July 4, 2012
Podcast # 199 from https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2012/07/episode-199-how-exercise-makes-you-fat/
Introduction: In today’s Podcast, how exercise makes you fat. Also, when and how to reach your race weight, ankle and lower back stiffness, properly testing a new fill source, does fructose inhibit HGH, the best pre-workout supplements, can fasting lead to ketosis, planning for multi-stage ultra marathon, growth hormone vs. testosterone, and are any energy supplements safe.
Brock: Hello everybody, welcome to another episode. This is episode number 199 in fact of the BenGreenfieldFitness Podcast. You can’t believe it?
Ben: I know.
Brock: You have nearly 200 episodes.
Ben: And we’re recording this on Independence Day. So, it would’ve been nice if episode number 200 were to fall on July 4th because I would’ve had fireworks hanging around anyways at least here in America.
Ben: What do you guys do up there in Canada? Do you just sit inside your house with your garden hoses turned on in case we spread up our fire up your way?
Brock: With our binoculars? Pretty much yes. We sit with binoculars and just wait for the rockets to come. But we just had Canada days only three days before its July 1st. It’s our Dominion Day. So, it’s quite a coincidence that they’re only three days apart. So, we actually had all our fireworks a few days ago. I still have a bit of a beer hangover. And it’s mandatory actually in Canada to drink at least a case of beer on Dominion Day.
Ben: Well dressed and full hockey guard?
Brock: Yes or red surge.
Ben: Yes. Well, I’m proud of myself that I haven’t blown up any limbs yet. And it’s 8:30 a.m. so it should be a successful Independence Day.
Brock: That’s pretty good.
Brock: Alright, Twitter.com/BenGreenfield is the place to go for all the breaking awesomeness.
Ben: That should be a name of a band, Breaking Awesomeness.
Brock: Breaking Awesomeness.
Brock: So, bring on the breaking awesomeness, Ben.
Ben: With a set-up like that, how can I not? There’s a recent study that a bunch of people e-mailed me about. So, I figured I should say something about it. And it was this recent study that appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The title of the study was The Effects of Dietary Composition on Energy Expenditure during Weight Loss Maintenance.
Ben: That’s not enough of a mouthful for you.
Brock: I have no idea what that means.
Ben: Basically, it looked into the effect of a few different diets on the actual metabolic rate. And it looked into a few other things as well like the blood lipids, the cholesterol, blood chemistry, the hormones levels, levels of inflammations, and stuff like that. And the three diets that they compared were that one was a low fat diet and one was a low glycemic index diet. It means a diet comprised of carbohydrates that are going to get released more slowly into the bloodstream. And then, one was a very low carbohydrate diet. And all of these folks were obese. They were eating an extremely restricted calorie diet along with this type of adjustment from group to group. But they found some interesting things in terms of how each of these diets affected basic metabolic parameters. And there were lots of news reports that went around about that stuff because the basic thing that they found in the study was low carbohydrate. Or the important things that they found on the study were that low carbohydrate and higher fat intake reduced the circulating triglycerides levels in the bloodstream. And it raised HGL cholesterol.
Unfortunately, it didn’t actually look into cholesterol particle size which is a little bit more important than actual cholesterol numbers. But regardless, that was pretty good. And they also found that in low carbohydrate-high fat group that insulin sensitivity was improved which was also very good. And this was more so than compared to the low fat group or the low glycemic index group. But when you looked at a lot of the papers, what they were reporting was for example the New York Times reported that the low carbohydrate diet raised levels of C Reactive Protein. It’s a measure of chronic inflammation and cortisol. It’s a hormone that mediates stress. That’s actually completely not true. Every single group in the study actually had a decline in their inflammatory markers. But the reason that the New York Times reported that was that compared to the low carbohydrate group, the low glycemic index group had an even lower amount of inflammation going on. And the low fat group incidentally had the highest amount of inflammation. So, that one was completely untrue but it was reported by the media.
And then another report said that the low carbohydrate appeared to raise risk factors for heart disease which I’m guessing because it raised cholesterol particularly HCL cholesterol count. And we talked last week about how a rise in cholesterol is not synonymous with the rise in heart disease risk.
Brock: Even in traditional thought, even in ten years ago, HDL was the one that you were supposed to raise wasn’t it?
Brock: It has always been that.
Ben: Yes. But a lot of times if media sees that overall cholesterol went up, sometimes they won’t even look at what cost the rise in total cholesterol. They’ll just see that HDL went up and say that cholesterol went up so you’re going to die of a heart attack any minute and just call the ambulance. And so, the Wall Street Journal also reported that the low carbohydrate diet had a big boost in total energy expenditure because the low carbohydrate diet did end up burning in terms of their total energy expenditure. It was the main finding of the study. It was about 300 more calories per day than the people who are on the low carbohydrate diet. So, it literally boosted metabolism.
Brock: So, just by doing absolutely nothing different and just by changing the diet, their basal metabolic rate actually went up?
Ben: Yes, exactly.
Brock: That’s very cool.
Ben: It is pretty cool especially when you’re restricting calories. But then they reported again in the New York Times that it also caused a bunch of inflammation and cortisol release. And again, that’s not true. Everybody’s inflammatory count went down. The only difference is that it went down slightly more in the low glycemic index group than it did in the low carbohydrate intake group. But regardless, that was not really reported. So, anyways though, the ultimate take away from that study was that low carbohydrates as we’ve heard from a guy like Gary Taubes for example. I don’t agree with everything he says. But in terms of his book “Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It” and also his book “Good Calories-Bad Calories”. He outlines a lot of the reasons why this low carbohydrate could increase your metabolic rate and really help you to lose weight a lot more quickly. So, if you’re listening in and you just don’t know anything about those types of diets, you should definitely read some of Taubes writing. He’s got some good stuff on this.
Brock: What were they calling a low carbohydrate in that study? How many carbohydrates were considered low?
Ben: Low carbohydrate intake, I don’t have it in front of me anymore. I want to say it was somewhere between 30 and 50 grams.
Brock: Okay. So yes, that is pretty low.
Ben: I’d have to Google the study and get it in front of me again. But it was legitimately low carbohydrates.
Brock: Okay. But we’ll definitely have a link in the show notes to that study. So, if anybody wants to follow up on that, they can take a peak.
Ben: Another interesting study that I linked to was that I noted a study that came out that showed that if you’re really skinny, you don’t have a lot of body fat and you’re already lean. And you’re concerned about leptin sensitivity. And leptin is an extremely important hormone involved in appetite control, metabolism, and inflammation. Then you should avoid hard and long workouts especially hard and long workouts that are in the presence of inadequate fuel. And what they found was in this study which I’ll link to that after an hour of intense exercise or exercise that burns anything more than 800 calories an hour. And a hard run or a hard bike ride is easily going to do that. You plummet in the levels in this hormone leptin. And this could be a big issue in terms of the endocrine system and the hormonal system especially in people who are not obese or not overweight. Technically, normal leptin levels are very necessary for fat loss and very necessary for metabolic health if you are leptin sensitive.
So, what this means that whereas an overweight or obese person who would tend to in the same way that you’d start with insulin sensitivity start with leptin sensitivity. Someone like that could get away a little bit better with doing an hour of intense exercise. But someone who is skinny and who is already lean and wants to maintain healthy leptin levels and good leptin sensitivity should avoid doing long hard workouts without fuel. And a few other ways that you can maintain really good appetite control and really good leptin sensitivity would be to get enough sleep. To, as we talked about, really watch carbohydrate intake and preferable cycle your carbohydrate intake so you have low carbohydrate intake especially in your lower activity days. But ultimately, what it comes down to is that it’s something that you should know. And it’s doing hard exercise. If you’re already lean, you’re already skinny, you don’t have a lot of body fat to burn, it can really mess with your hormonal system doing exhaustive exercise sessions that are longer than an hour.
Brock: So, I guess the idea would be to fuel for any of those workouts but also to do the shorter and higher intensity stuff.
