June 6, 2012
Introduction: In today’s episode, how to eat healthy on a shoestring budget. Also, what to eat after a gastrectomy, dealing with iron overload, fasted workouts and glycogen storage, different types of olive oil, treating jock itch naturally, visualizing exercise while injured, improving running efficiency using powercranks, how diet can affect mental health, refueling timing, and more discussion about cramping.
Introduction: In today’s episode, how to eat healthy on a shoestring budget. Also, what to eat after a gastrectomy, dealing with iron overload, fasted workouts and glycogen storage, different types of olive oil, treating jock itch naturally, visualizing exercise while injured, improving running efficiency using powercranks, how diet can affect mental health, refueling timing, and more discussion about cramping.
Brock: Welcome everybody to another episode of the BenGreenfieldFitness podcast. Here we are once again. I’m Brock and this is Ben.
Ben: I have a hard time listening to you now Brock without visioning you with clown hair and little cupcake that you’re dancing around with.
Brock: Okay. For those of you who didn’t tune in to the Google+ hangout last week, that’s what Ben’s talking about. I actually didn’t realize that everybody can see me. So, I’m just listening away and having a nice time playing with the effects in Google. And then all of a sudden Ben starts laughing. And he says we’ve got a show Brock. And I honestly didn’t know that you could actually see me. I thought I was just fooling around on my own.
Ben: The way Google hangouts work is everybody who is in on there you can see or at least I can see. And I can click on everybody and bring them up on the main frame and show it to everyone. And Google+ has these cool features where you can do things like in Brock’s case, turning yourself into a clown with a cupcake. So anyways, I’ll have to get that image out of my head so I can seriously go through today’s podcast.
Brock: Take me seriously darn it.
Brock: Okay. As usual, there are lots of stuff going on at Twitter and as we’ve said it, Google+ as well. You’ve got some really cool stuff on growth hormone and stuff this week, didn’t you?
Ben: Yes. In terms of boosting growth hormone and boosting testosterone, that’s something that both guys and girls can benefit from when it comes to everything from anti-aging to recovering more quickly from workouts. And there was one study that was interesting. And it compared a group that did weight training. And one group did thigh repetitions for their sets of exercise. The other group did ten repetitions for their sets. And the other group did five repetitions and rested about three minutes. The group that did ten reps rested about one minute. And the ten rep-one minute rest scenario was far superior for boosting growth hormone and testosterone. You’d think it could be the opposite. It’s that the heavier you go, the higher you’d boost the levels of those hormones.
Ben: But it turns out that that’s not the case.
Brock: So, were they still lifting straight ten reps or was it ten reps to fatigue?
Ben: It was ten reps using a ten rep weight which is generally like a percentage of one repetition max. I think it was around 85 or 90 percent.
Brock: So, they were getting into failure.
Ben: Yes. We’re talking about lifting a heavy weight but going higher than just five reps.
Ben: So, probably part of that is that when you get up around that rep range, you are starting to produce some lactic acid. And you’re getting a little bit of cellular stress going on. And a lot of the times, your body responds to that type of stress by boosting hormones vs. when you get a very low rep and very heavy. You can build power and strength. But a lot of the times you don’t get similar hormonal release. There was another study that showed that in contrast to the type of release of growth hormone that you get when you’re weight training. If you actually go out and take one of these growth hormone supplements, like you see advertised in airplane magazines and in anti-aging literature. Taking growth hormones orally or in supplement form, it doesn’t increase power. It doesn’t increase strength. And it doesn’t increase endurance. And I’ll put a link in the show notes to this episode to the study that I’m citing on this. But basically, if you’re just popping growth hormone and thinking that it’s going to make you a better athlete or a stronger person that is not the case. You’ll get a better benefit from just training when it comes to growth hormone release.
Brock: I guess that’s good and bad news at the same time.
Ben: As you dump your growth hormone capsules on your desk.
Brock: I just spent hundreds of dollars on this stuff damn it.
