Wilks/Kresser Debate Breakdown - Heart & Soil Supplements

Evidence based

| 22 min read

Wilks/Kresser Debate Breakdown

Brian Sanders and I dug into the studies and points Wilks made and found them to be incorrect or unfounded.​

We spent a few days looking into each study and counterpoint Wilks used to try and discredit Kresser and came to some very different conclusions that will surprise you! ​It turns out the entire appearance on Rogan was a well-orchestrated attack with very little actual substance. He used ad hominem insults, bullying, interrupting, and misrepresented data Kresser was not familiar with to put on a how of smoke and mirrors.​

Of course, if Wilks brings up a study from September 2019 Kresser has never heard of and shots that it says protein from plant sources is within a few percent of the digestibility of the protein of animal sources, Kresser has to take his word for it. Kresser can’t know that the study Wilks was mentioning just quoted a reference from a 2017 vegetarian chapter that references a 2002 “joint expert consultation.” When we tracked this down we didn’t find any good evidence to back up this claim, and most importantly, THIS WAS NOT NEW DATA that Kresser would be unaware of. It was outdated data using the old PDCAAS system.​

Our theory is that Wilks took the opportunity to go on the wildly popular Joe Rogan podcast, put on a show and impress Joe, make the public (who would never actually track down each of his studies) believe he won, and then disappear. Both of us, and maybe 100 others so far have reached out to him on social media and he’s yet to respond. We believe he never will and will never back up the claims he made in that podcast publicly because he knows it was all BS. You’ll see for yourself if you listen to our podcast and read through these extensive notes. Enjoy!


[12:20] Wilks complains how the meat industry research is largely funded by interest groups, but this is the case with all industries

  • This is covered in more detail later in the video [1:46:15] but industry funding is very corrupt so Wilks can not make the claim that meat is the only criminal 
  • For example, James Cameron, one of the producers of the Gamechangers just invested $140 million dollars in Verdient Foods, who makes plant protein (vegan protein) 

[14:40] Dairy products and cancer association 

  • Dairy product consumption and development of cancer: an overview of reviews
  • James Wilks mentions in Joe Rogan debate that dairy is linked to disease such as cancer
  • He uses mainly epidemiological studies to back this up, but whenever Chris Kresser tries to bring up an epidemiology study, Wilks completely refutes the validity of the study
  • There have been multiple studies that do not show a link of dairy products and cancer
  • [18:45] James Wilks completely misinterpreted the Dairy Product Consumption and Prostate Cancer RIsk in the United States 
  • States that “in conclusion, dairy product consumption not associated with prostate cancer overall, which does not support harmful impact of dairy report in previous studies” this was a 2019 study so much more up to date

[16:20] Interventional studies are king – they trump epidemiology studies, which are what James Wilks continuously referred to

  • He also continued to refute any epidemiological studies Chris Kresser brought up 

[20:19] Dairy products and inflammation: A review of the clinical evidence 

  • Less inflammation in people who ate dairy 
  • Interestingly, those with metabolic disorders (such as diabetes) had anti-inflammation 
  • Though this is an epidemiology study
  • Important to differentiate lactose intolerance and inflammation from dairy
  • Lactose intolerance: the ability to digest the lactose molecule due to no lactase enzyme in the brush border of the small intestine 
  • [23:00] A1 beta-casein milk protein and other environmental predisposing factors for type 1 diabetes
    • Epidemiology study of how A1 casein may cause autoimmune disorders 
    • A2 milk from goats, sheep, and buffalo or A2 cows is what Paul Saladino suggests if you want to try it out 
  • [24:50] Health-promoting components in fermented foods: an up-to-date systematic review 
    • Make sense to realize that dairy is fine for you, think of all the cultures who rely on it (India) and have it as part of their everyday life (usually they ferment the dairy → cheese, kefir, butter)

[26:25] Wilks falsely claims that Richard Wrangham, British primatologist and Harvard Anthropologist, believes that ancestors were primarily plant eaters throughout evolution

  • [26:50] Wrangham has openly stated that eating meat was a huge part of our evolution in his book and in interviews
  • His book Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human dives deep on how cooking food was an essential element in the physiological evolution of human beings 