Ben: Yes. And then the other thing to bear in mind is if you started off overweight and now you’re skinny, you may actually not be getting the same benefits as you did before from going to kill yourself at the gym for 90 minutes. Now, when you did that in a weight stabilized state, you could actually be hurting yourself hormonally. So, it’s a difference based off of where you’re at in terms of that.
Ben: And I’ll link to that study. And then the last thing that I noticed that I wanted to mention was that when you have a high dietary intake of eggs, whole eggs with the yolk. Cholesterol intake from eggs was shown to reduce visceral fat which is the bad fat around your belly and on the organs. And it can promote healthy cholesterol metabolism. In other words, dietary markers of cholesterol metabolism and a reduction in the bad type of fat in the waist line was actually increased in correlation to the number of eggs eaten per day. There would certainly be a law of diminishing returns I suppose.
Ben: That was an egg-friendly basis. I’ll link to this study for those of you who want to look into this a little bit more. But it was pretty interesting to note that a lot of the benefits that came along with eating whole eggs on a daily basis in terms of helping you to reduce belly fat basically.
Brock: Was there any specific preparation of the eggs like fried in butter or poached or boiled or anything like that?
Ben: What they did was they actually took chickens and put them out on a field. And they had overweight individuals chase the chickens. I actually don’t know. We can look at it again if I still have the study in front of me. We’ll link to it in the show notes so folks can go check it out.
Brock: Sounds good.
Brock: Alright. So, on BenGreenfieldFitness.com I noticed that you wrote an article about exercise induced asthma especially in kids. It sounds like that’s becoming a real problem.
Ben: Yes in a recent interview. For any of you who are subscribed to the podcast, you may have already heard or downloaded the interview with Dr. David Minkoff that we did about exercise induced asthma in kids. Go check out the show notes to that interview because I took a lot of notes while I was talking to him on the phone. And if you struggle with exercise induced asthma or you have a kid who you are concerned about with that issue, then go read the show notes. It’s because I had a similar issue with one of my boys. And Dr. Minkoff’s advice in a month has beaten it down.
Ben: And I do recommend that you go and read some of the recommendations. I won’t get into them now. But I listed them all. And there are lots of helpful links there in the show notes to that for you. And then, while you’re over there, be sure to click on the show notes to this episode. It’s episode number 199 because I’ll put a link to the future of health now videos which are 20 free and very cool videos. It’s on Cutting Edge Concepts. And those are going to start to be released for free on July 10th I believe it is. But you can sign up to get them now. And I actually got the person responsible for putting that whole free online conference together. And I got him on the phone. I’ll probably release an interview with him about some of the cool things that he and I both picked up from these videos probably this Saturday. I’ll push that up.
Brock: I noticed that there have been a few people who have been commenting on the Goggle+ site and also on BenGreenfieldFitness.com about not being able to get them for free. They seem to be confused as to how to actually get them. They’re concerned that they’re going have to pay 97 dollars or something for it.
Ben: Not really.
Brock: Okay. But there’s once you give them your e-mail address, I’ve actually noticed that over the last few days they’ve been sending out links to some of the interviews already. And as long as you’ve given them your e-mail address and you click the links in the e-mail, you can actually get right in there and listen to them right now. So, don’t be concerned when you go there and see all those big buttons to spend a whole bunch of money. Definitely spend the money if you want to support it. I’m not saying you shouldn’t. But you can listen to them for free if you sign up with your e-mail address.
Ben: I think online it’s technically not free because you’re paying with your e-mail address.
Ben: Just give me your grandma’s address or whatever. And then the other thing that I wanted to mention and this is something that you may have heard about before is the website Audible. And Audible is actually a sponsor of today’s show. And the reason that I’m bringing it up now is because when I found out they were sponsoring today’s show, I went over to see what was available over there in terms of audio book. Lo and behold, it was one of the most influential books that I went through last year. Somebody whom we’ve had in the podcast, somebody who literally changed the way I eat has their audio book over at Audible.
Brock: You’re killing me.
Ben: Literally, it drastically changed my diet last year.
Brock: Wheat Belly?
Ben: Yes. It taught me a ton of things I didn’t know about wheat. And I had Dr. William Davis, the author of that book on the show. If you want to listen to it while you’re driving, while you’re riding your bike, while you’re out running, you can actually download it for free. You can get a free audio book download for free when you sign up for a free trial over at Audible. And the place to go and this is I think is just so that Audible can actually track whether or not our listeners actually listen into the show and have heard about Audible on this show. It’s AudiblePodcast.com/Ben.
Brock: That’s easy.
Ben: Yes. It’s AudiblePodcast.com/Ben. And if you go to AudiblePodcast.com/Ben, you can get a free audio book download. Grab that book wheat belly and listen to it. There are over 100,000 other titles to choose from in pretty much every genre you name it. But I’d start off with that wheat belly book if you haven’t gone through it yet. Interestingly, I mentioned Gary Taubes’ book “Why We Get Fat and What to Do about It”. I noticed that that’s over there too. So, check it out. It’s AudiblePodcast.com/Ben.
Peggy: Hi Ben, this is Peggy Stringer and I just finished the Coeur d’ Alene Ironman. I’m 61 years old. And I have never raced an Ironman before. And I followed your plan. It worked great for me. Your advice was wonderful. And guess what, I placed first in my age group and I’m going to Kona. It’s a wonderful opportunity and I wanted to thank you. And thank you for such a great plan. I followed it pretty religiously. I fell down a couple of times but it really worked for me. And I wanted to tell you thank you a lot and I appreciate it. And all your advice really paid off. So, I’m going to Kona. Thanks a lot Ben and I look forward to working with you on the Kona plan. Thank you very much and have a great day. Bye.
Listener Q and A:
Brock: Okay. As usual, awesome questions everybody starting with this audio question from Eric.
Eric: Hey Ben, this is Eric. And I’ve been doing triathlons for about a year and a half now. I’ve been able to go up to the Ironman distance race. But after a hiatus, I’m really looking to get back into it. But the problem is I am about 30 to 35 pounds over the weight that I would like to be. I sat down and worked at my training plan. I have some goals that I’d like to reach that are probably going to be a little bit difficult. I’m really going to have to push myself. So, my question is, should I and this is a sprint triathlon that I really want to focus on putting at? Do I try and lose that excess weight now early in the season and then spend the last six months of the year really focusing on that intensity? Or should I just start training for this race? Again, it’s a sprint. And then potentially I’d like to do pretty well at a half Ironman race. Should I lose the weight then focus on those races getting up to the speeds that I like and the intensities? Or should I go about training for those races and losing that weight at the same time? Thank you very much. I appreciate your help.
Ben: Alright. Well, this is a question that a lot of people have. I’ve recommended before that one really good way to motivate yourself to lose weight is to just sign up for something that you can put on your calendar. Like a sprint triathlon, or a 5k or a 10k or whatever. But at the same time, there can be a little bit of a paradox in terms of actual efficient training that is hard. It’s pushing you. It’s getting you into really good shape and weight loss. And one of the reasons for that especially when it comes to getting ready for a marathon or a triathlon or something like that is because exercise can technically cause you to gain weight or make you fat. And it’s not because of why you think it may be and it is something that a lot of people falsely tell you and that is that exercise makes you overeat. Or it makes you calorically overcompensate later on in the day after you’ve exercise. That’s actually not true. And it was shown in a recent study not to be true. Exercise does not make you overeat.
The reason instead is because of the link between excessive exercise and especially excessive aerobic exercise and the hormone cortisol because what happens is that the more aerobic exercise that you do, typically the more that this catabolic hormone cortisol is going to be released. And as cortisol gets released, it’s going to mobilize lots of blood sugar from your liver. So, your liver is releasing these blood sugars. That begins to spike your insulin levels because in response to this release of blood sugar driven by cortisol, your pancreas churns out insulin. It’s so that insulin can take this blood sugar and get it out of the bloodstream stored away. So, more and more insulin getting released into the bloodstream means more resistance to that insulin.
