April 18, 2013
Podcast #237 from https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2013/04/237-is-red-meat-really-bad-for-you-which-artificial-sweeteners-are-good-is-bench-pressing-bad-for-you-how-to-get-rid-of-restless-leg-syndrome/
Introduction: In this episode of the Ben Greenfield fitness podcast: Lasik eye surgery for sports performance, natural remedies for restless leg syndrome, how to get rid of side stitches, can blood sugar go up during exercise, which artificial sweeteners are good, and is bench press bad for your shoulders?
Brock: Well, welcome back to North America Ben!
Ben: Hey, thanks man! I’ve picked up some pretty good Vietnamese in the past week.
Brock: Oh yeah!
Ben: Well cultured, well travelled traveller. “Xin chao” …
Brock: Did you just call me a goat?
Ben: Actually, I just said “hello” and also exhausted my complete knowledge of Vietnamese vocabulary.
Brock: You’re up on me still.
Ben: I typically make a habit of trying to learn a language before I go somewhere and this kinda cripped up on me and I arrived in Vietnam expecting that it wouldn’t really be much of an issue, kinda like it is when we do our triathlon trip to Thailand how you can get by with your whole kinda pigeon English.
Brock: Oh yeah, waiving your arms and using broad words was just fine.
Ben: Right. I take papaya and coffee please. But there not to be had, there was pretty much confusion over just about anything that I said. Like I would order (I remember) salt in the morning and they’d bring me latte because salt sounds a little bit like latte.
Brock: I guess.
Ben: Exactly, and I ordered sparkling water and I got some sliced mango. That was interesting.
Brock: Well you know, I’d take that over sparkling water any day.
Ben: Yeah, exactly. Because it’s just like perrier …. the sliced mangoes. In general, I will make a better attempt should I go back to Vietnam to work a little bit more on the language but the triathlon went well.
Brock: That’s what I’m gonna say, it didn’t hold you back at all ‘cause you came in 5th over-all and 1st in each groupers. Congratulations for kicking some serious butts!
Ben: It felt good for the first triathlon of the season although I do need to start running my bike a little bit longer I think. Not like long longer but I’ve pretty much spent like going on 15 min mountain bike rides and that didn’t cut it for a 62k time trial so I’m gonna need….
Brock: Yeah, all by yourself too aren’t you sort of a stuck between the pros and age groupers riding in no man’s land.
Ben: Yeah, I was…. to tell you what, for people listening in just went out boring all the folks who don’t really get a crap about triathlon who are listening in, we’ll put a link in the show notes to the race report. I’ll write myself to do that but I got a race report all written up, got some pictures of all the weird foods that I ate over there and all that jazz. So….
Brock: I guess so it looks you had fun, maybe not quite fun as we had in Thailand mostly because I wasn’t there. Are you gonna do that trip again? Are you going to Thailand?
Ben: You know I’m on the fence about it, I guess like if there are bunch of listeners who have chosen to go, I’ll put the trip together. It’s been taken over by a group called Challenge which means it’s probably gonna be even better because this Challenge group puts on really, really good events. But I guess I would need to hear from listeners and if you’re a listener and listening in you wanna do the Thailand trip, that’s basic it comes out about like November 20th something through the 1st week in December. Leave a comment on the show notes over at bengreenfieldfitness.com or fire me an email, I guess I’ll start gauging interest and if people wanna do it, I’ll probably need 10 people or so to wanna go to make it worthwhile to put the trip together for folks.
Brock: And I can speak from personal experience that it is well worth it. It was a real once in a lifetime kinda experience although I may end up doing it again and it will be twice in a lifetime experience. But I’ll bring my own bike this time.
Ben: Yeah! So we should probably just change the title of this podcast to Asian travel tips.
Brock: So, there you go…..
Ben: Let’s do it.
Brock: Alright! As always, Ben will now bring down the knowledge upon us. Throw out the knowledge bombs.
Ben: I’m gonna go grab my steak out of the refrigerator and chew on it when we talk about this first issue that ……
Brock: No! You can’t eat meat, what are you crazy? especially not red meat.
Ben: You don’t wanna know how many tweets and Facebook post I got about this whole TMAO and red meat issue, you know I kinda blew a lot of what people were asking me about off just because a) there’s been a lot of really good articles written on it by folks who I respect in the nutrition environment. Guys like Paul Jaminet author of “Perfect Health Diet” and Mark Sisson and Dave Asprey, Chris Creaser and Chris Masterjohn, a lot of these folks whom I consider to have their head screwed on pretty straight when it comes to nutrition have kinda debunked the study that came out but those of you who aren’t really familiar with what’s going on here is there was this latest media uproar over the fact that red meat is once again being blamed as the primary cause of atherosclerosis and heart disease and basically lighting off a nuclear bomb within your body and the idea behind this is the carnitine. The carnitine that’s found in red meat which ironically can also be found in dairy, in tempeh, in fish and stuff like that too. But basically, this was a study that had a couple of different components to it and what the study was they fed people these 8 ounce steaks and they also get the people along with steaks a side of 250 mg of a carnitine supplement and what they’ve found in the folks who they gave these to is that the omnivores/the meat eaters showed increased blood and urine levels of these stuff called trimethylamine oxide or TMAO and that’s the compound that is purportedly associated with cardiovascular disease and the vegetarians and vegans who somehow defied their nutritional paradigms and actually ate the steak, they showed lower levels of this TMAO in their blood and their urine. And so, the other thing that they tested is what was producing the TMAO and so what they also did with folks is they administered antibiotics to them and so they totally wiped out their gut flora and that eliminated this steak induced increase in TMAO and so what that told the researchers was that it was the actual intestinal micro biota (the gut bacteria in the stomach) that was metabolizing this cartinine from the supplement and the carnitine from the steak into TMAO and then what they did was they allowed the human subjects’ guts to kinda repopulate with good bacteria so they gave them some time after those antibiotics and they gave them more steak and they found that once again the increase in TMAO appeared and that kinda confirmed that what’s happening when you eat a steak is your gut flora is metabolizing carnitine and that’s producing this increased in TMAO. Now, they went on to mice then and it’s important that the type of mice that they moved on to were special type of mice. These are what are called ApoE deficient mice and by giving these that ApoE deficient status, what they were doing was they were increasing those meece risk of heart disease. So, that’s a special genetic risk marker for heart disease when you knockout ApoE like that so they were accelerating the extent to which those mice would get atherosclerosis and they did find that in that strain of ApoE deficient mice that the dietary carnitine indeed increased TMAO levels and in the mice that accelerated atherosclerosis. Now, it’s important to realize that that happen in the mice, it didn’t happen in the humans. It didn’t observe the increased in the atherosclerosis in the humans all they observed was the increased in TMAO in humans but in mice when they did this genetic alteration to them and gave them the carnitine, it did indeed increased atherosclerosis; in other words, what it did was it impaired the mouse’s ability to remove cholesterol from their cell wall so it created this surplus of cholesterol in the cell wall of the heart and it sped up atherosclerosis. So, if you kinda a little issues with these and I’m just kinda totally cover the surface and will try and link in the show notes to some articles that go in to this in greater detail but the first is that there has been zero association that has been proven between TMAO and cardiovascular disease in humans.
The only thing that we’ve seen is that if you take a rodent (an ApoE deficient mouse) and you give it a bunch of carnitine, that is gonna increase it’s risk for atherosclerosis and we’ve seen nothing at all like that in humans, atherosclerosis or build up of cholesterol in the arterial cell wall was not measured at all in humans. So, that’s the first thing. The next thing was that the gut flora (all of these different hundreds of species that are living in our gut) were metabolizing and creating this increase in TMAO and there was no attempt made to look in to the gut health of the people that were in this study. And since we know that about 90% of the human population has gut…. what’s called dysbiosis or imbalances in the good vs. bad bacteria in the digestive tract, pretty good chance that these folks just basically had some pretty serious gut issues going on anyways because if you draw 10 people out of the population then 9 out of 10 of them has some bacterial issues in the gut then you can’t go and say, “well, you take a healthy person with a healthy gut, you give them steak and the same thing’s gonna happen.” So, that’s another issue. As I mentioned earlier, another thing that can raise TMAO is fish and there are so many studies that show that fish is consistently associated with better cardiovascular health, both fish oil as well as fish that this kinda flies in the face of any suggestion that steak will increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Now, the other thing that you have to kinda taken to account and this is part of the final thing I wanted to mention is that there was absolutely no attempt made to control for the type of meat that these folks were eating and from everything that I can see it was a typical grain-fed from commercially raised cattle filled with hormones and antibiotics and inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids and everything else and this wasn’t like a grass-fed, pastured omega 3 type of beef.
Brock: Not happy cows.
Ben: Exactly. They were unhappy cows. So, that really is just kinda a brief overview of what was going on, what were the problems of this study. Now, I just realized I said that I was gonna put in the show notes a bunch of links to some of the good articles that I’ve been written on this but you know what, I’ve already been doing that over on the Facebook page over at facebook.com/bgfitness so just head over to there and you’ll be able to see the discussion (we had a pretty good discussion going for all the folks who are on the Ben Greenfield facebook page) so head over there if you wanna link to some of the other things that have been talked about when it comes to this study.
Brock: Awesome. That’s good to know that I don’t have to throw away all my happy cow meat.
