June 13, 2012
Introduction: In this podcast, does intermittent fasting work for fast loss? Also, how to sit correctly, starting a diabetic fitness regime later in life, triggering that “fight or flight” reaction, tips on yogurt making, clenched toes while running, getting accurate calories burnt data, stress tests vs. fitness, omega fats and acne, the right diet, and can D-aspartic acid enhance testosterone?
Brock: Hey everybody, Brock Armstrong here with another episode of the BenGreenfieldFitness podcast. Ben, you’ve had some trauma.
Ben: I’m a little beat up.
Brock: Do you want to tell the folks about your leg?
Ben: I think we mentioned last week that I had some cuts and scrapes from racing and training and saddle sores and all that jazz. And at some point in the past couple of weeks, I somehow picked up a MRSA which basically the anabiotic resistance staph infection. And not to gross people out but I got a little mini-surgery yesterday. And I’ve got about a golf ball sized hole in the back of my leg where I’ve been stuffed with the antibiotic packing strip. And I’m jazzed up on the clindamycin right now. Otherwise, I’m doing just fine.
Brock: So where is the hole? Is it down your hamstring somewhere?
Ben: Yes. The area where I had some serious abscessing going on it’s about half way down my leg. So, it’s back in the hamstring. And the doctor said it was down to the muscle level. So, he poked in there pretty good with lancet and somewhat appeared to be pliers for fixing a semi-truck engine. At least it felt like that. And that’s where I’m at right now. And I will for sure be writing an article for BenGreenfieldFitness.com on what to do when you’re on clindamycin. I did an article like that a couple of years ago on how to limit damage from antibiotics. But I picked up a couple new things along that way. And I’m certainly drinking a lot of culture of milk beverages and taking saccharomyces boulardii antibiotic. It’s to make sure that I don’t clustrating issue that comes along with taking clindamycin. And I just try to cover my basis. So, that’s my life this week.
Brock: That doesn’t sound like much fun. But it sound like you’re coming at it from all the different angles which I think is always a good way to do it. Not just to treat it with one, going the traditional western medicine ways is often just the way that we go by default. But bringing in some of those other natural path of things can also be very advantageous.
Ben: And then sometimes, you just got to take out the nuclear bombs and throw antibiotics at it.
Brock: Okay. So, Twitter.com/BenGreenfield is always a great place to get some really cool breaking news stories. And this is the time when Ben shares some of his favorites with us.
Ben: Yes. I tweeted this week, I think I concerned a lot of people when I mentioned that whey protein can spike your insulin higher than white bread.
Brock: Yes. I was not pleased to see that.
Ben: Well, a lot of folks took that to mean that it’s the same as whey being a high glycemic index food or a food that can spike your blood sugar. And I said insulin, not blood glucose. There are foods that you could go and does blood glucose test after like you prick your finger and see where your blood sugar is at. And your blood glucose wouldn’t appear to be affected at all. But those foods can still spike your insulin very high. It’s simply because insulin is an energy storage hormone that’s released when you consume certain forms of energy including protein and including to a certain extent in some cases fats. And so, the actual study that I was looking at was a study on diabetics. And it was looking at whether or not when diabetics were given whey protein along with their meal that helped them to control their blood glucose better. And it absolutely did help them to control their blood glucose better. And that was because whey protein had an insulin autotrophic effect or basically reduced the proceeding blood glucose in people with diabetes.
So, the issue here is that for most healthy people who are trying to put a little bit of lean muscle or trying to recover from workouts more quickly. Or they’re trying to satiate their appetite. The appetite satiating and metabolic effects of using some type of protein compound or including whey protein post workout, that type of thing. The benefit of that is going far exceed any deleterious effects of spiking your insulin levels. However, if you’re somebody who’s concerned about your insulin sensitivity and you’re not overloading your body with constantly high surges of insulin. Then you probably shouldn’t necessarily do protein powder shake while you’re sitting at your desk at the office at the afternoon. And you’re thinking that that’s not going to cause any type of effect. And you’d be better off with a fat based handful of nuts or coconut milk or something like that. So, just be careful with protein. It still can cause a pretty significant insulin effect and I want to point that out to people.
Brock: Yes. Well, I guess when I saw that and probably like other people too, you equate a spike in insulin level as a reaction as a spike in blood glucose.
Brock: So, you’re saying that this isn’t necessarily a correlation and it doesn’t have to be anyway.
Ben: Right. And again, the purpose of this study was they were looking at when diabetics ate a food with carbohydrate, how you can get that carbohydrate out of the blood stream more quickly. And one of the ways to do it is to take advantage of the fact that protein spikes insulin and insulin removes glucose from the blood stream more quickly.
Brock: Yes. That’s very cool.
Ben: The next thing that I tweeted this week that I wanted to mention was a study that basically found that our bodies are possibly designed to be a little bit more prone to chronic disease and obesity. If we don’t at least include some type of longer period of time throughout each day where we’re not eating or what’s called time-restricted feeding. Now, everybody of course fasts overnight. And we’ll be talking about fasting quite a bit later on, intermittent fasting specifically later on in this episode. But there’s a study that came out that looked at mice who were allowed to eat whenever they wanted to. And it was against mice that had a disrupted feeding cycle by including a 16-hour fast each day for those mice. And the mice that were given the 16-hour fast each day was still able to eat the same number of calories as the mice who were allowed to eat whenever they wanted. But the mice that included the 16-hour fast each day actually didn’t have the same type of weight gain and development of high cholesterol and high blood sugar and fatty liver disease. It was compared to the mice that could nibble around the clock whenever they wanted. So, this I thought was even though mice are identical to humans, a good incentive to make sure that you quit eating two hours before you go to bed. You get up in the morning. And you don’t eat breakfast right away for example. Or basically giving yourself a period of time throughout the day where you’re forced to rely on your own storage energy as fuel. It appears to be a good thing based off of the results of the study.
Brock: So, not only have you been talking about this for a while that the traditional thought was that grazing throughout the day was a way to stabilize your metabolism. And it would keep it revving along at a really good rate. And that’s what healthy people should be doing. This is more evidence that is absolutely not what healthy people should be doing.
Ben: Exactly. Grazing like a squirrel which is the old school recommendation for losing weight that you still hear quite a bit that I still tell my clients. It’s not necessarily the best way to go.
Brock: I thought it was cool the interview you did with Cary Nosler. And he mentioned that he goes 15 or 20 hours between meals.
Ben: Yes. That was the article on staying really healthy as you age. It’s called the Zen of Aging. We’ll link to it in the show notes. But that was one of his secrets. It was that he fasts about anywhere from 14 to 16 hours per day. And it’s not hard to do once you get used to it.
Ben: So, the other thing that I mentioned was that you may want to sometimes unplug and leave your mp3 player and your iPhone with your special fitness app and all that jazz at home. And you just have to get out into the natural environment. And I will link to this in the show notes. But there was a study in the Journal of Effective Disorders that found that people who suffered from depression when they took an hour long walk in nature. They improved their cognition. They improved their memory. And they improved their markers of mood. And the reason for that based off of what the researcher said was that your mind has a chance to wonder endlessly. And it can be engaged by your surroundings. And actually in Japan, researchers at a medical school in Japan have found that trees actually emit these essential oils, these wood essential oils that can reduce your levels of stress hormones and lower your blood pressure and enhance your immune function. And this is simply by being in nature or being in the forest and specifically based off of the other study, being unplugged as you do so. Just giving yourself a chance to randomly walking around in nature. And it can be a run. It can be a hike or anything of that nature. If you have the ability to just get out every now and again and experience nature and be unplugged, I think that can be huge in terms of enhancing your life quality. And also your ability to be highly productive as well as less stressed for the rest of the day.
Brock: But you can’t collect any data.
Ben: This is true. You can’t collect any data.
Brock: How do you upload it to Facebook and show off that I just went off for a 45-minute walk.
Ben: Yes. That’s true. But seriously, get out in nature and enjoy nature unplugged every now and again. And I think it’d be great for you.
Brock: Okay. There are all kinds of cool stuff all the time going on at BenGreenfieldFitness.com. And I know we’re still ramping up. I’m getting super excited about the double Thailand triathlon adventure trip that we’re doing in November and December. And are there still spots left?
