June 15, 2012
Introduction:In this episode, does cold thermogenesis work for fat loss? Also, metabolic typing and blood type diets, ultra-running advice, ways to recover from surgery, how to mentally deal with accidents, how to train for tough mudder, strategies to become a faster runner, all about D-aspartic acid and aromatase inhibitors, and fueling for a 17 hour Ironman.
Brock: Hello podcast listeners, Brock here again with another episode of the BenGreenfieldFitness podcast. And as always, we couldn’t do the show without him or would be a lot of dead air at least. Ben Greenfield is here. And he is laughing.
Ben: And we don’t like dead air.
Brock: No. I’d just be asking questions and then sitting for three or four minutes.
Ben: You know, my finger hurts this morning. I got it touched up. I don’t wear a wedding ring. It’s tattooed. I have my wedding ring tattooed on. It’s a monograph initial of my wife’s name, Jessica. But I got it touched up yesterday. And it’s throbbing a little bit.
Brock: That’s being stabbed with needles thousands of times per second and having ink injected in your subcutaneous areas.
Ben: I know. It’s probably one of the primary areas that really stray from leading into a super healthy lifestyle is this ink on my body. I’ve got four of them right now. And I don’t that I’ll ever get any more tattoos. But the fingers fade really quickly.
Ben: So, you’ve got to get them touched up. And it looks good. But it hurts a little bit right now. As long as it’s not like that movie Bride’s Maids. I don’t know if you saw that.
Brock: I did. Yeah.
Ben: The girl’s roommate gets a tattoo. And it’s basically like a tattoo of a Mexican drinking worm. And it’s all infected.
Ben: She calls it the traditional Mexican symbol for being wasted. Anyways though, but this show is not about getting tattoos or getting wasted.
Brock: And definitely not about getting infected.
Ben: So, let’s jump in to the news flash.
Brock: Alright. We have tons and tons of stuff to cover. So, where do you want to start?
Ben: Well first of all, I wanted to go over a few quick news flashes that I sent out on Twitter. And if you want to get these fresh right when they first come out and go check out the studies that I’m citing and read some of my thoughts on them, follow me on Twitter at Twitter.com/bengreenfield. One study that I tweeted this week was that it would be interesting to look at what effect of what’s called hypoxic swimming has on your hormone levels. And the reason that I tweeted that was there was a study that came out. It was titled The Effects of Low Intensity Resistance Exercise under Acute System Hypoxia on Hormonal Responses. So, this study was based off of that fact in the past they’ve found that when you essentially put a tourniquet above a muscle that you’re working. It’s called vascular occlusion. And you cut off blood flow to that muscle and reduce oxygen to it. It responds by actually having a greater size and strength response to lifting than it would under normal conditions. And obviously, it would just be a pain in the butt to tie tourniquets around your arms while you’re going to the weight room but some application in rehab settings. But this study took it a step further. And they tried to induce a state of hypoxy or low oxygen in the entire system by putting people in a hypoxic room that only had 13 percent oxygen.
Ben: And then they tested their response. And it turned out that there was an increase in size and strength response. And there is also a boost in testosterone and growth hormone post workout.
Brock: There was also a boost in terror.
Ben: Yeah, as they were coughing and crawling to the door. But no, I mean obviously they’re practical implications of working out in a hypoxic room or pretty much nill unless you have some money to build that special room in your house to workout.
Brock: It’s a very fancy room.
Ben: But one thing that I think can be taken from this is that one of the best ways aside from holding your breath while you lift weights which I don’t enjoy. But one way you could maybe mirror some of these hormonal effects would be just like swimming and holding your breath for a longer period of time when swimming. And there’s actually two types of sets I do when I’m swimming sometimes. One is that I will swim a normal set like swim 200 or 400 or 500 or whatever. But whereas I normally breathe every two breaths, I will swim that whole set and try to breathe every four breaths or try to breath every six breaths. And so, you’re just slightly low on oxygen the whole time. But that’s one example of hypoxic swim training. And another example is like I will swim ten times just from one end of the pool to the other without breathing each time. So, I’ll swim from one end to the other and not take any breaths. Breathe at the end for a few seconds and then turn around and go back the other way. And I have no clue if that’s boosting hormone levels or boosting testosterone or growth hormone. But it would be interesting to see something like that study and take some people. Have then do some hypoxic swimming and see what happens to the testosterone levels. So ultimately, I think that there’s a lot of value in hypoxic swimming.
Brock: Yeah. I actually used to workout with a swim instructor back in Edmonton who would end most sessions with a couple of hypoxic blanks. And I just did it dutifully out of just because she told me to. I never really understood why.
Ben: Trusting. That’s when I usually do it as long as I got a little bit of time left over at the end of a workout. There’s another study in outside magazines online website that seems to get retweeted a lot this week. And I said something about it. But basically, it was an article about whether or not all of the work that we do to minimize exercise damage by recovery like ice baths and anti-oxidants and things like that if that’s holding us back. The idea being that exercise induced inflammation is a natural part of the recovery process. When you exercise, you damage tissue. And you get an inflammatory response. And you get all these white blood cells rushing in to help the tissue heal. And you also get what’s called a hormetic response. Or response by your body that actually allows it to grow more fit, more used to the pain, more used to getting damaged. And it’s possible that by shutting down all these damage with anti-oxidants and ice baths and stuff like this that maybe we’re not teaching out bodies how to get fit enough or how to heal themselves without outside aid so to speak. It’s a good article. And I’ll link to it. And if you want to go check out the show notes, is this episode 187 Brock?
Brock: Yes, 187.
Ben: I’ll link to it, but the one caveat to this because it was retweeted a lot is that none of these studies that found that anti-oxidants may not help you, that ice baths may not help you. None of them are really done on people who are doing things like Ironman triathlons or Ultra runs. I really don’t think any of them were done on people who are even doing the level of doing a cross-fit workout a few times a week. We’re talking about folks who are not beating up their bodies all that bad. So, the take away message that I think you should think about when it comes to this is if you’re not working out very much or you’re in a state where you’re on vacation. And you’re really busy. And you can just get in three runs in a week or something like that. Or maybe you just don’t have much time to workout. And you’re like a 20-minute a day easy workout type of person. It could be that taking ice baths and anti-oxidants and all that stuff could be holding you back more than helping you but if you’re an extreme exerciser, if you’re 80 percent of the audience that listens to this show.
Brock: At least.
Ben: I would not stop focusing on recovery. The only thing that I would do based on the research that I’ve seen is a.) I wouldn’t take ibuprofen or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that shut down inflammation and b.) I wouldn’t take high doses of isolated anti-oxidants. And what I mean by that is high dose vitamin C or high dose vitamin E because there is certainly some evidence that that may do things like block your insulin sensitivity and perhaps even increase your risk of stroke. So, a better solution would be a whole food anti-oxidant, eating a good amount of vegetables and moderate amounts of fruit. And taking some type of anti-oxidant that is arranged in the different anti-oxidants out there and just not C or E. That was an interesting article that I wanted to mention that I’ll link to.
Brock: That kind of sounds like if you were just to go to great lengths for recovery when it’s necessary rather than on schedule basis. Like I worked out so now I must take my anti-oxidant and do my ice bath and blah. Wait until you actually really need it. You’ve done that key workout for the week. And then you sort of get the best of both worlds.
Ben: Yeah. You’ll find me because I’m ramping up to do a half Ironman right now. So, my weekend workouts are getting kind of tough. You’ll find me prioritizing anti-oxidants and ice baths and stuff like that on the weekends for sure. Two months ago when all I was doing was playing a tennis match on the weekend, you wouldn’t have found me doing that. So, yeah it totally depends on what you’re doing as well. And then the last article that I’ll also link to was an article in the New York Times called How Long Does It Take to Recover from a Marathon. It’s a good read. And it puts things in a good perspective. Essentially, the answer is it kind of depends. It depends on how fast you run a marathon, what kind of an athlete you are, what kind of history you have. The traditional recommendation is based off of something that Tim Noakes, an exercise physiologist who’s been on the show before says. And it’s that you basically allow yourself to recover about a day for every mile that you run.
