“Having fun and having outlets and hobbies that bring joy to you.” With Dr. William Seeds & Eric Gumpricht, Ph.D

In the case of nutrition, one of the major issues is finding a common ground of basic facts and tenets. What diets are best? What foods are “healthy”? Frequently, we’re not even beginning at the same starting line, and for many people diet is personal. Diet is cultural. Therefore, people often have significant investments in believing what they believe. Putting that aside, it is undoubtedly true that people don’t want to fail in their health goals — whatever that may mean. And, let’s face it, change is hard. In terms of weight loss, I try to suggest individuals focus less on numbers per se and more on how they feel and their overall health and consider the fact that while pounds may not reduce as much or as fast as they would like, their body composition may be changing in a favorable way (e.g., more muscle, less fat).

Ihad the pleasure to interview Eric Gumpricht, Ph.D.. A nutrition and mechanistic-based scientist with 30 years’ experience in academia and the private sector, Eric Gumpricht, Ph.D., serves as Isagenix International’s Director of Research and Science. His responsibilities include overseeing the company’s research study program (clinical and experimental studies), scientific claims and product development support, and product education to consumers. Eric joined Isagenix in 2011 as a Research Scientist. He was promoted to Manager of Research and Science in 2015 and to Director of Research and Science in 2018. Prior to Isagenix, he had positions at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and the nutrigenomics company Sciona Inc. In addition to his position at Isagenix, Eric serves as an Adjunct Faculty member at Arizona State University in the nutrition program within the College of Health Solutions. As part of this role he provides one or two lectures annually at the university. Eric has a successful track record of scholarship, with approximately 20 peer-reviewed publications and 35 conference abstracts. His excellent interpersonal, communication, and educational skills have resulted in frequent speaking engagements. Eric received a bachelor’s degree in nutrition science, a master’s degree in veterinary science (now pathobiology), and a doctorate in nutrition science from Pennsylvania State University.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the story about how you first got involved in fitness and wellness?

Igrew up in homes where my parents and stepparents were hippies and generally followed a lifestyle that included outside-the-box nutritional thinking. As a child and teenager, I had very bad bouts of asthma, and I became aware that nutrition improved my asthma when consuming fresh-squeezed orange or carrot juice (still have no idea how or why that worked for me!). This potential use of “nutrition as therapy” has always resonated with me and led me down further scientific explorations of interest including: anti-aging therapies, free radical biochemistry, and detoxification. Especially from an anti-aging perspective it wasn’t a far leap into the world of caloric restriction (CR) and intermittent fasting (IF).

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Likely not the most interesting, but I do recall a funny incident some 30 years ago as a graduate student at Penn State University. My adviser was organizing a conference back in his home country of India on biological oxidation mechanisms (our lab focus), and knowing I was into rap music at the time (still am to a much lesser degree), he asked me to write a “free radical rap”! I believe MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” was a huge hit around that time? Picture me trying to create verses rhyming such terms as superoxide, glutathione, “active oxygen,” mitochondrial respiration, etc. I probably got one verse into it when I realized he wasn’t taking me to India for the conference, and both he and I lost interest.

Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?

Part of what I believe provides me with unique perspectives is my combination of professional experiences and an innate ability to simplify typically complex science into more easily digestible components. First, I had 20 years or so of pure academic research training. This training included obtaining my Ph.D. in nutrition sciences at Penn State, followed by a National Institutes of Health (NIH) training grant and postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Accompanying my professional academic career were many published studies in very high-quality scientific journals.

Second, as fate would have it, I transitioned into the private sector where I worked first at a nutrigenomics company before ultimately landing at Isagenix International, where I am Director of Research and Science. Isagenix is a global health and wellness company, and to my knowledge, one of the first companies to feature and combine core principles of CR and IF, two very hot dietary strategies for their potential health promoting and weight loss benefits. As a trained scientist, I enjoy scientifically documenting and researching these benefits!