Basically, your cell surface receptors eventually become resistant to all of that insulin that’s constantly circulating in the bloodstream from you constantly elevated cortisol cools. And because you are in an insulin resistance state, you churn out more insulin. And insulin is a storage hormone. It is able to shove excess energy into fat cells. And so, this is one of the issues with this skinny-fat look. Or you’ve got joggers running around not doing any strength training, chronically doing aerobic training all day long and you see a lot of fat. With men, it’s typically on the stomach. With women, it’s usually on the hips and the butt area. And a lot of times, that’s due to insulin resistance from a high cortisol due to excessive aerobic activity. So, that’s one of the issues with how excessive exercise can contribute to fatness if you’re not careful.
Another issue is that when you start to train for something that isn’t aerobic like a triathlon or marathon or something like that. If you’re only doing steady-state type of cardio activity which is actually quite common, what you do is you allow your body to adapt very efficiently in the way that it uses fuel. So if you’re always exercising, I’m going throw a percentage out there that’s fairly common like 70 to 75 percent. So, you’re exercising. It’s not super hard. It’s not super easy. Your body gets very used to the caloric content that you’re actually burning, the percentage of carbohydrates and the percentage of fat that you’re using at that intensity to make energy. And you get very efficient. So, you burn fewer calories at that intensity. And your metabolic rate raises less after the activity because your body just adapts and becomes smarter on how it uses its fuel. And so, that’s another issue. It’s that especially if you’re doing a lot of aerobic exercise and doing it all on one steady state, you become less efficient essentially at burning calories during exercise.
Brock: That’s funny because I guess you become less efficient because you’re becoming more efficient.
Ben: Yes. So, you become more efficient at this one single intensity but overall you become less efficient. And it’s actually interesting. Long term aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease your metabolic rate by five to 15 percent. If you’re going out for a one hour easy run, it is not true that that elevates your metabolic rate for 24 hours after like you burn more calories the rest of the day. It actually decreases your metabolic rate. And that’s something that a lot of people don’t realize. And it is again one of the issues with chronic long term aerobic activity such as can be tempting to do when you’re training for something like a triathlon or a marathon or something of that nature. There are other issues as well.
Basically, when you’ve got all this cortisol being produced from excessive aerobic activity and there’s a precursor to make cholesterol or to make cortisol. It’s called pregnenolone. And pregnenalone is something that our body makes from food sources of cholesterol. And so, when your body is making a bunch of cortisol from pregnenolone, what happens is that pregnenolone which is a precursor to a lot of other hormones begins to get shuttle preferentially into cortisol formation. And it becomes less likely to up regulate production of some of these other hormones like testosterone for example. And it’s one of the key hormones involved in fat loss and lean muscle gain. And so, you get what’s called this pregnenolone steal. And that also can limit your ability to burn fat as a fuel or to get that nice body that you’re going after if you’re constantly stress. Or you have high cortisol levels from excessive exercise or lack of sleep of lifestyle stress or anything else. So, it basically shunts pregnenolone into cortisol production. So, that means you have testosterone, estrogen, DHEA, and other important hormones, vitamin d, all of these are made from that common precursor pregnenolone. And they’ll all fall.
Another issue when you’re talking about all of these different hormones falling is that vitamin D specifically getting low can lead to things like most especially in younger people, andropause and low drive. And in women, early in onset menopause and a lot of other issues. So, when you’re stealing pregnenolone because you’ve got all these cortisol getting built up, that’s again another issue when it comes to exercise having the propensity to make you gain weight if you’re not careful. I mentioned metabolism and how aerobic exercise can technically decrease your metabolism by about five to 15 percent if all you’re doing is easy aerobic runs and bike rides and stuff like that.
The other way that it can affect your metabolism is if you’ve got these constantly high cortisol levels. That affects your hypothalamus. And it specifically blocks in terms of the production of a specific hormone that’s going to assist with thyroid production and thyroid stimulating hormone. Basically, cortisol releasing hormone which is released to churn out cortisol when you’re stressed out or when you’re doing lots of exercise. It directly blocks your thyroid stimulating hormone production. So, you get less active thyroid hormone being produced. And you get a drop in metabolism related to lower thyroid hormone production. And so, that’s another issue especially in people with thyroid conditions but also in folks who are just making too much cortisol. Probably, the last thing in terms of cortisol would be that same thing that cortisol releasing hormone that is generated in the hypothalamus in response to stress. It’s so that your body can churn out cortisol. That can block growth hormone secretion too. And so, you get low growth hormone levels. And that can increase your body fat. It can decrease your lean muscle mass. It can lead to literally lean muscle loss. And so, there’s another issue as well.
And eventually, what happens is we get somebody who is trying to lose weight through excessive aerobic activity. And they either don’t lose weight as quickly as they should or they lose weight but it generates this skinny-fat look. And it’s an issue in folks who do something like sign up for an Ironman triathlon to lose weight or signed up for a marathon to lose weight. You have to make sure. If you’re using some type of aerobic goal like a triathlon or a marathon as your fat loss goal, that you use a combination of high intensity interval training, weight training. And then limited strategically placed cardio efforts. And that’s really the whole philosophy behind my triathlon training program Tri-ripped. It’s designed to keep you from getting skinny-fat when you’re training for aerobic exercise because for the reasons that I just mentioned. It really is possible for exercise to make you fat or for exercise not to give you the body that you want if you prepare incorrectly especially for aerobic activity.
Brock: Okay. So, to get back to Eric’s question, I guess then the timing would be that he could lose weight in preparation while he’s getting ready for this sprint triathlon as long as he follows those guidelines.
Ben: Yes. Don’t follow a typical triathlon training program that’s going to have you doing a ton of aerobic activity and a lot of steady-state swims and bikes and runs. Do high intensity cardio intervals. Do weight training. And you could do one aerobic session per week. And that’s the way that I would lose a lot of weight but retain a lot of this insulin sensitivity, leptin sensitivity, vitamin D, testosterone, growth hormone all that good stuff that you don’t want to lose doing aerobic training.
Brock: So, I guess the other option would be like he suggested like he could go on more of a caloric restrictive like more of a traditional diet in the earlier off season. And then transition into something like this to maintain his weight rather than trying to drop the pounds while training as well.
Ben: Whenever you have enough time, yes. That’s what you should do. You should focus on caloric restriction and weight loss and self-denial and all the other things that may go along with losing a significant amount of weight. At a different time of year, then you’re focusing on heavier hard exercise. That’s the ideal scenario. You’re not stressing out your body from both levels, from the calorie level and from the exercise level. But if you are going to be pursuing both goals at once, use that approach that three pronged approach of high intensity cardio intervals, weight training, and a limited amount of aerobic cardio. And then ideally, have your calorie restriction days maybe five days a week and thrown in one or two higher calorie reefed days. And that’s how I set up the Tri-ripped Program. It’s to basically cycle calories like that.
Brock: That actually fits in really well. I just heard a study or just was reading about a study where they are saying that we actually have a finite amount of self-control within our self. Not for our lifetime but per day, we can actually use up the amount of self-control that we have. So, if you are periodizing everything in a nice little package like that, then you won’t use up your self-control.
Ben: That’s a really good point. And I forgot what they called it in this study. But it’s basically, you reach ceiling when it comes to self-denial or self-control. And then you just basically blow up and grab every Twinkie.
Brock: And you binge. Excellent, well let’s move on to the next question. Chris has a question.
Chris: Most of your topics seem to address cardio and diet. Can you do a show on soft tissue injuries and flexibility? My big limiters, that I can’t seem to fix, are stiffness in my ankle and lower back.
Ben: Yes. When it comes to stiffness, there’s a lot or reasons that it can happen. And it goes above and beyond pushing too hard at the gym every once in a while. So, one thing is just age. Just as you age, the water content in your tendons which attach your muscles to your bones that decreases. So, your muscles just essentially become less hydrated as you age. And that makes them stiffer if you think about a really dry rubber band that you left out in the sun.
Brock: I’m about to celebrate my 41st birthday in a few weeks and just being the idea of being a dry out rubber band is a bummer.
