Podcast #229 from
Introduction: In today’s episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast: How to legally boost hematocrit, limit the damage from night shift work, the dangers of vasectomies, should you eliminate all dairy if you have asthma, and how to run faster and longer.
Brock: Well, I tried something new this morning. I put a bunch of coconut oil and butter and vanilla and cinnamon in my coffee.
Ben: There you go. Cool! I tried something new this morning, too. I’ve been making my own nato at home. That’s that fermented soybean recipe that’s super high in vitamin K, too.
Brock: And really super high in sliminess.
Ben: It is a little bit snot. It’s got a serious snot factor but yeah, you go to an Asian grocery store and you buy some nato and you mix it up with some of your soybeans at home and you let that ferment for a while and yeah, you can mix it up with little white rice and eggs for breakfast. It’s a great way to go. I had snot for breakfast and you had fat for breakfast.
Brock: Yeah. It sounds a little to me like yours is a little more positive experience than mine, right?
Ben: Yes. Although nato can get quite odorous while you’re fermenting it so, better beware.
Brock: Make sure everybody who comes over to your house knows it’s not you, it’s the nato.
Ben: Blame it on the dog or blame it on the nato. There you go.
Brock: All right. As always, you can get these news flashes and a whole bunch of other interesting and awesome ones if you follow Ben at twitter.com/bengreenfield and you can also find them on Facebook at facebook.com/bgfitness and Google+. And this is the time when Ben highlights a few of those awesome news flashes for us.
Ben: This is the time and news flashes this week were fast and furious but a couple of the things that I sent across the twitter radar was an interesting article that appeared in New York Times on the yoga and how if you are dude doing yoga, you may wanna be careful. The title of this article was called Wounded Warrior Pose.
Brock: I saw this article and it’s not what you people are thinking ‘cause I know I thought something different than it was actually about, too.
Ben: What did you think?
Brock: I thought it had to do with the extra bits that men have.
Ben: Oh, yeah, the extra bits. Actually, this article was interesting because this guy had the hypothesis that basically, guys get injured more than girls when doing yoga because apparently, guys who bend and stretch and contort their bodies might get held back a little bit by the little bit of extra muscle that men tend to have or a little bit of less natural flexibility that we tend to have. So what he did was he literally went and dug in to the Consumer Products Safety Commission which monitors hospital emergency rooms and got 18 years worth of annual survey data that looked at yoga practitioners that were hurt over a decade and he compared the percentage of male yoga practitioners that were hurt to the actual percentage of male vs. female yoga practitioners and found that there was indeed a very significantly high percentage of males vs. females as a percentage of the whole population of yoga that were getting injured. Females tended to have more issues of fainting episodes and stuff but tons of muscul0-skeletal injuries in guys doing yoga, granted these are yoga practitioners who are probably doing a little more advanced forms of yoga than the average person who might wonder into gym’s yoga class. But ultimately, I thought it was interesting and just thought I’d throw that out there as a caution to guys if you are getting into something like yoga. Be careful.
Brock: One thing that I thought of too was I wonder if it isn’t just that men are a little more competitive and will push themselves a little harder, a little farther into the poses than they probably are capable of and maybe that’s part of the reason why they’re getting injured.
Ben: That’s true and we’re all trying to pull the welfare on Saturday night live move anyways. The one once had showed down his crotch and was saying “been trying to do this for years, leave me alone”. Anyways, that being said, we should move on. Another tweet was basically, and interesting review that looked at what happens to your body when you exercise because there is certainly that argument out there that in order to burn fat fast, that exercise may not be necessary and that we might just be able to get away with a little bit of physical activity here and there and eating a healthy diet. And I think that for some people, that may be true but I think that some folks tend to ignore the exercise or physical activity component too much. And one of the reasons I say this is that last night, I was teaching a fat loss seminar at a local health club and there were about 60 people there or so and during an hour and a half long, 90-minute Q & A, it was all Q & A, just a bored cell Q & A. It wasn’t a presentation or anything like that. That was just questions from the audience. It was all audience-driven. Not one question about exercise. Every question was about fat loss supplements – raspberry ketones and green coffee extract and bitter orange extract and all that stuff, and the diet. Not one single question about exercise. I just thought it was super interesting, looking out over the group of folks who were there, who were mostly overweight, who were slouched in their chairs with horrible posture, who you could tell were not talking care of their bodies and a lot of folks who were looking for that magic pill. I don’t wanna beat people up too much but basically, you gotta think a little bit about the physical activity component. And this particular review that I linked and we’ll link to it in the show notes, too for this episode along with everything else we talk about, of course, was called Recent Advances in the Adaptations of Adipose Tissue to Physical Activity. And it looked specifically how your fat cells respond to physical activity. Some of the things that they found were that training (any form of exercise training) cannot only increase what’s called your lipolysis which is your lipolytic rate, the rate at which you’re gonna break down fat cells so you get a higher lipid turnover. But there are few other things that happen as well, for example, you’ve got stem cells in your body and these stem cells can mature and become any type of different adipose tissue. That can become white adipose tissue which is less metabolically active, or they can become brown adipose tissue which is more metabolically active and tends to take calories and produce heat from those calories. It’s one of the reasons that I’ll do something like wear one of this cool ice pack kind of vest to amp up my activity of brown adipose tissue. But exercise does a similar thing and it turns out that in physically active folks, we get more maturation of stem cells into brown adipose tissue vs. white adipose tissue. And hand in hand with that, you also get a reduced amount of white adipose tissue cell size and cell number so there is that prevailing thought out there that you’re stuck with this many fat cells as you’ve always had and that as soon as you start eating too much that you’re gonna fill up those fat cells. Well, it turns out that exercise can mitigate some of that effect and actually reduce white adipose tissue cell size and cell number. A few other things that happen are that training improves what’s called the angiogenesis in white adipose tissue. And angiogenesis is when you’re feeding new blood vessels into an area. When we are enhancing the amount of capillaries that are going into adipose tissue, we’re improving the body’s ability to be able to tap in to that fat and use that as a fuel. And then the last thing that happens is you get an increased release of what’s called adenopectin. And adenopectin is, think of it like the hormone that tells your brain how many fat cells that you actually have, how much fat you have available to be able to burn through. When your brain is more aware of that, because of the adenopectin release, you’re more likely to tap into that fat store and use it as energy vs. if you’re in an inflamed state, you’ve got what’s called leptin insensitivity. You’re not producing a lot of this adenopectin and so your brain almost doesn’t have that signal being sent to it that “hey we’ve got some fat cells down here that we can burn and utilize for energy so let’s go and do it”.
Everything from standing at your work station to moving around during the day to not putting all your faith in pills and in eating a healthy but also engaging in exercise to a moderate extent is gonna help big time when it comes to specifically getting in a favorable state for your adipose tissue.
Brock: So it was just moderate exercise. You don’t have to go out and kill yourself doing some really high intense intervals or anything. It’s really just getting some of that like known exercise activity thermogenesis that people talk about, the neat kind of stuff?
Ben: Yeah. Exactly. I was doing a consult with one of the Ironman triathlete lady yesterday and I was telling her “you gotta think of Ironman triathlon this way: all this chronic cardio that you’re doing is more likely to make you fat than it is to improve your body composition and you need to think of this as an uphill battle between you shutting down your body’s ability to be able to be metabolically efficient or increasing your cortisol to the extent where you’re not gonna lose weight with all this chronic endurance training that you’re doing and your goal is to try to mitigate that through proper nutrition and supplementation and lifestyle protocols. Yeah, you certainly can get into that state of too much training and that’s the whole skinny fat thing that you see a lot of times with endurance athletes. The last thing was a study that looked into beet juice supplementation. This was another recent one. They took a bunch of elite team sport athletes and had them do the yoyo drill. I don’t if you guys do this stuff in Canada, Brock.
Brock: They don’t. I’m not familiar with it.