Ben: There are still spots left. We’ve still got people who are going along in that trip who want roommates. If you decided that you want to go, you can basically get half off your hotel stay the whole time just because we’ll be able to hook you up with a roommate. So, if you want to get in on that trip, we’ll put a link in the show notes. But we’re heading over to Thailand. Brock, me, and a lot of other folks, triathletes specifically and their spouses/significant others to go hang out and have fun in Thailand.
Brock: You’re not cheeping out on the hotels here. So, this is a great opportunity to stay in a really cool place for a very good rate.
Ben: Yes, exactly. So, these are nice places. The other thing that we put on BenGreenfieldFitness.com this week was a brand new video series. It’s coming out this summer. It’s called the Future of Health Now. We’ve been reviewing these videos. And they’re really great. I basically am going to be releasing cliff notes for each of these videos over at the Google+ page. And then you can go view the video if you feel like it’s something that’s interesting to you. But I think it’s super cool stuff. I’ll be releasing an interview with a guy who founded the future of health now next Monday actually. And so, that’s certainly something to tune into. And if you like watching cool videos with guys like Tim Ferriss for example, just talking about cutting edge health and fitness and nutrition concepts. Then check out that link. We’ll put it in the show notes. And just stay tuned to Google+ because everyday during the month of June, we’ll release some information on a new video. And all of that is totally free.
Brock: So, the future of health thing, that sounds like it’s like a Ted talk sort of thing for health.
Ben: Yes. It’s like a Ted talk series for health. And I think it’s cool because they’re just giving it all away.
Brock: That’s awesome.
Ben: So check that out. And then the last thing I wanted to mention was that for those of you who are interested in joining the InnerCircle I know I put out a survey a couple of weeks ago. It was asking what your primary reason entry to joining up with my private coaching program was. It’s where I answer your questions in a private forum. Basically, we do a live monthly video webinar. And basically, it’s just a little bit more for intimate access to me. And one of the things was that some people felt that 17 dollars a month was a little bit much. So, we’re reducing that to ten dollars a month. I’ll put a link in the show notes. But you can basically be a part of the BenGreenfieldFitness InnerCircle for ten dollars a month. And for those folks, there are about 170 of you out there who are currently members. Don’t worry. We are automatically reducing you from 17 down to ten dollars as well. So, if you want to get in on the BenGreenfieldFitness InnerCircle, just go to the link in the show notes. And we’ll take care of you.
Listener Q and A:
Brock: Cool, okay. Into the questions, we’ve got some good ones this week as always. And let’s start it off with this audio question from a truck driver.
Truck Driver: Hey Ben and Brock. I’m an over the road truck driver. So, I spend 90 percent of my day in a seated position without the ability to get up and stretch without actually stopping the vehicle and getting out. And this kills my time being out here on the road. And that’s thanks to the Federal Government Regulation. But I was wondering if you can tell me, what is the proper way to remain in a seated position? Your knees higher or lower than your hips, should you use the lumbar? Should you not use the lumbar? I do have arm rests on my seat. Should I use them and rest my arm from time to time. I just have so many questions. I try to squirm and change positions constantly. Should my feet be square on the floor? Should they be crossed in angles? Should it be on the dashboard? I was wondering if you can address this for me and make some exercises that can be done in this seat while I’m going down the road. Of course if I’m steering, with eyes on the road. Help in this would be great, thanks.
Ben: Well, as a long haul truck driver knows, there are issues with sitting. Even sitting for longer than two hours at a time has been associated with increased mortality no matter how much you exercise. So, he’s on the right track in wanting to at least do something while he’s sitting. The first thing before we get the ergonomics of the seated position which is really good information for anybody who’s either going on a road trip or is commuting a lot or is sitting in a car or truck a lot. In terms of exercises that you can do, I’ll link to a really great article that I found this week about 33 different ways to exercise at work. And many of these tips are things that you can do while you’re seated at a desk or in a car. And the article is pretty fun. And a lot of the stuff that you do when you’re seated is the things that we know already like the silent seat squeeze. It’s where you’re squeezing your butt and holding for five to ten seconds and then releasing. Or the seated leg raises where you’re lifting one leg off the ground 15 times and then lifting the other leg off the ground 15 times. Or the seated toe raises, shoulder shrugs, head circles, and you can even do arm squeezes on the steering wheel where you’re flexing and relaxing. I’ll link to this article in the show notes. I think it’s a great article for anybody to read. There are even stapler curls on there. I don’t know how much. I’m a fan of stapler curls. It seems you can do on the bottom.
Brock: Stapler curls.
Ben: If I were to have a pretty weighty stapler.
Brock: Exactly, yes.
Ben: But either way, go and check out that article because it’s a great article. And it’ll put a lot of ideas in your head whether you’re a truck driver or you’re just sitting in an office for a long period of time. But as far as the actual ergonomics, there are definitely some things that you can do. First of all, as far as the way that you should be sitting in your seat, if you look at your knees when you’re in a car or if you’re in a truck. Your knees should never be higher than your hips. If you’re knees are higher than your hips, that’s closing off your hip flexor angle. That’s what can lead to low back issues, tight hip flexors, and basically a lack of blood flow in the legs just because your femoral artery passes through there as well. So, your knees should never be higher than your hips. If your seat is tilted up slightly on the part of the seat that’s closer to your knees and farther from your butt, then you may need to actually get a little bit of a lift under your butt. It’s so that your knees are always lower than your hips.
The next thing to think about is that the front of your seat shouldn’t contact the back of your knee. So, think about that. The back of your knee shouldn’t be touching the front of the seat. When that happens, when the back of the knee touches the front of the seat, it causes you to slide forward into a rounded slouch posture. So, by keeping the knee clear of the front of the seat, that’s going to help you to maintain a lot better posture. You want to make sure if you press your gas pedal or you press your brake pedal, you can push them all the way in without having to twist your back. Or without having to move really far forward. If you’re not able to do that, then you need to make sure that your seat is far enough where you can press all the way down without having to twist or slide. As far as your lumbar support area, a lot of people are aware of this. But if you can get an ergonomic add-on seat or you can use a towel or what’s called a lumbar roll. Use anything like that to get lumbar support under your low back, that’s extremely out for you. And that’s one of the first things that I’d do when I get on a plane. It’s because a lot of the times my travel pillow is not going under my neck. It’s going under my low back just to provide that lumbar support and again open up the hip angle a little bit.
As far as the actual angle between your back and your legs, you should have the back of the seat recline just a little bit. It’s so that your angle between your back and your legs is definitely greater than 90. It should be closer to actually about 110 degrees in terms of your back being slightly open and you’re leaning slightly back. So, it’s not too much but about 100 degrees is ideal. You could technically check that with a goniometer. But ideally, you shouldn’t feel like you’re sitting straight up and down. You should be leaning back slightly. As far as holding the steering wheel and your position on the steering wheel for something like this, you want your elbows as close to your sides as possible. So, you’re minimizing reach. And you’re not pulling your shoulders forward which can lead to a really tight and to your anterior shoulder musculature. And that can lead to quite a bit of a slouch. You can also put stuff into your car or into your truck that helps you out. For example, you can use a steering wheel cover. You can use a gel seat cushion. Things like that can help out quite a bit. And then the last thing is just make sure that once you get out of a truck or a car during a long road trip, some of the primary muscles that are shortened are muscles that you’re trying to lengthen. So, for example the hip flexors tend to get really short when you’re in that seated position for a long period of time. It’s like front to back leg swings. Or a lunging hip flexor stretch works really well. The other thing that tends get really tight is your anterior shoulders with the front of your chest. So, you can squeeze your shoulders or squeeze your hands behind your back and basically stretch the front of your shoulders by squeezing your hands behind your back. So, those are some of the things that I would do when it comes to car and truck ergonomics. And hopefully that helps.
Brock: I think that’ll help a lot. I learned a lot right there. I’m adjusting the way I’m sitting right now. I don’t usually sit.
Ben: Are you driving right now?
Brock: I am. Don’t make me think about too much because distracted driving laws are taken seriously here.
Ben: I guess you guys are a little more relaxed up in Canada if you can podcast and drive.
Brock: Yes. It’s okay as long as you’re on the cell phone. They don’t care. Alright, so let’s move on to the question from Kumar.
Kumar: My dad is 55 years old and is diabetic for the last 15 years. He is on insulin injections for the last four years or so. And he follows a pretty healthy vegetarian diet, not so much protein in his diet, and does fast walking, very light yoga for exercise. I want him to start taking supplements like Omega 3, whey protein, and start strength training. After listening to your podcast on Zen of aging, I now realize it’s possible to put on muscle and get fit at any age. Do you have any recommendations on how he could start his fitness regimen at this age and given his diabetic condition? He is decently healthy at 160 pounds, does not drink or smoke and does not have too much of body fat.
