Episode #236 – Full Transcript

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Podcast # 236 from



Introduction:   In today’s episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast:  Does the pill make you gain weight? are earthing mats safe, how to stop leg cramps and spasms, how to breathe the right way during exercise, are minimalist shoes okay for flat feet, how much protein should you eat during exercise, and natural remedies for strokes.

Brock:  So, are you feeling very Paleolific?

Ben:  Yeah.  I’ve got a bone in my nose now.

Brock:  Awesome!

Ben:  For those of you who are wondering what we’re talking about, I actually just got back from Paleo FX.  Even though I’m not Paleo and I do indeed eat (I don’t really eat milk, I drink milk) fermented milk. That was fun. There were some good folks down there, some familiar voices in the podcasting community that I got to spend time with like…I posted a few photos up to the Facebook page of me and Jimmy Moore, wrestling.  We did an outdoor primal play class. It was actually pretty fun.  It was called Fitness Exploring. But Jimmy and I got a chance to go head to head and do some wrestling.

Brock:  When I saw those photos, I was worried for Jimmy.

Ben:  I actually had to carry Jimmy Moore around the park, which was interesting and for those of you who don’t know who Jimmy Moore is, he’s lost a great deal of weight by adopting a low carb lifestyle and he used to be over 400 lbs and he dropped.

Brock:  Almost 200.

Ben:  Yeah.  He dropped a lot of weight but he’s still significantly over 200 lbs so he was a load to carry around.  And I got to hang out with Abel James, my fellow videocaster over at the Lean Lifestyle Insider at leanlifestyleinsider.com/b, where we did MTV cribs for fat loss kind of thing.  It’s fun.  And yeah, just a lot of familiar faces.  It was fun to see some listeners down there hang out and partake a little bit and yeah, it was good.

News Flashes:

Brock:  And as always, this is when Ben takes a moment to explain to us what the heck he was talking about when he was Tweeting, Facebooking and Google+ing all week with all the newest studies and things like that.

Ben:  That’s right and I guess, we’ll jump right in to something that I was just talking about, and that was the consumption of milk.  I stumbled across an interesting article over at slate.com and I’ll link to it in the show notes but it is about the most spectacular mutation in recent human history.  Brock, what do you think the most spectacular mutation in recent human history is or was?

Brock:  The invention of…I can’t even…is this the appendix?

Ben:  Yes. The appendix. No. Good guess, though.  It’s actually the development of something called the lactase production gene and the fact that several thousand years ago, it appears that we experienced a genetic mutation as humans that kinda jammed our lactase production gene permanently in the “on” position.  So usually, after a child had kind of been weaned off their mother, that child would naturally lose its ability to produce lactase, which is the enzyme that allows mammals to digest the lactose sugars in milk.  And so what actually appears to have happened after several thousand years is that this mutation for being able to tolerate lactose kind of began to spring up among many many humans and so not only does that mean that kind of the argument that maybe humans are not designed to be able to digest milk or something like that might all by the way side a little bit, but it also means that you may actually be able to train your body how to tolerate lactose sugars more efficiently.  That’s certainly something that I’ve done.  I used to be severely lactase or lactose intolerant and I’ve gradually began to include more and more raw and often fermented dairy products into my diet and now, I can tolerate even just a regular glass of raw milk that’s not necessarily fermented.  And fermentation is one of the ways that you get lactose out of something.


But I can tolerate a glass of milk just fine now, whereas that would have sent me into grabbing my stomach and making a big mess later on in the bathroom back in college. So, kinda interesting article. I’ll link to it in the show notes.  And one interesting thing in the article is the fact that when you get to a point where a dairy source has been fermented to where it’s been fermented so long it’s a hard cheese like a parmigiano cheese or something like that.  It’s literally just lactose-free. It’s pretty much gotten the lactose left in it.  Did you know that?

Brock:   I didn’t know that.

Ben:  Yeah. So you can have parmigiano cheese if you’re lactose intolerant. There you go. The next thing that I wanted to mention was about how exercise simulates pot and pot smoking specifically.  This kind of delves into the whole idea behind why exercise can be addicting.  The way that I tweeted this was, I said “here’s why single speed junk mile training is addictive.”  It turns out that in this study, in which they looked at different levels of intensity for running that very, very high, high intensity exercise and extremely low intensity exercise like walking, these didn’t have this effect but kinda like a mid-zone threshold-ish run had this significant effect in altering the circulating endocannabinoid levels and these are the endocannabinoids the same type of compounds that are ingested into the body or inhaled in the body when we’re doing something like smoking pot. So, there’s a reason why this kind of threshold training can be addictive and why, in addition to just being a painful trick to the pain cave high intensity interval training doesn’t have the same type of addictiveness as just going out and pounding the pavement for an hour.

Brock:  That also explains why I feel so munch-y when I finish my long slow runs.

Ben: Yeah.  Here, it turns out that you could indeed, perhaps replace those endocannabinoids that you’re missing with high intensity interval training by just smoking a joint after you finish a few repeats on the treadmill.

Brock:  Best of both worlds.

Ben:  That’s right.  Speaking of running, there was another really fascinating study that came out on running pace and what happens when you’re running a marathon.  And the title of the study was Running Pace Decreases during a Marathon are Positively Related to Blood Markers of Muscle Damage.  But there is a ton that I glean from looking over this that I think really any runner or anyone interested in what goes on when your body is doing endurance exercise might find fascinating.  What the aim of the study was, they wanted to see why people fatigue when they’re running and in particular, this marathon in which they ran the study, was performed during a race in a warm environment, so they also were looking at heat and hydration and how that affects your time to fatigue as well.  And there’re some really interesting findings. One thing that they did was they measured the levels of muscle breakdown specifically, one thing called myoglobin, another thing called creatine kinase, and then, lactate dehydrogenase. And all of these are markers of muscle fiber damage and they’re also markers that can go up in the bloodstream as you rapidly deplete carbohydrate stores or use glucose as a fuel source to a greater level.  What they found in this study was that there is a significant correlation between whether or not someone slowed down more as the race progressed and the rise of these biomarkers in their bloodstream.  So just in 2 things:  One, that the more muscle that you break down while you’re out there doing a marathon, the slower you’re gonna be. And two, the more carbohydrate and glucose that you’re dipping into and utilizing, the slower you might also be. That second observation is  a little bit of an extrapolation because it’s tough to differentiate between biomarkers like that that are put into the bloodstream for muscle damage vs. biomarkers like that that are put into the bloodstream from metabolic use.


But there’re 2 important take-aways from this part of the study.  One would be:  do everything you can, if you’re getting ready for an endurance event, to put your body into a state where it’s not going to be engaging in quite as much muscle damage.  So I would encourage anybody who’s training for marathon to include strength training and include plyometrics.  Those would be the 2 biggest things that you’re gonna train your body to have a little bit more efficiency and economy and less muscle damage during something like a marathon.  And then number 2, train your body to run on fatty acids more and carbohydrates and glucose less.  And both of those things are gonna help you avoid some of the build-up of biomarkers that are significantly associated with a drop off in running pace. That was one interesting thing.  Another thing that they noted was that there really was no effect on the hydration status of runners and a correlation with a drop in pace, and this is something I’ve talked about with Tim Noakes before in this podcast.  There’s all this information out there that if you lose more than 2% of your body weight, you’re gonna slow down significantly and it’s gonna affect your performance.  Well, it turned out that the people who were slowing the least during this marathon ended up being the most dehydrated by the end  and there really was no significant correlation between dehydration and the suggestion that it might slow your pace.  And so, most of these folks were at least up to 3% dehydrated.  Interestingly, the people who were at those greater levels of dehydration actually slowed down less.  And it could be because they were taking less time to stop and drink.  It could be because of potential for fluid overload in the stomach and blood going into the stomach and getting diverted away from exercising muscles ‘cause of all that fluid you have in your gut but ultimately, this whole hydrate, hydrate, hydrate during endurance performance in hot environment and avoid dehydration at all cost, once again, has been shown in this particular study in addition to a bunch of others to really not be something that anything but perhaps propaganda from sports drinks.

Brock:  Sales pitch.

Ben:  Right. The evil Gatorade. What else was in this study that was interesting?  Those were some of the main take-aways.  Main thing would be lifts to plyometrics.  Do some of the stuff like that we’ve talked about in this podcast before in terms of training your body how to be metabolically efficient fat-burning machine and then, don’t get obsessed with replacing everything that you’re losing when it comes to hydration.  Cool study.  We’ll link to it in the show notes if there are some marathoning geeks who wanna geek out even more.  And of course, like anything that we go over in this podcast, you can feel free to leave your comments over in the show notes.  What episode is this, by the way?

Brock:  Number 236.

Ben:  236.  So there you go.

Special Announcements:

Brock:  Okay.  This episode and a number of other episodes is brought to you by Audible.  Make sure you go to audiblepodcast.com/ben and if you are a new member, if you’re not a previous member of Audible, you can sign up and get yourself a free book and also know that you get the pen as getting a little kickback.  Just a little thank you from Audible.

