November 16, 2011
In this podcast, is aerobic training bad for you? How to measure body fat accurately? How to use an elliptical trainer properly? Aloe Vera juice, high protein diet and headaches, electronic bike shifters and training for a hard hike.
Welcome back folks! It’s Ben Greenfield and it’s been a little while since we’ve actually had an official podcast since last week, we had a bit of a hiatus while I was off travelling and actually racing down in Jamaica at the Jamaica triathlon, which I actually happened to win after getting a gold medal at the ITU World Championships the week before. So I’ve had a really successful couple of weeks in triathlon and I actually put out an article over at BenGreenfieldfitness last week because I received some emails and some Facebook messages that were actually accusing me of illegal performance-enhancing drug use, and so this week on BenGreenfieldfitness.com, I actually did admit to using performance-enhancing supplements, and you can go read that article in which I come clean over at BenGreenfieldfitness.com. Along with another article that came out this week, which is the first in a seven-part series that I’m writing about getting a better body and that particular article, it came out this week, was about three steps to get nicer shoulders. This week, I’ll be tackling a bunch of great questions that are coming from listeners as well as releasing a short interview about a new way that I’ve found to measure body fat. Now, in addition to that, we have a few special announcements that we’re gonna start with, so let’s jump right into those.
So, first of all, I received many applications for the new podcast host position that has opened up, for the new podcast host of this podcast and that will be the person who I will be bantering with each week. I’ll be announcing either next week or the week after who that new host will be but we’ve got some great folks who kinda put their name in the hat and that’s gonna be fun to have a new host on. Now if you go on to the show notes of this podcast episode, podcast Episode number 170 at BenGreenfieldfitness.com, you’ll see some of the special announcements and in particular, one that I would pay attention to, if you’re a triathlete, is the May 27 thorugh June 3rd, all inclusive Kona triathlon camp that I’ll be at down in Hawaii and you can actually check that out by going to the link that I have there in the show notes for that camp. Finally, this show is on Stitcher, so you can listen to BenGreenfieldfitness podcasts on your iPhone, your Android phone, your Blackberry , your WebOS phone, whatever you happen to have, whatever fancy device you happen to have, and you can get entered to win $100 when you grab that Stitcher app or Stitcher.com/fitness. Just chose promo code: fitness. And then finally for those of you who didn’t hear, my brand new book “Top 20 Fueling Myths” came out last week. I’m super proud of the information that I have masked in this title. It is available over at EndurancePlanet.com, so go check that out. Surf over to EndurancePlanet.com, and that’s actually a great website to throw into your iTunes subscription list or onto your mp3 player as well to supplement this podcast. Those are usually at anywhere from 3-5 weekly podcast, typically a little bit shorter than this one but some great information for you endurance junkies and that book is the front page over there if you go to EndurancePlanet.com, so go grab that seven books. Really worth the read. You will definitely be smarter than most sports nutritionist after you go through that book. But it is super simple to understand and easy t read, so check it out at EndurancePlanet.com. Okay, one quick special message and we’re gonna move on to this week’s listener Q and A.
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Listener Q and A:
Raminta: Hi Ben, this is Raminta. I’m calling in from Baltimore, Maryland and it’s a question for your podcast. This is in reference to an article a friend of mine had sent, and the article is titled “The Many Negatives of Aerobic Training” and this is written by Charles Poliquin and this article goes on to list a lot of bad things like aerobic training raises cortisol, accelerates aging, there’s more inflammation and oxidative stress and on to a handful of other things. But it was never really quantified as to what is the aerobic exercise that causes these harmful effects. So, for example, within 90 minutes, that one jog causes my cortisol to increase and the potentially these bad effects can also can strength and enable training counteract these bad effects as the article had suggested. So, thanks so much. Bye.
