May 2, 2012
Introduction: In this podcast, what makes women gain weight as they get older and what to do about it? Also, do recovery boots work, swish and spit carbohydrates, how does cold affect calories burnt, opposing muscle strength ratios, coffee and dark circles under your eyes, reversing the damage from frostbite, decreasing drive, matcha tea, do veggies make you more attractive, and a good half marathon race strategy.
Brock: Welcome everybody to another episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast. I am Brock and I am sitting here on a Skype as usual with Ben Greenfield, don’t you know?
Ben: You’re actually sitting in a chair, right?
Brock: You’re saying I’m sitting on a chair?
Ben: You are not on the Skype.
Brock: Ah yes, I see. You’re so precise.
Ben: It sounds kind of funny.
Brock: It sounds a little uncomfortable actually.
Ben: It does. I’m getting ready to get on a wildfire actually.
Brock: Oh awesome!
Ben: Heading down there and literally wrapping this up on the plains so, going down to do the big triathlon in the California wilderness.
Brock: So jealous.
Ben: Yeah, with a quick stop off after we record to tear down my wife’s bicycle because she doesn’t really know how to take all the pieces off and put them into a box. So I’m going to teach her how to fish.
Brock: I don’t know how to do that either. Maybe you should video tape it and teach us all.
Ben: Maybe I will, we’ll see.
Brock: You can do one of those montages like in 80’s movies.
Ben: And my wife will appreciate it because that means she’d be holding the video camera rather than me showing her what to do. I’m sure not something she relishes so it’s kind of like fixing a car.
Brock: Okay! Twitter.com/BenGreenfield is always the place to find the little snippets and also to have little conversations with you too but this week has some pretty interesting stuff. What do you want to highlight?
Ben: How about three things. The first is that I think some time last year, I was talking on this podcast and I think I also put it on Twitter about how a study came out that showed that you don’t have to lift heavy weights to actually build muscle, that you can lift a high rep, low weights like up around 30 repetitions and you can still tone your body and put on muscle and you don’t have to go and bench press 400 pounds and the same group that did that study just came out with another study in which it was fairly similar but basically they just verified the result that as long as you’re lifting to failure and this is what they did in the study. They wanted you to lift with 80% of their one-rep max to failure and one group lifted 30% of their one-rep max to failure and both groups experienced similar muscle fiber adaptations in terms of muscle growth and what’s called Hypertrophy. I think that this is good news for people who maybe don’t want to or don’t like to lift heavy or maybe have an issue with their joints bothering them when they lift heavy and so the other issue though that you need to be aware of with a study like this is that strength is always going to be stimulated to a far greater extent when you are lifting with heavy weights, 80%, 90% of your one-rep max. So just remember, there’s a big difference between muscle growth and muscle strength and the guys or the girls that you see in the World’s Strongest Man or Strongest Woman competition, they could snap a body builder like a twig just because body builders aren’t necessarily strong. They’ve got big muscles but there’s a difference between muscle and strength so just bear that in mind when you hear that lifting high rep-low weight. It is just as good as lifting high weight-low rep. It’s still what you want for strength.
Brock: Yeah! So if you want to bulk up, you still have to do those heavy weights but if you actually want to just get strong, that’s where the study comes in.
Ben: Exactly but I mean, for building muscle, pump and burn. Lift something until your muscles are really burning and your body pretty much knows what to do from there.
Ben: Yeah. Also, another thing I noticed was a study that looked into barefoot running and not only did the intro to the study do some pretty good outlining of the research that shows that if you look at populations who are primarily barefoot and compare them with populations who are primarily shoed, which I guess would be the opposite of barefoot.
Brock: Or shodden.
Ben: Shodden or shod, the barefoot went out with the lower injury rate. When we’re talking about foot, ankle, knee and hip injuries and the other issue part of the study and the name of the study is Running-related Injury Prevention Through Barefoot Adaptations. The other interesting thing was they took a bunch of runners and they had them increase their barefoot weight-bearing activity and they found that you actually experience changes in your feet what’s called the adaptive pattern of the medial longitudinal arch in the foot, changes. Meaning that your arch is able to deflect loading a lot better and the other thing that happens is you get improved sensory feedback from the front of your foot meaning your feel for the ground, your ability to detect little things that might injure you or fluctuations in the ground surface increases significantly as well. So when you begin to walk barefoot, stand barefoot, run barefoot whatever, your body undergoes some pretty cool changes. I’m actually in the process of writing an article for the Huffington Post about this so stay tuned but it’s a pretty comprehensive article on barefoot running and kind of like what happens to your body and also how to start barefoot running if you’ve just spent your whole life in shoes.
Brock: Cool, that’s what I did while you’re talking about that.
Ben: You took off your shoes and you went for a run?
Brock: Well, I did the first part of that yeah.
Ben: Yeah. How’s the smell?
Brock: Remarkably good actually.
Ben: That’s nice.
Brock: I’m surprised.
Ben: Yeah. It’s either incredibly disgusting that you actually like the smell of your own feet that your hygiene is that good.
Brock: I haven’t thought of that option.
Ben: The last thing that I wanted to mention was a new study that came out that suggest that contrary to what we’ve been led to believe, exercise may not actually spark your appetite later on in the day or cause you to have what’s called that compensatory effect where you’re eating more later on in the day which is what a lot of people say. There’s an article in the New York Times last year about whether or not exercise makes you fat because you end up eating more and this study looked at several groups of people doing anything from aerobic training to resistance training to combined aerobic and resistance training and across the board, they found that folks ate significantly less food when they were in an exercise program. Now I should point out that this, like many studies that look at how much food people ate, is based off of food questionnaires and food recalls which is one of the same reasons I kind of vilified the red meat study but I still think it’s interesting that there was a fairly high self-reported reduction in energy intake when folks were exercising.
Brock: I’m frowning in disbelief.
Ben: I’ll put a link in the show notes to the article, you can read it.
Brock: Yeah, I know, I do it. I believe that there is an article that I think that when somebody is asked to report on what they eat and they know what the study is about, that probably influenced their responses and their eating more than the actual exercises did, that’s my take on it anyway.
Ben: Yeah, and that’s certainly possible that the exercise component itself influence that the other interesting thing was that in the food questionnaires, they had the tendency to overestimate their protein intake and underestimate their carbohydrate intake and be almost spot-on in terms of fat intake.
Brock: Alright! As always, BenGreenfieldFitness.com has some great articles. I guess there was the most recent one about the body types.
Ben: Yes! I put out an article on kind of like the history of what’s called Samada Typing or Body Typing and it’s a good read and what inspired me to write that article was the arrival of a big box at my doorstep full of shiny new copies of my brand new book which is called Get Fit Guy’s Guide To Achieving Your Ideal Body, good for you.
Brock: Oh that sounds awesome!
Ben: Yeah. So it goes over eight different body types, gives you a questionnaire to figure out which body type you are and then gives you a special exercise and nutrition routine based on your specific body types so that you can get looking really good because if you look at Jennifer Lopez versus Rosanne, they’ve got the same body type. It’s just one has done the right things and one has not. So, I also go into that in detail in the article about which celebrities have which body types and basically the book will release on May 8th and you can already pre-order it on Amazon so I’ve got links to all that in that article about body typing.
Brock: Awesome, and so you’ve got a bunch of copies there. Is there any way to get like a copy of those like maybe with a signature of something?
Ben: There is! In the article, I’ll tell you how you could do that.
Brock: Alright, so go to the article.
Ben: Go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com and read that article. So the other thing I wanted to mention was that the few triathletes out there, the entry for the Asia Pacific Half Ironman just opened up and Brock, myself, and a group of other folks are heading over there to vacation and do the race and have a ton of fun in Thailand, so the Thailand Adventure still has slots available for people to come and we’ll put a link in the show notes. Is this episode 194 Brock?
Ben: Episode # 193 over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com.
Brock: Yeah! So we’re always bugging people to leave rankings and leave reviews and stuff in iTunes and Ben, you mentioned that somebody made a negative comment, a negative-ish comment I guess, do you want to address that at all?
Ben: Yeah. Well we’ve got over 400 reviews on iTunes and there all very positive but I’d noticed that one came through this week and suggest that the show is based on pseudoscience and is unreliable. Specifically, what was mentioned was the fact that I had a chiropractor talking about energy in the body and also that I visited a holistic dentist, so just a couple of comments. First of all, if you like the show, go leave a positive review because positive reviews in iTunes are great and they help up the show quite a bit. And then next, as far as energy in the body goes, I would highly suggest that you go read the Wikipedia entry on the autonomic nervous system and how the entire autonomic nervous system is based on energy. And then as far as holistic dentistry goes, you could go and Google whole systems dentistry, Hal Huggins for example, and look into the idea of putting biocompatible materials into the human mouth. Look at the idea of making sure that the bacterial balance of the mouth is taken care of in the same way that you would use digestive enzymes or probiotics for your stomach. And look into all the other evidence out there about how fillings and what is in that filling affects the rest of the body. I’ve been to the holistic dentist twice this week. First time for an eval, the second time to basically get my teeth cleaned and both times were extremely enjoyable experiences and they were far more aware of basically, anything from toxins to chemicals to everything else that they could put in my mouth but instead they choose to use biocompatible, very healthy, natural materials when they work with you and aside from that, it’s just like being at the regular dentist. So anyways, it just kind of bugs me that people think of alternative medicine as quackery when in fact it is typically much better for the body. So I’ll stop my rant now.
