Introduction: In today’s podcast, ten ways to burn belly fat fast. Also, how to carb backload, strategies for shift workers, dealing with osteopenia, should you wear sunglasses at daybreak, how to increase testosterone, is Chi Running a good protocol, alternatives for cable exercises, how to return to a regular menstrual cycle, and understanding a Bruce Protocol Stress Test.
Brock: Hello everybody, welcome to another episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast. I’m your host Brock Armstrong and I’m here with Ben Greenfield of course. Ben, what’s up?
Ben: Brock, you would actually laugh right now if you saw me.
Brock: Are you wearing a crazy wake?
Ben: No! I’ve got this vest on. It’s called a Cool Fat Burner Vest.
Brock: I thought I heard some cell crow sounds before we started recording.
Ben: Yeah, that was before I took my vest. It’s filled with these specially-designed cold packs that basically hit all the brown fat target zones on my body.
Brock: That’s sort of like upper back, upper chest.
Ben: Yup, exactly. so it directly cools your trunk and kind of covers the major skin services where there’s brown fat tissue underneath on that part of your trunk, so you get like all the amped up calorie-burning effects of cold thermogenesis and you also get, there’s other stuff that goes on that we’ve talked about with Dr. Jack Kruse on the podcast before like some study of longevity and immune system enhancement and amped up glucose clearing and some cool stuff. So I’ve been experimenting with this vest that’s basically, you could see a picture of it. They’ve got a website. I’m looking up their website here, CoolFatBurner.com. I’ll put a link in the show notes but it’s kind of funky. So anyways, I got that on my upper body and then I’m wearing my 110% compression tights on my lower body, which also, are filled with ice. I’m pretty much freezing myself during our entire podcast today.
Brock: They’ll hear your teeth chattering somewhere in the middle of the podcast and then I guess you’ll be sort of a puddle by the end.
Ben: Exactly. By the way, hopefully I have the microphone volume dialed in. I noticed last week, for anybody who listened in to my interview with Peter Attia on how to turn yourself into a fat-burning machine, you could hear me literally chewing ice during almost the entire podcast. I was not eating or drinking a smoothie as someone thought that I was in the comments, I was just sitting there chewing ice. I didn’t realize my mic sensitivity was turned up as high as it was so I apologize for anybody who had to sit through and experience me munching away.
Brock: You’re just all about the ice that’s on your body. It’s in your mouth. It’s in your glass.
Ben: Actually, if you drink cold water or hew ice while you’re doing the cold thermogenesis with like a cooling vest or cooling pants, it does enhance the effects so there you go.
Brock: Yeah. I drink a great big glass of icy water before I get in my ice bath usually because I noticed a really huge difference that you really get that core temperature deep cold a lot faster when you’ve actually ingested some cold water first. It makes a big difference but I got to look into that vest, I’m glad you brought that up because I was actually listening to The Future of Health now interview with Tim Ferriss and I started thinking about its way more efficient doing what you’re doing right now than actually filling up the entire tub with water and ice and stuff that you think about all the resources you’re wasting. It’s much better to just slap a little vest on.
Ben: And hopefully it helps me grow some more chest hair.
Brock: Okay. You can get all of these interesting, news flashes if you follow Ben on Twitter.com/BenGreenfield or you follow the Google+ feed and you can find all those links if you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com and just click along the side, the right hand side of the page. So what kind of news flashes are you, actually hey, speaking of 110%, you did a blog on there with all of these news flashes didn’t you? Wasn’t that today?
Ben: Yeah. I actually threw a break because I’m tweeting new studies all the time so I threw up some of the more useful ones up there on the 110% website. So yeah, if you go over to Twitter.com/BenGreenfield, you can check that out. We’re recently having a discussion over on my forum where I mentor a bunch of coaches and trainers over at SuperHumanCoach.com and we’re having a talk about fructose and how much fruit you could get away with eating per day and it kind of inspired me to link to this study and I noted that fructose is actually healthy in small doses and there was a study that appeared in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism and basically the title of the study was Health Implications of Fructose Consumption: A Review of Recent Data and what this study went into was whether or not fructose actually has a deleterious effect if you eat it and if it does, how much of it you would actually have to it in order for it to produce that effect. So fructose of course has been vilified over the past few years primarily because of the way that it is processed physiologically. Basically when you look at fructose compared to sugar, it’s absorbed via different glucose transporters than sugar and after it’s absorbed in your intestine, it undergoes uptake by the liver in massive quantities and what happens is when fructose is taken up into the liver, it can produce quite a few fatty acids, it can contribute to fatty liver conditions, it can really ramp up small oxidized cholesterol particles and send a bunch of fatty acids into your bloodstream and it’s just not used as a fuel quite as easily as other sugars, it’s more easily stored away and more easily contributes to a lot of the issues associated with chronic diseases like obesity and diabetes and heart disease and things of that nature. However, in smaller amounts, there’s been interesting things observed about fructose like its ability to enhance mineral balance, its ability to satiate appetite. Here’s an interesting one for you Brock and all of your Canadian boozer friends, that if you drink fructose after alcohol consumption, it decreases plasma alcohol levels by about 10%.
Brock: Is that a good thing?
Ben: I guess if you drink screw drivers.
Brock: I guess.
Ben: That’s true. It could be a bad thing. Anyways though, what it comes down through here is about 10% of your daily dietary intake can come from fructose with not only no deleterious effects but actually some decent metabolic benefits and I’ll link to this study in the show notes but that would be basically the equivalent of having, for most folks, right around two pieces of fresh raw fruit per day.
Ben: Right around that range and of course, fruit has a lot of fiber with it. It has a lot of water with it. I’m not advocating that you get 10% of your daily dietary calories from fructose derived from soda pop or something like that but it’s interesting in that when we look at fructose that it does have some health benefits in small doses and I wanted to note that just because these days, you see so many people saying whatever, fructose is poison and fructose will kill you but you got to remember, it does appear in nature as…
Brock: In some of the healthiest things that you can get too.
Ben: Exactly. So I tweeted that and I’ll, of course, put a link to that in the show notes for people. And then there was another interesting study that came out that looked into mental stress and what mental stress can do to your post-workout recovery and this was in the journal of Medicine and Science and Sports and Exercise and it showed that people with higher levels of chronic mental stress take longer to recover their strength after workouts and they found that these little cellular processes that are required to repair damage in your body can be slowed if you are stressed out and so I thought this was a very good opportunity to point out to folks the importance of controlling stress and I also wanted to mention a few little things that I’ll use for stress relief and I’ll link to these in the show notes but there’s two apps in my iPhone I’ve been playing around with. One is called the Stress Doctor app and one is called the Stress Check app. Both have you put your finger over the little camera lens on your iPhone and that can detect your actual heart rate through your finger tip and the Stress Doctor app teaches you how to correlate your breathing and your relaxation to your heart rate using this little graph on your phone that appears when you got your finger held up to the camera lens. And the other one tracks your heart rate variability. I’ve talked about all these expensive, the Heart Math, EM Wave two and these other devices you can use for biofeedback to really help yourself not be stressed out, this one’s a 99-cent app that you put in your iPhone if you just want to kind of introduce yourself to this in a very affordable way. That one’s called the Stress Check app, the other one’s called the Stress Doctor app but those are for iPhone users, pretty useful. What were you going to say?
Brock: I was going to say it’s kind of ironic that you’re using your iPhone as a way to reduce your stress because I think most of the people in the world find their smart phone to be something that causes them more stress than anything else.
Ben: Yeah. Well I mean with my phone, I’ve always got it on silent, I have all pushed notifications turned off so it doesn’t beep every time somebody tweets or Facebooks or anything like that and I essentially put it away whenever I’m writing or working or anything else, it’s in a completely different room. I turn it off at night so it’s not releasing any of that electromagnetic radiation but yeah. I mean, these apps are pretty interesting and I’m sure they make them something similar on an android platform as well for people who are losers and don’t use Mac.
Brock: I’ve actually got my iPhone taped to my forehead just so I don’t miss anything that happens.
Ben: Big strip of duct tape. And then also another really cool thing you can use for controlling stress, it’s totally free, I’ll put a link to it in the show notes, are these mp3s and they’re anywhere from five to, there’s one that’s up to 40 minutes long but they help you out with things like self-awareness, with what’s called body scanning or kind of being aware of where your muscles are in space then helping you to relax them. Totally free, you can put them on like right before you go to bed at night or you can even, in the middle of the day if you got a chance to just sit and relax and go outside, sit on a bench and listen to one of these mp3s, I’ll put a link to them. There’s actually several and they cover everything from body scanning to being aware to basically kind of overcoming emotional discomfort and disturbing thoughts, all sorts of kind of cool stuff. There’s even one there for eating mindfully, it teaches you how to eat without stress. So I’ll link to them in the show notes and all those free download that you can throw into your phone or mp3 player or whatever.
Brock: Are they like hypnotherapy kind of thing or is it more like just information?
Ben: No, it’s more like stuff that you would probably know how to do yourself in some cases. For example like, now you’re going to tighten up every muscle in your forehead and then release and relax your forehead and feel that feeling of relaxation kind of flow through your skull and I’d be really bad, I shouldn’t do hypnotherapy.