Ben: So, this was an interesting article. I will link to it inn the show notes. But it was written by a gentleman named Charles Poloquin, and he basically gave five different reasons why aerobic training is bad for you. And his reasons were: 1. Aerobic training raises cortisol and accelerates aging. 2. Aerobic training increases inflammation and oxidative stress. 3. Aerobic training decreases reproductive size and function and lowers androgens which are basically, sex hormones in animal. 4. Aerobic training causes acute oxidative stress and cortisol elevation. And number 5. Aerobic training compromises the immune system. Now Raminta’s main question was: How much Aerobic training or what type of aerobic training would need to be done to cause these type of effects. Well, let’s go ahead and go through these reasons one by one. The first is that aerobic training raises cortisol ad accelerates aging. So the idea behind this is that if you’re cortisol levels are chronically elevated, your body can store fat instead of burning fat and high cortisol amounts can also lead to gain in visceral fat in your belly. Now, the reason that accelerated aging is listed as something that goes hand in hand with that is because if you have a high amount of cortisol can increase the amount of oxidants or free radicals in your body. So, free radicals are basically something that increases cellular turnovers, cellular damage, can cause things like wrinkles, greater risk for chronic disease, and all of the things that people tend to die from and essentially it ages you. And no matter what you’re going to do, you’re going to create free radicals but you are going to create them more intensively and particular when you engage in aerobic exercise. The cortisol study that he cites is from the Journal of Psychoneuroendocrinology, which shows evidence of high cortisol level in experienced aerobic endurance athletes. Now, these were long distance runners, triathletes and cyclists, and their cortisol levels were compared to control group with no athletes. Now, while the training level of these athletes is not actually cited, it’s likely that they were engaging in a high amount of long term aerobic training. And typically as most of you know, the amount of training that an aerobic athlete does is in my opinion, more than they actually need to do. And so, it is certainly likely that most aerobic trained athletes are running around with higher levels of cortisol and thus a higher propensity to age faster than their non-aerobic training counterparts, especially if they’re seriously into the sport and doing kind of a traditional higher quantity, longer hours style training program for things like marathons and triathlons. Now the second reason that was listed was that chronic inflammation is a major issue and a major result of chronic aerobic exercise. And remember that chronic inflammation is different than the acute inflammation that occurs when say, you sprain your ankle; Chronic inflammation happens when you are constantly creating these free radicals which are elevated via exercise, when you’re constantly elevating your insulin levels, which is something which that’s created from say, fueling with a lot of high carbohydrate type of foods or you chronically increase your cortisol levels, which again is something that can be accomplished through lack of sleep, through stress and through a high amount of exercise. So you get this chronic inflammation response and your body gets this repetitive physiological stress that’s placed upon it. Aerobic exercise certainly causes oxidative stress, we know that. Interestingly, Mr. Poliquin does not mention the fact that anaerobic training, cross fit training, weight lifting also significantly increases oxidative stress as well. However, we’ll concede the fact that aerobic training compared to those other styles of training causes more oxidative stress. So, the particular study that was cited was an older study in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness which found that marathon runners had higher inflammatory markers than in control groups. So they had a higher level of this oxidation going on created from all these free radicals. So, a newer study, since that time, in current microbiology actually tested the effect of probiotics on oxidative stress and in this study, it was found the aerobic exercise that they used in the group in that study did cause chronic aerobic stress. Interestingly, probioics were actually found to have a beneficial effect against that stress. Now in this particular study, the people tested were semi-professional cyclists. So again, we’re talking about people who are engaging in a fairly high amount of aerobic training, as a semi professional cyclist is probably riding a bike anywhere from three to five hours a day. And when you’re up around that level, you certainly are gonna have greater amount of inflammation and a greater amount of oxidative stress.
Now the third reason given was decreased reproductive size and function and this was actually citing a study in the Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology which tested the effects of aerobic swimming on rats, and it found that the intense endurance exercise that these rats were doing in the water was causing a dysfunction in their male reproductive system. I decided to look into this study a little bit more and it turns out that the rats were performing 3 hours of swimming a day, five days a week for four weeks in a row. There were swimming to complete exhaustion. So this is a fairly high volume of exercise once again.
So far we’ve seen that for the first three reasons given, we’re talking about semi professional cyclists training many, many miles a week on the bicycle, we’re talking about rats who swim until they’re about to drown three hours a day and we’re talking about a long distance runners, triathletes and cyclists who are experienced in training quite a bit. So far, we’re talking about levels of aerobic exercise that probably would not actually surprise the people or the rats doing this amount of aerobic exercise that it might not be the best thing in the world for them. We are not talking about 30 minute lunch time bouts in the treadmill, or even 60 minutes of aerobic exercise a day, we’re talking about a lot more than that so far. So the next study is or the next reason cited is acute oxidative stress and cortisol elevation from aerobic exercise. In this case, it was a study in the International Journal of General Medicine that found that an acute aerobic exercise session significantly raises inflammatory biomarkers, and cortisol and epinephrine. Now when you see the word acute, that means an immediate response in this type of biomarkers like cortisol, like epinephrine and acute inflammation. Now it’s interesting that this is cited as a negative because this type of response, an immediate increase in the cortisol and epinephrine and an inflammation, is how your body becomes more fit after exercise; whether it’s a weight training session, an anaerobic high intensity training session or an aerobic training session. Any of these types of training sessions are going to result in what basically looks like World War II in your muscles, in your blood stream and in your body. And as you recover, your body bounces back, it’s what’s called a hermetic response and you grow stronger. If acute inflammation was not happening as response to exercise, the exercise would be no good. So, this particular reason that he cites is completely bunk for two reasons, really- first, because it happens in both aerobic and anaerobic training and second because it is the reason that you get more fit. So, you can basically throw that reason to the side. The final reason that he cites is that long term aerobic exercise compromises the immune system. And he says that there’s ample evidence that aerobic training leads to immune suppression and this certainly is true. What we’re talking about are fairly long continuous, 90+ minute exercise sessions, each day. And those exercise sessions are actually in a fairly moderate to high intensity, about 60-80% of