. What is the Plant Fit Summit?

Tobi Weihofen: Yeah, so basically, we started the Plant Fit Summit from our own personal experience, right? All of like, both of us went through some troubling times. And we found that plant-based living, combined with fitness, was the way to overcome that. And we just wanted to, you know, there, on one side, there's the fitness world, and on the other side, there's the nutrition research.

But there wasn't something that built the bridge between the two of them, so that people can put all the puzzle pieces together, not just that one piece. Maybe the doctor talking about nutrition, right? Or then, you have the bodybuilders with a whole different approach. But we wanted to bridge the two ends, and it just took off. I mean, it was unbelievable.

Luke Tan: Yeah, I mean, for me, really, it came from a personal kind-of story. I've been vegan and plant-based, for many years, and I've competed as a natural bodybuilder, and a CrossFit athlete, and I met so many incredibly inspiring people. And also these people range from athletes, doctors, nutritionists, to cancer survivors, at the people that have reversed chronic disease. And I knew all these people through my journey, being in the lifestyle and in the movement. 

And I was just really inspired. And I think it really started when I was invited to speak at PlantPure Nation, it was another summit by Ron Gandiza, who's a good friend of ours. And I was just thinking there were all these doctors on one side, and all these inspirations, and athletes, and survivors on the other side. Like how could we bridge the gap.

And I remembered, it was funny, because Tobi was the one that, it was thanks to our mutual friend, Toby wanted me to try his foam roller.

Tobi Weihofen: Yeah, exactly. I have to thank the foam roller.

Luke Tan: I need a guy, I need a fit guy to test my foam roller out. And that was me. Then, I get to my place, with this doughnut-looking thing, that looks really suspicious. Because it was black, and it was round, and it was really, really odd. And I gave it a go, and went, "this is the best thing I've ever tried."

Cyrus Khambatta: Yeah, you were like, "what am I getting myself into with this?"

Luke Tan: "What? This isn't meant to feel good", but it did, on my shoulders. But yeah, I tried that. And then, I think it, just a few conversations later, I think it was a conversation that we had at Starbucks.

Tobi Weihofen: Yeah.

Luke Tan: Toby, we got our first interview, Joshua. Giggle Josh.

Tobi Weihofen: Once you see Josh, and once you hear him speak. It's unbelievable. The guy is just an inspiration.

Luke Tan: Exactly. He was just an inspiration. And after that, as you know, we started, we had videos, like 50, 50 people. And I guess we're going to, some of these stories laid up, 50 people later. And now after this summit, it's just been incredible, the response. And I think after watching the first summit, a lot of people have started opening their eyes, and minds to a whole different way of living, and actually have experienced significant changes in their life. So in a nutshell, I think that's how the Plant Fit Summit has kind-of came to be.

Cyrus Khambatta: So, this is great. So, can people participate in the Plant Fit Summit, just like they can in the Mastering Diabetes Summit, where it's 100% online? Or, you know, is there some in-person enrollment?

Tobi Weihofen: No, it's 100% online. It's free. Starts September 1st. And all you have to do is sign up, put your email in and you get all the access details, as soon as the summit starts. So, everyone can join and it's all about showing what's possible and giving you the info, and the tools, and inspiration. Everything's there.

Cyrus Khambatta: And, give us an idea. Who are some of the people that you guys have interviewed for this 2018 Plant Fit Summit?

Luke Tan: So, I think we have a lot of the, like for example, being Mastering Diabetes, we had Neal Barnard, we had Dr. Greger. The doctors, the white coats, we've got Dr. Greger we've got Dr. Goldner who reversed lupus.

Tobi Weihofen: Yeah, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, which also, unbelievable story to tell and that's an inspiration. But it's also about the people who are active, right? And they're showing what's possible, kind-of busting the myths, right? So, we got some Olympians on there. So, we got Rebecca Soni, who was six-time the Olympic medalist, right? So, she's like the female Phelps, Michael Phelps. So, she's the female version of that. Unbelievable.

We got Dotsie Bausch, silver medalist. We got some of the guests leading coaches when it comes to fitness, with Fraser Bayley, we got former Mr. Universe, and Billy Simmonds. So you have that, you know, like the doctors and the fitness guys, and everything in between.

Cyrus Khambatta: So, that's actually something that's very unique in this space, because a lot of the Summits, including our Summit, you know, it's purely evidence-based. Let's learn from doctors, let's learn from PhDs, let's learn from people who read a lot of books, and, you know, work with patients. As opposed to gold medal, silver medal Olympic athletes, professional athletes, like that's, that's a whole different story. And that's it, it's very important. And I'm glad you guys are telling it.