Brock: Okay, so I guess we should start by saying that this podcast is brought to you by AudiblePodcast.com which is a fine purveyor of audio books and has been for a very long time and if you want to claim your very own free audio book, make sure you go to www.AudiblePodcast.com/Ben and if you go there, you can get a free audio book if you are not already a member.
Ben: Okay so I was actually looking at this the other day, at what the top three audio books in health and fitness are, so number three is actually really good. It’s called Why We Get Fat and What to Do about It by Gary Taubes.
Ben: Number two is a book about running, ultra running particularly and see if you can take a stab at which one it is Brock.
Brock: I guess finding ultra, my recall.
Ben: Close. It’s actually the book by Scott Jurek called…
Brock: Oh, that was going to be a second guess.
Ben: Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness. That one is number two and then number one is Wheat Belly, so all three of those fabulous books and you can get any of them for free, AudiblePodcast.com/Ben. So check that out, I’d highly recommend any of those titles.
Brock: Those would be good things to listen to while you’re on the plane on the way to Vegas.
Ben: That’s right. I will be going down to Vegas this weekend. For any of you who are going to be down at the Vegas World Championships, I’ll tweet where I am and what I’m up to on down there so just stay tuned to the Twitter feed at Twitter.com/BenGreenfield, I’d love to meet any listeners down there before the race or after the race when I’m out gambling and drinking my fool head off with a blue man group or whatever else is down there.
Brock: Celine Dion.
Ben: That’s right, me and Celine Dion. And then the other thing that I wanted to mention, well a couple of things, first of all, transcripts. For people who like to read the transcripts for this show, we’ve got time stamps in the transcript now. What that means is that any topics that you hear us talk about, we’ll put a list to those topics in a time stamp at which each of those topics appear if you want to go kind of read up and revisit anything that we talked about that you want to kind of geek out on a little bit more. So the transcripts are in there and then also we’ll put a link to this in the show notes but I’ve been speaking with a guy who we had on the show named Chris Jansen who is a sports psychologists, he’s actually a resident sports psychologist over at the Rockstar Triathlete Academy and he and I have been talking about ways that we can help people that we can adhere to positive dietary choices a little bit better, help people with nutrition struggles and so if you find that you have some difficulty adhering to a diet, whether it’d be whatever, eating gluten-free, not snacking at night, things of that nature, if you have nutrition struggles, we put together a little survey for you because we’re working on creating a program that kind of helps you adhere to a diet a little bit better, kind of teaches you how to make the right choices and how to kind of overcome some of the mental blocks to eating right, so it would be super helpful for us as we put together this program. If any of you want to take that survey, it will give us some good information to go off so that this is really targeted for you. So I’ll put a link to that survey in the show notes to this podcast but essentially, it just kind of lets us know about the biggest challenges and habits and gaps in your behavior that you’d like to overcome when it comes to healthy eating.
Brock: That’s awesome.
Ben: So I’ll put it out in the show notes. Its episode #207 right?
Ben: Over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com
Listener Q and A:
Brock: Okay so everybody is still really onboard with the brand new way to submit audio questions which is really easy, you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com and on the right hand side of the screen, you’ll see a little tab that pops up and when you click on that, you can really, you can just record audio directly into your computer, no muss, no fuss, no spills, no mess and it gets delivered directly to us and people are loving it, sounding good.
Ben: That’s right.
Brock: I guess we may as well just jump in with one of those audio questions right now. I’m going to call this person back loader.
Angie says: Hey Ben, I was wondering if you could weigh in on an approach to diet called Carb Backloading more specifically when it comes to training in the morning. One of the principles of this program is that you just get up in the morning, might have a cup of coffee with cream and then you’d hit the gym without having any macronutrients before working out and I’ve always been into the impression that it is important to take in some form of carbohydrates before I workout and perhaps some protein if you’re going to do some weight training, so wondering if you could look into this and weigh in with your thoughts, that’d be great. Thanks a lot.
Brock: Okay, carb backloading.
Ben: Yeah, we talked about this actually in episode #194. I’ll link to that in the show notes, I’ll link to the transcript for episode #194 if you want to review what I said back then but basically, my original response to this carb backloading idea is that, quick walkthrough, this person that asked this question Angie, I think her name was, she kind of eluded to what carb backloading is but basically you start off by depleting carbs, so what that means is that for the first five to ten days of the program, you get no more than 30 grams of carbs per day which for anybody who has tried to eat low carb, you know that that’s not very many carbs at all, that’s basically like ketogenesis full fat adaptation. So the reason that that’s recommended is to basically heightens your sensitivity to carbs and amp up the ability of the muscles to store carbohydrates more efficiently. It essentially is designed to step up the activity of a specific transporter and specific enzyme that’s responsible for taking up carbohydrates and putting them away in the muscles. It’s the same reason that before you do something like, let’s say you’re going to run a marathon and you wanted to carb load, it’s why some carb loading protocols for endurance sports start off with you eating a couple days of low carb so you amp the levels of this enzyme called glycogen synthase so that when you do start eating carbs, they’re more likely to end up in your muscle and get stored away in your muscle. So you start off with this carb depletion phase and then what you do is you schedule your weight training in the afternoon or the evening and you start off in the early part of the day by not having carbs in the early part of the day, only fats, only proteins and you wait until after you’ve done that afternoon or evening weight training session or exercise session to actually eat your carbs and then at that point, you actually go ape nuts on the carbs and you have a bunch of carbohydrates right after you engage in that afternoon or evening workout session, you begin to eat carbs ravenously and they don’t really differentiate in this carb loading program between burgers or pizza or ice cream or whatever, you just basically mow down on carbs. And if you, for any reason, are unable to workout in the afternoon or the evening, then what the recommendation is, is to have a little bit of carbohydrates after your morning training session then eat protein and fatty foods all the way up until the evening and basically don’t eat as many carbs as you would normally eat if you were going to be working out in the afternoon or the evening. So, basically the idea behind this is it’s trying to tell people they can eat all the bad food that they and gain muscle while simultaneously losing fat, that’s the whole idea behind this carb backloading and obviously I’m sure they’re selling a lot of copies of the whole Carb Backloading Program by promising that to folks because I checked out their website and it’s just pictures of bread and cake and ice cream and cookies and pizza and yeah, you can eat this, yeah you can eat that and just follow my program and you’ll be able to eat any of this stuff which I know, Brock is big time into the late night pizza right, Brock?
Brock: Oh yeah. The late night pizza, as long as it’s covered in at least four different kinds of fatty meat.
Ben: That’s right, washed down with a couple brewskies. So the idea here, and this is a synopsis of my original response back in episode #194, was that I mentioned that yeah, it makes sense for this whole. It really was designed for kind of the muscle crowd who are trying to put on some muscle as much as possible. It makes sense for pro-growth, it makes sense for speeding up what’s called the mTOR pathway which is this pro-growth pathway that enhances muscle synthesis when you eat a bunch of food but my response back then was that technically when you speed up the mTOR pathway, you do need to realize that if you’re not exercising at all, you’re going to get fat really fast in this program and if you are exercising, then there may still be an effect on lifespan and undifferentiated cell growth, meaning that calorie restriction and carbohydrate restriction and kind of staying away from this whole pro-growth amplifies as much muscle as possible type of scenario, if you’re not focusing on that quite as much, there is evidence that it may actually increase your lifespan or decrease risk of cancer for example because both lifespan and cancer are a result of accelerated cell growth or decreased lifespan and cancer, a lot of times due to too much energy onboard and enhancement of this mTOR pathway. So technically, with calorie restriction, you can decrease the rate at which this mTOR pathway kind of evolves and technically increase your lifespan so there may be a little bit of a trade-off here. You are in fact pushing the fast forward button on your life a little bit when you just basically go nuts on carbohydrate every evening when it comes to.
Brock: Especially if it’s cake and cookies and ice cream and refined carbohydrates like that.
