Critical Thinking in Health and Nutrition with Danny Lennon

Jan. 18, 2016

Apple Frudel.

Banana Chocolate Chip Bread.

Cinnamon French Toast Bread.

Blueberry Snack’N Waffle.

Cocoa Puffs Cereal Bar.

Cheerios Cereal Bar.

Cinnamon Pop Tart.

Strawberry Splash Pancake.

Super Donut.

All these “food” items were taken from the breakfast menu for my nephew’s school. Presumably an expert designed this menu because it bares the logo of

If you can't trust the experts, who can you trust?

How do you protect yourself from misinformation that has the potential to hurt you and your children’s health?

There is only one way, and that’s to learn how to evaluate scientific evidence and think critically.

Danny Lennon is a nutrition educator and critical thinker, and his Sigma Nutrition podcast is a powerful platform.

As you can probably tell from his accent, Danny is from Ireland.

After completing a degree in biology and physics, Danny worked as a teacher for a while before returning to the University of Cork to complete a master’s degree in Nutrition Science.

After failing to achieve the results he deserved from training, Danny set out to discover the truth about what works in nutrition and health. His goal is to teach us how to be our own expert, to enable us to separate the brilliant from the misleading, even if the difference is more subtle than a Super Donut on your breakfast menu.

If you’re listening to this interview, my guess is that you’re already an accomplished nutrition critical thinker. My question to you is how do we get this message out there more efficiently? Please let me know in the comments section below.

Here’s the outline of this interview with Danny Lennon:

0:00:00    Danny Lennon's Sigma Nutrition Radio podcast.

0:00:51    Sigma Nutrition Radio has helped me professionally.

0:01:10    Why is Danny interested in nutrition?

0:01:33    Danny has always been an athlete.

0:01:41    Danny studied biology and physics.

0:02:06    Boyd Eaton paper on evolutionary biology.

0:02:06    Necessity is a great teacher!

0:02:34    Danny taught science for a while.

0:02:50    Danny was born just outside London, grew up in Dublin, now in Limerick.

0:03:36    I have Kelly on both sides of my family!

0:03:53    Is there an obesity problem in Ireland?

0:04:35    Danny is a type-A!

0:04:57    Danny was eating a very low-fat diet with lots of whole grains, something with hindsight he wouldn't recommend.

0:05:52    Danny wasn't as lean as he should have been given how much training he was doing.

0:06:38    I used to eat a completely fat-free diet, thank you Teflon!

0:07:07    Danny has a classical education.

0:07:55    Danny started to wonder who else he could help.

0:08:15    Vitamin D research at the University of Cork under Prof. Kevin Cashman

0:08:44    Understanding individuality.

0:09:28    Biochemistry in a master's degree is fine.

0:09:59    But the public health education is questionable.

0:10:25    The falsely claimed dangers of red meat consumption as an example.

0:10:54    Danny did his own research and sent them to his professor.

0:11:22    The 80s and 90s were the nutritional stone age.

0:11:59    Robb Wolf interview with RD who struggled (Laura Schoenfeld).

0:12:30    My wife Julia decided not to become registered or licensed.

0:12:54    What motivates Danny to teach.

0:13:25    The podcast allows Danny to educate at a level he enjoys.

0:14:18    Danny likes to inspire people to think critically for themselves.

0:15:00    Danny's podcast on calorie restriction and longevity with Dr. Eric Ravussin.

0:15:29    An upcoming interview is a powerful motivator for learning.

0:16:04    My social isolation podcast with Bryan Walsh.

0:16:50    Sarcopenic obesity.

0:17:12    Danny aims to provides the best platform for getting the information out there.

0:17:36    The dangers of "canned answers".

0:18:18    Danny does not write down a list of questions.

0:18:36    My interview with Jason Fung.

0:18:58    A list of questions didn't work for me.

0:19:24    Danny picks guests to create a narrative that spans multiple episodes.

0:20:32    The narrative clusters two or three podcasts.

0:20:32    Adrenal fatigue with Bryan Walsh.

0:21:05    How do you reconcile when a guest says something you think is wrong and unhelpful?

0:21:51    A podcast interview is not a debate!

0:22:11    Practitioners talk about what they do.

0:22:29    Danny can still raise counterpoints.

0:23:06    I've had guests that have said things I've thought was questionable.

0:23:44    How does the information you glean from the podcast fit into your practice.

0:23:53    There's a common core consensus e.g. sleep, minimally processed foods.

0:25:18    It's OK to change your mind based on the new information.

0:25:29    Danny is always thinking about key messages, and he would like you to do the same.

0:26:05    Getting caught up in the details.

0:27:26    The basics come first.

0:27:52    Snowing people with everything you've learnt is a mistake.

0:28:45    My fictitious example: overtrained half marathon runner.

0:29:27    Initial starting point is to look at the big picture.

0:30:00    No need to jump into test until you've addressed the basics.

0:30:29    The test results are not going to change what we do first until we've addressed the basics.

0:30:57    Depending on the person, changing one thing at a time can be helpful.

0:31:26    Sleep and diet first.

0:32:21    Regaining weight and regressing because people think they need to make changes all the time.

0:33:05    Modification in preference to complete overhaul.

0:33:47    Usually people come to me having already done the basic stuff.

0:34:11    Some people seem better able to make change once they've seen a test result.

0:34:52    Getting emotional commitment is important.

0:35:39    A diagnosis is a powerful motivator.

0:36:31    Getting to the underlying goals.

0:36:51    Quantification can be important

0:37:24    Danny sets up a series of consultations.

0:38:11    Avoids snowing.

0:38:11    This adds accountability.

0:38:28    12 week block of coaching.

0:38:43    Danny works with a lot of boxers and MMA fighters.

0:39:14    Maybe I've been doing this wrong: too many things at once.

0:39:58    I do get great results but we spend so much time following up.

0:40:47    The intermediates and advanced people might do better with taking it all on at once.

0:41:36    Every coach should have a coach.

0:42:00    Otherwise you end up second guessing.

0:42:40    I love ticking boxes and following plans.

0:43:04    I have at least one example of a person that did better with weekly contact.

0:43:35    Lacking the call to action.

0:44:16    Sign up at

0:45:01    Danny's article on key fundamentals.

0:45:33    Danny finds writing harder.

0:45:56    Danny tends towards perfectionism and long articles.

0:48:23    The Ridiculously Simple Guide to Sustainable Fat Loss.

0:48:47    The 2016 Sigma Nutrition Conference is in February.

0:49:42    For fitness professionals.

0:50:02    In Dublin.

0:50:15    Possibly one or even to in England.

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