Ben: You don’t. You don’t. But speaking of nutrition, I also wanted to mention a couple of other things. First is I tweet about how in our household we generally use coconut flour instead of almond flour and I’d link to a really good article about the superiority of almond flour vs. coconut flour and there are few things that you should know if you’re trying to go gluten free or trying to work wheat flour out of your diet or maybe thinking that almond flour is the way to go. The first is that the calorie count of almond flour is pretty damn big. So, one cup of almond flour has equivalent of about 90 almond in it. So, that means that you can easily easily from just like one serving of like a baked goodie made with almond flour, get a good 600-700 calories if you’re not careful. And that’s one issue is the calorie issue vs. coconut flour which is much lower in terms of the total calorie count, it comes out to about ½ to 1 quarter as to many calories. Almond flour also tends to be pretty high in this polyunsaturated fatty acids (this omega 6 fatty acids) and you know there’s a lot of evidence to show that high levels of omega 6 fatty acids (especially heated omega 6 fatty acids) encourage kind of an inflammatory response in the body and can also deplete your anti-oxidants and so especially for people who are already exercising and kinda beating up their bodies, consumption of almond flours are good way to kinda overload your body with even more detrimental inflammation. So, that’s something else to be careful of, the fats in almond flour aren’t heat stable and so processing and heat and light and pressure cause all those double bonds in that polyunsaturated fat to break and that also can cause some damage to your cell walls because when you’re creating a lot of free radicals like that just like excessive exercise can create free radicals, excessive consumption of almond flour can also do that.
One other issue that’s kinda listed in this article which I’ll link to some folks can go and check out is that there are some components of almonds such as oxalates and phytic acids. Phytic acids are kinda digestive inhibitor that can inhibit some mineral absorption. Oxalates are something that tend to not be as much as an issue unless you have leaky gut syndrome or gut dysbiosis which I’m talking about or something like that but what it comes down to is if you’ve got some gut issues and you’re trying to go gluten free and heal your gut or something like that and you think you’re doing yourself a favour by switching to almond flour, you’re probably not. So, that’s basically the reasons that almond flour is inferior to coconut flour.
Brock: Personally I actually can’t really taste the difference either so if one’s got that many more benefits going forward, it’s not like you’re sacrificing taste for it.
Ben: Right, exactly. So, those are 5 reasons to avoid almond flour and we’ll link to that one in the show notes as well. And then I also wanted to get in to something interesting that came up when it comes to sleep and this was an article in BBC (on BBC.co.uk) and they talked about the myth of an 8 hr sleep night and this is something I mentioned in a couple of recent podcast but basically it is the idea that we’re supposed to sleep 8 hours through the night and in fact there are hundreds and hundreds of references to history from Homer’s Odyssey to anthropological accounts of tribes in Africa to a more segmented sleeping pattern which basically is this first sleep that begins about 2 hours after dusk and then this waking period of 1 or 2 hours during the night and then the second sleep and during that waking period people are socializing and using the restroom, having sex, doing religious activities like praying and basically just engaging in social activities and things of that nature during the night and then going back to sleep and it is a relatively new phenomenon this whole concept of the 8 hr sleep night or going in to this panic or being all stressed out if you wake up during the night and you can’t go back to sleep and you think this lack of an 8 hr sleep cycle is gonna somehow do some damage to your body and I think it is even being mitigated by a lot of this devices like xmotion, jawbone, fitbit and the zwave. Anyways, these devices (there’s tons of them, dozens of them) and you wake up and they tell you like how many hours in a row you slept and it makes it look bad if you actually woke up during the night multiple types or your sleep was interrupted but the fact is you don’t actually have to worry about it that much and this is something I’ve been getting more and more in to the habit of this. Like when I wake up during the night, if I’m awake, awake and I awake up during the night, then I will get up and I’ll just you know, I’ll mall around sometimes I’ll eat something, I’ll put on my blue light blocking glasses and kinda dim my computer a little bit so it’s got more of kind of that torch type of light rather than a modern artificial light type of background light to it and I work on the computer, read a little bit and then when I’m tired, go back to sleep. There’s also this idea behind sleep velocity and that is the fact that once you started sleeping it’s easier to get back to sleep. So, I also pay attention to that. So, if I wake up during the middle of the night and I got to use the bathroom and I can tell right away, I’m like “Wow, I’m really tired” I just flop back in the bed and go back to sleep. But if I listen to my body and there’s not much of a kinda sleep velocity component there and I’m just awake and alert, I stay awake for a little while before I go back to sleep. I’ll link to this article in the show notes to this episode so that people can go read it but I just wanted to get out there that I no way condone the idea that 8 hrs of solid sleep (uninterrupted sleep) is necessary something that go for, I’m a bigger fan of just making sure that for any 24 hr cycle, you try and get something close to about 8 hrs of sleep.
Brock: And I don’t know if they addressed in that same article but I know the quality of sleep has a lot to do with how much you actually need as well like getting 3 hrs of good deep sleep is better than getting sort of weirdly lose light sleep for an entire 8 hrs so you wake up and you look at the clock and you go “Oh no, it’s only 4 o’clock in the morning. I better go back to sleep” or it may actually equal out if you had a deeper sleep in that 4 hrs or whatever it was.
Ben: Right, exactly.
Brock: I think it was Nora Gedgaudas that was talking about that.
Ben: I think she did bring that up and this article actually goes in to the sleep cycles and how long you should stay in each sleep cycle and that type of thing kinda spells up the differences in terms of your stage 1, your stage 2, your stage 3 and your deep sleep cycle and about how long you’re supposed to be in each so what it comes down to is about every 60 mins, every 100 mins you go through these 4 different stages of sleep as long as you’ve got a few of those 60-100 minute sleep cycles that you go through, you’re pretty good. What’s the number for this episode by the way?
Brock: It’s episode 237.
Ben: Okay. So, if you want links to any of these stuff go to the show notes for episode #237. We’ll have links to any of the studies, any of the resources that we talk about and we also will have what’s called MyList for this episode, which is this helpful handy dandy list that we put together that you can access on Facebook, you can share with your friends, you can be like, hey, here’s some interesting things that….. like later on we’re gonna talk about restless leg syndrome and things of that nature and you’ll be able to share with your friends. If your friend has restless leg syndrome, you can say, “why you go and check out this MyList that Ben and Brock had on the Ben Greenfield fitness show” and just kind of a handy weddy, you can share stuff around. That’s one of the reasons that we created MyList for this show is to make it easier for you to share the wealth so to speak.
Brock: That’s be like that it’s got pictures instead of just words.
Ben: We’re big on pictures. Yes.
Brock: Who wants to read when you can look at pretty pictures?
Ben: Speaking of reading audible, audible sponsored this episode.
Ben: That’s right. Because if you go to audible.com you are freaking screwed ‘cause all you gonna get….
Brock: They’ll just take all your money.
Ben: They can take your money, they’re not gonna give you any free books, and they’re gonna run away laughing. They’re gonna kick you in the knees and run away laughing but if you go to audiblepodcast.com/ben, all of a sudden audible becomes your very good friend because they will give you a free book and that also means that they sponsor the show when you go to audiblepodcast.com/ben. And we always like to kinda pick a book for you guys. I’m going to tell you the next book that I have queued up in my kindle ‘cause I’ve been reading a lot on education, on kids, and education so I recently read, radical unschooling, and I read….. (what else did I read, I should have read a book on short term memory loss) I read a book on one called radical unschooling, one called the 100 good questions to ask your children (as like conversation starters) and ah…..gosh, I’m blanking on the last book….
Brock: What is that on your ear? What have you shoved up your nose?
Ben: Exactly, what is in your nose? I’m gonna start in to doing some more studying up on the whole…. I was kinda burnt up on whole superhuman thing for a little while after the superhuman conference but I’m getting back into that and this next book that I’ve got queued up is called “Enhancing Human Capacities” and you can find it on audiblepodcast.com/ben and it covers all the major forms of human enhancement like cognitive, mood, physical, moral, anti-aging, life extension, and it not only gets in to some of the ways that you can enhance your biology and your neural state but also kinda goes into some of the general like conceptual and moral questions about you know enhancing our bodies and how far is too far in terms of everything from kinda like the whole Oscar Pistorius deal on him enhancing his body with the limbs that he added and he was using in the Olympic track and field to you know the whole idea about hormone replacement with testosterone and thyroid and whether or not that’s illegal or ethical and it comes as an interesting thing, it’s written by some medical ethicist and a….. anyways, I’d recommend you check it out it’s called “Enhancing Human Capacities”.
Brock: Sounds awesome.
Ben: Over audiblepodcast.com/ben. So, what do you think? Shall we jump in to some special announcements?
Brock: I thought we already had.
Brock: Okay, so I have called you Mr. Webinar in the past and it’s still valid, it’s still true when you’ve got one coming up on April 27th. You’ve got a webinar about “ask Ben” anything about minimalist triathlon training. That’s for the inner circle members, right?
Ben: Yes, and I have been called worst than Mr. Webinar so you’re doing alright there.
Brock: Yeah, I’ll stop calling you that after you stop doing so many webinars.