Ben: Yeah, that’s another concern. You could obviously do this diet and choose carbohydrate sources that don’t have that same inflammatory effect on the gut as a lot of the carbohydrates listed in the program like the bread and the cake and the pizza and the cookies, things with high amounts of gluten, lectin or other compounds that may not be so healthy for your gut or your brain or your liver and so yeah, you could choose things like sweet potatoes, yams and a little bit of fruit and things of that nature and eat healthier carbohydrate sources for this carb backloading and that would certainly be a little bit healthier way to go about things but when we step back and look at this whole idea, like I mentioned, what you’re doing when you restrict carbohydrates earlier in the day and when you go through this initial period of carbohydrate restriction, there’s this glucose transporter that’s in your body that basically will allow you to absorb sugars after you eat it and take up sugars into skeletal muscle where they can be stored away as energy to be used for a workout or to be used for next day’s workout. When you have worked out, when you finish an exercise session, there’s anywhere from a 20-minute to a two-hour window where this glucose transporter is maximally active and you can step up that activity even more if you’re going through a period of carbohydrate depletion before hand and so what you’re doing when you restrict carbohydrates for an extended period of time and then you workout and then you save your carbohydrates for after the workout, you’re putting your body into the physiological state where it’s going to be more likely to take up carbohydrates into the muscle and store them away as energy rather than say shoving them off to the liver and convert them into fatty acids to be stored away as adipose tissue. So you don’t have to go out and purchase the Carb Backloading Program to be able to tell you that you may want to structure your carbohydrate intake to be timed around your exercise program rather than timed during the time of day when you’re not exercising. So that’s kind of the idea behind the glucose transporter part of this Carb Backloading diet and the other thing, and this is something we touched on last week, is that remember when it comes to keeping your body in a fat-burning state or burning as many fats as possible? It’s important to look at your total carb intake at the end of the day and if you look at the total carb intake at the end of the day using something like this Carb Backloading Program, because you’re restricting carbohydrates the entire day and eating only high fat, high protein foods until after you finish that late afternoon, early evening workout, basically what that means is you’re still eating probably fewer carbohydrates than you would eat under normal circumstances and so that’s also going to have a definite effect on your ability to lose fat as you’re simply taking in fewer carbs so you’re staying closer to that fat-burning state. And of course the answer to Angie’s question when she talks about the morning workout is that based on the Carb Backloading Program, if you’re giving yourself a bunch of carbohydrates in the afternoon or evening, more carbohydrates in usual in the afternoon or the evening, you can easily get out of bed, have whatever, some coffee with cream as what the program recommends and easily workout and be using the carbohydrates from the day before and anybody who’s eating a bunch of carbohydrates at night knows that you can roll out of bed the next morning and do a workout just fine without loading up a bunch of carbohydrates in the morning before the workout and so there’s absolutely no physiological reason that you wouldn’t be able to do something like a morning workout using this Carb Backloading Program. I think that it’s mostly marketing hype that is designed to make people think that they can eat all the bad food that they want at night and what I would really like to see is a group of folks who are doing this Carb Backloading Program or something like it. Basically take like an AC1 test to look at what the blood glucose levels have looked like over the past three months as well as the glucose tolerance test, both too fairly simple blood tests, to see what’s going on with glucose levels and insulin levels when you’re ingesting that high amount of carbohydrates in the evening and I personally am a fan of timing your carbohydrates to be based around your workout when you’re going to be more insulin sensitive but I’m not a fan of any diet that throws in some strange practice of doing something like eating a ton of carbohydrates in the evening. I’d rather see someone have a little bit of carbohydrate with breakfast because you are fairly insulin sensitive in the morning and then have the rest of the carbohydrates either before, after or during the workout session later on in the day and then have a normal dinner comprised of a good load of healthy fats, moderate amount of protein and a little bit of carbohydrate and I think that’s just a far more healthy scenario than pigging out on cake, pizza and ice cream every night after you finish your afternoon or evening workout.
Brock: I don’t think I’d even be able to sleep if I got rigged before bed or even a couple hours before bed.
Ben: Yeah, that’s the other issue is that when you look at that amount of carbohydrate in the evening yes, If you’ve worked out in the afternoon or evening, your insulin response to that amount of carbohydrate is going to be less than if you haven’t worked out but there still is going to be pronounced insulin response. That pronounced insulin response can shut down your leptin release when you actually are sleeping and if leptin doesn’t enter your hypothalamus while you‘re asleep, there are some things that don’t happen while you’re asleep such as a drop in core temperature, cellular repair and recovery, a stabilization of circadian rhythm and a lot of other kind of potentially-damaging hormonal issues that could occur because remember, like I said that up regulation of the glucose transporter, it’s going to be up-regulated after you workout in the afternoon or evening, it’s only going to stay up-regulated for anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours and it’s going to be different from person-to-person and so someone who does an afternoon workout at four pm and ends up doing their Carb Backloading at six pm, they’re probably going to have a pretty dang big insulin response, it’s going to still be with them when their head hits the pillow at night. So again, I think most of this is hype in marketing. I like some of the idea behind correlating your primary amount of carbohydrate intake to your workout but I don’t think this is the best way to do it. And we can probably extend the podcast now because we spent like 20 minutes on that.
Brock: Okay, well our next audio question comes from Matt.
Matt says: Hey Ben and Brock, this is Matt from Wisconsin. I had no internship now for about two years and I finally gotten on to a regular training routine from when I was used to when I work days. I’m running a marathon this October and planning on running another marathon in the spring and then Ironman fall of next year. I sleep really night on my off days and needless to say, my sleep patterns are irregular. I train in the mornings whether I work or not. I am looking for any nutritional advice for irregular schedules such as mine as well as what you would recommend for post-workout nutrition when I go to bed about 30-60 minutes after my workouts. Also what supplements would you recommend to try and get the most out of my sleep? I’m currently taking a melatonin supplement prior to bed and using a casein isolate shake before bed after workouts. Thanks a lot, I appreciate it and I love the podcast.
Brock: Okay, so shift worker.
Ben: Yeah. The thing about shift workers before and how hard it is, we’re just talking about circadian rhythm with that backloading question. There are some things that you can do. I mean, you mentioned that you are using a casein isolate shake as your primary supplement before you go to bed and I just wanted to quickly mention that the reason that a lot of protein powders that are designed to be pre-bed protein powders are made of primarily casein isolate rather than whey isolate is that casein is absorbed more slowly, digest more slowly, it’s got a little absorption rate and so the reason that someone would take a casein supplement is to provide a slower, steadier supply of amino acids to the body during sleep. I think that’s great kind of on paper. Ultimately, there haven’t been any studies that I’m aware of that have showed like increase muscle synthesis or better body composition when using a casein isolate versus a blend of casein and whey as something like a pre-bed amino acid but I just wanted to point out that that’s the whole idea behind using like a casein isolate shake. I personally use the, if I’m going to do like an evening snack, usually I’ll mix up a little bit of coconut milk with some of that Mt. Capra Deep30 Goat Protein and technically that is a blend of whey and casein and not a casein isolate but it’s probably grasping its straw when it comes to some of the bigger issues here. Post-workout, if you want to get to sleep as quickly as possible because it sounds like Matt is basically going to bed very soon after his workout in many cases, I’ve got essentially a1-2-3combo that I’d recommend. The first is that you get your body temperature down as quickly as possible after that workout. Cold shower works really well, cold immersion works really well. We were talking earlier in the podcast about cold vests and tights and stuff like that, that would be the first thing is get the body temperature down. The next thing would be to get yourself relaxed like a magnesium, like a natural calm magnesium for example to do that. The other option would be like transdermal magnesium like a spray that you can spray on your major muscles like your inner thighs, your arms, some of the areas that you’d use during the workout and that can help to relax your muscles and get you a little bit more relaxed before you go to bed.
Brock: Just be careful on the inner thighs especially if you have been doing a workout that where you may have chaffed a little bit there. I have put myself into some major pain by spraying some magnesium right on a chaff.
Ben: I know. One time I went on a trail run and it was tree like all these weeds and bushes and stuff like that. I got back and I did my usual transdermal magnesium on the inner thighs and I thought I was going to die, yeah it hurts so anyways, careful with that. Make sure you don’t any chaffing or abrasion on your inner thighs and then there are certainly some herbal formulas that you can use in addition to the one to two combos of the cold and the magnesium. Some of the things that I like are the valerian root that tends to do a really good job of getting you settled down and you can get that in a supplement form. There’s another one called Jujube seed extract, that’s spelled J-U-J-U-B-E.
Ben: Jujube, yeah exactly.
Brock: Not the candy but the root.
Ben: You could try Jujube candies, I don’t know. Maybe that would work. That might fall into the whole carb backloading thing so there you go.
Ben: And then passion flower is another decent one. I’ve actually been experimenting with a blend of all those herbs in a capsule form so basically valerian root, the jujube seed and the passion flower, those can all have a little bit of a sedative effect that can help you with anxiety and help you with deep and restful sleep. The other thing that can help out is an amino acid called L-Theanine and that’s an amino acid, you can find it in green tea but it kind of is doing some of the opposite effects of caffeine. It’s one of the reasons that green tea typically gives you less of a jittery energy spike compared to something like coffee or Yoba Mate or something like that. It’s the L-Theanine that’s in green tea that can kind of soften that stimulatory effect of the caffeine. So those three things can help you at post-workout using like a blend of herbs such as the ones I just mentioned, doing some cold and doing some magnesium.
Brock: One thing, it has been a while since we talked about diarrhea on this show but I just…
Ben: Might as well just start talking about it.
Brock: Might as well, it’s the perfect opportunity because you’ve got a combination of magnesium and valerian root there, both of those things have the potential to loosen your stool quite a lot so you may want to ease into those. Maybe try increasing the dosage slowly so you don’t just have problems.
Ben: Yeah. I mean I’ve been doing 500 milligrams of valerian and another 500 of magnesium and I’m fine but it is true, I’ve been using magnesium especially for awhile and when you initially first start using it, you can get some of that loose stool.
Brock: Yeah, the same problem with the valerian. Just like when you start popping those pills, sometimes it can be a disaster as well.
Ben: Yeah so we of course can’t get through a podcast that are talking diarrhea reference.
Brock: Yeah. We should have a poo emergency alarm or something.