Brock: There are tons of quacks in regular Western medicine as well, it goes both ways. I mean you can be a quack and practice anything really.
Ben: And for the record, whenever folks hear me talking about stuff on this show, I look at things through three basic filters. I look at whether or not something is good short-term but has damaging long-term effects like Advil and Ibuprofen, they’ll make something feel better but they can have some pretty damaging long-term effects on your stomach, on your GI tract for example. The next thing I look at is whether or not there is unbiased research behind something that I talk about and you’ll notice that I have links to many studies when you go and check out the show notes or when I simply talk about the names of the studies here on the podcast. And then the last thing that I look at kind of like last filter. I evaluate things from a standpoint of is whether or not there is evidence that it may be very different than what my genetic ancestors were exposed to like looking at things from an ancestral health standpoint because there is quite a bit of credence to the idea that if your grandparents and your great grandparents and your great, great grandparents never had to deal with something that you are being exposed to, then your body may not do quite as good a job with it and modern industrialized wheat is a perfect example of that and you could go read Dr. William Davis’ book “Wheat Belly” to read why but those are kind of my filters that I look at things through and so, last thing I want to say before I shut up is that you may find that sometimes on like the Friday podcast that we put out, that a lot of times we do delve in to the alternative, the cutting edge, the stuff that’s kind of out there on the fringe but this is all stuff that I look into quite a bit before I release an interview on it and so for example this Friday or this Saturday actually, I’m releasing an interview on Neuroacoustics and how sound frequencies affect brain waves and yeah, maybe a lot of people think that’s woo woo science and it’s quackery but if you go read the show notes that go on with that podcast, you’ll see that it’s not and I’ve got links and I’ve got graphs and I’ve got everything else that shows that what you hear can affect your brain waves. So I’m not going to stay in the mainstream with this podcast because there are so many cool things out there that we can delve into when it comes to enhancing every aspect of human performance and health.
Brock: Yeah. There are plenty of podcasts out there that stay in the mainstream and present all that stuff so why repeat it?
Ben: Yeah. Do love all our listeners regardless.
Brock: We do but you Canadians, there’s only 27 ratings in iTunes in theCanadastore and everything’s very positive on this side. I don’t even actually, I can’t see that review that Ben was just talking about but Canadians, come on! Go review, get off your butts.
Ben: At least all of them positive.
Brock: There’s actually one three-star and one four-star and the four-star is from me, from 2010 by the way.
Brock: That was way before I was the sidekick. I should delete that.
Listener Q and A:
Brock: Okay so we’ve got tons of questions so let’s jump right in to them with gusto, shall we?
Ben: Let’s do it.
Brock: Okay, Robert.
Robert says: Good day Ben, I have a question for the podcast. I wanted to know what your thoughts are on the Recovery Pump compression boots. Also its competitor Normatec as a comparison. Their claims seem to be supported and they do what they claim to do from the literature I’ve read. Have you tried them? What would the effect of the recovery pump be when treating peroneal synovitis or other tendinopathies? Would you recommend these as a recovery modality with other traditional methods such as ice baths, NSAID’s etc.?
Ben: Yeah, I have tried both of these. Both the Recovery Pump boots and the Normatec boots and these are what some folks affectionately called the Space Legs because they’re just these huge big like pants that fell out. They also look like what you wear if you’re like playing hockey, not that I know what that looks like because I don’t live inCanadabut I hear.
Brock: I saw you in that Timex commercial.
Ben: I hear the pants are bigger. Anyways though, the whole idea behind this compression gear, a lot of anti-inflammatory post-workout methods is that when you exercise a lot, you produce a lot of metabolic waste in your muscles and the longer you exercise and the harder you exercise, the more metabolic waste is going to accumulate, the more fluids in water are going to accumulate along with that metabolic waste and that’s typically what causes pressure, swelling, in some cases post-workout soreness and so if you can somehow remove it or remove it more quickly, you could recover more quickly or the next day’s workout may feel a little bit easier. So, basically you’ve got two different components when it comes to delivering and removing waste from muscles and you have your arteries and those deliver fuel and then you have your veins and those remove everything from blood that’s had its oxygen already utilized so you got deoxygenated blood, water, carbon dioxide and basically all of these metabolic waste byproducts. They’re building up in the muscle, the tissues around the muscle. So arteries are coming in, veins are going out and arteries, they pump fuel in, they pump blood in, they pump plasma in but veins don’t have pumps. So arteries have the heart and the heart pressurizes the system and sends this stuff rhythmically pumped into the muscle where it can be used and veins take a lot of this stuff back up out and away from the muscle but veins don’t have the same type of pressure from the heart pumping stuff out of the muscle and tissues after you workout. So the idea behind using something like a gradated compression sock or compression shorts or compression tight or using like these boots, and I’ll talk about how the boots work here in a second, is that they help the veins out because the veins don’t have a heart so these are essentially acting as the heart for the veins. So the more assistance that your veins have in clearing metabolic waste, the faster you kind of have a lower discomfort after exercise. So passive compression would be using something like compression socks and compression tights that you put them on. Some folks call them affectionately “old man socks” or “old woman socks” but they increase the pressure of what’s called the interstitial spaces which is the area between the skin and the muscle and that helps to absorb a lot of this collected metabolic waste back into the veins and slightly increases the pressure so that it gets pushed back up and out of the area, that’s passive compression. Active compression is basically kind of the same concept but you add basically like this pumping action and this is what a lot of these boots and recovery legs do is they use a pneumatic compression to actually fill a boot with like air or fluid that goes up and goes down and goes up and goes down in the same way that the heart might cause pumping and so you’re essentially turning the veins into something more like an artery that are pumping metabolic waste up and out of the tissue, so it’s kind of like combining compression and a pumping action. Now the type of pumping that occurs can kind of vary. Basically, if you look at something like these recovery boots that are mentioned, you can check them out at RecoveryPump.com, we’ll put a link in the show notes, that’s just basically straight up compression pumping and then release and then pump and then release and they’re not as expensive as these other boots, the Normatec boots. The Recovery Pumps, I think they’re like anywhere from like, it’s right around a thousand, $1,200, kind of depends where you get them but the Normatec boots are usually over $4,000.
Ben: And I’ve worn both and the difference between the Recovery Pumps and the Normatec boots is the way that the pulsing actually works. There are different gradients that can be used when pulsing actually takes place in terms of the pulse can start at the distal end like down by your ankle and then gradually like propagate the pulse up the leg all the way up towards the thigh. The technology used to do that is more expensive to develop and it’s tougher to create than just like pumping the whole leg at once and then releasing it and so that’s the basic difference you’re going to get between the two is that the moment that you use like this gradient directionality in terms of its pumping action and you pay three to four thousand extra dollars for that. I’m not sure it’s worth all the extra money unless you’re dealing in like nomadic medicine with a medical condition, compromised peripheral circulation or venous insufficiency or lymphedema or some type of medical condition, if you’re just trying to recover more quickly from exercise, you may not need the fancy shmancy $4,000 boots. If you can afford them, great because that’s an awesome way to recover but otherwise like these recovery pump boots would work okay and then of course you could do. I don’t own either. I just used the 110% compression tights. I’ll often fill those with ice. I do icy hot contrast or like ice soaks, cold soaks in the river or cold baths and for me, that provides enough kind of natural pumping action.
Brock: Actually that raises a question, could either the Recovery Pump boots or the Normatec, could you put some kind of cold water or a cold fluid into it?
Ben: There is a device that does that, it’s called the Game Ready and those are really cool, those are also pretty expensive but yeah, similar deal. The Game Ready is a system that circulates cold ice water through something that compresses and releases more of like a physical therapy grade device. You could buy one for yourself. They’re just spendy. It’s one of those things where if you buy one of these you better be prepared to buy your partner like a small car, gift certificate to whatever, and their favorite clothing store. So it’s cool stuff and it certainly makes recovery occur more quickly. I’d like a marathon that I coached last year and she bought the Recovery boots and was using those three or four times a week and really felt that they helped out quite a bit so I certainly wouldn’t send any of these type of boots back if I happen to get my hands on them. I just happen to really prioritize putting aside a thousand to $4,000 to buy them but yeah, they certainly can help.
Brock: Yeah, there’s definitely a price point in my life that I sort of look at. Are my results actually worthy of spending this amount of money on something I thought it’s kind of like buying the really fancy, expensive time trial bike. Is it really going to help me as a middle of a packer that much?
Ben: Yeah and then for me, it’s also the time component. It’s like for me, I can put on my compression tights, throw my ice packs in those and then just go about my day-to-day routine and with the Recovery Pumps, and you’re stuck.