Ben: So, you lose a lot of the water content in your tendons. And that certainly can become an issue. You can basically get a lot of cross linking in your connective tissue. It’s like getting your limbs and your tendons in this facial sheath that covers and unites all of your muscles. All of that becomes less flexible as you age and especially the tendons which are very thickly bundled fibers. Those can get pretty hard to stretch. And a lot of this stuff can cause aches and pains due to nerve impulses that travel along nerve pathways. And these muscles that tend to be under a lot of pressure because of short and tight and less hydrated muscles. So, in terms of aging, that’s one of the bigger issues. But there are other things that can cause stiffness. If it’s not aging that’s causing it like immobility, if you’ve got muscles that are just chronically short or you’ve got fascia that’s chronically tight. It’s because you’re not doing a lot of range of motion or mobility work. That can cause stiffness. And one of the more common sites for that to happen is in the low back which is where the areas that Chris complains about. Muscle spasms like constant spasm or very tight on edge muscles and usually you’ll see this with stress or lack of sleep. That whole spasm theory of stiffness, that can definitely apply when you’re stressed out or when you’re simply not in a relaxed state. Anybody who’s going out and gotten a one hour or two hour massage may have noticed that for the next 24 hours it’s like you’re in this constant state of relaxation. And the fact is that in an ideal scenario, you should try to be achieving that state of relaxation as much as possible if you’re trying to avoid stiffness. So, that’s another thing. It’s just basic stress.
And then you could look at some medical conditions like a buildup of uric acid in joints. It’s basically like gout-based arthritis. You talk about the ankles being stiff a lot of times because of gravity. A lot of this uric acid tends to accumulate and lower down in your body. Some of that could be your uric acid and dietary related like high protein intake, a lot of meat, that type of thing. Osteoarthritis and even rheumatoid arthritis which you usually know if you have can cause stiffness as well. And then just old injuries where scar tissue is formed, that can also be an issue. If you sprained your ankle a lot of times and push through the pain and the rehab and not allow scar tissue to lay down in a symmetrical way. That can really limit mobility and increase stiffness in a joint as well. So, there are lots of reasons that this could happen. I’m not listing all these stuff to scare you or just make you worry. I’d like to give you some solutions.
So, in terms of what I would do for stiff muscles, my top fixes that I found to work really well with the folks that I work with as well as myself. Number one would be not to worry so much about your tendons and your ligaments assuming you’re doing a little bit of stretching and a little bit of mobility work. But instead focus on the fascia and specifically fascia mobilization. So, fascia as I mentioned is this sheath that covers all your connective tissues. It’s this network of collagen fibers. And it just wraps around your organs and your muscles and your nerves and your blood vessels. And it’s why something like tight hamstrings can give you stiff neck just because the fascia interconnects all of this stuff. Any type of fascia mobilization can help a ton. I like to use a foam roller. If you’re super stiff, you’ll probably want to, in addition to using a foam roller, meet with a massage therapist. At least once a month, I recommend when you’re initially trying to get rid of a lot of stiffness you try and get yourself a massage therapy punch card. You get a good deal on a ten to 60 minute visits or something like that and just spread them out on a weekly basis. Getting as much muscular and skeletal work as you can done by a massage therapist who knows their way around the body, who can mobilize a lot of that fascia. I mean if you combine that with hitting a foam roller a couple of times a week that can help a ton with stiffness. In the low back, feet, hamstrings, quads, wherever you tend to get stiff that helps a lot. There’s one type of foam roller that I personally use called a rumble roller. It’s got these rigid coming out of it. Have you ever used that before Brock?
Brock: Yes. I have one of those as well. I’ve got that version and the smooth version.
Ben: Yes. I coach Brock. And Brock, how many times a week are you doing foam rolling right now?
Brock: At least three or four.
Ben: You’re following what I have written in your program, yes?
Brock: Yes. I’m following it. I’m probably adding in a couple of extra ones too just because I’ve gotten to the point now where it doesn’t hurt as badly as it used to. So, I actually really enjoy it. When you first start at it, it can be quite painful.
Ben: Yes, exactly. So, I’d be mobilizing your fascia. As far as supplements, they’re not going to make as big of a dent in stiffness as carrying your body from a fascia standpoint. But one thing that I would look into would be like something I’ve talked about on the show before which is a supplement that I really like. It’s called Capraflex. And Capraflex is like a collagen blend. But it’s got a bunch of natural anti-inflammatory compounds in it like ginger and cherry juice and turmeric and feverfew and valerian. It’s got a bunch of proteolytic enzymes in it as well which can make up the fibrinogen and a lot of the issues that can cause muscle fibers to basically adhere to one another. So, I would be getting on a good anti-inflammatory/collagen/proteolytic blend. You could split up all three. You could go and you could get some turmeric. And you could find some proteolytic enzymes. And you could find a good glucosamine chondroitin blend. I personally like the Mt. Capra’s Capraflex because it’s like a shotgun approach. And it’s a complete bone and joint formula. So, that’s the one that I would recommend. I would throw something like that with some deep tissue and fascia work with the combination of a foam roller and a massage therapist. That’s what I would get on to stiffness.
Brock: And don’t leave your elastic bands to dry out in the sun.
Ben: That’s right. Avoid tanning booths.
Brock: Definitely. Alright, our next question comes from Tim.
Tim: I am training for some ultra marathon in the 50 to 100 mile range. During my training, I am experimenting with different nutrition sources to find what works well for me. In the past, foods that seem to work perfectly for a two to three hour run can wreak havoc on my GI system during a longer run or race. Given the same effort level in training and racing, what changes occur in the stomach to create this problem? Also, is there a certain length of time that I can run fully test a nutrition source without having to run the full race distance?
Brock: I liked that last part of the question. That’s a really good question.
Ben: That’s a great question. The first is easy. You’ve been an athlete. You’ve been training for stuff for the past few years and then all of a sudden, foods that you were eating before are dropping like a gut bomb now. And it’s causing a bunch of GI distress. There are multiple reasons that that can happen. But it all really comes down to what called intestinal permeability or what’s also known as leaky guts. One of the main reasons that this can happen is when it’s just you can’t think of anything that would’ve caused it. You haven’t been on a bunch of antibiotics or pharmaceuticals that are going to mess with the gut. It’s just all of a sudden your gut is not acting the way that it was before. If it’s not because of some pathogen or antibiotic or something coming in from the outside, usually it has to do with your inner ecology. And specifically, it’s the link between your brain and your gut because psychological stress can really influence the integrity of your cells. So, when you got mental stress, emotional stress, or physical stress, you’re going to produce hormones like cortisol and norepinephrine. And these are totally natural stress hormones. They’re meant to protect you during potentially dangerous events. And we’ve talked about before, they’re going to mobilize sugars from the liver and move energy stores around, increase your heart rate, increase your blood pressure. It’ll also tend to shut down your digestive system and your immune system. And it’s shuttling energy instead to allow you to produce that “fight or flight” response.
What happens is that bacteria in your digestive system are actually able to detect the presence of stress hormones. And a lot of times, microbes in your gut that are typically somewhat harmless, those can actually become more pathogenic in response to high levels of circulating hormone like cortisol and like norepinephrine. And when bacteria become pathogenic, they’re going to mutate more rapidly. They’re going to multiply more rapidly. And a lot of times, that leads to infection in your gut. It can throw off your inner ecology in your gut. It can really shut down your digestive system. It can shut down your immune system. Most of which is located in your gut. And it really opens you up to be able to be a lot more bothered by foods that you wouldn’t normally be okay with during exercise including sports gels and sports drinks and bars and things of that nature. So, it’s this whole gut-brain connection and specifically the ability of the brain to influence the gut. And there have been studies done on stress in the gut and the whole pathophysiology of this thing. There are multiple studies out there in terms of the gut-brain connection. As far as what you can do about it, I would definitely investigate if you’ve had any recent stressors in your life. Or you’ve got things that are stressing you out more than normal. You’ve been through a period of high stress. Then consider healing your gut. Get on fermented foods. Get on probiotic beverages like kefir and kombucha and getting a good therapeutic strength probiotic. I like the supplement colostrum for helping to heal a leaky gut as well. And that can help out. That’s one that I have been using since I got on antibiotics for that stuff infection last month. And basically, go through all of the things that I’ve talked about on the show before in terms of getting more fermented foods, getting more probiotics. And avoid foods that are going to aggravate the gut like starches, sugars, things of that nature. So, those are some of the things that I would think about. It would be the stress component of this when it comes to the gut and stuff and all of things that are starting to bother you that didn’t bother you before.