Luke Tan: And I think also, we, you know, try at the Summit. So, we're going to be sharing a few stories from our community. Like, for example, someone that I've been kind of in contact with. Can you guess, he's 70 years old, and he made the switch a plant-based lifestyle about a couple of years ago, and his joint issues went away. And also he's, he was on a lot of painkillers, and he is on no more . And he's still weight training at 70. Like, come on. Like, it's never, ever, too late.

And I think, although we have coaches, and we have doctors, but I think that the whole role and goal of this summit is just really make it, really practical, as well. Because, I think we can hear and see a lot of different talks. But like, "How do I start? Where do I even go?". You know, there's all these conceptual informations out there. And we kind of structured it, in such a way where so everybody had, probably have a couple of takeaway points: All right, today, I'm going to start doing this, I'm going to start moving a little bit more, I'm going to start using my Fitbit or whatever it is.

Because I think that everybody's is at a different stage of their lives. And I share with you the sickness through fitness, well, the fitness continuum, some people are sick, or are bedridden who just want to start feeling better, while other people want to kind of accelerate their performance. So it's everybody in between, I think, I believe in just chatting with so many people that you know, health and really a new life and a new charts is just really a decision away.

Cyrus Khambatta: I love it. I love it. I love it. So talk to us about, you guys also have a brilliant online tool, that I have been able to get inside of, and peruse around. I think it's fantastic. So correct me if I'm wrong, is it called the "Plant Fit Movement Online Course", is that how you refer to it?

Tobi Weihofen: Yeah, we call it The Plant Fit Course, or Program, whatever you want to call it. We just go and apply it. And that's pretty much all we have, right. But the core idea here was to take all the knowledge that we gain from over the years, and also interviewing all the experts, and put it into a step by step format that people can follow, right.

Because after the summit, there's such an overload. And maybe people go through it with your summit as well. Like, there's so much information you don't know where to start, right? And you need something step by step that just simplifies it. Do this first, do this second, look at your fridge, right? Fill your pantry with different foods, right, go shopping here, do this, right. Start exercising, maybe once that we can maybe twice or just start moving again, or standing up wherever you're at, right.

And that program is designed to take people, like loop set from wherever they're at, and keep adding towards the well and fit continuum, right. So it takes them step by step over weeks. So this is, it's layout over eight weeks. Every day they get a little chunk of knowledge and when they can, exercises it. And mindset, so often people struggle mindset.

So, there's three pillars to a healthy living, right? Fitness, movement, which is fast movement of modern fitness, and then nutrition and mindset. And that takes care of all three things. So basically, you can get started. And that's, that's all we wanted to do, and power people to do.

Cyrus Khambatta: One of things I really like about what you said is that, I think when people go through these summit experiences, you know, you hear 10 talks, 15 talks, 20 talks, and a certain point, you're like, "Okay, I get it, I get it. Okay, great. Now, where the heck do I start?", right? And there's a certain sense of, of being empowered and motivated. But then it's also accompanied by a sense of overwhelm, right.

And so by going through the online course that you guys have built, what you guys are effectively doing is you're holding people's hands and you're basically saying listen, just accomplish the steps in the order that we suggest and just take it one piece by one piece by one piece. And then it reduces the overwhelm that you may experience and then this is the way to actually become healthier over the course of time.

Luke Tan: Indeed, and I think it you mentioned the Plant Fit Program, and why we call it, we actually call it the HPL Program, because we look at several factors in it. I mean, we see a lot of you know, six-pack shortcuts, and a lot of programs that you see in bodybuilding.com. But we want to make it in such a way where, it not only boost, wait, I mean, weight loss. We're not just talking like a transformation, but performance. If you're, you know, whether you're doing your five-K, or whether you're a top-level CrossFitter, or, and also health. So HPL has helped performance and longevity.

Because we take a lot of factors and having chat with a lot of doctors, because, being fit is one thing, but living a long life, long and healthy life and aging well, it's another. And we pick those points of consideration. And it's a step by step process. And I think basically people always say, "Okay, I, like you said, listened to the talks, I'm not sure where to start." So we've got, the way we've set up the program is really, just click one button, and you move on to the next session. And I think for me, you know, it comes from a very strong "Why?", because I've experienced this change in my life. And I've seen so many people on our forum experience incredible long-term, sustainable changes.

