Episode #150 – Full Transcript

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Podcast #150 from https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2011/06/episode-150-ben-answers-your-burning-questions-about-weird-weight-gain-and-more/

Ben:                In this podcast, rapid weight gain, female endurance athletes who get fat, high blood sugar, intermittent fasting, do birth control pills reduce athletic performance, prolozone therapy, hand swelling during exercise, and my favorite podcasts.

Well, folks, after nearly 21 days of not being at home, I am officially back and have access to my podcasting studio.  And I’m really rolling out some great interviews for you over the next few weeks.  This is podcast #150.  And in this podcast I’m going to be catching up on some fabulous listener questions, answering your burning questions about weird weight gain and more.  And then next week, we’ll be launching into a series of interviews that are going to be pretty mind blowing.  You’re going to love some of the guests that I have coming over this summer.  So, that being said, we’re going to go ahead and jump into this week’s special announcements.  And then, move on to the listener Q and A.

So, first of all, to those of you who have donated a dollar to help this show keep going, thank you so much!  And remember, you can donate by going to BenGreenfieldFitness.com  and clickign the donate $1 button.  That’s right there at the right hand side.  Now, the next thing is that many of you have sent me pictures of you wearing the new BenGreenfieldFitness.com t-shirt.  And I have scheduled, and you know who you are, I have scheduled phone consults with you.  Individual, one on one phone consults with the people who grabbed that t-shirt, which you can get at BenGreenfieldFitness.com.  And you can modify the shirt actually.  You can have it be a hoody, a tank top, and an exercise shirt, whatever you want it to be when you grab it from that website at BenGreenfieldFitness.com.  Send me a picture of you wearing that shirt.  Specifically, send the picture into the Ben Greenfield Fitness Facebook page and tag it with Ben Greenfield Fitness on Facebook.  And I will contact you to schedule your phone consult with me.  Now, the next announcement that I have is about these amino acids that I talk about all the time.  And I actually was finally able to get a 10% discount on those amino acids.  I’ll put a link to them in the show notes.  These are the Master Amino Pattern amino acids.  And amino acids, if they are a high quality amino acid, are not inexpensive.  And so this 10% will hopefully really help those of you who have been wanting to start taking these before your work outs to get all those benefits.  But maybe you needed a little bit of a discount on them.  And then the last thing is that if you haven’t been to the website lately then you probably didn’t see the article that I wrote about the craziest work outs asking you what your craziest work out is.  So I still want to hear from you.  I didn’t get a ton of crazy work outs on that post and I know my listeners have done some crazy things.  So go check out the 3 crazy work outs that I posted.  And then let me know what your favorite crazy work out is and you can do that at BenGreenfieldFitness.com on the post that’s right underneath this post for Episode #150.  Alright, let’s go ahead and jump in to this week’s Listener Q and A after a special message.

Listener Q and A:

So remember, if you have a question you can call toll free to 877 209 9439.  You can use the Ask Ben form over on any of the show note episodes at BenGreenfieldFitness.com.  Or you can use the Ask Ben button right there on the free iPhone or free android app.  You can grab either of those apps at BenGreenfieldFitness.com.  So, our first question this week comes in from Lisa.

Lisa:               Hi there Ben! My name is Lisa.  I’m calling from Chicago.  I have a question for your podcast.  The local gym in my area offers metabolic testing.  They can measure your resting metabolic rates and tell you your respiratory quotient.  So, I looked up the respiratory quotient.  And from what I’ve learned, if someone’s eating exclusively carbohydrates, their respiratory quotient will be 1.0.  And if they’re eating mixed fuel, they’ll be closer to 0.7.  So my question is, do you value this test?  Do you encourage people to know their respiratory quotient?  If I work to get the test and I then knew my number, how would that help me?  I’m assuming I want to be closer to the 0.7 indicates I’m burning mixed fuel as opposed to relying on carbohydrate.  So what are your thoughts on the test and your feedback on the cost, it’s about a hundred fifty dollars.  Where do you think that is as far as the cost and value ratio?  Thanks so much Ben!  Appreciate it!  Bye!