Ben: That’s true. Anyways, couple other things to bear in mind. If you’re trying to get your circadian rhythm as dialed in as possible, there was a study that just recently came out. It was in the biochemical journal, it was early last year and what it looked at was caffeine and the effect that caffeine can have in terms of offsetting your circadian rhythm or essentially kind of messing up your circadian rhythm cycle and basically caffeine does have potential to mess with your circadian rhythm if it’s not overwritten by appropriate light cues and sleep-wake cycles and so what this means is that it would be a good idea to make sure that when it is morning for you or your day is starting and for you, in some cases if you’re a night shift worker, morning for you is going to be eight or nine o’clock at night or whenever you’re starting your workday. You want to make sure that if you are a coffee person or you’re using caffeine that you give yourself a light cue. If it’s a morning day for you then you want to make sure and go outside and get anywhere from 5-20 minutes of direct sunlight exposure in the morning. If it is a day for you when you’re not getting up in the morning but you’re starting your workday at 8 or 9 pm for example, it would be beneficial for you to get one of these light boxes that you could put next to your desk when you’re starting off your day and you just basically get the blue light exposure from that light box as you’re starting your day. Both of these things will help you to make sure that you’re keeping your circadian rhythm in line because it’s very responsive to light cues and caffeine can either be a good thing or a bad thing depending on whether or not it is accompanied by appropriate light cues, so that’s an important thing. There was another study that came out that recently came out that looked at vitamin A and how vitamin A deficiencies can affect the circadian rhythm pretty dramatically. So making sure that you get enough vitamin A in your diet is also important. I’ve actually began to eat liver about once a week. I’m actually interviewing the farmer where I get my liver from in this Saturday’s podcast, so listen in to that if you want to hear more about good places to get everything from liver to duck to butter to fish to some of the better sources and some things to think about when you’re looking at where you get things like organ meats and meat in general but when you’re trying to get something like your circadian rhythm dialed in, getting enough vitamin A is important. If you’re vegan or a vegetarian, you could use a vitamin A supplement. You could also just, if you’re not, try and include liver in your diet, even just once a week is fine. So consider that and then also the other thing that I would look into is the Ben Greenfield Fitness Recommendations Page where I recommend some of the top things that can help you out with sleep like installing the Flux app on your computer so that your computer dims out blue light at night, wearing blue light-blocking glasses when you’re working out in your computer in the evening. Using like this light box that I talked about earlier. When you are sleeping, if you can afford it, using something like the Earth pulse which is the pulse electromagnetic field device that I put underneath my mattress every night when I go to bed, that can really help you with dialing your circadian rhythm in. So those are some of the things that I would do, get the cold, the herbs and the magnesium post-workout before you go to bed at night. Make sure you get light exposure at the beginning of your workday, whether your workday is going to be the morning or the evening and then when you are sleeping, take advantage of some of those other resources that I mentioned over on my sleep recommendations page and I’ll make sure that I’ll link to those sleep recommendations in the show notes for you.
Brock: Alright, well let’s move on to our next audio question and I didn’t catch a name in this one so I’m just going to call him Belly.
Ben: I’m sure he’ll appreciate that.
Brock: I was going to call him Belly Fat but I thought that’s too much.
Belly says: Hey Ben! I was wondering if you have any recommendations to give me on the kinds of exercise I should do. Some background information first, two years ago I weighed about 30 kilos heavier than I’d do today. I didn’t do any exercise until one day I got inspired to start walking so I walked several times a week and noticed the weight started to go down so I didn’t quit. I kept walking and eventually I started to run and I fell in love with running so that I never really walked again after that and so together with a healthy diet, within half a year, I’ve lost 30 kilos and I pretty much maintained that since then. Another is I feel great, I eat healthy food and all the know, I’ve never felt healthier in my life and I’m glad I can say that now that I’m 33. So my question to you is even though I related to lose a lot of weight, my belly has maintained this thicker layer of fat not so evident elsewhere in my body and I now in your previous episodes, you’ve talked about runners’ belly and its connection to elevated cortisol levels caused by excessive running. So, I was wondering if you could elaborate on that and maybe give me recommendations on what kind of exercise routines I should maintain to get rid of this belly fat. So thanks for the great podcast and all the great information.
Brock: Okay, well that’s a good success story.
Ben: Yeah absolutely. I mean congratulations on where you’ve gotten at so far Belly. I’m sure he must’ve put his name somewhere. I think you have the option when you submit a question over at Ben Greenfield Fitness to write your name out but if you don’t want Brock and I to give you annoying or offensive nicknames, you may want to do that especially Brock.
Brock: It’s my job.
Ben: Anyways though, yeah belly fat. There are certainly some things or some rules or techniques to follow if you want to get rid of belly fat. So, I will give you some of my top recommendations for belly fat. The first would be to look at any highly palatable food reward type of foods that you have around the house. Typically these would be fried foods, dressings, sauces, anything like that and you want to make sure that you not have those hanging around because there is a pretty big correlation between foods with a high food reward and belly fat or adipose tissue. So make sure that anything that you kind of look at that really makes your mouth water that you’d be sure to kind of, I mean I would technically not have to run the house and say that stuff for when you’re out and about where it’s not super convenient and accessible in the house. So I would get rid of that. I would make sure that you’d definitely avoid sugars especially in guys only eating sugar and starch is completely, it’s one of the best ways that I’ve found to get rid of that last bit of belly fat around the waist line and I’m talking about everything from a guy who wants to get rid of a big belly to somebody who is literally like kind of in body building stages and needs to cut from whatever, 4% down to 3% body fat getting rid of any sources of refined or processed sugar, super important so check the labels. Make sure that you’re doing that as well. So get rid of foods with a high reward, get rid of foods that have any processed or refined sugars.
Brock: When you said starch as well, would that include like potatoes, sweet potatoes that kind of things as well or just rice?
Ben: You first focus on the processed or the refined sugars and then next the starches, and then yeah, that would include any of those type of things so yeah unfortunately. We’re talking about belly fat, once you get rid of it, you can kind of get a little bit less strict with those types of foods especially like healthy starches like the sweet potatoes and yams and stuff like that but initially, it really helps out to cut that stuff out. Alcohol, especially for guys that, the term beer belly is not just a coincidence so alcohol is another thing that tends to really amp up potential for belly fat so I’d cut that out. I would of course stay physically active because that slight increase in metabolism is going to help you tap into that body fat a little bit more. I’ve found another thing that can really contribute to belly fat. Again this is more so, a lot of this stuff is targeted for males but well also are useful for females as well. Late night snacking, anything within about two hours before bedtime, that can tend to be a big thing as well. Make sure that you check your hormone levels. Low testosterone can be associated with increased body fat or increased belly fat in males. Hormonal imbalance like estrogen dominance in females can also be an issue. Foods with high amounts of flavors, colors, preservatives, sweeteners, trans-fats, hydrogenated fats, things of that nature, most of those are not going to be all that great when you’re trying to shed a that last little bit of belly fat as fast as possible. So make sure that you are not only looking at food labels but try and choose foods that don’t even include labels, just real recognizable foods. Don’t eat when you’re stressed out because the higher the levels of your cortisol are when you’re eating, the more likely it is that fat is going to get deposited around your waistline so be careful with that. Make sure that you area eating foods that are going to help keep you satiated and possibly help you burn belly fat primarily foods like grass-fed beef with its high levels of fat-burning conjugated linoleic acid, foods like coconut milk or coconut oil with its high level of medium chain triglycerides and then of course protein sources that are going to keep you satiated and also have kind of a high metabolic cost to their digestion, a higher thermic effect of digestion, meaning that your body’s going to have to burn more calories, breaking them down. Then the last thing I would look at of course, which we already mentioned a few times, would be making sure that you give yourself some exposure to cold and some opportunities to build up brown adipose tissue while at the same time getting the metabolism elevated through cold exposure. All of those things that I just mentioned, if you put them all together, will really help to accelerate the rate at which you can get rid of belly fat so hopefully that gives you some ideas of where to start with this.
Brock: It gave me some ideas of where to start with this.
Ben: Yeah and I mean a lot of that stuff is stuff that I know a lot of folks know but it’s just a matter of putting it all together, adhering to it and you can literally watch the fat melt off when you get all this stuff together and dialed into your program.
Brock: That’s how I spend my Saturday nights.
Ben: Watching fat melt off?
Brock: Alright, our next question comes from, I’ll call this person Bones.
Ben: Bones and Belly.
Bones says: Hi Ben. My wife just had bone density scan and she was diagnosed with osteopenia and we’re wondering what supplements that she can take to help her with her calcium needs? What’s the best calcium? This vitamin K2, how is that working? What can she do? Thanks for your help Ben.
Brock: Osteopenia, its fun to say but probably not fun to have.
