The Underground Test That Shows You How To Legally Upgrade Your EPO, Increase Your Oxygen Levels, Boost Your Red Blood Cells & Build Double-Digit Percentages In Power And Endurance.

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Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

You may remember Christopher Kelly from the podcast episode “The Little Known Test That Tells You Everything You Need To Know About Your Metabolism” and “7 Signs Your Cortisol & Adrenals Are Broken“.

In today's episode, Chris is back, along with special guest Dr. Tommy Wood.

The reason I've invited Chris back on the podcast is because he recently wrote me about new methods he's been using to identify how to increase EPO, increase oxygen consumption, beat anemia, boost red blood cells, and get double-digit percentage increases in power and endurance.

I'm always looking for insider tips on how to maximize my own athletic performance, so figured it would be a good idea to have Chris on to talk about these new, little-known testing and treatment methods.

Christopher Kelly is a computer scientist, pro mountain biker, certified Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner and graduate of the Kalish Institute. Chris is British but lives in California where he runs the functional medicine practice Nourish Balance Thrive. Chris has been on the podcast twice before, once to talk about salivary hormone testing for adrenal fatigue, and once to talk about organic acid testing.

My other guest, Dr. Tommy Wood is a qualified medical doctor, graduating from Oxford University in 2011. He has a previous Bachelor's degree in Natural Sciences and Biochemistry from Cambridge University. After working as a junior doctor in the UK for two years, Dr Wood is now working towards a Ph.D. in neonatal brain metabolism at the University of Oslo, Norway.

During our discussion, you'll discover:

-Why oxygen deliverability is so extremely crucial if you plan to compete at elevation or altitude, or you want to maximize your physical performance…

-The exact blood-building protocol Chris used to get a a 32-watt (9%) improvement in his cycling power at threshold…

-Specific conditions you probably get exposed to that directly shut down your ability to produce red blood cells and EPO and what you can do about it…

-How to know if you're deficient in any of the nutrients required to produce red blood cells…

-The common nutrient deficiencies (which Chris had) that severely hamper your oxygen delivery capabilities, and how to fix them…

-The best way to track and monitor whether excessive red blood cell destruction is occurring…

-Little known ways that you can actually lose red blood cells, and how to test to see if that is happening…

-And much more!



[3:36] Introductions

[7:24] The background behind Chris’ interest in blood chemistry.

[9:17] Why measuring total hemoglobin mass is important to athletic performance, i.e. its relation to VO2 max.

[10:54] The importance of owning one’s health and data instead of relying on one’s primary care physician, especially when targeting athletic goals.

[12:22] How conventional treatment with intravenous iron didn’t help Chris, and how doing his own research into other treatments led to improvements in his hemoglobin and, eventually, a 9% increase in his threshold wattage.

[14:29] The biochemistry behind hemoglobin and Chris’ experience.

[17:40] EPO and the evaluation of kidney function (which produces EPO).

[20:16] Tests that can be used to identify issues with producing red blood cells, including both examining red blood cell size and count and nutrient tests.

[22:35] Chris’ personal experience with testing for nutrient deficiencies, reference ranges, and other tests that helped him such as testing for formiminoglutamic acid (FIGLU).

[25:20] Common reasons for folate deficiency.

[25:55] Interpreting elevated levels of methylmalonate.

[28:10] Causes of Chris’ nutritional deficiencies including gut inflammation, pathogens, sweat loss, genetics, etc.

[33:01] Reasons for red blood cell destruction such as the normal breakdown cycle, exercise, and chronic inflammation.

[35:16] How to determine if inflammation or oxidize stress is occurring excessively.

[38:57] Possible causes of actual loss of blood cells, including athlete’s anemia and reperfusion injuries.

[44:42] How to protect yourself from damage to the gut.

[46:06] How to know where to start and prioritize tests.

[47:58] The process for testing and test interpretation.

[49:31] Benefits of this clinical coaching.

[51:45] Other resources, discount codes, service options, etc.


Resources from this episode:

Dr. Michael Puchowicz website on doping and hematocrit

The Oxygen Boosting Webinar downloadable .pdf (where you can use code BEN10 for a 10% discount on the testing and consulting services we discuss in this episode)

the Paleo Autoimmune protocol that Chris followed

Fecal occult blood test

Do you have question, comments or feedback about how to build EPO, how to test your blood and biomarkers for precursors to oxygen production or anything else Christopher Kelly, Dr. Tommy Wood or I discuss in this episode? Leave your thoughts below and we'll reply!