Ben: You’re all freaks out there. But basically, it’s the CD that beeps and you’re doing I think like a 20-yard sprint every time the CD beeps and you just go back and forth and back and forth until you can’t do it anymore. And basically, they tested a bunch of male team sport players doing one of these yoyo intermittent tests with and without beet juice. In this case, they were doing about 500 ml which comes out to right around 16 ounces or so of beet juice prior to that test. They ingested it for 30 hours going into that test, that amount of beet juice. And what they found was that there was a significant improvement in the ability to be able to do that test. That just kinda chocs another one out for the efficacy of beet juice drinking 16 ounces of a good beet juice is still gonna give you the whole red poo effect. The suggested mechanisms of action in the article are really interesting. For example, they were showing that beet juice can protect your creatine stores from getting depleted and creatine is that metabolite that we rely on for short short exercise burst anywhere from 5-30 seconds in duration. It can decrease the rate at which potassium leaks from your muscle tissue which helps to preserve the electrical potential that keeps your muscles able to fire. It could have glucose-sparing effect, meaning that you tap into your muscle’s glycogen stores a little less readily. There is basically a possibility that there’s an increased calcium release at the muscle level that was called the sacral plasmic muscle level which could also increase your force production and then you of course get all the nitric oxide produced which vasodilates the blood vessel and allows more glucose and oxygen delivery to the tissue. When I was doing my graduate studies in Physiology, in my Biochem class, my big article at the end of Biochem class was about nitric oxide and its effect on particularly glucose delivery and oxygen uptake at the tissue level and once again, beet juice has some pretty cool things going on when it comes to this stuff. So there you go.
Brock: If you can stomach it.
Ben: Yeah. I think it doesn’t taste too good. The other thing you gotta bear in mind and I’ll put a link, by the way, to a bunch of different organic beet juice or beet juice powder forms on Amazon.com in the show notes. People wanna try this stuff but do understand that a lot of beets are GMO products. It is, along with corn, one of the more common genetically modified crops.
So that’s something to bear in mind if that’s something that you wanna be careful with, which I’m personally careful with. And you can get similar effects by using supplements like arginine or citrulline or if you happen to have some around before workout, Viagra. Basically, all of these have a nitric oxide enhancing effect that’s similar to beet juice but that is not going to freak you out when you look into the toilet after you poop.
Brock: Today’s podcast is brought to you by Audible and make sure you go to audiblepodcast.com/ben and if you sign up, if you’re a brand new user and you sign, you get a free book. Can’t really beat that.
Ben: Do you know what the bestseller in Audible is right now and by the way, I’ve read it 8 times? I never listened to it.
Brock: When I was in Grade 5, my teacher actually wrote a note home to my mom telling my mom that I’m not allowed to write any more book reports on this book because I seemed to be obsessed with it in Grade 5. It’s The Hobbit.
Ben: The Hobbit. I was a total fantasy geek growing up. I read the Tolkien series multiple times. I went through The Hobbit even more than that. So, if you’re into a hobbits and dwarfs and enchanted beasts, as we know all of our fitness and health listeners must be sitting at home playing world of war crafts and probably hanging another hobbit poster on your wall, why not surf over to audiblepodcast.com/ben and grab yourselves some Bilbo Baggins adventures to listen to whenever you happen to be driving or bicycling this winter and learn about the hobbit if you hadn’t listened to that yet or read it. It actually is a pretty good book.
Brock: Yeah. Last week, we asked people to go over to iTunes and leave some reviews for us and make us laugh with reviews and I know Ben’s been looking those over and we’ve got a few to highlight.
Ben: Yeah. There are some pretty interesting reviews on iTunes. I’ve got actually pulled up here in front of me. How about this one? This is by Buck Itown. “This is an amazing podcast. It will tell you how to geek out on fitness and life. There should be a warning in front of every podcast, though. Warning: the advice given here will cause you to look amazing. However, it may cause you to jump up and down tied to a rope in a corner of a hotel room while eating dark chocolate and drinking tea made from some random herbs only found in the depths of China.” Let’s see what else we’ve got. Here we go. Newmandy says: “My love gauge has been stuck on empty for several months as both my wife and girlfriend relentlessly reminded me your top 10 tips to boost drive was bought on, Ben. Now, there’s plenty of me to go around. It’s happy days again for my wife, my girlfriend and my mistress. Thanks again and keep up the great work, guys.”
Brock: You keep up the great work.
Ben: Here’s a good one: “As I listened to Podcast 223 while running on my _____[0:18:40.5] for one hour with the 1 0-pound weight vest and keeping a 138 BPM heart rate, I questioned my sanity while wiping away the recently sipped green-filled cool aid from my formerly sugar-stained lips. Did I really just consider taking a nap on the ground to get my earth rhythm back? Did I really just asked myself where I can buy oysters to kill my sour melons? Did that Canadian guy really just say he wears a tin foil hat in a cold shower while urinating in a gallon jug? My gush! I have to re-think my life.” Anyways, if you guys have a funny or crazy review that you wanna leave and we’ll read on the podcast, and by the way, I randomly give out a 20- minute consult to the guy that posted that last one. Anyways, though, there are some funny reviews on there and of course, reviews always help to make us look really good in iTunes and potentially scare anyone away from ever listening to our podcast with the way that some of these reviews look. So, leave your review in iTunes. We’ll put a link in the show notes for this episode. What episode number is this, by the way, Brock?
Brock: It’s 229.
Ben: Episode #229. Check it out at bengreenfieldfitness.com. We’ll put a link to audible and also to your ability to leave reviews and then of course, the couple other things you should know about is over at bengreenfieldfitness.com, I recently did a bunch of videos.
I did a video on my new coaching programs that I’m rolling out for 2013 including my high-end black box coaching program.
Brock: That is quite a package.
Ben: It is quite a package. It is a 24/7 monitoring of your sleep, heart rate, metabolism, along with full biomarker testing, gastrointestinal panel testing, all your training and nutrition plans laid out. 24/7 access to a private line to me, private e-mail to me, Skype whenever you need it, access to any book that I’ve created or will create – you get instant access to all of that. It’s pretty much the most concierge high-end training nutrition and life coaching program that exists and it also includes a few mastermind meetings with me that select secret locations across the globe 3 times a year. It’s a very high-end kind of executive program. You probably do need to be kind of a high net worth person to be able to jump in to this program but it pretty much kinda…I don’t know if that sounds perverted but kinda just puts me in your pocket basically, at your beck and call whenever you need me 24/7. You can check that out. It’s called The Black Box Coaching Program and we’ll put a link to that in the show notes. And of course, my other coaching programs all available but they close in 5 days. I’m shutting down entry into any my coaching programs for 2013 because I’m full on with the waitlist right now and it’s getting crazy so, if you want in, you need to go hit the show notes pretty soon and there’ll be links to all that. And then the last thing is that at the end of this particular podcast episode, we are going to have an interview with Craig who is a listener, who is a traveling guy and he put together a MyList that geeks out on the best travel tools. And there were some cool ones on his MyList which he shared on our Facebook page so he was chosen as the one monthly listener that we get on the podcast every single month to go into their personal MyList which is like Pinterest for Facebook. And you can check all that out over at MyList.com/bengreenfield and you can also just listen in to the end of this episode. When the episode sounds it’s about to end, it’s not really over and there’s 10 minutes of juicy, juicy bonus at the end so, listen in.
Listener Q & A:
Dwight: Hey Ben! My name is Dwight. I had a question about workout routines, meal plans for people that are shift work ‘cause I’m a shift worker for the past 7 to 8 years rotate days, nights, days, nights 3 on 3 off, so getting a good rhythm in the gym has never been quite possible and then as you can imagine the eating habits end up getting a little bit out of wack because of ….But anyway, I’m wondering if you can give a little segment that would cover workout routines coming off from night transition to the day, maybe a good meal plan and then some of the supplements you might suggest that a few of staying on this side will take that might be specific to that. Thank you.
Brock: Yeah. I don’t think it was Dwight but we have had a few questions about shift working before and it does seem to be a very common problem for people who have these especially rotating shifts or you’re working days and then nights and then have a few days off and it can be pretty confusing.