Ben: No! Bone health, bone density, we tend to really kick the calcium horse to death with this and there are many studies that showed that relying on calcium alone is not enough when it comes to bone health and bone density. So, the most important thing to remember if you’re listening in is this is not something that you’d just need to worry about as you are or when you’re old. I mean basically the period, especially in females, between the adolescence and the early 30’s is when you’re going to establish your bone mass and the amount of bone mass that you have after about the time you’re anywhere from 25 to 30 is kind of what you’re stuck with in many cases when it comes to reducing your risk for osteoporosis or osteopenia which is going to be just kind of be the precursor to osteoporosis. So you want to make sure that whether you’re young or you’re aging, you take into consideration getting bone density up. So some of the things you may want to think about in the younger stages would be making sure that you’re not over-exercising with large amounts of caloric depletion which can really create, especially in females, what’s called this female athletic triad which can really decrease bone density and if you are a young woman and you’re using something like a birth control pill, understand that than can deplete important nutrients for bone density specifically your B vitamins, B6 and B12, folic acid and magnesium. And there was actually a recent study up there in Canada Brock, that showed that use of the pill can lower bone mineral density by anywhere from two to four percent and because of this depletion of nutrients. So make sure that, especially if you’re using a birth control pill, you’re getting your hands on a B vitamin complex and then getting some sources of folic acid and magnesium in your diet. When we look at what you need above and beyond calcium for bone building, when we’re looking at actual supplementation and I will make sure that I will link to some of these recommendations in the show notes for you. First of all, realize that your body can’t really absorb more than about 500 milligrams of calcium at any given time and absorption of calcium is going to be severely diminished if you don’t have adequate magnesium onboard. You need to make sure that you’re using a magnesium supplement if you’re using calcium. That’s why if you’re using calcium, I recommend you use something like a Cal Mag or if you’re supplementing with calcium, you use something like a natural calm magnesium or some source of magnesium on a daily basis along with that calcium. Other super important supplements for bone mineral density and staving off osteoporosis or osteopenia would be vitamin D3 and I recommend in the range of 25-35 international units of vitamin D per pound of body weight.
Ben: I’m sorry, per kilo. Now I’m confusing myself with my recommendations. Now I believe its 25-35 international units per pound. I had a note to myself somewhere because I have a recommendations page all my dosage recommendations and I think it’s 25, yeah its 25-35 international units per pound.
Brock: Wow, that’s a lot.
Ben: Thirty five international units per pound. Remember that, especially if you’re eating meat, you are going to get some amount of vitamin D3 from things like fatty fish, cod liver oil, things of that nature so all of that doesn’t have to come in supplemental form but especially for bone mineral density, super important to get enough vitamin D. Magnesium which I already mentioned, you’re B vitamin complex which I already mentioned especially vitamin B6 and vitamin B12, making sure that you get a lot of trace minerals, zinc, copper, manganese, silicone, boron, selenium, typically something like a liquid trace mineral supplement is going to cover a lot of your basis if you’re eating a healthy amount of vegetables as well. So, I would be on like two to three servings per day of liquid trace minerals along with a good vitamin D and a magnesium supplement, another really important supplement for proper absorption and utilization of your vitamin D, your magnesium, your calcium, this vitamin K2. Big correlation between vitamin K2 and bone health and the Japanese eat nato or fermented soy bean and we actually showed an interview with a physician who’ve done a lot of research on vitamin k2 on this podcast a few months ago and vitamin K2 in particular what’s called the menaquinone form of vitamin K2 is known to have a really supportive effect on bone quality and so you’re going to get vitamin K2 like I mentioned, from something like nato. There’s a little bit of it in something food like chicken liver for example but the fact is that it’s so hard to find in large amounts in a lot of food, it’s a dietary supplement that you may want to consider supplementing with. Grass-fed butter is another good source of vitamin K2. The vitamin K2 has been shown to be as effective as some prescription drugs and reducing the incidents of bone fractures and it can really improve bone mass, mechanical strength, mineralization or specifically deposition of the actual calcium supplements that you’re taking and has a lot of other kind of cool, positive effects on bone health, so vitamin K2 would definitely be one that you’d want to throw into the mix as well. Those would be the main ones, doing like a vitamin D, vitamin K, liquid trace minerals. Oh probably the other thing, and I’ve mentioned this many times before in the show, would be a good lactoferrin supplement and I recommend CapraFlex for that, just some really cool effects on the osteoplastic cell activity in laying down of new bone with something like that CapraFlex supplement. So from a supplementation standpoint, those are some of the things that I would consider. Realize that diet and supplementation alone cannot build stronger bones. You should definitely make sure that you are engaging in impact-based exercise and weight-bearing based exercise with actual loading, meaning along the long access of the bone itself so overhead presses, squats. When I say impact, what I mean by that is that for example walking quickly or running on a treadmill, things of this nature, are going to be more effective at building bone density than something like bicycling which in fact because you’re sweating and losing minerals while not bearing any weight can actually decrease your bone density if you’re not careful. So realize that the diet and supplementation alone can’t just do it, you need to make sure that you’re actually using your bones, putting a load in your bones, doing some weight lifting, doing some impact-based exercise and then just be careful with the rest of your diet, make sure you’re not eating foods that are going to step up the demineralization of bone particularly a diet high in sugar, a diet high in carbohydrates. Both of those are going to tend to leech minerals, so make sure you’re taking care of yourself from a dietary perspective as well and essentially try and eliminate white foods from your diet. I mean that’s one of the best things you can do from a bone standpoint. If you want to look into this a little bit more, you should listen to or read any books by Carolyn DeMarco or Dr. Carolyn Dean, both of those physicians have some good resources out there like Carolyn Dean wrote the Magnesium Miracle, Carolyn DeMarco wrote Bone Building Solution, both of those physicians have some good information out there when it comes to bone health.
Brock: Well let’s move on to our next audio question that comes from Craig.
Craig says: Hey Ben, this is Craig fromBirmingham. Based on your recommendation, I’ve been wearing blue blocker sunglasses after sundown. I can tell that they’re helping and besides, my kids get one more reason to laugh at me. My question is will there be any benefit to wearing sunglasses in the morning before sunrise? Thanks, bye.
Brock: I can’t blame your kids for giggling at you. I’m assuming that your blue blockers look like mine and they’re not very cool.
Ben: Mine are cool man, I dig them. The Gunnar brand of glasses, basically they reduce eyestrain because you wear them when you’re whatever, reading, stuffing your computer, your kindle whatever but they also block pretty good amounts of that blue light waves spectrum and they just look badass, they’re cool glasses.
Brock: You should love to put a photo-op.
Ben: Of the Gunnar glasses?
Brock: Of you in your Gunnar glasses, maybe we can take a poll, see how many people think you look badass.
Ben: Okay, I will shoot. I’m just writing a note to myself, I’ll shoot a little screenshot of myself with my Gunnars. Maybe I’ll be wearing my cold vest too, about cold vest plus the Gunnars. Okay so Craig, quick answer to your question is that would actually be counter-intuitive to wear blue light blocking glasses in the morning because as I mentioned in my response to the guy who is working a night shift, you actually want good amounts of blue light exposure from sun or if you can’t get sunlight, artificial light like a light box in the morning because that is what’s going to amplify cortisol levels in the morning and kind of boot up your circadian rhythm. So if you’re wearing something like blue light blocking glasses in the morning, you’re actually working against what you’re trying to achieve by wearing them at night. The basic concept is you do things that are going to enhance cortisol levels in the morning and you do things that are going to enhance melatonin levels in the evening. So you increase light exposure and you increase levels of physical activity and you get a little bit of carbohydrate in the morning and then you basically avoid heavy amounts of light exposure, big meals things of that nature in the evening and that’s the way that you’d do things. So no, I wouldn’t wear them in the morning.
Brock: Suck up all the sunlight you can.
Ben: That’s right.
Brock: Awesome! Okay, next question comes from Scott.
Scoot says: Hi Ben, this is Scott from Toronto. About 2 months ago, I had blood worked that showed my testosterone was low, I had a reading like 8.2 nmol per liter and 22.5 pmol per liter and I think that was the testosterone free reading. I started taking medications Tribulus Stack that I made and Myomin. I was working out twice a week for weights and running 40 minutes twice per week as well. After about six or seven weeks, I had my testosterone checked again and it actually went down to 6.5 and 15.3. I’ve been on Packs so since last December. When I’m doing distress, I lost about 20 pounds. I’ve gained 15 pounds back but I think the Packs might be lowering my testosterone as well. What would you recommend for me to help increase my testosterone level? I look forward to hearing from you, thanks.