Brock: You’re like stuck on a chair.
Ben: I mean yeah, I could work on my computer while I’m wearing them but it’s just that you got to get them all set up and everything and for me, part of it’s time to just kind of having the time to use them.
Brock: Cool! Let’s move on, we got lots of questions to cover.
Kathryn: I’ve read about recent research that found that squishing a mouthful of carbohydrate solution and then spitting it out rather than swallowing it was effective in providing energy for a workout. Would this be an effective way to train in a fasted state occasionally as you recommend with the negative effects of inadequate fueling? If someone that doesn’t tend to do well with food before morning workout even an easy type of recovery activity but would like some fasting workouts occasionally?
Ben: Well, these aren’t meant to be replacement for inadequate fueling per say. Basically, the studies that have been done on swishing and spitting take like a maltodextrin concoction or something that has a lot of sugar in it and you swish around your mouth while you’re riding a bike really hard while you’re running and then you spit and essentially what happens is that somehow stimulates like the reward-related regions of the brain and it activates that part of the brain that’s responsible for like reward and motor control and kind of allows you to maintain that high level of exercise that like drinking sugar or drinking carbohydrate might give you. It’s the same way that like just the taste of something salty can reverse a cramp because it really causes the brain to send an inhibitor signal to the alpha motor neuron in the muscle that causes that spasmic contraction to release. It’s kind of the same thing. If you taste something, it can literally send a message to the brain to cause something to happen on a physiological level. Incidentally, there was just a research study that came out that showed that when you taste something that’s sweet even if it’s an artificial sweetener, you can basically get like an effect on your blood glucose and insulin levels so just add it aside but yeah, when you are swishing and spitting or using this method, it does seem to offer a slight performance boost in hard efforts like hard 60-minute exercise bouts. The caveat being that the studies were done in folks who were exercising fasted so if you already have adequate fuel onboard, if you’ve eaten pre-workout, there’s no evidence that show this would actually help you but this question that you ask is about like doing a morning fasted workout like if you really didn’t want to take calories in, for any reason, let’s say you’re trying to restrict calories, you’re trying to lower your carbohydrate intake whatever with swishing and spitting off an advantage, all the evidence points to the answer being yes if this is truly like a morning workout, you haven’t eaten beforehand, you’re going hard, you’re doing like an hour and it’s like some kind of a cardio workout and this is like a sweet carbohydrate solution then yeah, the answer to the question is yes. It’s going to help you out.
Brock: So that doesn’t move you out of your fasted state then?
Ben: From a caloric standpoint, it doesn’t move you out of your fasted state. Like I mentioned from a hormonal standpoint, your body can still have an insulin release. I tweeted this week at some point, I don’t have the study in front of me but this study was done on like artificial sweeteners and how they affect the production of gastric hormones and they certainly do have an effect even when no calories are present. Really though, that type of effect would be fairly minimal especially if you’re already exercising. I want folks to be careful, I would never encourage any type of eating disorder, exercise anorexic type of activities where you’re going out, you’re exercising hard and you’re trying to completely deprive your body of calories by swishing and spitting. The reason that I’m not a fan of that is just because of kind of the risk of over-exercise, too much cortisol production of all of the issues that I talked about in the Why Exercise Is Bad for You post that I did at BenGreenfieldFitness.com but there are certainly cases where this type of strategy would come in handy. My problem is I can’t swish and spit like if I grab a sport drink and it’s in my mouth, I’m usually just going to swallow it. I don’t really have the mechanism to be able to spit out tasty things.
Brock: Cool! Next question comes from Rob.
Rob says: How many calories are you really burning when it’s ten degrees out?
Brock: I’m guessing that’s Fahrenheit.
Rob: If I run 13 miles and my little Garmin says I’ve burnt 1,300 calories, how much does the cold, and my body dealing with the cold, add to the equation?
Ben: Well, you have to be shivering to burn extra calories and that’s kind of the deal. They’ve done studies on cyclists specifically like there was one study where they had cyclists ride a bike for 90 minutes in negative ten, that was in Celsius and then zero degrees Celsius then ten degrees Celsius and then 20 degrees Celsius and in the colder temperatures, there was what’s called a higher respiratory exchange ratio. Meaning that there is actually a shift towards increased carbohydrate utilization for fuel when exercising in the cold and a slight drop in fat oxidation and the only mechanism that I can think of for something like that would be preservation of endogenous fat stores as an insulatory mechanism so that you don’t actually burn up what you’re actually going to need to stay warm with later on so your body’s taking what’s immediately available, carbohydrate.
Brock: You’re not eating your coat, so to speak.
Ben: You’re not eating your coat, exactly. So as far as actual number of calories burned similar between all the groups as far as the actual amount of calories burned during that 90-minute exercise session, another similar study on cyclists where they rode and this one was at four degrees, ten degrees, 20 degrees and 30 degrees, there was a longer time to exhaustion noted in the colder temperatures which you would kind of expect because you’re not overheating quite as easily but again, no change in caloric expenditure and that is because you have to be shivering to burn extra calories and if you’re exercising, exercise replaces what shivering is accomplishing and you can burn. If you go take an ice bath for 60 minutes, and this is something that’s kind of popular right now I know, especially among the Paleo or primal crowd, the whole idea of cold thermogenesis and ice packing, to do things like increase leptin sensitivity or lower levels of CRP inflammatory protein markers, they’ll go do like a 60-minute ice bath and shiver like heck while packed in ice for an hour and yeah, you could burn 1,500, 2,000 calories just sitting there in ice.
Brock: I’d rather go for a run.
Ben: Yeah, and the less moderate amounts of shivering, low amounts of shivering like you might experience while you are whatever, sitting around your house and your house is 55 degrees maybe because you don’t have the heater on, you can burn 400, 500 calories an hour just sitting around as you shiver and try to stay warm but ultimately, if you’re exercising, that’s taking over the shivering mechanism. You’re not going to burn extra calories although there may be a shift in utilization of energy towards carbohydrate from fat. The other thing that probably will happen though when you’re exercising in the cold and this has certainly been shown to be the fact like in cold water swimmers is a shift in brown fat formation which is actually pretty cool because brown fat can take calories and use calories to generate heat and so you can actually kind of increase your metabolic rate by frequent exposure to the cold using that method and there are a lot of other advantages of cold exposure like we talked about with Ray Cronise and Tim Ferriss when we had them on the show about a year and a half ago in terms of the brown fat formation, the improvement of a lot of the hormones like appetite control hormones and anti-inflammatory compounds and things of that nature. So I got to say, I’ve been out in the Spokane river which is right now at about, I think right around like 42, 43 degrees Fahrenheit and I’ve been doing about ten to 15-minute soaks out usually after a workout and just kind of going in out to my neck and just standing and it feels great and I also would say that there’s a definite drop in appetite after that, meaning that I’m not as hungry. Usually I’m doing it in the afternoon, I’m not as hungry and I also get tired earlier and sleep better. So some cool things going on with that but as far as extra calories, if you’re exercising in the cold, unless you’re shivering at the same time as you’re exercising, you’re not going to burn extra calories.
Brock: Awesome! Alright, our next question comes from Anton.
Anton: I was wondering if there was ever a study done about inter-relationships about the amount of weight opposing muscle groups can lift. What I mean by that is if I can bench press 225 pounds ten times, should my shoulders be strong enough to handle say lateral raises with 25 pounds ten times or shoulder presses with 130 pounds ten times so on and so forth or be able to do ten perfect form underhand pull-ups, body weight of 210 and that would be equal to curling say 110 pounds ten times?