maximum oxygen uptake. So, we’re talking about doing fairly hard sessions, for about 90 minutes a day. Now, most folks are not doing that amount of exercise training and the training typically, to attack the immune system in that way, needs to be done in a state of relatively low calorie intake, along with relatively poor recovery, poor hydration, poor cool down, poor warm-up, poor post exercise supplement, food intake and so it certainly is possible to suppress your immune system if you treat yourself like crap and go out exercise at a fairly high intensity, like run on the treadmill for 90 minute sessions a day. Again we’re talking about a very small percentage of the population that actually does stuff like that. So the nice thing is that there is a fairly decent follow up article that the same author Charles Poliquin wrote after he wrote this other article. And in his follow up article, he basically listed some ways that you could combat the effects of this type of aerobic exercise. Now the reasons that he listed or the ways that he listed you could combat a lot of the stress caused by aerobic exercise would be one to take antioxidants. And specifically, what he recommended was taking Vitamin E, selenium and zinc. Now, the problem with this recommendation is that these are three isolated antioxidants and while they do have good potential for fighting the free radicals that you produce during exercise, they’re also associated with a higher risk of stroke when taken in isolated high amounts, particularly Vitamin C and Vitamin E. I personally recommend a full spectrum of the antioxidant intake rather than taking isolated antioxidants if you’re trying to fight inflammation from exercise. And that would mean that you’re including lots of vegetables, fruit seeds, nuts in your diet and that you are also preferably including, if you’re exercising a lot ,some type of full spectrum antioxidant for example like Solar synergy from Alcapra or Super berry from Living Fuel- Those are probably the top two that I recommend and personally use. He recommends strength training as a way to lower chronic inflammation and provide protection against oxidative stress. This was interesting. He cited one study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research that compared the inflammatory response of two different strength training protocols. Both of the protocols were cited as reducing oxidative stress and lowering inflammation over pre-training levels. The interesting thing is that they did not use a group, a control group that was exercising aerobically. So in my opinion, this research is completely useless when it comes to comparing strength training to aerobic training in terms of the actual inflammatory response. However, what’s going on here in this study is that folks who take up an exercise program are actually teaching their bodies how to fight inflammation better. And that’s going to happen if you are engaging in a program that is not creating excessive oxidative stress like the type of stress that would be created from say, swimming to exhaustion three hours a day, doing these long hour and a half continuous, 80% bouts on the treadmill, training as a professional cyclist and engaging in some of the protocols that naturally would increase oxidative stress. So what this comes down to is that, and Raminta kinda asked this in her question, strength training certainly has the ability to train your body to be able to resist oxidative stress but there are no studies out there that take a group, give them oxidative stress via high intensity aerobic exercise than use strength training as a band aid to fix that process. So his researches in his citations are fairly poor when it comes to actually saying that strength might actually be able to do something like that. He also says that basically you should practice judo or martial arts as a way to increase antioxidant capacity and decrease oxidative stress. Citing a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning research that found that practicing judo can increase resting anti-oxidant levels that counteract the oxidative stress produced during strenous exercise. What the judo was actually able to help out with was recovery from an all out 30-second bycycle sprint followed by 30-mintues of aerobic exercise. And they compared how people did using a group that did judo versus a group that did not do judo. And the group that did judo had a greater ability to fight off the oxidative stress produced from that type of aerobic training session versus sedintary subjects. I would hazard a guess that it’s pretty likely that if judo works for something like that, yoga would also do the trick. So, don’t think that you necessarily have to go out and get yourself a GI and a belt and go do some kicking and some punching. You could probably get away with just including stress releif techniques like yoga in your routine. And I certainly recommend that as a way to combat some of the stress that you’re producing during aerobic exercise. He recommends taking Creatin to inhibit oxidative stress. And cites a study in European Journal of Applied Physiology that found that Creatin supplementation could help decrease inflammatory bio markers after aerobic exercise. And he also found that rats that performed aerobic exercise actually had higher levels of anti-oxidants in their blood when they used Creatin. This is one of those deals where you have to use yourself as a case study because Creatin can cause cramping. It can increase weight and water retention. And so you need to make sure that it works for you because if you’re fighting oxidative stress with Creatin but also making yourself slower from some of the other side effects of Creatin. It’s really not going to do you much good. I would like to see whether Creatin added in to a supplemetation protocol that already has anti-oxidants gives any additional benefit. It’s because if you have to choose between taking anti-oxidants or taking Creatin, you’re probably going to get better overall benefit from using anti-oxidants. And then he recommends taking omega three fatty acids like a fish oil as a way to combat oxidative stress. And that certainly something that I would recommend and agree with. So, ultimately what this comes down to is that the article was decent in outlining some of the negative effects of aerobic training. But the type of aerobic training cited was fairly excessive. So, we’re talking about folks who are doing aerobic training at a level at which most folks know it might not be the best thing for their body anyways. I think it was a tweet that I saw from a professional triathlete during the ITU world championships. A tweet or a blog post, he mentioned that the race probably took about five years off his life because he was going so hard. Most people who are out there doing Ironman triathlons beating up their body with multiple marathons a year, going out and doing very hard things to their body. If you were to ask them if they think that that’s going to make them live longer, most of them are smart enough to say that they don’t know or it probably is doing a bit more damage to their body. And they’re the type of people who want to expereince much out of life as possible. And maybe give up a few months or a few years in the process. I am one of those people. I would never argue that the type of Ironman or triathlon training that I do is completely good for my body. There is some excessive damage I’m doing to my joint. I do create a lot of free radicals. I fight it with supplementation. I fight it with a good diet. I try not to do too much aerobic training and instead do intense training as much as I can. But still, I am imagine my knees aren’t going to last quite as long as somebody who exercises for 30-minutes a day versus my hour and a half a day plus a few really hard races. So ultimately, hopefully that helps you see that exercise study or that article in the correct light. And I wanted to spend some time addressing that just because I receive so many questions about it this week. Okay, next we have a question that was written in by Jeff.