[29:20] The reliance or sudden ability to get meat allowed our brains to grow

  • Around 2 million years ago something very interesting happens – there is a steep logarithmic curve with an inflection point where our brains grew in size significantly
    • 500 cc to 1500 cc
    • We see these bifacial tools – made into knives made for our hands (advent of hunting)
    • See cut marks on animal bones
    • Mass grave sites of animal bones

[38:40] Wilks claims that meat consumption causes inflammation

[53:50] Comparative Effects of Low-Carbohydrate High-Protein Versus Low-Fat Diets on the Kidney

  • No evidence that high protein diets are damaging to the kidneys 

High protein does not cause problems with bones 

[56:50] Heme iron and N-nitroso compounds 

[1:08:30] If red meat is so bad for you why do some cultures live longer while eating lots of meat?

  • What the World Eats
  • Wilks claims that consumption of meat is directly related to shorter life span, this is not valid as we see that Hong-Kong and Japan have some of the longest life spans but also has the highest meat consumption
  • They have even increased their meat consumption over the years and still remain at the top of the life expectancy list globally

[1:09:10] Meat intake and cause-specific mortality: a pooled analysis of Asian prospective cohort study 

  • “…our pooled analysis did not provide evidence of a higher risk of mortality for total meat intake and provided evidence of an inverse association with red meat, poultry, and fish/seafood. Red meat intake was inversely associated with CVD mortality in men and with cancer mortality in women in Asian countries.”
  • This is epidemiology which is problematic but it’s interesting 
  • If you can find contradicting epidemiology you need to question the hypothesis 
  • Look at the totality of the evidence and this will show that epidemiology can not be relied on to make conclusion 

[1:10:25] Athletes and carbohydrates 

  • Paul believes athletes do not need carbohydrates to maintain full glycogen stores and to perform optimally either explosively or endurance sports 
  • It is not true that only endurance athletes can do a ketogenic diet  
  • It’s all about creatine in the muscles and the quick replenishment of ATP, you get creatine from animal meat sources
  • The FASTER study showed rates of glycogen utilization and replenishment are equivalent in low-carb and high-carb endurance athletes when keto-adapted
  • Zach Bitter was part of this study and was just on Joe Rogan 
  • You can still maintain glycolysis and anaerobic activity without carbohydrates
  • In the FASTER study, the highest glycogen athlete was following low-carb
  • The benefit of being keto-adapted is that you are better able to oxidize fats for fuel which means you have more access to energy 
  • The nuance is that if you are doing an activity longer than a few hours (depleting glycogen) than you may need intra-carbohydrates during activity but most people are not going past this

[1:17:45] Forest Plots 

  • 12-weeks of a KD did not impair HIIT
  • If you are keto-adapted you have the same amount of glycogen and will perform at the same level

[1:17:45] Forest Plots 

  • The significance of heme iron in epidemiology studies 
  • This was already covered in detail earlier

[1:19:00] Vitamin B12 in lake water

  • James shows a study “Monthly survey of vitamine B12 concentrations in some water of the english lake district” and he says look you can get B12 from water but what this study shows is a type of algae that exists in these waters that have a little bit of B12 and if you look at the numbers you would have to drink an insane amount of water to get the amount of B12 that you need and flowing bodies of water are likely not going to have algae
  • In one of the studies cited in this paper, the vitamin B12 concentration fluctuated between 100 and 2000 mcmcg/mL (picograms) 
  • If you do the math, you would have to drink 20L of this water to get 2mg of B12 which is the RDA, even at the high end (2000 picograms) you would have to drink 2-3L of this water 
  • Suggesting you can get enough vitamin B12 from drinking lake water is not realistic in any way

[1:22:40] Vitamin B12 from unwashed vegetables

  • James Wilks says you can get B12 from the soil if you don’t wash your vegetables 
  • The study that he references (Vitamin B12: plant sources, requirements, and assay) is using soil built with human manure
  • He also fails to mention that there are many B12 analogs that look like B12 but have no biological activity which Chris points out 

[1:24:03] Vitamin B12 supplements and cattle

[1:26:58] James claims it’s because of the pesticides that the soils are depleted but this is not true 