And I believe that everybody has the power to really turn their lives around, and to be free from the confusion, and all the diets, and all the BS that's out there. Because we know that there is, there's a lot of BS out there, and just finally feel, you know, that they have a chance at life. And it's, you know, we put a lot of thought into it. And I think, yeah, I think that's kind of a program in a nutshell.

Tobi Weihofen: Yeah, and our favorite thing to do is to ask our community for their transformation stories. And then you just see, boom! Unbelievable story. Yeah, that's just, that's just the best. That's the best feeling in the world.

Cyrus Khambatta: It's almost like people vomit on top of you, "Oh, listen to my story". About what you were saying. I think it's actually really important that of all the industries out there, you know, that most people interact with on a daily basis, the fitness industry and the diet industry are plagued with a bunch of non-evidence-based, excuse my language, bullshit, you know what I mean? And it's, it's a lot of, you know, get skinny quick schemes, things that don't work in the long-term, that are not designed to actually make you a healthier person.

Maybe you might be able to lose 30 pounds in 30 days. But then as soon as you're done with it, boom, you balloon right back up to where you started, if not more, right. And even in the fitness world, I see this all the time. You know, there's this sort of feeling like, "Oh, well, if you want to be a good athlete, you want to be a strong athlete, you got to drink milk, you got to eat cheese, you have to eat meat." And we know, we know that that is not the answer. There is just no question about it.

But yet, that mentality still pervades. And it's everywhere you go. And, you know, I think it's just probably a matter of time before those sort of principle starts to change in the minds of millions of people around the planet. But you're absolutely right, in the sense that like, people are constantly bombarded with it. And it's just frustrating.

Luke Tan: And I mean, for me as well. I come from a, I mean, we can go into my story a little bit later, used to be a strength and conditioning coach and I came from that side of things. And I think the fitness community right now, not just the fitness community in general, but fitness aspect, the fitness industry kind of perpetuates this hybrid, the big and fast kind of mentality, which you know, we all know instinctively eating healthy is fruits and vegetables, not really compartmentalizing your nutrition into micronutrients. Really, micronutrients, when you eat a whole plant-based diet, you can dense foods, you're going to get all your macros there.

But this fitness kind of side of things really perpetuates this kind of mindset of overconsumption, and over-emphasis of protein, which is really not good for us. And I think, of course, the planet and the animals as well. So, so I think for me, coming from that side of things, I'm really driven to kind of change the way kind of the fitness mindset is. Fitness industry has the view towards nutrition, and probably looking at whole plant-based foods as an alternative to better performance, better health and longevity.

Cyrus Khambatta: And would help tracking calories here?

Luke Tan: No! Oh, my God. No, yeah, yeah, yeah. No.

Cyrus Khambatta: Yeah, I like what you said, because it's, it's not about short-term results. It's nice to see results in the short term. But that's not the point. The point is to create a long-term and sustainable you know, exactly. Dietary pattern, movement pattern, something that, you know, I like to joke with people, I say, I want you to succeed so brilliantly, that when I pick up the phone and call you five years from now, and ask you, what are you eating?

You tell me it's the exact same foods that you were eating when you on our program, right? It's about creating change in the long term. That being said, though, have you guys noticed when people transition to a plant based-diet? What type of short term results do they get? Or do they not get? What have you seen?

Luke Tan: So I mean, for example, we've got like, I mean, short term results. I mean, we've got someone on our program, who in two weeks, dropped six pounds, and she now has a goal of running her first five k at the end of program. And, and I think that's what we are, we forgot to mention, we have this thing called the unleash goal, and I think, coming from a ex-big, ex-bodybuilder, I think we have this mindset of having an aesthetic goal. And I think aesthetic should be a byproduct of of your lifestyle switch, rather than the end goal.

So having like a goal like okay, after this week, I'm going to run my first five k, I'm to going to run my first ten k, I'm going to try zumba just to challenge yourself. And I think if there's a short term goal, that's having that five K and dropping six. But long term goals, I mean, goodness, where, where do we even start, like, you know, we've got Josh, the man I mentioned, who lost 200 pounds, his whole family lost 900 pounds, and he's now a very well known speaker. We've got, in terms of another guy here, who lost 45 pounds in a year, his cholesterol went down by 62 points, hemoglobin A1c dropped from 5.4 to 4.9, fasting glucose 182.