Ben:  That’s right.  I think it comes out to about a penny per download.  But I get the personal satisfaction that you are making yourself smarter or even entertaining yourself using something other than the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast because Lord knows your life probably sucks if this is all that you ever listen to. My apologies if this is all that you ever listen to because at Audible, you can branch out and you can check out a bunch of other stuff.  What do we have there at audiblepodcast.com/ben, Brock?

Brock:  There’s all kinds of awesome stuff. I actually looked through the best sellers before the show just to see what’s selling and I was amazed to see Fifty Shades of Grey is still one of their top sellers currently.  People love their smut.

Ben:  Yeah.  Especially when you can be listening to it and people can’t actually see that you’re reading it.

Brock:  I’m afraid that they would be able to see if I was reading it.

Ben:  Yeah. Exactly. So that’s one of those books you’d probably wanna digest on Kindle or via audio.  Anything else of note?


Brock:  Speaking of smut, A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire Book I is also on there and a friend of mine described as the book’s  and also I guess the TV series as being exactly what a 15 year-old boy would write ‘cause it fluctuates between battles and boobs.

Ben:  I am overly out of it.  What is A Game of Thrones?

Brock:  It’s kind of a Lord of the Rings kind of time magical land of yore kind of setting.

Ben:  Interesting.

Brock:  Yeah.

Ben:  So for all those World of Warcraft folks out there…

Brock:  Exactly.  Yeah.

Ben:  Nice.  I used to be a real nerd with the world of warcraft as I just offended anyone who reads A Game of Thrones but I wrote a 400-page fantasy novel that I finished when I was 14 years old.  I think I read The Lord of the Rings trilogy over 10 times.  I was big, big time in the world of war craft medieval fantasy stuff for the longest time.

Brock:  You’d like the Game of Thrones, then.  So maybe you should go to audiblepodcast.com/ben and sign up.

Ben:  There we go. So audiblepodcast.com/ben, grab a free book, A Game of Thrones if you’re into that kind of stuff.  What else for special announcements?  First of all, ton of articles this week over at bengreenfieldfitness.com and I must say some interesting stuff that I pushed out on smart drugs and biohacking.  I would highly recommend you check those out as well as the next chapter in my most recent book, which is not about dragons or princesses but it’s about the best way to build endurance as fast as possible without destroying your body.  I released my next chapter in that book.  It goes into everything from how crossfit endurance might not be the best answer to how exactly to do high intensity interval training to how to become what I call an ancestral athlete. Really, I’m putting a lot of work into these chapters and I would say that any endurance athlete that’s following this series is going to find a great deal of benefit from some of the stuff I’m putting out there on these articles.  And you can check those out over at bengreenfieldfitness.com.

Brock:  I’m just afraid Bryan McKenzie is gonna hunt you down and beat the crap out of you.

Ben: Actually, I quote him out in that chapter and said, “if you’re gonna use crossfit endurance for your triathlon training or for your endurance training, use his book, because…”.  And actually, I was writing that chapter while I was down at Paleo FX where, at the Victory Belt Publishing table, Bryan’s book was on display and I spent a good 20 minutes just standing there perusing his book and looking at his training programs and everything that was in there and decided that it was something I could get behind vs. the people who are going in and doing a crossfit WOD 5 days a week and trying to pile a bunch of triathlon training on top of that, that type of thing.  I think Bryan’s program does a decent job making sure that there is enough rest and recovery worked in and there is a good balance in terms of the training so if you’re gonna use crossfit endurance, use his Power Speed Endurance book.  Even though my book will still be better when it comes out in terms of getting in the trenches stuff but ultimately, good stuff.  A few other things:  This weekend, Jessa and I are teaching the How to Raise Superhuman Kids.  That’s gonna be Saturday night at 6:00 PM PST for any of our Inner Circle members.  If you’re not part of the Inner Circle, go hop in.  It’s 10 bucks a month easy peezy.  Some of the biggest archives of the hidden secret stuff we’re doing behind the scenes at bengreenfieldfitness.com you’ll ever gonna find along with a really cool super active forum.  There is tons of stuff going on in our forum right now in terms of discussions on everything from what kind of deodorants to use to how to cook spinach and broccoli and how long is too long, and just all these stuff.

Brock:  That’s what I really like about the Inner Circle.  It’s really your day-to-day kind of stuff.  We tend to cover a lot more of very specific kind of information but the Inner Circle really…It’s tough like you said like cooking spinach, putting on deodorant, things that you do on a daily basis that everybody does so it’s really helpful for pretty much everybody.

Ben:  Yeah.  And then also, at the end of this month, we’re doing a workshop on “Ask Me any Questions You Want about Minimalist Triathlon Training.”


Again, we do all of our workshops through spreecast, live, you can watch me on video.  Interact, ask your questions, get pulled up on video.  It’s fun stuff. The Inner Circle is the place to be, especially considering that I’ve checked out with a lot of the other people in our “industry” or charging for website like that is usually 50-100 bucks a month.  I wanted to be more accessible to people so, 10 buck a month, you can hop in, check out the Inner Circle. The risk of this becoming a monster special announcements, there are still a few other things.  First of all, Brock and I are hosting the Jimmy Moore Living La Vida Low Carb show and this is the same Jimmy Moore I was talking about earlier. If you have a low carb question, go to bengreenfieldfitness.com and use the tab that’s right there to leave your low carb audio question if you want it answered on Jimmy Moore’s Living La Vida Low Carb show that we’re guest hosting in May and we’ll play your stuff on the show or you can call toll-free number 1-877-2099439.  A video, everything you know about the confusing world of nutrition supplements and I really geeked out this video.  We’re gonna put a link to it in the show notes for number 236 over at bengreefieldfitness.com It’s about a good hour and a half worth of nutrition supplement advice, information and how to dig through all the crap that’s out there but useful video.  You can always download it, convert it into audio, listen to it while you’re out riding your bike or whatever. It actually will clear up quite a bit in terms of the confusing world of supplements.  There is one last thing I wanted to mention.

Brock:  Is it the Lean Lifestyle Insider?

Ben:  You can go to leanlifestyleinsider.com/b and watch me and fellow podcaster, the fat-burning man, take you through our homes and show you everything that we do to keep our bodies lean and in fat-burning mode 24/7 – a lot of the underground stuff that we do when it comes to everything from biohacks to supplements to daily lifestyle choices – breakfast, lunch, dinner, that kind of thing.  So, you’ve got that..

Brock:  I know what it was. It was Essential Guide to Becoming Superhuman.

Ben:  That’s right. I forgot about that. Everything you need for performance, recovery, fat loss, digestion, brain and sleep optimization.  I put together a 213-page manual with 14 CDs and we’ll put a link in the show notes that allow you to access that.  I realized that this was a super long special announcement and I went over some stuff pretty quick but just go geek out on the show notes and you’ll be able to link to all that stuff and waste lots and lots of time that works and get fired  and there you go.  So enjoy.

Audio:   Hey folks!  It’s me, Ben Greenfield and this is Abel James.  You may recognize me, Ben, from Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast or me from the Fat-Burning Man Show. And today, Abel and I wanna tell you the number one workout that we’re doing right now to burn fat.  So Abel, I’ll let you take it away first.  What is it that you’re doing right now when it comes to exercise to get your body as lean as possible?

Abel:  All right.  So the first thing that I do that a lot of people skip is a warm-up. I do about 5 minutes of shadow-boxing and light stretching then I go straight into doing some pull-ups to failure, doing some burpees, and then I do some heavy squats and heavy deadlifts in my shed in the backyard and that’s it.  It’s easy and I love it right now.

Ben:  Did you just say, a shed in the backyard?

Abel:  That’s right.  I workout in my shed.  Usually, I workout actually in my backyard in the sun because it’s just that nice in Austin, the sun here.

Ben:  I was gonna say, the shed’s about as masochistic as you can get.  You see after your doing your squats and deadlifts…

Abel:  That’s where my punching bag is.

Ben:  I’ve got this thing that I’m doing.  It’s called a Litvinov sprint.

Abel:  I love how you geek out all the time, Ben.

Ben:  I’ve no clue what Litvinov even means.  Anyways though, what I do is I’ve got this 50-lb dumbbell and I take it out to the hill beyond my house and I do 15 dumbbell swings and then sprint 400 meters up the hill. I drop the dumbbell and hold the dumbbells still in mid-air dropping to the ground while I’m off sprinting.


I do that 8 times through and man, when it comes to fat-burning workout, that is about the most potent thing that I found yet.

Abel:  So you sprint back and forth before the dumbbell even hits the ground, right?

Ben:  Exactly.  It’s like a road runner from Looney Tunes.

Abel:  That’s a fat-burning workout right there.

Ben:  Exactly.  I guess folks are probably wondering why Abel and I are here geeking out about fat loss. It’s because we’ve got a new website.

Abel:  That’s right.

Ben:  And it is basically, Abel and I following each other around each other’s houses with a camera, virtually, of course, since Abel is in Austin and I live in Washington and we are basically showing you everything that we do from the time we get out of bed in the morning all the way up through lunch through our workouts, through dinner, through bedtime to live what we call a Lean Lifestyle.