Ben: So in a case like that like a marathon, you’d recover for 26 days after running a marathon. And that would also mean that all the inflammation would be cleared out of your body. And the soreness would be gone. And you’d be able to return to decent amounts of speed. Other studies have shown that it takes about 19 to 20 days for an inflammatory enzyme called creatine kinase to clear from your body. And there are certainly some people that are elite marathoners that have said take six to 12 months from them to really feel mentally and physically like they can run a marathon again. And you’ve got other people like Ryan Hall who’s one of the U.S’s best marathoners. And last year, he did the Boston Marathon in April. And then he did a really fast time in the Chicago Marathon in October. And the raced the Olympic qualifying marathon in January. And he made the team on that. And so, I think it depends on the marathoner. But ultimately, it’s a good article that I think any marathoner should read. And I’ll link to it in the show notes. But what I did want to mention was I was thinking about this because a couple of years ago I taught at a cycling camp down in Solvang, California. And Peter Reed who’s a multiple Ironman world champion was there. And he was talking about how he would do Ironman. And then a week later go over to Maui and do the Xterra World Championships. And Hawaiian Airlines has this award that they give out. And I think it’s a bunch of cash. But basically, they award it to the fastest combined xterra time and Hawaii Ironman time. And xterra is a tough race.
Brock: It’s a really tough race.
Ben: It’s a one mile rough water swim. It’s about a 29 kilometer bike ride but its 18 miles of Hard Core Mountain biking. And then about a 10-k trail run. And Peter Reed won that double six times. And Hawaii Ironman is obviously much more difficult that just a marathon. It’s a marathon tacked on after 112-mile bike and a 2.4 mile swim. And you look at his times. And he was going fast. Like it’s not like he was doing a 14-hour Ironman and then taking three hours to do xterra. I mean he was going fast on both of these. So, it’s one thing to look at a laboratory study that’s says here’s how much creatine kinase is in your body after x amount of days after a marathon. And this means that you shouldn’t do anything else until that creatine kinase is cleared from your body. And then you take what these elite athletes are actually doing. And the fact is, you can still go pretty dang fast even a week after running a marathon if you’ve got the right amount of training. So, it’s just something to think about. Don’t think that you necessarily have to plan to spend six months on your bike after you run a marathon. And incidentally, I’m going to run the New York Marathon.
Brock: I know. That’s going to be fun.
Ben: It’s like two weeks after Ironman Hawaii which should be interesting. Well, what do you think special announcements?
Brock: Okay. So, you’re a busy guy doing all kinds of stuff all over the place. So, where do you want to start?
Ben: Anybody in the Pacific North West this Saturday or anybody doing Ironman Coeur D’Alene this Saturday I’ll be over at Pilgrims Market in Coeur D’ Alene, Idaho teaching a seminar on exactly what to do on the final 12 weeks here leading up to Ironman Coeur D’ Alene. That’s a free clinic. And you can just show up. It’s six p.m on this Saturday, March 24th. So, there’s that going on. And then, for anybody going down to Ironman 70.3 Texas down in Galveston, it turns out I’m probably going to be down there. I’m doing some media coverage of the unveiling of the new chocolate milk for recovery campaign. Despite my personal feelings about chocolate milk and some of the issues with the commercial milk industry, I will be there most likely doing some coverage for Everyman Tri. So if you’re down in Galveston, say hi. Or stay tuned to my Twitter sphere to track me down if you want to hang out.
Brock: Bring you some unpasteurized raw milk.
Ben: Or some Almond milk. Or bring me a can of coconut. There is a free replay of my Eating for Endurance webinar that I taught over at trainingpeaks.com and we’ll put a link to that in the show notes for this episode over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com.
Brock: Yeah. It’s very nice for the Training peaks folks to post that.
Ben: Yeah. It’s totally free. Go check it out. There’s also, for you people who are looking for triathlon coaching 50 percent discount on your first month of triathlon coaching with coach Gram Turner, who was interviewed here on the BenGreenfieldFitness podcast. We did an interview on why running drills are bad for you. And you can get 50 percent off on your first month of coaching with Gram. I will put the code in the show notes. I’m not going to tell you what it is here on the podcast. You got to go grab it from the show notes. Follow the link. Gram is a fantastic coach. I highly recommend him. I endorse him. And if you’re trying to get in to the coaching game and you just want to see what it’s like, hop into a month with Gram. You get a 50 percent discount on that. So, it’s well worth it. And then speaking of coaching, for anyone out there who is a coach or who is a personal trainer or who is a nutritionist, I have started a mastermind group. We’re going to be meeting every month to talk about how to get better results from the folks that you’re coaching and you’re working with and also, how to apply a lot of the concepts that I teach on this podcast and do with my clients. So, in addition to a monthly mastermind meeting with me, there’s going to be an unlimited Q and A form that any member has access to. And a bunch of webinars that I’ll be teaching every single month on performance, fat loss, recovery, digestion, brain, sleep, sexual health, you name it. I’m giving away a bunch of free books as well as part of that program. So if you’re a coach or you’re a trainer, you’re going to want to remember this URL that I’ll tell you. It is SuperHumanCoach.com. So, go to SuperHumanCoach.com. And I’m only bringing 30 people into that mastermind group. There are currently 24 people in. So, there are six slots left for any listeners who want to hop into that. I’m trying to keep it small and personal right now. And maybe we’ll open more slots in the future. But for now, there are six slots for anybody who wants to get in. Aside from that, just be sure to head over to BenGreenfieldFitness.com, check out the articles that came out this week. One was on how to pull an all-nighter and still be healthy and how to limit the damage from an all-nighter at least.
Ben: And there’s an interview last week about what’s called the nerve interference principle. If you didn’t listen to that interview with Dr. David Fletcher, it was interesting stuff. And he talked about this chiropractic method for freeing up your nerve transmission on the spinal level. And I’ll keep folks posted because I’m looking into a local chiropractic who can use me as a guinea pig for some of these methods just to see if I feel a difference at all in my performance. So, that’s about it.
Brock: That’s all we need.
Listener Q and A:
Brock: Okay. So, this week we didn’t get any audio questions. What’s going on people?
Ben: Phones are down.
Brock: Yeah, well maybe.
Ben: Maybe we should check our line.
Brock: Yeah. People are phony on the phone.
Ben: Maybe I forgot to pay the bill on our toll free number. But what is that 877? I haven’t announced it for so long Brock. 877?
Ben: That’s it.
Ben: There you go.
Brock: But anyway, since we don’t have any audio questions, I’m going to have to read it all. So, you’re going to get sick of my voice by the end of this podcast. But here we go with the first question from Tom.
Tom says: I’ve been hearing a lot out of Jack Kruse, a neurosurgeon-gone-paleo, about cold thermo genesis for health and fat loss. I’d love to hear what your take on cold thermo genesis for general health and/or fat loss, as well as its potential use as a training/recovery tool.