Ben: So in terms of testosterone levels being down with what you’re doing right now, first of all, understand that when you’re looking at testosterone levels, there is a difference between clinical hypogonadism, meaning that testosterone levels that are so low that it’s considered basically medically relevant or a risk factor and testosterone levels that are just basically at the point where whatever, you’re not recovering as quickly as you want to or your sex drive isn’t as high as you want it to be. Generally, normal testosterone levels, if you’re looking at like blood levels of circulating total testosterone or anywhere from 300 to a thousand, what’s called nanograms per decilliter, and anytime those drop below about 350, that’s where if you’re tested that a doc or an endocrinologist might put you on some type of testosterone support formula like a testosterone cream or testosterone injection or something like that. And if you don’t fall below those levels, it’s fairly unlikely that most doctors are going to put you on anything. There’s a really good resource, a really good book that I think does a great job at laying out what happens when the average red blooded American male kind of starts to use testosterone as a supplement quite seriously even in the absence of clinical hypogonadism and that book is called The Doper Next Door and it’s about this guy who’s literally like an amateur cyclist who just starts to take testosterone to bump up his performance and it’s obviously illegal in sports and it’s, in my opinion, quite unethical to be towing the line of any events being on some type of testosterone injection or testosterone cream unless you have been diagnosed with something like clinical hypogonadism but it’s an interesting book and one that I’d recommend that you look through is called The Doper Next Door. There are many ways to skin a cat when it comes to increasing testosterone. Now I’ve mentioned a couple of times already in this show that I’ve got my testosterone recommendations page up or my general recommendations page up that kind of goes into all the things that I personally recommend for increasing testosterone levels and I always recommend that people start off with the basics that don’t include supplementation, injections, creams or anything like that, just basic dietary adjustments and then including a few things in the diet that are going to help with getting testosterone levels up. So the basics are high fat diet, so you’re giving yourself enough cholesterol and hormone precursors and then getting the vitamin D3 in which is going to be another important component of enhancing testosterone, same thing I recommended earlier, approximately 25-35 international units per pound of body weight. I like about four to five grams of a good triglyceride-based fish oil on a daily basis along with one to two tablespoons of a cod liver oil, both of those can help out quite a bit. Anywhere from two to six Brazil nuts per day to get you the selenium that’s going to help with testosterone, eating several servings of grass-fed beef on a weekly basis and those would be the basic dietary protocols that I recommend launching any type of testosterone supplement support formulas or anything like that. The other thing that would be important to remember would be to basically make sure that you’re lowering stress levels and getting adequate sleep. Two things that are also going to kick the pants off of any type of testosterone supplement that you could be taking and then kind of the next level up of testosterone supplementation, there’s a few different ways you can go. One blend that I like would be to go about three grams of D-Aspartic acid per day, that’s about 1 level teaspoon and you can just get like pure D-Aspartic acid from, like I’ve gotten it from Hard Rhino before on Amazon and you combine that with an aromatase inhibitor so that you don’t get like man boobs for example. Myomin is an example of a really good aromatase inhibitor that you would want to take at the same time that you’re taking something like D-Aspartic acid, anywhere from a thousand to 1500 milligrams of Myomin on a daily basis. I also like, as I mentioned before, magnesium and magnesium is used as part of the enzymatic reaction for when you make testosterone, so that’s something else that can really come in handy. So that’s one example of kind of like a stack or a blend of things that you could take for enhancing testosterone. There are some other herbs. I’m actually currently looking into what would be like a good testosterone supplement support type of formula that I could actually make and private label and make available for folks and right now, some of the things that I’m looking at as things that could be put into something like that, one would be Cordyceps, that’s got some research behind it for hormone support and testosterone support. Another one would be Eurycoma which is another herb and that’s from the root of a Malaysian plant, it’s also known as long jacks. Norvaline which is basically, it helps out with endothelial dysfunction by stepping up on nitric oxide so it kind of gives you that sexual enhancement effect that goes along with the testosterone and then rhodiola, which acts similar to Cordyceps and tribulus and putting all those together in like an herbal blend would be another decent way to get testosterone levels up. Anything that you do when it comes to increasing testosterone though, you want to make sure that of course you take into a consideration I’m not a doc, don’t consider this as medical advice. You want to talk to your doctor about any potential interaction with medications or pharmaceuticals that you might be taking and then also, you want to realize that again like I mentioned earlier, nothing holds a candle to decreasing stress and getting adequate sleep, getting your diet dialed in and then basically lifting heavy stuff and having sex as much as you can are also both going to help quite a bit with getting the testosterone levels up.
Brock: And there are a lot more fun that taking medication.
Ben: That’s true. Bench pressing and having fun in the bedroom are a lot more fun than injecting testosterone into your right butt cheek.
Brock: Okay, let’s move on to our next audio question from Pat.
Pat says: I got a quick question. I’m not an endurance athlete, I lift weights and I practice juijitsu but recently I read the book Chi Running and I read it front to back and I really enjoyed it and I started running once a week, very short distances, couple of miles or three at most but I’ve never heard you guys mention it in the podcast so I thought I just take your brain to see what you think about it. The terminologies definitely made a lot of sense to me.
Brock: When I first read the Chi Running book by Danny Dreyer, that was years ago. Actually, I was flying toMontrealfor one of my first marathons. I wouldn’t say it changed my entire running style but it certainly influenced it very heavily.
Ben: Yeah, and we’ve interviewed Danny Abshire from Newton Running Shoes on this podcast before and I’ll link to that in the show notes because we talked about Chi Running during that interview and I have read that book and, do you pronounce it Chi Running or chi running?
Brock: I usually say chi but I don’t know if that’s correct. By any means, that’s the way I say it.
Ben: Jations as well, and I’m not well-versed in Japanese word pronunciations so might be Chi, might be chi. I’ve actually called it Chi, I have the Japanese kanji symbol for chi tattooed on my shoulder incidentally so I probably should know how to actually say the word, one of my college tattoos, Japanese chi symbol and inside of a triple sun.
Ben: Yes. Anyways, I, when I read the book, found that I was having a hard time remembering many of the cues that are included in the book to help you with chi running because basically when you’re focusing on chi running, there are several kind of changes that you make to your running form such as your foot landing, using more or kind of disengaging your calf and lower leg, on keeping your knees nice and low, keeping your cadence constant, emphasizing a nice level pelvis as you’re running, emphasizing a little bit of pelvic rotation, emphasizing a good, relaxed arm swing. A lot of the things that they really geek out in the book that you find yourself going cross-eyed trying to remember as you’re running. So what I did when I read that book because I found it intriguing and I wanted to kind of try out some of these concepts especially while I was out on like a long, slow aerobic run was I recorded a bunch of cues from the book, I literally like from my microphone, I recorded them so I could listen to them while I was running to help me apply some of the chi running exercises while I was out there running and see if the type of relaxation that had taught me helped at all. And first of all, I wanted to mention this. If people would find this helpful, I can take that recording. We can upload it and make it available as a download on the show notes. Did you see that Brock?
Brock: With Danny Abshire?
Ben: No. Well I’ll link to the recording with Danny Abshire but like those audio cues that I mailed.
Brock: Oh yeah, that would be awesome.
Ben: I’ll upload those so if anybody wants to download, all I did as I read the book, I spoken to a microphone and just kind of reminded myself about the things I wanted to focus on while I was running. So I’ll put a link in the show notes to that for episode #207, to the Chi Running audio cues that I made while I was in the book but essentially, chi running, similar to pose running, just basically focuses on a few basic concepts. The first would be kind of a gentle, lean forward and helping gravity to propel you forward rather than leaning back, having a heel strike and experiencing that braking effect that the ground can have upon you if your center of gravity is basically in front of you rather than slightly behind you. Both the chi method along with the pose method of running kind of use this imagination of a straight line from your foot to your neck to encourage you to have this nice, proud posture that’s this slightly leaning forward straight line from the foot up to the neck. Both the pose and the chi kind of encourage relaxation, kind of teaching you to keep your muscles less tense. Chi running kind of states that only your lower abs should be tight while the entire rest of your body should be loose and the pose running method talks about how runners or most runners pound the pavement by not working enough with gravity and encourages you to think about lifting your legs off the ground rather than pushing off after your legs strike the ground. Both the chi running method and the pose running method are big time into minimalist shoes or using barefoot running, again, to encourage you to land softly and use this mid-front foot to forefoot strike. There’s another form of running called Evolution Running, that’s very similar to these as well. All three of these methods kind of go along the same lines though. Turn over rate versus stride length, forward lean, mid-foot to forefoot strike and you’re going to find a lot of similar concepts outlined between all three of them although there are subtle differences. Brock, do you use any of these methods, the Pose running or the Evolution running or the Chi running?
Brock: When I’m coaching, I’m using a lot of the stuff I learned in the Chi running book especially the stuff around the forward lean like the idea that you’re being led by the top of your head, just the feeling of being suspended by an invisible force through the top of your head. I always like to tell my runners that they’ve got a string that runs through the back of their head down their spine and attaches to their coccyx hipbone and that’s suspending them and pulling them along so that string is actually doing all the work. I really like that idea and also the tai chi idea of the cotton and steel, so we’ve got this steel rod running down the middle of us which is our core and our spine and then everything else around it is cotton, it’s loose, it’s easy, it’s relaxed. I find those to be really good for endurance running.
Ben: Yeah, cool. Well I will link to my audio recording of the Chi running cues but I would also say that I personally don’t really adhere to any of these methods per say and I simply focus on four basic things as a runner. If you can get these four things down, then in my opinion, you’re going to have a lifetime of relatively injury-free running as much as running can be injury-free. So four things that I recommend, the first is to keep your cadence above 180. So that means each foot strikes the ground 90 times or more per minute okay. You can practice that in a treadmill, once you get it done on a treadmill, you can go outside and practice it but if you got your cadence at 90 plus rpm, then you’re going to ensure that your stride rate is high enough to where you’re not pounding the pavement with each step, so cadence above 180, that’d be number one. Number two would be your foot lands underneath you, not in front of you. If your foot lands underneath you then you aren’t going to get that huge ground reaction force pushing back against your body, applying that braking effect to your body and it’s going to save your joints. A few things you can do to keep your feet under you rather than in front of you would be to think about keeping your hips forward and to not hold your arms in front of you, hold your arms just slightly further behind you than what would feel normal and that’s going to help out a ton too. So keep your cadence above 180, get your foot to land under you, not in front of you. Number three would be doing push off with your feet. Every time you step, you pull your foot up. You can think about using your hamstrings to do that, you can think about just like pulling your foot off the ground rather than if you don’t like to use the actual muscles but pull, don’t push. So don’t push off with your feet, just pull your feet off the ground. And then the last thing would be teach yourself to run barefoot even on hard surfaces. I mean put it this way, if you can get on a treadmill and you can run barefoot on a treadmill and you can be quiet as you’re running barefoot on a treadmill, then you’ve made it when it comes to learning how to run soft and lower impact as you’re running but running barefoot or running minimalist as much as possible or teaching yourself how to get in contact with the ground with as much of your foot as possible, really helps meant all of these concepts in place and I’m fan of running barefoot on roads, on sidewalks, on hard surfaces to get you to that point. So those would be the four main things, cadence above 180, your foot lands underneath you, not in front of you. Don’t push off with your feet, instead pull and then run minimalist or run barefoot and if I could write the Ben Greenfield book on being an injury-free runner, it would just have those basically like four-page so that would be it.