Jeff: Is a three mile run on an elliptical machine the fitness equivalent of a three mile standard run. For example, say my training plan calls for a five mile run, which would typically take me about 40 minutes, would a 40 minute elliptical workout be comparable? Also, on an elliptical trainer, should I try to replicate my running gate and foot strike as much as possible?
Ben: Well, this is a good question. For any of you who read the most recent Lava magazine. I outlined the exact training protocol that I used for iron man Hawaii in that magazine. And you’ll notice if you read that protocol that I talk about the type of training that I did on the elliptical trainer or an outdoor elliptical trainer that I have called elliptigo. And there’s acutally been some decent studies and similarities between elliptical training and running. And there’s one study over at the University of Missuri. It measured oxygen utilization, lactic acid formation, heart rate, and how hard people felt like they were working on elliptical trainer compared to a treadmill. And they pretty much found that the elliptical trainer was identical to the treadmill in just about every respect. But it created a lot less joint impact. So, we’re talking about a very similar physiological response but less impact. So, you bounce back from the workout a lot more quickly. They found that compared to running, you do get a little bit more quadraceps utilization slightly less hamstring activation when comparing elliptical trainer to running. And so, the take away message from that is that if you do have weak quads then elliptical trainer can help you to strengthen those. And a lot of people really do have a low quadraceps to hamstring strength ratio. So, it can certainly be helpful for that. I would not completely neglect running though because if you do so when you do go out to do a race or competition or run, you’ll find that your hamstrings get sore. And you don’t have quite as much hamstring strength. So, even when I was using the elliptical trainer for nearly all of my run sessions, I still ran once a week in my build up to ironman Hawaii. There’s another study that found and this was actually done at the University of Idaho which is my almamater, that when your stride length increases on elliptical trainer you actually burn more calories without you actually feeling that you’re working any harder. So, if you’re just trying to burn calories and get as much as a metabolic benefit out of the workout as possible, you actually want to try to get as great as stride length as possible as you can out of each movement on the elliptical trainer. Now unfortunately, unless you’re using one of these elliptigo’s that I use, you can’t necessarily adjust stride length on a standard elliptical trainer. But you want to make sure that you’re not shorting yourself at all on that track. So, what I would do is try and get your stride length as long as possible. And then once you’ve got your stride length as long as possible on the elliptical trainer, then focus on actually increasing your speed of movement or how fast you’re moving your feet on the elliptical. A few other things I would mention to you if you’re using an elliptical to train for running. I do like the ellipticals that include the arm motion because you do get a greater metabolic benefit and you get some upper body cardiovascular work in. You do need to be careful with that as you can keep your arms in front of your body rather than a little bit more behind your body which is where they’re supposed to be when you’re running. So, it can potentially teach you to have your arms at the wrong spot. So be aware of that if you’re using an elliptical trainer with the arm movement for training for running. If you use the elliptical trainer without the arms, try as much as possible to go hands free on that. So don’t use the railing. Just keep your arms at your side and move them without holidng onto the railings. And you can actually hold a very light set of dumbells like anywhere from two to five pound set of dumbells if you want to get a little extra upper body work while you’re using one of those hands free elliptical trainers. So ultimately Jeff, you can do the same amount of time on elliptical training as it would take you to run. Focus on stride length. You don’t necessarily want to try to mimic your running gate as much as possible and focus on stride length instead. You can certainly use an elliptical trainer quite a bit. I personally do. So, that was a good question.
Scott says: Based on your advice Ben, I’ve eliminated artificial sweeteners completely from my diet. And I’m trying to eat more protein in particular. Recently, I have developed some bad headaches. Sometimes, they seem to spike right after eating. During initial heavy exertion when lifting weights can also cause a spike in headache pain. Could this be due to my high level of protein consumption?