Ben: Interesting. Yes, I’m familiar with this guy Jack Kruse who is a neurosurgeon who writes about how you can basically use cold exposure for getting healthier or losing weight. Now, you may or that may sound familiar to you because I actually interviewed a guy named Ray Cronise last year on this podcast. It was actually almost two years ago now. And it was about cold exposure and specifically the effect that cold exposure has on your body’s utilization of calories. So, this originally hit the main stream when Tim Ferris mentioned taking cold showers and taking cold baths and is booked for our body as a way to boost your testosterone or control your appetite or burn more calories. And if you go even further back than that, the aerospace community has for a long time been studying cold stress exposure, to see how much more food like a deployed astronaut would need for survival when you’re pushing the boundaries of altitude and temperatures are dropping rapidly. You have to figure out how much extra you need to eat to stay positive in calories so that you don’t starve. So, of course from a weight loss stand point, a guy like Ray and I’ll put a link in the show notes to where I interviewed Ray on the show. But he took that question on the opposite direction. So if you have to eat more to stay ahead of the curve when it gets cold, then the opposite must be true. That if you add cold exposure to a healthy diet and a good fitness program, that you maybe be able to boost your weight loss fairly significantly. And the whole idea behind this is that your body has to stay relatively close to 98.6 degrees, and so if you put a bowl of soup into a cold room, it can’t stay warm on its own. It needs some energy put into the system to actually generate heat and humans are the same way. At some point, your body has to do something if it’s exposed to cold to generate heat. So, it goes far beyond that as well because you start to look at things from a health and longevity perspective. And what they found is that in mice and in worms and even in a living organism like yeast, there’s really two things that basically shorten what are called your telomeres and lead to increased life span. And that’s calorie restriction which we’ve talked about before on the show. If you limit your calories, you actually can elongate your life at least theoretically according to laboratory studies in small living organisms. But the other thing in addition to caloric restriction that can increase longevity is mild cold stress. And pretty much every cell that’s been studied seems to respond to mild cold stress by increasing life span. And it’s kind of like just the same way that your muscles get stronger when you lift weight or when you expose them to a stress like a force. Your metabolic system and your cardiovascular system can respond to biological stress by growing stronger and by getting tougher. And one of those forms of biological stress that seems most effective is cold. So, this cold stress response is something that you see in just about every living organism. Now, when we go back and look at a guy like Jack Kruse who Tom asks about. I would say that most of what he says is spot on. He gets into the science pretty deep about how this actually works and what actually happens with cold exposure. I would say that the one error that he seems to make is that he says that you can only get these advantages if you’re eating a paleo diet which really isn’t true because you see this cold stress response even in something like a plant cell. And plants aren’t really eating a paleo diet.
Brock: Or maybe their eating the most paleo diet possible.
Ben: Yeah, exactly. But you look at Whimhoff, this iceman guy who you may have seen in commercials. He hiked to the base camp of Mt. Everest wearing a pair of shorts. And he goes swimming in the arctic and all these kinds of stuff. I mean the dude has done that as a vegetarian or as a vegan. And that’s when he got a lot of his really good results. And so, I don’t think that you necessarily need to be eating paleo or even necessarily eating a high fat diet to be able to get a lot of the benefits of cold stress response. Now I’ve personally ever since I interviewed Ray on the podcast two years ago, I’ve been experimenting with this a little bit with myself. Since I’ve interviewed him, I haven’t taken a warm shower. I could count on one hand the number of times I’ve taken a warm shower. I wake up every morning, I take an ice cold shower. Before I go to bed at night, I take an ice cold shower. I do ten minutes of yoga every morning, whether it’s the dead of winter in the snow or whether it’s in the summer, I do it outside. So, I would say that I actually used some of this cold adaptation to myself. For folks who want to figure out how to get into this and how to use body temperature to burn more calories or to do something like increase health or increase life span, go listen to a recent podcast that I did on my Get-Fit Guy episode where I go to the practical methods of how to use cold weather to lose weight. And I will link to that in the show notes for folks but there is an article and an audio over there. It’s a quick five to ten minute primer on how to use cold weather to lose weight. And for those of you who want to geek out on the science of this, it’s really basic. Basically, the main method is that you’ve got what is called an uncoupling protein in your mitochondria. And that’s your cellular power house where you make energy. Usually, what your body does is it makes ATP using basically what’s called a proton gradient. And the main way that cold can help you lose weight is that rather than producing ATP after you’ve gone through a period of cold exposure and it can happen in a little as two weeks. Rather than producing energy, your mitochondria begin to produce heat. And they begin to produce this very actively. And especially begin to do that quite a bit in what’s called brown adipose tissue. And so, your body essentially turns into this high heat producing machine. And so, your metabolism goes up, you begin to burn more calories naturally, your appetite decreases, you begin to be able to go longer periods of time without eating, and you also, and this is something that this Jack Kruse guy talks about quite a bit too, is you get very sensitive to a hormone called leptin and leptin is something that is really spire your fat cells and essentially helps to control your appetite and it has a lot of other really beneficial effects when it comes to health and life span and appetite control. So ultimately, what this comes down to is that if you are living your life in a very warm environment and you’re not exposing your body to changes in temperature, to any type of cold stress, you could be shorting yourself when it comes to using every method possible to get really good benefits from what you’re doing to increase your fitness and increase your health. So, go outside, exercise a little bit, expose yourself to the cold, and as far as the whole diet part of this works out, I would stay tuned to this podcast because I can guarantee that I will let people know about a little bit more practical method about how to pair up diet and cold exposure. And why you don’t need to be eating a paleo diet when you are doing this and why it can work in other situations as well. Possibly even on a high carbohydrate diet. So, just stay tuned to this podcast. And I’ll keep you informed on that stuff. It certainly something I’ve been looking at a little bit.
Brock: Cool. At the end of Tom’s question, he did ask about recovery, if it’s a good way to potentialize recovery. And I guess we could go back to that news flash that talked about using all those tricks and tools for recovery.
Brock: Like do you use it sparingly?
Ben: Yeah. From a recovery stand point, we’re talking about the acute anti-inflammatory effect rather than the chronic longetivity/fat burning effect. We’re just talking about ice baths shutting down that inflammation right after a workout. And certainly, anybody who has gone out in the heat and ridden their bike for three hours, gotten off, ran an hour like an Ironman training preparation. If you take an ice bath after something like that, the way you feel the next day after you roll out of bed is much different. It does make a stark difference. So, as far as acute exposure to cold after a tough workout, there are some definite recovery benefits as well. And there are these little things too. Like you cool down your body’s core temperature and for me because I do a lot of my workouts in the late afternoon and late evening, it helps me get to bed when I do this cold exposure post workout just because your body temperature runs a little bit lower. And you tend to sleep better when your body temperature is lower.
Brock: Great. Well, there you go Tom. So, let’s move on to the next question here that’s from Melanie.
Melanie says:I know you had an interview regarding metabolic typing, but I wanted to know how much stock you put in the details of these type of “diets”. I am a protein type and I know that is right for me, but I did the metabolic typing from the Wolcott group website and received a specific list of foods to eat and ones to avoid. Some of the ones for me to avoid are ones that are in your “eat” category 0n your super human food pyramid. For example, I’m supposed to rarely have yogurt, cabbage, berries, and completely avoid whey and broccoli. What is your opinion of the Wolcott metabolic type diet? Should I consider cross-referencing your diet and my metabolic type list and eat only what is a match? Also, along the same vein, can you quickly sum up your opinion on the Blood Type Diet?
Brock: Those are two totally different questions there.
Ben: So, metabolic typing. First of all, I’ve talked about it before on the show. And even had somebody on to talk about how it’s done. A guy named Tim Monaco came on and talked about it a little bit. And metabolic typing is basically based on the premise that your nutritional needs can be met by assessing your metabolic profile using typically like a questionnaire And then customizing your dietary protocol and your supplementation protocol accordingly. It was invented by a dentist back in the 60’s. And the dentist who basically invented what we are using nowadays for metabolic typing. His name was Dr. Kelly. And he was an interesting guy. He did things like using enemas quite a bit. He was a big fan of enemas for detox in the body specifically coffee enemas. He believed that cancer and that all cancer was due to basically the pancreas not producing enough enzymes,and basically us having a bunch of leftover meat and cheese in our digestive tract that was causing cancer.
Brock: I think I saw a movie about that guy with Anthony Hopkins and John Cusack.
Ben: I didn’t realize that there was a movie about him. But I wouldn’t be surprised.
Brock: I’ll look it up and put it in the show notes if I can find it.