Brock: One thing I’ve noticed I often get hired as an on-course coach for marathons all over the country and also in the US and I’ve noticed over the last few years, I can hear somebody coming from a very long way away if they’re wearing the Vibram five Fingers just because they make that really distinctive smack, smack, smack sound on the ground.
Ben: You should be silent wearing those shoes and if you’re not, then you need to train yourself to be before you go out and do any type of distance in them.
Brock: That’s it, I’m pulling those people off the course next time I hear them.
Ben: Are you even allowed to do that?
Brock: No, no I’m not. Okay, our next question comes from Christine.
Christine: I’m thoroughly enjoying your new book. I’ve discovered I’m a mesomorph female and had a question about the workouts. Quite a few of the exercises require cable workout equipment, which I do not have in my home. Can I substitute alternative exercises that will work the same muscle groups and maintain a high rep, low weight protocol?
Ben: Yeah, pretty quick answer here. She’s referring to my Get Fit Guy’s Guide To Achieving Your Ideal Body Type and that’s my body typing book that kind of walks you through how to identify your body type and then gives you a workout and nutrition plan based on you unique body type, it’s over at GetFitGuy.com. If you don’t have a cable apparatus at home, no big deal at all. All you need is an elastic tubing with the handles on the end of it and you can substitute just about any of those cable exercises with that elastic tubing. And then the other thing that works really well is they make cable apparatuses that can attach to your doorframe and the one that I like is called Body by Jake Tower, I’ll link to it in the show notes, it’s called Body by Jake Tower and it just lets you have the equivalent of like a multi-hundred dollar cable apparatus that you find at the gym, one of those fancy cable apparatuses but the kind of like a toned-down version for your home. I like cables because they maintain muscle tension, they allow you to move through a very large range of motion, larger than you would get if you’re working with a weight machine and they have a great amount of versatility and a number of exercises that you can do but you don’t have to go buy a fancy, huge cable machine for your home gym. You can literally get like elastic tubing with handles on either end of it or this Body by Jake Tower and either of those work, I own both and I generally can do just about any cable exercise or kind of tubing exercise at home with either of those.
Brock: Awesome. Alright, our next question comes fromElizabeth, I’m going to commence your question a little bit here but Ben does have the full one in front of him.
Elizabeth: Last summer, I was training for a half marathon and I decided to stop taking my birth control pill because I didn’t want to have all those hormones coursing through my body. I was expecting not to get my menstrual cycle right away but it didn’t even show up or in only showed up once. So I went to the doctor, was given some progesterone pills. It worked briefly but it’s not working now and I want to know how I can get my regular menstrual cycle back and still be able to train for endurance running events.
Ben: Well in many cases, because I talked to a lot of female endurance athletes, I coach female endurance athletes, I do a lot of phone consultations with them, I’m finding it more rare to come across a female endurance athlete who does not have amenorrhea, complete loss of the menstrual cycle or some type of exercise –related menstrual alteration based off of the fact that when you are engaged in endurance exercise, the combination of the Pregnenolene steal, meaning that lots of hormones getting converted or shuttled into producing cortisol rather than say producing progesterone along with caloric depletion and loss of body fat really produce the inability for you to form this corpus luteum that’s going to eventually result in you having a normal menstrual cycle and the issue here is a little bit more serious than just perhaps you not having your period because we talked about osteoporosis and optimal bone health earlier and the big issue here is that if your energy state is low and your hormone levels are low, then you’re not going to be absorbing calcium properly and your bone development is really going to be effective or your bone development is really going to be affected, you’re looking at earlier onset of osteoporosis, bone loss and while that may be something that is hard for you to grasp, hard for you to see when you’re 30, 40, 50 years old when you are stepping off the pavement and getting a fracture when you’re 60, 65 or 70, then you’re going to really be kicking yourself about this and it’s a big issue and it can cause everything from serious impairment of your daily physical activity to death when you’re breaking hips and knees and bones and having all these issues related to premature low hormonal state in your earlier years because of your engagement in endurance exercise combined with usually some type of like caloric restriction or food restriction. So there are various stages of amenorrhea or loss of the menstrual cycle, everything from kind of what’s called a shortened luteal phase where you have your ovulation a bit later in the cycle than you normally would but you still have a normal period all the way up to a complete loss of the entire menstrual cycle. Now some of the things that you can do about this, first of all, when I am speaking with a woman who has lost her period, who is concerned about bone density, who has lost her sex drive, who is obviously experiencing hormonal deficits, the first thing that we do is we cut back on the exercise and immediately go to typically anywhere from a two to an eight-week phase, a vaster-reduced exercise with just basically some stress-relieving yoga, a little bit of heavy weight training, a few high intensity intervals, no chronic, long, slow cardio at all and we combine that with no caloric restriction. Eating at least as many calories as are necessary and then getting the majority of those calories from healthy sources of fat, avocadoes, olives, olive oil, coconut milk, seeds, nuts, fatty cuts of fish, things of that nature. So for most women, in order to actually have a normal menstrual cycle, you need to have your body fat above 15%. I know that’s painted with a broad brush but for most women, you got to be at least above 15% and if that’s not the case then usually we’re looking at some type of hormonal deficit. So if the body fat is below that, I want to get it up. Now there are some women, for example, my wife. She is about 9% body fats. She has a completely normal period, she doesn’t have any of the chronic energy deficits or issues with hormonal deficits that folks would have but for her, that’s just entirely genetic. She comes from a hard, leanMontanarancher family and so she just got naturally low body fat percentages but it’s pretty rare to come across somebody, a woman, who’s less than 15% body fat and has normal periods. So get the body fat percentages up and lower the amount of exercise, get into a high fat diet and usually that stuff can help out quite a bit. You’re always going to be fighting an uphill battle as a female athlete, as a female endurance athlete specifically when it comes to amenorrhea and bone density but you need to realize it’s a serious issue that’s going to come back and bite you later on in life. If you can’t get a handle on it right now and understand that it’s okay to not have ripped six-pack abs as a woman and to not have extremely tapered and defined calf muscles and some of these things that you may see and even envy in some female endurance athletes but understand that usually biochemically and hormonally, there are some deeper issues going on that are going to make a lot of women kick themselves for keeping that low percentage of body fat when they were younger, when they were engaging in endurance sports and I personally think a little bit of curve, a little bit of body fat is pretty sexy myself and I think that sometimes, magazines give us this unrealistic expectation of what a woman is supposed to look like and a lot of times, it’s an unhealthy expectation.
Brock: Well said.
Ben: I will get off my soak box now.
Brock: Well it’s really just one side too, it’s not so much that it’s particularly unhealthy because some people are, like your wife, you said that she is extremely healthy but falls into that category of being very lean and very string bean sort of build but not everybody is meant to be that way, they’re supposed to be a plethora of sizes.
Ben: I may tell my wife you called her string bean.
Brock: I don’t know. Okay, let’s move on to our final question actually in this extremely marathon-like podcast and it’s from Connie.
Connie says: I had some cardiovascular tests done but have no clue what the results mean.
Brock: Connie, I have read your question several times and I have no idea either, it’s very confusing. I hope Ben understands.
Ben: Okay, I’m looking at Connie’s question. Connie had what’s called a Bruce Protocol Stress Test.
Brock: Which is an exercise stress test.