Ben: April 27th. I’ll like to call them spreecast. It’s kinda sexier, spreecast. So, I’ve got a spreecast which is a live video spreecast and that’s for all of my inner circle members and it’s called “Ask me Anything about Minimalist Triathlon Training” and that’s basically this whole triathlon training protocol where I’m training anywhere from 6-9 hrs a week in preparation for Ironman Canada.
So, I’m gonna answer your questions, nutrition training, etc. It’s 10 bucks a month to be member of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Inner Circle. Well worth every penny if you ask me based on the amount of bonuses and webinars and pdf’s and everything else that we have in there. So, check that out. That’s gonna be April 27th, which is a Saturday evening (I believe) at 6pm and of course replays of that would be available and then also this weekend April 20th for any personal trainers, physicians (chiropractic physicians), anybody who’s kinda into the whole fitness medical working with clients type of thing. I’m teaching another cast on adrenal exhaustion, everything that you need to know about adrenal exhaustion and overtraining and not only identifying it but also digging someone out of a hole when they are in that state of adrenal exhaustion. The different phases of adrenal exhaustion, how long it takes to recover from it, that type of thing. So, you can access that by applying to become a member of the superhuman coach network and you can do that over at superhumancoach.com. So, that’s the small group of personal trainers and practitioners globally who I mentor and kinda put through basically modules each month and in terms of educating them to also become Mr. and Mrs. Webinars.
Brock: Don’t forget Mrs. Webinar, she’s my favourite. While we’re talking about superhuman stuff I know you’ve got the superhuman live event down in hd format in downloadable format for a small price.
Ben: Yeah, we’ve put together the entire Become Superhuman Live event headlined by folks like Nora Gedgaudas and Dave Asprey, Monica Reinagel and Ray Cronise, myself.
Brock: Phil Maffetone.
Ben: Phil Maffetone, put it all together with mp3 audio downloads, hd videos, (these are different than the spreecast) slides, take away notes, just basically all access pass that never expires. Will put a link on the show notes but you can get access to all that, you can download it. I’m not a big fan of this type of conferences where you buy access to the conference and you just get to watch the streaming and you can’t download. You can download these, I already put them in the audio form too so you can listen to them while you’re biking or running or working out or whatever. And we’ll put a link in the show notes for this episode, you can go buy that entire thing, it’s under a hundred bucks so, it’s actually $97 which truly isn’t under $100, it’s basically $100 but 97 just sound way cooler.
Brock: Thanks very much! What I’m wondering is, do you include some of the superhuman cocktails?
Ben: You know what, if you buy it and you send me your receipt I’ll see if I can figure out how to toss some vodkan pomegranate juice yourr way.
Brock: A tiny little, to another bottle of vodka.
Ben: I gotta find some more styrofoam cartons, I can send those out too with folks. That would be fun actually, send somebody a superhuman cocktail. Just mix it, mix it and send it out.
Brock: I don’t know if it’s legal.
Ben: Well, you know what, I used to shipped out kombucha when I was a distributor for Beyond Organic and so I’ve got a bunch of packaging materials. Maybe we should do that. How about this? If you are a podcast listener and you go grab that superhuman live event and you send me your receipt [email protected], I will choose 3 people, I will go in my kitchen and I will mix you a superhuman cocktail, I will put it in a nice pcb free water bottle for you, I will get in to a thermo container and I will send a superhuman cocktail to your house. How do you like that? I’ve no clue if what I’d just said was legal, I’m probably gonna be arrested but I’ll do it.
Brock: Don’t tell the USPS.
Ben: Will figure out a way to put it on Silk Road and have people pay in bitcoin or something like that. So the last thing…..by the way, have you heard about that? Silk road.
Ben: Basically, what you can do is…. and I’ve done all this just to see if you can do it. I’ve done everything except actually ordering illegal drugs. What you can do is, you can install a cloaked browser called Tor on your computer and you can enter a secret url which you have to dig into some various websites. So, just go google silk road url. You type in the url the silk road and then you go to website like coinbase or any of these other websites where you can buy bitcoin which is digital currency and you buy digital currency, it’s really expensive right now.
I think it’s about $90 right now for 1 bitcoin and what you do is you can take this bitcoins and using this cloaked browser you can buy any number of illicit drugs, guns, weapons, anything through the silk road and get it shipped to your house you know, whatever shrooms, weed, pharmaceuticals, anything, it’s pretty nuts. So, I should’ve went on this silk road, I was surfing around looking in all these stuff that’s available on their site, dang! It’s this entire virtual, black market that’s completely untraceable by federal authorities because of the way that this Tor browser is installed on your computer so, you know and I’m not a wiz bang geek or anything like that. It took me about an hour to set my computer up just because I’m curious if I can do it to get to the point where I would be able to just like with 1 click be able to order pretty much anything off with that silk road website, just pretty nuts.
Brock: And now, Ben’s computer is completely controlled by the Russian mafia.
Ben: Yes. Anyways, though so if we decide to sell superhuman cocktails we’ll do it through the silk road. Then the last thing I wanted to mention was that for people who are in New York, Connecticut area, kinda that North East….I’m teaching a workshop, a triathlon workshop there in Stanford, Connecticut on Saturday, May 18th. It will be a 2 hr workshop called “The Essentials of Triathlon” I’m gonna do an hour on triathlon fuelling, an hour on triathlon training, add in a bunch of Q & A, it’s basically 50 bucks to go to the whole workshop and the reason I’m doin over at Stanford is I’m there for a conference that weekend, I’ve decided to tack on an extra day, stick around and we’re gonna put a link in the show notes. That’s a Saturday, May 18th for anybody up in Stanford, Connecticut. Head on over and reserve your spot. Stanford is close to Fairfield and New York and New Jersey and all these cities up there so, if you know of people in that area or you yourself wanna attend, check it out, we’ll put a link in the show notes and come hang out in Stanford.
Listener Q & A:
Craig: Hey Ben, after listening to your podcast with Dr. Eric Cobb, I was wondering if you thought that lasik eye surgery might positively effect performance. Thanks Ben. Love the show, bye.
Brock: Don’t point lasers at your eyes.
Brock: I listened to the interview of Dr. Cobb and I’m not entirely sure what Craig is referring to. Did Dr. Cobb say something about it being….. like the vision was really important?
Ben: Well, this is actually something I talked about. We do (I was talking about the superhuman coach network) and one of the modules that I teach in there is the performance module and during the performance module, one of the things that I go into is that there is certain parameters of performance that are ideal for you to optimize if you really want your body to be “superhuman”. It’s a performance module but what I get into are endurance, strength, power, speed, range of motion, and balance. Those are kind of the biggies and in the balance component of that workshop I do get into like 3 components of balance that really allow you to perform at high capacity or to have really good control of your body and your nervous system. And it’s part of that balance module I go in to your vestibular system which are the sense organs in your ears that give you awareness of where your head is at in space and that kinda help you with movement. Your somatosensory system which is the prop reception and was called the kinesthesia within your joints. Your actual like, believe it or not your knee joint, your elbow joint, etc. Those are forms of your almost like organs that can send movements and give you awareness to joint position. And in the last system that I get in to when I teach that particular workshop is the visual system which is your eyesight and knowing with your eyes where your body is in relation to space and in relation to the ground. And technically if you have a screwed up vision system, one third of that balance component is off so you can influence your ability to maintain kind of a good line of gravity (a vertical line of gravity) with a minimum base of support with minimal body collapse. So, like this single leg stands face of running or like doing a single leg squat, step in up a curve, dancing, whatever. So, there are definite advantages to strengthening your visual system.
Brock: Okay. I see, so what he is getting at is the fact that even if you’re wearing glasses you don’t necessarily have that whole (may not) 360 degree but like the fuller range of peripheral vision and maybe like lower down vision and stuff. So, you’re missing parts of it.
Ben: Yeah, there’s not a huge advantage of lasik over glasses in terms of the actual change in visual perception. It’s more like a logistical thing, like it’s hard to wear glasses sometimes when you’re playing sports like you have to worry about the breaking or falling off when you strap them on with one of those dorky rubber band things. They fog up when its humid, like you mentioned your peripheral vision is kinda reduced a little bit when you’re wearing glasses and sports like baseball and basketball, football and hockey, lacrosse, any of these type of sports. They can prevent you from playing and obviously they’re completely not suited to sports like swimming or say like boxing or cage fighting or something like that. I don’t know how many of our listeners are doing cage fighting. But still….
Brock: I’ve broken so many pairs of glasses ‘cause of cage fighting.
Ben: Yeah. I know it’s a big issue especially if they’re in Canada.
Brock: Ridiculous. Such a bummer.
Ben: Yeah. You know, you take Tiger Woods for example. He was good before he had lasik surgery but he actually improved his average score after he got lasik and he averaged like 4 under par before lasik and if you look at his scores after he got lasik surgery, it changed to close 10 under par. And there’s a bunch of other pro-golfers who’ve gotten lasik to the point where there has been a debate on some kinda like sport performance kinda circles you know, ESPN had an article about this, I believe the Wall Street Journal even did something about whether or not like FTA or not FTA or whether or not what’s its called, the WEDA should consider lasik to be kinda afterwards put being like a performance enhancing drug ‘cause it is, it’s body enhancement. It really is you know, we talked about this a little bit earlier in the audible book that I recommended but if it’s illegal to take steroids because they give you an illegal performance enhancing advantage, you’d risk surgery for the same kinda small comment in performance.