Ask Ben a Podcast Question

16 thoughts on “The Underground Test That Shows You How To Legally Upgrade Your EPO, Increase Your Oxygen Levels, Boost Your Red Blood Cells & Build Double-Digit Percentages In Power And Endurance.

  1. Eric Vincent says:

    Great podcast. I love the biochemistry aspect of why and how our bodies do what they do. I wanted to start incorporating blood flow restriction into my workouts and was wondering if this could increase the chances of a reperfusion injury?

    1. It could if you have had a clot or perfusion issue in those areas, so that's a method you may want to avoid!

  2. jordancheyne says:

    Thanks for the response Chris. Best of luck in your races.

  3. jordancheyne says:

    Chris is a good speaker and makes some compelling points about hematology and nutrients. However I think he needs to drop the whole "Pro" cyclist thing. It is one thing to get a license that says "pro" on it and another to actually be a professional in sport (i.e. making money, competing at a national/international level). USA cycling lists one result this year, a 7th in a field of 10 and there is no evidence of a team, sponsors or any results history on google. I don't need him to be a Pro in order to consider his advice, but I do need him to be honest and I think he might be stretching the truth.

    1. cck197 says:

      Hi Jordan, maybe I didn't make it clear on this occasion, usually I describe myself as a hobby pro. Having said that, training and racing is a huge part of my life and I do not have any other source of income that's not related to riding my bike. I have a USAC Pro license but most of the events I race in are not sanctioned. I've been racing elite cyclocross every weekend since September and after 6 races I'm winning the elite men series points in a part of the world that is home to multiple national champions.….

  4. Floyd Meyer says:

    Hi Ben,

    I really enjoyed this episode that you did. It was super informative!

    I’m writing because I recently got some blood work done, and when I was looking at my Hemoglobin, Hematocrit, and other markers I noticed that I am at the low end of normal for all of the reference ranges. This was strange to me because I am extremely conscious of my health and follow much of your advice as well as others in the high performance health circle.

    I decided to do a little investigating and I compared my results to those that you did the WellnessFX describes the Premium Panel. (

    What I saw was that our levels for Hemoglobin, Hematocrit, MCV, MCH, and RDW were all basically the same. Which made me very happy because it showed that all my hard work is paying off.

    My question for you is are you concerned about your own personal levels after this interview? I know that the reference ranges for most labs are averages based off of the generally unhealthy population that is going there, so I find it strange that all my markers (and yours) for blood health would be on the very low spectrum of normal. If anything I would expect it to be higher than the general population.

    I’m just curious what you personally are doing to try and raise your Hematocrit, if anything.

    Thanks for your time and the awesome work that you are doing.

    Floyd Meyer PA-S

    1. I'm not too concerned. I just raced Spartan World Championships at 8K feet and felt amazing. And my VO2 max is very comparable to all my racing peers (mid to upper 60's).

  5. marcus says:

    Has Tommy a view regarding B12 injection supplementation.

    Could large doses effect other B vitamin levels,which then end up effecting methylation.

    Thanks Marcus

    1. thomasrwood says:

      Hi Marcus!

      If you have a documented B12 deficiency, then for some people (if they're symptomatic or have something like pernicious anaemia), injections can be very useful. If it comes as a prescription, your practitioner should have a protocol that they follow for dosing and re-checking levels. However, like you suggest, people should be wary of just replacing one B vitamin in large doses. For instance, a B12 insufficiency should be ruled out before replenishing folate, because more folate can aggravate problems with B12. We have also seen a few cases where large doses of supplemental B12 appear to drive a relative folate deficiency. For most people, once you're within the normal range, adding more won't improve performance, and could well be detrimental.

      One problem is that B12 on a blood test doesn't differentiate between types of B12. In terms of methylation we're obviously thinking about methyl-B12, but our other common test (methylmalonic acid on a urine test) is actually a marker for adenosyl-B12. However, if your MCV is normal, your B12 and folate look good, homocysteine is low (needs methyl-B12 to recycle to methionine), and methylmalonic acid is low, you're probably in good shape. Anything else would need some deeper digging into other nutrient deficiencies, lifestyle factors, and personal genetics.