Abel:  Yeah.  And you’ll learn things that are kind of the more advanced strategies a lot of times on our podcasts, our shows, our blogs.  We’ll talk about things that are kind of generalized to the public but these are the things that we literally do ourselves everyday – all of the secrets of what we’re cooking, what we’re eating for breakfast or not eating for breakfast for that matter, what we may or may not be putting in our coffee depending on the day, pretty much any supplement that we’re taking and tons more.  Ben has all sorts of crazy gizmos that you’ll be able to see.  It’s a blast to watch.

Ben:  And Abel’s house is much cleaner than mine as you’ll also find out. Anyways though, here’s what you do if you want to get inside the Lean Lifestyle Insider right now.  All right.  So Abel, what is the URL that people can go to if they want to get in on the Lean Lifestyle Insider right now.

Abel:  That would be leanlifestyleinsider.com/b.

Ben:  That’s leanlifestyleinsider.com/b and I’ll put a link in the show notes for URL, too.  Hey, Abel, thanks for coming on the show.

Abel:  Anytime, Ben.

Listener Q & A:

Anonymous:     Hey Ben and Brock!  I have a question about oral contraceptives and weight gain.  I have recently switched over to a new type of oral contraceptive and I know I’ve heard a lot about saying that they think they’ve gained weight being on the pill and I don’t know if it’s just psychological or what but I have gained a little bit of weight since I switched to a higher estrogen dosage.  I’m just wondering if this is something that is thrown around and doesn’t really have any merit or is there really is something to it.  A little background is that I have been tested that I have very low estrogen which is why I switched to a higher dosage pills.  Thanks for all the help.  I love the themes of the podcast.  You guys are great.

Ben:  You know what, Brock?

Brock:  What?

Ben:  It’s kind of a myth. This whether or not oral contraceptives can make you gain weight.

Brock:  That’s what I would’ve guessed.

Ben:  Yeah.

Brock:  If you just ask me but I’m excited to hear why.

Ben:  First of all, it could indeed…much would be psychological and I’ll explain why here.  When you look at weight gain, normal healthy women gain weight during their entire years of fertility, whether or not they’re using contraception, whether or not they’re on the pill.  When the typical American female, when she is 20 years old, average weight is about 125-130 lbs and by the time the average American woman is 55 years old, she is gonna be closer to 165 lbs.  This is on average depending on the Broad Brochure.  That’s an average gain of 35 lbs over the years of fertility and this can be borne out by everything from estrogen dominance and exposure to the toxins and pollutants in the environment to eating to the metabolism naturally slowing to life, to stress, to lack of sleep to having kids and it’s really, really tough to tease out how much of a role that contraceptives could play in that, if you’re just looking at the actual data from that standpoint.  But when we look at studies that have been done on the pill and weight gain, there is really broad analysis that was published and was called the Cochrane Data Base of Systematic Reviews and it looked through a bunch of randomized trials that compared contraceptives like the pill with placebos.


And there was zero evidence from any of these studies that women who were using the contraceptives gained any more weight than those given a placebo. There is another really big study that they did at Umass Medical School as well and this was done in female athletes.  They studied about 150 female athletes.  They randomly assigned a group that took oral contraceptives, the rest were serving as controls and they found zero correlation in either weight or body fat to the use of birth control and gaining weight.  The question, then, becomes is the pill something that you should take and could it cause some people to gain weight.  First of all, this comes down to whether or not you wanna worry just about your weight or whether or not you wanna worry about some of the other issues that might go hand in hand with being on essentially, what is synthetic hormone replacement.  And there is certainly less estrogen in some of the current pill than there was in previous versions of the pill, in some cases.  But there are also some issues, for example, with breast cancer, and there is data from over 50 studies that suggests that the pill increases the risk of breast cancer by anything from 10-30%.  And again, the pills that have more estrogen in them are the bigger issues here but that’s certainly something that’s worth considering. Cervical cancer is another issue. There is some evidence that the birth control pill introduces major risks for cervical cancer and that is because the pill and especially the pills that are the higher in estrogen can cause full body inflammation.  And much of that inflammation is going to play its role in the cervix, in the development of cervical cancer, especially the type of contraceptives that are implanted devices like an IUD that releases a systemic dose of hormone.  Even though it is releasing something like progestin locally or some kind of an estrogen compound locally and there’s a little bit less of a full body effect, you’re still getting a pretty big dose around your cervix at a local level that can increase your risk for cervical cancer. That’s another thing that women using the pill should be aware of.  When you’re increasing estrogen especially from any of the pills that are gonna cause a bump up in estrogen that can irritate your stomach lining, it can aggravate gastroesophageal reflux disease, it can aggravate stuff like Crohn’s disease.  A lot of women who are getting on the pill start to complain of depression, moodiness and a lot of that is due to the fact that most of your neurotransmitters are made in your gut. So if your gut is inflamed, it’s gonna affect a lot of that and so there’s something to consider as well.  Cardiovascular risks are another issue.  I believe we’re talking about blood pressure and strokes later on in this podcast and the pill especially anything that’s got estrogen and progestin in it can raise blood pressure pretty significantly and may even slightly raise the risk of stroke in women who have previously not had stroke risk factors and it actually gets fairly significant in terms of the risk of stroke and also with a newer kinds of progestins that they’re putting in to birth control pills, blood clots.  There are some other issues there as well on a less significant level but still something that has been observed in studies. You’re looking at a potential for increased risk of prostate cancer in your partner when you’re on the pill.

Brock:  How does that work?

Ben:  I’m not quite sure of the exact mechanism of action on it but it was a study you can find it in Pub Med.  I’ll try and remember to link to it but it was in 2011 so relatively recent.  It was titled Oral Contraceptives Uses Associated with Prostate Cancer.  I only had the chance to read the abstract of the study.  I didn’t get a chance to go through the full discussion to look at mechanism of action but it is likely due to some kind of a progesterone or estrogen exposure on the part of the partner when the woman is using contraceptive or an oral contraceptive like that.  You get a drop in antioxidant so you get lower blood levels of vitamin B6, coenzyme Q10, magnesium, a lot of these things that are relevant to your metabolism.


You can get impaired thyroid function.  Estrogen can influence  the availability of thyroid hormone because it increases the levels of a thyroid-binding protein and then you also get, as I mentioned before, just over-all higher levels of inflammation and that’s specifically via measured levels of c-reactive protein.

Brock:  Do you think that might be where the myth was started from, then? That people are gaining weight if you’re getting kinda puffy if you’re inflamed generally and retaining fluid, that could certainly convince you that you are gaining weight?

Ben:  What I suspect here is that just like many things, something as simple as creatine, for example, you’ve got responders and non-responders.  And I think that there are probably some females that despite what studies say, the females who are making noise about this and who do gain weight when on an oral contraceptive, are probably women who are responders and who are who are gonna gain weight and perhaps, they are outliers indeed but there are still probably a fair share of women who are gonna gain weight on the pill and most likely, it’s due to them experiencing at a  greater degree, many of these adverse side effects that I talked about.  And for me, if I were having to make this decision and fortunately, I don’t personally have to make this decision but I would avoid them like the plague.  And part of that is also I’ve read this book and I’ll link to it in the show notes.  It’s called the The Pill.  If you read this book, The Pill, it’s gonna scare you away from wanting to use the pill. But it also introduces a lot of measures that you can take as alternatives to contraception. That go above and beyond like an intra uterine device or an implant and get into the tiny method and some of the really, really natural ways that you can use contraception.  Basically, just natural family planning that goes above and beyond something as crude as abstinence or something of that nature. It’s certainly something that I would stay away from.  There’s another really good book written by someone that I’m gonna get on the podcast here in about a month or so.  Her name is Sarah Godfried.  It’s called The Hormone Cure.  And that also goes into some pretty scary details about what happens when you introduce synthetic hormones into your body.

Brock:  Not to drag this question out too much longer ‘cause this is going on a little bit but our caller did mention that she was diagnosed with severely low estrogen that’s why they gave her a larger estrogen dose in her pill.  Is that a good way to be handling the low estrogen?

Ben:  No. I would be seeing, and again, we gotta be careful about medical advice here, but I would, for example, go back and listen to the interview that I did with TS Wiley on the Wiley Protocol.  You can go find a Wiley practitioner in your area by going to the Wiley Protocol website.  Just google it.  We’ll try and put a link in the show notes for you as well but you can work with a compounding hormone replacement therapy specialist, who is going to allow you to naturally increase your hormone levels without introducing synthetic hormones into your body just because of the variety of metabolic milieu something like that can create something very similar to what I already described.  Whether you’re using the pill or whether you’re using synthetic hormones for some other reason, it’s just something that I’d be super careful with and I’d stay away from. You’re not gonna grow a third arm or anything like that but it can create some pretty significant issue.

Brock:  That would be an awesome mutation, though.

Ben:  That would be a mutation that goes way above and beyond lactose tolerance.

 Avi:   Hi Ben!  This is Avi.  I recently listened to the podcast where you interviewed the creator of the Earthpulse product and I was wondering if you can talk about the similarities and differences between that and the Earthing Mat that Dave Asprey uses.  There is a huge cost difference between the products but from the descriptions, it sounds that they both can be used for similar ways.  Thank you.