Ben: I got you. First thing and I mentioned it on the show before would be that I’m a huge fan of a low carbohydrate ketogenic diet to manage type-two diabetes. I need to throw in that I’m not a doctor. And this shouldn’t qualify as medical advice. But this is certainly something that I would consider if I found out that I have pre-diabetic or type-two diabetic condition. I’ll put a link in the show notes to one of the primary studies that was done on this. But the basic idea is that carbohydrate restriction and specifically eating few enough carbohydrates per day. And going to where you actually get in to a state where you’re primarily burning ketones or fatty acids as a fuel can have an extremely positive effect in diabetics. It can be in body weight, on serum triglycerides or your blood-fat content on glycemic control or your ability to control blood sugar. And basically, a lot of things that would send a diabetic patient into blood sugar fluctuation. So, that’s the first thing that I would look into. It’s doing a lower carbohydrate diet that’s primarily focused on healthy fats and oils, on some meats, poultry fish, eggs, healthy intake of vegetables. And include things like greens, avocadoes, olives, and healthy oils into the diet. So, that’s the first thing that I would do.
Now, in terms of diabetic conditions and exercise, this is where you do need to be careful because first of all if you’re using insulin to control blood sugar. Then you need to realize that exercise has a very similar effect as insulin on controlling or lowering blood sugar levels. And so, if you’re not used to exercising and you’re a diabetic and you start exercising and you stay on the same amount of insulin. Then you may find that you’re getting hypoglycemic and getting really low blood-glucose levels especially during exercise. So, pre-exercise, you may need to not only adjust your dosage in terms of insulin specifically lower dosage. But you may also need to and whether or not you’re on a low carbohydrate diet, ensure that you do get some carbohydrates in right before you exercise. So, we’re talking about a snack like a piece of fresh raw fruit directly before you exercise to ensure that you don’t get into a hypoglycemic state. It’s where you get dizzy, anxious, shaking, and in some cases get into a more serious medical condition. And one of the issues of diabetes is that it’s very easy for your body’s blood-glucose levels to fall too low with too much insulin or not enough carbohydrate prior to an exercise session. Or it may be potentially high if you binge on carbohydrates.
So, my recommendation would be to get on a low carbohydrate ketogenic diet. Start to include a combination of weight training and cardiovascular exercise but ensure that you modify your insulin dosage prior to exercise. And that you try and get a little bit of carbohydrate into your system prior to exercise. So, if you’re on a low carbohydrate diet, the primary portion of your carbohydrate is going to come before you exercise. And you can use a blood-glucose monitor to make sure that your blood-glucose isn’t dropping too far during exercise. The first few times that you do it just to keep things under control and figure out exactly how much carbohydrates and insulin you need prior to the actual workout. But those are some of the things that I would do. And of course, resistance training is certainly going to help with blood sugar control, with insulin sensitivity, and with managing diabetes. So, you can definitely do it. I’ve never seen studies that show that exercise is going to have a deleterious effect. And in most cases, it’s a combination of resistance training and cardio.
Brock: Awesome. Kumar’s dad is going to be ripped.
Ben: Yes. He’s going to be jacked.
Brock: Alright, our next question comes from Martin.
Martin: I’m a 50 year old male who competes in judo competitions. My fitness and conditioning are good. However, I am quite a calm person by nature and have noticed as I get older I am just calmer. My mind and body knows when entering a competition that although I can get hurt that my life is not in danger. So, I don’t get much of an adrenaline surge. However, all my opponents seem to be in massive fight or flight moment. So, in the initial standing component when speed and explosive strength are paramount, I am at a disadvantage. If I can survive the first couple of minutes after which their adrenaline dumps subside, I do well. So, aside from jumping out in front of a car before a competition, how can I induce more of a “fight or flight” response? Preferably fight and not flight.
Ben: Okay. So, if I get this straight, he feels like his opponent has more of an adrenaline surge than he does.
Ben: And are more in this “fight or flight”. And as a 50 year old male, it does make sense especially if you’re fighting younger fighters. And it’s not because you don’t have competitive drive. This is actually something that I think a lot of people misunderstand. But studies have shown that your competitive drive actually increases as you age. Specifically, up to about the age of 55, you continue to see a greater increase in competitive drive, willingness to participate in competition, drive to win. And that may be because of social status or the need to achieve as we get older. But either way in both men and women, as you grow older your willingness to compete grows more and more. So, I don’t want you to be under the impression that this is because you mentally don’t have that drive to compete. Typically especially in males, what is more of an issue is andropause or that draw in testosterone that really helps you have that fight or flight edge when you get into the heat of competitions. So, it’s as if your body wants to compete but doesn’t have quite enough of the gas on board to press the pedal down fully. So, I would be coming at this from a testosterone standpoint. I don’t know if you’ve got a hormonal testosterone evaluation. And you can do that.
You could go to Directlabs.com and just have a salivary hormonal panel and get it done. You could go talk to an endocrinologist and ask them for a hormone panel to test your testosterone. You could use wellnessfx.com. It’s another testing company. Bioletics is another one. Getting your testosterone test and depending where you’re at in the world is pretty easy to do just about anywhere. But I would look at your testosterone levels. And then I would go about trying to increase testosterone. I published an article at BenGreenfieldFitness.com that I’ll be sure to link to for you. It was titled Ben Greenfield Admits to Using Performance enhancing Drugs. But I just went over everything that I used to triple my testosterone levels a couple of years ago. And it basically was fish oil, vitamin d, magnesium, high fat diet, grass-fed beef, grass-fed butter, an aromatase inhibitor, and what’s called a DHD inhibitor. And those are basically the things that I did. And I also did Chinese adaptogenic herbs.
So, I know I went through a ton of stuff but I’ll link to that in the show notes. And certainly what I would look at is increasing testosterone. A few other things that you could look into first of all and this is something I tweeted about this week. It’s that sex before competition has certainly been shown to be beneficial. And that’s because of the hormonal boost that it can give you. So, if you can find a willing partner, you can always get some of that in before a fight. Nitric oxide and caffeine and there are a lot of supplements out there that combine the two. Or you can get your hands on a good nitric oxide supplement or an arginine supplement. And any of those can help out a little bit two. Arginine is a supplement that can help out with nitric oxide levels. Or you could just use a nitric oxide supplement. Caffeine combined with that works really well. It gave me this pre-exercise pump. A whole amino acid supplement, I found too can help out with that a little bit. So, it can kind of get a little cocktail into your system 30 to 60 minutes prior to your fight in addition to working on increasing the testosterone levels can help out.
The other thing you may want to consider is a Chinese adaptogenic herb. So, I mentioned that I use that to help to increase my testosterone. And that was really coming at it from a standpoint of controlling cortisol levels. And adaptogenic herbs basically are pretty cool because they work on your adrenals to put you into the state that your adrenals need to be in. So, if you’ve got low cortisol, it’ll increase your cortisol a little bit. If you’ve got high cortisol, they’ll decrease it a little bit. But doing something like that on an empty stomach 30 to 60 minutes before your fight. Something like a packet and Tea and Chi Chinese adaptogenic herbs, they could help out quite a bit. I know that some people are going to jump on the bandwagon and tell me that I’m recommending too many supplements here. But we’re talking about a 50 year old guy who wants to fight. And he certainly may need a little bit of a better living through chemistry to make it happen. So, those are some of my recommendations.
Brock: Would there be any advantage? I know that at a beginning of a race when I am having that almost an anxiety reaction when the “fight or flight” is kicking in. I do the long slow deep breaths like the yoga breathing or the typical breathing. Would there be an advantage to doing the opposite like doing almost like a hyperventilation.
Ben: Probably not just because if you blow off too much CO2, you’re just going to put yourself in a dizzy funk prior to a fight. I would say if anything if we’re talking about the kind of stuff that we use before a competition or before a race like music to pump you up. But that’s not going to have as big of a chemical effect on your adrenaline levels. But that’d be one thing you could use as well.
Brock: How about a lot of really fast jumping jacks?
Ben: Yes. Really fast jumping jacks, eye of the tiger. Absolutely, there you go.
Brock: It’s the winning combination of eye of the tiger and jumping jacks.