You know, there is kinda an argument out there that maybe lasik is unfair because it allows someone who can get lasik is in a financial position to get lasik or is willing to kinda go out there and get surgery for lasik the ability to be a better athlete. And you look at Lebron James, he got lasik and he says he can see the rim of the net a lot more clearly. He’s done an interview on lasik and his vision went from 24-2015 which is pretty significant and if you look at his field goal percentage, he went from 46 to 49% which is also fairly significant. There’s a bunch of baseball players that have gotten lasik and improved their batting average post surgery. So, you can also look at pro-athletes like Troy Aikman and Tiki Barber and a lot of these folks form visual acuity is pretty important, they’ve gotten lasik. So……
Brock: I actually had….. I haven’t had lasik but I had radial keratotomy which is sort of the pre-cursor which was done with the diamond knife rather than with a laser back in 1991 and my vision is considerably better. I wasn’t able to see the clock from the bed before I had the surgery and it’s now 20 some years later and I still see not 20/20 but pretty darn close. I think it really helped me.
Brock: That is not quite as much as of a measurable way as Tiger Woods but……
Ben: You’re not 10 under par yet?
Brock: Not quite.
Ben: There’s relatively low risk to, I mean. Some people say that the side effects like halos and glare double vision and night blindness, I’ve seen complaints about dry eyes and stuff like that but I believe that those are……
Brock: I have pretty much every one of those symptoms. I have the dry eyes, I don’t have halos but I do have 6 points that come out of light especially at night if I’m driving down a highway and the headlights coming towards me and 6 points coming out of them but I just completely gotten used to it, it doesn’t faze me anymore. The night blindness is a little bit annoying but it’s another thing that you just adjust to.
Ben: What about the unicorns and the rainbows? The fly crusher vision as you podcast….
Brock: Oh, I always had those. That didn’t….
Ben: Anyways though, I’m personally at the standpoint that you try some other stuff before you resort to surgery. Some of the methods that I kinda go in to in that performance workshop that I teach in the superhuman coach network is to use blue light glare blocking glasses like a pair of gaming glasses like gunnars when you’re working on your computer. You know, you eat a lot of these anti-oxidant rich food specifically like lutein rich foods like spinach and broccoli, eggs (especially eggs with the yolk), even peas and zucchinis and stuff like that have pretty decent amount of lutein in them.
Fish and fish oil can really help out as well, avoiding small fonts, avoiding eye strain can help out, getting enough sleep can help. There’s also this method out there called the Bates Method. The Bates Method is an alternative therapy, it kinda flies under the radar but it’s aimed at improving your eyesight and it actually trains your ocular muscles to learn how to more accurately change lens shape and it’s a series of visualization and movement protocols that you go through and some people swear by this Bates protocol in terms of being basically well, the title of the manual (it’s published about it) is called “Yoga for the Eyes”. There’s another book called “The Bates Method, a complete guide to improving eyesight naturally” that something I would consider doing will be like eye training before I’d get in to full on surgery (just because I generally train just to avoid surgery in general, knives and lasers and stuff like that when I can).
Brock: There’s actually a fantastic book by Aldous Huxley called “The Art of Seeing” where he actually (I don’t know if it’s the Bates protocol that he was going through) but he did a similar thing, he went from not being able to actually read anything smaller than like a billboard to being able to read a normal book just by training his ocular nerves and muscles and stuff, it’s a pretty awesome book.
Ben: Yeah. I mean it’s certainly something that I look in to and we’ll put a link in the show notes to the Bates Method if you wanna go read up on it. I think there’s even like a pretty comprehensive Wikipedia entry on the Bates Method. But I’ll look into that and then some of these other ways that you can improve your eyesight prior to necessarily going for lasik but either way, yeah, improving your eyesight can definitely improve your performance so you know, I guess, all the stuff I just recommended goes way above and beyond just eating a carrot but certainly things to try (in addition to eating your carrots).
Brock: Who doesn’t love carrots?
Ian: This is a question for my father. He’s got restless legs for almost quite a few years. Every time he goes to sleep at night he has twitches as soon as he shuts his eyes and twitch his shoulders. He doesn’t do any supplementation and he’s just got his test back of a sort of a lowish thyroid and I’m interested to see sort of what his next startup supplementation everything he’s been lacking and anything and what sort of diet he should be going and all what we see. I think it’s inflammatories. Glad to hear back from you.
Ben: Alright, restless legs syndrome and this is different by the way. I’m sure this happened to you Brock where you just like lying there and going to sleep at night and your legs is kinda twitch. Off and on every….
Brock: Yeah, when you step off a curve or something in your half dream state.
Ben: My wife does that and the whole bed shakes, it’s horrible, it’s scarring.
Brock: My girlfriend actually punched me in the nose in the middle of the night last night doing that.
Ben: Yeah. It’s borderline partner views. Restless leg syndrome is totally different than that. It’s an actual neurological disorder where your legs like throb and pull and creep and you get all these really unpleasant sensation and these irresistible urge to move your legs. It’s kinda weird the way that people have described……
Brock: I think people described it as being like their bones are itchy.
Ben: Yeah exactly. So, you can get really bad insomnia obviously there’s kinda this psychological burden that goes along with that as well. Unfortunately because it can happen a lot of times due to some dopamine deficits. There’s a ton of docs out there who basically just prescribed what are called dopaminergic medicines where there are just subscribing or prescribing people who have restless legs syndrome with the same stuff you’d prescribed to somebody who has depression or schizophrenia or something like that. The idea is that there are couple different types of restless legs syndrome and really it kinda depends on what you come after like there’s 2 different types: there’s primary and secondary. Now, primary restless leg syndrome is more peripheral nervous system related so it is akin to usually an issue with the neuro-transmitter dopamine which helps to facilitate uniform and control movements and low dopamine or alterations on dopamine signalling can be an issue when it comes to primary restless leg syndrome.
And of course, there are a bunch of different dopamine enhancing drugs. You know, they’re called dopamine agonist that can be use for something like that. Unfortunately most are rift with side effects that really have some pretty serious addictive potential and some other side effects as well. So, you gotta be kinda careful with some of these pharmacological treatments for dopamine. For something like a peripheral nervous system issue or dopamine issue and that is a cause for restless leg syndrome, I would first look in to massage and acupuncture and there have been some studies that have shown those to be fairly efficacious for restless leg syndrome and to provide some benefit and exercise can help as well. Just because engaging in physical activity helps to eliminate some of that restlessness that occurs in the legs but also strengthens the peripheral nervous system. It has been found that exercise shortly before going to bed actually exacerbate restless leg syndrome but if you exercise earlier in the day and you have like this primary form of restless leg syndrome it can help. There is one form of dopamine called L-dopa that you can look into and you can get that, I believe over the counter (or protect your computer and go to the silk road and get it). L-dopa is something that gets converted into dopamine with the aid of vitamin b6 so you use it like an L-dopa supplement combine with vitamin b6 can technically help with restless legs and if there’s a dopamine issue, but you need to be careful with that because anytime you’re putting higher levels of neuro-transmitter in your body you risk creating an imbalance between serotonin and dopamine. So, I would not really recommend that you do anything like that without working with a practitioner who is well-versed in measuring your urinary levels of neuro-transmitters. I’d look in to the Kalish system, there’s a guy who lives in California named Dr. Dan Kalish and there are people out who are certified Kalish practitioners who are really good at addressing neuro-transmitter deficits and ensuring that testing is done in conjunction with supplementation. You also get secondary restless leg syndrome and there are literally a couple of dozen medical conditions that can cause secondary restless leg syndrome. A lot of times it can be an issue with diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance, it can be an issue with low levels of antioxidants, low levels of magnesium, low levels of iron and there are a lot more kinda new nutritional guns that you can pull out against something like secondary restless leg syndrome if that’s the issue. Some of the things that have been shown to help with secondary restless legs syndrome if it is an issue one would be making sure that you get adequate ferritin in your diet and ferritin is an iron storage protein probably the top supplement that I like for increasing your levels of iron or ferritin is one called Floradix and I’ll link to that in the show notes but it’s basically a ferritin pyrophosphate type of supplement. Another thing that is really been shown to help out is vitamin C and vitamin E. Now, the issue with that is I’m not a big fan of high doses of synthetic vitamin C and vitamin E because those have also been shown to increase risk of stroke. So, I’m a bigger fan of using just like a good full spectrum antioxidant something like the Lifeshotz which I’ve recommended before in the show. My personal naturopathic physician Dr. Todd, he invented the stuff which would I take on a daily basis to mitigate a lot of the effects of me getting exposed to everything from chlorine to solar radiation from flying, etc. That’s a really really strong antioxidant that’s one that I’d look into. From a blood sugar standpoint, since this restless leg syndrome can definitely be an issue with glucose tolerance I would ensure that your evening carbohydrate intake is controlled (that you watched it), that you also consider getting on one of these supplements that can help with insulin sensitivity and glucose stabilization. My favourite one for that is bitter melon extract and there’s a supplement called MPX 100, it’s the same thing I take when I stuffed my face and I ate too much food and you know, it’s kinda like my “oh crap” fall back supplement when I over-eat but it’s called MPX 100,and it lowers your blood glucose so you don’t get as much of an insulin response and spike in blood glucose. Few other things when it comes to restless leg syndrome, valerian root which is a great herb anyways to help you sleep.