Brock: Okay. So, then we get to the rest of the question that Tim asked about how to really test a nutritional source without having to do the actual race and try it out.
Ben: Yes. And that’s tough because like especially for me when I go out and do Ironman triathlon. I can do a two or three hour exercise session to prepare for something like that. And I’d be using whatever I plan on using during the race which I rarely do because I detest using gels unless I’m racing. But you take a gel that’s got maltodextrin in it which is a long chain sugar. Folks can do fine on that for two hours, three hours, and five hours. And then you get up to the eight to ten hour mark and some of those long chain sugars starts to accumulate in the lower small intestine and in the large intestine a little bit. They draw water into the colon and essentially cause diarrhea. That you wouldn’t know about until you’ve been using maltodextrin steadily for a good eight to ten hours. So, it can be tough. When you look at a liquid meal of carbohydrates, you’re looking at 30 to 60 minutes of emptying from the stomach. And then in terms of it passing into the duodenum, that’s the upper part of your small intestine. And it’s making its way down through the intestine. I mean that’s simple carbohydrate sources. You’re looking at anywhere from 150 to 200 minutes to get through. And it’s tough to go out and just test fuel for four or five hours. And predict how it’s going to feel in your stomach if you’re out there doing eight or ten hour ultra marathon. It’s one of reasons that the people who are really good in endurance sports tend to be the older ones.
Ben: It’s because they’ve had a chance to try out a lot of this stuff and figure out what’s going to mess them up during a long race. You can’t go out and do ten hour training sessions without over training. So, what it comes down to is that most of the simple sugars, you can generally assume are going to be okay like sucrose, glucose, and stuff like that. The more complex the fuel, the more likely it is that during a really long event it’s going to begin to mess with your gut when you’re getting up into the eight, the ten, and the twelve hour range. And the more intensity with which you’re exercising, the more likely that is to happen but if you’re looking at something that’s got maltodextrin in it, that’s the biggest culprit when it comes to this stuff. I would be careful with it. The way that I generally do things now for something like an Ironman and I’ve discovered this for myself. It’s that I can use a maltodextrin fuel source up until about the point that I am getting off the bike and a few eight sessions into the run and then I just switch to a simple sugar. It’s typically coke. And that works pretty well for me in terms of keeping this maltodextrin from messing with the gut eight to ten hours in. In terms of the length of time that you can fully test a nutrition source without having to run the full race distance, the hard answer is that you really truly can’t fully test it. You need to go out and talk to people who have done the distances that you’re doing before and have been okay with certain fuel sources. Listen to my podcast over at EndurancePlanet.com where we have a lot of conversations with ultra runners and ultra marathoners about what they’re using. And my recommendation is you keep it as simple as possible if you really want to limit a lot of this stress. And you don’t do things like Dean Karnazes call up and order pizza while you’re out running the simpler the better. And I would say the biggest culprit to look for would be maltodextrin. Be really careful with that. Once you’re exceeding about eight hours.
Brock: Alright. Let’s move along to Josh’s question.
Josh: I know you’ve said before that you typically only consume fructose after a workout. Recently I came across some literature saying not to eat fruit after a workout because “consuming fructose will increase production of somatostatin, which then inhibits the production of human growth hormone or HGH also known as the fitness hormone. If true, that’s a fairly big deal. I was just wondering what your thoughts are.
Ben: I don’t know where Josh saw this. I did notice that when Dr. Mercola who’s popular on the whole health and now fitness realm. I think it was because he was trying to sell a protein powder. But he talked about how if you consume a sugar after an exercise that it shuts down the production of growth hormone. It’s because it leads to an accelerated insulin response. And the other thing that he talks about is that it increases production of somatostatin which also can technically decrease the production of human growth hormone. The problem is that, all respect to the guy, Dr. Mercola doesn’t really know that much about sports nutrition. And most of the stuff that he talks about is basically taking studies that were done on diseased individuals and non-exercise situations. Such as the ability of sugar or fructose to spike insulin levels and then saying that if they’re going to do this in this folks then they’re probably going to do it to you after you work out. Hence, you should not consume sugar post exercise or fructose post exercise. And you’ll see a lot of this.
There are several articles that have spread around the internet where the advice is to avoid anything that’s going to spike insulin after a workout because those will shut down your growth hormone production. None of this is based off of any actual workout related studies. Sure, it’s true that if you eat a ton of carbohydrates at night or even a ton of protein, a rich meal that’s going to elevate insulin levels. A big elevation is going to increase this hormone called somatostatin which would technically not be produced in great amounts when you’re asleep. Basically, once you get this big release in somatostatin that can interfere with growth hormones. Somatostatin is also known as growth hormone inhibiting hormone. So, if you think about somatostatin as a growth inhibiting hormone, you wouldn’t want huge levels of it while you’re asleep. And so, if you eat a ton of food before you go to sleep, then that could inhibit growth hormone production while you’re sleeping. However, there have been no studies that have shown that a high sugar meal after a working out is going to cause a production of somatostatin that’s going to decrease your human growth hormone production.
None of that is based off of any research at all. And it’s simply false. If you’re eating carbohydrates post-workout, that is the one time when your body is extremely insulin sensitive. Most of those carbohydrates are going to be shuttled into the muscles as energy or be dealt with the body very efficiently. It doesn’t matter if they’re fructose or they’re glucose. And it’s really not that big of a deal. Your body is pretty insulin sensitive after a workout. The most ludicrous part about this claim that fructose is going to increase somatostatin because of insulin release is that glucose is going to cause a greater release of insulin than fructose. So, if anything, if you’re eating any sugar, fructose would be the one to eat. I personally have a post-workout window. And that’s the one time of day that I do not worry at all about limiting carbohydrates. And if I’m going to have a snickers bar I’m going to do it when I get back from a bike ride or after a weight train. That’s when it’s going to be least likely to have these type of effects that these folks who don’t really know anything about sports nutrition are claiming. So, yes, a huge meal during the evening is going to potentially have a pretty big effect on somatostatin levels which is going to inhibit growth hormone release while you’re sleeping. Post-workout, it’s a totally different scenario.
Brock: Alright Josh. It could’ve been a fairly big deal. But it’s not. Alright, the next question comes from Jonas.
Jonas: My brother turned me onto your site. He is a marathon runner, and I am a cross fitter boxer. He has convinced me to live by your food pyramid and make some changes to my life. A lot of these changes are forcing me to toss some of my supplements. Where I am struggling is a pre-workout supplement that helps me lift more and not get fatigued. I have used Jack3d and other products similar in the past. Can you suggest one that is better to use that has no neurotoxins, artificial colors, and other bad stuff?
Ben: Yes. And I’m hoping Jonas that in your whole boxing competition that you’re not getting your butt kicked because you’re taking Jack3d. If that’s the case, it sounds like I’m responsible for it. Of course the pet peeve is the pre-workout supplements that give you stuff that’s been proven by research to help with things like power production. And your pump doing a workout and your intensity like nitric oxide and creatine and some of this other stuff but it’s mixed with sucrolose and artificial colors and tons of preservatives. In terms of it basically what Jonas is asking is for a good pre-workout stack that’s safe. And all that means when I stay stack is some supplements that work really well together synergistically to give you an awesome pump when you’re going in to do an intense workout. There are definitely things that I recommend. Probably the most proven supplement out there in terms of the number of studies behind that have shown to be efficacious and really work well in this scenario is creatine. And you can just get a regular basic creatine capsule or creatine powder that has nothing added to it at all. And you can mix it up with a little bit of carbohydrate just like a 100 percent fruit juice for example and do that. Creatine is super simple.