  • Brian talked to a rancher in Montana who uses land that have never seen crops or pesticides, yet these soils are still cobalt deficient so pesticides have nothing to do with 
  • Animals know what nutrients they need and they choose what to eat based on this

[1:28:17] Wilks brings up a point about omnivores and how some are deficient in B12

  • Paul hypothesizes that plant compounds/antinutrients may be inhibiting B12 absorption
  • Or we are all just eating less meat even though you can still be an omnivore
  • Or Brian says that maybe it’s because we have the false belief that eating too much meat is bad
  • Wilks’s argument that “Getting a nutrient (vitamin B12) from solely a supplement rather than natural food such as meat” just seems very illogical 

[1:30:22] Fiber and the microbiome 

  • There is a robust amount of evidence to show that we do not need fiber for a healthy microbiome 
  • Dietary fiber intervention on gut microbiota composition in healthy adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis
  • Chris and Paul disagree on this and are actually having a nice, friendly debate on this podcast coming soon so keep an eye out!
  • The removal of fiber from the diet with a carnivore diet, it does not change the alpha-diversity of the gut and the inclusion of fiber does not change it either 
  • Many studies in KD show that lower fiber does not alter the gut microbiome 

[1:31:45] Meat and inflammation  

  • James says “we know inflammatory markers will rise with meat” 
  • The idea that meat causes inflammation is false 
  • Inflammatory markers and markers of oxidative stress are not the same 
  • Kangaroo study comparing wild kangaroo meat to wagyu beef 
  • What they show is that the wagyu beef raised the inflammatory marker, IL-6, more than the kangaroo meat
  • If you look at the paper in detail the HS-CRP (another marker of inflammation) went down with both meats 
  • He misses that there are many studies that show that any food raises inflammatory markers postprandially, it is normal for inflammation to rise after we eat transiently no matter what food we eat 

[1:34:02] Magnitude and timing of the postprandial inflammatory response to a high-fat meal in healthy adults: a systematic review

  • About 60 meals are included and the majority of the meals increase inflammatory markers (vegan meals, sugary meals, dairy-based meals, etc.) 
  • The point is that vegan- and animal-based foods can increase inflammatory markers postprandial and it is misleading to say that meat is inflammatory and plant-foods are not

[1:37:45] Vegetables, inflammation, and oxidative stress

[1:41:38] It is hard to accept that vegetables aren’t as great as they are made out to be

  • It is the removal of junk food that fix a lot of problems and this is why vegan diets work in the short-term but over time you are likely to develop nutrient deficiencies 
  • Remove oxidized vegetable oils and processed foods from the diet that is the biggest step you can make towards better health 
  • It is so hard for people to understand that vegetables aren’t superfoods 
  • Paul and Brian even struggled to come to terms with the idea that it’s ok not to eat vegetables 

[1:44:20] Paul’s first episode on Peak Human talking about the WHO report and the IARC

  • Brian has had David Klurfeld on the podcast before who was on the panel for IARC and talked about the problems with that, listen to the podcast here >>>
  • If you are curious about the IARC recommendations against meat they had 400 studies and they only looked at 14 of them all of which were epidemiology, 8 showed no association between meat and cancer, 6 showed some association but 5 of those were not significant so only 1 of these studies showed a significant association between meat and cancer and it was strongest in people that were obese and overweight 
  • This is the one thing that everyone sites to support their argument that meat causes cancer 
  • This study was backed by strong vegetarian and vegan bias that was not disclosed 
  • They purposely ignored studies that showed the opposite

[1:45:18] NutriRECS 2019 meat recommendations 

[1:46:15] Harvard, Walter Willett, and industry funding

  • Walter Willett is on all the Harvard study because he is the lead nutrition studies coming out of Harvard 
  • Harvard scientists in the past were paid by the sugar industry to shift the blame for health problems from sugar to fat https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/13/well/eat/how-the-sugar-industry-shifted-blame-to-fat.html 
  • There is a 9.5 page document of Walter Willet’s conflicts of interest put online by Gary Fettke at isupportgary.com
  • He makes money off supporting vegan diets 
  • Listen to Gary Fettke on Peak Human 
  • Wilks claims industry influence in meat but the Harvard T.H. Chan school of public health receive millions of dollars from plant-based companies