Ben: Big time. I actually coach a couple of shift workers and one guy in particular who I coach I know he’s listening in the podcast so I say hello right now. He is an Ironman triathlete who works night shifts and we really have had to fight an uphill battle in terms of energy levels and ability to do the prescribed workouts but also feel good overcoming some of the hormonal fluctuations that tend to occur during night shifts and there are some serious issues that creep up when you’re thrown a curved ball at your circadian rhythm like you do on a night shift. And there’s been several studies on this. They did a study in the Journal of Workplace Health and Safety on police officers and found that police officers who are working at a night or evening shift and who were kinda getting the disruption in sleep that was occurring on that shift basically had lower serotonin levels than their non-evening workers. And serotonin is one of our measurement of happiness and also our ability to do things like be motivated to exercise or reduce appetite cravings and so your serotonin and your neurotransmitters take a hit. In the International Journal of Cancer, it was reported that a woman’s risk of breast cancer increases by 30% from night shift work. And a big, big part of that is because the hormonal fluctuations in particular, the estrogen dominance, estrogen being that pro growth hormone that can occur when your circadian rhythms are off. There is another study in the Science of Translational Medicine which found that night shift style work can increase your likelihood of developing diabetes or becoming obese and this is a relatively small study with only 21 individuals but found that circadian disruption cause some serious issues with insulin sensitivity and so that again, kinda throws a curved ball as if you’re trying to lose weight or maintain weight and you’re working in night shift. Another one in the British Medical Journal found that working in night shift could cause you to be more likely to have a heart attack and particularly, schemic strokes and coronary events were found to be higher in folks who were working night shifts. Lower levels of leptin, that’s the hormone that plays a pretty significant role in regulating your weight and your appetite as well as your blood sugar and your insulin levels. That was in the journal proceedings of the National Academy of Health Sciences that found that you basically had decreased sensitivity to leptin when working in night shifts. I wanna get in to this a little bit in response to Dwight’s question about workouts but working in night shifts can nearly double your risk of suffering a workplace injury and that’s because of the drowsiness, the fatigue and the lack of focus that can occur when you are working with no exposure to natural light or any situation where our brains have been kinda ancestrally wired to be asleep vs. when you’re working in the day.
Brock: So, are you basically saying that shift workers are screwed then ‘cause that what it sounds like?
Ben: You know, I don’t wanna be harsh but yeah, to a certain extent, you have to accept the fact that if you’re gonna work night shifts, you are screwed hormonally and metabolically to a certain extent. Now, the fact that you have a job or that you’re making money may outweigh many of those hormonal shifts to take place and there’s a risk vs. reward benefit especially if that’s how you’re paying the bills and putting food on the table.
Brock: Certainly, if you’re doing something like a police officer or a nurse or something, too, you’re providing a very necessary service so I guess that’s really important, too.
Ben: And the other thing that you have to remember is a lot of the people who they’ve looked at in these studies were not implementing the methods I’m gonna get into in just a second as far as mitigating some of this damage. There are ways that you can kinda hack this lifestyle of working night shifts and be able to mitigate some of the damage.
A few things to get into: first of all, what you want to do is, when you’re going between night shifts and day shifts, you wanna put your body into a state where it can make that transition as smoothly as possible. And you can specifically do that by almost like tricking your body into thinking it’s night when it’s day and tricking your body into thinking it’s day when it’s night. Taking advantage of many of these elements such as putting in a blue light blocker on your computer like installing the “Flux” app on your computer so that the screen dims as you’re getting closer to whichever situation that you’re in where it’s going to be bedtime. For example, if you’re a night shift worker and you’re getting into day, you’d actually want to make sure that this app that limits the blue light that comes off your screen if you’re working on a computer, is actually getting activated in the daytime rather than the nighttime so you’re limiting your exposure to artificial light as day approaches and you’re getting ready to sleep during the day. In a similar sense, as day is approaching if you are working in night shift, you would also wanna break out blue light blocking glasses that are gonna block some of the blue light that’s coming off of artificial light in your office. And you can also, if you happen to be in control of what kind of light bulbs are being used in your office, you can use low blue light bulbs, especially in situations where, again, daylight is approaching and that’s gonna be the time that you’ll be asleep. And then when you do get home and get to sleep, a few things that are going to enhance your ability to get to sleep more quickly even when you’re in that daytime state where your body technically is not ancestrally wired to be asleep, I would recommend you use something like a grounding or earthing mat or even like this pulse electromagnetic field therapy device – the Earth Pulse, to be able to get your body into that state of deep sleep more quickly and allow you to recover a little bit better when you’re in that state. I would also recommend that you consider using Delta Brainwave Tracks. I’ll link to some of this stuff in the show notes. There’s these CDs called The Delta Effect. You can get them as CDs, you can get them as mp3 downloads but basically, utilizing those when you do get home to sleep during the day. That can be useful. When you wake up, if you’re waking up from your daytime sleep and it’s already the afternoon or the early evening where the sun is setting, I would consider a sunrise alarm clock like a Nature Bright Sun Touch for some morning light therapy. I guess, in this case, will be later afternoon, early evening light therapy. So again, you’re doing the opposite of what’s some would normally do which would be light therapy in the morning and instead, you’re doing light therapy in the afternoon or the evening to give your body the impression that the sun is rising. As far as something that you can do from a supplementation standpoint, I would certainly be looking into the use of melatonin. Melatonin has been looked at in a few different studies in night shift workers. They gave cups in one study, 5 mg of melatonin that they took at their desired bedtime which in this case, would be the beginning of the day. And it helped significantly in helping them to get better sleep when they wanted it and then feeling more alert at night when they were working their night shift. So 3-5 mg of melatonin can help out. That’s about 30-60 minutes before you actually are gonna go to sleep. I like something like Hammer REM caps for that ‘cause those have some valerian root mixed into them as well which can kinda help to settle you down. Magnesium, I’m a big fan of that. Don’t overuse it if you don’t want the liquid poo effect especially when you combine it with valerian root.
Brock: Double whammy.
Ben: Yeah. This guy that I’m coaching for Ironman that’s doing a lot of night shift work, he uses the Somnidren GH. And that’s a pretty geeked out supplement made by a company called Millennium Sports but it has a Gamma Amino Butyric Acid and what’s called the somatostatin inhibitor in it. And these are a couple of things that can literally put you into almost a coma-like state pretty quickly if you take them on an empty stomach and that’s something that I’ll occasionally bring when I’m going to a race or something because it actually increases your growth hormone or sway your sleep as well which can be useful. So those are a few things I’d look at from a supplementation standpoint. And then from an exercise standpoint, the important thing to remember here is that when you are in a fatigued state, your movement patterns and your awareness and your balance, just everything in terms of your propio reception and your body awareness and joint awareness, is going to decrease when you’re fatigued or when you’re low on sleep.
And so when I’m in situations like that where I know I haven’t had enough sleep, where like next week, I’m gonna be traveling extensively and flying down to San Diego on Sunday to speak at Triathlon Business International, I turn around and hop on a plane at 10:00 PM, flying to New York, get in to New York at 5:00 AM and go shoot a bunch of videos for Fox Sports from noon on the rest of that day and then I’ve got my Team Timex Camp for the next 3 days, a triathlon camp at the giant stadium and then I hop on a plane at 6:00 PM and take a red eye back to Spokane a week later. In a situation like that, I’m very careful in terms of the type of workouts that I choose. If I am well-rested, I will break out the high intensity intervals and the heavy power lifting, barbell weight lifting type of stuff because I know that my body is primed and I’ll take advantage of that. So when the body is well-rested, that’s when you do the hard stuff, the stuff that requires good form, the stuff that has a fatigue component and the stuff that you could get injured doing if you’re doing it in a fatigued state or in a tired state. So save that high quality work for when you’re well-rested. And then when you’re not well-rested, you can still exercise and you can still do workouts but the type of workouts that I do when I’m fatigued or when I’m low on sleep or when I know that my body isn’t moving the way I want to, those are more of the stuff that I keep around my home gym and the stuff that I’ll use as light travel equipment like suspension strap workouts. I like to workout with a gym stick which is basically like a piece of flexible aluminum tubing that has a couple of elastic bands that come off of it that allow you to do a series of 15-30 rep-ish range of exercises that don’t get to use much sprain for your buck as you’re throwing around a barbell but still give you a decent workout. I like the FIT10 which is another portable exercise device that I use that I can attach to a door and do a really simple core and kinda running-in-place style exercises with. And again, I find that I’m able to do that just fine when I’m sleepy or when I haven’t gotten enough rest. And then the other thing I’ve been using form my home gym that’s also portable enough for traveler, these pushup handles called Perfirmer handles. And it actually got wheels on the bun with them so they move around a little bit while you’re doing your pushups so you can do like ab rollouts, floor flies, stuff like that with them and those are pretty cool, too. But just like some light type of home exercise equipment that you can do easy workouts with, those can help you out when you’re in a fatigued state or for example, when you’ve just woken up and you’re getting ready to go in on your night shift and you gotta get in a quick workout. Those are some of the things that I’d be doing from an exercise standpoint and I’d save the heavier stuff – the high intensity intervals for the days where you’re well-rested, you’re off days. Those are some of my recommendations so hopefully, I kinda point you in the right direction.