Valerian root in studies has been shown to result an improvement in restless leg syndrome symptoms. More in women than in men but that’s another one you could into is valerian root extract and that’s something that you can get pretty much anywhere. You can grab that off at amazon or whatever, it’s pretty easy to find. Another thing that I would look into and again I’m just listing off the natural supplement that have shown to have an effect on restless leg syndrome, folic acid would be another one. Folic acid or folate deficiencies may play a role in the development of restless leg syndrome and folic acid supplementation can help to treat a lot of different disorders in your peripheral nervous system but restless leg syndrome in particular is one that’s been shown to be effective. And then the last one would be magnesium and in this case I’d be a big fan of actually using a transdermal magnesium delivery like putting it on your legs and I’m not….. have you used the magnesium oil before Brock before you go to bed at night?
Brock: Oh yeah. I’ve used it like crazy. I loved that stuff.
Ben: Do you get like the issue with the sheets sticking to your legs after you put it on?
Brock: At first yeah but then you get sort of the scaly feeling like almost like fish scales on your legs.
Ben: Yeah. Yeah. Anyways….
Brock: I can wash it off before I go to bed.
Ben: I think it’s annoying. So, what I do now is there’s this magnesium lotion, it’s the same company that makes the magnesium spray that I used to use more. Now, I use the magnesium lotion before I go to bed and I’ll put it on my legs after like a hard workout day and it gets absorbed super quickly and it doesn’t gather on the skin, it just rubs right in, it’s combined with msm which means it absorbs really quickly into your skin but it’s basically made by ancient minerals it’s called ancient minerals magnesium lotion and it doesn’t result in the same type of issues you don’t get like, stinging, you don’t get the flaking, it doesn’t make the sheet feel weird against your skin. So, that’s the one that I’d recommend. I know it’s a lot of stuff but those are all the things that I’d recommend you look into. When it comes to the thyroid issue and you know, whether or not there’s kind of a link between thyroid and restless leg syndrome, there’s some evidence that high amounts of estrogen in both men and women can be associated with low thyroid and high amounts of estrogen because your liver is essentially turning over or metabolizing estrogen at a faster phase can result in a deficiency in vitamin B and a deficiency in magnesium from that increase in estrogen turnover. And so by adding magnesium into the diet, by getting some folic acid into your diet, by using for example that antioxidant Lifeshotz that I recommended that also has a full spectrum of vitamin B in it, you’d be addressing some of those issues as well. So, that’s the skinny on restless leg syndrome and what I do about it.
Sidestitch: Hey Ben and Brock! So, my stomach doesn’t seem to like anything in it before I run. If I eat or drink very much within about 2 hours or going out for a high intensity effort, I get a left sided stitch towards the end of my workout and on my longer slow runs which are 90-120 minutes I’m drinking 4 ounces of water or less ‘cause if I take big sips of water during that kind of a run, I get a sloshing feeling in my stomach which is really annoying and can often lead to a left sided stitch. Just wondering what’s up with that? What I can do about it? I’m sure you’ve answered those questions about stitches before so is there anyway we can listen to a back catalogue and find out the answer to that question? Thanks very much.
Brock: Well, side stitch and a sloshing feeling. That’s sounds kind of annoying.
Ben: Gotta love the slosh! So, we talked about side stitching pretty recently.
Brock: Yeah, not that long ago.
Ben: Yeah and I wanna mention something about that in just a second but let me address this sloshing feeling first and that’s…. it’s pretty straight forward, it’s usually an issue that when your foot strikes the ground your diaphragm moves upward as you exhale and your organs drop down when your foot strike and that tension not only creates these forces that cause your diaphragm to go into a spasm and cause that side stitch but that kind of a downward jolt of the organs also causes anything that’s in there whether it’s water whatever, it’s just slosh around quite a bit and so focusing on more of a rhythmic breathing pattern and try not to turn blue in the face and go into hypoxia when you do this but trying basically not to exhale when you strike your feet on the ground can really really help out with this. Best book I can recommend to you is called “Running on Air” and the subtitle is the revolutionary way to run better by breathing smarter.
It’s a book that I read recently and I really really like it. I’ve been actually using the breathing patterns in that book for both running and for bicycling and it’s helps out quite a bit in terms of training your body how not to exhale and put that jolt on your organs when your foot strikes the ground. Like I mentioned, we’ve talked about side stitches pretty recently and……
Brock: And I have to admit I actually did save this question for…. since we have it for a few weeks now and I’ve been waiting until we had the big announcement to make just so we could play this and give us a nice opportunity to talk about a new project that we have started.
Ben: That’s right.
Brock: So, basically we keep not only we’d get people asking the same question quite often but we also get people asking for an easy way to…. or exactly the way that this question are asked, an easy way to find past episodes or past topics. So, we came up with this idea that actually create “albums” (and I’m making quotation marks in the air when I say that) and put them up on Itunes.
Ben: Yeah. That will gonna build a national BenGrennfieldFitness.com library up in Canada outside Brock’s house. She can just go there and check out previous episodes.
Brock: Everything go be in a file folder, card catalogue.
Ben: Bring your passport and your hockey stick. But, yeah basically we realized that we get a lot of these questions that have been addressed already and by just to give you kind of an idea of these, will play my answer here on a second to the question that we got just a few weeks ago about side stitches because what happens is I end up kinda rehashing some decent information that I’ve covered before. So, Brock and I figured since you guys are kinda asking for an easy way to be able to go and access some previous audios that we’ve recorded on specific topics, you haven’t to dig through a whole freakin 90 min podcast. We just put a bunch from on Itunes so these are basically many tracks, things that we’ve discussed like…. The stuff we’ve got up there so far are in audio episodes on like the benefits of fish vs. fish oil, top ten ways to boost drive, how to get rid of headaches…..
Brock: How to be a vegan endurance athletes.
Ben: How much water you really need to drink each day, how to get lean as a female athlete without destroying your health.
Brock: How to boost your immune system.
Ben: Yeah, so I mean you can go on there and you can just basically download the full album of stuff but we also made it so you can just…. What are they like 99 cents, a dollar 99, something like that?
Brock: It’s 99 cents each at the moment and you’ll notice and I take full responsibility for this. They’ve made a bit of a mistake, all of them were supposed to be, you’re supposed to be able to download each one individually, I made a mistake, Itunes has some policies in place and I won’t bore you with all the details but be, just know that the next volume and the volumes afterwards you will be able to download every single track individually. This one, there’s only 4 that you can actually do individually in the rest are album only but we will definitely fix that in the future but hopefully it’s not a big deal for this first one.
Ben: Yeah. Brock was drinking when he put this album together.
Ben: Basically, it’s my fault because when you have an episode that’s longer than 10 minutes, Itunes won’t let you have it available as a stand-alone tracks. So, we’ve got a few different episodes on there like I think are one about females and getting lean is longer than 10 minutes so you kinda like get the whole album to get access to that track. But in the future……
Brock: It’s only 9.99 though, not terrible.
Ben: Yeah, it’s $9.99 but 99 cents you can go and just like…..if you just wanna hear the quick 10 min you know, how to get rid of a side stitch, we just play a second to give you a sample of the kind of stuff we’ve got isolated for you. You can just go grab at Itunes, so we put a link in the show notes but we’d really appreciate is…… we’ll create a MyList for this as well, you can share that on Facebook. Any other way you wanna share but I mean like if you spread the good news to your friends and you tell them, “Hey, look (whatever) we heard how to get rid of headache naturally and it’s 10 minutes of decent advice from Ben and Brock about how to do this, just go and download the episode for 99 cents off Itunes”. It’s pretty convenient way I mean, you could go dig to the podcast, spend an hour of your time digging to the podcast getting there will just grab it off there. So anyways, I think that since…. I don’t know which listener initially brought this up but I’ve got a few e-mails about it you know,
Sidestitch listener asked about this in the audio so I’ve figured it’s just time that we put something together for you guys. So, hopefully you’ll enjoy it and if not just crucify us in the comments and call us charlotte and whatever else but I’m hoping that you guys find this kinda useful so, will put a link in the show notes toward the Ben Greenfield Fitness Special Episodes Vol. 1. Go check out all the cool stuff we’ve got available for you to download and listen to at your pleasure, throw in your mp3 player, get it on Itunes, yeah, go have fun with it. So, that being said here’s the response: the side stitches. (clapping)
Ben: Alright! Side stitches. So, you know what the geeky thing term for side stitches is…. Brock.
Brock: I’m afraid I don’t.
Ben: The acronym is Etap which stands for exercise related transcient abdominal pains.
Brock: Yeah, nice.