Ben: With all due respect, it’s slightly cocky and so, this Wolcott formula which is basically the website where you can go and pay to become a certified metabolic typing adviser, etc. It’s kind of interesting because you can go and get a certified metabolic typing advisor to type or you can pay 39.95 on this Wolcott website to fill out this questionnaire and get a customized diet plan online. But in terms of the underlying principles behind metabolic typing, the problem is that a lot it is based on pseudo-science. And even if you look at the really basic underlying principle behind it, it’s that your autonomic nervous system is the master regulator of your metabolism and that certain foods can affect your autonomic nervous system. But the issue is that that’s a really over simplified statement that’s stated as fact on the Wolcott’s website and by this Dr. Kelly guy. But the fact is that the autonomic nervous system is part of your body’s metabolism. So, if you look at your nervous system and the basic anatomy and physiology of your nervous system, it’s split into two parts. You got your Central Nervous System and your Peripheral Nervous System. So, the autonomic nervous system which is described by this metabolic typing website as your master regulator of metabolism, that’s only one part of this Peripheral Nervous System. It’s the involuntary part. It works on your digestion, your respiration, your heart rate, your pupils, your salivation, and all these things that are outside your control. But then you’ve got the other side of your Peripheral Nervous System that is involved with all your voluntary actions like your skeletal muscle contraction, and your feel, and your touch. And basically, those two sections of your peripheral nervous system, they work in conjunctions with one another. And it’s incorrect to call your autonomic nervous system the master regulator of metabolism when there are other components of your nervous system that come into play here. But regardless, the idea is that when you look at the autonomic nervous system you’ve got a lot of people may have heard before your sympathetic nervous system and your parasympathetic nervous system. So, your sympathetic nervous system is fly or flight stress response section of your nervous system. And the parasympathetic nervous systems are rest or digest, relax. And so, when you look at metabolic typing, you’re either sympathetic dominant or you’re parasympathetic dominant or you’re somewhere in between. You’re basically like a mix. And the different metabolic types are claimed to have different nutritional needs based on whether you’re sympathetic or parasympathetic or mixed. Sometimes other terms that are used instead of parasympathetic or sympathetic are fast oxidizer or slow oxidizer. And there are some versions of the metabolic typing questionnaire. I take that’s even far and lay out a bunch of physiological components including blood typing in the scenario. But regardless of how complex the questionnaire may seem and how many different protocols there are to figure out what metabolic type you are. None of it is based in any type of science. There’s really no pure research, that solid scientific evidence that shows that when you eat according to what this questionnaire says that you are, parasympathetic or fast oxidizer or sympathetic or slow oxidizer or a mixed type that actually has any effect on your health or your performance. As simple as this is and as disheartening as it maybe to anyone who is really carefully following the diet plan that’s been spit out by a metabolic typing questionnaire or given to you by a certified metabolic typing advisor. Your energy needs and the type of foods that you eat are mostly determined by your activity levels than your energy demands. And there’s not as much magic behind this as we’d like to see. Regardless of how cool it may seem to fair out what metabolic type you are, most of it has its roots in subjective observations and a little bit of quackery thrown in. Your nutritional needs are primarily based on what you’re doing. What kind of energy demands that you’re placing up on your body? Are you super active? If so, you might need a little bit more carbohydrate in your diet. And that may vary week to week or day to day or month to month. And if you’re doing a lot of weight training and tearing your muscles quite a bit, maybe you need a little bit of extra protein in your diet. If you’re relatively sedentary and doing lots of aerobic work, your fat intake might go up. So, to me it depends on your activity levels. And most research, it’s been done on how people do in terms of weight loss and energy levels basically show that it’s dependent on your activity levels and that’s what determines how much carbs and how much protein and how much fat that you should eat. But when it comes down to the actual foods that you’re eating, what foods are going to be your protein foods and what foods are going to be your carb foods and what foods are going to be fat foods. That’s where the blood typing comes in. So, the deal with the blood typing is they put this on top of the metabolic typing to figure out based on whether you’re a protein eater, a carb eater or a mixed type eater. What foods you’re actually going to be eating. And this is all based off of blood typing. So, now we’re combining the two. And this is the second part of the question. So, the blood type diet. That’s a totally different diet that’s now been combined with the metabolic typing diet. But the whole idea behind the blood type diet is that basically there are different blood types. There are four different blood types. You’re a blood type A, B blood type, AB blood type, and your O blood type. And different foods have different amounts of what are called lectins. And those lectins are going to interact with what are called antigens in the blood. And different blood types are going to have different antigens and different responses to the lectins that are in foods based on those antigens. So, blood type O is typically eating more meat based foods. They’re considered the hunter type or paleo kind of blood type. And then you’ve got blood group A which is more agricultural, cultivator, vegetarian type of blood type. Blood type B is typically a little bit more mixed but is the blood type that’s able to do okay with dairy. And then blood type AB is again a mixed type,but there’s another whole set of foods that they’re able to tolerate and then a set of foods that they’re not able to tolerate. So, each different blood type has this list of foods that goes along with it. Unfortunately, the entire claim that there are specific lectins in food that interact with specific blood types is completely unsubstantiated by any biochemical research. And there are just a few foods that do have lectins that interact with the antigens in your blood. Lima beans are a perfect example. But it doesn’t seem to be specific to an A blood type of B blood type or an O blood type. And all of these different foods that are listed that are based off of what type of lectins that are in them. When you look at it on a biochemical perspective, there’s no evidence that these foods actually do have different effects on different blood types. So, once again this comes down to their being a really big lack of research. And there was one study that was done that many people who are proponents of the blood typing diet are going to say supports the theories of the blood typing diet. And what this study reports is that out of a bunch of different foods that were tested that there were many that were found to posses significant lectin-like activity and cause some intolerance or some allergenic reactions by specific blood cells. But the issue is that what people who site this study either don’t know or really don’t recognize is that if you look at that study, it never really found much specificity at all in terms of how an A blood type responded to a food vs. a B blood type vs. an O blood type. So, whereas while we know that certain foods can affect the response of the antigens that are circulating in your blood, it doesn’t seem to be specific to an actual blood type. And so, well there are certainly lectins in foods. And I think we should be careful eating foods that have high amounts of lectins in them for example, beans that haven’t been soaked and sprouted. It’s not going to vary from blood type to blood type. And there’s no biochemical basis for saying so. So ultimately, I think that anybody who’s following a very complex metabolic typing chart on foods to eat and foods to avoid and a blood typing chart on foods to eat and foods to avoid is probably going through more trouble than it’s worth.
Brock: It sounds like probably now that we’re actually getting into more and more into genetic typing and actually mapping your genome out. It sounds like that’s probably going to give us a lot more indication of what an individual should be eating specifically. Rather than just going with something so general as a blood type.
Ben: Yeah. And again, I’m not saying that metabolic typing or blood typing is wrong. I’m saying that there’s no research to show that you need to go out of your way to eat these incredibly complex diets of what to eat and what to avoid. So, maybe we will find that as genetic research gets more advanced that there are some really good reasons for certain people of certain ancestries and blood types and even metabolic types if that turns out to be proven by research. Maybe there is something behind it. But at this point, I’m not going to hang a chart on my fridge that tells me to avoid onions and broccoli and eat pumpkin seeds and not eat walnuts and all that stuff.
Brock: Anything that tells you not to eat walnuts is wrong unless you’re allergic to them. Alright, let’s move on to the next question from Horacio.
Horacio says:I’m about to run my first ultra running race in April, 84k Trail race in Patagonia. How fast should I run? I want to be fast but not bonk or have a cramp crisis. Last year I ran this same race but only the 42k version. I probably ran it near my anaerobic threshold or about 165-170 bpm. But for the 84k I plan to go much slower. This is my plan: I’ve been following Phil Maffetone’s advice and I’ve trained mainly trying not to go over 180-age limit (that would be about 150 bpm) currently at that level I can run at 8 min/mile pace. My plan is to run with a heart monitor and not increase 150 bpm on the race. Does this make sense?
Brock: So, his plan is to race with a heart rate monitor and to not go over 150 bpm. So, does that make sense?