We've got so many, you know, health transformations. And, someone like Hillary, who ran her first half marathon at 66 years old. And Clarissa who's a mom of three, who lost more than 115 pounds since she made the switch and is now shooting for her first half marathon, before she hits 40. You know, it's these stories, I've got a long list, you know, we can add.

Tobi Weihofen: To me, it's really, each body is going to react, like, respond differently but always positively, right? So if you're sick, plant-based diet has been shown to prevent and reverse so many autoimmune diseases and whatever chronic diseases that you might be struggling, right? If you're overweight, plant-based diet has been shown to drop the weight naturally in the long term, right? If you're an athlete, your recovery goes up, and you're gonna be competing at a much higher level, right? So whoever, whatever you're at, it's always just optimizing. Right? And then taking that next step.

So, and in terms of what people haven't experienced? It's a good question. I think, obviously, most people, most people are just habits have to change, which is the biggest challenge. And that really starts with small steps. And it's creating that new norm, right? Okay, so first, my, I'm like, whatever, eating cereals every day, right? And they're just like that. That's my norm. Right?

With milk. And that's all I do right? Okay, add a bit of oats, my new norm is now I'm eating less of the sugar and more of the oats, you add food. So that’s my new norm and then it just step by step, your new norm changes. And before you know it, you're going to be part of the transformation group. And it just it just how it happens.

Cyrus Khambatta: Yeah, exactly, big changes happen in tiny little increments. And just like you're saying, you know, you make one change today, you stick with that, maybe you make another change next week, you make another change two weeks from now, before you know it, you're like, Hey, I got some new habits. This is kinda cool.

Yeah, I love it. So Luke, let's get into your personal story here. Because you are you're a monstrous CrossFit athlete. And of course. Who competes in the games of mentally unstable people? But you know, so give us some insight here. How long have you been plant-based? Have you always been plant-based, or is that part of something that happened through the evolution of your athletic career?

Luke Tan: Well, I've been plant-based, 100% plant-based, for more than six years now. But, prior to six years, I was actually on your typical, I was a bodybuilder, high protein, low-carb eating. About 2.2 pounds, or a kilo, of meat per day. So, I was pretty much having your standard kind of bodybuilding kind of mindset, "oh, I've got a chicken day, I've got a fish day, I've got a pork day." And that was pretty much, pretty much my grocery bill was just meats.

And I think for me, I was a lot bigger back then I was highly inflamed, extremely lethargic. So, my wife had, because I met my wife around then, when I first started my journey, she bought my lifestyle, and she was never a big meat eater, and she suffered severe digestive issues. We woke up eating a piece of steak at 5PM before she went, she's a short track speed skater for Canada, and she was skating for Australia back then. And her performance drop. And at one point, she was actually worried that she got cancer, because she had so much pain.

And she watched true inspiration online, someone shared about plant-based diet, healing their digestion and everything. So she jumped into it. And shortly after she made the switch to plant-based, she felt a significant change. The chest pains went away, digestion got better, and the energy spike. And I was quite interested to see what's going on with Emily, and I was quite inspired. And she shared with me a few books, she went into the whole the big picture, the macro look, what a plant-based diet does for ethics and environment. And I read this book called Food Revolution by John Robbins. And that just opened my eyes to what the plant-based diet actually does on a health, ethical and environmental standpoint.

But the penny really drop when I watched the film Earthlings, and all of a sudden, it's a documentary on animal cruelty, and suddenly made the connection that what I was conditioned to think that I was eating was equal to my cat, and the dog, you know. All animals were equal. So I made that switch overnight. So I remember overnight I just said "I'm done with meat". And I was a personal trainer back then, and I said I'm going to substitute my chicken for my tofu. A kilo of tofu. Let's just say that my gut didn't handle that that well.

But the thing was that, after a couple of weeks, after a few days actually, I was always kind of saying like, "I can't run because it's catabolic, because I'm a bodybuilder". But after about four to five days I went for my first five K, and I just did not stop. I was like, "Oh my goodness, what is this? What's happening?" So, five days, and then fast forward to that, I competed in 2010 as a natural bodybuilder, as an omnivore, and I stopped once I made the switch to vegan. I wanted to step on stage again in 2013, I placed in that competition as 100% plant-based athlete. And then, in 2015 competed again with team Plant Build. And, 2017, I decided I wanted to hang my posing trunks, because they were pink, and they were and sparkly, and I didn't really like the color of them anymore.