  6. megn27 says:

    Love both the BG and NBT podcasts! Great to bring them together.

    Question about post-exercise gut inflammation / hyper-permeability:

    Ben, I know you've debunked the necessity of a post workout meal. BUT if 1) I workout fasted in the AM (only time I can get to the gym) and 2) am trying to gain a decent amount of muscle (currently underweight), then what kind of nutrition would you recommend post-workout?

    I try to eat about 30min after I'm done at the gym. Typically, my breakfast looks something like: a sweet potato slathered with coconut oil and sea salt, black pepper, cinnamon, and turmeric + a whack of protein (fish or meat) + cooked leafy green veg.
    Considering the lack of blood flow to the gut post-exercise, would I be better off with something like a smoothie or blended soup? The meal above is super delish, but I still struggle with decreased appetite immediately after a hard workout session.

    1. Post WO breakfast easy on the stomach would be a smoothie. I'd do something very much like this:

    2. Mads says:

      Could you give me a link to where Ben debunks the necessity of a post workout meal, please :)

  7. cisono says:

    Really enjoyed the podcast, including its slight "geekiness" :-)

    As a fitness professional, I love improving performance, but especially bringing subpar performance back to normal! (generally much bigger improvement %-wise, though I have nothing against athletes!)

    About what Chris said… I too had issues with legs not feeling tired but being no longer able to do my legendary fast (if shorts) sprints or produce more power generally after 13 years of spin classes. My brain could not seem to get my legs to move faster. It was strange. Turns out I too had gut inflammation, H.Pylori and likely other bugs (sorted out with herbal anti-parasite protocol). I had also become hypothyroid (I am female and just turned 50), though better after supplementing selenium, zinc, iron, magnesium and B vitamins generally (plus glandulars) – and a good multivitamin+mineral supplement.

    Lately.. I have had the opposite issue: ok to "send signals to my legs to go" but… my muscles fatigue far too early (or are always feeling locally fatigued/very tight) – it started a week or so after I had a travel vaccination 3 years or so ago.
    Now I get to the spin class, after a foam rolling warm up and some self-massage (I am a sports massage therapist) and I may end up doing much of the 45 minute session with "cramping" / "spasming" or unresponsive (as if severely DOMS'd) legs (especially calves and feet). I do notice some variation across weeks, though (some weeks less of a problem).

    Things are slightly better if I spend more time doing self sports massage (though tough in some areas and should not be needed). I mean, 45 minutes of bike while teaching is currently just 16-19Km for me so hardly an ironman, though of course I have to teach 16 classes a week (generally spin just once a week, the rest is one body pump, one circuits, 3 tai chi, 3 short yoga classes, and lots of matwork Pilates). Not really a heavy workload.

    Any suggestions on what could be causing this "seizing" of muscles? What can I test? Is it related to my blood count? I tend to have low (but generally low-normal iron), normal ferritin, and ALWAYS low calcium (just slightly below lower "normal", at about 2.1, even if supplementing which I don't like to do. Endocrinologist was not concerned as he had had the same issue and he is "still alive", his words!). I supplement magnesium bisglycinate though.
    Moreover, my vit D levels are a bit high (previously: 148, now around 90, as I supplement less) and my SHBG has been through the roof (135!) – doctor has no clue why that is or what to do about it. She only worries when too low (PCOS or similar issues). SHBC slightly reduced after stopping green tea extract supplementation.

    PS: I eat lots of veggies and fruit, fish and some meat (chicken and liver). Not too high fat as I have never been able to cope with that. Some olive oil in my daily salad. Some coconut oil/butter. 1 TBSP soaked Flaxseed and 1 TBSP soaked pumpkin seeds OR sunflower seeds (supposed to balance hormones) daily in a smoothie with veggies, some fruit for taste and spirulina, ashwagandha and astragalus. The smoothie is split in 3 doses during the day. No gluten, dairy or eggs. I take probiotics (especially bifidus or probiotic mix including the plantarum variety) and Betaine HCI + digestive enzymes with each meal.

    1. This is a pretty complex question. For this level of support, I'd be happy to help you via a personal one-on-one consult. Just go to and then choose a 20 or 60 minute consult, whichever you'd prefer. I can schedule ASAP after you get that.

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