Ben: Not necessarily research per say on the type of strength ratios that you’re talking about but when you look at muscles, there’s certainly what’s called like an agonist-antagonist effect like the quadriceps and hamstrings are agonists-antagonists muscles or the triceps and the biceps for example. And there are certainly certain strength ratios that may be ideal for optimizing performance or optimizing injury prevention. It’s really tough to quantify because it’s going to vary a lot based on everything, from your gender to your bone length to the type of activity that you’re doing from the body’s position when it’s being tested in terms of the type of curls versus the type of tricep extension and so there are rough guidelines. For example in my essentials of strength conditioning manual, there are some kind of rough guidelines in terms of ratios and I mean just if like folks are curious like the ankle meaning that your calves like when you do like a calf raise, those should be about three times stronger than the muscles in front of your legs like if you would do like, there’s not really many machines in the gym that do this movement but like a toe raise up towards your shin, your calves should be basically three times as strong as the muscles in the front of your legs, so that’s one example. Your quadriceps, in terms of their relation to your hamstrings, should be about three to two so like what that comes out to, about 30% stronger than your hamstrings in terms of the front of the legs versus the back of the legs. Your butt versus your hip flexors like your hip extensors versus your hip flexors, that’s supposed to be a one-to-one ratio, to be approximately ideal. So your hip extensors are like your glutes and your hamstrings that provide the drive if you’re pushing off the ground and your hip flexors would bring your knees to your chest that would be like one-to-one. Shoulder internal rotation to external rotation. Your internal rotators, the muscles that internally rotate your shoulder like in towards your chest, those should be stronger than your external rotators and again, that ratio, somewhere to the quadriceps-hamstring ratio is about a three-to-two ratio for approximate idealness. Shoulder flexion like bringing your arm up in front of your body like if you’re going to punch versus shoulder extension like bringing your arm back behind you like if you’re doing like a tricep kickback or something like that, the extension versus the flexion, the extension backwards versus the flexion forwards, it should be again, about a three-to-two ratio. Biceps versus triceps is technically supposed to be one-to-one, so elbows are supposed to be just as strong in flexing as they are in extending, same goes for the back. Back flexion versus back extension should be roughly equal. So, in terms of like how this practically manifests like, and again, it’s so tough just because the mode of the activity but let’s say you’re going to hold a plate to your chest and do some type of a set up or a crunch, you should be able to do that same weight doing like a low back extension at the gym. Let’s say you’re going to like curl a certain weight say like using like the cable machine at the gym, you should be able to do tricep extension with that same weight. You should be able to do, have your weight with leg extensions and you can with leg curls etc. but this only should be taken with a grain of salt because machine is just sort of this huge variable into the equation where the machines provide different forms of leverage based off of the position that you’re in, so like my quads are definitely stronger than my hamstrings but I can do a little bit more weight comfortably with a hamstring curl than I can with the quadriceps extension because with the quadriceps extension, as far as in my gym, I’m in a seated position which is slightly less mechanically favorable than the leg curl where I’m lying down and able to like incorporate a lot of my low back muscles and kind of push my chest down to the pad. So, it really varies but if you can find ways to test yourself that puts you in like equal positions for each of the motions, you should be able to draw some approximate ratios and well, you could go pick-up the NSCA’s Essentials of Strength Conditioning Manual if you want to kind of geek out on these ratios a little bit more.
Brock: Geeking out on ratios is what we’re all about.
Ben: Especially on Wednesday mornings, nothing better to do.
Jason says: I developed dark circles under my eyes for the first time in my life in 2004 during a time of heavy work stress and little sleep. When I was able to return to a healthier lifestyle, the dark circles persisted. Only later did I make the connection that I had also started drinking coffee during that same time period. I’ve been able to rule out caffeine as the cause by consuming sources of caffeine while abstaining from coffee and don’t experience the raccoon eyes. Many sources refer to allergies as the common source of dark circles but I have not found any sources referring to coffee as a possible allergen. Any ideas if coffee could cause an allergic reaction? If so, other than staying away from coffee, are there any other food-related or related food or beverage sources that I should also avoid?
Ben: Well yeah, I’ll answer the coffee question first I guess and then we’ll address the dark circles under the eyes which can be related to many things other than coffee.
Brock: That’s just from resting your cup on your forehead isn’t it?
Ben: Yeah, it’s from dumping the coffee on the front of your face rather than your mouth or if you eat like I eat basically like the rim of the cup like it’s always rubbing against my nose and my eyes and stuff when I’m trying to like get in and finish whatever it is I’m drinking so yeah. So as far as coffee goes, the main thing that you got to be aware of is exposure to mycotoxins and mycotoxins are just like metabolized of molds, they’re something that molds produce and they certainly can increase activity in terms of airway inflammation. There are multiple studies that have shown that allergenic sensitivity and airway inflammation can be increased when it comes to exposure to mycotoxins and since one of the issues with dark eyes can be an allergenic response to whatever, pollen, dust, pet dander etc., they can contribute to dark circles under the eyes and part of that may just be adjustment circulation that tends to cause like poor blood flow and or water retention under your eye. In terms of coffee and mycotoxins in coffee, basically the way that that works is these fungus or molds that can adhere to dried coffee beans and when they latch on to the dried coffee beans and when the coffee is ground and roast and ends up in your cup, you’re still getting a lot of these mycotoxins and there are certain forms of coffee that are going to be lower like an Arabica bean versus a Robusta bean. The Robusta beans are higher in caffeine but they also contain higher amounts of mycotoxins and that’s one thing to think about is just choosing an Arabica bean like I order my coffee whenever I get coffee from a roaster down in Moscow, Idaho and it’s like a good like basically, it’s an Arabica bean. They don’t use like chemicals and stuff for the decaf process on it and it’s just like a good, healthy coffee. You want to get coffee that’s made with something called “wet processing” versus a drying process because what beans are less likely to contain these mycotoxins than dry-processed beans. If you get beans from certain parts of the world specifically beans that are grown at higher elevations where mold is less likely to grow, that can help too. LikeCentral America, is a really good spot to get beans from. Blended coffee is like the stuff you get at a grocery store like whatever, strawberry kiwi coffee. I haven’t seen that flavor I don’t think but I’m sure it’s got cherry and blueberry.
Brock: That sounds interesting. Blueberry coffee?
Ben: Yeah! They put these chemical flavorings in them but usually when you blend coffees, you’re blending a bunch of different varieties. It’s hard to tell where the varieties came from and that can increase the propensity being higher in mycotoxins too. So that’s the issue with coffee, it’s just like get a good Arabica coffee that’s been wet processed. It’s preferably from like high in the mountains ofCentral Americaand you’ll be a little better to go than just like grabbing cold juice or whatever or the evil Starbucks. So as far as other issues with darkness under the eyes, you’re going to see it more in like African or East Indian or Latin populations anyway, just do the hyper pigmentation and darker skin tones. You can also see an increase with age because when you get older, the skin around your eyes kind of thins out and that causes the veins underneath to show. Usually you see that more with like blond Caucasian females just because it stands out a lot against the lighter skin. Lack of sleep can also allow the blood vessels underneath the eye to become more visible. Fluid retention, which I mentioned, can be allergy-related. It can also be caused by eating too much salt or smoking. And then even dehydration, so lack of fluid is kind of weird where both lack of fluid as well as too much fluid can both cause dark circles under the eyes. Last thing is some people just like, based on their genetics, have dark circles under their eyes and especially like people with deep set eyes like if your genetics gives you fairly deep set eyes, you may just have dark eyes naturally but to get to the meet of the question, yes. You can be allergic to coffee, choosing a coffee that’s lower in mycotoxins levels may help with that especially if you noticed a direct link between coffee and dark circles under your eyes.
Brock: I’ve noticed a link between ill-fitting goggles, swim goggles and dark circles under my eyes.
Ben: Yeah, and big bruises around my eye bones too. It’s kind of a catch22 for me because my underwater mp3 player only really seems to work very well with tight goggles, so I can have my tunes and some really ugly eyes where I can swim in boredom and look beautiful.
Brock: That’s a tough choice to make.
Ben: It is.
Brock: Okay, next question comes from Brad.
Brad: Always love the podcast and thanks for all the help you give.
Brock: Thumbs up to you Brad.
Ben: Oh, you’re welcome.
Brad: When I was in high school, I ran a winter race in zero degree wind shield and stupidly didn’t wear gloves. I’m pretty sure that what I had what I now know to be second degree frostbite but never saw a doctor but now, ten years later, I still get tear inducing-painful cold hands very easily and have to wear gloves pretty much all times outdoors except for the summer months. I’ve looked for alternative explanations and my symptoms don’t seem to match up with Raynaud’s. Is this normal for a post-frostbite victim or are there ways to reverse the effects?
Ben: Yeah, it’d definitely normal post-frostbite.
Ben: Yeah exactly. They’ve done studies like follow-up studies, long-term follow-up studies showing significantly-increased cold hypersensitivity and tinkering on this and reduced touch sensitivity and a big part of this is due to changes in vascularity in the tissue around the area that’s been affected. Specifically tendency to do, it’s called a vasospasm which is like extreme vasoconstriction, lack of blood flow to that particular area and so even like one episode of frostbite can lead to some pretty severe cold sensitization and even like pre-disposure to cold injury in the future because once your body cuts off blood flow to a specific area, it’s going to have that much more of a hard time staying warm. So yeah, I haven’t seen much evidence that that is actually reversible, that that tendency of vasospasms is reversible but if I were in your shoes, I would do something like grab like an embrocation cream which is like what cyclists or cold weather exercisers use to vasodilate an area usually to mix with essential oils and some type of a capsaicin extract which increase blood flow to an area, causes some vasodilation, same type of stuff that like body builders will sometimes use when they’re up on stage to, again, cause vasodilation. A lot of the supplements that you’re going to find interestingly is like sexual performance-enhancing supplements because those big parts of that is also vasodilation increased blood flow, those are the same type of things to look into. Biggest one would be like citrulline or arginine, both of those can significantly enhance the sexual experience if you’d take them anywhere from 60 minutes to two hours prior to sex because of the vasodilation. It may help and again, this is all just like not based on research, this is kind of just looking at what may help blood flow but they haven’t actually taken it with frostbite and like giving them arginine and seeing what happens but it’s worth a try. So those type of blood flow-increasing supplements might work a little bit. Another one, I’ve actually been using this for my heat acclamation sessions when I go into a sauna and I want to just lose sweat really fast, really increased my skin temperature super fast, is this stuff called Sweet Sweat, I think they’re at SweetSweat.com, I’ll hunt it down and put a link in the show notes for you but again, just a bunch of oils that increased the surface skin temperature, draw a bunch of blood to the surface of the skin, great if you want to lose a ton of extra fluid when you’re in the sauna or increase your skin temperature really high when you’re working out and also they have something that’s obviously going to cause vasodilation, so something else to try. So those are things that you could try, none of them based on research but you could certainly give them a go.