Ben: That’s right.
Brock: And Chinese adaptogenic herbs.
Ben: I wouldn’t give up triathlon and marathoning for judo any time soon Brock.
Brock: Okay. Our next question comes from Teash.
Teash: I’ve recently acquired a taste for natural yogurt. And I am going through at least a tub a week. My mom has an EasiYo Yogurt Maker and I am very interested in making the yogurt myself too. I was just wondering what your thoughts of these yogurt makers. And if the powder packs used to get it started are actually comparable to the yogurt tubs in the shops. I have heard that you make your own from fresh milk. But I’m not able to get hold of any milk where I live.
Brock: It’s like the raw milk guess.
Ben: Yes. And I’ve actually been slamming a lot of yogurt. And a lot of that Beyond Organic cultured Omasai beverage now that I’m on the antibiotic regimen that I’m on. So, this is fresh from my mind. This EasiYo Yogurt Maker, I checked it out. And you basically get these sachets that are basically your yogurt starters. Anytime you’re making yogurt, you need a yogurt starter. So, that can either be an existing canister of yogurt that you bought from the grocery store. Or it can be a yogurt starter that you order. And basically, this is just the probiotic mix that will allow whatever you’re mixing it with to actually ferment a little bit and create that yogurt. With the EasiYo, it’s basically this system where you’ve got a couple of different containers. And you use the packets that they send you. You mix it with the water. You pour some boiling water into the yogurt maker. And then you leave it overnight. And then you put it in the fridge after that.
One of the things that you really want to make sure of though if you use this is that you follow the instructions on the yogurt maker to half fill the jar with cold drinking water. And this is before you add the boiling water because it’s very easy. Boiling water is at a more high temperature to kill bacteria. And that’s the main thing you got to make sure when you make yogurt. And you realize that most types of bacteria can’t survive at anything over about 55 Celsius which is about 150 Fahrenheit. So, you have to let anything that you’re mixing a starter with to cool to lukewarm before adding the culture. That’s the only thing that worries me about the EasiYo. It’s that you’re pouring boiling water into some of the cold water that your yogurt sachets have been added to. And it’s possible that that boiling water is going to kill some of the probiotics when it first hits that water. So, I would be careful with this especially since it’s so easy to make yogurt at home. I’ll link to an article in the show notes for you. Which show notes is this Brock? 197?
Brock: 197, yes.
Ben: So, if you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com and you click on episode 197, I’ll put a link in the show notes for you. It’s so easy to make your own yogurt. Like I said, all you need is a starter culture. And that could be just a small amount of yogurt that you get from the grocery store. And then all you do is you heat up some milk. And you can use a double boiler to keep your milk from getting too hot. My wife actually did a video in the Inner Circle to show you how to just use a double boiler to heat milk. But it’s easy to do. But essentially, you don’t want the milk to get too hot. And then you’re basically combining the milk with the starter and keeping the yogurt warm for four to six hours. So, if you’ve got a mason jar that you’ve got the milk and the starter combined into, keeping that in a counter maybe wrapped in a couple of towels to insulate it. So, it’s like in the inside of a hot water bottle type of insulator. But basically, you keep that out. It ferments. It starts to solidify. You start to get a little bit of whey appearing on the top. And that’s showing that you’re getting that culture forming. And it’s producing a little bit of lactic acid. Those bacteria are. And then you can leave it overnight like just leaving it on the counter and then toss it in the refrigerator. And that’s the super fast podcast version of how to make your own yogurt. You should definitely make sure that you follow the link in the show notes. But you don’t even have to use milk as what you’re combining your starter with. I mean you can make yogurt with coconut milk for example if you don’t do well with dairy. Even though the probiotics and yogurt a lot of times are helping you to digest lactic acid sugars that you might be unable to tolerate in non-probiotic containing foods. Like regular milk or ice cream. If that’s me, I can’t tolerate ice cream. I can’t tolerate regular milk. But I’m fine with any dairy product that has probiotics in it. It’s because probiotics are digesting lactase for you. So, either way, there are lots of different resources out there in terms making your own yogurt. You don’t have a fancy EasiYo Yogurt Maker even though I did look into it.
In terms of the ingredients that they send you and the sachets that they send you, those are fine. They don’t contain artificial sweeteners or high amounts of sugar or anything like that. For the most part, this yogurt maker is okay. But I’d just be really careful because it is somewhat likely that when you boil water to pour it into that EasiYo that you’re instructed to do in the instructions. You’re going to kill some of the good bacteria. And that’s what concerns me about a yogurt maker vs. doing it yourself. If you’re just going to buy yogurt at the grocery store, make sure that you look for a label that says live and active cultures. And that’s going to be a pretty good sign that you’ve got some decent probiotics in there. And there are some brands of yogurt that really don’t have live active strains in them. So, you want to make sure that you check when you’re rolling up and down at the dairy isle of your local grocery store. And I recommend just a plain full fat yogurt will do. Like a plain full fat Greek yogurt for traveling and we don’t have yogurt with us. So, that’s the skinny on yogurt. And I certainly do recommend it. If you don’t do well with dairy, you can always do like a coconut-based for your yogurt rather than a dairy based.
Brock: I’ve noticed the same thing with kombucha and kefir. A number of brands just say on the label that it’s got some bacteria culture in it. But then if you look a little bit further down the shelf, there are a few that say active or live in them.
Brock: So, you have to be careful not only in yogurt if you’re really looking to get the most benefit out of those bacteria.
Ben: Yes. It’s not even necessarily more expensive either to get those bacteria.
Ben: And then the one thing to remember and it is fresh on my mind right now. It’s that most yogurts, dairy products, just about any probiotic filled product do not have one type of probiotic that tends to really get wiped in your stomach when you’re on antibiotics. And that’s a strain called saccharomyces boulardii. So, saccharomyces boulardii is something that you would take while you’re on an antibiotic. If you take probiotics while you’re on an antibiotic, the antibiotic is going to wipe out most of them out. The only reason I really do rich foods like yogurt and this cultured Omasai beverage that I’m doing for example. It’s because it can at least keep the clindamycin from damaging your stomach too much. But as far as probiotics go, the good one-two combo if you’re on an antibiotic is you do saccharomyces boulardii while you’re on the antibiotic. And then you switch to a full strain probiotic like a therapeutic strength probiotic once you’re off the antibiotic to rebuild your gut bacteria.
Brock: Alright. Let’s move on to the next question from Erik.
Erik says: While running I tend to clinch my toes on one foot (left usually) and can’t seem to relax the foot to expand out in the toe box of my running shoe. The shoes aren’t laced too tight and I’m typically sorer on the right side on the days I notice toe clinching on the left. I have two questions. What causes it? Is it muscle imbalances? Is it skeletal misalignment or some nutritional deficiency? And what damage am I doing outside of creating an inefficient running gate?
Ben: Well, if your foot starts to turn blue and fall off, I would just get a bigger shoe. Honestly, I’m kind of kidding. And at the same time for a long time, I had some foot issues that were similar on the bike. And then I realized that my shoes were just too small. The toe box specifically was too small. And I just got bigger shoes. But on a more biomechanical level, there are definitely issues with an ankle mobility that can cause these types of issues. I found out a couple of years ago when I had a massage therapist who really understood feet well work on my feet. It showed how poor the mobility was in the myofascia underneath my toes and how much it was limiting the mobility of my foot. And specifically, it was much worse on my right foot than on my left. But it was actually causing issues higher up in my knee and in my hips. It’s because I had really poor mobility in that right foot. And the bottom of your foot has over 15 different little muscles in it. So, those stabilize those absorbed ground reaction forces. And they play a vital role in your foot function. But it’s very easy for those just like your IT band or your shoulder internal rotators or anything else to get adhesed and to lose a lot of their mobility. It’s just like any other muscle. So, I would be first of all coming at this from a foot mobility perspective. The best little trick I can throw at you is golf balls. If you roll a golf ball up and down your foot and its super uncomfortable, that’s a pretty good sign that you’ve got a lot of myofascial adhesions in there. And you can do some soft myofascia release with golf balls.
Brock: You mean putting the golf ball under your foot and rolling your foot back and forth on top of it right?