Ben: And then another interesting study that I’ll link is that after you workout, you get an increase in your testosterone up to two times which is doubling your testosterone levels. Unfortunately, that only lasts for about 30 to 60 minutes after you’ve finished working out. But I thought it was interesting. And what I tweeted was it’s a good reason to do 100 pushups for a hot date for guys out there. You don’t actually see quite as much release in women in post exercise. But in men, you do see that increase in testosterone. And so, if you’re going into a situation where you want some increased competitive drive or drive or whatever results you’re looking for, you may want to workout. And you can at least turn yourself into superman or like Mario grabbing the star in the game for 30 to 60 minutes you give yourself a window.
Brock: You have children don’t you?
Ben: That’s right. One other thing I wanted to mention was that and I’ll link to this study as well in the show notes. And by the way, what episode number is this?
Ben: We’re coming up on 200.
Brock: It’s peaking up.
Ben: 200 episodes. We’ll have to do something big.
Brock: It’s going to be the blow out special.
Ben: Brock will have two cupcakes.
Ben: If you want to shut down muscle growth, take ibuprofen. I’ll link to this study as well. But essentially when you’re looking at what’s called a Cox two inhibitor like ibuprofen is. What happens is that the entire process of skeletal muscle regeneration is facilitated by these cells called satellite cells which are basically just stem cells. And when you take ibuprofen you essentially shut down the activity of these stem cells and their ability to help muscles repair and regenerate. So, while you may mask soreness or temporarily decrease pain, you’re also going to limit any type of effect that you’d get from the workout anyways. So, once again for the same reason that I’m not a fan of taking ibuprofen before you go out for a run because it can increase your gut permeability. And it can contribute to toxemia. I also don’t recommend that you take it before you go weight training or lifting because it’s going to decrease the amount of muscle that you can actually build. And you may end up just wasting your time.
Brock: You know, there’s pretty much nothing good about ibuprofen in conjunction with any sort of exercises.
Ben: And this episode was brought to you by Advil.
Brock: Okay, special announcements are rampant and crazy and all over the place and so is my brain apparently.
Ben: I just got back from Hawaii actually from racing.
Brock: Oh yes. Why didn’t we talk about that? We’re talking about my silly clown hair. We should be talking about your race.
Ben: It was horrible.
Brock: Well, you swam the wrong direction and then lost your running gear. What?
Ben: I don’t want to award people with details too much. But basically I learned a few things in triathlon. Like first of all, even if you’re towards the front of the swim pack, this is the first time that’s ever happened to me. But somebody can end up swimming in the wrong direction. And if you’re not looking where you’re going and if you’re like me, you’re just following feet assuming that you’re swimming behind someone who is swimming really fast and knows where they’re going. You can get screwed. And that happened to me. And I ended up swimming an extra 300 or 400 yards which is not fun. When you swim fast you’re trying to, in a triathlon, come out far enough ahead of the guys who are swimming slower to where you can lead them behind in the bike. And all of a sudden I was in bike packs I didn’t plan on being in. And then I came into transition. And it was a big line up of bags. Your run bag is in transition. And because the run transition is in a different place than the swim to bike transition, you don’t see where your run bag is before you get there. And so, they have volunteers handing them out. And the volunteers sent me to the wrong bag. And so, I was just running around in transition for a few minutes.
Brock: That makes sense. I couldn’t figure out how you didn’t know where your run bag was because I’m used to when you have all the transitions in the same spot. So, you just head for your bike basically and your stuff is all there.