Ben: I think I’ve mentioned this before in a podcast but high protein diets and headaches are fairly common and there are a few reasons for that. The first is when you switch to a high protein diet; you’re by definition lower your carb intake. Carbohydrates carry about four times our weight in water in the muscle. Your storage carbohydrate or your glycogen carries a bunch of water. You shed a lot of water and that dehydrates your body. So, we’re talking about loss of blood volume, dehydration, and a dehydration based headache as one of the reasons that you get that headache. Another reason is because as you dump carbohydrate, shift to a high protein diet and change your fuel sources especially if you’re skewing that a little bit more towards a fat intake. You’re burning more key tones or free fatty acids for energy. When you’re burning key tones that can cause especially a lot of nausea, some irritability, and some headache that’s typically due to you being stressed out just as much as you being exhausted. And that can be another reason that you get that type of headache. The first reason, the loss of water, is simply fixed by making sure that you increase your water intake. The second reason, you simply got to work through. It typically takes anywhere from seven days up to a couple of weeks to get used to burning key tones as an energy source. I would caution you though with this whole high protein diet thing and recommend that you go read the recent article that I wrote at BenGreenfieldFitness.com about why most people are actually probably getting too much protein in their diets. And I give you some good formulas there for figuring out exactly how much protein you should take in, how you should be doing it, and more reasons, from a biological level, why a high protein diet is not all that hot for you. And I’m really not a big fan of it. And yes, this is coming from a person who would get up to 70 to 80 percent protein intake back when I was a body builder. It really is not all that great for your body. And you can go over there and read why at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, scroll down a few articles underneath this podcast. It was a couple of weeks ago that I wrote this. And this is podcast episode number 170. Or you can just go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com and do a search for protein. Okay, we have a question from Jennifer.
Jennifer says: I recenly read in a book that a study found that drinking aloe vera juice could help relieve asthma symptoms. Have you ever heard of aloe vera juice relieving asthma?
Ben: This is interesting. There’s only been one really small study that wasn’t very well designed that showed some beneficial effects from aloe treatment in chronically asthmatic patients who weren’t using their inhalers, who weren’t using their cortico steriod treatment. And basically what they did was they gave them oral aloe extract in a salen solution two times daily for about 24 weeks in a row. And they found that 11 of the 27 patients who acutally made it through the study improved their asthma syptoms following that aloe treatment. But they didn’t even do a statistical evaluation of the study. It was really small. And it’s certainly not a study that you would want to rely on to give you reason for curing your asthma with aloe vera. However, aloe vera does have some really good anti-inflammatory and anti-allergenic effects. And so if your asthma is related to inflammation, to an immune system response, or to an allergy, then aloe vera certainly has some propensity to help you. It’s basically got a bunch of what are called antiseptic agents in it. Antiseptic means that they have a potential to kill mold or bacteria or fungus or viruses. A lot of cleansing capsules and juices have aloe vera extract in them for that reason. Specifically, you’ve got salecilic acid extract. There’s some nitrogen in there, some phenols, some sulfur. So aloe vera is good for those reasons. You’re going to find some really good anti-inflammatory fatty acids in aloe vera. Cholesterol is one. Kampersterol is another. There’s another sterol in there as well. A plant based sterol. And that’s why it can help with allergic reactions. Why it may have some potential for really helping out with an asthma reaction or an asthma attack, that type of thing. And it also has a bunch of different immune stimulators basically what are called polypeptides. And so, for an immune system disease or something like asthma an immune system response that is based or an asthma attack that is based on immune system response. Aloe vera and the polypeptides could help with that as well. I personally have only used aloe vera juice a few times in my life. And I was particularly taking it to help me recover from a pretty big dose of antibiotics that I was going through about a year ago. And all I did was drink aloe vera juice three times a day. I’ll put a link to the stuff that I used in the show notes. It doesn’t taste all that hot. It has the ability to give you a little bit of a gag reflex. But it’s worth a try. I can’t say that research shows that it could help. But let me put it this way; it’s probably not going to hurt you. There’s not a lot of risk of using it in moderation. So, give it a go. If it turns out to be successful to you for sure, write into the show or call into the show and let me know.
Robert: Hi Ben, this is Robert Anker. I have a question for your upcoming podcast where maybe you can talk about your experience using the shomano d-i two electronic components during a recent Las Vegas ITU championship and how they compare to components that most of us are using and whether you recommend consideration for upgrading to this type of electronic device. Thanks a lot.