Jenny: Hi Ben and Brock! This is Jenny. I’ve heard a lot about how reducing or eliminating dairy can help with asthma and I have mild asthma but I do take actually medication for it and I’d like to eliminate that. So, I was wondering what dairy, is it all dairy? I’ve heard that goats and sheep products are more easily digestible and everything for the body and I thought that might help with asthma as well. I also do eat eggs and so I’m wondering if, in order to get the benefits of eliminating dairy for asthma, if it’s 100% no dairy, no eggs, no goat, no Capra proteins powder, none of that. I just wanna see up to what degree I would need to choose experimenting with that 100% or if I could have something a little here and there. Take care. Bye.
Brock: Yeah. I’m really curious about this one, too. My first question about her question is how come are eggs considered dairy?
Ben: In many cases, somebody who’s sensitive to dairy is sensitive to the proteins in eggs. For example, I did an input called immunoglobulin test which lets you figure out which proteins that you’re sensitive to. And I tested high on eggs. I tested high on whey and pretty much any type of cheese or dairy. I didn’t eliminate those and I don’t eliminate those. What I’m careful to do is I don’t do much in the form of eggs or dairy or whey when I know that my body is already beat up so after a hard training weekend or when I’ve been exposed in situations where there’s like a cold or a flu going around or when I’m traveling and I know that my immune system is a little bit more depressed when I’m traveling. The other time is like leading into a very high priority race, I’ve been very careful to avoid some of those triggers. I love scrambled eggs and I like me some cheese on them sometimes, too and I really enjoy Wendy’s frosty taste like the Mount Capra Deep 30 whey protein. Even though it is a really healthy cold processed goat-based whey protein, it’s still whey. For me, that immunoglobulin test kinda influenced when I’ll actually do something like taking dairy because it can have inflammatory effect if you are the type of person who tends to mount an auto immune reaction against those kinds of proteins. I’ll put a link in the show notes. You could go to a company like Direct Labs and just get an immunoglobulin test for yourself. There’s one called Metametrix Immunoglobulin test which would be fine for you. In most states, especially in the US, you can find that test. It’s called the Metametrix Immunoglobulin panel. What I ended up doing after I got that test as a substitute for most of the whey that I was doing in many cases, this Deep 30 Mount Capra goat-based protein that I was doing was, I just started using a vegan protein in those situations where I wanted to make sure that I was 100% clean. And what I use is the Living Protein which is a rice and pea-based protein blend when I’m gonna be using protein powder. However, the thing about protein is that there can be a very distinct difference between goats and cows when it comes to the dairy products from either, in the same way that many people who are sensitive to chicken eggs are not sensitive to duck eggs. I actually happen to see on my immunoglobulin test that I am not sensitive to duck eggs but I don’t really go on my way to hunt down ducks.
Brock: They’re delicious though. Duck eggs are so good. They make some awesome fluffy omelets.
Ben: I totally believe you. I just haven’t gone on my way to hunt down duck eggs.
Brock: Go, try it some time. It’s so delicious.
Ben: I’ll let you down. Maybe I’ll go buy me a duck and get it to lay eggs. Anyways though, goat milk is less allergenic and a lot of people who find that they get allergic reaction specifically to this protein allergen that’s in cow’s milk is called alpha S1 casein. You don’t get that same allergenic reaction to goat’s milk because it’s got about 90% less alpha S1 casein in it compared to cow’s milk. There was actually a study that they’d done in infants who are allergic to cow’s milk and found that almost a 100% of those infants could drink goat’s milk with pretty much no side effects. Whereas, cow’s milk gives them vomiting, diarrhea, skin rashes, and some pretty severe effects up to the point of anaphylactic shock. So goat milk is less allergenic. The other thing about goat milk is that it is more naturally homogenized. So if you are to take some goat’s milk and you are to take some cow’s milk and you’re to put it in the refrigerator overnight and you are to look at the different phases in terms of how it separates and the cream goes to the top and the skim goes to the bottom, there’s a lot less phase separation in goat’s milk. And this is because goat’s milk does not have as high a level of what’s called glutenine in it which is what causes that cow’s milk to separate. So goat’s milk is naturally lower in those glutenine levels and it tends to be better digested because of that. The problem with homogenization is that when you homogenize milk, the cell wall of that fat globule gets broken. And when that happens, it releases free radicals, specifically something called xanthine oxidase. And these free radicals can cause a lot of cellular damage and metabolic issues. Because goat’s milk has smaller fat globules and it doesn’t have a glutenine in it, it’s in basically a naturally homogenized state so you don’t have to homogenize goat’s milk and so that’s another advantage of using a goat dairy vs. a cow dairy. The goat’s milk, like I just mentioned, has those smaller fat globules and it also has higher levels of what are called medium chain fatty acids in it – same stuff you’d find in coconut milk and butter and stuff like that.
And this means that when you’re digesting goat’s milk, you get a larger surface to volume ratio because the fat globules are smaller and you have higher levels of these medium chain fatty acids and so what that means is your body digest the protein more smoothly and you tend to not get a lot of the issue that you would tend to get from a cow-based milk or cow-based whey when you’re looking at a goat-based whey or goat-based milk. Lactose levels are much lower in goat’s milk so you don’t tend to get the same amount of lactose intolerance going on with that. The other thing about goat’s milk is it simply matches up to the human body better. And the reason for that is because the proteins in goat’s milk are smaller. If you’ll get a baby goat that usually starts out at about 7-9 pounds which is pretty similar for the human baby starts out at. Whereas a baby cow starts off at like 100 pounds. And so cow’s milk is designed to support a 100-pound calf and turn it into a 1200-pound cow. Whereas goat’s milk is designed to take something that’s approximately the size of a human baby and turn it into about the size of the average goat in terms of being around 100-200 pounds. And so you get a more thermodynamic match-up in terms of the biochemistry of goat’s milk and the actual make-up of the human body. One of the main supplements that I tend to recommend is a goat milk-based whey or goat milk-based yogurt. My kids were raised on goat milk and even though now they do some raw cow’s milk from a local dairy that’s unhomogenized and unpasteurized, I’m still a big, big fan especially for babies of going after the goat’s milk as much as possible. And anyone who’s sensitive to dairy trying to choose goat-based dairy sources more than a cow-based dairy source. Those are some of my thoughts on the goat vs. the whey thing but if you tested sensitive to whey protein anyways, what you should do is do what I do. When you’re in a situation where you really want 100% clean, just don’t do whey or dairy or eggs at all. And then in other situations, just make sure that you choose the really clean versions like, for whey, choose a goat’s whey that’s preferably cold processed, like the Mount Capra Deep 30 stuff and then, otherwise, just go vegan-based whey protein and never ever ever ever do any dairy that’s just like commercial-based dairy. You just wanna be careful where you’re getting your dairy from. Make sure it’s clean and that includes stuff like making sure the cheeses that you choose are the hard European artisanal cheeses from the fancy section of the grocery store because those tend to have lower levels of growth hormone and usually it’s a little less likely that it comes from an A2 cattle which tends to have those higher levels of allergens in it. And when you’re doing yogurt, you wanna go for organic pasture variety. If you have a dairy sensitivity, you wanna be super picky with where you’re getting your dairy and then a lot of times, it just kinda turn into a mute point or a non-issue.
Jim: Hi Ben and Brock! Right now, I’m doing a lot of interval workouts, mostly 5-minute intervals and some one-minute intervals at the paces recommended by the Jack Daniels system. Also, to buy the sets when I’m pressed for time along with some longer steady efforts. One big factor is that my job is very physical. I get 30- 40 hours a week of lifting boxes, brisk walking and pushes heavy loads. So what type of training would be best for increasing the distance that I can maintain at fast pace? Thanks, Jim.
Ben: Well, first of all, thank you for the “shout out” to my book, Jim. I know this book kinda flies under the radar but a couple of years ago, I spent a full year poring through all the research on how weight training can help endurance athletes doing a full summation every research study up until 2011 and then putting this together along with the Weight Training Program for Triathletes. That book’s on Amazon.com. It was published by Pryce Publishing and it’s a pretty good manual for triathletes when it comes to implementing weight training year-round. We’ll link to that in the show notes. Now that I out in it shameless commercial…
Brock: It’s called Tri Ripped.
Ben: No. That one’s called The Ultimate Guide to Weight Training for Triathletes. Tri Ripped is a little more fringe. It’s more like you wanna get ripped and the aesthetic component is important to weight training for triathletes as just pure performance research-based stuff.
Brock: The reason I said that was because I think I edited that part out of the question from Jim. Jim’s question was quite long so it may not show up for the people listening but Jim did talk about that book.
Ben: Gotcha. You and your darn editing. All right.