Cyrus Khambatta: So, tell us. Now, do you still eat a pound of tofu a day? If not, what are you actually eating? Run us through a typical breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Luke Tan: Not a pound of tofu. Like, for me right now, I start my morning with a big bowl of oats. For me, it's about getting sufficient calories for my training. I train about six days a week, CrossFit and gymnastics. I consume probably about 3500 calories, and my morning bowl of oats. I fast, I probably stopped eating at about 7, 8. 7 PM the night before. And I start eating lunch. My lunch meal would be a bowl of oats with dates, and pumpkin seeds. Sometimes a little maple syrup, just seeds, topped with soy milk. And that's, and I counted, the last time my big bowl of oats was about 1300 calories. So it's a big, big bowl of oats.

And then, for me, I like to jam as much nutrients as I can, so I have like a green smoothie. And I've started having lots, and lots of beets, spinach, chia seeds, pineapple in my green smoothie, and throughout the day, I just snack on whole fruit. Because being based in Singapore, we've got lots of tropical fruits, or I have fruits, and then in the evening it will be just rice and beans, or pasta even.

And it's this whole plant-based, and the bulk of my calories are from starches and whole fruit. And I think, I look at everything that I consume, I look at how nutrient dense it is, because at the end of the day, the closer you move towards a whole food, plant-based diet, the better my recovery, the better my performance, the better my sleep. So yeah, it's not really that hard, there's not really like, any secret formula. But, pretty much that's kind of what I eat throughout the day.

Cyrus Khambatta: And on a given week, how many workouts are you performing?

Luke Tan: I would say easily six. I've trained about six day, sometimes seven days, when I'm bored on a Sunday. But, each session might range from one and a half, two hours, and we're talking things like, Olympic lifts, things like, gymnastic movement. Because I'm also trying to work on things, very specific, was like a planche, front lever, back lever, human flags. Very, very specific athletic lifts, and moves, and trying do a lot of accessory works around that. And I mean this morning, I woke up at 4:50 and I went for CrossFit session, and were just testing our 1RM clean, our power clean. So stuff like that. And also I do run and swim. So, about one, one and a half hours across the board, from endurance to strength, to aerobic capacity and aerobic as well. So, as you know Cyrus, you do CrossFit, you know what it's like, you're absolutely rolling on the floor in pain, but you're just like, "I love this".

Cyrus Khambatta: Yeah, it's funny. I was just watching a CrossFit movie, like one of the older ones from 2016, the other day, and there was a quote from the movie that said something like, athletes who come to the CrossFit Games, you know, the best of the best, they're one step removed from mental insanity. Just like you're saying, you know, there's a certain joy that you get, that I get, when you push so hard. Yeah, that you're reduced to just lying on the floor, and just like a pile of sweat. You're like, you're breathing so hard that you just, you just can't think about anything else, just like full focus determination. And even though it's really painful, and even though it doesn't feel awesome at the time, when you get up from that you're like, "Man, when can I do that again?".

Luke Tan: That was so fun. Exactly, exactly. Right. You know all about that. And I think, now being a CrossFitter, is about having a stronger mental game to be able to push, you know, 101%, and 102%, and 103%, so that, you know, there's always, and the thing about CrossFit, there's always ways you can get better because, you know, it's a constant balancing game. But yeah, you're right, mentally unstable at times, to feel that way.

Cyrus Khambatta: You should feel that way, it's so true. It's so true. But okay, so before we move on to Toby here, one last point that I think is really important to make here is that you've been practicing sports, athletics, your whole life. And you've worked yourself to a point where you now voluntarily choose to work out for one hour, one and a half hour, two hours per day in order to make you feel your best. But you know, it's not necessary, right? We have, what I want to drill home here is that, you know, a lot of people in our community who are living with diabetes, prediabetes, type 1, type 2, a lot of these people are not active.

And if you're listening to this Podcast right now, and you say to yourself, well, you know, if I have to become a CrossFit athlete, in order to get the results, I'm not going to do it, right. That's not what we're trying to insinuate here, by any stretch of imagination, right. You know, just like Toby was saying earlier, you know, it's about creating habits that start as really, really, really small changes, and then they evolve into larger and larger changes. And sometimes that evolution can take a decade, sometimes it can take two days, to the point where you are doing things like CrossFit, but you don't have to, right, exactly.

So, you know, I think even in your online course, in your fitness module, you guys have body weight resistance movements, you know, they're sort of circuit training that requires zero weights, literally just like a space on the floor, right? Anybody can do this. It's low impact. It doesn't require any equipment.