Ben: Yup. Okay, I got it. So, anybody out there who wanting to do an ultra run, first of all, let me start by saying I’m not an Ultra runner. I do lots of trail running. I’ve worked with a lot of Ultra runners but I personally don’t do Ultra running. I just don’t do it. It’s not my competition. However, the very first thing that I would do and that I recommend that anyone would do if they’re going to go out and run an ultra run is you find out your maximum fat burning heart rate. And this is the heart rate at which you’re going to be able to exercise for long periods of time while relying primarily upon fat as a fuel because everybody’s bodied and if you’re five percent body fat, you’ve got 30000, 40000 calories of storage fat to burn. Exercising at you maximum fat burning efficiency comes in quite handy during something like an ultra run. Horacio mentions that he’s using the Phil Maffetone method of finding out your maximum fat burning heart rate which is what that Maffetone method is, and it’s 180 minus your age. I’ve found that you can get even closer to that by going out and doing a threshold test where you find out the heart rate at which you are working at your maximum sustainable pace of running for about 20 minutes. So, let’s say you go out and you do a really good warm up and then you run for 20 minutes at your maximum sustainable pace. So, it’s not so hard that your legs are getting rubbery or that you’re slowing down but it’s pretty much as hard as you could run. Usually, for most people it’s about what do for your 10k pace, right around there. And then you look at your heart rate that you were at during that maximum sustainable pace effort and you subtract 15 to 20 beats. And that generally gives you very close number to your maximum fat burning efficiency heart rate. And obviously, it takes a little more effort than just 180 minus your age because you got to go out and do this hard run and figure it out. But you get a little bit more accurate number. So, once you’ve found that number, add three beats to it, subtract three beats from it, and that’s going to give you a range. And that’s going to be your money zone for doing long efforts like running six hours out in the mountains. For me, I know that I can go out and run for 20 minutes and be able to maintain speed and have it really hurt. But I’ll be able to maintain speed at about 172 beats per minute the past time I tested. So, if I subtract 20 beats from that, it gives me 152. And so, if I subtract three beats from 152, I’m at 149. If I add three beats, it’s 152 to 155. So, I would be trying to keep my heart rate right around that 149 to 155 range if I were out doing a long run and wanted to be at that maximum fat burning efficiency. So, that is going to be your money zone. But understand that what you find out in a lab or in a test gets tricky when you get out in the real world. And you’ve got basically like a 30 percent rocky grade to go up in the middle of your ultra run. It is inevitable that your heart rate is going to really go up as you’re climbing that thing. And your goal is to just control it and to not charge at that hill with everything that you’ve got. But try to keep yourself as aerobic as possible. But don’t freak out if your heart rate gets out there. It just happens whether you’re doing it in a triathlon where you are trying to stay aerobic or whether you’re doing it in an ultra run where you’re trying to stay aerobic. There are scenarios where your heart rate is going to go up. It’s going to go up to the point where you’re producing a lot of lactic acid. That means you’re starting to dip into carbohydrates stores. Every time you do that, it gets that much harder to return to that aerobic point. But it’s going to happen. And just know that there are going to be at some points during an ultra run where your heart rate does go basically anaerobic. But try to keep it aerobic as much as you can like on the down hills and on the flats. And then also understand that as you get farther and farther into an event. And you’re perspiring. And you’re sweating. And you’re losing blood volume. That for any given effort, your heart rate is going to be higher just because you don’t have as much blood. So, your heart has to pump more times per minute to deliver oxygen and nutrients to your tissues, that’s called cardiac creep. That’s when as you go through an event your heart rate for any given effort gets higher and higher. And so again, know that towards the end of that event especially as you get past like in an Ironman it’s typically once you’re out in a marathon in the past eight to ten hours, that’s when you’re starting to notice that you have to pay attention to heart rate less. And just pay attention to the way that you feel a lot more because your heart rate starts to not be very accurate once that cardiac creep comes in. So, that’s my recommendation in terms of pacing is to maintain your fat burning heart rate zone or the way that you feel in your fat burning heart rate zone and understand that you may go anaerobic a few times on the hills. And you also mentioned that you’re going to try to eat 300 calories per hour if your stomach can handle that amount of gels. I can tell you right now, if I was going to be an ultra runner, I would do it the way that guys like Scott Jurek, Tim Van Orden, Brendan Brazier, and all these guys who are really good ultra marathoners but really healthy do it. And they pretty much mostly eat real food during their ultra marathons. You read a book like Born to Run and you look at the Tarahumara Indian tribe and how they’re doing chia seeds for a long run a perfect example of that, you can go buy a bunch of chia seeds and you can mix them in a big bowl with water using whisk. And essentially, what’s going to happen is that those chia seeds will start to solidify and form a gel. And about a table spoon of chia seeds is going to give you around 60 calories to give you an idea of how much of this you can eat, and you can take that gel, and you can even add a little bit of sea salt, a little bit of lemon juice or lime juice to it. Give it some flavor. And you can put that in these flasks that you carry on a belt or in your hand. And you can use that as a way to deliver a steadier source of energy like a fatty acid base source of energy into your body. There are lots of other real food energy sources that you can take in during an ultra marathon. But chia seeds are a perfect example of one that you can use. I would also, if you get a chance, go to Enduranceplanet.com and listen to the weekly ask the ultra runners segment that’s over there on that show. And then finally, if you want stuff other than chia seeds and you want to make your own energy bars, usually energy bars do pretty well for ultra running because you’re going at a slower pace. You can handle solid food. And typically, they involve you mixing a bunch of stuff like a vitamix style blender and then forming it into patties or bars. It’s super easy to make on your own. So, you’ll want like a binder and for that you can use almond butter or peanut butter or mashed avocado or whatever. And you put a little bit of sweetener in there. It can be honey or maple syrup or brown rice or whatever. And you put a little fruit in there like dates or figs or raisins or banana or whatever and some spices. And typically, you mix that all together. You can throw a little protein powder in there. You can throw some shredded coconuts in there. But basically, the sky is the limit in terms of the different flavors of energy bars that you can make. And if you just go and you Googlehomemade energy bars ultra running, there are so many recipes out there. And if I were ultra running, I would be doing energy bars, chia seeds, and having some gels just to boost the blood sugar here and there. But that’s the way I would go man. I hope that helps.
Brock: A couple of times a year, I get hired to be one of the coaches on a marathon course. And I’m out there for the entire time, for like, eight and a half hours sometimes. And I just take a little zip lock with a bunch of dates, raisins, peanut M&M’s, almonds, and that usually does really well. And what I’m doing is pretty much what you’re talking about. It’s just running slowly, sometimes a little more intensely. And then occasionally actually dropping down to a walk. And it’s amazing what you can actually eat when you’re going at that rate rather than a marathon pace or a half marathon pace.
Ben: Yeah. It’s not that the gels won’t work. It’s just that when you’re six hours into an ultra marathon, if all you’re eating is gels, you’re going to have diarrhea. And your blood sugar is going to be all out of whack and fatty acid sources and whole food sources and real foods and even just go on over to the raw foods section of whole foods market for example. And picking up some of the bars and stuff over there, most of that stuff does pretty well when you are ultra running.
Brock: Yes, awesome. So, this next question and it comes from Brian. And we’ve covered this topic a couple of times. I figured Ben, you’ve probably got some extra stuff you can throw in. But Brian, go over to the website and just do a search for cancer. You’d probably do a good job of finding that stuff.
Brian says: The reason I write you is I have a friend that is 23 years old and has just been diagnosed with a rare (for his young age) adenocarcinoma of the duodenum. He is going to have a short regiment of chemo before a very complex surgery to remove the mass that is about the size of two grapefruits. My question to you is, what are your thoughts on anything he can do nutritionally through food or supplementation that will give his body the support and healing power it needs? I realize you are not a medical doctor but respect your knowledge in the nutrition realm more than most medical doctors.