Brock: I know whenever I do any marathons or anything up North here like in the winter time wherein the early spring, you can smell tiger balm just everywhere that you go right before the race because people are rubbing that in. Is that the kind of thing that you mean to, like you do rub that on those hands?
Ben: Yeah, a lot of those are more like analgesics. You probably got a bunch of like chronically-injured marathoners trying to piece themselves together so that they’re not in pain there in the entire event. There are better options than like a tiger balm which is more of like what’s it called, like a mentholatum-based solution whereas a lot of these other things are more designed specifically for increased circulation which technically, in an injured area like if an area is injured, could potentially aggravate pain or increase pain. If you’ve got say like a sprain, making that area really hot and bringing a bunch of blood flow into it almost is simulating the inflammation that you’re trying to shut down but if you’re trying to heat up an area, these type of embrocation creams or something like Sweet Sweat or whatever, would actually work really well.
Brock: Okay, so you don’t recommend that I put some Sweet Sweat on my injured knee before I run my half marathon that I’m doing on Sunday then?
Ben: No, I don’t recommend that. That would be more of like a Tiger Balm, Rock Sauce, Ben-Gay that type of thing.
Brock: Okay Brad, I hope that answers your question and we move on to the next one that comes from an anonymous podcast fan. That’s what he asked to be called, he or she I guess.
Anonymous: Often you cover how to increase drive. How about the other side of the coin? Are there ways to decrease drive without negatively impacting health or fitness?
Ben: Yeah, I guess. I’ve never even considered trying to do that. Look at the monks, there are certainly some herbs that they use to help to improve their commitment to their vows of celibacy. Biggest one there is something called Chased Berry which is also called Monk’s Pepper and it’s basically used as an herb so you could get it in like an oil or an herb or capsule and Chased Berry is used a lot of times inversely in women for PMS and appears to be somewhat effective for treating PMS in women but it may actually help to reduce sexual desire in men as well and did the anonymous question asker actually indicate there male or female?
Brock: No, there’s no indication.
Ben: Yeah. So Chase Berry appears to work in both sexes really for something of that nature. So that’s one thing to look into. There are pharmaceutical compounds out there as well that are going to block the conversion of testosterone to DHT in males and basically, testosterone getting converted to DHT can be responsible for some of the issues like male pattern baldness and prostate enlargement and stuff like that but if you really take out a big gun and block the conversion of testosterone to DHT to a great enough extent and completely shut down DHT production, which is dihydrotestosterone, you could actually really decrease drive as well which is why you always want to be careful with. Like for example, I take rye pollen extract in a supplement called Prostelon to block conversion of testosterone to DHT. If I were to like overdose on that stuff, it would actually reduce drive because I wouldn’t get any DHT production but there are pharmaceutical compounds that can like really take a can into this testosterone-DHT conversion and I know that they’re out there. I personally haven’t done much research on actual pharmaceutical compounds. I think there’s one called Proscar or something like that. It does something by me. If you will go Google, pharmaceuticals decreased testosterone. I’m guessing that particular search query isn’t getting a ton of hits but you could find those specific pharmaceuticals I’m referring to that blocked conversion of testosterone to DHT. Those are the main things from like a pharmaceutical and herbal standpoint. For looking at this from like a sex addiction standpoint, you can limit your exposure to things that increase your sex drive like porn or sexually-suggestive materials. Exercise actually allows you to kind of get a little release and channel the same type of hormones that are causing sex drive into safer outlets like lifting weights and those are really the main things that I can think of. I mean obviously, this is not my area of specialty so I don’t want to pose to be the expert on this but if I were going to decrease drive, those are some of the things that I would think about. I honestly would probably start with something like Chased Berry extract or herbal extract just because that has a fairly high degree of safety and not a lot of like side effects that go along with it. That’s somewhere you could start so on the flipside, don’t go near the stuff if you want to increase drive.
Brock: But I guess when it comes right down to it, does it sound like this is going to be something you can do without having somewhat of a negative impact on your fitness, is it?
Ben: Yeah, and this kind of comes down to the idea that if you wanted to look really good and have really good health and perform really good and recover really good, if you were to simply try to increase your fertility and your attractiveness to the opposite sex and go about every natural method you could find to do so, you’d indirectly improve all of those parameters that I just mentioned vastly through the roof because you’d be increasing testosterone, you’d be increasing progesterones, slightly decreasing estrogen. You’d be improving your skin health and your hair health through a natural hormone enhancement, using vitamin D and fish oil and higher amounts of fats and cholesterol etc. so yeah. I mean, if you came at things from that standpoint, of “okay, I just want to basically improve my genetic propensity to be fertile”, you would vastly improve most health markers. So if you come at this from the opposite standpoint, I want to be less fertile, lower sex drive, decreased drive, you’re certainly going to notice some side effects when it comes to lowering testosterone and everything else.
Brock: Yeah. Well, let’s move on to the next question from Angie.
Angie says: I’m interested in knowing more about the link between hormone imbalances and fat stored in particular parts of the body. I’m currently working on the reduction of fat in general through a combination of metabolic typing, a healthy diet and exercise. However, I seem to have more fat around the back of my upper arms down to my elbow compared to other parts of my body. I wondered if there were any truth in some of the articles I’ve read regarding specific hormone imbalances causing fat to be stored in particular areas of the body? And if you can give any advice, whether from a hormonal or exercise perspective which I can incorporate into my exercise routine, heavy weight/internal training mainly. Huge thanks as always for all the amazing content you put out everyday.
Brock: Everybody’s being so thankful today, that’s nice.
Ben: I know lots of gratitude. People must’ve paid attention to the gratitude podcast we did.
Brock: Oh, maybe.
Ben: Or read that book that, I forgot the name of that book now. The Science of Being Grateful or something like that. It’s on my bed stand literally right now. Okay anyways, as far as the hormonal imbalance issue, quick answer is that no there are no studies that show a correlation between a hormonal imbalance and a specific fat deposition in particular areas. Your genetic propensity to store fat is going to influence that and it’s going to vary greatly from person to person. However, there is certainly evidence that hormonal imbalances can cause you to gain weight or deposit fat in the areas where you intend to deposit fat and especially in women as they get older, the biggest issue is estrogen dominance and estrogen dominance is something that we see more and more. If you look around and you pay attention to the fact that the average modern woman is going through puberty at about age 12 approximately, basically you compare that to a hundred years ago and it was closer to 16 years old. So going through puberty that much earlier means that you’re going through your menstrual cycle that many more times and this certainly has an effect on estrogen, so females in particular have two primary hormones that they secrete, one is estrogen and one is progesterone. So estrogen is what does everything from regulating your menstrual cycle to promoting cell division to producing your secondary female sex characteristics during puberty to all of these different things. It can lift your mood, it can lift your well-being but too much estrogen can be an issue because estrogen is a pro-growth hormone. So anytime we look at anything that is a pro-growth hormone, too much of it is going to either a) cause cancer, b) cause you to get fat or c) both. It’s the same issue with something like taking a growth hormone supplement. I’m not a big fan of those just because even though they can help you really jacked and really big really fast, it’s a pro-growth hormone so there is a pretty distinct risk of getting cancer when you’re supplementing with something like that. if you look at the other hormone that females produce, kind of the other main hormone, it’s progesterone and progesterone protects women against the growth effect of estrogen. So it works in a way, it works synergistically with estrogen in the body but it stops too much growth from happening and that just has to do with the way that the menstrual cycle actually occurs, it’s progesterone kind of balances out the effects of estrogen when it comes to kind of going through the entire cycle so progesterone is kind of the antagonist to estrogen. Now when we look at something like estrogen dominance, one of the main things is that a slight amount of that occurs naturally. So when women go through their 20’s and 30’s and then on into perimenopause, before menopause, which is typically happening during their 40-year old age range and then on into menopause which is like right around age 50 and beyond, the body has this natural decline in hormone production. It has a decline in estrogen production and it has a decline in progesterone production but the decline in progesterone production tends to be far greater than the decline in estrogen production. So as you age naturally, you get this slight increase in your pro-growth, pro-fat, pro-cancer hormone while at the same time, the hormone that’s acting as the antagonist to that is decreasing at a far greater rate.
Brock: It’s just not fair.
Ben: Yeah, it’s not.
Brock: It sucks.