So if you're daunted, if you're sort of scared about getting involved in a fitness regimen, just please understand that like, you know, doing something is better than nothing, even if it's getting up and, you know, trying to do 10 bodyweight squats, you know, with no, wait, literally just bending your knees until your butt is that horizontal. And doing that 10 times is better than not doing it at all. You know, it just makes small, small changes over the course of time. And before you know it, you're completely transformed person from the inside out.

Alright, so, Toby, tell us your personal story, tell us about how long have you been plant-based for? And what motivated you to want to, you know, adopt a whole food plant based diet in the first one?

Tobi Weihofen: Yeah, good question. So, I've been a whole food, plant- based only since about two and a half years. So it's not that long. Before that I've been a vegetarian all my life. And I pretty much figured being a vegetarian, that's already good enough, right? I'm not killing any animals, I'm doing good for the environment, right, my footprint is so much lower. And, I figured, hey, I'm eating a lot more veggies and fruits than the average, so, hey, I'm going to be good, right? But then I came across Luke and found out about the science of nutrition and also took a step back.

So I used to work in renewable energy. And I realized that taking a step back, even just eating, consuming dairy, or any cheese, is still having such a huge impact on the environment that I figured, hey, if I want to, if I want to live well, in this world, let's take it to the next step. And actually commit to a whole food, plant-based diet and, it's one of the best decisions I've ever made, right. So I used to play basketball competitively, I had to stop just because my, my heels are chronically inflamed, and like, you know, like a normal heel would be the Achilles tendon runs down to the bottom of your foot.

But mine is just like, it widens at the end, right? So you got that huge chunk of calcification that builds up over the year. So I literally wasn't able to keep up with my dad walking the hills, along the River Valley in Germany, right where I'm from. And I'm just like, hey, that's just awful, right? And that was literally one year before going plant-based. I wasn't able to go on a regular stroll with my dad, just because my joints my heel was hurting too much.

Cyrus Khambatta: Yeah, that's a problem.

Tobi Weihofen: Yeah, that is, right. And especially, like I said, considering myself, I see myself as an active guy, right, and not being able to keep up with my dad. He was worried, like, "Are you ok? Something's not right." And he's a nutritionist himself, but he never explored going plant-based exclusively. And then after making the switch, now I'm playing basketball again. I'm starting to work on my explosiveness, doing pipeline metrics, which is very taxing on the joints of course, but that wouldn't have been possible just two and a half years ago. I would have never dreamed of doing that. So yeah, I'm so excited to see where the journey takes me in a couple of years, and obviously, now I'm also like, the soul is so much happier, right? Just because I know I'm the best I can, and well.

Cyrus Khambatta: So, give us, run us through a typical day of eating for you. What do you eat for breakfast? What do you eat for lunch? What do you eat for dinner?

Tobi Weihofen: Yeah, so breakfast is similar to Luke's, only smaller. No one can eat like Luke does. It's just unbelievable. Once we took a picture, and it's full, it's literally like two hands across that huge bowl. Mine is just a one hand across, but similar, right. So, I throw some fresh fruits in there, so I make oats, maybe, anything like chia seeds, like the superfoods you can easily toss on top, and it's just nice.

Then lunch, typically, like, you know, it'll be a sandwich, an avocado sandwich, something light, just because I don't like having to digest too much food. And being an entrepreneur, working non-stop, so I keep it light during lunch. And then at night, it's just a whole hearty meal. Like whatever. Pasta, rice. And I feel cheated if I don't get at least five veggies at night. So you gotta have those veggies in there.

Cyrus Khambatta: For sure. I love it. I love it. I love it. So you mentioned earlier that your dad was a nutrition PhD, right? And so from a young age, you learned a lot about nutrition. But then, you also told me that your mother actually passed away from breast cancer, despite the fact that there was so much knowledge in your family, right?

Tobi Weihofen: Yeah, that's right. And it's just, it's one of those things that is hard to grasp, especially as you get to learn about plant-based nutrition, and what it can do for your health, right. So I grew up, like I said, as a vegetarian that was based on my dad's decision after doing his research, he decided that was the best back then. But that is, you know, like, in the beginning of the 80s, so that's when he made that switch. And even despite, you know, decades of healthy eating, my mom passed away when I was a teenager and to breast cancer.