Brock:  Well, there is a large cost difference and I know the one that you use is like $600.

Ben:  The Earthpulse.  Well, if you get an Earthing Mat or Grounding Mat, I will explain why you’d wanted that in a second or why you wouldn’t wanna do it. It’s like 50-70 bucks, in that range.  Whereas to get what I use, which is called Pulse Electromagnetic Frequency, it’s like $400-600 so it’s significantly spendier to use a Pulse Electromagnetic Frequency device vs. using an Earthing Mat.


But the whole idea behind grounding or earthing is that, it normalizes your circadian rhythm by introducing you to the natural magnetic field of the planet earth. The earth actually puts out this frequency.  It’s about 7.8 hertz. It’s called the Schumann frequency and both animals and humans rely on it for a variety of benefits, in particular, normalization of circadian rhythm, meaning that people who never get in contact with the ground, who never walk around outside in their bare feet, who rarely look at sunlight or get exposed to sun, what happens is, you lose a lot of your natural circadian rhythm, which is tied not only to sleep but also to hormone production.  And so you can really reduce inflammation and improve sleep and increase energy levels and reduce stress and even improve blood pressure and release full body tension by getting yourself exposed to those natural frequencies that are emanating from the planet Earth.  The other kind of cool thing is that you disperse a lot of the build-up of electricity within your body from using computers and talking on phones and all these other ways that you get exposed to what are called EMFs or electromagnetic fields. This Grounding Mat, which is also known as Earthing Mat, it is a mat that you plug into the grounding wire port of a regular three-pronged outlet.  So you put this next to your bed.

Brock:  So you could put this into the one little round, not the 2 elongated…

Ben:  What happens is you get a flow of electrons coming up to through the ground if you’re doing this in a grounded home.

Brock:  If your house is grounded probably.

Ben:  Yeah.  Exactly. They flow through the ground wire and on to the mat if you’re on a high rise apartment or skyscraper or something like that.  And so you’re getting exposed to the same type of ions and the same frequencies that the earth is releasing.  And this is something that’s been used by, for example, Tour de France cyclists for almost a decade to enhance their recovery and sleep in the evening and it kinda flies into the radar but it’s been fairly popular in alternative medicine for a while.  Now that relatively famous biohackers like Dave Asprey are selling these things on their website, they’re kinda beginning to get more popular among the general population.  I get asked why I don’t use an earthing mat or grounding mat and there’s a reason that I use something like the Earthpulse, which is achieving a similar effect rather than an earthing mat or grounding mat.  And the reason for it is because of the way that US Electric Utilities here in America have set up their electrical infrastructure. What happens is, unlike Europe, about 70% of the electrical current in the US is returned into the ground via face wires as it travels back to the substation, so pretty much everything that is in physical contact with the ground gets bombarded with this extra energy.  But especially, if you’re plugging yourself into a grounding mat that you’re gonna be sleeping on and earthing mat in your grounded wire in your house, what you’re doing is amplifying that effect even more.  You’re exposing yourself to more electrical pollution when you use a grounding mat or an earthing mat compared to if you didn’t use one at all.  This isn’t the case if you’re gonna use it if you’re professional cyclist or if you’re doing the Tour de France using one of these in Europe.  We’re wired way differently. They’re wired way differently over in Europe.  And so it’s not that great of an idea to be using an earthing mat or grounding mat and there are some people who use these types of mats in their office setting to mitigate a lot of the effects of electromagnetic frequencies in the office setting.  A lot of people don’t realize you can get the same effects by literally putting aluminum foil underneath your feet or stopping work and going and standing on aluminum foil after you’ve been working on the computer for an hour or two.

Brock:  I thought you’re gonna say, filling your shoes with dirt.

Ben:  Or doing as Brock does and making a special little aluminum foil tiara and wearing that while at the office, whatever you wanna do. But seriously, you can achieve many of these many electromagnetic reducing effects through doing something like that and there are some other things that you can do as well.  For example, I have Greenwave filters installed in every outlet throughout my house.


What these filters do is they eliminate a lot of what’s called dirty electricity or the surges that go into homes as power is traveling back to the substation.  So I’ve got one of these installed in every  single one of my outlets in my house and they are called Greenwave filters and you basically plug them in and they can be very, very effective at reducing dirty electricity in your home.  A few other things that we do is, we don’t have any fluorescent light bulbs installed in the house. Preferably, you should use what are called low blue lights or even LED lights and they don’t emit the same amount of radiation as a regular fluorescent light bulb and you’re not gonna get as much EMF exposure. You wanna unplug as much as possible in your house. When we go to bed every night, we unplug the wireless router. A wireless router in the home is one of the biggest ways that you produce a bunch of EMF when you’re sleeping and we just unplug that.  Anything in the bedroom especially, we unplug. The only thing that’s plugged in when I’m sleeping is the Earthpulse, which is plugged into one of these dirty electricity filters and it is not grounded in the same way that a grounding mat is so I’m still getting all of this generation of that Schumann hertz that that electrical frequency or that natural magnetic frequency that the earth puts out but I’m getting that kind of unsteriods without the same type of electrical pollution as a grounding mat or an earthing mat introduces.

Brock:  I remember David Minkoff, at the Become Superhuman event, was talking about how he actually turns the breaker off to his bedroom before he goes to bed every night and how he’s noticed that makes a huge difference so that’d be even a step further than unplugging everything, turning off the current to that room.

Ben:  Yeah.  Another thing that we do is, we actually don’t sleep in our house anymore. We get a tent and we take out to the back…no, I’m just kidding.  We don’t go that far.  ‘Cause I knew there are some people listening in there laughing. You can actually really notice a difference when you unplug your microwave.  That’s another big one.  If your house has a microwave in it, a) don’t use the microwave; b) unplug it.  Our microwave is built-in to our house and if we took it out, there’d be like this big hole in the kitchen wall and since we plan on selling our house here in the next couple of years, we’re not getting rid of the microwave but it’s unplugged.

Brock:  We even don’t have a microwave for almost 3 years now.  Once you adjust there really there’s very few things that I think I’d really like to have a microwave for this.

Ben:  Yup. Garage door openers – those create a standing electromagnetic field that radiates literally hundreds of feet.  So don’t keep your garage door open or sitting in your house especially in your kids’ rooms or anything like that.  Put it out in the car where it’s at least a little bit farther away from your house.  These are all little things that you can do but ultimately, the answer to the question is yeah, I’m a fan of grounding but I achieve it by making sure that I go outside barefoot every once in a while.  I actually do it everyday.  I use an Earthpulse rather using a grounding mat or an earthing mat and then , I really mitigate my EMF exposure by doing some of these little things  like unplugging the wireless router at night, unplugging the microwave, keeping the garage door opener out of the house and just trying to reduce electrical flow especially, as much as possible at night, when it’s not necessary for you to be using the stuff because by doing so, if you’re sleeping 7 hours a night, that adds up over the course of the year in terms of how much EMF mitigation you’re getting when you’re sleeping.  There you go.

Brock:  And of course, you could do like I do and fill your shoes with dirt and wear the tinfoil tiara.

Ben:  Fill your shoes with dirt and wear the tinfoil tiara.  Yup.  There you go.

Colin:   Hi Ben and Brock!  My name is Colin.  I’m interested in finding out if there are any supplements which may assist in stopping or reducing muscle spasms. I’ve been having a lot of trouble over the last 12 months running downhill and my upper leg gets a sudden and painful twinge to the point where I can’t continue.  A sharp twinge usually starts in the medialus near the knee and then on the femerus near my hip.  It starts in my left leg but my right leg gets a similar twinge shortly after.  If I take to limping very slowly for a better kilometer, I can start shuffling again but I need to be very careful not to extend my pace much.  I’m 59 years young and I’ve been shuffling over long distances for many years and I don’t want to stop.  Thanks for your podcasts.  They’re very informative.

Brock:  I know Colin said muscle spasm but it kinda sounds like cramps.

Ben:  Yeah.  And it’s tough to differentiate between the 2 really.