Ben:                Well, for 4 years after I graduated, I oversaw a metabolic laboratory here in Spokane, Washington.  Where we did things like metabolic testing and specifically calculated for people, among other things, this respiratory quotient.  And all that respiratory quotient is it’s a ratio.  It’s the ratio of how much carbon dioxide that you breathe out to how much oxygen that you actually consume.  And so, what happens is when you breathe out carbon dioxide, we know that you are exhaling x number of carbon units.  And we also know that carbohydrates and fat are made up of, among other things, carbon.  And so, the actual calculation gets a little bit more specific than we’ll get into on this show.  But basically, what happens is as you breathe out carbon dioxide, you can approximate very closely how much carbohydrate you are burning.  And therefore also, how much fat you’re burning.  Now, we cannot calculate your actual protein consumption using an RQ test unless we’re also measuring nitrogen.  And you can measure nitrogen during the test via respiratory measurements but you can also measure nitrogen via urinary excretion as well.  Most tests are only going to give you your carbohydrate to fat utilization ratios.  Now, the interesting thing is that technically, somebody who is very calorie-deprived or on a very low carbohydrate diet, they’re going to have a lower respiratory quotient based off of what Lisa mentioned a respiratory quotient of 0.7 indicates that you’re burning almost purely fat.  A respiratory quotient of 1 indicates that you’re burning almost purely carbohydrates.  So if you don’t have many carbohydrates on board to burn or you’re burning a high amount of fatty acids as fuel, your respiratory quotient is going to be very low.  And a lot of times when I would test people, I would find that they were two categories of people that tested very low in their respiratory quotient.  One was people who were calorie-deprived and on very low calorie diets.  And in that case, unfortunately, a low respiratory quotient was also accompanied by low metabolism or a low metabolic rate.  And that is not ideal.  Basically, what that means is you’re eating so little food that your body kind of shuts down metabolic activity.  But the other group that would have a low RQ would be a group that was living a healthy lifestyle, either through limiting starchy-processed carbohydrate consumption, so not eating lots of bagels, chips, candy, pasta, and things of that nature.  And then also the people who were exercising and specifically I would see this more often in endurance athletes because what happens is during endurance efforts your body learns how to use fats more efficiently.  And so a combination of eating a higher fat higher protein-based diet, limiting processed carbohydrate consumption, and also including some aerobic exercise into your training protocol can all lower your respiratory quotient.  And yes, that would be a good thing.  So, it is a legitimate test.  And you can find out from that test whether or not your efforts to increase the amount of fat that you burn as a fuel are actually being productive.   And then, as far as the price of that test, what we charge here in Spokane to do that test was about a hundred dollars.  And what that included was you would find out your metabolic rate, included a consultation with me where we talk about your nutrition and your recommended calorie intake and your meal plan based on your metabolic rate.  And then of course you also find out this respiratory quotient.  And typically, we would pair a test like that with VO2 max testing or blood lactate testing which we won’t get into right now.  Now, I love doing those types of tests, but I no longer do them frankly because we really didn’t have quite enough business here in this small area of Spokane, Washington, to allow that to thrive on its own.  Now I was pairing that with quite a bit of personal training.  Now, I do most of my consulting online with people from all over the globe.  And do a ton of metabolic testing in personal training here locally.  And that was just the decision where I had to free up some time.  So, ultimately though, I did train a physiologist to take my place and he is doing metabolic testing here in Spokane and the same type of testing that I was doing.  Okay, the next question comes from Michael.  This is kind of a long question.  I’ll warn you guys.

Michael says:                        I am extremely concerned about my blood sugar levels.  Last year I had a physical and they told me my fasted blood sugar levels were elevated at 118.  After that I started pacing in healthier food choices.  And for the past six months, I’ve been eating clean, whole, organic foods and spending 5 hours a week lifting and doing interval training.  I just got my blood work from this year’s physical and my blood sugar was at 118 again.  I thought maybe I’d give you some background.  I usually eat a banana first thing then I hit the gym.  I have a post workout shake with oats, whey, chia seeds, and whole milk and then my coffee with whole milk and stevia.  Lunch is usually a big meal.  Where I’ll have something like an egg salad sandwich and a green smoothie.  Around 4, I’ll have a snack like nan and humus.  And nan is just a flat bread.  And dinner usually consists of turkey burgers and maybe some fruit.  I supplement with 4000 units of Vitamin D and 3 tablespoons of Udo’s oil everyday.  Sorry for the long question but I am quite concerned and don’t understand.