And obviously, that was a tough loss. And, yeah, now, seeing what's possible, and then seeing that nutrition can do so much more. And that nutrition, even if you think it's healthy, there is that extra step that we can take. And I always think it's like, we only have that one life, right? And I learned that, early, the hard way, right. And, and it's all about, there's no guarantees in life, right? So obviously, there is a lot of naysayers saying, "Hey, you can't guarantee it. So let me enjoy life here." But what, how does that enjoyment go? You eat crappy food, you're gonna, you're going to, sooner or later, it's going to haunt you. And so, to me, it's all about stacking the deck in your favor, right? There's no guarantee.

But what we can guarantee is that if you eat right, if you eat healthy food, that at least you have the best chances to enjoy life to the fullest and not waste decades or die early. And, and that's really what drives me every day. And that's why I love seeing those posts in the community. Which to me, is much more exciting than hearing about the latest research from the doctors, right, it's great to have the studies done, to have the evidence support what we do, but then actually seeing people you know, beat cancer, you know.

Being bedridden for months, and then a couple weeks later, walking and throwing the cane away, and enjoying life again, with their kids. Or proud parents seeing their son recover, and all the sudden they're like, "hey, if he can do it, what am I doing, right? I'm in my 60s, I don't want to retire early, or lose my job", right? So they switch, lose 100 pounds, and all of a sudden, all the family is healthy.

Cyrus Khambatta: It's funny. I remember way back in 2012, when I was working in biotech. So, I got a job doing a postdoc after my PhD. And I was working in biotech. And I honestly thought that, the reason you want to go work in biotech is because, you're making either tools or services to make people healthier. And so I was motivated by that, that like, end goal. And then as I went through my, you know, career in biotech, after six months, after nine months, I started to realized that at least the company that I was operating at, you know, it was just trying to make money, you know, and the whole industry, you know, even the pharmaceutical industry, it's just about money, you know, for the most part.

And so, on a daily basis, like, I didn't feel like I had that, like, I wasn't being satisfied, my soul wasn't satisfied, because I was like, there's so much information, we have so much knowledge. And yet here I am sitting at a desk all day long, writing things on a piece of paper and creating spreadsheets that ultimately are not going to actually impact real people who are looking for solutions. And it sounds like you kind of went through that same thing. And now here you are, you know, you have a community in your hands you see people transforming every single day, right in front of your eyes. And as a result of that, I mean, is there any better feeling on the planet?

Tobi Weihofen: Definitely. Yes.

Luke Tan: And I think you're right. I think that, just to rehash the point you're saying. It's not about being a CrossFit athlete. But you know it's about setting micro goals and seeing a lot of these people, who probably kind of succumb to their fate, and all of a sudden getting this new information, and just kind of just turning their lives around. And all of a sudden being advocates, it's like you know.

One of our good friends, that I know turned her life around, and even Holly one of our members as well, not only have they turn their lives around and their health, weight loss, and everything, but now they are now champions, helping their communities. Being coaches themselves, that wanted to share and spread this message to help others, just kind of spread the seeds.

Because I think there's, you know, once you actually experienced this change yourself, you want everyone around you to share this. Share this lifestyle. Exactly. So, I mean, you come from, you have a very, very inspiring story as well, we heard it a few weeks ago, and man you know, it's crazy you know where you were before and what you're doing right now it's incredible.

Cyrus Khambatta: I appreciate that. So, okay, here's the last question for you guys. How do people join the Plant Fit Summit? Where are they going to go? When are they going to do it? And what are they going to experience? So brag about yourself, put in a pitch for how people can get involved in the Plant Fit Summit, and in your community. Go for it.

Tobi Weihofen: Yeah, I mean, It's simple: plantfitsummit.com, or I'm sure Cyrus is gonna post a link and share it with you as well, but plantfitsummit.com. You can sign up right now. It's open to everyone, it starts September 1, we have a pre-launch, which is going to be inspiring. So you want to join early, rather than late. And then, what you got to experience, it's just the, you're going to get the full wealth of knowledge from all the experts. And it's practical. So we, rather than focusing on science, we want to keep it practical. 

And of course, you're going to be invited to join our community, that you can find on Facebook. So, we're there every day, especially Luke helping everyone out. And it's just a place to share, and ask questions, and get help from people who've been in your situation, that are going through the same thing, the support there is amazing. So there's no judgment, right? Which is very important for us. The community is all positive, no judgment, everyone is on their own journey. And we're here to help.

And so, you're going to get the invitation with the very first email and the confirmation, when you sign up for the summit. Or you can just find that on Plant Fit Movement in the group section on Facebook.