Brock: If you go on too long, I’ll cut yah.
Ben: Yeah. Keep your question shorter or Brock will do some serious cutting. Anyways though, Jim mentions that he is using the Jack Daniels system and doing a lot of interval-based work. And just for those of you who don’t know the Jack Daniels system, basically, the system of running that divides your running performance into 6 different components. Jack Daniels basically lays out that you need to have each of these components in your training system in order to become, say, a better runner. So, you wanna train your cardiovascular component which should be more of the aerobic component. You’d wanna train your running muscles’ ability to use oxygen which should be more of the efficiency economy can draw component. You wanna train your lactate threshold which is your ability to minimize lactic acid build up or turn over lactic acid more quickly – you convert it back into a fuel more quickly up in the liver. You’d wanna improve your VO2max which is your maximum oxygen uptake. You’d wanna improve your speed or your leg turnover and then also your efficiency. The Jack Daniels protocol kinda has different training zones that target each of these different areas. And if you’re using a Jack Daniels training system, then it sounds to me like if you’re fading towards the end of a race, you just need to focus more the part of the Jack Daniels training system that’s basically the lactate threshold efforts and the VO2max efforts. So we’re talking about doing interval sessions like threshold interval sessions anywhere form 5-20 minutes in duration that are about 85-95% intensity and then also including some shorter intervals that are at a very high intensity. Now, I personally step back and look at this from a more practical standpoint. I have found the 3 different types of training sessions to help me most when it comes to keeping myself from feeling like I’ve got gelo legs towards the end of a triathlon or towards the end of anything from a 5k to a half marathon. So basically, those 3 sessions: No. 1 is a fast finish run. What that means is whether you’re running 20 minutes or 30 minutes or 40 minutes or maybe you’re one of those people who’s doing 90-minute up to 2-hour runs, whatever, you’re incorporating an anaerobic glycolytic fast finish run at the end of that effort. What that means is a very, very hard 2-3 minute finish at an all-out pace. That puts a lot of money on the bank when you’re forcing yourself to do that in a fatigued state. So that’ll be no.1, would be to include fast finish runs. No. 2 would be to include long hills. I have a hill that’s close to my house. It takes me about 5 minutes to run to the base of that hill so it’s a nice little warm-up for me and it’s called Arbor Crest Hill. There’s a winery at the top of it called Arbor Crest Winery and no, I do not ever…
Brock: stick cure at the end of the stick.
Ben: I have yet to make it into a drinking game but it’s not my bucket list. It may be the thing that’s at the end of my bucket list depending on how that goes. Basically, this hill takes about 6-8 minutes to run up. It’s fairly steep. It’s right around depending on the part of the hill that you’re on a 6 up to a 10% grade. So you’re running uphill and you’re working hard the whole time and you’re just loaded with lactic acid the whole time. So as your body is building up lactic acid, you’re never getting into a flat or a point where it breaks up or a point where the body is getting a chance to rebuffer and recycle some of that lactic acid. So by keeping yourself in that state for a long period of time on a long hill climb like a 6-8 minute hill climb, you can really improve your lactic acid buffering capacity and it’s a different response if you are to do like 60-second 0r 2-minute hills followed by flats or followed by recoveries or followed by downhills ‘cause you’re pretty much just running uphill the whole freaking time. You could simulate this obviously on a treadmill as well.
Brock: Not many people have a hill like that around their house so treadmill would be a great option.
Ben: Yeah. Long hills or come visit me. Come on to the Superhuman conference in March and I’ll take you up Arbor Crest Hill. Maybe I’ll do that if anybody wants to stick around Sunday or Monday, we’ll do a workout. We can leave from my house, run to the base of Arbor Crest and do some repeats.
And then the last one is running fatigue, meaning post weights or post bike. What this means is that you’re gonna finish up a hard weight session and whereas, normally I say be careful because doing squats and lunges and weight training can affect your biomechanics when you’re running and potentially set you up for injury as can running after you’ve done a really hard bike ride. But occasionally throwing in those sessions, you don’t do much and once every couple of weeks or once every month where you’re just destroying yourself. For me, a sample session, I did one of this last year and again I throw this in fairly seldomly, but I ran to the gym which takes me 3 miles to run to and I did a squat-based workout and this involved about 5-6 sets of heavy squats. This was like a 5 by 5-ish type of heavy squat workout and then I ran home. And forcing yourself to run in a state where you’ve got some eccentric muscle tissue damage from a weight training session or doing something similar like doing a really hard…let’s say you got one of these Sufferfest Indoor Cycling videos, you really hard ride where you just…you’re done at the end of the ride, you’re like “put me to bed now, give a smoothie, whatever, I’m done” and instead you strap on your running shoes and you go out and run a mile with good form at a decent pace, that’s another really good way to train your body to run fatigue. So those would be my top 3 ways that I would improve your ability, your stamina for the run. And then just a couple of other things: Make sure that if you’ve got this super physical job that you’re reducing fascial adhesions which can really hold you back to and lead to premature muscle fatigue. What I mean by that is that I would be doing a foam roller at least once a week, preferably twice a week. I’d be throwing in a massage, if you can, once a month up to once a week if you can do it and basically make sure that a lot of this tension that’s created in the workplace in folks who have a physical job is mitigated by doing some soft tissue work when you are off the job. Last thing is, as far as lactate buffering, a supplement I’ve been experimenting with, I have this weekly workouts that I do that’s 10 b y 30 seconds sprint on the treadmill at a 10% incline at as fast a pace as I can carry which is usually 10 ½ to 11 miles an hour on the treadmill. I’ve been popping this supplement called oxaloacetate. I’ll link to it in the show notes. It’s popular among the anti aging crowd but what it does on an exercise level is, it takes lactic acid and allows lactic acid to be shuttled back up to the liver more quickly and convert it into glucose which then gets shuttled back down in the muscle to be used as energy. Now, I’ve used this stuff so far 3 times before one of these treadmill-based sprint workouts and I have noticed a distinct difference and I realized that’s a whole case study of one deal. But considering that I guinea pig and try out a lot of stuff. It’s pretty rare that I find something I can feel like that at a high intensity apparently doing what it purports to do. Oxaloacetate and I just pop it up 30 minutes before my workout. I’ll put a link to that in the show notes. Again, it’s more popular as an anti aging formula but if you get one of these anti aging formulas that has oxaloacetate in it and pop it prior to an intense workout like one where you’re building up a lot of lactic acid, could be worth it. It’s not gonna help you out too much as something like Ironman but for a really, really intense effort – 5k, sprint-based workout, definitely something to try. There you go.
Ben: And brownie points if you can pronounce it 10 times fast.
Mike: Hey Ben and Brock! This is Mike from New York. First is about hematocrit levels. I’ve noticed from blood test results over the years that my levels always seem to fall between 39 and 40. I’ve heard that levels above 50 are suspect for doping so it must mean that a higher number correlates to better performance. My questions are: Is 40 low? And all things being equal, if it were 45, what would it mean for me? Higher VO2max, faster times, better performance? And then lastly, is it possible to raise it naturally or is it even desirable to?
Ben: All right. Hematocrit levels.
Brock: First, probably, explain what hematocrit is.
Brock: It’s red blood cells, similar to red blood cells in the blood.
Ben: It’s actually the percentage of erythrocytes per unit volume of blood. My propeller hat just beat your propeller hat. Here’s the deal: the higher the concentration of red blood cells that you have in your blood, the higher the oxygen carrying capacity that you’re gonna have so that the more endurance or the more power you have when you’re running or your cycling or your swimming or you’re doing any endurance sports specifically.