What we’re talking about is, the muscle is shortening.  Whether it’s shortening because it wants to protect itself or it’s shortening because it is being overused or it’s shortening due to an injury recall type of scenario.  Fascial adhesions can be another issue.  Very, very occasionally, dehydration but way, way less than what sports drinks companies will have us to believe.  And same goes with electrolytes.  It’s pretty rare that it’s a salt deficiency.  Most of us get enough minerals and electrolytes in our diets to at least ensure that we’re not going into spasms or cramps.  I’ll touch on that in a second. There are a few kind of a caveats there.  Ultimately, if I were Colin, I would just stop running, probably.  Take up swimming.  What I would say is one biggie that I just mentioned is fascial adhesions and that’s when you get a lot of cross links in this sheath that surrounds the muscles.  It reduces mobility in the muscle and the muscle tends to go into spasm or cramp when that happens.  That’s very, very simple to work on and eliminate through a combination of trying to meet a few times if you can initially, as you’re just getting rid of this problem with a massage therapist to get some really good deep tissue massage and teeth grittingly pleasant massage that’s really freeing up a lot of adhessed areas in the muscle.  If you really wanna do this and take it to the next level, you find what’s called an MAT practitioner or an IMAT practitioner. These are the folks who can actually find areas that are going into this protective spasm or cramp due to you, having a pre-existing injury in that area or in the muscle that opposes that section and doing a lot of really tough trigger point therapy to get rid of that.  Active Release Therapy or ART would be another example of a technique that can be effective for that type of thing.  Once you’ve got those issues cleared up, you would go into maintenance mode by using a foam roller, a really good foam roller.  I use one called the Rumble Roller.  It’s got a bunch of ridges that stick up out of it.  Every Tuesday and every Friday, I do the Rumble Roller – full body rumble rolling session without fail and that really helps me move pretty freely.  The other thing that I do is I’m, usually a couple of times a week, doing some mobility drills – side to side mobility drills, dynamic stretching drills, leg swings, arm swings, stuff like that. Interestingly, these extreme isometric exercises I’ve been doing recently based off of the Minimalist Triathlon Training Protocol that I’m doing and my work with Evo Athletes Jay Schroeder, a lot of these extreme isometric drills I’m doing are actually improving my range of motion as well.  And they’re exposing my body to having to kinda move through a full range of motion very, very slowly and hold that range of motion.  And I’ve noticed quite a bit of enhanced mobility just from doing isometric holds as well – deep squats, deep lunges and then holding those moving very, very slowly can be effective for this type of thing also.  When it comes to the whole electrolyte issue, which I mentioned ahead on, biggest thing here would be magnesium deficiency.  I would experiment, if I were Colin, with direct delivery of magnesium to the area that’s spasming by using a Transdermal magnesium like a spry-on magnesium, rubbing it in.  I’ve talked about it on the show before.  We’ll link to it in the show notes to this episode, but basically, rubbing something like that in would work out quite well.  The other thing that you can use to make sure that you’ve got really, really good mineral balance would be something like a Trace minerals supplement.  The one that I use is called Natural Life Minerals.  It’s over 70 different trace minerals and if any of these minerals are kind of imbalanced or deficient in your diet, they can all contribute to the efficiency of the muscle contraction or the propensity of the muscle to spasm or cramp.  So those are 2 things that I use and I also really increase my use of as I’m going into a really hot race. I’m racing in Vietnam in about exactly 14 days (exactly 2 weeks or so) and I’ll kinda step up (it won’t be super hot there) my use of magnesium oil and minerals for sure when I’m over there racing.  Those are some of the things that I’d work on if I were Colin.  Colin, if you’ll implement this stuff, I’d encourage you to come back to the show notes and let us know if any of that works so we know if, for the sake of others, any of this stuff actually panned out for you.


Brock:  I actually get a cramp especially on my right side in about the same area that Colin’s describing and I’ve noticed when he says that he limps for about half a kilometer and then is able to start running again.  I’ve noticed that if I just change my gait a little bit if I feel it coming and I actually change my stride purposely like shorten my stride, maybe pick up my cadence a little bit, I can actually make it go away.  I’ve did that a few times during the 30k run I did a few weeks ago, I felt it coming, purposely changed my gait a little bit, it went away, another 10 kilometers went by, it started to come back, did the same thing, made it go away.  So sometimes, it’s just a matter of changing what you’re doing a little bit.

Ben:  Yeah. And if this is only happening in one side, it could be similar to what you’ve experienced in the past, too, Brock, which is sacroiliac joint hypo mobility anything that your SI joint just isn’t moving well and you can go and get that adjusted by a sports chiropractic. If you go to bengreenfieldfitness.com and do a search for “SI joint”, you’ll find a bunch of stuff we talked about in the past about that as well as even like a video that we embedded in one of the show notes on doing a self-adjustment of your SI joint and that’s another thing to consider doing.  Brock makes a good point.  You could just start changing up your gait.  Start galloping like a horse, neighing a little bit…

Brock:  Do the Gangnam style?

Ben:  Bunny hop, little Gangnam Style…

Fred:   Hey Ben and Brock!  It’s Fred from Long Island. I’m currently doing the Beach Body Insanity workouts and in every workout, he is encouraging us to use your core and engage those abs and in one of the workout in particular, I see the ladies pulling in their belly buttons as they’re doing these exercises and at first, my question to you was am I just supposed to go through the normal range of motion and engage my abs that way or am I supposed to really pull it in like that for every exercise.  I’m wondering how this would affect deep breathing where you’re supposed to pull air into your stomach and bulljack your stomach a little bit while you’re engaging your abs. It seems like they’re kind of in opposition there.  Thanks for your help.

Brock:  This is a great question when Fred asked…I saw this on Twitter, he put this out and it made me really think ‘cause yeah, do you suck your stomach in?  Do you just tighten it?  Do you sort of bear down like you would on the toilet or what do you do?

Ben:  If you’re a model on the Beach Body Insanity video, you suck your stomach in so that you really enhance that six-pack because you know you’re gonna be getting a break in 2 minutes as the video cuts and you just look good and increase your chances of better modeling gigs in the future. Other than that though, if you’re not a Beach Body Insanity video model, you do not wanna suck your abs in if you wanna engage your abdominals and engage your inspiratory and expiratory muscles properly while you’re exercising. There are a few different problems when it comes to breathing.  There are things that you can look at in your own body when it comes to seeing whether or not you’re engaging in a dysfunctional breathing pattern. One would be chest breathing and if you just look down as you’re breathing, your chest is the first thing to move, then that’s a sign that you’re engaging in shallow breathing or what’s called upper chest breathing, which a really poor way to deliver oxygen to your muscles.  Another thing that you can look at is if you put your hands on either side of your rib cage when you breathe, your ribs should move your hands out about 1 ½ to 2 inches and you should feel your trunk widen as you breathe and if that doesn’t happen as you’re breathing, that’s another sign that you’re doing shallow chest breathing.  You should be able to breathe nasally like suck air in and out from deep within your nasal cavity and in most situations other than really, really hard threshold efforts like when you’re lifting weights, for example, you should be able to not only not breathe from within your chest but also avoid mouth breathing.  And if you can avoid mouth breathing, that’s a pretty good sign that you’re doing a decent job being able to engage your inspiratory and expiratory muscles.  A lot of times, you try and compensate for that by breathing more air into our mouths.  A big reason for that is because of shallow chest breathing.

Brock:  I’ve suddenly become very aware of my breathing.  I don’t know if everybody that’s listening at home right now is doing the same thing.


Ben:  If you can hear a loud thump, that’s Brock hyperventilating and passes out there a little bit.  You can take your resting breath rate.  Some of these biohacking devices or self-quantification devices that I’ve talked about on the show before like the tinky, for example, that will…it’s this little blue dungle that plugs into the bottom of your iPhone and among other things, one of the things that it does is it tracks your breath rate.  There’s a watch out there called the My Bases watch that you can also wear and that’ll measure breath rate as well. A normal relaxed resting breath rate should be about 10-12 breaths per minute.  Obviously, that’s gonna go up during exercise.  But if at rest, you’re exceeding 12 breaths per minute, that’s a pretty good sign that you’re either doing really quick and shallow breathing or maybe, you’re a tinny tiny person, a really small person like a squirrel or a mouse.  We’ve got a lot of rodent listeners right now.  The other thing is, if you tend to slouch a lot and your upper neck and your chest and your shoulder muscles are tight, all of that is gonna inhibit your ability to engage in deep breathing.  And so if you do carry a lot of tension in those areas and you’ll know.  A lot of times, if you just do a body check, you’ll know.  I find that a lot of times during the day, when I get really carried away or whatever, e-mails or writing an article, or something like that, I’ll find that a lot of those upper body muscles tend to tighten up and I gotta do a breath check and remind myself to breathe deeply and relax and do some of the deep abdominal breathing.  If I start my day off by doing that, (I do.  I start every day with 5 minutes of deep breathing while I measure my heart rate variability.) I find that I tend to continue to breathe deeply throughout the day.  Let’s say you wanna train yourself to do this while you’re exercising, a few things you can do:  One is to actually practice blowing up a balloon.  This encourages you to contract your diaphragm and your core muscles. And if you really wanna teach yourself how to do this effectively, you get into a crunch position or sit-up position, you press your low back as hard as you can into the ground to see you really engaging these diaphragmatic muscles and your blow up a balloon by inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth and all the time, you try to maintain pressure against the ground with your low back.  That’s a really good way to train yourself how to do deep breathing.  It’s also a good way to get funny looks at the office if you’re doing it there.  The next thing would be to do planking exercises, in which you’re also practicing deep breathing.  Get into a front plank position or get into a side plank position and rather than just focusing on how long you can maintain that position, see if you can take, for example, 10 deep breaths from deep within your belly button as you’re holding that plank position or side plank position.  It’s actually pretty hard to do but it teaches you, once you get into the more complex exercises like a deadlift or a squat or something like that, to be able to actually engage your deep abdominal muscles while you’re also working some of your other muscles. So that’s another really, really good thing that you can do.  One of the other things (and I’ll do the schedule in just a while) I am sitting on an airplane or in a car or standing and waiting in line somewhere, is you just put your muscles, like I mentioned, around your core like wrap your hands around your waistline as much as you can and then just, as you’re breathing, try and feel your hands move like your abs are moving your hands out and away from your waist and back.  That’s a really good way to train your body how to breathe from deep within the abdominals.  Those are some of the things that I do.  If you do hyperventilate and pass out, my apologies but don’t suck the abs in.  If anything, the abdominals should be relaxed and moving in and out quite a bit when you’re breathing the right way.