Ben:                So, this is a great question.  So, as far as your blood glucose levels, ideally your blood glucose levels should be pretty stable between about 85 to 105 is a good number.  And after you eat carbohydrates or carbohydrate-rich meal, your blood glucose is going to go up.  Typically, it will go up into the 120’s up to the 140’s and it will fall back into a normal range within a few hours.  Now, this is something that I did with myself is I bought a blood glucose monitor.  It cost me about twenty dollars at my local Walgreens.  And I just tested for a few days after everything I ate just to see how high my blood sugar levels would go after certain foods.  And that can certainly be insightful when you are kind of wondering why this blood sugar snap shot that you’re getting at your physical is high.  It may be helpful for you to actually test which foods are causing your blood sugar level to go up.  But what happens is when you increase your carbohydrate consumption over what your body’s basic carbohydrate needs are, you’re average blood glucose levels are going to go up.  So your snapshot blood glucose levels at any given point are going to go up.  So, your body actually needs like needs for your metabolic rate and your brain activity.  Your body needs about 600 calories of carbohydrate a day.  Now if you’re not exercising and you’re completely sedentary, just sitting on a lazy boy chair all day, what happens is any time you’re consuming more than 600 calories of sugar in the form of carbohydrate per day, it’s going to increase your blood sugar levels that you’re seeing when you get that physical.  The reason that that would be something that you may not want to be the case is that anytime you’re walking around with high blood sugar levels, you get increased nerve damage.  You get basically a risk for early onset of diabetes.  Increase mortality or earlier death is associated with higher levels of blood glucose.  Even cardiovascular disease because higher levels of blood glucose can lead to these oxidized cholesterol particles.  Cardiovascular disease can be increased by hyperglycemia.  A lot of times bacterial infections just because bacteria can tend to feed on higher levels of blood glucose, that can be an issue when you’re walking around with high blood glucose levels.  And as a matter of fact, this is something that a lot of people didn’t know – cancer cells actually can’t burn fatty acids.  They rely on carbohydrate as a fuel.   And so high blood glucose can even put you at higher risk for cancer.  So, obviously, lots of reasons to get your blood glucose back down to where it should be.  But the issue is what’s going on with you.  Why are your blood glucose levels up around where they are right now?  One thing I noticed is that you are snacking and you’re eating a lot of little foods.  You’re eating 5 to 6 times per day.  I would consider, and this isn’t meant to be misconstrued as medical advice to managing medical condition, I’m just saying that this is something I would consider if I were you.  I would eat less or specifically eat fewer times during the day so that you’re going longer periods of time between meals and allowing your blood glucose levels to fall so that your body learns to become more reliant on fatty acids.  I would even take that one step further and introduce something that we’ll talk about in a little bit here in the podcast, an intermittent fast into your daily routines or in a few points in your weekly routine.  Where you’re going longer periods of time between meals by doing something like not eating for 2 to 3 hours before you go to bed at night.  Getting up in the morning exercising for 40-60   minutes on an empty stomach and then eating breakfast at some point but not having breakfast the first thing that happens when you get out of bed before you go out and do that exercise session.  And that would introduce anywhere from a 12-15 hour fast into your daily routine.  And that can be very helpful in training your body how to utilize fatty acids, as well.  I would certainly look into and get tested on your insulin levels and find out whether or not you may be insulin insensitive.  Which would mean that even when you are eating a diet that isn’t really high in sugar and carbohydrates, your body is releasing insulin to take any of the sugar to carbohydrates that do get released into the blood stream and put them into the muscles where they can be used as energy.  And if insulin isn’t doing that job properly because the cells surface receptors in your muscles actually don’t have the ability to respond to insulin that could be an issue as well.  So, I would definitely look into insulin insensitivity and go on and do an insulin test also.  So what I would focus on is definitely a higher fat higher protein diet, less snacking.  A little bit more fasting.  Get your insulin tested as well.  Don’t leave out the fact that you may want to look into whether or not you may be insulin insensitive or at risk for diabetes in which case my recommendations would still stand to eat that higher fat higher protein-based diet.

Josh says:      I’ve been training for Ironman 70.3 since December.  I started out weighing around 160 pounds.  I’m currently at 153 pounds.  Just a few days ago after a brick work out in the summer, I dipped down into a 148 pounds due to water loss.  This is normal for me as I’m a heavy sweater.  But today I weighed in at 159 pounds after my swim session.  How in the world could this be?  I’m sure some of its water weight but 6 lbs. worth!  What is going on here?