Ben: Yeah, it’s not. They have to fight against naturally and a big part of that is because the menstrual cycle is what helps you to create progesterone. I mean, the formation of what’s called the corpus luteum after the egg is released, is where the primary production of progesterone takes place so especially after you go through your menopause, progesterone drops significantly. Now in women who haven’t gone through menopause and to a pre-menopausal or perimenopausal, basically there are issues that can cause estrogen dominance but usually it’s not so much from a drop in progesterone production per say as much as it is exposure to a lot of environmental estrogens, things like plastics and xenoestrogens and stuff I’ll mention more about in a second, or it’s from really increasing internal estrogen production like chloric overproduction, producing excess fat cells which can increase estrogen production, birth control pills which can increase estrogen production or even in some cases like ovarian tumors which can produce a bunch of excess estrogen. In women who have already gone through menopause, it’s more of an issue of kind of that significant drop in progesterone production, so there’s kind of two different categories. In both groups, one of the best things that you can do to decrease the propensity for you to form excess fat from estrogen dominance is to really limit the type of things that are going to cause either progesterone deficiency or too much estrogen. So some of my suggestions would be, first of all, when it comes to hormones in our diet like estrogen-like hormones in our diet, biggest place we’re going to get those is commercially-raised cattle and poultry. So the antibiotics that are given to those animals can be hormone disruptors and the growth hormones that they’re fed are estrogen-like hormones, so you would want to choose like organic grass-fed meat, free range poultry, that type of stuff. So that’s one that you really need to be careful. I mentioned that some things can be xenoestrogens or like simulate estrogenic activity in the human body and that would be basically a lot of like consumer products like I talked about in a recent article at BenGreenfieldFitness.com about like creams and lotions and soaps and shampoos and perfumes and hair sprays, you want to choose stuff that’s super low in chemicals and really natural and I put a huge list when I did that article at BenGreenfieldFitness.com about how to choose like natural cleaning compounds and natural personal care products, that’s really important if you want to avoid estrogen dominance and if especially for your woman, who’s going to turn like getting fat as you get older, you’re going to want to clean up your personal care products and I know it’s inconvenient but it’s just something that you have to do and my wife is posting the inner circle all the time about the type of stuff she’s using and her cleaning chemicals and personal care products and that’s a good place to start to.
Brock: Seems to be a lot less inconvenient than it used to be.
Brock: Like reading through the article that you posted on some of the inner circle stuff, it’s not like impossible. You don’t have to mail order stuff fromSiamanymore.
Ben: So easy. There’s so many compounds out there, you should be careful because even one’s that advertise themselves as green still can contain a lot of xenoestrogens.
Brock: Anyway, sorry to interrupt there.
Ben: Oh that’s okay, it’s a good point. Fruits and vegetables with pesticides and herbicides, those are hormone disruptors and those can definitely limit progesterone production or the formation of the corpus luteum during the menstrual cycle or they can cause estrogen dominance by being endocrine disruptor and strawberries, peppers, peaches, apples, anything where you’re going to eat the skin, bio-organic would do a really good job washing it again, especially if you’re female concerned about estrogen dominance. I mentioned like personal care products, cleaning products. You’re also going to want to be careful with like paints and varnishes and new carpet and stuff like that, any of those chemicals, bigger issue for women especially as they get older when it comes to fat formation. Hormone replacement therapy, I would not go near that stuff just because drugs like Premarin basically are giving you a bunch of estrogen without any of that opposing progesterone. So you’re basically going to vastly increase your propensity for fat formation.
Brock: And that’s what generally like women is being prescribed that are going to menopause?
Ben: Yeah, because they’re getting that drop in estrogen but those pharmaceutical hormone-replacement therapies don’t take into account progesterone, so you kind of short half of the hormone picture there. Stress is basically going to reduce progesterone output simply because we talked about the pregnant olin steel in last week’s episode and how the body will shift kind of it’s hormone production towards cortisol, when that happens, progesterone is one of the area’s that gets shorted so really focusing on getting adequate sleep and avoiding high stress situations is really important, again, especially for women who don’t want to get fat as they get older. Excess calories, fat basically have an enzyme in it that will convert steroids into estrogen. So you want to be careful with your diet and make sure that you are calorically controlling what you eat just because any amount of excess fat that you have can get converted into estrogen and so that can be a huge issue with hormonal balances and estrogen production. Liver actually is what breaks down estrogen, your liver. Taking really good care of your liver is really important. Pharmaceuticals and alcohol are the two biggest things to be really careful with and I think you should be at least on some type of a liver-resisting supplement that can be drinking cucumber juice everyday, for example, or using something like milk thistle extract or using some type of liver support formula. If you go to the page that I just created over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, it’s BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Ben-Recommends. I’ll put a link to it in the show notes but I actually have a full list there of every kind of like supplement that I recommend for women to avoid estrogen dominance. So I just put that page up literally yesterday, it’s also got my testosterone cocktail for guys and pretty much on there, it’s a pretty long page if you can imagine but how to fix your gut, all these little quick tips I go over in the podcast. Sometimes it can be tough to remember like supplements to take and what to do, so I’ll put that up and I’ll be sure I link to that from the show notes in today’s episode. Caffeine is linked to higher estrogen levels. The mechanism is not entirely clear but especially in pre-menopausal women, during the follicular phase, you tend to produce a ton more estrogen during that phase of your mental cycle if you’re eating or drinking a lot of caffeine, we’re talking like three plus cups a day, so be really careful with that. And then the other thing that’s really important for neutralizing estrogen especially in the liver is magnesium. So being on a good magnesium supplement can help out quite a bit as well when it comes to balancing out estrogen levels. So that’s kind of the skinny on hormone imbalances. I know that seems like a big laundry list of stuff to do if you don’t want to get fat as you get older but if you break it down, it’s not that bad. I mean, you avoid much coffee, alcohol and prescription medications, you clean up your environment and you’d be really careful with plastic containers and the soaps, shampoos and stuff that you use, stuff like that. You eat organic fruits and vegetables, you avoid commercially-raised meat and those are kind of the biggies.
Brock: Yeah so actually like, when it comes to our down to, if I called you for a personal consultation and just said “Hey Ben, I want to feel better” in general, these are pretty much the same suggestions you’d give to me as a 40-year old man.
Ben: Yeah. I’d tell you to kick your crack cocaine habit…
Brock: Don’t mention that.
Ben: That’s pretty much it.
Brock: Okay, so yeah, let’s move on to what Brian asked and Brian, I’m not oversimplifying this in any means, any sort of disrespect but you’ve got one sentence at the very end of your question that I think sums it all up.
Brian says: Will Matcha tea be that kick-ass metabolism boost I’m looking for?
Ben: Is Brian the guy that wrote like eight paragraphs about Matcha?
Ben: Yeah, okay. That’s a good summarization Brock. Matcha tea is basically like fine powder green tea, like finely-milled green tea.
Brock: It’s delicious.
Ben: Oh it’s awesome. If you haven’t tried it before, it’s so tasty and yeah, green tea has a lot of things going for it. So it certainly does contain caffeine. I just got done talking about how for example, high caffeine dose can potentially be a hormonal disruptor in women and there certainly is a certain extent to where you want to be careful with too much caffeine but green tea in green tea leaves in particular contain these catechins, they’re called Epigallocatechin gallates, EGCG it’s how they’re abbreviated. There’s also what are called Epicatechins and basically, these things have really cool molecular structures that allow them to do a lot of interesting things once they get absorbed in the body and they peak actually about two hours after you’ve had some Matcha or you drank some green tea. There are studies that show that there is some pretty effective cancer-fighting effects particularly against prostate cancer cells and colon cancer with the consumption of green tea or like a green tea leaf type of powder. There’s also a decrease in what’s called Hepatocellular carcinoma which is basically like liver cancer, so it may have a little bit of like a liver protective effect and it may actually introduce a higher amount of hormones due to the way that it influences steroid metabolism particularly. But this question is about whether it has that kick-ass metabolic boost. First of all, there’s definite evidence that thermogenesis is increased. You kind of get the combination of the caffeine and the EGCG that I mentioned and typically if you’re getting anywhere from about like 300-500 milligrams of a green tea as a dosage, that’s going to increase your thermic response to food and it’s going to increase your metabolism, so there’s a definite thermogenic effect. I’m not saying that’s necessarily a good thing because any time you’re increase thermogenesis and causing your body to go into hyper-drive, there’s certainly a little bit of adrenal stress that takes place as your adrenal glands pump out more adrenaline and epinephrine etc. but as a pick-me-up here and there, it certainly does have enough of a systemic effect on other areas of health to where it’s doing you better than like a red bowl or a monster energy drink when it comes to green tea and thermogenesis and steroid metabolism. Little bit of an effect on blood flow too. It can increase what’s called Endothelium-Mediated Vasodilation, so it can increase your arterial diameter. I mention like drive supplements and vasodilation. Pre-workout supplements and vasodilation are also great and green tea appears to have a pretty good effect when it comes to that too. It can improve learning and memory, anxiety and mood. Multiple studies have been done on that as well and it may actually, at least in mice, increase time to exhaustion during endurance events by increasing your ability to mobilize fatty acids, so you’ve got a greater amount of fatty acid stores that you kind of have onboard to be able to use. As far as like the calorie-blocking effects that some green tea supplements claim to have, the same green tea catechins may also inhibit the activity of like lactase and amylase and a lot of your protein digestive enzymes. The issue is that I don’t necessarily think that that’s a good thing in my case. I think that that could lead to some digestive issues farther down the tube. So if you’re going to do like Matcha tea, green tea extract, use that as a metabolic boost or use it as a workout boost or whatever. I wouldn’t really be doing it along with your meals just because of that potential to decrease the activity of digestive enzymes. I’d have it on an empty stomach, if you can. So as far as safety, anything up to about 800 hundred milligrams, has been shown to be well-tolerated without nausea.