People complicate it but creatine is super simple. What I recommend for creatine is you take about 0.3 of grams per kilogram of body weight for about a week. That’s your loading phase with creatine. After that, you take five grams of creatine a day. You don’t need to cycle it at all. You don’t need anything special. Just five grams a day after you’ve loaded. I’m not a huge fan of it for endurance athletes. I don’t see a huge response for endurance athletes. But strength, power, cross fitting, and stuff like that, creatine absolutely. I personally have used it on and off cycle with it sometimes during the year. It’s usually in the off season when I’m doing more weight training. I use one called Kreaceps by Millennium Sports. It’s a capsule. It’s a base form of creatine. So, that’s number one. I do creatine.
The next thing I’d use would be either a beta-arginine. There’s also a pre-cursor to beta-arginine. When you’re looking at nitric oxide supplements, they’re these powders that are mixed up with a bunch of artificial sweeteners and stuff. Nitric oxide is pretty easily released by getting your hands on an arginine supplement or a citrulline supplement which are both going to cause nitric oxide to get kicked off when you consume them. So, if you find citrulline or you find arginine, you could take either one. And it’s going to have a pretty good effect in terms of giving you that nice pump during exercise. An example of a citrulline source that I like is again made by that same company Millennium Sports. It’s called citruvol. If you do six to eight grams of citrulline 30 to 60 minutes before you head in to your workout that can have a huge effect as well. And that’s another really good part of a stack that I recommend. Beta-alanine, that also works really well. It’s usually doing about two to five grams of beta-alanine again about 30 to 60 minutes prior. So, you mix that along with the citrulline and the creatine. And those three things together will give you an awesome pre-workout stack.
The only other thing I think about adding in would be amino acids. We’ve talked about amino acids a lot before on the show. Like the master amino pattern amino acid, your branched chain amino acid. But all of that stuff put together is maybe going to be about if I were to add it all up, it’s probably going to cost you about anywhere from two to four dollars for every workout that you do. And it’s about the cost of an energy drink or amino or something like that.
Brock: I pay more for my fancy coffees than that.
Ben: Exactly. So, that’s the stack that I would do. I’ll put a link in the show notes for you because I have a recommendations section over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com where I have my pre-strength workout stack. And most of that stuff is included along with it. So, that’s basically what I’d do. Get your hands on a good nitric oxide pre-cursor, some creatine, some beta-alanine, and some amino acids.
Brock: So, you said that this wouldn’t be helpful for an endurance athlete but how about before a tennis match or a hockey game or a soccer match or something like that.
Ben: Great. If anything, the only issues that that citrulline nitric oxide is going to cause a little bit of skin tingling. And so, if that bothers you when you’re playing tennis or something like that, it’d be something to avoid. But any of this stuff or anything involving strength, their power is going to have a potent effect.
Brock: I got you. Alright, let’s move on to Osa’s question.
Osa: Is it possible to fast your way into ketosis and how long does it take? Also, do you have any tips I can use to stay in shape or at least maintain a healthy weight with no exercise for a couple of weeks? I had oral surgery to remove all my four of my wisdom teeth this morning. I was advised by the doctor that day before my appointment that I should stop eating or drinking before midnight. I stopped eating and drinking about 10:00 pm and my appointment was at 9:30 am the next day. I did not start feeling hungry until around 6:00 pm today. So, I fasted 20 hours in total and was not experiencing ravenous hunger. I also noticed when I was breathing through my nose I could start smelling some gas from my breath which is a sign that I may have fasted myself into ketosis. The oral surgery to remove my four wisdom teeth has drastically changed my diet and made me inactive for a couple of weeks. I can only eat light meals and have been advised not to eat meat.
Ben: Yes. We’ve talked about ketosis on the show before but when you’re burning these Ketones or these fatty acids like beta hydroxybutyrate. And there’s another one that I’m blanking on right now that’s like your primary Ketone that you’d burn. Pseudo acetate I think is what it is. Basically, they can put off a little bit of smell. And one of the reasons that that smell can be more pronounced is because you’ve got Ketones in your bloodstream. But you’re not really relying on them much as a fuel because you’ve also still got too many carbohydrates that you’re burning.
Typically, if you’ve got somebody who’s trying to do a ketogenic diet but they are consuming more than 50 grams of carbohydrate per day or more than 200 calories of carbohydrate per day. You tend to get more of that fingernail polish ammonia type of breath just because blood Ketones is raised. But they’re not high enough to where the body is beginning to preferentially burn them as a fuel. And typically that’s about one millimolar or so in the bloodstream. And so, to be in a really good state of ketogenisis you’d have to be burning fatty acids preferentially as a fuel. If you want to be in true ketosis, you need to be eating 50 grams of fewer of carbohydrates per day. And Osa asks if it’s possible to actually fast your way into that state. And yes, it absolutely is possible to basically fast your way into ketosis because you’re going to be cutting off any energy sources except ketones or fatty acids as a fuel. But it’s extremely uncomfortable. And if you need to stay in shape and maintain a healthy weight with no exercise at all and you’re going to rely on severe caloric restriction to do so and get yourself into a ketogenic state. I would at least recommend that you include a few supplements that are going to make it a little bit easier.
For example, even though your body can make some glucose out of protein, one of the things that I would include would be a little bit of amino acid. It’s so that your body doesn’t get extremely catabolic and breakdown a lot of lean muscle. So, you could do about ten grams or so of an amino acid capsule on a daily basis if you’re fasting or doing pretty severe caloric restriction. A little bit of an appetite suppressant that can also help out with ketogenesis and fat burning while you’re in this state would be green tea. So, you can do a few cups of green tea on a daily basis while you’re in a fast along with those amino acids. And then, I like to still keep the body somewhat alkaline while you’re in a fasted state. And so, using a low calorie type of Greens powder or Greens capsule, Enerprime for example is one that I recommend. While you’re fasted that can help out as well. So, doing a Greens capsule or a Greens powder, doing some Green tea, and then taking some amino acids.
And then as far as calorie sources while you’re fasting, if you want to get a little bit and do a coconut oil or medium chain triglyceride oil. So, there are popular diets out there that literally have you fasting one or two times a week. And even on those days when you’re fasting, I still recommend you do a little bit of amino acids, little bit of coconut oil, some green tea, and some Greens powder or Greens capsule. And that can help you get through a fast a little bit more comfortably. And it certainly is possible to do something like that and lose weight without exercising. But I’m not going to lie. It’s not comfortable to be severely restricting calories like that. And if you go for longer than about four weeks or so, you’re going to slightly or permanently affect your metabolism and down regulate your metabolic rate. So, you need to be careful.
Brock: Even if you’re doing the coconut oil and some Greens supplements, it’s still good to have that metabolic effect.
Ben: Yes. I really don’t recommend that drastic for those reasons. But if you had to like if somebody threw me in a deserted island and told me I need to fast for a while and I can take a few things there with me. Those are some of the things that I’d grab.
Brock: Yes. I guess that sort of answers Osa’s other question which was since he had the oral surgery he’s only able to eat light meals and isn’t supposed to exercise. I guess it’ll open the stitches or something. He was looking for a way that he could maintain a healthy weight without being able to exercise. So, I guess that’s a good suggestion.
Ben: You can do and you can literally go for four weeks and do super low calories and not eating very much at all and staying in the state of Ketosis. Just make sure you toss in some amino acids, some coconut oil, some Greens supplement, a little bit of green tea. That’ll help you get through that a little bit easier.
Brock: I’d definitely stay active as well just because you can’t actually exercise doesn’t mean you can’t go for some long walks. Or even a gentle bike ride probably doesn’t qualify as something that would jeopardize your health. Now again, definitely follow your oral surgeon’s suggestions but that doesn’t seem like that should be ruled out.
Ben: The teeth crisis that he’s in. I could imagine Osa being in this full body brace or something that has him totally laid out in a couch. And in a case like that, I’m sorry. It sounds uncomfortable.
Brock: Yes. Alright, our next question comes from Khoo.
Khoo: I am participating in a multi staged ultra marathon over three days, 42k on the first day, 40k on the second day and 18k on the last day. The challenge is that it will be at the Outer Mongolia, border of Russia. The only thing the race organizer will provide is a tent and hot water. All participants will need to bring their own fuel, food and recovery mix. In my plan, I will bring freeze dry meals, pork or beef jerky, trail mix with nuts and dried fruits, dark chocolate, endurox R4, hammer recovery drink, GU gels and roctane. Any recommendations on what else I should bring?