Ben: So, there’s actually really big study that was done in the Journal of Medicine and Science and Sports and Exercise several years ago on side stitches and why they happen. So, they took almost a thousand different athletes who participated in 6 different sports. They look at running, swimming, cycling, aerobics (which is like the headbands and the puffy socks and the leotards), basketball and horse riding. I would imagine they were looking at the people not the horses but it could be not. So, what they found was that of all those athletes, swimmers were actually at the top in terms of the population that had the most trouble with side stitches and runners were close behind. Horseback riders were actually up there too but the folks least effected were cyclists. Now, the interesting part of these was that pretty significant number of those athletes also said that they had shoulder tip pain which is discomfort at the bottom tip of one of the shoulder blades and that’s kind of an important clue for understanding where sides to just come from because the tip of that shoulder blade down there is basically a referred side of pain for the diaphragm which is kinda your main breathing muscle. So, what that means is that the pain that kinda emanate from the tip of the back of your shoulder blade could actually have its source in the diaphragm which is that muscle that separating your thoracic and your abdominal cavities and many side stitches actually originates with an issue going on with the diaphragm because if you look at all of these different organs that are inside of our abdominal cavity, they bounce up and down and this is one reason that a runner for example will get more of a side stitch than a cyclist. And all of your internal organ that are bouncing up and down especially with an impact base movement like horseback riding or runner. Your liver, your stomach, your spleen – these are supported by these little ligaments that hang down from your diaphragm. So, everytime these organs are bouncing up and down they’re pulling down on the diaphragm. Now, when that bouncing happens as you’re breathing out during exercise that creates a lot of stress on the diaphragm and that results in pain, result in discomfort, results in what we’ve described more often than not as side stitch and I don’t know if you’ve experienced this Brock but have you found that side stitches tend to appear more on your right side than your left side?
Brock: You know when I think about it, I think I’ll get up more on middle left but I can’t say that I’ve actually taken notes.
Ben: Interesting. Well, I’ll get to why. You might be in the minority, you might be a freak. I’ll talk about why you may feel on the left a little bit more. That’s to do with your colon, actually but stitches on the right side of the abdomen are much much more common and that’s because your liver is on the right side of your body and the your liver is the heaviest organ in your abdominal cavity so that’s what create the greatest downward force on your diaphragm and it a lot more than what the stomach or the spleen which are on the left side of your body might create (and perhaps you just have a really heavy stomach Brock).
Ben: Anyways though, there’s a lot of friction that can occur between the diaphragm and the liver as well because the liver tends to kinda ride up into the upper right side of your abdominal cavity especially during exercise. So, that results in that side stitch and it especially happens more often on that right side. Now, one really easy remedy for side stitches is to change your breathing pattern. If you look at it like a runner a lot of times breathing and side stitches are linked together because breathing and stepping patterns are coordinated. So, most athletes breathe out on the same leg. So, if you happen to want to make yourself cross-eyed, go out and go for a run and try and figure out when you’re breathing out. And in many cases you might find that you’re only exhaling when your right foot hits the ground. And it’s actually very common, they’ve done a study. There was one study in the Journal of Science that looked at runners and found that most runners breathed out when their right foot hits the ground and unfortunately what that means is that as you’re breathing out your diaphragm basically springs upward when you breathed out, that increases the tension on those ligaments and so you’re breathing out your right foot hits the ground, the jolting action of that foot lifts your liver upward and then that falls back suddenly where your diaphragm is still on its up position so that creates a bunch of pressure on the diaphragm which goes into this painful spasm that we deem as a stitch. Now, of course one easy fix for this is you change your breathing pattern. You try and focus on breathing out as your left foot hits the ground rather than as your right foot hits the ground. That’s a simple fix but something that can help a lot of folks. Now, a few other things that you can do is you can actually try and grunt just a little bit as you breath out and that action of grunting or almost like groaning like a Monica Seles type of “Ahh” as your foot hits the ground.
Brock: She’s a tennis player for those of you there who don’t know. A very noisy tennis player.
Ben: She’s about 2 octaves higher than that. That can help out, that somehow relieves some pressure on the diaphragm when you actually make that audible as your foot hits the ground. That’s one thing that you can do and I’ve actually found myself naturally doing that sometimes when I get a side stitches, I grunt or groan as that foot strikes the ground that can help a little bit. But there are some other things that you can do too. First of all, most runners breathe incorrectly when they’re running and this is something that I’m gonna talk about at become superhuman event just to folks who are attending there about how their posture and how their breathing is during the event itself but I’ve really been focusing lately on deep diaphragmatic breathing when I’m standing in line, when I’m sitting in the car, when I’m sitting on an airplane, when I’m sitting in a conference, deep diaphragmatic breathing through the nose and out the nose where as you breathed in, that breath originates from deep within your belly and as you breathed out, it also originates from within your belly or deep within your ribcage. So, shallow chest breathing is one of the ways that you can really over stress your diaphragm and that’s one thing that you can focus on both when you are and when you aren’t training is good belly breathing. Another thing is your abdominal muscles and focusing on strengthening your abdominal muscles. I’m a big fan of side planking and front planking for this but basically weak abdominals are going to not be able to support your internal organs and they’re gonna jostle up and down more if you’ve got weak abs. That’s another thing you wanna consider.
Brock: That’s interesting. Both of those things like the deep abdominal breathing and also the strengthening of the abdomen, I think a lot of people don’t actually think of breathing that low, like everybody thinks that breath really happens from kinda like the middle of the chest to the shoulders but that should be the last part when you’re inhaling. The last thing to move really is your upper chest, should all be going into your stomach at first and interesting those both together really well.
Ben: Yeah, and it’s something you simply have to train yourself to do. I’ve even found for you know, like once a week I’m still doing my 10 by 30 seconds (10% grade, 10 mile an hour sprint on the treadmill) and I’ve even found focusing on deep diaphragmatic breathing for that (deep belly breathing for that) has helped tremendously. You’d be surprised at how hard you can be going and still focus on proper breathing.
Brock: I doubled the length of my duration of plank like just front plank by doing diaphragmatic breathing during that. I went from being able to hold it for like 3 mins to over 7 mins just by changing my breathing.
Ben: That’s really a good point. You can combine abdominal exercising like planking with deep breathing.
I mentioned that of course in addition to the liver, the spleen and the stomach tend to pull down on the diaphragm so the more full your stomach is, and this is just kinda logical, most of us know this, the more of a downward tug on the diaphragm is gonna create and a more likely we are to get a side stitch. So, just not drinking or eating too much before you go out. That’s something that I think a lot of people already are kinda aware of is not taking in too much fuel especially if you’re running or doing a sport like swimming for example.
Brock: And so, is that the left side then if you have eaten or drink too much?
Ben: You’re gonna notice it more on your left side if it’s more of an eating or drinking too much issue but the other thing you’ll notice is that if you tend to have any type of bowel inflammation or if your large intestine just based off your anatomy tends to rub a little bit more on the inside of your abdominal wall when you’re running, that can also cause stitch like pain in both your right and your left side ‘cause large intestine tends to span your abdominal wall and in folks for whom that occurs, focusing on going back and forth between exhaling on the right side and exhaling on the left side can help out almost like switching every few minutes in terms of your breathing pattern and not sticking to one specific breathing pattern or not getting locked in to one specific breathing pattern that can help. The other thing that can help a lot of folks is just paying attention to clean eating before you go out for your run meaning that you’re gonna avoid things that might tend to cause a little bit more inflammation like gluten, caffeine, alcohol (cause I know that you up there in Canada you tend to throw back a few loaded Kokanee before you head out Brock?
Brock: Yes, it’s Kokanee or Molson Canadian, both of those companies make us sports drink that we consume while we run.
Ben: Nice! Then soy and dairy tends to be a big trigger too. So, you may want to consider like a food elimination type of diet as well to focus on those side stitches and that I know for a lot of folks that I’ve worked with has made a significant difference. I’ve cleaned up the diet of athletes who I worked with and had them report all of a sudden “I like my side stitches went away” and because all of the programs that I write out also includes strength training for the abs and also include a lot of running economy and efficiency work. Who’s to say how much the food elimination work vs. the strengthening vs. the work on the breathing patterns but ultimate there’s something to be said for cleaning up the diet especially before you run as well.
Brock: Great! But everything is gotta work in correlation with everything else.
Ben: Right, exactly. So you know, those are the main thing as far as side stitches concerned and some of the things I would definitely go after.
Jim: Hi Ben, this is Jim. I’m 46 years old and have been performing fasted workouts for the past 25 years. I’ve recently started keeping an eye on my blood glucose levels due to a fasted glucose test at 129 and an A1C of 4.8. I’ve noticed that during my hard fasted workouts my blood glucose will increase up to 35 points. This will help explain my I fasted test but it doesn’t explain my high A1C. I’ve taken steps to lower the A1C by increasing my cinnamon intake, eating carbs only after my workouts and supporting my liver with bitter melon. I was curious though if there’s a way of quantifying that 35 point rise in terms of calories released by the liver. Thanks for your help.
Ben: Yeah. It seems kinda counter intuitive that blood glucose would go up during exercise right?
Ben: You would expect it to go down and this is very……
Brock: You’re supposed to be using it all up and depleting it all and should be rock bottom by the time you’re down.
Ben: Exactly and this is a really confusing phenomenon for people. So, exercise burns energy and eventually exercise will lower your blood glucose but exercise is only going to lower blood glucose if your liver actually isn’t producing and releasing glucose into your blood stream to help you meet this increase demand for fuel when you’re exercising. So some people do this really hard workout and you know complete strenuous activity and then they’re test their blood glucose levels (as all of us nerds do when we finish our workout, you go straight to the blood glucose monitor) and then find that blood glucose is the same or even higher after you finished exercising. And the reason for that is because your liver actually releases extra glucose while you’re exercising.