Ben:                Well, a few things can happen.  The first thing is that, when people switch to a high protein or a high fat diet, they notice that they lose weight really quickly, a ton of weight all at once.  The reason for that is that carbohydrate carries up to four times its weight in water.  And so, if you are carbohydrate depleted, you are also water depleted.  As soon as you start to eat carbohydrate again, you can gain weight at a far more rapid pace than you think that you actually would or should because that carbohydrate, all that extra carbohydrate going into your liver and your muscles, and specifically in your muscles is drawing a lot of water in with it.  So, one thing that I would look into is whether or not after that hard work out and between the hard work out and the swim, what your actual carbohydrate intake was.  And if you maximized your carbohydrate stores, all the water that your body will suck up along with that could absolutely cause you to gain 6 pounds.  I would look into an inaccurate scale; this is something a lot of people don’t think about.  It’s more often or not the case with body fat scales that are performed improperly.  So, people use their body fat scale for example in the morning one day and in the evening next day and get totally different numbers.  And that’s because body fat scales really need to be used when your body is in the same state of hydration and exercise status when you use them.  So, if you use a body fat scale, you’d want to go at the same time of day.  For example, in the morning before an exercise session after you’ve had a glass of water and you’d want to do that to get accurate measurements day after day.  But we’re not talking about body fat scale; we are talking about a regular scale.  You would still want to consider whether or not that scale was actually accurate.  And the last thing you’d want to think about, and this kind of correlates to the next question that gets asked as well, is what your stress levels were actually like before that swim as well or in the days between that brick that you did and the swim that you did.  And this tends to be a real issue with people who are stressed out.  What happens is that sodium and potassium are balanced in your body.  And so, an imbalance between sodium and potassium, for example, too much potassium in relation to sodium means that there would be low sodium levels.  But too little potassium in relation to sodium would mean that there would be high sodium levels.   And a lot of times high sodium levels are associated with water retention because your body keeps a little bit of extra water to make sure that your blood and your muscles have proper sodium to water ratios or electrolytes status.  Now what can happen is that when you have higher levels of cortisol, two things happen, sodium loss is inhibited and increased levels of potassium are excreted.  And this is basically just like a mamalian reaction to stress.  You see something like this in fish, too.  Like fresh water fish, they will increase their cortisol excretion to cause them to retain more sodium, whereas salt water fish have this cortisol based mechanism that causes to excrete excess sodium.  So, cortisol is highly linked in animals and humans to sodium transport.  And when you have high levels of cortisol, what can happen is your sodium-potassium levels get thrown off and you tend to retain water and get swelling and water based weight gain.  Now, cortisol also acts as what’s called the anti-diuretic hormone.  So, water basically the water that flows in and out of your G.I tract is partially controlled by cortisol.  And the kidneys are also partially controlled by cortisol.  Anti-diuretic hormone just like it sounds is a hormone that keeps you from being diuretic, keeps you from losing water.  And cortisol has these anti-diuretic properties in addition to its ability to throw off your sodium-potassium balance.  So, if you’re experiencing weight gain, a lot of times this weight gain can be due to water and fluid retention because of excess cortisol.  And excess cortisol can be related to specifically adrenal stress or adrenal fatigue or simply being too stressed out from either work or perhaps lack of sleep or even excessive exercise.  So, these are all things that I would look into as well when it comes to your cortisol balance.  And we’ll get into adrenal fatigue a little bit more in this podcast but those are some of the things that I would consider, could be the scale that you use., the amount of carbohydrate that you consumed and then also your stress levels and specifically your cortisol levels.  Now, Eric has a question it’s kind of related.

Eric says:      I have a question regarding someone I know who is experiencing creeping weight gain.  She’s a competitive age grouper in a marathon and a triathlete.  She’s good about tracking every bite of food.

Ben:                And that’s a warning sign right there that we may be dealing with a type of easily stressed out personality.

Eric says:       After work out she consumes a smoothie with yellow pea hemp, brown rice protein blend along with greens and fruit.  She began supplementing with branched chain amino acids as well.  Despite being careful to keep carbohydrate-fat-protein ratios in the proper limits and monitoring calories, she is still seeing her weight slowly creep up.  Could this be an indicator of over training?  This is someone who commonly has 50-70 mile running weeks on top of 3-4 swim sessions and three bike workouts per week.  Any insight you have would be greatly appreciated.