Luckily, I can still participate in and benefit from both worlds. So, while I do what I can to advance the role of science at Isagenix — whether it be via novel product formulation recommendations, writing blog posts, or educating consumers — I also collaborate with esteemed scientists at various universities such as the University of Florida and Arizona State University, documenting the health benefits of our products and systems. I also serve as an adjunct faculty member at Arizona State University in its nutrition program, where I lecture on topics including the transition from academia into the private sector.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I have had a few mentors and colleagues who I am indeed grateful for. A key mentor was the individual who hired me at Isagenix, Susie Rockway, Ph.D. She clearly saw something in me that allowed her to take a chance on this erstwhile academic scientist. She would frequently praise my writing or edits and conclude her praise with “I can’t believe you’re not a professor somewhere!” Indeed, I never doubted many of my key professional and personal attributes and skills would translate from academia into the private sector. I always assumed some of her praise was due to her background, which was also that of a former academician.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?

In the case of nutrition, one of the major issues is finding a common ground of basic facts and tenets. What diets are best? What foods are “healthy”? Frequently, we’re not even beginning at the same starting line, and for many people diet is personal. Diet is cultural. Therefore, people often have significant investments in believing what they believe. Putting that aside, it is undoubtedly true that people don’t want to fail in their health goals — whatever that may mean. And, let’s face it, change is hard. In terms of weight loss, I try to suggest individuals focus less on numbers per se and more on how they feel and their overall health and consider the fact that while pounds may not reduce as much or as fast as they would like, their body composition may be changing in a favorable way (e.g., more muscle, less fat).

Here’s a place where I love introducing someone to the potential health benefits of IF and CR.

Collectively, the science supports many benefits from IF and CR, alone or in combination. In fact, in the largest and longest clinical study evaluating CR — the multicenter CALERIE trial (1) — the investigators were targeting a 25% reduction in calories. And how many calories did the subjects typically reduce? Only about half of the targeted goal. Yet despite this “failure” to adhere to the target calorie reduction range, the subjects not only lost weight and kept it off, but also improved or modified many risk factors for disease. All of that said, I would recommend people consult with their healthcare practitioner before incorporating CR or IF into their routine.

Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”? (Please share a story or an example for each, and feel free to share ideas for mental, emotional and physical health.)

There are many things I would suggest for improving one’s well-being. Included here are having fun and having outlets and hobbies that bring joy to you. Mine include our pets, listening to music, reading books on virtually every category of topics imaginable, and definitely cooking. Also, of extreme importance I would think would be to find ways to manage stress. Finally, I believe in simply being a good person, like following the “golden rule” of treating others the way you want to be treated.

From a nutritional perspective, I favor the potential benefits of IF, which comes in many versions and modifications. For example, there’s the “alternate-day” diet and the “5:2” diet. The version Isagenix has created and scientifically documented in two independent, peer-reviewed studies (2–6) involves fasting either one day a week or fasting two consecutive days every other week. This IF is not a water fast but a fast that allows for a very small caloric intake, approximately 200–450 calories per day, which helps minimize excessive fluctuations in plasma glucose, hormones, and electrolytes. Our fast-day products include dietary supplements such as Cleanse for Life®, a scientifically formulated blend of herbal botanicals and antioxidants that afforded significant protection against toxins and oxidative stress in a cell study (7). Needless to say, we’ve observed great responses with this IF protocol.

The great thing about it is that you needn’t be overweight or obese to benefit. Intermittent fasting and CR interventions have been shown to not only support weight loss but also to positively influence cardiovascular and metabolic measures, mood, and even sexual health (1, 8–11). I cannot tell you how many individuals I’ve met through the years who confide in how much happier they are after undergoing our IF protocols. These include women and men who’ve lost weight and maintained that weight loss as well as serious athletes who have incorporated IF into their training without any negative impact on performance or workout goals.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Given that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 70% of US adults are classified as either overweight or obese (12), I have no doubt that the greatest good from a health and wellness perspective would be for most Americans to simply achieve and then maintain a healthy weight. Intermittent fasting can certainly contribute to these goals by not only reducing caloric intake but also by changing metabolism and some underlying mechanisms responsible for weight gain or regain. Again, I would always suggest individuals consult with their healthcare provider before embarking on any weight loss program or protocol incorporating IF.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