Ben: And then that just put me into a sorry mood in the run. And I had some stinking thinking going on for the first half or so. And I didn’t run quite as fast as I wanted to. So anyways, it was not the greatest race. But you learn your lessons and move on. And I’ll be headed to Japan here in a week and a half to race Japan half Ironman. So if any of you are listeners in Nagoya or in Tokyo which I also plan on taking the bullet train over to and checking it out, say hi. Or follow me on twitter. And I’ll be sure to send out some tweets and some updates with what I’m up to. And if anybody has any tips for me for having fun in Japan, feel free to send them over or leave them as a comment in the show notes. There are a couple of other things. I am just in the process of wrapping up the completion of the advanced fat loss module that I’ll be teaching to all the personal trainers and fitness coaches, those who are members of my Super Human Coaching mentorship program. So, if you go to Superhumancoach.com, you can get in on that. And we’re going to be going over every single reason that someone doesn’t lose fat and how to massively accelerate fat loss.
Brock: So, is that the second of the ten webinars that you’re doing?
Ben: Yes. We had our performance webinar last month. And the fat loss webinar is this month. So, we’re also in the process of getting CEU from the National Personal Certification Bodies like the NASM, ACSM, and NSCA. And then I’ll be moving on to International Certification Bodies as well.
Brock: That’s very cool. That’s a huge thing. Again when people are looking at spending any money on any sort of certification that is, for myself, a very important consideration. So, that’s huge that you’ve got that behind you now.
Ben: Yes. And it cost a lot of money too just to do that.
Brock: I guess.
Ben: Those certification agencies do not let you just go up and slap down five bucks to get a CEU. So, it’s a pretty intensive process of application. And there are a lot of credit card numbers being given out. So, check out Superhumancoach.com if you’re a personal trainer or a fitness coach. And then the last thing is that Thailand is coming up. Brock and I are going to be there. We’re doing a big two week trip to Thailand for any of you triathletes or spouses or boyfriends or girlfriends or kids or anybody else who wants to come along. There’s lots of fun over in Thailand for two weeks. We’ll be doing two races over there, a little vacation to a place called Rayleigh bay. We’ll be staying at a resort there in Phuket. It’s massive fun. We’ll put a link in the show notes. But there’s still room to get in on that double triathlon trip to Thailand. And we’d love to have you along. I think we have ten folks signed up so far. We’re planning on taking somewhere in the range of 12 to 15. So, if a few more people want in, just go to the show notes and click on the link. And you’ll get all the information that you need on fun in Thailand.
Listener Q and A:
Brock: Okay. There are tons of very interesting and in-depth questions this week. And let’s start up with this first audio question that comes from an anonymous listener.
Listener: Hey Ben. I have a nutrition question. My mother is in her late 60s. And several years ago she had an incident where she had surgery. And part of her stomach wound up dying. She had a pacemaker put in. That got an infection. She wound up losing her whole stomach. So, she just has this small pouch with white pad. Nutrition-wise, she doesn’t seem to be able to eat much. She eats butter and almond milk and not a whole lot else. I try to get her to take other stuff. And everything seems to make her nauseous, any ideas? Coconut milk didn’t work. I don’t know. She just trained herself to be nauseous at this point from other foods. But I think her health is taking a serious decline. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. That maybe something that maybe able to work a little bit digestively. I would appreciate it. Thanks again. Goodbye.
Brock: That is some unfortunate circumstances that happened there. That’s very sad.