Ben: Yes. You know you’ve got really great foot mobility and loose facia and muscle flexibility on your foot if you can stand on golf balls. Like one golf ball under each foot. If you can get yourself to that point, then you know that you’ve got your foot exactly where it needs to be. And what I do at my standing workstation is I just have one golf ball. And I roll that up and down my foot on one side. And then up and down my foot on the other side at random intervals while I’m standing at my workstation. And it’s uncomfortable. But it’s great at improving your foot mobility. So, I recommend that.
If your foot mobility is poor, it’s probably likely that your ankle mobility is also poor. So, I would definitely do things like half leaning stretch where you’re leaning on to the wall. And the door frame stretch where you hold on to a door frame you press your toes against the wall. And you pull yourself in to what’s called dorsiflexion or foot flexion. That can all help to increase your ankle mobility especially in triathletes or swimmers. And you’re including some thin sets so that you’re increasing your ankle mobility in the other direction. That can help out quite a bit too. But poor foot mobility usually means there’s also some poor ankle mobility going on as well. As far as foot strength, I would go read the recent article that I wrote at BenGreenfieldFitness.com on bare foot training. Just go over there and do a search for bare foot. But I talk about improving your foot strength. And definitely single leg stance exercises preferably minimalist shoes or in bare feet. It’s where you are standing and balancing, standing and doing upper body exercises, standing on air pillows, standing on one foot as much as possible. And rolling your foot from side to side inside of the foot to the outside of the foot can really help with your intrinsic foot strength and a little bit with mobility as well. But you’ve got to take care of your feet just like any other muscle or joint in your body. And those are some of the things that I would do. It’s likely I’m guessing. You probably have just really poor foot mobility. And the myofascial release with a golf ball is going to be one of the best things that you find on that left foot if you’re finding that you just can’t seem to get that foot to relax and to expand out.
Brock: Alright. Let’s move on to Brandon’s question.
Brandon: Do you know of or think there is a way to figure out your true calorie expenditure on machines like a stationary bike or an elliptical since their numbers are notorious for being wrong? Is the distance on the stationary bike reliable enough to plug it in to the calorie equation based on mph? I’m not obsessed with burning a certain number of calories during a workout but was curious if there was a way to get ballpark numbers without doing an in-depth metabolic test.
Ben: Yes. They’re definitely not very accurate cardio machines. The way that it works is they’ve got these little computers inside the exercise equipment. And it’s using a standardized formula to calculate the number of calories that you’re burning. And the formula is based off of your weight or your age. The accuracy of it depends on the type of equipment and the brand of equipment. The best cardio equipment brands out there though are pretty far from being accurate when it comes to estimating your calories burned. Most of them overestimate your calories burned and some of them by as much as 30 percent. The average overestimation is about 15 percent or so. So, when you hop on that elliptical trainer and tell you you’ve just burnt 12000 calories in an hour of elliptical trainer. It’s more likely that it was closer to 700 or 800. So, the main reason for the inaccuracy is that something based off of just your weight is really not indicative of the amount of lean muscle mass vs. fat that you have. So, any type of equation that’s telling you how many calories that you’re burning is going to be more accurate if it’s taking into account your actual body composition. And the other issue is that a lot of times these machines aren’t taking into account your speed as well and how fast you’re moving. And so, they’re just basing it off of total work and weight. And sometimes there’s a metabolic effect too. So, one of your options is that you could use a high end heart rate monitor like a polar monitor.
One of these monitors that let you input a little bit more in terms of detail for figuring out your calorie burn. These still tend to be off a little bit. It’s like a calorie burning calculator on a heart rate monitor can still be anywhere from three to ten percent off. So, that’s a tough way to do it. Another way would be the fitbit. The fitbit is not too bad. I’ll put a link to it in the show notes. But this is something you wear throughout the day. And it calculates your calorie burn in just about any activity that you do. The fitbit is not too bad as well if you just want to track yourself for a few weeks and see what you’re getting on a typical day in terms of calorie burn. That can help out as well if you’re concerned about accuracy. Just to clarify here, I personally don’t count how many calories I eat or count how many calories I burn at all. I don’t even pay attention to it. I probably would benefit a little bit from data quantification. But for me, it’s just ruins some of your enjoyment from life if you’re constantly paying attention to that stuff. So, I just don’t. I eat when I’m hungry. I stop when I’m full. And I exercise for performance instead of calorie control. And at the end of the day for me and this is just for me personally, it makes me happier. And it helps me to adhere to exercise better when I’m not paying attention to those calorie numbers. And it’s the same thing with diet. I don’t pay attention to how many calories I eat. I just eat when I get hungry. And make sure that I don’t overeat. And I use self control. And that’s the way that I roll. And I think you’d be pretty good doing that as long as you’re somewhat aware of calories. I did go through a two year phase of my life where I counted calories every single day angrily when I was body building. And that allows me to just look at a meal and size it up instantly and know whether or not it’s going to be too much for me to eat or not enough. So, you’ve got to be somewhat familiar with calories. But I don’t think you’re going to be counting all the time.
Brock: Yes. And that can make you absolutely crazy too. Not only the difference between the heart rate monitor and the elliptical trainer that you’re zipping around on. Like I’ve noticed even with my garmin knife, I’ve got the heart rate monitor. It knows how tall I am. It knows how much I weigh. It obviously knows how hard I’m working and how fast I’m going. It will give me one number. And I’ll take that exact same data, export it from garmin, and import into training peaks. So, it’s got the same data. It’s got the same information about me, my size and everything. And it will be 30 percent different sometimes or there’s a 20 to 30 percent difference.
Brock: And you can make yourself absolutely nuts if you’re really relying on that and thinking that that is the reason for going out and exercising and eating. So, I think that’s a really great point you had there in the end Ben.
Ben: Yes. And you’ve got to live in a bomb calorimeter basically which is a special device at an exercise physiology lab to know exactly how many calories you’re going to burn. And that would probably throw a kink in your love life and other issues.
Brock: Alright, enough about calories. Let’s move on to the next one. Andrea is next.
Andrea says: Ben, I just read your article about EMT that I found online. I found it very helpful and interesting. I am having a metabolic stress test tomorrow as a diagnostic tool. I am wondering what experience you have with how hospitals perform their EMT vs. how exercise physiologists perform the test.
Ben: Yes. I wrote an article about this for triathlete magazine sometime ago about exercise metabolic testing. And just so you understand, it’s a very similar to the VO2 max test. So, an exercise metabolic test and a VO2 max test use almost the same equipment and very similar protocols. So, you’ve got a mask on your face. And it’s measuring carbon dioxide that you breathe out, oxygen that you take in. And it’s calculating your metabolic rate during exercise, calories burned, calories burned from fat, calories burned from carbohydrate and heart rate and oxygen utilization. So, with all these numbers, what you’re getting is an idea of when you switch from your maximum fat burning zone into more utilization of carbohydrate. When you reach a maximum carbohydrate utilizing zone or what’s called your ventilatory threshold or your lactate threshold. And you get a lot of really good data. And you can do this.
Most cities have some type of exercise physiology clinic or lab or sports science or sports medicine facility where you can go and get an exercise metabolic test. And in many cases, they’re going to call it a VO2 max test. But it’s pretty much the same thing. The only between the two semantically is that a VO2 max test takes you to your maximum. The exercise metabolic test, you stop when you reach lactate threshold which is about 85 percent. So, technically an exercise metabolic test is safer for someone who is basically concerned about cardiovascular health or who needs medical supervision during exercise. It’s a sub maximal test. In many cases, the only reason to go over and above 85 percent is to just find out what you’re VO2 max is if that’s a number that you’re curious about. But most of the valuable data when you’re getting your metabolic rate tested is going to come between the time that you start and then the time that you get up in your maximum fat burning zone. And you identify that. And the time that you get up to your ventilatory threshold and identify that. And at that point, you’ve got most of the good data because it’s pretty rare that folks just spending a lot of time exercising up around their VO2 max range.
So, I will link to the article that I wrote in triathlete magazine in case you want to geek out on this stuff even more. But the main difference between getting this done at a sports science facility and getting it done at a clinic or a hospital. Is that in a clinic or at a hospital setting, they’re not only going to measure your carbon dioxide and your oxygen. But they’re also going to have you hooked up to an EKG. And so, they’ll be measuring in many times your cardiac response to exercise. They’re looking for any abnormalities in the electrical activity of your heart, skipped beats, and tachycardia. Or any issues that indicate that there may be a valve or some type of other electrical issue going on with your heart. And that’s going to be the main thing that they measure in the clinical setting. They’ll be basically using an Electro Cardio Gram or EKG combined with a metabolic cart. Whereas, the average sports performance facility, they’re not going to be doing EKG’s because they are working with the general healthy population. And so, you’re just going to get the metabolic part measurement rather than the diagnosis of cardiovascular disease or arrhythmia with something like this. That’s pretty much it. That’s the difference. And if you’re doing this for diagnostic reasons, if you’re concerned about your heart health, then go to a clinic. And you make sure that you’re hooked up to an EKG while you’re doing the test. So that you’re getting every piece of data possible in terms of what your heart is doing as you’re exercising.