Cyrus Khambatta: Perfect, perfect, perfect. Well, I'm telling you, I didn't even know about the Plant Fit Summit. I didn't know it existed. But now that I know it exists, I'm going to be watching, listening to practically every single one of these lectures, or I should say talks. So you know, if you are listening to this podcast right now, and you are interested, I'm going to be doing this the exact same time as you. So let's do this together. Let's have a good time. Let's learn from Toby. Let's learn from Luke. They've put in so much time and effort into this whole process. And, you know, as we have heard, they're changing lives left and right. So if I haven't said so already, guys, thank you, not only for being here on this podcast.

But thank you for doing what you do. Ultimately, thank you for making it such a focus of your daily life to try and help other people. It's like the ethos of Mastering Diabetes is always to try and help others as much as possible. I even heard a quote the other day, I'm probably going to butcher it. But it was something like "you will receive everything you ever wanted in life by helping other people receive everything they ever wanted in life", right? Something to that where you know, the more you help other people, the happier you become. So thank you for doing what you do, really appreciate it.

Luke Tan: Thank you for the opportunity to be here.

Cyrus Khambatta: Now if you're interested in learning more about the Mastering Diabetes Online Group Coaching Program, visit www.masteringdiabetes.org/coaching, and you can learn all about the tools that we provide to you, which can transform your lifestyle from the inside out. We've worked incredibly hard to make this Program, and we've also worked hard to make it extremely affordable for you.

The Program costs $29 per month, that's less than $1 a day. And for that you have the opportunity to completely transform your lifestyle and completely transform your diabetes health in the process. If you're interested in joining the Mastering Diabetes Online Group Coaching Program, we highly recommend it.

In our Online Group Coaching Program, we provide you with access to three powerful tools. The first tool is a step by step Online Course that's been designed by Robby and myself. And in this online course, you can think of it as your resource for learning exactly what to eat, exactly what not to eat, how to grocery shop, how to move your body, how to manage your blood glucose before, during, and after exercise, and how to learn from your blood glucose patterns, so that you can change your medication doses over the course of time, whether those are oral medications, or whether it's injectable insulin. In this online course, we give you a collection of videos, a collection of recipes, and a collection of PDFs that are designed to make this transition towards a diet. Simple and highly effective.

Robby Barbaro: I can't tell you the number of people that have said they learned more from this course, especially a lot of type 1s, who've been living with it for a long time, they've worked with their doctors, they say that they have learned more from this Online Course than any other diabetes resource they have had in their entire life. And people just love it. So we are really, really proud. And it's gotten a lot of great feedback on that.

So in addition to the Online Course, we have a private Facebook group. So this is where you come in, and share what's going on, and ask questions. And only the members of the group can see it. So friends and family on Facebook, don't see it. It's a private group. And this is a very, very active group. And every time you post a question, somebody on our team, our admin team, one of our coaches is going to reply within 24 hours. So we really have this setup in a way that we are with you every step of the way, you don't feel lost, you don't feel like you're hanging, you don't feel like you have to wait a week to get a question answered, we are there for you.

We love helping and it's not rainbows and unicorns either. Like it's not just beautiful food pictures, and you know, I'm doing amazing. People are being vulnerable, and honest, and sharing what's going on, so we can help and that's what's really going on this group. It's really powerful, and you're getting support from other people. And that means a lot other people who are going through the program with you. Other people who've already had success, they reduce their medication already, and they can share how they did it. And you can get inspired by that, and you're seeing pictures of others people eating really healthy meals, and reporting what happened on their latest doctor visit. So it's really inspiring and motivating as well.

Cyrus Khambatta: In addition to that, we also have live video conferences that happen twice a month. And in these live video conferences, we provide you with a link in your email, you click on it, and you enter a video conference where you can see and listen to other people that are going through this process with you. One of our coaches, or sometimes multiple of our coaches, are on that phone call learning from you, answering your direct questions, and making sure that you understand exactly what you need to do, in order to keep moving in the right direction.

So, if you have some complex questions that you don't understand about what's happening to your fasting blood glucose, or why your energy levels are low, bring those questions directly to us, interact with us directly, and make sure that you know exactly how to move forward, without there being any question marks.

​We also have small group video conferencing and private coach available as well, so if you're interested in participating in any of our programs, we highly recommend it. Obviously, we're biased, we run this program, we know just how effective it is. Visit www.masteringdiabetes.org/coaching, once again www.masteringdiabetes.org/coaching. Take a look at what you see on that page. If you're interested in getting started. We'll 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.