Ben: Yes. And gastrectomy is certainly something that isn’t going to completely stop you from eating or inhibit digestion completely. But it does throw a wrench into the equation because your stomach is responsible for or you can structurally split it up into three main functions that your stomach is going to help you out with. First of all, the muscles in your stomach actually contract. And they mix and mash food that you’ve swallowed. And one of the reasons that it does that is to mix up food with hydrochloric acid which is the main component in the stomach that dissolves. And it dissociates all these solid structures that you’re eating into free molecules that can move on into the intestinal track. And it can get absorbed into the blood stream a lot better. So, you’ve got your mechanical digestion which is where the muscles contract in the stomach. And you’ve got your chemical digestion which is where the hydrochloric acid gets on to the foods that you’ve eaten. And then you have what’s called enzymatic digestion. And what that means is this hydrochloric acid actually activates a digestive enzyme called pepsin in your stomach. And pepsin is the same thing that you might take in like a digestive enzyme supplement. And what it does is it breaks big protein molecules down into smaller protein molecules. So, in terms of any of those functions being completely critical to digestion, they’re not totally critical. But they really ease the process of digestion. Your pancreas still produces something called trypsin which is similar to pepsin. It breaks down large protein molecules into smaller protein molecules. It’s going to be able to help you digest protein but not until it reaches your small intestine. A lack of hydrochloric acid exposure to the food is going to mean it’s a lot less likely to be broken down. You’re going to get less absorption. And this is one of the same reasons that people with a stomach should be chewing food very thoroughly when they eat because you do get some pre-digestion. And you do get a lot better absorption of your food. And you get fuller faster. And whether or not you’ve got a stomach or not, chewing your food is incredibly important in pre-initiating a lot of these processes. As far as gastrectomies go, one of the big issues when you don’t have a stomach or part of your stomach has been removed, is something called dumping. And dumping is the highly medical term given to what happens when food or fluids move too quickly through your digestive system. And a lot of times you do get nausea when that happens which is the case here. You can get dizziness, light-headedness, cramping, diarrhea, and all of these issues with dumping syndrome. And there are certain types of foods that are going to basically move more quickly through your digestive system. Anything that’s really hot or really cold can be an issue. Anything that’s carbonated can be an issue. Anything that is low in fat like low fat or fat free foods. The reason that that can be an issue is when you add extra fats to foods. It helps to slow down the movement of food through your system. So, actually including foods that have a little bit more fat in them would be okay. Probably the issue with something like coconut milk for example is that that’s a liquid. So, it’s going to empty really fast and cause that same type of nausea. Whereas if you were to do coconut milk with something like protein powder and some almond butter and some nuts and things like that, that would empty a little bit more slowly. Milk sugar tends to be an issue. Usually you’d want to drink things that are lactose free or just don’t drink milk at all and avoid dairy products. Foods that are sugary and sweet, those tend empty a little bit more quickly as well. And then if you drink water or any other liquid with your meals, that can also increase this dumping syndrome. So, it does make life tough. But some of the things you can do, first of all is to chew your food as completely as you can. Take a digestive enzyme supplement preferably just so that you help out with the digestion of the food that you’re missing out from having only part of your stomach there. Don’t eat foods that have a lot of fiber in them so it’s easier for your digestive system to move stuff through the tract. And you can still include protein rich food. You can still include eggs, meat, and fish. You can include legumes and seeds and nuts preferably in their soaked or sprouted forms. You can include vegetables and fruits but only in moderation because you don’t want to do a lot of fiber. But the most important thing is that you’d not be drinking a lot of liquids with your foods. And you avoid really hot stuff and really cold stuff. And that you understand that anything that is of a texture that appears that it may move through your system pretty fast. You may want to avoid it. And instead, you’ll want to choose stuff that you can actually chew. Last thing I think about is when you’re looking at digestive enzyme. If you do find that you’re having difficulty with high fat containing foods even when they are in chewable form, think about a supplement that could help emulsify that fat. And it will break it down into smaller more easily absorbed drops. One of the things you can do is you can actually take what’s called bile supplement. So, your liver actually makes bile. And that gets stored in your gallbladder. And when you eat a fat latent food, the gallbladder basically squirts this bile into the intestine to help with fat digestion. And if you have difficulty digesting fats, taking a bile supplement is actually one of the more popular ones is called ox-bile. And it has been used for a long time as a food supplement. That’s something that you can take. It’s something that helps out folks that have had a gallbladder removal as well. So, that’ll help your digestive track with digesting essential fats. I’m not a doctor. I don’t want this to be seen as medical advice. But those are some of the things that I would consider. And that about totally taps out my knowledge on the stomach. So, I hope that helps.
Brock: Alright. Well, I was going to jump in with some extra questions because it got some of my interest peaked. But I guess you’re right. This isn’t a medical podcast. We should leave that for a different show I guess.