Gabriel:   Hi! Hello! Love the show. This is Gabriel. Two quick comments:  First, after you apply topical magnesium after a run, you apply topical magnesium all over your legs or whatever, make sure, very, very important, make sure you wash your hands very well before you rub your sore nipples.  Just trust me on this one.  Do not try that at home. The other thing I wanted to comment is I have flat feet.  When I go to a running store, they usually try to recommend to me very heavy shoes or shoes with a lot of support but those shoes just hurt my knees.  I have found that even though I have flat feet, I seem to run better on vibram shoes and very light shoes. I was wondering about your comments on that.  Maybe the flat feet or high arches consideration is not as important as form or whatever.  Anyway, I love the show.  Bye.


Ben:  Wow!  I guess the whole magnesium issue comes out to how often you’re touching your nipples.

Brock:  Yeah.  I have never done my nipples.  I have rubbed it on to  some chaffing between my legs before like putting on my calves and my thighs and I actually got it on the chafe flexor in the chub there.

Ben:  Yeah. Gabriel, you may want to consider taking up a different activity than the whole nipple-touching and self nipple fondling type of thing unless that’s what make you happy.  In which case, by all means, we don’t wanna impede your personal happiness or pleasure.  But as far as the magnesium goes, yeah, it’s gonna itch no matter what. There are a very few cases where some people have super hypersensitivity to magnesium and they actually get a release of antibodies and histamine in response to topical magnesium.  And that’s a full on rash you’ll notice right away.  It’s like a red, red rash.  Big difference between that type of sensitivity that causes hives or rashes and this normal itching sting that can happen when you’re using magnesium on your skin.  By the way, that sting typically goes away after about a month or 2 or frequent use of a topical magnesium.

Brock:  Unless you put it on broken skin.  No matter how long you’ve been using it, if you put it on broken like I’m assuming Gabriel’s nipples were chafed from running or something like that, that’s why it’s stung so much.

Ben:  Gabriel’s nipples would be a great name for a band. Anyways though, on to the meat of Gabriel’s question about flat feet and whether or not you should wear built-up shoes for flat feet.  There are varying opinions on this. My opinion is that if you have difficulty running in minimalist shoes or bare feet and you have to wear overpronation orthotics or built-up running shoes, then you have hip and core or biomechanical movement patterns that need some serious addressing.  I think that anyone should be able to run in their bare feet or any pair of minimalist shoes whether or not they’ve got flat feet or valgus knees or any of these other issues.  And I’ve seen time and time and time again folks who gradually transition out of these motion control and heavy overpronating shoes into a minimalist shoe or a vibram or a barefoot approach begin experience less and less and less hip and knee and back pain.  The issue is that many folks and especially folks who have flat feet or foot issues, they try and make that change from a big shoe to a minimalist shoe too quickly, too impatiently and that causes a foot injury or it causes something like Achilles tendonitis especially in folks who have flat feet ‘cause they tend to have really, really tight Achilles tendons. There are some things that you can do to make that gradual transition into barefoot running.  I wrote an article about how to do this and I’ll link to that article in the show notes for this episode over at bengreenfieldfitness.com.  But some of the main things that you wanna do to strengthen your feet is, first of all, for about the first month or so, usually takes about 4 weeks or around there for biomechanical adaptations to a change in training such as barefoot running to take place, you just want to stay unclod.  (Big difference between that and unclad, by the way).

Brock:  You may unshod.

Ben:  Unshod.  Take your shoes off, keep your clothes on.  That’s what I’m trying to say. But you go unshod as much as possible throughout the day – barefoot, especially when you’re standing at work or at home.  And you just do that for a month.  You don’t run barefoot or run in minimalist shoes but you pretty much do everything else that you can barefoot or in minimalist gear.  And then once you’ve got a month on your belt, for about the next 2 weeks, you start to run barefoot but for very small distances on soft surfaces like you run on your shoes to a park, take off your shoes and run back and forth a few times, do some repeats, put back in your shoes and you run home. And you gradually increase over the course of generally about 6-8 weeks, the amount of barefoot or minimalist running that you do.  And then you start to experiment with harder surfaces like cement and pavement and stuff like that.  Remember, we’re talking about… in many cases, folks trying to strengthen feet that have been made weak after 20+ years of wearing shoes and you don’t eliminate all of that over a month-long transition into vibram, something like that.  This takes a little while and you gotta be patient with it.


You can do things like bouncing on one leg, doing some plyometrics on one leg, you can stand on one leg for any exercises that you do at the gym like overhead presses.  If you got access to a mini trampoline or a vibration platform, doing single leg exercises on either of those can be effective.  But basically, as much as you can do is strengthen those tiny foot muscles.  That’s all gonna accelerate your results a little bit when it comes to getting your body more and more used to being in your bare feet or wearing minimalist shoes.  Like I mentioned, if you got flat feet, your Achilles are gonna get super tight, your calves are gonna get super tight.  Do lots of foam rolling and lots of stretching for your calves and the back of your legs and lower calf and your Achilles region and that will help out a bunch with this as well.  I personally used to be convinced because of the way that my knees collapsed and tend to go bow-legged a little bit when I’m running because of what I’ve seen on high speed video cameras and fancy biomechanics labs that I gotta…I’m an overpronator and I should be on overpronation orthotics blah, blah, blah… I used to wear overpronation shoes all the time when I was convinced that was the way for me and I would get knee injuries and hip injuries and SI joint mobility issues.  I made that transition over the course of a good year into minimalist shoes and then barefoot and it has made a huge difference in terms of my biomechanics, my comfort.  Now, I use 3 things:  I use the shoes from Skora Running down in Portland.

Brock:  I’m actually waiting for a delivery today from them.  I’ve got 2 pairs of shoes coming, I’m so excited.

Ben:  Yeah.  They actually look good.  You can wear them with street gear and stuff and they’re just a cool looking shoe so you don’t look like a chimp quite as much as when you’re wearing a vibram 5-finger.

Brock:  Which is fun, too.

Ben:  Yeah. I wear the vibram 5-fingers a lot as well.  I like to use those for some trail runs. I like to use them when I’m just like…I’ve been starting to get into more parkour mov nat type of stuff.  And I like them for that as well and give you a little bit better feel for the ground.

Brock:  I’ve seen your wearing those with a suit.

Ben:  When I’m at conferences, where this type of thing is considered acceptable like the Superhuman Conference or like recently, Paleo FX, I’ll wear them with just my jeans and stuff, too.  And then I’ll do Skora Running shoes and then other than that, I just go barefoot.  And a lot of times, I will just go for a run.  I can run down the middle of the street now barefoot and be just fine although I’d rather run on the side of the street without any cars.  I don’t why I just said middle of the street but you know what I mean.  Anyways though, that’s the deal with the minimalist footwear and that’s the way that I would go about doing things. Just make that slow and gradual transition but I think that if you can’t run in minimalist shoes, then, your body is broken and you need to fix it.

Brock:  So basically, it doesn’t matter flat feet or not, that’s not really the shoe like if a shoe store is trying to tell you have to wear this or you won’t be able to function, it’s not a hard core case like that.  Use what works for you and try to work towards strengthening those parts.

Ben:  Yup.

Brock:  Is that a good summary?

Ben:  Yeah.  Strengthen your feet, strengthen your nipples, you’d be good to go.

Matt: Hi Ben and Brock!  This is Matt from Wisconsin.  I’ve a follow up question to response I heard you during this podcast or one on Endurance Planet regarding the use of soy protein and Hammer Nutrition Perpetum.  First, they claim they purposely avoid using whey, specifically glutamine to avoid the overproduction of ammonia.  What are your thoughts on this?  Secondly, I’ve also heard you recommend the necessity of fueling with protein during longer endurance events.  So if not soy, what products would you recommend that contain a good carb source with a good protein source or would you recommend a combination of something similar to the UCAN Superstarch next with a secondary protein source. Also, how much protein per hour would you recommend for a longer race such an Ironman?

Ben:  Wow!  A lot of protein questions.

Brock:  Yeah.  So Protein 101.

Ben:  It’s very nitrogenlicious question.  Let’s tackle these one by one.  First of all, soy protein during exercise.  You look at something like Hammer Nutrition that uses soy protein in their perpetum, which I actually used to use quite a bit.