Basically, it’s through this process called glycogenolysis and when your body releases epinephrine or adrenalin (this hormone in response to exercise or getting excited or stressed or drinking a cup of coffee or whatever else) the liver releases blood glucose or releases glucose (stored glucose in liver) to supply your body with needed energy. So, eventhough exercise helps you to lower your blood sugar long term and improved your sensitivity to the hormone insulin long term, what can happen short term during exercise is this bump up in blood glucose from the liver. Now, interestingly if you track not just the blood glucose but also insulin levels, what you’ll notice during an exercise bout is that eventhough your blood glucose is increasing your insulin levels are going down. Your insulin sensitivity is improving. So, your muscle is increasing its uptake of fatty acids and ketones to spare glucose for your brain as consuming a little bit of glucose but your muscles don’t need high levels of insulin circulating in the blood stream in order to do that and your liver doesn’t need a bunch of insulin circulating in the blood stream to signal the liver to release storage glucose. As a matter of fact, low insulin levels lead to an increase in glucose output by the liver. What this means is that eventhough your blood glucose levels might appear to be going up in response to an exercise session or during an exercise session long term, you are actually slowing down the progression of insulin resistance and improving your sensitivity to insulin despite your liver kinda having a mind of its own and churning out blood glucose while you’re actually exercising.
Brock: It makes sense if you think about like insulin is known as the storage hormone and when you’re in that sort of situation the last thing you wanna be doing is storing it, you’re using it, your body needs to be using it right away. The muscles are gobbling it up and churning out some energy from that.
Ben: Right, exactly. Now, I noticed that Jim said that he has been performing fasted workouts for the last 25 years. He’s only eating carbs after his workouts. People who are on a low carbohydrate diet do tend to be more sensitive to carbohydrate intake and so you know….. Paul Jaminet talks about this in his perfect health diet book, how when you’re on a very low carbohydrate diet, you often see an even larger spike in blood glucose because your body is fairly insulin sensitive. When you first consumed that carbohydrate source but ultimately the benefits of a low carbohydrate intake combine with exercise out way any type of short term blood glucose elevation you might get during exercise or from that little bit of carbohydrate that you eat. Now, if you really concerned about this, Jim is doing cinnamon which lowers blood glucose. That bitter melon extract that he talked about, that’s some pretty cool stuff. I’ve already mentioned it once but there’s kinda 3 different groups of compounds in bitter melon extract that are responsible for this blood sugar lowering action that has one thing called charantin which is a type of steroid that actually more effective than diabetic drugs in terms of lowering blood glucose. It’s got something called polypeptide p in it which is an alkaloid, has a blood sugar lowering effect. It’s also got what are called glycosides in it and this improved glucose tolerance by preventing how quickly sugar is absorbed in your intestines. Interestingly, most of these activities of these 3 compounds are still gonna act on glucose that you’re getting from your diet not glucose that you’re getting from the liver churning out glucose. But ultimately those are the 2 main things that I used to control my own blood glucose levels you know, I’ve done 23andme.com genetic testing, I know I’ve got the genetic risk factor for type 2 diabetes so I do go out of my way to take care of my blood sugar levels but bitter melon extract and cinnamon are both really good for this kind of thing and I’d stick with those and I would not let blood glucose levels being elevated during exercise worry you. There is no way that I know of to test whether that 35 point rise that he’s getting is from liver glucose release vs. like dietary forms of glucose but because of the type of diet that he is eating, I’ll suspect that most of it is just from liver glucose.
Katie: I have a question about artificial sweeteners and I know that lots of low carb products have them and I was wondering if you could talk about the pros and cons of them especially how they can impact fasting like sucrose, saccharin, xylitol or about other stuff. Also, I like to drink tea and chew gum during my morning fasts and I’d like to know if artificial sweeteners can affect how my body reacts from my fast. Thanks guys!
Brock: Yeah. Artificial sweeteners, they’re kind of the devil.
Ben: Yeah. The sinister sugar substitutes as they say. First of all, as far as the gum goes, I actually used a gum called B-fresh gum and it is a little bit healthier than most of the gums out there in terms of the artificial sweeteners that it uses (it’s gluten free, lactose free, yadiyadi yada), sweeten with xylitol, I think it’s got a little bit of stevia in there and some vitamin B12 but ultimately I stay away from any of the gums that have sucralose acesulfame potassium and all of these other kinda fake sweeteners in them. The main ones you wanna look out for…… I’ll tell you the artificial sweeteners that are okay to eat but first of all, the one’s you’d wanna look out for, one would be sucralose and that’s also known as splenda. It goes by some other names as well but you’ll gonna find it in like pepsi one and diavita, to propel water, sugar free syrup has in there like the kind of sugar free syrup you’d get at coffee shop. The issues with sucralose is that it can decrease your good gut bacteria by about 50% and compared to all the other different sugar substitutes that are out there, it got the least number of basically what are called neuro toxic effects but considering your gut is the home of your immune system, I would definitely….basically what I do is I don’t take any chances. I don’t want to take a bunch of probiotics, eat fermented foods and take care of my gut and then kill that off with sucralose? So I have avoid that one. Acesulfame potassium, the issue with that…..
Brock: Is that aspartame?
Ben: No, it’s different than aspartame. Acesulfame potassium you’ll gonna see at least as acesulfame k it’s in stuff like coca-cola, you’ll gonna find that in a lot of gum like sobe beverages stuff like that. What it does is it can actually cause ironically an increase in insulin levels so it’s sparks an appetite craving and a little after you’ve eaten it (anybody here who drinks a coca-cola zero and then they’re craving food like an hour later, that’s why) and there’s some evidence and this is in a rodent studies which I understand you can’t take like a grain of salt but it has been linked to thyroid tumors in rodents. That’s one that I’ve be careful with, now, aspartame which you just asked about Brock, that’s the one that’s known as like nutra-sweet, equal. I think over in Europe, it’s known as E951 but that’s in a ton of stuff like yogurts and diet cokes, ocean spray and tons of different gum. I mean thousands of grocery store products have aspartame in them and aspartame has been well reported in many studies to be linked to the same type of neurological issues you disassociate with something like msg. So, you’re looking at dizziness, seizure, brain fog and some studies even linked to the stuff like alzheimer’s and nervous system issues like multiple sclerosis. Aspartame actually has methanol on it which converts to formaldehyde when you metabolize it and that’s the same stuff used to embalm a corpse so, something else to be careful of and that also similarly to acesulfame potassium can spike your insulin levels and also spike levels of something called leptin and overstimulation of leptin is one way to throw off your body’s ability to be able to listen to messages that you’re full and so it can affect your appetite as well. Those are some of the main ones, there are few other ones out there that kinda flounder the radar. One is called, neotame, that’s a newer one and it’s basically just aspartame but it has been renamed and they deemed a slight slight chemical change to up and you can throw that one into the same boat as aspartame. There’s another one called saccharin, that’s what you’re gonna find in sweet and low and that one is kinda similar to acesulfame potassium in terms of it having some neuro toxic effects and there is some doubt right now about the safety of saccharin when it comes to its potential for being a carcinogenic. So, that’s another one that I would be careful with would be saccharin. Now, as far as the sweeteners that I would consider to be okay, (stuff that’s not gonna be as bad) one would be stevia. That’s kind of a natural, a root base sweetener, it’s not…. there’s no study that show that it’s bad for you. It contains this compounds called steviol glycoside so it makes it literally like 30-50 times more sweet than sugar (you don’t have to use too much of it) but it’s been used in South America for thousands of years, all over the world it’s consider the safe and natural sweetener, there’s no government set to found it to be carcinogenic or neuro toxic or anything like that and it’s relatively calorie free. So, that’s my top recommendation. If you’re gonna use gums and stuff like that, xylitol is probably the least problematic artificial sweetener you can go for. It is still processed, it’s derived from wood or derived from corn, you know, along with like a erythritol, sorbitol, mannitol and these other sugar alcohols but it’s not absorbed by the body the same way that sugar is, so it has a lower effect on your blood sugar. It can cause a little bit of stomach upset by eating too much of it but doesn’t have this carcinogenic or neurotoxic effects because it technically is more natural. Aside from that, in the other sweeteners that we used around here, we’d just be like organic coconut sugar and or organic raw honey.
Brock: Coconut sugar.
Ben: Yeah. Coconut sugar has a ton of micro nutrients in it. It’s still got calories in it but it has a lower glycemic index so like the glycemic index of honey, is about 50, sugar is about 50, agave nectar is fairly low but agave nectar the way that it’s processed, it actually has way more fructose than even high fructose corn syrup. So, if you’re looking at this from a weight loss perspective, you’ve gotta be careful with the agave syrup. I’m a bigger fan of just like organic coconut sugar for that. And then raw honey, is just really great because it’s got a lot of micronutrients in it even though it is high rep on the glycemic index so it has some fructose in it. If you had to choose 2 different sweeteners, you’ll gonna have around for a little bit of sweetening here and there, the 2 that we have are organic raw honey and we get from a local source so we get some of the immunity enhancing benefits and then organic coconut sugar. Those are kinda the things that I go after when it comes to artificial sweeteners to avoid sweeteners that would be okay even the kind of gum to chew like I mentioned I used the stuff called B-fresh for my gum.
Brock: So, that wouldn’t screw up your morning fast then.
Ben: No, not really. I mean you know, the sugar alcohols have a very very slight amount of calories in them but it’s pretty slight so….