Red blood cells are also known as erythrocytes. They have this protein in them that’s called hemoglobin and within each of these hemoglobin proteins are molecules called hemes. These are these molecules that have an iron adam in the middle of them. And this iron adam can bind oxygen that you inhale and transport it to hardworking muscles. They can also take carbon dioxide waste and bring it back to the lungs to be removed. So the more oxygen gets to your muscles, the more work your muscles can do and so it would benefit you to somehow figure out how to increase the concentration of your erythrocytes or increase the concentration of your red blood cells per unit volume of your blood. And hematocrit is just that. Hematocrit is the concentration of erythrocytes per unit volume of blood. Usually, how you’d increase hematocrit is through doing exercise – intervals or aerobic exercise and I’ll get in to some specific protocols here in a second. A few decades ago, what was discovered by endurance athletes and their doctors was that if you take blood from an athlete’s body and you remove it then you allow time for the athlete to regenerate that lost blood, and then right before a competition you transfuse the blood back into the athlete, that allows for an elevated hematocrit value and improves performance. Another way that you could achieve a similar effect is to administer a drug called erythropoietin or EPO and EPO signals your body to produce new red blood cells and hence, for a period of time, increases your hematocrit values. Most men do have a hematocrit value of about 40-45%. So 40-45% erythrocyte volume in the blood when they are doing any of this type of illegal hematocrit enhancing type of techniques. But when you are using something like blood doping or an EPO drug, you can get blood that pushes 50% and gets up to 60% in terms of its hematocrit levels and that is much much thicker blood than blood with a normal 40% hematocrit value. That makes your heart have to work harder to pump that blood through the body and can get your heart to work so hard that you have a heart attack which is indeed why cyclists are dying of heart attacks and the international cycling regulatory body which is called the UCI deemed that anytime you had hematocrit about 50, that was technically unhealthy and a cyclist was suspended from being able to compete in an event if a blood test reveal the hematocrit of 50 or higher.
Brock: So it wasn’t because they were suspected of doping. It was actually for safety reasons.
Ben: Exactly. And so a lot of these athletes wanted to figure out a way to get a higher than 50 hematocrit so they could train and race faster but then not get caught with this hematocrit of over 50 and get suspended. And so that’s where a lot of this plague that you start to read about in one of these books like the secret race came into play and it was something like this athletes would do what are called autologous blood transfusions where you transfuse your own blood which makes a little bit harder to detect blood doping. And there were still athletes out there dying of heart attacks but…
Brock: It still makes the blood sludgy.
Ben: Yeah. Using more bio identical versions of EPO is another way that athletes started doing it. But ultimately it’s still super dangerous stuff. There are ways that you can naturally enhance your hematocrit. It’s not gonna get your levels up to the dangerous 60% but it will at least push you close to that 50%, give you a little bit of increased endurance performance. Unfortunately, it’s tough unless you have access to a lab to just be constantly measuring your hematocrit values. Let’s say you’re gonna go out and do a UCI-sanctioned cycling event and your concern that your hematocrit is above 50% because you’re incorporating some of the natural methods that I’m about to describe. You’re just gonna have to find a lab and test if that really, really worries you. But it’s very unlikely if you use these natural methods that you’re gonna be bumping yourself way up above 50%. Anyways, the first way that you can increase your serum erythroprene or your serum EPO and your hamatocrit naturally is through what’s called hypoxic exercise.
This does not necessarily mean that you’re holding your breath while you exercise even though that would be one way to do it, would be breath-holding while swimming 25 or 50 meter intervals. But pushing your body preferably at altitude but doesn’t have to be at altitude pushing your body in extremely intense manner, meaning anywhere from 120-200% of VO2max. So, pretty much all out pace to the point where the body is crying for oxygen faster than oxygen can be supplied by the lungs and the bloodstream and that will increase EPO. Of course, there are some significant recovery implications from something like that but like that the 10 by 30 seconds treadmill sprint protocol that I described a little bit earlier, that’s an example of something where I’m getting hypoxic and I’m really pushing my body and I’m sucking wind after every single one of those but that is a natural way. Those type of high high intensity intervals to naturally increase EPO biosynthesis.
Brock: And for those people out there who don’t know hypoxic like pretty much literally means without oxygen when Ben says “hypoxic”. That’s what he is meaning.
Ben: Anything longer than 3 minutes won’t do it. Anything longer than 3 minutes is too long and there’s no way that you’re sustaining a high enough intensity in order to increase your EPO. So it needs to be about 30 seconds up to around 3 minutes. So you’re trying to go longer than what will be called your phosphogenic energy system, meaning just using creatine phosphate, trying to crossover into what’s called glycolysis but not getting to the point where you’re going aerobic. So you’re keeping your body in an anaerobic state. So 30 second to 3-minute intervals that are very, very difficult and if you’re close to a mountain like you can go skate ski and do some of these intervals while you’re skate skiing or you can simulate altitude or you got access to an altitude chamber, you can do this type of stuff and you’re gonna increase those results even faster. Now, there are also dietary interventions for increasing your oxygen carrying capacity or for reducing anemia if anemia tends to be an issue with you. And you would know this if you get lethargic and dizzy and short of breath during exercise, if you kinda tend to be a pale type of person, have a pale complexion. A sore tongue is another sign of anemia. A lot of weird food cravings like wanting to chew ice and stuff like that is another sign of anemia. But whether or not it’s anemia that you’re trying to take care of or whether you’re trying to kinda boost your hematocrit values, you wanna look after dietary interventions that are going to supply your body with adequate iron or adequate protein. Protein adequacy is one really, really important factor in erythropoietin release. Erythropoietin is highly dependent on having adequate dietary protein. So for most endurance athlete looking at how many pounds that you weigh and trying to get about 0.7-0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight, 0.7-0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight is typically going to put you in a nitrogen positive balance or at least in that nitrogen balance that’s really gonna support red blood cell formation. So make sure that you’re getting adequate protein. More is not necessarily better especially if you don’t wanna be pooping out of straw from all those protein shakes that you consume. Well, basically, getting at least adequate protein is really, really important. Be careful also kind of along the same line with too much of the whole intermittent fasting approach because, specifically in rat studies, fasting has been shown to lower EPO. So I don’t recommend doing a lot of intermittent fasting especially in those last few weeks going into a race. Don’t get to that state where you’re not at race weight and you’re having to pull out a weight loss strategy like intermittent fasting to lose weight because that can suppress some of the EPO formation in the same way that inadequate protein intake can do that. In terms of other dietary factors that go beyond calorie deprivation and protein deprivation are 2 things that you’d want to avoid. Dietary iron absorption can significantly influence your erythropoietin. Now, vitamin C, when consumed along with an iron-rich food is a very, very good way to absorb lots of really good hemeo-rich iron. So that would mean, for example, you can grab something like an ascorbic acid supplement, a vitamin C supplement. A good little bit of vitamin C-rich food like a grapefruit or a pomegranate or even in a pinch, one of this zip fizz capsules or something else that has a lot of vitamin C in it and consume that before you have a nice big rib steak or T-bone steak and that’s gonna really boost the absorption of that iron and help you to enhance EPO formation.
You can also get a lot of non-heme-based iron from dark vegetables. Things like kale and buckchoy and spinach and mustard greens and things of that nature, so you can use the same strategy with that stuff even though it’s gonna be a little less absorbed (about 4 times less absorbed) than a meat-based iron source such as what you get from a steak. There are some things that can inhibit your iron absorption in particular, a lot of the polyphenols and anthocyanins that are found in tea as well as some of the phytates that are found in stuff like soy and unfermented or unsoaked or unsprouted rice or grains so you’d wanna be careful with doing the traditional vegan soybean rice grain type of thing if you’re really serious about boosting your hematocrit and your EPO and your iron values and if you’re gonna consume any of those types of sources, do like I do – eat snot for breakfast and ferment your soybeans. A few other things that you may wanna take into consideration is that arachidonic acid is a particular prostaglandin precursor that can stimulate erythropoietin production and you’re gonna get high levels of something like that by including omega 3 fatty acid sources such as Fish Oil and cold water fish in your diet. That’s another thing to add in. And then if we look at the body and we look at substrates that are necessary for erythropoietin metabolism and synthesis, there a few other things that the body uses and I’m just gonna rattle off a couple other things for you to look into. One would be probiotics acidophilus, so make sure you’re taking probiotics or you’re eating lots of probiotic-rich food. One would be sulfur precursors so making sure that you’re getting like garlic, onions, stuff like that. Make sure that that is present in your refrigerator or in your diet when you’re shopping or grab some garlic capsules and use those; full vitamin B complex, so again, if you’re vegan or vegetarian, you should really consider supplementing with at least a good vitamin B12 and if not, just make sure that you’re getting your meats; zinc is also super important. You gotta be careful taking too much of it ‘cause it can impare your immune response if you take so much of it but I’m a big fan of zinc for both testosterone as well as this EPO issue. And then the last thing is something called coenzyme Q10. This is something that you can supplement with. It’s found in a lot of anti aging compounds. Again, it’s found in a lot of full spectrum anti oxidant compounds ‘cause it’s a pretty potent antioxidant but it’s also required for erythropoietin synthesis – it’s called CoQ10 or coenzyme Q10. And I like to see athletes on about a 100-115 mg of that on a daily basis and in many cases, if you’re taking one of the full spectrum antioxidant blends that I recommend like Nutrarev or Solar Synergy or Lifeshotz or any of these, you’re getting some adequate CoQ10 in your diet. Those are all ways that you could get that hematocrit up legally and that’s where I would start.