Ben: It doesn’t sound much of a race director if all you get is a tent and hot water.
Brock: He is in Mongolia though.
Ben: Yes, alright.
Brock: He’s lucky he’s not drinking hawk’s blood.
Ben: I can tell you exactly what I would do in a case like this and exactly what I would bring if someone were going to shove me onto the outer border of Russia to do three days of marathons. I don’t know if you’ve heard of pemmican before. It’s a really concentrated mix of fat and protein that comes from meat. You can get a low nitrite form of pemmican. In traditional uses by North American Indians, usually you’d have buffalo or elk or moose. And it’s sliced. It’s dried. And it’s grounded into a powder. And then you can mix it with berries and stuff like that. And it doesn’t have to be cooked. It doesn’t have to be heated. You can simply keep it a little bit cold and let it thaw and treat it that it’s like beef jerky basically.
I’ll put a link to a really good source of pemmican bars. U.S Wellness Meats makes really nice pemmican. It’s super healthy. I would be grabbing a bunch of those and bringing those along with me if I were going. A few other things I would do are raw nuts, raw almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, things of that nature. Any of that stuff should go through customs just fine. And you shouldn’t have an issue. You want to avoid liquids. You can’t do cans of coconut milk and stuff like that. But raw nuts, I would do. I would do pemmican. Dark chocolate, I love that as a really dense calorie source. You can get 600, 800 calories in a good bar of dark chocolate. You’ve got a little bit of caffeine in there. You’ve got some magnesium, some nitric oxide precursors. That’s great as well. And I would include dark chocolate. It mixes well with the raw nuts as well. I would do a really dense whole food powder. I like the Living Fuel Super Greens for that. It’s something I travel with. It’s a very alkalinic. It’s got digestive enzymes. It’s got probiotics. It’s a complete meal. It probably kicks the butt of any of those freeze dried meals that you’re bringing along. I would go with something like that. What I do is it comes in a canister is I emptied into a plastic bag so it packs better. I’d bring that. I would go with a real food bar. Like a bar that is not full of a lot of preservatives and stuff like that. But that’s just like a mix of real food.
My top recommendation would be to get something like the cocochia sustained energy bar. It’s made by the same company that makes that Living Fuel Super Greens. It’s basically a mix of chia seeds, almond butter, some agave syrup, some coco, and some rice protein. It digests really well. It’s super clean. That’s another thing that’ll transport well and it’s in a wrapper. It’s easy to carry. I would definitely have that on hand. In addition to actually having that cocochia bar, I would grab some chia seeds as well because you can make those into slurry and sip them while you’re out there. You can mix them with water. They’ll form a gel that you can shake up in a Nalgene bottle. I would have some of that. And then the last thing from a food source that I would throw in would be to definitely use dried fruit like you mentioned. But grab something that’s going to be high in proteolytic enzymes to help with soreness. So, I would do dry papaya and dried pineapple. You’re going to get your papain and bromelain from something like that. And if someone were going to throw me into this event, that’s pretty much all I’d bring. I’d do pemmican. I’d do nuts. I’d do the dark chocolate. I’d grab some Super Greens and the cocochia bars. I’d grab some chia seeds, grab some dried fruit. All that stuff is going to pack really well. I don’t see any issues with getting any of that stuff through customs. I’ve traveled with all of the above before. It shouldn’t be an issue. And then just a few other thoughts as far as supplements.
Obviously, there’s a wide range of supplements that can help in a scenario like this. But the main things I would get would be a good whole amino acid supplement. I would use something like Master Amino Pattern. It’s really good. It’s something to get your amino acid levels up. That’s another thing that I travel with quite a bit. I would get just in case, some caffeine. You could either do just straight up coffee if you’ve got access to hot water. Or you could get some generic no-dose pills, something that’s going to help you up and kick start you in the morning before these races. And then the last thing is you may find that with the lack of fruits, vegetables, whole food fiber. Even though you’re going to get some of that stuff from something like Super Greens, I would throw in a whole food cleansing type of blend. And one of the things that I travel with because travel tends to make me constipated. I don’t like to compete in a constipated state. So, it’s Carpracleanse from Mt. Capra. I mentioned Capraflex earlier in this podcast. I like their supplement Carpracleanse as a whole food fiber cleansing blend. That’s going to keep you regular during the days that you’re out on this competition in the middle of nowhere.
Brock: The other thing that I was thinking of was you’ve got the first days 42k then 40k then 18k. So, it sounds like you’re going to have a good portion of the day I guess depending on what the terrain is like. But you’re going to have a good portion of the day to recover. So, how about something like foam rolling or maybe a sleep aid to help get a goodnight sleep to get the recovery in.
Ben: Foam rollers are a pain in the butt to travel with. Grabbing a good golf ball or a theraball, that’s going to be a lot better.
Brock: There you go, yes.
Ben: So, that certainly can help out a little bit in the tight spots. As far as sleep goes, you could grab a natural calm magnesium powder or something along those lines to help you sleep for sure.
Brock: Cool. I’m interested to hear more about this. So Khoo, let us know how it went or how it goes depending on when it is. And our next question comes from Adam.
Adam: Can you further explain the link between growth hormone and testosterone. I am 24 and have been taking about three grams of GABA before bed to improve sleep by increasing growth hormone. I don’t want to mess with my testosterone and I also have skin that easily breaks out and increased testosterone will only be making that worse.
Ben: I wouldn’t worry about the testosterone in the skin. Usually, that’s more of an insulin issue and can be a diary issue. Just go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com and do a search for acne. I don’t think that testosterone is going to be much of an issue. For a 24 year old, suppressing testosterone to control acne would not be a smart as working the high insulin foods, grains, and sugars out of the diet and loading dairy. I really don’t think you want to mess with decreasing testosterone. As far as the link between growth hormone and testosterone, the basic idea is that androgenic hormones like testosterone. Once it gets churned out in the testes, it’s going to up regulate growth hormone production. And you’re going to see more or the things moving in that direction from high testosterone influencing growth hormone. Then you’re going to growth hormone increasing testosterone. And growth hormone supplements and I’ve mentioned this on the show before like taking HGH supplement. That’s not been proven to effectively increase strength or power or anything like that compared to naturally increasing your growth hormone levels. That’s through doing things like strength training and getting adequate sleep. That’s where something like this GABA supplement comes in. That stands for Gamma-aminobutyric acid.
So basically, it can suppress some of the activity in your nervous system and cause some changes in the neurotransmitter levels in your brain. And it basically decreases some of the neurological activity in your brain during sleep to allow you to get into a deeper sleep state. And supposedly, it increases growth hormone secretion. Although in my opinion, some of the studies on it are a little bit weak in terms of GABA’s influence on growth hormone secretion. The studies that I have seen have shown that there maybe a decent effect when you combine taking GABA before bed and also doing a resistance training program. But not at the same time like bench pressing while you’re asleep but resistance training during morning and then taking GABA before bed. That may help with peaking growth hormone values a little bit.
The one thing that we mentioned earlier is somatostatin. That particular hormone is growth hormone inhibiting hormone. And if you’re taking GABA or a GABA supplement before bed but you’ve also had something to eat within the past two hours. You’re generally just going to be wasting your time. You need to be in a low insulin state in order for taking a GABA supplement before bed to actually have any influence at all on growth hormone secretion or sleep. So, that’s important to remember. So if you’re doing a GABA supplement, do it without eating for two hours prior to bed. Understand that it’s not necessarily going to significantly enhance growth hormone secretion. But it may help out a little bit. It’s not going to come near something like weight is going to do for your growth hormone levels. And then as far as the link between growth hormone and testosterone if you’re able to increase your testosterone levels. It’s certainly is going to help you out with growth hormone because that’s one of the triggers for growth hormone production, its high levels of androgen hormones or more testosterone being produced by the leydig cells and your testes. And so, I wouldn’t worry about this from an acne perspective at all. If you want to increase growth hormone, lift more, increase your testosterone naturally. You can go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com and do a search for testosterone. And then get some adequate sleep without eating a lot before you go to bed. And all that will help out quite a bit. And like I mentioned, got to BenGreenfieldFitness.com and you can go to the recommendations section there. Or just use the big new start here button up on the upper right side of the site. You’ll get a link to all of my testosterone increasing recommendations.