Ben: That’s an exercise stress test so anybody who has done a Bruce Protocol knows that it hurts. It’s what’s called a maximal stress test. You start off on a treadmill at 2.7 km/hr and a 10% grade and that gradually gets faster and faster and faster and like you’ll get up, you got to do on a special treadmill that goes way above the 10% grade because you get up to 20%-25% grade when you’re doing a Bruce Protocol Stress Test. Now there are equations that are correlated to the amount of time that you’d last during this test that allow you to predict what’s called your VO2 max or your maximum oxygen consumption. Connie also gives us a bunch of other values that she was given as a result of taking this test, primarily her functional aerobic capacity which she says tested out at 160% and also what’s called her rate pressure product and the rate pressure product is what you get when you multiply your resting heart rate by your systolic blood pressure and that measures the amount of stress that’s put on your cardiac muscle and it is a direct indication of the energy demand of your heart and a good measure of the energy consumption of your heart. So she just basically threw all these numbers our way and she’s curious what her stats actually mean or if they’re actually accurate, so here’s the deal. If you go out and you do any test that is designed to estimate your VO2 max or your maximal oxygen uptake, it is not going to even hold a candle for accuracy compared to simply getting an indirect calorimetry test where you’re actually wearing a mask and that mask is measuring the amount of oxygen you consume and the amount of carbon dioxide that you produce. Now what I did was I plugged Connie’s results into several different equations that can be used based off of your Bruce Protocol to determine your VO2 max and Connie, based off of the numbers that I plugged in from the results of her Bruce Protocol Test that she sent to us, had a VO2 max of anything from 54 up to 72 and that’s a huge range okay. So 72 would be like some of the best female endurance on the planet, 54 would be your average pretty dang fit woman and so understand that unless you’re getting indirect calorimetry, these types of tests are fairly inaccurate. When you’re looking at aerobic capacity or functional aerobic capacity, all functional aerobic capacity is it’s an estimation of what percentage your maximum fat burning state is or your maximum aerobic utilization state is compared to what your VO2 max is and again, this is something that’s very difficult to measure accurately unless you’re getting an indirect calorimetry test, an actual exercise physiology test where you’re wearing this mask. So I am simply not a fan of any of these tests that use equations to approximate values versus simply measuring the values especially considering that you’re going to pay whatever, anything from 75 up to $300 to do any of these tests that are going to approximate such as being on a treadmill doing the Bruce Protocol but you’re going to pay a very similar amount anywhere from $75, $200, $300 to simply go into an exercise physiology lab and get this stuff directly measured. So all I did for three years of my life was run this exercise physiology lab and do these type of tests on folks and the data is extremely valuable. I mean the only reason that I quit working in the lab and went in tests was because I simply had to begin to pick and choose the activities that I engaged in and had to kind of phase out of working in this exercise physiology lab but going in and getting an indirect calorimetry test or VO2 max test where you’re actually measuring this stuff directly, if you really want to know the true numbers when it comes to your aerobic capacity, the calories that you burned during exercise, your true fat-burning heart rate, all of this stuff, just go in and get an exercise physiology test. You can go to your local university and a lot of times, the exercise physiology lab that your local university will do the test, you can go to a local sports performance, sports science, sports medicine facility, a lot of them will do the test, you can hunt these things down and that’s what I would recommend that you do versus getting approximated through using equations because like I mentioned, when I plug Connie’s values into any number of equations for the Bruce Protocol Treadmill Test, she measured anywhere from 54 to 72 for her VO2 max which is just a huge range so it’s one of those deals where you’re shooting in the dark a lot of times when you’re using equations.
Brock: I guess, just the last part of her question there, it says if my stats are good, does that mean I should maybe start to push myself not to be so slow? I guess even if the VO2 max is 54, she still should be pushing herself to not be so slow right?
Ben: If you do a VO2 max test and you find out that you have a really high VO2 max, then yeah there’s still the fact that, you can have a car with a really big engine but you still got to learn how to drive it, you still got to learn how to take that car on the road and get it up to speed. So yes, let’s say Connie’s VO2 max is indeed 72 and it’s super high, she still got to be able to train herself how to get to the pain cave during workouts or get to the pain cave during a race or during an event in order to utilize that VO2 max and then understand that especially in endurance sports, there are things far more important than VO2 max, specifically your lactate threshold or your ability to buffer lactic acid and having the ability to buffer lactic acid at a very high heart rate or a high speed or a high power, that’s far more important than your VO2 max and when I’m testing an athlete and discovering that they’re a very good athlete with great potential for endurance sports specifically, usually the heart rate at which blood lactate peaks is anywhere from 90%-95% of the actual VO2 max heart rate or maximum heart rate and that’s actually a much better number to track and to train in my opinion than VO2 max, and the cool thing is you can buy your own blood lactate monitor for $300-$500 to paying what you get it, like you can go to Lactate.com for example and get a blood lactate meter and you can measure this yourself or have a spouse or a friend or a training partner measure blood lactate during exercise and you can track it out and train that and that’s a much more useful parameter in my opinion than VO2 max.
Brock: Alright, well that sums it up. That’s the end of the show or yeah, the questions anyway.
Ben: It was a long show.
Brock: Yeah, I totally lost concentration there.
Ben: And I’m freezing. So speaking of which, I’ll take a quick picture of myself here wearing the Gunnar glasses and the vest then shoot those over to Brock and of course we’ll put a link to everything, I’ll put a link to my chi running audio cues. We’ll put a link to my testosterone recommendations, my sleep recommendations, some of those stress apps that I recommended earlier on in the show. Everything, whole slew of stuff over at the show notes for episode # 207 at BenGreenfieldFitness.com. Hopefully I’ll see a few of you listeners down in Vegas this weekend and yeah, until next time. This is Ben and Brock signing out from BenGreenfieldFitness.com.
For personal nutrition, fitness or triathlon consulting, supplements, books or DVD’s from Ben Greenfield, please visit Pacific Elite Fitness at http://www.pacificfit.net
In the intro to this episode, Ben mentions he's wearing these Gunnar glasses (eliminate eye strain), this CoolFatBurner vest (cold thermogenesis) and these 110% Compression pants (cold thermogenesis + compression).
Sep 5, 2012 free podcast: 10 Ways To Burn Belly Fat Fast (& Why Ben Is Wearing A Funny Vest & Geeky Glasses During Today's Podcast). Also: how to “carb backload”, nutrition strategies for shift workers, dealing with osteopenia, should you wear sunglasses at daybreak, how to increase testosterone, is “Chi Running” a good protocol, alternatives for cable exercises, how to return to a regular menstrual cycle, and understanding a Bruce Protocol Stress Test.
Have a podcast question for Ben? Click the tab on the right side of the screen, click Ask a Podcast Question at the bottom of this page, Skype to “pacificfit” or scroll down on this post to access the free “Ask Ben” form.
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- FRUCTOSE IS HEALTHY in small doses, preferably from fruit.
- Mental stress screws your post-workout recovery:
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–Free stress relief .mp3 (and a great Monster In the Mirror video)
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As compiled and read by Brock, the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast “sidekick”.
Audio Question from Ange:
Could you weight in on “Carb Backloading”? Involves: Training in the morning when you get up, maybe have a cup of coffee (with cream) but have no macro-nutrients before working out. She always thought you should take in carbs and/or protein before working out.
~ In my response, I mention my original response to a carb backloading question.
Audio Question from Matt:
Planning on running some marathons and an Ironman in the next 12-16 months. Has a very irregular work/sleep schedule. Trains in the morning whether he work days or nights. He's looking for nutritional advice to fit a schedule like his. Also would like to know what to eat after his workout when he goes to bed directly after. What supplements should he take to make the most of his sleep – currently takes melatonin and casine-isolate shake.
~ I mention my sleep recommendations.
Audio Question from “Belly”:
2 years ago he was 30kg heavier than he is today (he is 33). Back then, he started walking several times a week and then started running. Loves running. Even though he has lost weight he still has a layer of fat around his belly. Could you elaborate on how to get rid of the belly fat (he knows about runner's belly related to cortisol levels).
Audio Question from “Bones”:
His wife just had a bone density scan and was diagnose with osteopenia. They are wondering what supplements she should take.
Audio Question from Craig:
Based on your recommendation he has been wearing blue blockers in the evening. Wants to know if there would be any advantage to wearing sunglasses in the morning before sunrise.
Audio Question from Scott:
2 weeks ago he had blood work that showed his testosterone was low (8.2 nmol/litre 22.5 pmol/litre Testosterone Free Reading). Started taking medications. Has been running twice a week and as well as lifting weights. Had blood work done again and his testosterone levels went down. What would you recommend to raise his testosterone level?
~ In my response, I suggest that he read these testosterone recommendations.
Audio Question from Pat:
Not an endurance athlete, lift weights and does jujitsu. He recently read the book “Chi Running” and has started running once a week, just a couple mines (or 3 at most). He's never heard us mention the book and wanted to know what we thought.
I am thoroughly enjoying your new book! I have discovered I am a mesomorph female and had a question about the workouts. Quite a few exercises require cable workout equipment, which I do not have in my home. Can I substitute alternative exercises that work the same muscle group and maintain the high rep, low weight protocol?
~ In my response to Christine, I mention the Body by Jake Tower.
Last summer, as I was in training for my first half marathon, I decided to stop taking my birth control because I didn't want the extra hormones and all that goes with taking birth control. I expected to not have a regular menstrual cycle at first but from August to February I had only one period. I have gone to the doctor and she said it was because I am too lean and am training too hard for the marathon. She gave me progesterone pills to take to see if she could restart my menstrual cycle and it did but now it has been 2 months since then and I have not had another period. My body fat percentage is around 21%. I'm wondering what I can do so that I can have regular menstrual cycle and still train for endurance running events.
I had some cardiovascular test done but have no clue what the results mean and thought maybe you would know. I have done 4 Ironman races. I am very slow and had a gastric bypass 6 years ago. The Doctors are saying I tested extremely high so that's why I'm confused. I had a Bruce Protocol Stress Test and I lasted 17 minutes 7 seconds ending at 5.5 mph at 20% grade, my VO2max calculates at 71.07 using the formula of 4.38xT-3.9 (T=time I lasted on treadmill during stress test) My functional aerobic capacity attained was 160% and my SBPxHR is 27360. HR went from 61 to 171. Does any of this make sense because I am totally lost. If my stats are good does that mean I should maybe start to push myself to not be so slow.