Ben: And remember folks, you can always ask follow-up questions in the show notes too. And for a question like this I know that we definitely want to address that you guys have. And I’ll try and put a spin on it to make them useful for everybody. But I know that we don’t have a ton of listeners that has had gastrectomies for example. So, I don’t want to spend too much time answering questions like that. But at the same time, if you guys have follow-up inquiries and things like that, just leave them on the show notes.
Brock: Yes. And as we’ve noticed too over in a while anyway, people who are reading the show notes and commenting on the show notes are often experts in their own fields as well. So, it’s a great place to start a good conversation.
Ben: Yes. And speaking of comments on the show notes, if you guys didn’t go check out the pictures of my brother that I put out over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com. We got a lot of comments on that one. My brother is a model. And he’s eating a low carbohydrate diet. I help him out with his diet. I posted his diet plan and also some pictures of him. He’s really a beast. He’s like 6’5’’ and 230 pounds. And he’s a big dude. He doesn’t eat many carbohydrates. I put a picture of him out there if you want to check it out. It’s over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com. It’s pretty impressive.
Brock: And he is married.
Ben: With children.
Brock: Just before you get excited ladies. Our next question comes fromNancy.
Nancy says: Hello Ben. My name is Nancy. I’m taking Living Fuel Super Greens. I was advised to just take half the dose because I’m small. And I’m also on Soleil, Himalayan Crystal Salt. I’m having a lot of health issues. And I can’t get to the bottom of it. Anyway, I have iron overload in my body. But I don’t have the disease called Hemochromatosis. And I noticed that the Living Fuel has 40 percent iron. And they told me to stay away from iron, food containing iron or stuff like that. But they said that it detoxifies. I just want to know if I’m doing something right or wrong. Goodbye.
Ben: Okay. So, she has iron overload. The basics of how that works is normally you’ve got this regulatory mechanism in your gut. Or the cells in your gut can sense how much iron that you actually have in your body stores. And when your body stores of iron are low, your cells absorb more iron from your gut. And when your body stores iron is where they’re supposed to be or sufficient, you don’t absorb as much iron. But you can have a mutation in your gene. And it’s called a Hemochromatosis. And it’s somewhat a common genetic mutation. But what it does is it inhibits the body’s ability to communicate with how much iron that it actually has. So, the cells in your gut absorb way too much iron. And you get more iron stored up in the body because the body can store iron. And so, if you get exposed to an iron supplement like in this case a meal replacement like food that has some extra iron to it. Or even if you’re using lots of cast iron cook ware, anything like that could actually cause iron overload.
Brock: Really? Like cooking in a cast iron frying pan can really transfer that amount of iron into the food?
Ben: It can. People with anemia or people with low iron levels can actually benefit quite a bit from using cast iron. Of course, in this case in the flip side if you’ve got iron overload, you want to be fairly careful with that because what could happen is you could get iron deposition in your joints and arthritis. And guys, you can get basically testicular failure. You can get diabetes because the islet cells in your pancreas that produce insulin, those eventually can get tapped out if you’ve got too much iron. You can get some serious psoriasis type of damage to your liver. Cardiomyopathy, these are some issues with the heart when you have too much iron. So, it’s certainly an issue. It’s the same reason that anybody that’s taking an iron supplement or ferrous pyrophosphate type of ferritin storage protein supplement or anything else like that. You need a test. You can’t just blindly use iron supplements without actually testing your iron levels. So, it’s annoying but it’s also fairly recommended. The thing is though that hemochromatosis has been an issue for such a long time that essentially medicine has two main fixes for it. One is blood-letting or phlebotomy where you’re actually giving blood every now and again. And it’s one of the reasons that women with iron overload who are having their periods tend to have fewer issues than men. It’s because they do lose a little bit more blood on a regular basis whereas men may need to be giving blood via phlebotomy. The other thing that is done is chelation therapy. It’s where you actually take a medicine that chelates iron or helps to remove iron or other metals