They use that instead of whey to avoid the overproduction of ammonia and it certainly is true that soy, partially because it’s not even absorbed and digested quite as well, results in less ammonia build up during exercise compared to using something like a whey protein. However, and this probably isn’t gonna surprise anybody to hear me say this:  I’m not a fan of soy and especially of soy protein isolate because that isn’t unfermented form of soy and not only does it have lots of isoflavones in it which mimmick your body’s own estrogens and I’ve seen guys get men boobs and bigger bellies from soy and I’ve seen them get rid of that by cutting tofu and soy milk and soy protein out of their diet but you’ve also got anti nutrients in soy that block a lot of the enzymes that you need for digestion.  You’ve got phytates in soy that block the absorption of a lot of essential minerals especially for vegans or vegetarians who eat soy as their main source of protein or like for women who are in menopause, who, a lot of times, are using these supplements that have lots of soy in them.  This is very, very worrisome. Whether or not it’s a GMO soy, which, by the way, most soy is, or it’s non-GMO or an organic soy, like Hammer Nutrition uses, for example, there are issues about soy that go way above and beyond a whole GMO type of thing.  A lot of people also, incidentally, have an allergic reaction to soy, an immunoglobulin reaction to soy where their body mounts an inflammatory reaction against it.  You’ll find a lot of people have a lot of difficulties with this perpetum stuff form Hammer Nutrition and that’s one big reason why.  Now, before I go about completely crucifying Hammer, I use a lot of their products. I use Hammer’s REM caps when I’m traveling to enhance my sleep because they’ve got some melatonin and some valerian root in them.  I use their Hammer Balm and their Seat Saver as like these good natural topicals for doing things like eliminating seat sores and stuff when you’re cycling.  I use their Recovery Bar.  They’ve got  …


They’ve got really good recovery bars that got a vegan one. They got a grass fed whey one and they do have a lot of really good products.  But I’m not a fan of soy unless it’s fermented soy like Miso or Natto or Tempeh or something like that.  So as far as soy goes, I would really stay away from it.  Let’s put it this way.  There are some evidence that most of these studies have been done in Israel, that soy is not that big issue unless it’s the staple in your diet like it must be something you’re consuming everyday of the week once a day at least, like we’re talking about unfermented soy and the extent to which it can cause digestive inhibition.  For me, I’m trying to get every advantage possible in my diet and I’m not about taking in just enough soy to where I’m tearing a line.  I’m really super careful about it and I encourage folks to be careful with soy and unfermented soy whether or not it’s GMO. So what do I recommend in terms of protein during exercise? Well, it may not come as a surprise to many folks but I don’t recommend a whey protein isolate such as what you are going to find in a paleo supplement like Tree Fuel. I don’t recommend a soy protein isolate such as you are going to find in something like Hammer Nutrition. I recommend pre-digested amino acids and using an essential amino acid supplement compared to anywhere from 3 to 6 hours before digestion of soy or whey protein.  You’re looking at literally about 20 minutes to actually get full absorption in the small intestine and using amino acids rather than whey or soy protein.  We’re looking at whey-less metabolic toxic waste. We talked about the ammonium build up being more in whey than in soy.  When you look at both of those, you get significant ammonia build up because of the nitrogen, the catabolites that are formed when you break down any dietary protein or any protein supplement.  And you just rather not have that type of acid poured into your body when you’re already beating at your body during exercise.  So you look at what’s called the net nitrogen utilization of a dietary protein or protein supplement and you compare it to something like amino acid supplement and you literally get close to a 100% net nitrogen utilization when you’re looking at an amino acid supplement versus anywhere from 15-30% for dietary protein or protein supplement which again is not that big of an issue when you’re at rest when you’re looking at an all mudder steak for protein.


 But when you’re exercising and you’re trying to deliver as many high-quality amino acids in your blood stream as possible, you’re going to be better served by using an amino acid supplement.  Now, in terms of dosage, you can choose to use a branched-chain amino acid supplement which is not going to give you all of the amino acids you need but it’s still going to give you a decent dose of them.  You’d be looking at about 15-20 grams of branched-chain amino acid per hour and I think it’s silly that a lot of these gels in sports terms include branched-chain amino acid and it’s like 2-3 grams like you got to use a good dose of branched-chain amino acid to notice a significant difference during exercise. So you don’t want t0 play around with little gels that have these micro doses of BCAAs in them just they can sell them for $1.50 more than regular gel. If you’re using essential amino acid supplement which is going to deliver to your body pretty much every amino acid that it needs during exercise, you’re looking at about 5-10 grams an hour.  And so when I’m using something like the Master Amino Pattern capsules that map protein that I use, that’s an essential amino acid.  I do ten of those before a big work-out or a big race and then I maintain my blood levels of essential amino acids by doing 5 an hour after that.  And in my preparations for Ironman Canada, I’m going to experiment with 10 capsules which should come out to be equivalent of 10 grams an hour when I’m getting into that scenario.  Granted this stuff is expensive, you’re looking at around 50 bucks for a bottle of it, but if  you’re wanting to get every advantage possible during exercise, this stuff is like steroids.  I mean it, not that I frequently use steroids or know what it feels like, but you know what I mean.  I did use one of those supplements where you literally notice instant difference while you’re out there exercising and I just came in a zip black bag in my jersey cotton bag and do it that way during the race or during a long work-out.

Brock:  Okay, so our last question comes from Stew and it’s actually a written question.  Stew says, “I have a good mate who’s recovering from a mild stroke.  Now, I was wondering if you have covered this topic in a previous blog or podcast. What advise would you give in relation to nutrition and is there anything in particular that can improve his health?

Ben:  Oh yeah.  I mean, yeah.  It’s kinda interesting; the same stuff that can help you to reduce your risk of stroke or to bounce back from stroke more quickly.   Hello to Stew by the way.  Stew’s one of our listeners down in Aus where I’m hopefully going to be doing a little tour and race vacation here in 2014.  But more on that later.  So as far as stroke prevention and stroke recovery, a lot of things you do for this can help you out with all sorts of different neurological conditions or blood pressure conditions like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Dementia and mood disorders like depression and blood sugar issues like diabetes because what you’re looking at is wanting to take care of the type of energy that you’re giving your neurons to burn as a fuel and you’re also taking care of a lot of your predispositions to blood clotting and blood pressure and just your cardiovascular efficiency.  So stroke happens when a blood clot blocks artery or a blood vessel breaks and any of these can interrupt the blood flow to an area of the brain.  When that happens, your brain cells begin to die and brain damage starts to occur and that’s why you want to come at this from two different angles.  One, to improve cardio-vascular efficiency and blood flow and two, to heal a lot of brain cells and to help out your neurons in your brain.  So one of the very, very first things that I’d steer your friend towards, Stew, would be a ketogenic diet and ketones are a form of fatty acid but they are metabolized like fats.  Most fats actually need an amino acid to transport those fats into mitochondria so that fat can get burned for energy.  Now with ketones, they don’t work that same way.  They can be used without having to get shuttled by that amino acid into the body.  They provide readily available and very useful energy.


And they’re very important to your neurons because your neurons can burn glucose for carbohydrates or they can burn ketones.  But when you give your neurons ketones to burn, they have to go through a lot less energy doing  so and so can really really be a good energy source.  A ketogenic diet, in terms of giving your neurons the fuel that they need, prepare for recovery and for optimum efficiency.  So there are several studies out there that show that you actually get a protection of neurons when you get the extra energy that you have circulating in your body when you use something like the ketogenic diet.  You don’t have to do the whole low-carb thing to be in a ketogenic diet.  This is something a lot of people don’t realize.  You can take in, for example, and this is reasonably low for a lot of people, but you can take in, for example, 50 grams of carbohydrates a day. And if you are taking 50 grams of carbohydrates per day, sometimes that is enough to throw your body out of ketosis.  This is something I may have to deal with because I’m using a full on ketogenic diet in my build up to Ironman Canada in August but I need more, at least 50 grams and often more than 50 grams of carbohydrates during the day.  So what you do is you add a bunch of coconut oil or medium chain triglyceride oil and what this does is overpower some of the glucose that is getting introduced in your body from the carbs, keep your body in ketogenic state and give you a bunch of extra fuel.  So ….

Brock:  Just so before you get too far away, how would 50 mg or 50 grams be of carbohydrate in the equivalent of real food?

Ben:  That would be about the equivalent of two pieces of fruit.

Brock:   So…

Ben:  Yeah, so you’re going to add in like close to 10 tablespoons of medium chain of triglyceride oil or coconut oil per day if you want to keep your body in pure ketosis especially if you’re doing it for clinically relevant reasons like this like you’re really wanting to make sure that you’re not straying out of ketosis.  You want to make sure like I talked about, there’s essential amino acids.  I would add some of those into the mix just to allow your body to be able to utilize the ketones more efficiently.  Those will help you out a little bit and help you out from cannibalizing muscle tissue and and stuff from not getting enough of carbs.  So that’s one thing that I’d do is ketogenic diet.  The only thing that I would do is really go after your blood pressure and keeping your blood pressure down. The biggest thing and most simple for blood pressure is potassium deficiency.  Even though you can get potassium in stuff like bananas and tubers and things of that nature, obviously that flies in the face of keeping your body in ketosis.  So you can just use like a potassium supplement; and generally potassium supplement, you’re looking at, it depends,  but it’s going to be in the range of 200-400 mg of potassium per day that you want to add into your diet to help control blood pressure. The other that can really really help with blood pressure is Hibiscus tea.  There’s actually a bunch of studies out there that show that Hibiscus tea is really effective at lowering blood pressure.  So you can do that.