Ben: Okay. So, I’ve been using these new electronic gear shifters. They’re called the Shomana D.I two. It’s an electronic gear shifting system on the bike. It’s relatively new. It’s been around for a couple of years. It enables you to shift by touching an electronic switch that’s on your handle bars instead of using levers that you normally use to shift. And the way that it works is that these switches, they’re connected to a battery pack. And the battery pack is connected with internally run wires on your bike to a little motor that drives your front and your rear derailer. So it shifts the chain from your big chain ring to your small chain ring or vice versa on the front. And then it switches between your cogs and your cassette on the back. And it’s incredibly smooth. I have been falling in love with this system because when I’m climbing a hill, there’s no clunk when I shift. There’s no slight hesitation when I shift. I can shift from my handle bars. I can shift from the end of my arrow bars. There are switches on the end of both. And I swear that I save energy and a significant amount of time from using these things. I’m extremely impressed. And it’s going to be hard for me to ever go back to using a non-electronic gear shifting system after I’ve used this one. You got to charge it. Typically, a charge would last anywhere from 1000 or 2000 hours. So, you’re not going to run out of battery life during a ride in most cases. They’re a little bit expensive. But ultimately, I think that if you’re doing something like really long bike rides or something like triathlons where you’re trying to save as many seconds as possible, then this is a good buy. I save two seconds here. I saved three seconds there over the course of 112 miles when I use these things next year in Ironman. That could potentially add up to a good three or four minutes of saving just from using electronic shifters. So, I do recommend it. And I’m really stoked about my experience with them so far. So, it’s a good question.
Brian: Ben, I’ve got a question for you. This is Bryan Stern from Southern California. Here’s the question. My buddies and I are doing the Grand Canyon rim to rim in about six months. It’s a 45 mile run hike from one end of the Canyon to the other end and back. And we’re going to race it. It means that we’re going to do it as fast as we can. Then we’re now debating the best training plan. So my belief is that we should be spending about two-thirds of our time doing cross fit plyometric style workout to strengthen our legs, quads, glutes, core and to develp more flexibility in our hips and IT bands and then spen the remaining one-third doing long runs. My training buddies on the other hand have a different opinion. They think we should be spending about two-thirds of our time doing long training runs and then one-third doing cross fit or plyometric type training. So in short, I think strength and flexibility and agility is most important to train for this. And they think long distance runs are the most important things to train. Just so you have some background, we’re all marathoners. We’ve all been doing cross fit and plyometric style training for the past five years. So, we all have a pretty solid base to work with. The debate is really just about for the next five to six months leading up to the race. How do we spend our time? Is it two-thirds strength training, plyometrics, stretching, flexibility and one-third long runs or is it the reverse? I appreciate your thoughts. I’ll talk to you soon.
Ben: So, the answer to this is your both right Brian. Farther out from the race, you’re going to want to do a little bit more of the long distance running, long distance hiking, long distance training. And as the race approaches, you’re going to want to shift to a higher amount of cross fit or plyometric type of training. This is basically called periodization. It’s used in most endurance sports. From swimming to cycling to running and it’s actually used in most power and strength sports as well. But the idea is that as the event approaches, you’re going to shift the training of your energy systems more to the high intensity speed based energy systems and away from the long slow aerobic energy systems which you are hopefully developing as you are farther away from the race. So, what this allows you to do is be a little bit fresher because you’re putting in less volume as your event approaches. And it also allows you to develop a high amount of neuromuscular training, speed training, power and strength that you are going to be able to rely on for putting down a good time as the event approaches. So, what I would be doing is taking until the point where you are anywhere from eight to twelve weeks out from your event. And during that period of time up to the point where you eight to twelve weeks out from your event, focus more on doing this like injury prevention training and longer slower sessions. And then once you are about eight to twelve weeks out, start to shift your training to be more favored towards doing this type of cross fit plyometric style of training that you’re talking about. And that’s really the way to do things. No matter what type of training you’re doing, swimming, cycling, running, and triathlon adventure racing, whatever, it typically works out a lot better to do volume over intensity. Now, that being said, there is a twist to this. And that is that most people start their volume training too early. So, let’s say that you are signed up. Let’s say that you’re going to do an Ironman triathlon or a marathon. And you’re going to do it at some point in the summer. A lot of folks are hopping on the bike, the treadmill, doing tons of really long slow aerobic training, extremely long draining joint pounding sessions for a race in the summer way back in November or October in some cases and even in December. When in reality, in most cases, you don’t have to start any of your big time aerobic type of training until you’re anywhere from 20 to 24 weeks out from your event. So, in most cases, you’re looking in not needing to do stuff like that until January or February. So, what I like to do during those months that come before January or February especially for a summer type of race which is when a lot of people’s big races are is I just play. I do a lot of basketball, tennis, explosive training speed stuff. And that way, essentially what you get is a speed volume speed sandwich. And that works really well when it comes to getting yourself periodized for the actual race that you’re going after. And the first part of that speed sandwich, the top of the speed sandwich that you do in the off season is really not doing many of the type of activities or motions that you’re going to be doing in your race. So, a lot of the times for me, it’s skate skiing or tennis or basketball and these types of things. And then I start into my volume training. And then my next round of speed training is more swimming and cycling and running and doing the type of activities that I’m actually going to be doing during my event. So, it’s cross training speed, sports specific volume and then sports specific speed. So, hopefully that gives you a macro idea of what this should look like when you’re doing a lead up to a race like this. So, hopefully that helps and that was a good question. Finally I have, before we go into this interview on body fat testing, a nice call that I received about TriathlonDominator.com.