Ben: Definitely go to BenGreenfieldfitness.com and do a search for cancer if you want to hear some of my thoughts about alternatives to chemo. But to me this question is more going into what do you do going into surgery for something like removing a tumor mass and how do you bounce back more quickly in terms of supplementation or nutrients that you can put into your body going into a surgery. A few general recommendations is that any time you’re going into surgery you want to be careful with blood thinners. So if you’re doing a lot of fish oil, vitamin C is another example, Ginkgo Biloba is another example. Some people aren’t doing fish oil but are doing Krill oil, but any of these are blood thinners. And you just want to be careful with these going into surgery because even though they do have health benefits, I would be cutting them out on the week of your surgery. It’s just so that you’re not increasing your propensity to bleed during surgery. So in most cases, that’s a good general rule to follow. For any major surgeries and I would suspect that this is a major surgery that’s going to require general anesthesia. I would recommend that you also, if you’re using coffee or caffeine, that you taper that off, about a week or two before your surgery, start to get yourself where you’re able to do just fine without any coffee or caffeine in your system because interestingly a lot of people complain of post surgery headaches, and a big reason for that is just caffeine withdrawal. So, I would definitely taper off the caffeine intake. Post surgery, you’d definitely want to make sure that you not forget to prioritize your protein needs just because tissue healing and repair can temporarily increase your protein needs fairly significantly by about 50 percent, in terms of the added protein that your body will actually use as it’s repairing and recovering from something like surgery. And of course, limit anything that’s going to basically put more inflammation into your body. That would specifically like sugars and starches and stuff like that. You can give you body a little bit of step up in terms of its anti-inflammatory potential by using a lot of human turmeric extract such as that. For example, I like a supplement called phenocane as a good anti-inflammatory supplement. And then the biggest thing in terms of surgery and this has been used for a long time, it originated when British surgeons were using this back in the day to help soldiers bounce back from surgery more quickly, and that’s proteolytic enzymes. So, the way that this works is proteolytic enzymes are enzymes that break down protein. So, they work really well as a digestive supplement. But when you take them and specifically when you take them on an empty stomach, proteolytic enzymes pass through your stomach and pass through your intestinal lining and they go into your circulatory system. So once they’re systemic in your circulatory system, one of the things that they do is they break down fibrin and excess connective tissue. And they also bring nutrients and basically oxygen rich blood into areas that have inflammation in them. And they remove metabolic waste produced by inflammation and excess fibrin. So if you’ve gotten an injury or you’re recovering from a surgery, basically what happens is you can get a lot of excess fibrin around your red blood cells. And in areas where there are capillaries forming, it would normally oxygenate and nourish muscles. And a buildup of metabolic waste can be an issue when it comes to inflammation. And proteolytic enzymes basically break down that excess fibrin and essentially, allow for more clearance of inflammation and a faster healing time. So, I’m a big fan of proteolytic enzymes. There are good brands out there. Wobenzym is one example. Recovery is the one that I take. And I would certainly be using proteolytic enzymes daily, starting before your surgery and even after your surgery as well. You’re going to want to talk to your doctor about any of this stuff that I just mentioned because I’m not a doctor. I don’t know what other medications that you are taking. And I don’t want to give you medical advice per say. But what I just mentioned in terms of taking proteolytic enzymes, some anti-inflammatory supplements, avoiding vitamin E, fish oil, and stuff like that. These are all the things that I would go and talk to my doctor about before I went into a major surgery. And make sure that they are cool with it. And certainly bring that stuff to the table in terms of stuff to consider. So, I hope that’s helpful. And again, as Brock mentioned, go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com and do a search for cancer. And there is certainly some good information there in terms of some other things you can do to reduce your risk or help you when you’ve got cancer.
Brock: Good stuff. Alright. Our next question comes from Trevor.
Trevor says: I am a concerned triathlete. I have ambitions bigger then what my dreams can handle but it is unfortunate that I have had my dreams squashed again. I was watching the news and saw yet another rider hit from behind by a car. I wonder, in your experience, how does the community we are a part of deal with this? I am love the sport and it has saved my life in many ways but I am worried that my obsession of being active is now becoming a threat to my life. It really sucks to see people get hit by cars and then mentally be off your game due to the vivid images of past accidents. I have been training for about two years and the first day I got on bike, a bike rider got killed in front of me. I just wanted to hear if you had anything to say about this.
Ben: Yeah. It’s a tough situation. It’s even tougher when it’s on a bike.
Ben: And I think one reason for that is there’s this issue of control with the bike. When you’re running on the ground, a lot of times you can feel more in control than when you’re going on a bike and you’re going at higher speeds and there’s a lot more balance at play. And there are more abrupt shifts from acceleration to deceleration. And there’s just a greater amount of fear component involved with cycling especially when you’ve seen people get hurt or get killed or you yourself have been in a crash. I used to ride motorcycles a lot growing up. I had a dirt bike track in my house. And my brother and I had dirt bikes. And I got in a really bad crash when I was 15. And it was a good year before I would even touch my motorbike again. And even after that, I wasn’t so wild on the throttle. There’s like this invisible force holding me back from ever wanting to do anything fast or go off a jump or go around a hard corner again. And I certainly would imagine that if you have been in a difficult accident or seen someone killed in an accident during cycling, this effect would be magnified. Now, a very important part of this is to realize that this is your subconscious. It’s specifically your amygdala, the section of your brain that’s involved in memories of emotional experiences and imprinting these emotional experiences. This all takes place in the section of your brain called your amygdala. And your amygdala has central nuclei in it that are involved in creating fear responses. Like freezing in a response to being in a situation, having a rapid heartbeat, getting high blood pressure, breathing harder, releasing stress hormones like cortisol. All of that is basically part of conditioning in your amygdala. It’s where you form memories and it’s where the emotional and the biological response to those memories actually take place. And the amygdala is part of your subconscious. You can’t consciously control or just think yourself out of a situation like that. However, one form of therapy that specifically targets the amygdala and your emotional response affecting your biology is bio-feedback. And so, what I would do is I would look into someone in your area who is a qualified bio-feedback practitioner. And you can even just Google bio-feedback practitioner and the name of the area that you’re in to see if there is some who can work with you. And it basically involves conditioning with bio-feedback involves actually hooking yourself up to a computer that’s taking your heart rate and blood pressure and breathing response and basically training you to approach situations in a different way that doesn’t affect these responses negatively. So if I were in your situation, I’m not a psycho therapist but I would certainly recommend that you look into bio-feedback therapy. And I’ve also got a book that I would recommend that you read. And again, I’m not a neuroscientist or a psychologist or a psychiatrist. But I want to actually at least put some tools into your hands. I would read a book. It’s called Mind Wide Open. It’s was written by a guy named Steven Johnson. And Mind Wide Open goes into your brain and the neuroscience of everyday life. And one of the sections that’s in that book talks about fear and how fear works on the neuro level and the neurochemistry behind fear. And some of the ways that you might be able to practically approach affecting your emotions and specifically affecting that fear response within your amygdala. And even affecting what Johnson refers to as irrational fears. For example, if you’ve seen someone killed on a bike, it’s possible that it may be an irrational fear for you to feel that every time you go out on a bike, that you’re going to be experiencing the same thing even though it’s a realistic and justified fear. It maybe something that you can control using some of the strategies I learned from this book Mind Wind Open. So, I’ll put a link to that book in the show notes. It’s a good read for anybody that’s interested in neuroscience and the way that our brain tackles situations like this. But hopefully Trevor, that gives you some practical ways that you can go about starting to overcome the situation and get back on your bike and go have fun with things again.
Brock: Good advice. That sounds like a really interesting book actually. I’m going to check that out myself.
Ben: Yeah. I’ll throw a link in the show notes.
Brock: Cool. Well, our next question comes from Lia.
Lia says: I have signed up for my first ever event, a Tough Mudder, the inaugural Mudder in Vegas. I looked through archives on the site and didn’t see any recommendations on how to train for an event like this. I have quite a bit of time because the event is not until October 6. The suggestion on the Tough Mudder website is pretty slim, and I’d love to hear what your approach would be.
Ben: Cool. I’ve always wanted to do one of these tough mudder events. But they’ve never really had one around in Spokane. I mean there are ten to 12 miles with hills and water and ropes and walls. They’ve even got like electrical shocks and fire.