[1:49:57] More on red meat and cancer 

[1:50:24] Appropriately planned vegan diets 

  • A nutritionally adequate diet requires supplements, for example, EPA, DHA, zinc, B12, iron
  • There are many nutrients that do not occur in plants: creatine, choline, carnosine, and taurine
  • When you supplement vegans/vegetarians 5g/day of creatine which is equivalent to 1lb of meat, their memory and thought processing speed has been shown to improve
  • Paul does not believe there is an appropriately planned vegan diet

[1:52:55] Protein quantity on a vegan diet

  • Chris’s arguments are not invalid 
  • You can get protein on a vegan diet but can you get enough to build muscle without protein supplements?
  • Paul recommends athletes consume 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight potentially more in ketosis
  • This amount would be virtually impossible for someone Jame’s weight without a pea-protein powder
  • The most rich source of plant-based protein is from lentils, 1 cup provides 18g of protein and it only goes down from there 
  • If you just ate lentils you would have to eat 10 cups of cooked lentils a day to get enough protein and if you use anything with less protein you need to eat more 
  • No vegan is going to be able to meet anabolic requirements at a basic levels solely from plant-based foods

[1:55:20] Protein amounts and calories 

  • Part of James’ argument is that you can get this protein without all the excess calories claiming that 3 oz of ground beef has 400 calories
  • This is a mistake on his end, 3 oz of 85% ground beef only has 204 calories and 22g of protein which is half of what James cited 

[1:56:10] Leucine & protein quality

  • Don Laymen (one of the most well-respected protein researchers in the world) says we need 2.5g of leucine for muscle protein response 
  • James claims a lower amount 
  • In beef, which is 8.6% leucine, you need 29g of protein to get 2.5g of leucine which means you just need to eat 4oz of beef at 183 calories 
  • Quinoa is 6% leucine, you need 42g of protein to get 2.5g of leucine, of which you would have to consume 1100 calories worth
  • Beef: 100g of beef is 2.8g of leucine
  • Lentils: 100g of lentils is 0.654g of leucine, which means you would need 385g of cooked lentils to get 2.5g of leucine to get a muscle protein response 
  • James claims you can get enough leucine eating beans and rice but Paul disagrees strongly
  • Beans have 1227mg of leucine per 100g 
  • Rice has 372mg of leucine per 100g
  • If you had 200g of beans and rice, you would only reach about 1600mg of leucine which is not enough to get a muscle protein response 
  • You can do it but you would have to eat all day 

[1:59:47] Problems with pea protein 

  • Uses a ton of water to produce 
  • Contaminated with heavy metals 
  • High in lectins  
  • Highly processed 

[2:00:30] Digestible indispensable amino acid score (DIAAS) and protein quality


[2:10:55] Flow-mediated dilatation  

  • The postprandial effect of components of the mediterranean diet on endothelial function 
  • Almost all foods will affect endothelial function 
  • It is not a good indicator of cardiovascular disease, poor proxy, should be discarded from previously used studies 
  • Chris Kresser listed multiple studies that milk protein and fish protein improve FMD 
  • Postprandial inflammation is also not a reliable marker as with consumption of any food, low-fat, high-fat, low-carb, high-carb it will go up 

[2:14:00] Conclusion of the podcast 

  • We do not need to be so aggressively on one side or the other, vegan or carnivore
  • These debates are healthy and not malicious – it is important to be able to discuss and have healthy discourse to better our knowledge and thoughts on opinions
  • [2:19:05] Food processing and emotion regulation in vegetarians and omnivores: an event-related potential investigation
    • took subjective measures of images of meat on a screen but looked at brain
    • vegetarians still had positive response to images of meat even though they believe that meat is harmful/gross
    • Still had favorable response in brain – central, parietal electrodes 
  • Brian and his partner who works in a clinic in Los Angeles has seen real results in a clinical setting about how their lives have changed for the better by eating animal foods while eliminating processed foods

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