Brock: Okay, cool! You know, I know we’re going a little bit long and I was going to actually cut this last question up but let’s go ahead and just do it.
Matthew: Hey guys, how are you? In previous podcast you stated that you weren’t a big fan of the bench press. So, I was wondering if you can expound on that a little bit and maybe could meet some of your alternatives. Appreciate it. Thanks, take care guys.
Brock: One of the reasons why I wanted to actually do this question is because when you said this a few weeks ago, I believe you actually said bench press is silly and I really wanted to know why and the conversation went on and I never really got to come back to it, that’s why I’m glad Matthew asked this, “Why are bench presses silly?”.
Ben: Okay, from a functional standpoint of bench press are silly, don’t get me wrong, when you load up a heavy barbell and you give yourself a nice solid base of support underneath your back, you can lift a crap ton of weight and that’s really good at building up fibers in your chest muscles. So if your goal is to just get muscles and get a big chest, bench pressing is pretty decent in terms of being able to do that but it…….
Brock: It also makes you feel really manly. That’s why I like it.
Ben: Depending on how much you bench press, yes. There are some people who feel less manly when they attempt to bench press at the gym. Anyways though, because you have less freedom of rotation when you’re holding a barbell vs. holding like a dumbbell or say like a, doing a push up or holding a set of cables or elastic bands, bench pressing can put more strain on your shoulders and it can create some pretty serious shoulder issues and I’ve seen a lot of people who get what’s called anterior shoulder pain from shoulder overuse from doing the bench press granted sometimes that’s because all their doing is that gym rat habit of just doing bench press without balancing bench press out with scapular retraction exercises like seated rows and pull ups and stuff like that. But ultimately well, bench press is a good exercise for building muscle mass. I’m not a huge fan for anybody who just is trying to get that general benefit of a horizontal pushing type of motion. So, first of all don’t do bench press period if it hurts. Same thing with dips, dips and bench press are two exercises that can put a lot of strain on the shoulder. If you are gonna do it then warm up well, do dynamic stretching, do arm swings, do that like arm argometer at the gym (if your gym has that), do some elastic band movements like side raises and horizontal extensions and warm-up well before you go in and do some bench pressing or dips (I kinda throw both those in new similar category). When you’re bench pressing I don’t recommend you use a wider than shoulder width grip when you bench press because going wider than shoulder width does work your chest muscles more but it puts your shoulders at a higher risk of injury so you generally want to go about right around like where your shoulder starts, don’t go any wider than about athumbs length out from that when you’re holding the bar, when you’re gripping the bar. Make sure that you balance your step up, do your pulling exercises like pull ups, chin up, seated rows things of that nature to make sure that you’re not creating a muscular imbalance which can also damage your shoulders when you’re bench pressing. Work your rotator cuff, those are 4 tiny muscles that surround your scapular or shoulder blades and you can easily do that with elastic band exercises, again with pull ups, seated rows, internal rotation exercise, external rotation exercises things of that nature. If you insist on bench pressing, try and mix it up between the flat bench, the inclined bench, and the declined bench so you’re working your chest muscles at different angles and also giving your shoulder a little bit of break at different angles and then, for me personally I rarely do bench press. I usually do my top chest exercises are I do a lot of push ups and variations of push up. I’ll do like spiderman push ups where I do a push up but drive a knee to my opposite elbow as I do the push up and then push that leg back out as I push back up into a starting position. I do standing cable presses, I did some of these yesterday where you’re standing and you’re pressing the cable out in a standing position so you gain a lot of core activity as well. I’ll do stability ball: chest presses with a dumbbell so you treat the dumbbell like a bench and bench press dumbbells with the stability balls so my core and my gluts and my hips are having to stabilize me a little bit. If you really really wanna great chest workout that also challenges balance and builds over-all strength, just do heavy single arm dumbbell chest press on a bench and you just have to use your other arm for support and for balance. I’ve mentioned Dan John (who we’ve got to get on this podcast at some point) great guy, who really have a great book called “Interventions” really good strength coach but one of his exercise that he talks about in that book that he really likes is a single arm dumbbell bench press: where you’re just using your other arm (like fuelling it up trying to balance your body) as you doing the dumbbell bench press with one hand and I mean there’s nothing like building your core strength and your side to side balance like doing a bench press with a decently challenging way using a dumbbell with one hand rather than using a barbell. So yeah, I mean there’s enough alternatives to a bench press out there that I would stick with those alternatives unless you’re going for pure mass and if you’re going for pure mass, by all means bench press, bench press heavy but take care of your rotator cuff, include some scapular retraction exercises and get some dynamic stretching in before you bench press.
Brock: Awesome. Alright, we’ve gone really long now so I’m gonna do this in one breath. Make sure to go to Itunes and go find ben greenfield fitness.
Ben: This is why Brock is never been hired to do like the legal announcements after like a pharmaceutical ad on tv that type of thing….
Brock: That’s the only reason I haven’t been asked….
Ben: Yeah, that need doesn’t have a sexy female vibe but…. Go to Itunes, leave a review or a ranking in Itunes. You can go to the podcast and leave a donation at bengreenfieldfitness.com. The show notes for this episode or episode #237, head on over there, get links to everything we talked about as well as the handy dandy MyList and the link to audiblepodcast.com/ben where you can grab your cool book about enhancing your body and finally the big big announcement is head over to the link that we’re gonna put in the show notes to the brand new Ben Greenfield Fitness Vol. 1 album on Itunes where you can grab little snips and clippets (if that’s a word) on everything from how female athletes can get lean to the side stitching episode to pretty much anything you desire for 99 cents. That’s a better deal than you’re gotta get in Tijuana on just about anything and it’s right on iTunes from the comfort of your own computer; no need to go to Mexico for a good deal. So, believe that about wraps it up. We’ll check out, we’ll come to you guys next week and thanks for listening.
Brock: Show off!
April 18, 2013 Podcast: Lasik eye surgery for sports performance, natural remedies for restless leg syndrome, how to get rid of side stitches, can blood sugar go up during exercise, which artificial sweeteners are good, and is bench press bad for your shoulders?
In the opening we talk about Ben’s Vietnam Race Report.
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- Here’s why we generally use coconut flour instead of almond flour.
- The “4-2-4” sleep cycle. Do you do this or have you tried it?
- Red light therapy for enhancing endurance performance…anybody use red light?
If you’re looking for an easy way to find a past podcast topic – we have released the Ben Greenfield Fitness Top Hits, Vol. 1.
1. The Benefits of Fish vs. Fish Oil
2. The Best Ways to Stop Hair Loss
3. Increase Your Hematocrit & Oxygen Levels
4. Strengthen Your Immune System & Shorten the Duration of a Cold
5. Top 10 Ways to Boost Drive
6. Get Rid of Migraines Naturally
7. Become a Curvaceous, Lean, Ripped Female Athlete Without Destroying Your Health
8. Stop Side Stitches as Fast as Possible
9. Is It Possible for a Vegan to Be a Healthy Endurance Athlete
10. How Much Water Do You Really Need to Drink Each Day
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As compiled, edited and sometimes read by Brock, the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast “sidekick”.
Craig asks @ 00:32:38
After listening to the interview with Dr Cobb, he was wondering if Lasik (laser) Eye surgery might positively effect performance.
Ian asks @ 00:42:27
His father has Restless Legs. Every night when he goes to bed his legs and shoulders twitch. He doesn’t take any supplements but he does have lowish thyroid. Would like to know what he should be eating or taking. Could this be an inflammatory issue?
~ In my response, I recommend: Magnesium lotion, Floradix, Full spectrum antioxidant with Vitamin C and E, such as LifeShotz, Bitter melon extract, Valerian Root, Folic acid, Near Infrared, and Fish oil.
Sidestitch says @ 00:53:10
She gets a left sided stitch when she drinks more than 4oz of water on a long run (she also gets an annoying sloshing feeling) and also at the end of shorter more intense sessions, if she has eaten less than 2 hours before. What’s up with that and how can she stop it? Also, is there an easy way to find topics that have been covered on past podcasts?
~ This response can be found as part of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Top Hits, Vol. 1.
Jim says @ 01:13:17
He is 46 years old and has been performing fasted workouts for the last 25 years. Lately he has been keeping an eye on his glucose levels due to a fasted glucose test of 129 and an A1C of 4.8. He noticed that during his hard fasted workouts his blood glucose increases up to 35 points. He has increased his cinnamon intake, is only eating carbs after workouts and is supporting his liver with bitter melon. He is curious if there is a way of quantifying that 35 point rise in terms of calories released by the liver.
~ In my response to Jim, I mention bitter melon extract.
Katie asks @ 01:19:50
She knows there are a lot of artificial sweeteners in low carb products and would like to know the pros and cons of them. She also likes to drink tea and chew gum during her morning fasts and would like to know how artificial sweeteners can effect fasting.
~ In my response, I mention this B-Fresh gum.
Matthew says @ 01:27:29
On a previous podcast you mentioned that you are not a fan of the bench press and is wondering if you could expound on that and if you could suggest some alternatives.
Read more https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2013/04/237-is-red-meat-really-bad-for-you-which-artificial-sweeteners-are-good-is-bench-pressing-bad-for-you-how-to-get-rid-of-restless-leg-syndrome/#more-12157