Ben: Yeah. It’s hardcore. It’s not bad. I mean there’s the little wires that hang down that give you mild electrical shocks as you’re running. It’s nothing super dangerous. It’s just that they’re stressed when they’re on the field. They light a field on fire and you run through it. But most of it really, it looks and sounds worse than it actually is. But ultimately, it’s one big cross training event. You’re doing more than triathlon because even though some running and some swimming might be involved. There are certainly other elements that go into it as well. So, you’re asking your body to do all of these different things during this event. And typically, one of the areas that most people tend to be weak in when they’re preparing for events likes these.
Brock: Just see a bunch of queues on words.
Brock: Everybody’s under trained to be electrocuted.
Ben: That one’s tough to train for. Other than just being ready and expecting it. I suppose you can use a compact electro stim device just to get used to something stimulating your muscles other than your brain. But it’s switching from aerobic to anaerobic activities that really throw a lot of peoples bodies for a loop because most people when they go to the gym or they do a workout, they’re doing their aerobic component and separating it from their anaerobic component. And so normally, you might go out and you do whatever, a four mile run at a steady-state pace. And in most cases just because it’s annoying, you’re inconvenient, or you like to zone out when you are running, you’re not stopping and climbing trees and climbing ropes and doing pushups and stuff like that. But the type of physiology that you’re going to be calling during Tough Mudder is the same type of physiology that would be involved with something like that. For example, some things that you could do, when you are going out and doing anything aerobic, try and inject stops within that aerobic activity that are anaerobic. So, you can go out and you can do something. Let say, you’ve got a three or four mile loop that you’d like to run. Well, you can give yourself a handful of exercises. Let’s say, you give yourself five exercises. Pushups, squats, lunge jumps, squat jumps, and dips. And you’re going to run for three minutes. And then on that last minute, you’re going to stop and do one of those activities. Just ride all five activities on your hand and rotate through them during your run. So, you’re essentially turning that run into like seeing those runs in parks before where there are certain fitness stations that you stop at. Well, even if you don’t have access to a loop like that, you’re self creating that loop by giving yourself these handful of exercises that you’re going to go out and do during a run. Similarly during something like a swim, you can do a steady-state swim. Like swim 1500 meters, but every 300 meters, you’re stopping, you’re getting out of the pool, and you’re doing pushups and squats. Or you’re doing pull over’s where you’re pulling yourself out of the pool. Or pull ups where you are doing pull ups from the jumping or the diving blocks at one end of the pool. So once again, that’s injecting anaerobic and strength efforts into an aerobic activity. Another thing that you can do is you can go to the Toughmudder.com website. And they have the Tough Mudder workout on there. It starts with running, and then you do basically pushups with dumbbell rows in between each push up. You do dumbbell swings. You do lunge jumps or what they call scissor kicks. You do a row. You do some side lunges. You do a lunge and twist. You do a shoulder press. You do a decline push up. You do some fast feet jumps. You do a chin up. You do a planking activity. You use some side planks. You do some explosive pushups off a bar. You finish with some squats and squat jumps. And actually, you know what I saved the workout to my computer because I was reading through it. I’m like “I’ll go do this work out sometime.” I can go and even do it today. So, I will put a link to that workout in the show notes. And you can go do that workout also just once or twice a week. And that would certainly be a good way to prep as well. So, hopefully that gives you some ideas in terms of what you can do to get ready for this Tough Mudder. And again, the website for those of you who want to work into that event is Toughmudder.com if you want to see if there’s an event in your area.
Brock: I know that there’s one in my area. But I just don’t see a reason to do it.
Ben: Yeah. I think it’s probably about the equivalent of doing close to a sprint to an Olympic distance triathlon in terms of what you’d feel at the end.
Brock: Alright. Well, let’s move on to the next question from Joe.
Joe says: I am 53 years old. In Triathlon for about 12 years now, I sprint to Ironman. I have asked this question to many and I just get a shoulder shrug. When I started Tris, I couldn’t swim, I had never biked, but was a good high school runner. I could run 51 secs for the 400m. My problem is I can’t run. I can put in a solid swim and good bike but my run is poor. Stand alone times for a 1500m swim would be 25minutes for a 40km bike 65 minutes and for a 10km run 48 minutes (non tris) I have done intervals, LT runs, hills etc, I have read all the books and have tried everything I even bought power cranks and stand alone run blocks. Why can’t I run?
Ben: If you’ve done all these things that you’re talking about, I’m not going to insult your intelligence by telling you to go do hill repeats and track workouts because it sounds like you’re doing that. So if you’ve tried all of that, then there are a few things that come to mind for me. That in people who feel like they’re doing everything right but still can’t get fast to what they want to get fast at, these are things that you may want to think about. The first would be your fascia. So, you’ve got this fascia that wraps around your muscles and your bones and your nerves and your blood vessels and it’s this connective tissue. And for various reasons, it can include not enough stretching or being injured in the past 0r even a sedentary job at work where you sit a lot during the day and try to work out during the evening, you can get what are called adhesions in your fascia. And these adhesions can result in restricted muscle movement along with pain or more soreness that you should normally have or reduced flexibility or reduced range of motion. And it maybe that you just have a lot of fascial adhesions that are limiting your range of motion and limiting your ability to stride out as you are running or to achieve the range of motion that you need to achieve when you’re running. And in a case like this, you could do mild fascial release. And that’s a body work technique that you can self inflict with a foam roller or you can have a massage therapist do and it just uses pressure on your soft tissue while applying what’s called traction to your fascia. And this softens your fascia. It can lengthen your fascia. It can break down scar tissue. It can remove adhesions. I would say just so you know how it’s supposed to feel. I would go see a massage therapist who can do mild fascia release. And if you call up a massage therapist, specifically you look for a sports massage therapist. If you call them up and ask them if they do mild fascia release and they say what’s that, go ahead and hang up and go on to the next person. You’d want somebody who knows what mild fascia release actually is. So, typically this means that you’re not going to go to your local spa. You are going to want to find somebody who works with local athletes who does some mild fascia release. And basically, find out if you’ve got some adhesions going on. The next thing I would consider is your Motor Unit Recruitment. And what I mean by that is that a Motor Unit is basically this one motor neuron and all of the muscle fibers that it contracts so, all of your muscles. Typically, you have x number of motor units and they have x number of fibers that belong to that motor unit. And when you activate that motor unit by sending a signal into your muscle from your spinal cord, all of the different muscle fibers that are innervated within that motor unit are going to contract. Well, you can actually train your body to recruit more motor units. And in some people, your number of motor units that your neuromuscular system is able to recruit can be low. And that can just be because maybe you’ve taken a few years off training at a certain point in the past. It maybe that your neuromuscular system is not supported because you’ve got a low fat diet or not enough fish oil or something like that coming into your diet. You’ve got nutrient deficiency or whatever. But Motor Unit Recruitment is one thing that can really hold you back. It would affect your cadence or your turnover when you’re running. One of my favorite ways to enhance motor unit recruitment is doing over speed repeats. So, that means like you can set up a treadmill on as fast as speed as you’re able to maintain without falling off the back of the treadmill. You hop on it, you run for 15 or 20 seconds, and then you just stop, you let yourself recover fully, and then you do it again, 15 or 20 seconds and then you stop. So, you’re not really working your cardiovascular system or your muscular system much but you’re just training yourself to have fast feet to turn over the feet quickly. Plyometrics are another example. I talked about those I think on the last show. But you can go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com and do a search for plyometrics. That’s another way to get really good Motor Unit Recruitment. So, that’s another area you may want to target that you’re not targeting. And the last thing that I’ve talked about on the show before with Dr. Tim Noakes is the central governor. And the central governor basically what that refers to is that you have this neuro control in your brain that can actually adjust the number of motor units, the number of active skeletal muscle motor units that your body calls upon when you’re exercising hard. And your central governor will kick in a lot earlier and shut down your recruitment of these motor units a lot earlier if all you do is aerobic training. And that’s one of the reasons that when I interviewed Dr. Noakes on the show, and we talked about ways that you can hack the central governor, overwrite it, and get yourself to get your brain to shut down your muscles later in terms of how far you are into fatigue. You used to do interval training. And so, if all you’re doing right now is aerobic training and it sounds like maybe that’s not the case. But I would certainly make sure that you’re not only including interval training but you’re including interval training at a pace that really takes you outside of your comfort zone and outside what you’ve done in the past and really challenges this central governor. So, that’s how I would look into it. Your fascia, your motor units, your central governor, and hopeful that gives you some ideas that maybe you haven’t tried yet.