Brock: Okay. We’ve got one last question here and it comes from an anonymous listener and the question is: “I’m thinking of getting a vasectomy but I don’t want to mess up my race season or my health. How long will I need to take off running and lifting after the procedure. I’m less concerned about cycling and swimming but that’s also a factor and the medical literature says to don’t bathe or swim for 48 hours, take it easy for 2 or 3 days, limit your activity for 5 days, don’t exercise or lift for a total of 7 days. That doesn’t sound too bad, does it?”
Ben: Okay. I would not get a vasectomy personally and there are few reasons why. First of all, a vasectomy can cause problems with your prostate. Your prostate is your gland that surrounds this urethra and urethra is that tube that delivers stuff like semen and urine and I’m just gonna use the “p” word now in the penis. And the prostate produces this fluid that mixes with sperm to form semen. And when that gland gets inflamed, it can cause some issues including prostate cancer. And there was a study that was in the Journal of the American Medical Association that showed that men who had vasectomies had a higher risk of developing prostate cancer than other men. This was a pretty big study that I think it was over 14000 different guys who’d had vasectomies. And there’ve been a few studies since that have showed other results including many many studies in China showing a link between vasectomy and prostate cancer risk. So that’s one issue is the prostate cancer component.
Sure, you could mitigate some of that by using like saw palmetto extracts, using some zinc, getting good rich sources of lycopene like stewed and cooked tomatoes in your diet but it’s certainly something to give me pause when it comes to vasectomy. Now, there is also the existence of several studies that have looked into autoimmunity issues in terms of immune-related disease before and after vasectomies. And what these studies looked into was what happen in terms of the body’s response to a lot of things like digestive triggers for autoimmunity, inflammation, asthma, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, a lot of these inflammatory bowel disease and gut disorders, all of these traditional immune-mediated mechanisms. And what they found was that at vasectomy, sperm antigens are released into the bloodstream and they provoke this pretty intense anti sperm antibody response. And there are some significant concerns here in terms of the amount of…basically, you get a vasectomy and you increase the potential of you being even more responsive or having a higher inflammatory response to stuff like gluten, whey, soy, potential immune triggers in the diet that you may not have had any trouble with before. It’s like getting stung by a bunch of bees and all of sudden being really, really sensitive to bees after that point because your body mounts its auto immune reaction that just keeps it on hyper alert. Similar thing, if you got a bunch of sperm antigens that are rolling around in your bloodstream. So vasectomies may also be a trigger for autoimmune disease. There’ve been a couple of studies that have shown that a vasectomy can decrease your testosterone levels by up to 30% and for me that’s a real kicker just because of…we’re all aware of the importance of testosterone in terms of drive and sexual performance. What happens is, if you look at a lot of initial studies, you’ll find that testosterone levels are unaffected or even slightly increased after a vasectomy. And that’s where a lot of this confusion exists among medical researchers because it’ll tell you that vasectomies might even increase your testosterone or they’re not gonna have any effect at all. However, what happens is, several years down the road, you get a significant decrease in testosterones. What we’re looking at are the long-term side effects of something like a vasectomy and not the short-term response. So that means that your sexual interest or your athletic performance, your sexual performance, all of this stuff may be significantly affected by vasectomy. Now, I personally am a big, big fan if you’re doing this for contraceptive reasons, what’s called the rhythm method of natural family planning and that just basically involves taking your temperature with a basal body temperature thermometer each day. That would be for the woman. And what will happen is, if you’re growing and you’re doing this, you’re gonna notice a slight rise in your temperature during ovulation and it’s really, really slight. It’s about 0.9 degrees or so. And usually, you’ll only notice that for about a day but basically, what you do is abstain from sexual activity until after your period and until at least about 3 days after your temperature spikes. And if you keep a record of temperatures, then what you’re gonna notice is this pattern where you’re gonna notice everytime that slight increase in body temperature occurs, that helps you as a woman to understand when you ovulate and then you track that each month. You’re able to tell ahead of time when you’re ovulating and that will tell you when you should abstain from sex. You can also check your cervical mucus which is gonna kinda change in texture and it basically, it gets more kinda wet and slippery during ovulation and that’s like your peak day. And you will wanna record that in a chart, too and that helps you figure out when you’re gonna ovulate and you can also look for signs and symptoms like a little bit of pain in your lower back and tender breasts and a little bit of minor cramping. Basically, what you do is want to figure out when you ovulate based off of one or preferably a combination of these methods you know when to abstain from sex. You basically avoid intercourse for the days before and few days after ovulation if you wanna avoid pregnancy and that can be a really safe way to do it. There’s a book out there called The Pill (I forget who wrote it). It really goes into why oral contraceptive in particular, destroy a woman’s body but also some of these natural fertility methods that you can use.
Brock: Yeah. That’s what I was gonna say. It sounds like vasectomies aren’t the way to go but now the oral contraceptives are risks on both sides so yeah, that sounds like a much more legitimate option.
Ben: Yeah. It probably comes as no surprise to the listeners that I am definitely a fan of the natural approach including avoiding surgery because the prostate cancer, the immune-related issues and the testosterone lowering issues and then also, using natural birth control methods. I’ve used condoms and stuff like that and biolambskin condom or anything like that but I try and keep things as natural as possible. My ultimate response to this would be…I’m almost hesitant to answer the question ‘cause I don’t really recommend vasectomies. If you are gonna get one, what I would recommend is that you follow your surgeon’s recommendations to the T when it comes to post vasectomy physical activity. I am not a surgeon. I did not routinely do vasectomies. As a matter of fact, I never do vasectomies. And I don’t know too much about the recovery period on them but I would just follow what the doc has to say on that stuff. Ultimately though, if it was me, I wouldn’t do the snip. I would just not do it. Those parts are too important to me to mess around with them.
Brock: All right. That wraps up this episode but don’t stop listening even though it sounds like I’m saying the words “wrap up” that I’ve said ‘cause we still have a few minutes of Craig. That’s about all of his awesome MyList stuff.
Ben: We’re not gonna snip this thing yet.
Brock: Not yet.
Ben: Yeah. We’re gonna go into the MyList episode of Craig and be sure to check out all the links that we’ll give you. This is Episode 229 over at bengreenfieldfitness.com. We’ll link to the Superhuman conference. We’ll link to all of my recommendations for sleep, for goat’s milk vs. cow’s milk, my Weight Training for Triathletes book and everything else that we talked about. So check it all out.
Brock: Go to audiblepodcast.com/ben to get your free book from Audible.
Ben: That’s right. And we’ll leave you guys to have a fun week geeking out on improving your sleep, increasing your hematocrit, and avoiding vasectomies. Enjoy your week and Brock and I will be back next week.
Ben: Hey folks! It’s Ben Greenfield and as promised, I’ve got another fantastic list of “must haves” for you today. I’ve got Craig Hugger on the call and I’ll let Craig tell you a little bit about what he does but one of the special things that we do once a month here at Ben Greenfield Fitness is we take one of our listeners who has created what’s called a MyList and MyList, think of it like Pinterest for Facebook, basically, where you can go collect all the things that are kinda like you are best of, your favorite things that help make your life better, healthier, etc. And this month, I took a look at Craig’s MyList which he posted over to the Ben Greenfield Facebook page. There are instructions on how to do all of this on the show notes. Craig posted his MyList over on our Facebook page and I took a look at it and thought it was pretty cool. And his list was actually a list of his “must have” travel items. And Craig, you’ve got an interesting job that makes it so that travel is kinda something that you really have to merge with health pretty carefully. So tell me a little bit about what it is that you do, exactly.
Craig: Okay. Well, thanks, Ben. I travel around the country. I do software training for law firms. Most of it lately has been office training so to use Word or Excel or Powerpoint or Outlook then, I do a lot of training for that in law firms and I do travel quite a bit. Last year, I was close to 200 nights on the road and in addition to that, I listen to your podcast because I’m training for triathlon so I have to keep pretty good at the travel stuff.
Ben: Yeah. That’s good. You’ve chosen the right podcast to listen to.
Craig: Okay. Sure.
Ben: So you got the best of hardware and your best of triathlon gear and your best of iPad apps. By the way, we’ll be sure and link to Craig’s MyList in the show notes here so you guys can go check it out. But you also have your best of travel gear and I like some of your stuff. It was some stuff that I wasn’t really familiar with or that I haven’t used. So, tell me. I’m just gonna ask you about some of this stuff and why you picked what you did.