Ben:                Alright!  I see this personally a lot in over exercising female athletes.  Especially like the Type A personalities who are doing Ironman triathlon.  And I do believe that it is highly related to a couple of things.  First of all, the first is pretty straight forward and that is a real dietary focus on avoiding fat because of the perception that it will make the female athlete fat.  And this is simply not true.  Especially because a decreased fat consumption often leads to increased consumption of processed carbohydrates, sweet sugary foods, and also decreased intake of the amount of cholesterols proper for normal hormonal and metabolic function.  And so, any female endurance athlete especially because females also use a higher proportion of fatty acids during exercise compared to males should, in my opinion, be on a higher fat intake diet.  Be consuming things like avocadoes and coconut and macadamia nuts and high fat meats and high fat fish and fish oils.  And the right types of fats.  Not vegetable oils and the fats that you get from crackers but essentially healthy saturated fats, healthy modaline saturated fats, healthy medium chain triglycerides.  These are the type of fats that female athletes should be consuming.  And it’s probably the case that just based up a little bit of nutrition that you shared with me which basically didn’t include any fat at all that this athlete is low on fat intake.  And this kind of leads into the next issue that’s really a problem in female athletes especially.  And that’s this hormone called pregnenolone.  And pregnenolone is something that’s used in the production of progesterone in female athletes or in females in general.  But a pregnenolone is incredibly important because if you have a prolong deficiency in pregnenolone, you’re going to eventually lose your ability to produce proper amounts of cortisols specifically glucocorticoid steroids and mineral corticoids.  And whereas a lot of acute stress is going to increase your cortisol levels and lead to this type of water retention that I talked about and that kind of quick weight gain, there are important components of cortisol.  And actually having proper levels of cortisol like the right levels that are reached when you wake up in the morning and light hits your eyes.  Cortisol kind of peaks there and it’s very important in terms of regulating your body’s stress levels.  Now, what cortisol does is it normalizes your blood sugar levels.  So it can temporarily increase the blood sugar levels of your body which can actually assist with your energy levels and your metabolic rate when in moderation.  Cortisol has a real anti-inflammatory response when it’s released in proper levels.  It also assists with suppressing your immune system so that you’re less likely to get sick when exposed to a lot of things.  Cortisol is a vasoconstrictor and so whereas that’s good to a certain extent to maintain blood pressure obviously at high levels, it would be bad.  It would cause high blood pressure.  But when you have adrenal fatigue and you’re not producing adequate amounts of cortisol, your blood sugar or your blood pressure really drops very low.  And that affects the effectiveness of your exercise.  And what also happens is you tend to really have a low ability to be able to handle any amounts of stress at all because we do need certain amounts of cortisol in order to be able to handle stress.  Now, I am not trying to confuse you because I realized that in my answer to the previous question I said that high cortisol levels were bad.  What we’re actually talking about are two totally opposite ends of the spectrum.  A brief, very quick increase in cortisol levels due to an acute response to high amounts of stress that’s causing a quick and rapid weight gain and then on the other end of the spectrum we’re talking about very low levels of cortisol related to adrenal fatigue that are causing low energy levels, a low metabolism, thrown off blood sugar levels and eventually a gain in weight due to a hormonal imbalance.  So, we’re talking about a long steady slow weight gain due to eventual adrenal fatigue versus a quick fast weight gain due to a quick onset of cortisol release.  Both of which are an issue.  So in this case, with this female athlete that we’re talking about who is experiencing this steady weight gain, I would look into whether or not there is overtraining going on, of course, which you already mentioned in your question.  I’ll also look into dietary issues whether they’re consuming enough fat.  What I would do is if I were coaching this athlete and I took them on the first thing that I would do is put them into a low exercise kind of very easy exercise scenario, a higher fat diet.  I would run them something through like a Bioletics testing protocol to check out their Vitamin D levels, their fatty acid levels, their amino acid levels, their ferratin levels.  And basically put them through this full spectrum of endurance athlete testing using a company like Bioletics.  And kind of push the reboot button that way.  And a lot of times that’s what it takes.  So, hope that helps with your question and gives you some insight.

Chuck says:   I’ve been reading lately on intermittent fasting and working out.  Can you explain a little bit more about this?  Who it’s good for?  Why or why not to do it?  And if there’s any reason for athletes to do it.  It seems like it would be hard to have the energy for a hard work out after not eating for long time.