Brock: Now, this is just sort of a word of caution from somebody who’s been down that road. I had this test done when I was having some heart problems along time ago. I think I talked on the show about how I had pericarditis and myocarditis many years ago. And they did all kinds of tests. And one of the tests was they put me on a treadmill with the EKG. And they found out that I had an arrhythmia called the wanky back syndrome. And it means that this base between my Q and R wave get longer and longer. The space gets bigger and bigger until I finally actually drop a beat. And then my heart just picks back up again. So, it’s absolutely fine. I don’t feel it. I don’t notice it. It doesn’t cause any problems. But now that that is on my record, now that it’s on my actual health record, I can’t get life insurance. I can’t get life insurance at all because they can go and say you have cardiac problems. And they say it’s benign. And people may have it wandering around out there. But once you’ve had that test, you can’t get it erased.
Brock: So, that’s just my only word of warning there. Too many tests can sometimes backfire on you.
Ben: Yes. That or going and getting your clinical test in the black market.
Ben: Just fly under the radar.
Brock: Just slip the guy a couple of twenties and say keep this off the record.
Ben: Wanky back syndrome, you should’ve named your band wanky back instead of flying tractors or whatever you named it.
Brock: I insist.
Ben: I’m just saying.
Adam says: I follow a very strict diet as I try to build some more muscle mass. I also have very acne-prone skin that is extremely sensitive to Omega six fatty acids. Obviously this makes it more difficult because I have to cut out many calorie-dense foods like almonds, peanut butter, and etc. I supplement with a lot of fish oil but my ratios never seem to balance out unless I am mega-dosing with omega threes. Do you have any tips for adding calories to my diet while avoiding the dreaded omega six foods?
Ben: Yes. It’s a great idea to be focusing on reducing the omega six fatty acids in the diet. And with acne-prone skin, we actually had a podcast where I talked about how foods that give you a high insulin response specifically grain containing foods as well as dairy. Both of it may be associated with acne. And we went through the anatomy of the skin and how this actually occurs. So, I would go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com and do a search for acne. Or we’ll link to this in the show notes for you in episode 197. But omega six or pro-inflammatory fats are certainly good to a certain extent in terms of giving your body what it needs to create healthy inflammation. But most people get more than enough of that type of omega sixes in their diet. And if you’re looking for foods that are high in omega three fatty acids without having very high levels of omega sixes. The best place to start would be cold water fish. That’s a really good place to start. It would be salmon, sardines, halibut is not bad. Shrimp has decent levels of omega three fatty acids in it. Tuna is not too bad. When you’re looking at the best nuts that are going to be lowest in omega six, highest in omega three, walnuts are good.
Flaxseed are also pretty good, flaxseeds or flaxseed oil. And of course, doing a cod liver oil or Krill oil or good fish oil would also be something that you’d want to consider for sure. Some vegetables have decent levels of omega threes in them. If you look at spinach and colored greens and kale and stuff like that, it’s pretty good. Those are some of the main sources that I would include. I have a big tin of sardines almost everyday mostly. And that’s one of my major sources along with cod liver oil and fish oil of getting my omega three fatty acids. It’s just because nuts, you’ve got to be careful with because they do have omega sixes in them. And they’re very calorically dense. So, you can’t do a ton of them. That’s what I would be looking into though. And you’re doing a good job cutting out calorie dense foods.
There is a test that you can do that compares your omega three fatty acid ratio to your omega six fatty acid ratio. I had it done through Bioletics last year. And I found that my omega six fatty acid ratio was really high. Even though I was already taking fish oil and stuff like that, I was just doing too much still of things like peanut butter and almond oil or almond butter, nuts, seeds, and things like that. So, I had to cut back on those and quit digging the spoon doing the peanut butter and things like that after a workout. And that certainly helped out as well with my ratio and brought it back into alignment.
Brock: I’m afraid to get one of those tests because I don’t want to know that I have to cut back on the peanut butter and the almond butter. I just love that stuff. Alright, our next question comes from Christine.
Christine: I am a 37 year old female, 150 pounds, 5’6’’. I’ve been working out consistently for the first time in my life for over a year now. While I have toned up significantly, I have been unable to completely lose body fat from my lower body. I have alternated between low carbohydrate and low calorie diets and honestly feel confused about which one is best and what diet plan to follow. Can you offer some tips about the right diet?
Ben: Yes. Any female who is over about 30 years old definitely there are some hormonal issues going on that you got to take into consideration. This is especially when we’re looking at the lower body where essentially you’ve got alpha receptors and beta receptors. And your alpha receptors are going to be the receptors that are a little bit more likely to be at a higher ratio in the female body. And it can increase propensity to store fat. And they especially can tend to be higher in the lower body especially like the pear-shaped or what would be called the mesendomorph body shape. And I talk about this a little bit in my book over at Getfitguy.com about body typing and how you should be working out and eating based off of where you tend to be depositing fat. But a big thing here that of course you need to take into consideration is estrogen dominance. And especially as you get older and you feel like you’re unable to lose body fat. And it’s not necessarily focusing on a specific diet per say. But it’s more focusing on controlling that steep drop in progesterone combined with a less steep drop in estrogen which tends to give you that pro-growth and pro-fat storage effect.
So, from the time you’re about 35 up to the time you’re about 50, you get a 75 percent reduction in the production of progesterone which combats a lot of the fat depositing effects of estrogen. And during that same time period, estrogen is only going to decline about 35 percent. So, that’s the underlying cause of estrogen dominance. And then you combine that with everything from commercially raised cattle and poultry to vegetables and fruits that have pesticides on them. And foods that are in plastics to health care compounds that have zeno-estrogens or petrochemicals on them which are basically estrogen-like chemicals. And stress which can increase estrogen or decrease your ability to breakdown estrogen properly. And buildup of pharmaceuticals and alcohol and life’s effect on liver and the impairment of liver function which is also where you breakdown estrogen. All of that stuff put together can lead to estrogen dominance and we geeked out on this in a podcast a while ago. If you got to BenGreenfieldFitness.com do a search for estrogen, we had a podcast where we talked quite a bit about why women especially gain weight as they get older and what to do about it. But specifically, rather than focusing on a certain diet, the best thing that you can do here is make sure that you’re living as clean as possible. So, you’re trying to limit exposure to zeno-estrogens and pollutants. You’re trying to eat organic foods as much as you can. And you’re trying to use natural health care products. And then the other thing that you really want to do is make sure that you detoxify your liver.
So, if you go to and I’ll link to this in the show notes, in my recommendations page I talk about a cocktail that I recommend to women. It’s called calcium d-glucarate and some other compounds that help your liver properly metabolize estrogen to keep you turning over estrogen a little bit more quickly. Exercise of course can help quite a bit as well. In terms of some other supplements that you may want to look into, fish oil for example is a good one because a diet low in fish oil is going to decrease your ratio of two-hydroxy estrogen. And the two-hydroxy estrogen is the one that has more of that pro-growth effect. So, higher intake of fish oil can inhibit some of the formation or the ratio of that two-hydroxy estrogen to 16 hydroxy estrogens. So, I would be including good fish oil into your diet in addition to that cocktail with the calcium d glucarate that I recommend over at my recommendations page at BenGreenfieldFitness.com.
And then the other thing that can or my help out interestingly and this is something that you’ve got to be careful with because there’s obviously an addictive issue as well. But you can actually take in compounds that can occupy estrogen receptor sites. And one of the primary things that can do that is nicotinic acid. So, you can literally use a nicotine gum if you’re a female who tends to really store a ton of body fat in the lower body. And while there are some addictive bounce back side effects, that is something that can help to occupy estrogen receptors sites if you’ve just tried everything else and nothing is working. So, I wouldn’t necessarily go and start smoking cigarettes. But nicotinic acid can interestingly help out with estrogen dominance symptoms a little bit too. So, I would rec0mmend that you go listen to the podcast that we spend about 20 minutes really discussing this in detail. So, those are some of my recommendations.