Brock: Absolutely. I think he will be kicking some butt anytime soon. Alright, our second to the last question comes from Josh.
Josh says: In a recent podcast you mentioned natural testosterone enhancement using D-aspartic acid with an aromatase inhibitor. Could you please speak a little more in depth on this subject? Including sources, dosing, detrimental effects, and whether you cycle on and off.
Ben: Yeah. D-aspartic acid is something I’ve mentioned before as a supplement that you can take to boost your testosterone levels. So, I personally for the past couple of months have been experimenting with it. I take three grams or about a teaspoon of d-aspartic acid, basically every morning. It’s not something that you need to cycle. I take a brand called Hard Rhino. It’s a funny name. But it is essentially just like a powder. You don’t want to mix it with something because it’s got this weird taste. It’s almost like a combination of bitter or its bitter-sweet I guess. But I just mix that in the morning. I’ll drop like an effervescent electrolyte tablet in it to give a little bit of flavor and just have that with some water. But d-aspartic acid has been shown in research to be able to increase testosterone levels in healthy men. And it’s got a couple ways that it does that for you geeks out there who want to know how it works. Basically on the neurological level, d-aspartic acid when you consume it, it gets methylated by an enzyme and it becomes a different compound and the name of that compound is called NMDA or N-methyl D-aspartate. And NMDA can basically activate some excitatory receptors in your brain and essentially give you a higher level of alertness. And the other way that d-aspartic acid works is that when you get that conversion of d-aspartic acid into NMDA, the presence of NMDA in a section of your brain can increase the rate of secretion of what’s called your gonadotropin releasing hormone and also your growth hormone releasing hormone. And gonadotropin releasing hormone can cause a signal that’s released to your hypothalamus that causes release of a bunch of different hormones that are precursors to testosterone. Or it will be considered as anabolic hormones specifically growth hormone and another substance called prolactin. And also in your actual testicles, d-aspartic acid can cause an increase in testosterone synthesis. It actually up regulates the MRNA. So, it can actually cause more testosterone synthesis in the cells or what are called the leydig cells in your testicles. And so, you get this double whammy effect in your brain also in your gonads that can cause an increase in testosterone levels. And this is observed in studies at a supplement level of about three grams of d-aspartic acid a day which is about a teaspoon or so. At the same time when you increase testosterone, d-aspartic acid may also up regulate what’s called the ovarian aromatase enzyme. And that can cause increase levels of active estrogens. So if you’re taking d-aspartic acid by itself, you may risk things like man-boobs and the stuff that comes with increase estrogen consumption. So, that’s why you should always have some type of aromatase inhibitor that you use when you’re taking d-aspartic acid. One of the better aromatase inhibitors that I’ve found, and I’ll put a link to the Hard Rhino stuff that I use as well as this aromatase inhibitor, is Myomin. It’s basically like a Chinese herb based aromatase inhibitor that can keep testosterones from getting converted into estrogens. And you would just take two capsules two to three times a day. And that’s your double whammy for using a d-aspartic acid protocol to increase testosterone.
Brock: Cool. Hopefully that helps Josh out. Alright, our last question comes from Diane.
Diane says: I’m a 53 year-old woman, 120 lbs., 5 ft. 6 in. tall and am doing an Ironman for the first time this summer. I’ve done two 70.3 triathlons about 7 hours to complete, one in 2011 and one in 2010, and some sprint and Olympic distances. By my calculations I will be lucky if I finish the IM in the 17 hours, mostly because it’s a hilly course at Mt. Tremblant. My question is about nutrition during the event although I have many more questions. I anticipate taking two hours for the swim and I’ve read that it might be wise to take a gel at the half-way point during the swim. Do you think that’s necessary? Because I’ll be on the course for so long how should I manage my nutrition intake? Because I’m slow and working at a lower intensity should my total nutrition intake be the same as someone my size who finishes in 12 hours? Any information that you could provide in how many calories/carbs to take during a 17 hour event would be appreciated.
Ben: Like I mentioned in that response to that question about ultra running. When you’re going slower, you’re going to be able to eat more fats, fewer carbs, and rely on your body’s storage fat a little bit more intensively. So, something that I probably should’ve mentioned during my response to that ultra runner question and it’s something I’ll mention here. It’s that maintaining high levels of amino acids can help out quite a bit as well especially when you’re going for a 17 hour event. There’s both a mental effect in terms of the dopamine and serotonin balance in your brain. As well as shut down of your body’s propensity to cannibalize its own lean muscle mass when you’re using something like amino acids during an event like this. So, the first thing that I would do is I would consider using either a gel that has amino acids in it or using an amino acid capsule or powder like I use the master amino pattern amino acids. I would do something like ten of those rights before you start. And then because those would last about three hours, take another five every three hours during your event to keep your amino acid levels up. Because it’s going to take you about two hours to do the swim, I would actually stuff a few gels into your wet suit. And I would consider doing a gel every half hour during the swim because it really sucks to get hypoglycemic when you’re swimming. It starts to get harder to keep yourself warm. And it’s so easy. Just put some gels into your wet suit, flip over on your back, eat one every half hour and just keep going. So, I would certainly have some gels out there in the swim. I would, when you are in the transition after the swim, that’s when you take your next dose of amino acids probably. I would have some type of real food there in transition like a fat based energy bar. A couple of good ones would be a coco-chia bar, or hammer bar. And then head out on the bike. And on the bike, the only issue compared to ultra running, sometimes it can be hard to carry too many real foods on the bike without weighing yourself down too much. But you can continue to use those coco-chia bars or those hammer bars. But I would certainly try and use a gel that has amino acids in it like GuRoctane would be one example of a gel that has amino acids in it. That’ll help out quite a bit for those super long efforts. At your size, 112 pounds and 5’6, going a little bit slower and you’ll be able to rely on your body fat because you’re going a little bit slower. I would just do about two gels an hour. Or you can even just do a gel on a half hour and solid bar at the end of each hour so you get right around 200 calories. And you can just keep that up during the entire event. You can continue to do gels and some of those types of bars. While you are out there on the run, continue to keep amino acids coming into your body every five hours or so. And ultimately, 17 hours is a long day and you don’t need to be taking in the 350 to 450 calories per hour that somebody like Chrissie Wellington is taking in on a bike because she’s just like literally at above threshold. In many cases, maximum carb burning capacity because you’re going slower, you don’t need to shove that many calories down the hatch but right around that range of 200 calories per hour including some amino acids using a solid food that’s got a little bit of fat in it like the coco-chia bar, the hammer bar, or something like that. So, that’s what I would do. That only scratches the surface. I literally do an hour long phone consultations to talk to them about their specific Ironman nutrition plan. I mean, if you want to get into more detail, you can have me do a consultation with you. But those are just some of the basics that I think about. And of course, drink water when you’re thirsty. And that’ll make sure that you stay hydrated.
Brock: There you go Diane. And I have to say I’m jealous of you doing Mt. Tremblant. I wanted to sign up for that one but I waited too long. And it sold out on me. So, have fun on my behalf as well please.
Ben: Yeah. It’s an awesome event. That’ll be cool. So, yeah the best of luck Diane. And everything that we talked about in the show today we’ll definitely link to in the show notes for episode number 187 over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com. Remember that we will also put a link to the free replay of my eating for endurance webinar the link to SuperHumanCoach.com for you coaches and trainers out there and also a link to a 50 percent discount on your first month of triathlon coaching if you want to have Coach Gram Turner work with you. And be sure to leave the show a ranking or a rating in iTunes. You can also leave a quick donation over at on the BenGreenfieldFitness.com site to support the show. And I think that about wraps it up.
Brock: That’s a lot of good stuff right there.
Ben: Alright, cool. Well, until next time this is Ben and Brock from BenGreenfieldFitness.com signing out.
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