Ben:                Well, I kind of briefly hit on intermittent fasting.  But intermittent fasting is just a pattern of eating that alternates between periods of fasting or only consuming water and non-fasting or eating regularly.  Alternate day fasting is one popular form of intermittent fasting which is like forty-eight hours of a twenty-four hour fast followed by a twenty-four hour non-fast.  However, you could also do intermittent fasting using the method that I mentioned earlier where you just don’t eat for a little while before you go to bed at night and then you get up in the morning.  Preferably do an exercise session especially if you’re trying to lose weight.  And then you have breakfast to move on with your day.  Now, the alternate day fasting can be really tough on athletes who are exercising on a daily basis, who are exercising consistently.  The reason for that is that on the days in which you have the twenty-four hour fast, exercise gets really tough.  Whereas with the intermittent fasting it tends to be a lot easier because you do have a chance to bring your energy levels back up with the energy that you’re taking in from food during the day.  So an intermittent fasting protocol that involves just going long periods of time without food.  But most of that period of time is spent while you’re asleep at night can actually be really good at teaching your body how to burn fat more efficiently.  And it’s something that I personally use to lose body fat before I go out and do something like a triathlon.  When I want to lose weight I use this especially I use it frequently like coming off the holidays where I gain some weight.  Intermittent fasting can work out really well.  The study that they did that appeared in the New York times was a study in which they were giving people a ton of high calorie food and what they found was that using this protocol where they get up in the morning without eating anything and do one hour of exercise that actually helped tremendously even with people eating this high calorie diet in a stabilizing weight.  So there’s definitely something to be said for intermittent fasting from a weight control perspective and also from a health perspective in terms of teaching your body how to burn fatty acids more efficiently.  And we kind of touched on that in my response to the second question today about stabilizing your blood glucose levels.  So, a lot of the people that I work with in coaching and consulting, I have them doing some brief periods of intermittent fasting.  And we’ll even sometimes throw in just a week of doing it frequently and then go three weeks where we don’t do very much at all.  And then do another week of doing if frequently.  And typically the week where we do it frequently is kind of like the easier rest week.  So, a lot of ways to work it in and we just kind of scratched the surface.  But it is something that I do recommend looking into.  Alright!

Jen asks:        I recently started on low dose birth control.  I feel like my performance has decreased and I am just not as strong.  I am unable to push myself as hard as I used to.  I’ve also gained five pounds.  Is there any research on whether this increased hormone level could be the cause of decreased performance in females and if so, is there anything that I could do about it?

Ben:                Well, in terms of birth control and athletic performance, there have been a few studies done.  And of the few studies that have been done, women who are using an oral contraceptive like a birth control pill have shown a slight reduction in muscle endurance specifically in their VO2 max and in their grip strength.  This may not be what you’re feeling because these are only small reductions and possibly not enough to really make you feel like the birth control pill is affecting you significantly during your exercise sessions.  Now, the flip side to that is a lot of women kind of like what happens when they take an oral contraceptive because you don’t get a lot of the premenstrual symptoms and a lot of like the dysmenorrhea and the cramping and the pain that can come on during exercise.  And so, a lot of women will use something like a birth control pill to just cover up that stuff during exercise.  If you go back, if you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com  and you do a search for birth control pill, you’re going to find that I’ve talked about some of the health issues and some of the estrogen-progesterone imbalance issues that can arise when you’re using the pill.  And whereas I would definitely recommend that you go back and listen to those because the effects of estrogen dominance can certainly inhibit your exercise performance, I would also look into a couple of other things.  For example, the fact that during a certain phase of the menstrual cycle, specifically the mid luteal phase, there is a negative effect on your exercise performance because you have elevated body temperature and increased cardiovascular strength.  And during that mid luteal phase, you’re actually seeing that there is a drop in your LH and your FSH levels.  And that drop in LH and FSH levels is also something that can happen when you’re on the birth control pill.  So, throwing the levels of your hormones often kind of simulate some of the effects of decreased exercise performance.  And specifically, decrease exercise performance in the heat that’s seen during that mid phase of the cycle.  So, that’s something to think about.  And then the other thing that I’d think about is the fact that you’re not getting a natural progesterone from that birth control pill.  It’s actually a synthetic form of progesterone.  And so your body can actually shut down its own natural progesterone formation.  And it’s very possible that you’re responding to a synthetic progesterone a lot differently than you respond to a natural progesterone.  And progesterone is, it’s a known anabolic or sports performance enhancer.  It can stimulate muscle growth.  It can stimulate improved cardiovascular performance.  But it’s possible that if you have low levels of your natural form of progesterone that you’re not feeling that you’re performing quite as well with the higher levels of synthetic progesterone versus your body’s own natural progesterone.  And that’s exactly what’s going to happen when you’re on the pill.  So, I would think about all those things.  It’s a great question.  And again, I’ve said this before but I personally really do not recommend the birth control pill because I’ve seen so many female clients come to me who are experiencing either weight gain, decreased exercise performance or both due to the synthetic hormones that they’re consuming.  So, again not to be misconstrued as medical advice just something to think about.