Brock: Cool. Well, I’m sort of following right on the heels of that.
Lori says: I was wondering if D-Aspartic acid is okay for women to use as a testosterone enhancer. I am menopausal and on an estrogen/progesterone balancer. Since entering my 40’s, my ability to keep muscle definition has really become more challenging. Also, does DHEA help with boosting testosterone levels in anyone, male or female?
Ben: Okay. Yes. Testosterone is something that is found in lower amounts in women than in men. But it’s similar to what it does in men. It can have a pretty potent lean muscle and fat burning effect in women. There have been no studies that show d-aspartic acid to have a significant effect on women’s testosterone levels however. And that’s because it primarily works on luteinizing hormone in males which sends the signal to the leydig cells and the testis to produce testosterone. And since most women that I know don’t have testicles, that really doesn’t have the same effect on women. So, if you’re a woman with testicles, go for it.
Brock: I’m just staying quiet. I’m going to mute my microphone.
Ben: You’re not going to find that DAA or d-aspartic acid has much of an effect. The other issue is that if you did take d-aspartic acid, basically because it’s increasing luteinizing hormone. It’s going to in women cause a pretty steep spike in estrogen levels which then brings us back to what I just got done talking about that risk for estrogen dominance. It’s the same reason that even in males. You’ve got to be careful when you’re using d-aspartic acid to use what’s called an aromatase inhibitor. It’s to keep the extra testosterone that you’re producing from getting converted into estrogens and giving you man-boobs. So, in women, I don’t recommend d-aspartic acid to increase testosterone. I simply recommend making sure that you’re giving yourself enough cholesterol, vitamin d, magnesium, some fatty cuts of a grass fed beef. And basically taking care of things from an estrogen dominance perspective and then including foods that are going to naturally give you the building blocks to make testosterone. Rather than taking foods that may or taking supplements that may give you more estrogen than testosterone because that’d be an undesirable side effect.
As far as DHEA goes, that’s basically going to be a steroid hormone. You can take it in supplemental form. It’s illegal if you are involved in sports especially that it’s a prohibited substance under the World Anti-Doping Code or the World Anti-Doping Agency. It’s legal to sell it in the U.S as a dietary supplement. However, in terms of testosterone, there’s no solid evidence that it’s going to increase your testosterone levels. I’m a little bit concerned from a pro-growth cancer perspective with recommending something like DHEA use. I’d be careful with it even though it hasn’t shown a lot of serious adverse events. I really haven’t seen a ton of evidence that it’s going to massively improve testosterone levels. It’s not something that I personally recommend. There was one randomized placebo control trial on DHEA. And it wasn’t found to have an effect on lean body mass strength or testosterone. And that’s the last day that I saw in terms of DHEA granted it was about ten years ago when they conducted that study. And maybe there’s stuff that has come out since then that I haven’t seen. But I try and pay pretty close attention. And it’s just not a supplement that I currently recommend.
Brock: Given that Lori says that she is menopausal and she’s on an estrogen/progesterone balancer. So, I’m assuming that that was a prescription from her physician or from her doctor. Would you be worried about using any sort of stuff like d-aspartic acid or DHEA or anything like that given that she’s already on a medication?
Ben: I don’t know what the estrogen/progesterone balancer that’s she’s on. There are a lot of different cocktails out there that are not prescriptions over the counters. But literally just supplements that folks take that are supposed to decrease estrogen and increase progesterone, etc. So, a lot of that stuff can be somewhat dangerous unless you’re frequently testing because what you don’t want to do is boost progesterone too high or get that ratio out of control. I don’t really recommend any supplements for boosting testosterone levels in women aside from hormonal precursors or steroidal precursors. Like vitamin d and a high fat diet and magnesium is an enzyme that can help with the formation of testosterone a little bit. So, I’d recommend that. But in most women, you’re going to see better effects by making sure that you’d take care of any issues associated with estrogen dominance.
Brock: Alright, cool. Well, our last question comes from Brian.
Brian says: I was looking to get back into shape after losing about 30 pounds by simply eating right and exercise last year. By the same time this year I gained about 15 pounds back due to stress and poor eating habits. My question is I have a hard time hitting my stride on the eating side of things. My body feels run down and sluggish. What is the best way to reset and kick things off again and shake off this sluggish, overfed feeling? I know you mentioned fasting on the podcast as far as fasted workouts. But what is your feeling on intermittent 24 hour fasting? I am concerned about a possible rebound effect or slowing down of my metabolism.
Ben: Yes. So, like I mentioned earlier in the podcast I know there was a question on intermittent fasting in this episode. I’m a fan. And there is data that shows that intermittent fasting when you do it properly can help reduce your triglyceride count in your blood. It can reduce your blood pressure. It can reduce a lot of markers of inflammation like homocysteine and CRP and interleukin and also a lot of the things that indicate potential risk for heart issues or excessive muscle damage. Intermittent fasting has been shown to reduce what’s called oxidative stress which can cause damage to your DNA, to your cell membranes. It may decrease risk of cancer. And it has been shown to increase your fatty acid oxidation. It can potentially increase your growth hormone. It can potentially increase your metabolic rate because of the epinephrine and norepinephrine release that you can get. And it can increase your cell turnover and repair what’s called your phagocytic activity in the cells. Basically, it means that you are cleaning up your body’s trash a little bit more quickly. It can help with appetite control. It can help with blood sugar control. It can help with cardiovascular function.
So, there is a lot of research that shows that intermittent fasting may have a pretty positive effect on people. There are a few problems. Most of the research has been done on animals and not humans. So, you’ve got to be careful when it comes to that of course even though in many cases you can extrapolate some of these effects to humans. The other thing is that often in these studies they’re comparing intermittent fasting to regular typical western diet. And they’re not comparing intermittent fasting with something like a low carbohydrate ketogenic diet which may have some of the same effects without actually putting you in an uncomfortable state. It’s where you got to just stop eating for 16 hours or 24 hours depending on the type of fast that you do. However, even though there are a few issues with intermittent fasting studies, I for the most part in my clients and in myself have seen positive results from intermittent fasting. This is in terms of everything from fat to improving appetite control to improving fat loss and other positive health benefits.
There are multiple ways that you can fast. And if you look at most of the popular fasting protocols out there, there’s one called eat stop and eat. That’s a 24-hour fast that you do one or two times a week. There’s one called a lean gains protocol which is and this is similar to the one we talked about earlier with mice where you do a 16-hour fast. And then you have each day an 8-hour period of time where you just eat whenever you want to eat as much as you’d like. But every single day you’d work in about a 16-hour fast. This is close to the type of thing that I do on a daily basis even though I’m probably closer to a ten hour feed-14 hour fast scenario. There’s another one called the warrior diet which is a 20-hour fasting period followed by a four hour feeding period. That one I think is pretty tough especially when you’re doing it multiple days in a row. And then there’s one that’s basically alternate day fasting where you have a 36-hour fast followed by a 12 hour feeding window. It’s another one that I think is very tough to pull off socially and logistically. But all of these tend to create some of those effects that I went over. It just depends on what works for you and for your lifestyle. I mean for me, I’m a big fan of just like I mentioned earlier in the podcast, not eating for a couple of hours before bed.
Waking up early in the morning and either doing a light workout session or waiting a little while before you eat breakfast. But trying to work a good anywhere from 13 to 16 hour period of time in each day where you’re not eating. The only exception of that being if you tend to be somebody who’s got a high stressed life and a lot of cortisol, sometimes a long fast can tend to be a little bit damaging. And you want to make sure you’ve got your stress and sleep under control before you start throwing in fasting. One of the issues with fasting is that there is this toss up because when you limit food intake, you’re going to increase potential for lifespan. And you keep the component of your gene that is responsible for your lifespan called your telomeres long through what’s called the mTOR pathway which stands for mammalian target of rapamycin. I’ve talked about it on the show before. But basically, up regulation of the mTOR pathway may actually have this inhibitory effect on lifespan. And that’s why when you find that you restrict calorie intake and everything from mice to fruit flies, you find increased lifespan. At the same time, you also get a decrease when you limit calorie intake or when you fast a lot on what’s called AMPk. This is the enzyme that’s responsible for helping you to build muscle and create lean muscle tissue.