Brock: Come again, sorry 800?
Ben: 800 so I mean, that’s a lot of green tea but again, this is one of those things where sipping on Matcha, a little bit of Matcha here and there during the day, especially as an alternative to tea, is great. Guzzling down 500-800 milligrams of the stuff, pre-workout or like pre-race or important event or something like that, also going to be fairly beneficial but just bear in mind the adrenal gland implications of that. Earlier in this podcast, I mentioned that anytime I analyze whether or not to use an aid, I evaluated it’s a long-term safety. So this is something that, in its ergogenic aid capacity, I’d be really careful with in its day-to-day use. Even small amounts are going to have a little bit of benefit and certainly if it’s convenient for you and tasty for you, this would be a good alternative to coffee even.
Brock: I’ve actually seen lately in the local bakeries and stuff, there’s a lot of like muffins and things coming out that are made with Matcha tea as well, so it’s really, actually I saw a chocolate bar the other day that was a Matcha chocolate bar.
Ben: Yeah, it’s good stuff. I’ve had the Matcha chocolate bar before actually. If you name something that’s been mixed with chocolate, I’ve probably had it.
Brock: Okay, final question comes from Adam and oh yeah, I like this question.
Adam: I was wondering if you could comment on the accuracy of this article about how Eating More Vegetables Can Make You Look Better.
Ben: Yeah. This was a study that was reported on over, I think it was a newspaper or something like that, over in Britain but basically what researchers did was they used a camera to measure the changes in people’s skin in terms of like the redness and the yellowness and what’s called the lightness of people’s skin in correlation to their intake of fruits and vegetables, specifically high carotenoid-containing fruits and vegetables so carrots and peppers and stuff like that and pretty much anything that’s got like a yellowish, reddish, orangish color and interestingly, broccoli and squash and spinach also tend to have higher amounts of these carotenoids but basically, they can affect the skin color and high polyphenol-containing foods like blue berries and cherries and stuff like that can also cause increased blood delivery to the skin’s surface and all of these stuff can make a pretty significant difference in terms of your skin appearance, the healthy glow on your face, the skin color, and what these researchers had people do was they had these folks who were eating the higher amounts of fruits and vegetables rated in terms of attractiveness and the actual dose of fruits and vegetables that they were eating and there was a definite dose response relationship between intake of fruits and vegetables like high carotenoid-containing fruits and vegetables, skin color and attractiveness. And so, the interesting thing about this is that they’ve done studies, similar studies like rate this face, kind of like in my HotOrNot.com and there is no correlation between sun tanning or booth tanning and attractiveness and this is something really interesting because the reason a lot of people tan is because they know about this thought that there is some kind of correlation between skin color and beauty and there is in particular, a really interesting study in the journal of evolution and human behavior that looked into white students rating white faces and black students rating black faces and looking at the degree of lightness and yellowness in those faces and lightness and yellowness were actually preferred or any type of darkness or tanning from the sun like actual increased pigmentation from the sun because there’s a difference if you look at someone who’s tan versus looking at someone who has high carotenoid diet. There’s a difference in the actual skin color and the person that has tan has more of a darkness than a yellowness and that may be difficult to understand over an audio medium but hopeful that makes a little bit of sense like kind of like an yellow orange type of complexion versus like kind of like a dark tan kind of complexion and the yellowish, orangish type of complexion is rated as being higher in attractiveness versus the actual tanning. So my take on this is that when you eat high amounts of fruits and vegetables, when you get a lot of carotenoid in your diet, carotenoid levels decrease basically your propensity to get sick so they’re associated with better immunal competence. When you get like HIV or sexually-transmitted diseases, it tends to reduce carotenoid levels. There are certain type of genetic diseases that tend to be propagated more easily in a low carotenoid-containing population and so when it comes down to just pure genetic like sexual selection of attractiveness, it would make sense that in someone who had a higher level of carotenoids onboard, they would look to be potentially a better mate for you in terms of the propagation of your descendants compared to someone who did not have that yellowish, orangish glow to their skin and I certainly think that the sun is great for vitamin D, for a lot of the steroidal effects the sun is going to have on you but if you’re just tanning to get that color to your skin, you’re not increasing your sexual attractiveness in the same way that you do in terms of the actual color and glow 0f your skin as you do if you eat a healthy, high carotenoid, high polyphenol-containing diet that’s dense in fruits and vegetables. So if you want to look sexy, don’t tan to do it. Eat your fruits and vegetables and understand that research has shown that the darkness you get from tanning is very different in the skin effect you get from fruits and vegetables.
Brock: That makes sense. I’m just speaking from up here, Darwinian sort of philosophy, that it makes sense.
Ben: Yeah, it does. So you can flip off your tanning bulb now Brock.
Brock: It’s keeping me warm though.
Ben: Although you were eating an apple though when we started the podcast.
Brock: I was and I’ve been sipping on my super greens drink periodically as well.
Ben: You got to keep that stuff down, you got your big half marathon this weekend.
Brock: I do. Well, it’s not any bigger than anybody else’s half marathon but it’s going to be a good time. I set my personal best at the same race last year, my PR, so I’m hoping to beat it. Actually with leads nicely, what would you do if you were me, if you were trying to make a personal best at a race, and on a half marathon?
Ben: On a half marathon?
Ben: Man, the biggest mistake most people make in a half marathon is starting slow.
Ben: If you get a good warm-up like dynamic leg swings, dynamic arm swings, a good five to ten minutes of jogging, working up a sweat, throwing some strides in there like 30-second strides where you’re producing some lactic acid and really, like arriving at the starting line warm and really like if you don’t get your heart rate like zone two, low zone three heart rate and you can start fast like you just mentioned Brock, a half marathon’s too short to start slow if you really want to PR in it.
Ben: Marathon, it’s kind of a different beast. It’s very easy to start that fast. Half marathon, if you’re looking to PR, you want a good warm-up so you can start fast and you do want like a light degree of muscle burn like working at about a seven, seven and a half, at least up to the 10k mark. So a good warm-up and then keeping it like you’re using heart rate zones like high zone 3 all the way up to about the 10k mark, assuming your half marathon training has been good and you’ve been getting in three or four runs a week and your long runs range anywhere from like twelve up to fifteen miles, then you’ll actually have the muscular endurance and the physiology to really pull the trigger at the 10k mark and really start to push and what I mean by that is that you’re sustaining like a high zone 3 up to 10k. That 10k is kind of a mental trigger. You’ve got half of the half marathon left and then you start to push, so generally out to the 5k mark, someone tells you you’ve got about 3.2 miles left, you’re kind of like pushing a zone 4 threshold type of pace, most folks, really fit people can hold that pace for 40-60 minutes so you’re fine for 18-22 minutes or whatever from the 10k point to push all the way up to about 5k left. At 5k, look at it as only having two miles left to run because that last mile will be all adrenaline basically.
Ben: So then you really start to push like once you get past that 5k mark, those next two miles are fairly high pain cavish, high zone four-ish, you’re several beats above your lactate threshold and really turning out a lot of lactic acid. And then the last mile is pretty much all out and if you do things right, it should be your fastest mile of the day and that’s just literally, you’re not looking at your heart rate monitor as much as just like holding on for dear life and kind of making bargains with yourself to get to the next telephone pole or get to the next stop sign or whatever and really, that’s a solid half marathon to do it like that. You’re not going to want to eat much during that last 10k. Usually, if you eat two or three hours beforehand and you do a good warm-up and you have a gel just before you start, if you have one more gel like around the 10k mark, you’re good to go.
Brock: Oh, really.
Ben: Usually what I’ll do is I’ll have the gel right beforehand, have the gel to 10k and then like have another gel kind of available to you so you can kind of assess so right before that kick at the 5k, you can assess whether or not you really want to push hard and if you do and you’re not feeling all that great, you can try to get the gel in but you always have that risk that you’re just going to be running so hard at that point, it may kind of come back up on you. So if you’ve got another workout later on in the day or a hard workout the next day, you want to take in closer to like four gels or so during something mike a half marathon if it’s at the end of a half Ironman, similar scenario but I mean, if it’s just a solo stand alone half marathon, you don’t really have anything to live for after you cross the finish line. There’s no need to really focus much on eating during an event like that.
Brock: Should I get some roctane like the amino acids worthwhile in that sort of situation?