Monty asks:  How do you do prolozone therapy?

Ben:                Well, prolozone therapy is basically injection therapy.  And what happens is you’re actually injecting ozone gas.  And the theory is that this can help to reconstruct damaged or weakened connective tissue in and around your joints.  Now I do realize that injecting ozone gas into your joints probably sounds a little bit risky and the idea is that similar to a cortisone injection, injecting ozone gas causes localized inflammation which can cause a rush of prostaglandins and healing factors or what are called growth factors into the area and cause that area to rebuild and repair as those growth factors come in.  And there have been some studies that actually validate the pain killing effects of ozone injections.  And it’s something that a lot of have said that actually helps with pain similar to like a platelet rich plasma injection or a cortisol injection.  Now this is one of those things that will work for some people and will not work for some people.  So, in order to, you know you asked me how do you do it, you go find somebody in your area who actually does prolozone injections.  And a lot of times you’re going to be naturalpathic clinics that are going to do something like this.  And you find out what it would take for you to do that.  And it is very important that you don’t take any anti-inflammatory medications or that you not be doing something like cortisone injections when you’re getting that prolozone therapy or else you’re just going to get out of control inflammation.  But it’s something to look into.  And remember anytime that you get injection that’s going to increase inflammation, you’re going feel like crap.  Whether it’s cortisone or a prolozone injection, anytime that you’re causing any type of joint inflammation, you’re putting your body into a state where you’re not going to feel very good.  You’re going to feel kind of blah.  And you may even feel sick.  And that’s just because that’s what inflammation can do whereas acute inflammation can actually help with healing.  That’s why chronic inflammation or just going for a long time being inflamed can really damage people’s health and cause a lot of different chronic diseases.  But we’re not talking about that, we’re talking about something like a joint injection.  That’s just a quick acute inflammation.  You get a rush of growth factor through the tissue.  You get some healing that goes on and then you move on with your life.  So, great question.  Okay, next question is from Christian.

Christian says:  My wife has started training for a sprint triathlon.  When she exercises in the heat, she gets significant swelling after fifteen minutes.  The swelling is mostly in her arms, in her hands, bad enough that she gets carpal tunnel type syndrome.  She has no cardiac or other medical issues.  We eat a gluten-free low carbohydrate diet.   She tried adding salt to her water bottle without any change.  Do you have any ideas or suggestions?

Ben:                If this is not electrolyte related and it’s likely that it’s not because of how quickly it’s coming on, it maybe this phenomenon that you actually see in a lot of ultra runners who run with their arms hanging down by their side.  And what happens is that after long periods of time spent running with the arms hanging down by the side, you get this blood that collects in the hands, and in the fingers, and in the feet.  And so, the swelling in the extremities is not necessarily because they’re taking a bunch of salt.  And the salt is causing retention.  It’s simply because gravity is drawing all this fluid into the joints.  The issue is that your wife is getting this after fifteen minutes and not after running in the mountains for four hours.  So, what may be a possibility here is that there’s just a poor circulation.  Poor venus return going on.  And what I would consider is getting some of these compression garments.  Either like arm coolers that are made out of compressive spandex type thread that could help a little bit in pumping blood back up out of the arms up into the core.  You could also look into full body compression gear.  There’s a company called CEP that makes full body compression tops.  I believe Zoot also makes a full body compression top.  And you would actually wear this while you’re exercising.  Now the full body compression top may be an issue in the heat whereas the arm coolers would not be as much of an issue.  But this is something that I would try especially because this sounds like this is probably not hydration or electrolyte related.  But try out some compression garments to see if that helps with the venus return and gets rid of some of the swelling.  And if so, there you go.  Alright, final question is from Jeff.

Jeff says:        What are your top 5 can’t miss audio podcasts on any topic?