And then the last thing I consider that comes like a lifestyle decision in addition to ketogenesis, getting enough potassium, and drinking some of this Hibiscus tea on a daily basis, would be acupuncture; and just doing a few acupunture with an acupuncturist who is doing it specifically to lower your blood pressure can be really really helpful especially during something like dealing with the after-effects of stroke or going after stroke prevention. So control your blood pressure and give your neurons the right type of fuel to use. You can also use supplements. There are a variety of supplements that can help you reduce the risk of stroke and also improve your ability to recover more quickly from a stroke.  For example, a lot of stroke victims have really depleted body source of what is called the ATP which is the primary source of energy for your cells.  And when you deplete your ATP, one of the things that can help you to restore your natural balance of ATP is ironically carbohydrates.  But there’s a specific carbohydrate molecule that you can supplement without actually dumping a bunch of glucose in your body which take care of ketosis and that’s called D-Ribose. So 5-10 grams or so of D-Ribose per day can help to restore something of that ATP-based energy. Another thing would be co-enzyme Q10 and this can really really help your body manufacture its own ATP and if you take this hand in hand with something like D-Ribose, you’re looking at about 200 mg or so of co-enzyme Q10 on a daily basis.  You can get either of these very easily from  a health food store or from the health food section of the grocery store.


You want to get a full spectrum of Vitamin B complex.  Vit B helps you synthesize hemoglobin which can be really helpful especially if you’re a stroke victim trying to bounce back getting enough hemoglobin back into your body in building your body’s hemoglobin levels.  Vit B12, that’s really important because of the role that Omega-3 fatty acids play in the health of your brain and your nerve tissue and Vit B12 helps you to absorb these fatty acids a little bit more efficiently. Of course, hand in hand with that would be the use of fish oil, like a good really high quality triglyceride-based fish oil. That 1-2 combo of a fish oil with the Vit B complex is something that if you listen to my Smart Drugs podcast that I just did with Steven Fowkes is one of the best ways to improve your brain health and decrease brain information and it can also help quite a bit with kind of stroke bounce back.  Few of the things that can increase blood flow to the brain, one would be ginkgo biloba and that’s an herb that you can use generally looking about a hundred to 200 mg per day of ginkgo biloba.  The other thing that can really help out are any of these different types of compounds that you’ll find a lot of times, again, in smart drugs, so these are the things to increase mental agility in your memory and your stamina and your awareness but they can also increase or replenish neuro-transmitters which tended to get damaged by stroke or by head injuries so using something like the tianchi which has something called huperzine in it which is a derivative of club moss and that is one of the things that can really help to not only improve blood flow to the brain but also increase the levels of these neuro-transmitters.  There’s another like kind of derivator, something called periwinkle, and it’s called tempostatin; and that will be another one that you can use–tempostatin; and that also will have similar effect to something like tianchi even though tianchi has a bigger anti-inflammatory brain-boosting effect on a more natural level than using like a strait of smart drug.  Those are the pretty the last thing I’d mention.  One thing would be taurine.  Taurine is another anti-oxidant that especially acts as a potentiator for the hypothalamus region of your brain which can tend to get injured or weakened by a stroke and it helps to increase oxygen intake in your brain.  And taurine is another thing you can find in the form of a tablet or pill.  I don’t recommend you going out sucking about your Red Bull which would be included in Taurine but that would help out as well.  So I just want heard a ton of stuff as we do with everything you guys listening in because everything I just went over is really great for anybody from a blood pressure or stroke perspective.  We embed what’s called “My List” in every episode.  So for episode 236 from bengreenfieldfitness.com, you’ll be able to find the “My List” for this episode. We’ll kind of give you a helpful link to all these stuff, but we also just generally put as many resources as we can in the short notes for you.  Just because we’ve nothing better to do with our time….

Brock:  Not so.

Ben:  We spend the after news sitting around creating incredibly complex short notes.  So hopefully that helps you out still.  And speaking of “My List,” as soon as we finish this podcast, I actually got a My Lister interview coming up and I’m going to be talking to a fellow named Tim who has created the “My List” about coming back from an eating disorder. Some of the tools and techniques that he’s used to bounce back from an eating disorder, we’re going to play that after the next Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast episode next week. But for anybody interested in kind of dealing with anorexia and stuff like that, we’re actually going to do a special “My List” episode based on that.  If you ever personally got involved with paleo list on Facebook, you can do that over at mylist.com/bengreenfield or just go over the Ben Greenfield Fitness Facebook page at facebook.com/bgfitness and click on My List symbol there.  You’ll be able to create your own My List symbol for anything you like from supplements and work-out gear to your favorite fancy novel, like Game of Thrones, the podcast brought by audiblepodcast.com/ben.

So the last thing I want us do today for you guys as we get the music cranked out here and play out this, I want to give you this shout out to a few of our folks who have left reviews over in iTunes.  I really appreciate your reviews so if you could shout out here. Here’s one from a fellow named Arthurian Legend: He authors “This is a teasome day in health and fitness.  Awesome podcast, always ‘Brockful’ latest info and delivered in Ben’s soothing subsonic tones.”  Oh, am I subsonic? Here’s one by Teapot Boy.  He says, “Actually, we’re now in better shape on the inside and out. Major kudos to these guys who have researched and put on the broadcast listener Q&A.  Keep it up guys and praise the Lord!  Hmm, digging digging the fact apparently.  So here’s one I like.  Here’s a five-story review by Salty Traitor.  He calls this …

Brock:  Salty Traitor!

Ben:  …this afternoon podcast.  “Ben and Brock are very helpful giving sound advice, helping my whole family eat better and get stronger, leaner, and faster. I advise listening at 1 ½ speed because Ben tends to be long-winded and speaks like he just smoked the fatty.”  Love it. So there’s a review. If you want to leave a review maybe you could get a thread on the show. Be creative. Get a review over on i-teach page for Ben Greenfield Fitness, go to bengreenfieldfitness.com, check out the show notes and when you check out the show notes, you can always leave a quick little donation over there.  Put a few coins and that will help keep this thing going.  So that being said, what do you think Brock?  Should we call it a day?

Brock:  Absolutely!

Ben:  Alright folks. This is Ben and Brock signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com.



April 3, 2013 Podcast: Does the pill make you gain weight, are earthing mats safe, how to stop leg cramps and spasms, how to breathe the right way during exercise, are minimalist shoes ok for flat feet, how much protein should you eat during exercise, and natural remedies for strokes.

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!

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Listener Q&A:

As compiled, edited and sometimes read by Brock, the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast “sidekick”.

Anonymous asks @ 00:27:31
Oral Contraceptives and weight gain? She has recently switched over to a new pill that is higher in estrogen (she was diagnosed with low estrogen) and is wondering if the weight gain is psychological or if there is something to it?

~ In my response, I recommend the books The Hormone Cure and The Pill.

Avi says @ 00:39:12
He recently listened to the podcast episode you did with the creator of the Earth Pulse. He is wondering what the difference is between that and the earthing mat that Dave Asprey uses. There is a large cost difference but it sounds like they can be used in similar ways.

~ In my response, I reference the Earthpulse and Greenwave filters.

Colin asks @ 00:49:04
Looking for supplements that will help with muscle spasms. He’s been having trouble running downhill. His leg gets a sharp twinge in his vastus laterus/medialus and rectus femerus. If he limps for half a kilometre or so he is able to start shuffling again but he has to be very careful or the spasm will come back.

~ In my response to Colin, I mention: Transdermal magnesiumTrace mineralsRumble Roller.

Fred asks @ 00:56:52
He has been doing the Beach Body Insanity workouts and is wondering when they say to “engage your core” and “use those abs” what does that really mean? The people in the video seem to be sucking their guts way in but he is concerned that will impeded proper deep breathing. Do you have any guidance on how to “engage your abs” correctly.

~ In my response, I refer to the article How To Breathe The Right Way.

Gabriel says @ 01:04:16
First he reminds us to wash our hands well after applying topical magnesium – especially before you touch your sore nipples. Second, he has flat feet and the running stores always recommend very heavy shoes with a lot of support but those shoes hurt his knees. He finds he runs best in very light shoes. What would you recommend for flat feet?

~ In my response to Gabriel, I mention www.running.com and How Start Running Barefoot.

Matt asks @ 01:13:54
He has a lot of questions about protein: What are your thoughts on the use of soy protein in Hammer Nutrition’s Perpetum (used instead of whey to avoid the overproduction of ammonia), during long endurance events what do you recommend that is both a good carb source mixed with a good protein source (UCAN Superstarch mixed with secondary protein?), also how much protein per hour do you recommend for a longer race (like an Ironman)?

~ In my response to Matt, I recommend the Master Amino Pattern.

Stu wrote @ 01:22:29
I have a good mate who is recovering from a mild stroke, and I was wondering if you have covered this topic in a previous blog or podcast. What advice would you give in relation to nutrition and is there anything in particular that can improve his health?

~ In my response to Stu, I mention TianChi. I also recommend: D-RiboseCoenzyme Q-10Vitamin B6Vitamin B12Fish OilGinkgo BilobaTaurineVinpocetine.

Read more https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2013/04/236-does-the-pill-make-you-gain-weight-how-to-stop-leg-cramps-are-earthing-mats-safe-and-more/


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