Ben: Always! Whenever you have the choice of using a gel that has amino acids versus not, use the amino acids.
Brock: So even for like a 10k?
Ben: Because you’re not using them as a fuel source, you’re using them as basically a message to your brain to reduce its rating of perceived exertion based off of the idea that you have extra fuel onboard, extra protein-based fuel onboard so muscle cannibalization is not a threat. That’s kind of the idea behind.
Brock: Gotcha, okay.
Ben: I’ve been using gels that has amino acids in it and then, as far as the conversation with Stacy Sims goes and how she came on and say that you don’t use like a maltodextrin or fructose-based gel because it has a higher heat of oxidation, that’s just a matter of personal preference. I know that I personally do okay with the maltodextrin fructose-based gels although once this new gel or sport drink line that she was talking about, I think it’s called Ki Nutrition, once that launches with the smaller, simpler sugars, I’m going to experiment with them but for me, it’s one of those kind of “it if ain’t broke, don’t fix it” type of mentality to where I’m waiting for something good to come out, that is a good glucose-containing gel or either type of formula that’s convenient to eat while on the fly and once that happens, I’ll certainly keep the audience aware of it but for now, there is a, Cliff uses some simple brown rice syrup and some of it’s stuff. There’s another company like Dextro has some simpler sugars, Carbo-Pro has some simpler sugars but for me, I’m fine with using like some GU Roctane or something like that.
Brock: Now if anybody out there who hasn’t listened to the interview with Stacy Sims, you should go back and listen to that for sure. I think it was only a couple of weeks ago. You can find it on the website, just look for Stacy Sims.
Ben: Yeah and yeah, it was a good interview. By the way, next week, I’m doing Wild Flower this weekend, the Wild Flower Triathlon and be sure to come say hi to me if you’re a podcast listener and you’re down there, but then I turn around and go over to Dubai to present for SuperHumanCoach.com over in Dubai and I will not be around, I will be on a plane during the time we’re supposed to be recording next week’s podcast, so look forward for a special episode. I will be getting some materials out there for you but it won’t be a typical Brock and Ben banter episode, so just stay.
Brock: How will they survive?
Ben: Yeah! And then of course, be aware that I definitely have something cooky and wowo for you on the weekend but again, it’s cool stuff. Read the podcast that I put on along with it. I’ve personally been geeking out a bunch on experimenting with how frequencies and sounds affect brain waves. I’ve been using pulse electromagnetic frequency. I’ve been using binaural beat sounds, a bunch of stuff that I’m going to be talking about over the next few weeks so if you’re totally not interested in that stuff and it bothers you as quackery or whatever, you don’t have to listen to the Saturday podcast but I literally slept with full-on delta brain wave stimulation all night last night and it’s freaking awesome. So I wouldn’t discount this stuff if you do have an open mind to it, so definitely pay attention to some of the stuff I’ll be putting out over the next few weeks about sound, frequency and brain waves.
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
In this May 2, 2012 free audio podcast: What Makes Women Gain Weight As They Get Older And What To Do About It Also: Do recovery boots work, swish and spit carbohydrates, how does cold effect calories burnt, opposing muscle strength ratios, coffee and dark circles under your eyes, reversing the damage from frostbite, decreasing drive, matcha tea, do veggies make you more attractive, and a good half marathon race strategy.
Do you have a future podcast question for Ben? click Ask a Podcast Question at the bottom of this page, Skype to “pacificfit” or scroll down on this post to access the free “Ask Ben” form…
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- You don't need to lift with high weight, low reps to build muscle.
- In populations who are primarily barefoot or primarily shoed, the bare foots win out with lower injury rate.
- First study I've seen that suggest exercise may NOT actually cause you to eat more later.
Ben now has workouts available – on the PEAR exercise device.
A full 30 week workout – Ben's book, The Ultimate Weight Training Guide For Triathletes is now available on TrainingPeaks.
Ben Greenfield is presenting the “Become Superhuman” workshop – May 11 & 12, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, in Dubai.
50% Discount on Triathlon Coaching – You heard him interviewed here on “Why Running Drills Are Bad For You” and now you can get a 50% discount on your first month of coaching with Graeme Turner. Just use code “COACHGRAEME” at http://ow.ly/9IIeY
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Thailand Adventure – Join Ben in Thailand this winter for the triathlon adventure of a lifetime at the Laguna Phuket Triathlon and the Asia Pacific 70.3 Triathlon! Get all the details at www.pacificfit.net
As compiled and read by Brock, the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast “sidekick”.
G'day Ben I have a question for the podcast. I wanted to know what your thoughts are on the Recovery Pumpcompression boots, also its competitor NormaTec also as a comparison. Their claims seem to be supported and they do what they claim to do from the literature I have read. Have you tried them? What would the effect of the recovery pump be when treating peroneal synovitis? Or other tendinopathies? Would you recommend this as a recovery modality with other traditional methods such as ice baths, NSAID's etc.
I've read about recent research that found that swishing a mouthful of carbohydrate solution and then spitting it out rather than swallowing was effective in providing energy for a workout. Would this be an effective way to train in a fasted state occasionally, as Ben recommends, without the negative effects of inadequate fueling? I'm someone that doesn't tend to do well without food before my am workouts, even easy recovery type activity but I would like to try some fasted workouts occasionally.
How many calories are you really burning when it is 10 degrees out. If I run 13 miles and my little Garmin says I have burned 1300 calories, how much does the cold, and my body dealing with the cold, add to the equation?
I was wondering if there was ever a study done about inter-relationships of the amount of weight opposing muscle groups can lift. What I mean by that is: if I can bench press 225 10x should my shoulders be strong enough to handle say lateral raises with 35lbs 10x or shoulder presses with 130lbs 10x so on and so forth. Or be able to do 10 perfect form underhand pull ups (body weight of 210) and that would be equal to curling say 110lbs 10x?
I developed dark circles under my eyes for the first time in my life in 2004 during a time of heavy work stress and little sleep. When I was able to return to a healthier lifestyle the dark circles persisted. Only later did I make the connection that I had also started drinking coffee during that same time period. I have been able to rule out caffeine as the cause by consuming sources of caffeine while abstaining from coffee, and I don't experience the raccoon eyes. Many sources refer to allergies as a common source of dark circles, but I have not found any sources referring to coffee as a possible allergen. Any ideas if coffee could cause an allergic reaction? If so, other than staying away from coffee, are there any other related food or beverage sources that I should also avoid? Love the podcast, keep up the good work and thank you very much.
Always love the podcasts, and thanks for all the help you give. When I was in high school, I ran a winter race in zero degree windchill, and stupidly didn't wear gloves. I'm pretty sure I had what I now know to be second degree frostbite, but never saw a doctor about it. Now, ten years later, I still get tear-inducingly painful cold hands very easily, and have to wear gloves at pretty much all times outdoors except for the summer months. I've looked for alternative explanations, and my symptoms don't seem to match up with Raynaud's. Is this normal for a post-frostbite victim, and are there ways to reverse the effects?
~ In my response to Brad, I mention Sweet Sweat at www.sweetsweat.com
Anonymous Podcast Fan writes:
Often, you cover how to increase drive. How about the other side of the coin? Are there ways to decrease drive without negatively impacting health or fitness?
I'm interested in knowing more about the link between hormone imbalances and fat stored in particular parts of the body. I am currently working on the reduction of fat in general through a combination of Metabolic Typing, a healthy diet and exercise however i seem to have more fat around the back of my upper arms down to my elbow compared to other parts of my body and wondered if there were any truth in some of the articles i have read regarding specific hormone imbalances causing fat to be stored in particular areas of the body and if you can give any advice whether from a hormone or exercise perspective which i can incorporate into my existing routine (heavy weights/interval training mainly). Huge thanks as always for all the amazing content you put out every day!
~ In my response to Angie, I mention estrogen dominance symptoms.
A friend told me about the benefits of MATCHA TEA for weight loss and general health benefits, which peaked my interest. I brew green tea daily from loose tea leaves, and have decided to make the switch to Match Tea. I used MATCHATEASOURCE.COM to purchase the tea. The site touts the many benefits of Matcha Tea. I googled your website for matcha and there were zero hits. What do you know about the benefits of matcha and would you recommend this stuff as part of a healthy nutritional plan. I'm interested in lowering my weight and keeping it down below 200lbs. My metabolic typing diet pegs me as a mixed type. My nutrition, when I'm disciplined, is whole, natural foods, about 35% protein, 40% fats and 25% carbs. Vegetables and fish are a common dinner. My morning meal is generally steal cut oats or quinoa with Heed2 30. My daily supplements include: Enerprime, Vitamin D nano spray, Magnesium oil (Ancient Minerals), fish oil (LivingFuel), Oil of Oregano, and Udo's 3-6-9 Oil. Will Matcha be that kick-ass metabolism boost I'm looking for?
I was wondering if you could comment on the accuracy of this article about how eating more vegetables can make you look better.
What would you ideally recommend as a good Half Marathon race strategy?