Ben: You have something called One Bag: The Art and Science of Traveling Light. What exactly is that and how does that make travel more pleasant for you?
Craig: Well, that really kinda started me traveling lighter than I had before. One of my co-workers (a female co-worker), one day, I was saying that I just couldn’t travel light enough to not check bags because typically, I’m gone for 6 days a time and sometimes as much as 3 weeks. And she looked at me and she said, “Look, I’m a girl. I don’t carry luggage. I don’t check bags. You can get away with it.” And so she turned me on to this site and it’s a site that just basically tells you how to travel lighter and some of the folks that have testimonials on there even take international travel and don’t check bags.
Ben: That’s awesome. I am big time when I’m not doing triathlons or I’m just speaking in conferences or going to conferences, I’m huge into trying to have as little as possible on. So this onebag.com, cool! I’m gonna have to check that out. I love discovering shiny pennies and distracting things to do on internet. What about your specter half cube? What’s a specter half cube and how does that exactly work for you?
Craig: Well, there’s a couple of packing things and that one is a size of like a didi bag or something but it’s just lightweight and I put stuff in it and actually on the onebag.com site, he talks about a packing method where you kinda fold everything together and that specter half cube, I put underwear and pajama stuff in that and that kinda forms the core of folding all the clothes together.
Ben: Okay. Cool. Specter half cube. I like it. I know for some people, this may not seem like health and fitness tips but I know we have a lot of people that travel listening in so this stuff is cool and I love to geek out on travel myself. You also have something that we probably could classify as falling into the health category. And that is cinnamon tooth powder with Himalayan salt. I understand why probably since that’s not a liquid, it is something that might be easier to travel with but tooth powder, tell me a little bit about that.
Craig: Well, as you mentioned, liquids, the most precious part of your travel gear is that one little bag that you get to take through with liquids and so anything you can do with the powder is a win. So I looked for something after hearing your podcast, say, fluoride is not a good thing and so I found this and it’s really kind of old fashioned toothpaste – it’s baking soda and salt and a little bit of cinnamon for flavor. It’s available on amazon.com and I tried it, liked it and it’s pretty good deal.
Ben: Awesome! Okay. Cool. By the way, I use charcoal toothpaste like charcoal powder toothpaste. So that’s awesome. I’m gonna have to check out your cinnamon toothpowder. I can never get on a call with somebody if I see something that I think they shouldn’t be doing without telling them about it. So Craig, I’m gonna put you on the spot. Why are laundry soap sheets on your travel list?
Craig: I take about half as much clothes as I wear and so I use the laundry soap sheets to wash out socks and underwear and so I can wear those twice instead of once.
Ben: Gotcha. Okay, the reason that I bring this out, laundry drier sheets are one of the highest sources of phytoestrogens and xenoestrogens in our environment, meaning that for a guy who’s trying to (especially for older males, testosterone gets converted into estrogens and things like men boobs and drop of drive and all the things that guys these days have to fight against coming to light). Laundry soap sheets are one of the worst things that you can use in your laundry like drier sheets or laundry soap sheets because of their phytoestrogens. There are things that you can do. What I do is I travel with the Dr. Bronner’s natural antibacterial soap. Just a little bit of that and I generally will just take a shower with that stuff, throw it on my clothes, put my clothes into a towel, stomp up and down a few times and then hung them up in the shower but I stay away from any of these soap sheets or drier sheets.
Craig: Well, see, I didn’t know. I learned something. There you go.
Ben: That was free. All right. So, cool. Folks, you can check out Craig’s MyList on the show notes for this episode of bengreenfieldfitness.com, Episode #229 over at bengreenfieldfitness.com. If you wanna make your own MyList and share it to the Ben Greenfield Fitness show and get on the show to talk about what you picked and why and I promise I won’t beat you up too bad. That wasn’t too bad, right, Craig?
Craig: No, that wasn’t too bad.
Ben: Okay. Go to MyList.com/bengreenfield and get signed up. Check it out and thanks for coming on the call, Craig.
Craig: Thanks, Ben.
Feb 6, 2013 free podcast: How To Legally Boost Hematocrit, Limit The Damage From Night Shift Work, The Dangers Of Vasectomies and More! Also: should you eliminate all dairy if you have asthma, and how to run faster for longer.
Have a podcast question for Ben? Click the tab on the right side of this page, click Ask a Podcast Question at the bottom of this page, Skype “pacificfit” or (if you hate the sound of your own voice) scroll down to the “Ask Ben” form. Please don’t forget to give the podcast a comment/ranking in iTunes – it only takes a minute and it helps grow our healthy and fit community!
- If you’re a dude doing yoga, be careful.
- To those people that say diet is more important than activity for reducing fat, I say geek out on this.
- About 500ml (16oz) of beet juice in 40 hours and BOOM – magic happens (and lotsa red poo). ;) ~ In this news flash, I mention organic beet juice.
Get a free Audible audio book – by going to audiblepodcast.com/ben and signing up as a new member!
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Get featured (like Craig does this week) on the podcast by creating your own MyList – here’s what to do (did I mention that it’s free?):
- Create your own “MyList” list that targets your passion in health, fitness or nutrition (gear, tools, supplements or anything else),
- Share your MyList right here by leaving a link to it in the comments section at the bottom of the page,
- I’ll choose the best list, and contact you for an interview about why you chose the items on your list.
Want to get lots of new customers in the health, fitness and nutrition industries? Sponsor Ben’s upcoming “Become Superhuman” Live Event? Full event sponsor details.
“Become Superhuman” Live Event With Ben Greenfield Coming To Spokane, WA, March 8 & 9, 2013 – Reserve your spot now! The video below tells you all about it and/or you can listen to this audio interview from the Wide World Of Health to learn more.
As compiled, edited and sometimes read by Brock, the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast “sidekick”.
Audio Question from Dwight @ 00:24:14
He is a shift worker who works alternating days and nights – 3 on and 3 off. He finds it hard to get into a routine at the gym or with regular meals. Can Ben offer some workout routines for coming off nights and on to days and also any supplements that might help with the transitions back and forth.
~ My recommendations to Dwight:
Home or Office “light” workout gear
–MostFit Suspension Strap
-400-500mg potassium citrate combined with 400-500mg Natural Calm magnesium (30-60 minutes prior to bed)
-MillenniumSports Somnidren GH (use on empty stomach, 30-60 minutes prior to bed)
-Hammer REM caps (use 15% referral code 80244)
–Zeo Personal Sleep Coach system
-More affordable alternative to Zeo: SleepTime app by Azumio
-Install “Flux” on computer so it dims at night
-Wear blue light blocking glasses, especially for evening computer use. Recommend Gunnar.
-Install low blue light bulbs, and put blue light blocker screen on computer
–PZizz iPhone app for quick naps
–Dream Essentials contoured face mask and fitted ear plugs
–“The Delta Effect” CD’s/mp3 downloads
-Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy for enhancing deep sleep cycles – recommend EarthPulse
–NatureBright Sun Touch for morning light therapy
–Sunrise Alarm Clock for waking
Audio Question from Jenny @ 00:38:29
She has heard that reducing or eliminating dairy can help with asthma. Does this extend to goat and sheep milk or is it only cow. Should she also cut out whey protein (even the Mount Capra stuff) and eggs as well?
Audio Question from Jim @ 00:48:43
He is currently doing a lot of interval work, mostly 5 minute intervals and some 1 minute intervals based on the Jack Daniels system. His job is very physical (on his feet, lifting and pushing). What would you suggest he do to work on extending his ability to maintain a fast pace.
Audio Question from Mike @ 00:59:00
Is wondering about Hematocrit levels. His is usually between 39 and 40. He has heard that levels above 50 can be suspect for “doping”. Is 40 low? What would it mean, performance wise, if his was 45? Is there a natural way to raise it? Would he want to?
Anonymous asks @ 01:13:16
I am thinking of getting a vasectomy but I don’t want to mess up my race season or my health. How long will I need to take off running and lifting after the procedure? I’m less concerned about cycling and swimming, but that is also a factor. The medical literature says “don’t bathe or swim for 48 hours”, “take it easy for 2 or 3 days”, “limit your activity for 5 days” and also “strenuous exercise or lifting should be avoided for a total of 7 days”. That doesn’t sound too bad…. does it?
Interview with Craig @ 01:22:44
To take a look at Craig’s MyList, and set up your own, head to mylist.com/bengreenfield.