So, if you’re down regulating that AMPk enzyme, you’ve got to be aware of that. And you’ve got to know that any type of fasting protocol may limit your ability to build lean muscle mass. And so, it really depends on your goal. If you’re somebody who’s super skinny, you want to put on muscle. Or if you’re somebody who’s skinny fat and muscle is an issue for you in that case, you may want to consider simply controlling calories, controlling your carbohydrate intake. And not putting long fasting to each day. Whereas if you’ve got the muscle that you want and you just want to burn a bunch of fat or increase your lifespan or something like that. That’s where intermittent fasting might be more beneficial for you. So, what it comes down to is you do need to look at your goals and also look at what you’re able to pull off from a social and logistical standpoint. Brian, you say that you’re interested to stop eating at one pm and then not eating until one pm the next day. For me personally, that wouldn’t work because I like to have dinner with my family. But if you’re finding that that works better for you than doing just a 16-hour fast and having most of it in the evening. Then that’s fine. Both can have a really good effect. So, intermittent 24-hour fasting could work. So, it could a broken hour fast like a 16 hour fast and an eight hour feed cycle. So, that’s the skinny on fasts and the different types out there and my thoughts on fasting.
Brock: Did you have any suggestions around how he could shake off the sluggish feeling? He said that he has a hard time hitting his stride on the eating side of things. Is the best suggestion is to probably go for the fasting?
Ben: Well, usually the body filling rundown or sluggish is stress and lack of sleep. Sometimes poor blood sugar control can be an issue. Sometimes leaky gut can be an issue. But I find that the two biggest issues are stress and lack of sleep. So, optimize sleep, go read the articles that I put at BenGreenfieldFitness.com about optimizing sleep. And control stress as much as you can. And that usually helps with that sluggish rundown feeling.
Brock: Well, that does it for this week’s episode. Episode 197 is in the bag.
Ben: And next or this coming Saturday, I’ll put out an episode or another audio for you. It’s an interview with Jack Kruse about cold thermogenesis. And specifically we’ve talked a little bit on this show about cold thermogenesis and how it can help with fat loss. We’re going to specifically talking about how it can turn you into a beast when it comes to human performance like athletic performance and stuff like that as well. So, stay tuned for that interview with Jack Kruse on Saturday. And then coming up on Monday, I’ll be also talking about some newer and cooler exercise technologies that also incorporate cold thermogenesis. And I’ll be releasing also and kind of a double episode an interview with the guy who created this future of health now. It’s a video series. Literally we’re doing an audio episode for the next two releases from BenGreenfieldFitness.com. So, keep that mp3 player’s memory open.
Ben: And everything we’ll put in the show notes over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com. Thanks for listening folks. Thanks for your support. We always appreciate iTunes reviews. You can also leave a quick donation over on the podcast. And I think that’s about it. I’m going to go make sure that the hole in my leg isn’t draining nasty thing or taking a life of its own.
Brock: That’s a good idea. Go check that thing.
Ben: Alright. And hopefully by this time next week, I will be back and healthy and all cleaned up.
Brock: Tipped top and on your way to Japan.
Ben: Alright, later folks.
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
June 13, 2012 – free audio podcast: Does Intermittent Fasting Work For Fat Loss?Also: how to sit correctly, starting a diabetic fitness regime later in life, triggering that “fight or flight” reaction, tips on yogurt making, clenched toes while running, getting accurate “calories burnt” data, stress tests for health vs fitness, omega fats and acne, the “right” diet, and can D-Aspartic Acid enhance testosterone.
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- Did you know that whey protein can spike your blood sugar higher than white bread?
- This study highlights fact that our body is probably designed to be prone to disease if we aren't overnight fasting.
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As compiled and read by Brock, the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast “sidekick”.
Audio Question from a truck driver:
He spends 90% of his day in a seated position without the option to stand up and move around. He wants to know – what is the proper way to remain in a seated position? Knees higher or lower than your hips, use lumbar support or not, arm rests or no, feat square on the floor or on an angle… or on the dashboard? Also are there exercises that he can do in the seat while he drives?
~ In my response, I reference this article about ways to exercise at work.
My dad is 55 years old and is diabetic for last 15 years. He is on insulin injections for last 4 years or so and follows a pretty healthy vegetarian diet (not so much protein in his diet) and does fast walking, very light yoga for exercise. I want him to start taking supplements like Omega3, whey protein and start strength training. After listening to your podcast on Zen of aging I now realize its possible to put on muscle and get fit at any age. Do you have any recommendations on how he could start his fitness regimen at this age and given his diabetic condition. He is decently healthy at 160 lbs, does not drink or smoke and does not have too much of body fat.
I am a 50 year old male who competes in judo competitions. My fitness and conditioning are good, however I am quite a calm person by nature and have noticed as I get older I am just calmer. My mind and body knows when entering a competition that although I can get hurt that my life is not in danger, so I don't get much of an adrenaline surge. However all my opponents seem to be in a massive “fight or flight” moment. So, in the initial standing component when speed and explosive strength are paramount I am at a disadvantage. If I can survive this first couple of minutes, after which their adrenaline dumps subsides, I do well. So, aside from jumping out in front of a car before a competition how can I induce more of a “fight or flight” response? Preferably “fight” not “flight”.
I've recently acquired a taste for natural yoghurt and I am going through at least a tub a week. My Mum has a Easiyo Yoghurt Maker and I am very interested in making the yoghurt myself too. I was just wondering what you thought of these yoghurt makers and if the powder packs used to get it started are actually comparable to the yoghurt tubs in the shops. I have heard that you make your own from fresh milk but I'm not able to get hold of any milk where I live.
~ If you don't want to use a home yoghurt maker, read this article.
When running I tend to clinch my toes on one foot (left usually) and can't seem to relax the foot to expand out in the toe box of my running shoe. The shoes aren't laced too tight and I'm typically more sore on the right side on the days I notice toe clinching on the left. Two questions: 1. What causes it… muscle imbalances? skeletal misalignment? some nutritional deficiency? 2. What damage am I doing outside of creating an inefficient running gate?
Do you know of, or think there is a way, to figure out your true calorie expenditure on machines like a stationary bike or an elliptical since their numbers are notorious for being wrong? Is the distance on the stationary bike reliable enough to plug it in to the calorie equation based on mph? I'm not obsessed with burning a certain number of calories during a workout but was curious if there was a way to get ballpark numbers without doing an in-depth metabolic test.
~ In my response, I recommend the FitBit for calorie tracking.
Ben, I just read your article about EMT that I found online. I found it very helpful and interesting. I am having a metabolic stress test tomorrow as a diagnostic tool. I am wondering what experience you have with how hospitals perform their EMT vs. how exercise physiologists perform the test.
~ In my response, I recommend my article in Triathlete Magazine.
I follow a very strict diet as I try to build some more muscle mass. I also have very acne-prone skin that is extremely sensitive to Omega-6 fatty acids. Obviously this makes it more difficult because I have to cut out many calorie-dense foods (almonds, peanut butter, etc.). I supplement with a lot of fish oil but my ratios never seem to balance out unless I am mega-dosing with omega-3s. Do you have any tips for adding calories to my diet while avoiding the dreaded omega-6 foods?
~ In my response to Adam, I mention another podcast I've done about dairy and acne.
I am a 37 year old female, 150 lbs, 5'6″. I have been working out consistently for the first time in my life for over a year now. While I have toned up significantly, I have been unable to completely lose body fat from my lower body. I have alternated between low carb and low calorie diets and honestly feel confused about which one is best and what diet plan to follow. Can you offer some tips about the “right” diet?
~ In my response to Christine, I mention my book about getting fit for your body type, at www.getfitguy.com
I was wondering if D-Aspartic Acid is ok for women to use as a testosterone enhancer. I am menopausal and on an Estrogen/Progesterone balancer. Since entering my 40's, my ability keep muscle definition has really become more challenging. Also, Does DHEA help with boosting testosterone levels (in anyone, male or female)?
I was looking to get back into shape after losing about 30 lbs by simply eating right and exercise last year. By the same time this year I gained about 15lbs back, due to stress and poor eating habits. My question is I have a hard time hitting my stride on the eating side of things ? My body feels run down and sluggish. What is the best way to reset and kick things off again and shake off this sluggish, overfed feeling? I know you mentioned fasting on the podcast as far as fasted workouts, but what is your feeling on intermittent 24 hour fasting? I am concerned about a possible rebound effect or slowing of my metabolism.