from the blood. In the case of pharmaceuticals, a lot of them are designed to just treat iron overload like deferoxamine or deferasirox. These are the pharmaceutical medications that you take that are specifically design to chelate iron. If you go over to alternative medicine, there are a lot of natural chelation compounds that you can get. Zeolite is one popular one. Clay in many cases like bentonite clay that you eat, it’s something else that’s an alternative medicine that used for chelation therapy. It’s also used in folks who have been exposed to radiation as well as liver cleanses and stuff like that. The issue is that in many cases if you over do that type of stuff, it not only can keep iron from building up in the blood stream. But you can also leech a lot of the minerals from your body. So, you need to be careful. You can’t just blindly dump a bunch of zeolite into the body and not chelate potentially some of the minerals that you actually do need as well. So, you need to be careful with this stuff and not use it in excess. But you also need to be careful with iron supplements as well. So, what I would do in something like in this case where you don’t want to use something like Living Fuel Super Greens because it has some added irons. Just use an alternative green supplement. For example, there are three that I recommend. One is the Super Greens. And that’s full on meal replacement drink with calories. It’s the same one that I travel with that I use as a meal replacement when I am on an airplane or I’m in a hotel. But there are a couple of others that I recommend that don’t have calories in them. They’re just powders that you add to water or to coconut milk. There are going to have lower levels of iron as well. One is enerprime. And the other one is Capra Greens. And I can put a link to both of those in the show notes. But that’s the deal with iron that I recommend. Again, I’ll throw this in there and I know it’s annoying but I’m not a doctor. That’s not medical advice. Those are just some of my thoughts on iron and iron overload.
Brock: Alright. Let’s move on to the question from Graeme.
Graeme says: Just catching up on some old episodes and listened to episode 175 and the interview with the Hammer Nutrition ultra cyclist, Steve Born. I’m hearing a seeming contradiction where you have talked regularly about fasting overnight and doing a morning session to promote fat burning based on a low glycogen state. In the interview he said that waking up, you still have your muscle glycogen full and you are almost ready to race. And if racing, you only need 100-300 calories which sounds very different to my belief that we are in a low glycogen state. Do I understand correctly? He says on a long event you can get 2/3 of energy from fat. My understanding was that 20-40 percent is as high as you can expect, is it simply because the intensity is super low for ultra endurance?
Ben: So when you wake up you do have your muscle glycogen levels full basically. That’s your storage carbohydrate levels. It’s because you have multiple sources of glycogen in your body, multiple places where your body can store carbohydrate. There are two places are your primary places where you store carbohydrate. One is your muscle where you can store a lot of carbohydrate like 2000 calories worth. The other is your liver where you can store anywhere from depending on the size of the liver and the size of the person, 200-400 calories of carbohydrate. So, typically when you’re sleeping your body is going to tap a little bit into your livers glycogen stores but not so much into your muscles glycogen stores. But when you wake up, yes, you do have your muscle glycogen levels full. And you could go out and you could exercise to the capacity of up to 2000 calories. And you can be able to just fine with that type of fasted workout. It’s not to say that you should do that because when you tap out your muscles glycogen stores, you do get a pretty big cortisol release. And you can get some immune system suppression going on which is why I never recommend doing hard morning workouts or very long morning workouts in that fasted state. However, if you’re just getting up and in this case in my interview with Steve Born, you’re going to do a century bike ride with this really long endurance event. What you can do is when you wake up and instead of going to the pancake feed or whatever else they have before an event like that. You instead just wake up and get ready. You get on your bike without eating breakfast and you start pedaling. You haven’t really pre-initiated the process of burning carbohydrates preferentially over fat. The reason for that is when you get up in the morning and you’re in a fasted state and you eat carbohydrates. What it does is it increases your respiratory exchange ratio. And what the respiratory