Brock: I like that new page and that big new button too. It’s a lovely place to start.
Ben: It’s on the BenGreenfieldFitness.com. There’s a big huge start button on the upper right side.
Brock: Okay. Our final question comes from Sara.
Sarah: I want to know if energy supplements are safe for you? I run about 45 to 50 miles a week and do strength training three days a week. A trainer at the gym I go to recommended Lean EFX Thermogenic 45cpLean EFX Energy Enhancing Pills from Fahrenheit Nutrition. The reviews online are mixed. Also, recently in the news recommended by Dr. Oz are Raspberry Ketones. Are these safe? If so, which brand do you recommend?
Ben: These doctors on the news like Dr. Oz and Dr. Mercola. It’s like they put out some good stuff. But about 25 percent of what they say is relatively flawed or doesn’t give you the whole picture. Raspberry Ketones have certainly been shown to assist with fat loss. But if you dig in to the research, they also significantly suppress your androgenic hormones. So, you’re looking at dumping your testosterone into the tank or affecting your estrogen hormone levels by using Raspberry Ketones. And I wouldn’t necessarily go near something like that. As far as all of this thermogenic fat burning aids, yes, they can definitely up regulate your fat burning activity anywhere from two to five percent. And that’s in terms of the amount of extra body weight that you’d lose over the course of the year which may not seem significant. But I guess if you weigh 300 pounds or so, that’s somewhat significant. If you skip those and just go for straight up black coffee or no-dose caffeine pills, you’re going to get the same type of fat burning effect for a lot less money. And there was actually a study that they did where they had people on a complete cornstarch diet. They actually used rats. They had rats on a cornstarch diet.
Brock: That’s good. That would be hell for a person.
Ben: They put them on a cornstarch diet plus caffeine. And what they did was they compared what happens when you’re eating a ton of carbohydrates with no caffeine vs. a ton of carbohydrates with a lot of caffeine. And they found literally a 40 percent higher increase in metabolism in the rats that were on this high amount of caffeine. We’re talking like 50 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. And it’s just six to eight cups of coffee a day. However, yes, that can certainly have a good fat burning effect. Are you probably going to die earlier, kill of your adrenal glands, and way over stimulate your central nervous system to the point where you’re like a walking skeleton a year later, probably. So, yes they work. Will I use them for that effect? No. A better way to lose fat fast is to, kind of like we started off this podcast with strength training. Do some high intensity cardio intervals. Avoid too much long slow aerobic training. Sleep more and stress less. And that’s going to get you better results.
Brock: Awesome. Well, that wraps up episode 199.
Ben: It does. And of course, we’ll certainly have some real fireworks for episode number 200. You’ll just have to stay tuned to see the nefarious scheme Brock and I had planned. But in the meantime while you’re sitting on your hands waiting for that episode, go to AudiblePodcast.com/Ben to get that free audio book. It’s literally free. You just sign up and then you download the audio book. And again, the one that I would listen to if you haven’t listened to it yet is Wheat Belly and a couple of good books by Gary Taubes are in there too. But check those out. And like I mentioned, I’ll be releasing an interview probably this Saturday with the creator of the Whole Future of Health Now project which I highly recommend you listen into. And you go check out the videos for that. So, there will be links to everything that we talked about today. You can find it over on the show notes at BenGreenfieldFitness.com. So, have a great week.
For personal nutrition, fitness or triathlon consulting, supplements, books or DVD’s from Ben Greenfield, please visit Pacific Elite Fitness at http://www.pacificfit.net
July 4, 2012 – free audio podcast: How Exercise Makes You Fat Also: when/how to reach to race weight, how to fix stiff joints, testing race day nutrition, does fructose inhibit HGH, the best pre-workout supplements, how to fast the right way, what to eat during multi-day races, growth hormone vs. testosterone, and are any energy supplements safe.
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- New low carb study was interpreted quite poorly by the media.
- Interesting: if you're really skinny & concerned about leptin sensitivity (appetite control) avoid hard & long workouts.
- Want better cholesterol? Eat more eggs.
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As compiled and read by Brock, the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast “sidekick”.
Audio Question from Eric:
He wants to get back to race weight (is currently 30-35lbs over what he would like to weigh). He has some racing goals that he will have to push himself to reach. Should he try to lose weight before the race (in the early season) or just train hard and lose the weight at the same time?
~ In my response, I recommend www.Tri-Ripped.com
Most of your topics seam to address cardio and diet. Can you do a show on soft tissue injuries and flexibility. My big limiters, that I can't seem to fix, are stiffness in my ankle and lower back.
~ In my response, I mention Capraflex.
I am training for some ultra marathons in the 50 to 100 mile range. During my training, I am experimenting with different nutrition sources to find what works well for me. In the past, foods that seem to work perfectly for a 2 to 3 hour run can wreak havoc on my G.I. system during a longer run or race. Given the same effort level in training & racing, what changes occur in the stomach to create this problem? Also, is there a certain length of time that I can run to fully test a nutrition source without having to run the full race distance?
I know you've said before that you typically only consume fructose after a workout. Recently I came across some literature saying not to eat fruit after a workout because, “Consuming fructose will increase production of somatostatin, which then inhibits the production of human growth hormone (HGH, also known as ‘the fitness hormone').” If true, that's a fairly big deal. Just wondering what your thoughts are.
My brother turned me onto your site. He is a marathon runner, and I am a crossfitter/boxer. He has convinced me to live by your food pyramid and make some changes to my life. A lot of these changes are forcing me to toss some of my supplements. Where I am struggling is a pre-workout supplement that helps me lift more and not get fatigued. I have used Jack3d and Other products similar in the past. Can you suggest one that is better to use that has no neurotoxins, artificial colors, and other bad stuff?
~ In my response, I recommend the strength section at http://goo.gl/Zu02D
Is it possible to fast your way into Ketosis and how long does it take? Also do you have any tips I can use to stay in shape or at least maintain a healthy weight with no exercise for a couple weeks? I had oral surgery to remove all four of my wisdom teeth this morning. I was advised by the doctor that the day before my appointment that I should stop eating or drinking before midnight. I stopped eating and drinking at 10:00pm and my appointment was at 9:30am the next day. I did not start feeling hungry until around 6:00pm today, so I fasted 20hrs in total and was not experiencing ravenous hunger. I also noticed when I was breathing through my nose I could start smelling some gas from my breath, which is a sign I may have fasted myself into Ketosis. The Oral Surgery to remove my four wisdom teeth has drastically changed my diet and made me inactive for a couple weeks. I can only eat light meals and have been advised not to eat meat.
I am participating in a multi staged ultra marathon over 3 days, 42k on the first day, 40k on the second day and 18k on the last day. The challenge is that it will be at the outer Mongolia, border of Russia. the only thing the race organizer will provide is a tent and hot water. All participants will need to bring their own fuel, food and recovery mix. In my plan, I will bring freeze dry meals, pork/beef jerky, trail mix (nuts and dried fruits), dark chocolate, endurox R4, hammer recovery drink, GU gels and roctane. Any recommendation on what else to bring?
~ In my response I recommend Pemmican, Cocochia bars, and Supergreens.
Can you further explain the link between growth hormone and testosterone. I am 24 and have been taking about 3g of GABA before bed to improve sleep by increasing growth hormone. I do not want to mess with my testosterone and I also have skin that easily breaks out and increased testosterone will only be making that worse.
I want to know if energy supplements are safe for you? I run about 45-50 miles a week and do strength training 3 days a weeks. A trainer at the gym I go to recommended Lean EFX Thermogenic 45cpLean EFX Energy Enhancing Pills from Fahrenheit Nutrition. The reviews online are mixed. Also, recently in the news (recommended by Dr. OZ) – Raspberry Ketones – are these safe? If so which brand do you recommend?