Ben:                Well, this is kind of similar to a question that I received way back in Episode #90.  And I’ll link to Episode #90 in the show notes for you.  Remember that all the episodes are transcribed.  So you can go back and listen to the audio or you can just go back and read the episode.  But in that episode I was asked about my favorite books.  And I gave a list of all the favorite books that I have and that I use on a regular basis.  So, check out Episode #90 if you want to see about that.  But as far as podcasts go, you know this is a great question because I do listen to podcasts while I’m out running and riding my bike and kind of getting things done around the house.  I listen and I learn through podcasts.  And I’m going to tell you my top 5 favorite podcasts, Jeff.  So, here they are in no particular order of importance.  So, first of all, I am an NPR junkie.  And even in college when I was driving around my car, I most of the time had NPR on rather than pop radio.  I just listen to it all the time.  Once I found that NPR did podcasts I was overjoyed because then I could start listening to the NPR podcasts.  So, I listen to This American life, that’s number 1, which is a collection of stories that are usually based around a theme.  Highly entertaining, sometimes educational, great podcast.  I do enjoy it.  The next one that I listen to is NPR’s Planet Money.  And this is a really good way to understand what’s going on in world domestic and international economics without actually having any degree in finances necessary to understand what’s being talked about.  So, NPR’s Planet Money is another one that I listen to.  And then while we’re on the NPR kit, I also listen to Talk of the Nation.  And what I do is I subscribe to NPR’s Talk of the Nation which actually usually kicks out about six or seven podcasts on a daily basis.  But each one is a story on a particular theme.  And I will just grab whichever ones are interesting.  And a lot of times that’s the way I catch up on news.  I rarely, if ever, read the news paper.  The next one would be Freakonomics radio.  And for any of you that read the book Freakonomics by Steven Levitt, you’d probably know that he puts out highly interesting spins on statistical data.  And they’re very interesting stories based off of statistics and research.  And typically just span the gamma kind of a vaudeville in terms of what type of things he talks about.  But I almost always find something very interesting in terms of what they talk about on Freakonomics.  And then the last thing, the last podcast that I subscribe to is TED Talks.  And TED talks, for those of you who don’t know what TED talks are, TED is this global conference that now occurs in multiple locations around the world several times per year.  But it brings together some of the top presentations on the face of the planet.  Stuff you’d literally used to have to pay a Harvard education fee to see.  And they bring these presenters and educators and professors and researchers and physicians in to talk about fascinating topics.  Primarily, like science, a little bit of arts and culture.  And I love to listen to these TED talks.  They’re short.  They’re fifteen to twenty minutes typically.  And especially the audio podcast for TED talks in iTunes is typically comprised of presentations that you don’t necessarily have to see to benefit from.  So, TED talks would be the last one.  So, This American life, Planet Money, Talk of the Nation, Freakonomics Radio, and TED talks would be my five can’t miss audio podcasts.  Alright folks, well, that is going to wrap it up.  Slightly shorter episode today but trust me, I have some great interviews coming down the pipeline for you that you’re really going to enjoy.  And again, if you like the podcast, go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com and while you’re there, donate a dollar.  And also grab yourself one of the Ben Greenfield Fitness t-shirts.  Remember to let me know what your craziest workout is by going to that post that I did asking what your craziest workout is and letting me know in the comment section at BenGreenfieldFitness.com.  And if you’re finding yourself short on your Ben Greenfield podcast fix, remember I write tons of articles and do a five to ten minute audio podcasts every week over at www.quickanddirtytips.com.  And I am the get fit guy over there.  So go to quickanddirtytips.com, click on Get Fit Guy and you can grab a ton of fitness based podcast that I do over there.  Where I give out work outs, exercises, the last two were about how to get rid of cellulite, where cellulite comes from and how to get rid of it.  So, I actually get asked a lot why I don’t write more articles at BenGreenfieldFitness.com and the reason is that I am spending my time writing articles every week for quickanddirtytips.com and that’s where they’re appearing.  But if you want more of that, that audio fix, go over there and grab a few of those podcast.  Listen to it.  Especially if you’re wondering where cellulite comes from and how you can get rid of it.  Alright folks, I’ll quit blabbing and I will be back next week with another episode from BenGreenfieldFitness.com.  Have a great week!

For personal nutrition, fitness or triathlon consulting, supplements, books or DVD’s from Ben Greenfield, please visit Pacific Elite Fitness at http://www.pacificfit.net


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