Dr. Patrick: Hi Ben, my name is Doctor Patric Kelevin. My wife was kind enough to buy me your terminator program. And I completed my first ironman. I just wanted to say thank you. So, I have small kids, a three year old and a sixteenmonth old. I didn’t think I was going to have the time to actually train for an iron man. And I have to tell you it was fantastic. Your thoughts and your program were very efficient. I was unfortuantely not able to keep up with everything that was in your program. I was training 68 hours a week. It gave me the idea to complete it. And I end up finishing the Ironman in 12 hours and 41 minutes. I macked up in the middle of the pack but there’s always room for improvement. I’ve got Saint George week coming up in May. I’m going to be using your program a second time. And I’m going to go for it and I’m going to be using it a little bit more. But really, it was fantastic for a guy that on a time crunch. Your program was extremely efficient and opened my ideas about working out and training. So, thank you. And my phone number is 6302927766. My e-mail is [email protected]. And I just wanted to tell you what a great program and thank you for your help. And have a good day.
Ben: Alright folks, you can check that out, TriathlonDominator.com. Congratulations to you Patrick. And let’s go ahead and jump into today’s feature topic on biometrics body fat testing. And I’ll be sure to put a link to biometrics in the show notes. Here we go.
Hey folks, it’s Ben Greenfield. And with me on the call today is Louis Desilva. And the reason that I wanted to call up Louis and interview him is because he has a background as a physicist in medical imaging. And it was probably a year and a half ago when I was reading Tim Fara’s four hour body book. And he was talking about his advanced method of measuring body fat that was just incredible accurate and super easy to use. So, I’m like oh I’m going to look into this. And so, I looked into getting one for myself. But it turned out that it was expensive and designed for big fitness clubs and looked like something that I probably wouldn’t be able to just keep in my office and measure my body fat after a workout. Ultimately though, in the past few weeks, I followed up with the people who produced this piece of technology that we’re going to talk about today. And it turns out that there’s now this consumer version of available. So, I was able to get my hands on one and try one out. And I got an incredibly accurate body fat measurement using this. I’ve don’t underwater weighing. I’ve done bioelectrical impedence, skin fold, bod pod. I’ve done decsa scans. I’ve used just about every method there is of testing body fat. And this one was pretty cool. So, I know that a lot of you out there are into tracking your body fat. Maybe you’re working with a coach or a trainer and you want to be able to share your body fat measurements with them or even convince them to use something like this. And Louis is going to tell us what it is, how it works and the background behind it. So, Louis thank you for coming into the call.
Louis: Well Ben, it’s a pleasure to be here.
Ben: So, tell me about what this thing is called and then how it came to be and how it works.
Louis: Alright. Ben, the basic nature of the body metrics which is an ultrasound device and the origins are the background in medical imaging. And we started looking at a variety of systems. One of which is ultrasound. And I met up with a friend who at that time was working for 24 hours fitness. And he indicated that it’d be really nice to have an alternative approach for measuring body composition than a Caliper which in many ways is still pretty crude approach to measuring fat fitness. And at that time, we talked about ultrasound being a modality. But the challenge is ben that historically ultrasound is very expensive. Most ultrasound systems that people are familiar with costs ten hundreds and thousands of dollars. So, what we did was basically took the same technology specifically ultrasound and put it into a small device that we hope is affordable to fitness clubs and now individuals.
Ben: I got you. So, in terms of ultrasound, people have seen ultrasound as far as imaging a baby in the womb or maybe have used one in a physical therapy setting to send some sound waves down to an area that needs a little bit of therapy on an injured joint. But in terms of actual measurement of body fat, how does this work?
Louis: That’s a good question. You’re absolutely right in the sense that the technology is the same as used for imaging babies, looking at muscle tears, etc. Our case is that our device is what is called a-mod ultrasound which instead of doing a direct imaging approach. It sends a beam of ultrasound from the device itself. And that beam penetrates the skin and goes into the tissue and then you get echoes at the major interfaces, the main tissue boundaries. And so, in our particular case when you’re looking for body composition, you’re interested in subtaneous layer of fat, how thick the fat layer is. So, we process the ultrasound and determine exactly what that interface is. And then you measure directly the fat thickness. It’s not a fold. It’s not some hypothetical thickness. It’s the true fat thickness as measured with the ultrasound.
Ben: So, how trained do you have to be to use one of these things. I mean, a lot of people listening, they’re not physical therapist or personal trainers the people at home. How much training is involved with this?
Louis: Yeah. I’d like to think that we made this system easy for people to quickly learn how to use it. One of the things is because we calculated body composition. We do multiple points in analogous way to Caliper. So, anybody that’s used Calipers immediately knows where to place our device and where to make accurate measurements. And so, we’ll do anywhere from one side to as many as the ninth side formula to get more accuracy. So, that part of it if you know those positions, it’s very simple. We have a training video that comes with our personal devices. And with the professional devices we actually give online training. But what we find is that typically for most people, if they spend half an hour playing with the device, following the procedures and with a little bit of our guidance, they quickly get to speed and are able to make accurate measurements. It’s a very simple device to use. Its software and interface we try to make very simple. So, we find that most people get up to speed very quickly and are able to make accurate measurement pretty quickly.