I do often think about the quote sometimes attributed to Mark Twain: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.” We live in a world (and scientists can be just as guilty as anyone else in this context) where everyone confuses “having an opinion” with “having an informed opinion.” Another quote I like is “Youth is wasted on the young,” usually attributed to playwright George Bernard Shaw. As I get older you can understand my affection toward this one.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Although he’s no longer alive, among scientists there’s no one I would have loved to have met more than the only person to have ever won two unshared Nobel Prizes: Linus Pauling. I’m simply in awe of his scientific contributions. The man was a genius in chemistry, physics, crystallography, molecular biology, and of course his proselyting of vitamin C. Another departed but tremendous influence on me was John Coltrane. I would go as far as saying the most spiritual I ever find myself feeling is when listening to ‘Trane. Among living individuals, I’m very politically active, so in that realm I would love to have a meal with Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, or Barack Obama.

Article Resources

  1. Kraus WE, Bhapkar M, Huffman KM et al. 2 years of calorie restriction and cardiometabolic risk (CALERIE): exploratory outcomes of a multicentre, phase 2, randomised controlled trial. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol 2019, 7, P673–683. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/landia/article/PIIS2213-8587(19)30151-2/fulltext
  2. Kroeger CM, Klempel MC, Bhutani S et al. Improvement in coronary heart disease risk factors during an intermittent fasting/calorie restriction regimen: Relationship to adipokine modulations. Nutr Metab (Lond) 2012, 9, 98. https://nutritionandmetabolism.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1743-7075-9-98
  3. Klempel MC, Kroeger CM, Bhutani S et al. Intermittent fasting combined with calorie restriction is effective for weight loss and cardio-protection in obese women. Nutr J 2012, 11, 98. https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1475-2891-11-98
  4. Arciero PJ, Edmonds R, He F et al. Protein-pacing caloric-restriction enhances body composition similarly in obese men and women during weight loss and sustains efficacy during long-term weight maintenance. Nutrients 2016, 8, 476. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/8/8/476
  5. Zuo L, He F, Tinsley GM et al. Comparison of high-protein, intermittent fasting low-calorie diet and heart healthy diet for vascular health of the obese. Front Physiol 2016, 7, 350. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2016.00350/full
  6. He F, Zuo L, Ward E et al. Serum polychlorinated biphenyls increase and oxidative stress decreases with a protein-pacing caloric restriction diet in obese men and women. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2017, 14, 59. https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/14/1/59
  7. Gumpricht E, Kumar R, Hussain A et al. Natural herbal beverage exhibits significant cytoprotection and promotes Nrf-2 activation in cells. FASEB J 2015, Abstract # 607.1. https://www.fasebj.org/doi/10.1096/fasebj.29.1_supplement.607.1
  8. Martin, CK, Bhapkar M, Pittas AG et al. Effect of calorie restriction on mood, quality of life, sleep, and sexual function in healthy nonobese adults: The CALERIE 2 Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Intern Med 2016, 176, 743–52. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2517920
  9. Antoni R, Johnston KL, Collins AL et al. Intermittent v. continuous energy restriction: differential effects on postprandial glucose and lipid metabolism following matched weight loss in overweight/obese participants. Br J Nutr 2018, 119, 507–16.https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/intermittent-v-continuous-energy-restriction-differential-effects-on-postprandial-glucose-and-lipid-metabolism-following-matched-weight-loss-in-overweightobese-participants/B165A5BA52A6B625B7A98067D3B2F39B
  10. Harris L, Hamilton S, Azevedo LB et al. Intermittent fasting interventions for the treatment of overweight and obesity in adults aged 18 years and over: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JBI Database System Rev Implement Rep. 2018, 16, 507–47. https://insights.ovid.com/pubmed?pmid=29419624
  11. Seimon RV, Roekenes JA, Zibellini J et al. Do intermittent diets provide physiological benefits over continuous diets for weight loss? A systematic review of clinical trials. Mol Cell Endocrinol 2015, 418 (Pt 2), 153–72. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0303720715300800?via%3Dihub
  12. Overweight and Obesity Statistics. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/overweight-obesity

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