Ben: I’m glad you mentioned that it’s basically like this piece of software that you have on your computer, on your mac or on your pc. And it’s cool because for me I just need to do my chest, my stomach and my thighs. And I immediately got my body fat percentage spat out at me. And you’ve got multiple measurements that you can use for guys and girls on this software. But the ultrasound device was just plugged into the computer as I scanned. But what I thought was cool was you actually could, as you scan the area, it would image the muscle and show the muscle area. So, you could actually track responses in the muscle. Are there more advanced uses of this if people wanted to get a little bit more scientific?
Louis: I mean, you kind of hit it on the head. One of the unique capabilites of ultrasound of course is that you can scan and get some quality of images. Our device is different than traditional medical ultrasound devices to do the two dimesional imaging which had higher resolution. Our device, because you manually scan, gives you the opportunity to scan larger. For example, you can do a full thigh scan whrere you literally slide the device from upper thigh down towards the knee. And you’ll see the fat layer very well defined. And you’ll see the muscle. And you’ll see the different muscle groups. And the advantage of that as you point out is that it gives you the opportunity to look both the fat and muscle directly. And so, if you’re entering an aggressive diet program, exercise program, the beauty of these images is that they really give you both. It gives you the opportunity to get your fat layers changing and your muscle layers changing. And down the road, we also hope to go beyond that because ultrasound is used to determine whether your steak is marbled. So, whether there’s intermuscular fat ultimately, our device can give you a handle on that. So, that’s something that we’re still in the research phase and hoping to get some stuff down the road.
Ben: So, if I’m listening in and I am a personal trainer and I want to toss this in my office and use it with some clients in my personal trainer office. Or if I want to get really accurate body fat measurements and I’m a consumer and I want to share them with my coach or share them with my trainer, what kind of price point am I looking at because I want to make sure that people know the approximate price they’ll plan on for something like this.
Louis: Again, currently we offer two systems of the biometrics. The first old version which is intended for individuals, families, or trainers that are just starting, and that’s 495 dollars. And that’s our starter. For trainers with lots of clients, who want to customize reports or e-mail their reports directly to their costumer, we have the professional system. We have two options for the professional system. One is a liscensing option which is $949 for the system. That’s the first payment. And then an annual payment of $149 which gives you extended warranty on the device. So, if anything is wrong with the device, you send it back and repair it. And it also gives you annual software updates. So, as new science is being integrated into the software, you’ll get that. So, that’s part of the liscensing package. And then we do have a one time payment option where you can buy the device single one time payment. And that’s $1895. So, we’ve tried to make it so that almost everybody can now get one of our systems. And the value that it brings specifically to trainers and such is as you point out. It’s a unique tool. It gives you ultrasound scans. It gives you something that people are very familiar with. Everybody has had an ultrasound scan or atleast seen an ultrasound picture. So, the underlying technology is very familiar to most people. And there’s definitely a buy in to the technology itself which a lot of our trainers who bought this systems have found right from the beginning that their clients buy into the accuracy of the system and to the technology. And they don’t have to explain how ultrasound works.
Ben: Cool. So, folks compared to a bod-pod which this big space age is looking devices that you sit in. Some gyms have them, some physical therapy place has them or compared to a dex-a bone scan, this is just as accurate. And I think it’s pretty cool that you can just put it next to your computer at home. So, check it out. I will put a link in the show notes to this. It’s basically like a wand and a piece of software. And you can see it right there in the show notes to this podcast over BenGreenfieldFitness.com. We’ll put a link to that biometrics device. And Louis, thank you for coming on the call today and explaining how this works.
Louis: It’s a pleasure. And if anybody has any questions, I’d be happy to answer.
Ben: Alright folks, I’m going to put a link to that system in the show notes. I’ve got one here on my desk. It’s pretty cool especially the part where you can actually visualize your underlying muscle structure. You can share it with your trainer. For those people that I coach, you can share it with me. And it’s just a very cool way for those of you who want to pop whatever you said it was 300 or 400 bucks on a really cool way to measure body fat. It’s extremely accurate. And it’s something that the whole family can use. Actually, the main reason that I put this out too is also because I know a lot of you personal trainers out there listening could benefit a lot from this thing. It’s a very cool way to set yourself appart and be able to measure body fat way more accurately than you can with a scale or electrical impedence. And a little bit more comfortably than you can with hydrostatic underwater weighing. Alright folks, that is going to wrap it up for this week. Be sure to tune in next week where we may already have our new host in action. It’s either going to be next week or the week after. Go to the show notes for this podcast, podcast number 170 over at www.BenGreenfieldFitness.com. And while you’re there, if you want to keep this podcast going, you can donate a dollar or you can also leave the show a review in iTunes. Alright, that is going to do it for this week. Have a healthy week. This is Ben Greenfield signing out.
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