exchange ratio is it’s a ratio of carbon dioxide produced to oxygen consumed. And an increase in the respiratory exchange ratio or an increase in carbon dioxide breathing out indicates change in energy and metabolism. It’s a shift towards carbohydrate utilization. And it simply makes sense when you eat carbohydrates your body will shut down fatty acid metabolism a little bit. And it steps up carbohydrate metabolism because carbohydrate circulating in your blood stream. And the glucose circulating in your blood stream is going to become preferential energy source. So, what you’d rather have is your body before a long endurance event not tapping into carbohydrates and not shifting carbohydrate metabolism. But rather staying in fat metabolizing mode which is what you’ll be in as you’re sleeping. So, the idea is you get up. You get on your bike. You start pedaling. And you wait until you’re 40 to 60 minutes into that ride before you start consuming carbohydrates. And what you have done in that case is put your body into more of a fatty acid metabolizing mode. And you kept yourself from getting basically pre-tapping into your muscle storage carbohydrate because you’ve put yourself into carbohydrate burning mode. So, it’s simply playing some tricks on your respiratory exchange ratio and keeping you in fat burning mode for as long period of time before going into a long endurance event. On the flip side to that or in contrast to that, I wouldn’t do this before an Ironman triathlon for example. And the reason for that is you actually do use a lot of carbohydrate just right off the bat going into an event like that. And Steve Born’s example was when he was doing a five day long cycling event. It’s where your intensity is probably close to half that of what you’d be at during an Ironman. So, understand that we’re also looking at an ultra endurance scenario vs. a triathlon or marathon.
Brock: I think one of the things to point out as well is when you talk about doing a fasted workout in the morning. You’re also talking about not having eaten anything since dinner the night before. Like having dinner at six or seven pm and then it’s a 12 to 15 hour fast. And what Steve Born was taking about I don’t think he was including something like limiting your calorie intake the night before.
Ben: Yes, exactly. You need to look at the scenario that you’re in. And if it’s been 15 hours since you’ve last eaten, then you’ve probably tapped out your liver’s glycogen stores. And you’ve launched into your muscle’s glycogen stores. And you just need to listen to your body. Typically if you’re really hungry going into workout, it’s better that you would have eaten something. If you’re fine just rolling out and you don’t get hungry until you’re 40 to 60 minutes in, then that’s okay in most cases.
Brock: The second part of the question is, he says: Steve Born says that on a long event you can get 2/3 of energy from fat. My understanding was that 20-40 percent is as high as you can expect, is it simply because the intensity is super low for ultra endurance?
Ben: Yes. Take your maximum heart rate. And think about 65 to 75 percent of your maximum heart rate. If you look at exercise physiology lab values for someone exercising at 65 to 75 percent of their maximum heart rate the average values that you’re going to see are about 60 percent from fat and 40 percent from carbohydrates in terms of utilization. So, even at what you may consider to be at 6 and ½, at a scale of one to ten you’re still using more fat than carbohydrates. And when you get into the much lower intensity is the 40 to 50 percent of an Ultra endurance event. That fat can get skewed up towards 70 to 80 percent of what you’re using as an energy source. So, the answer is yes. For endurance activities, you do use a great deal of fat. And it all depends on intensity too. You take somebody who’s doing Ironman triathlon in 15 to 17 hours is going to be going at a lower intensity and burning more fat as a fuel. And that person may need to take fewer carbohydrates. A professional triathlete doing an Ironman in eight to eight and a half hours is going to be ramped up much closer to maximum heart rate the whole time. And he’d be burning a much higher percentage of carbohydrate. And you’d need more carbohydrate. So, it depends on the situation that you’re in and the intensity that you’re at too.
Brock: Yes. Alright, let’s move on to the next question from Jim.
Jim says: I just wanted to know if you have any info on light olive oil vs. extra virgin olive oil. I used to use the extra virgin but start to get nauseous. So, I’ve been using light olive oil on my salads but I don’t know if this stuff was healthy.
Ben: Well, the extra virgin olive oil. For anybody who’s tried to dump some of that into a shot glass and take it down, it’s pretty aromatic stuff. Good extra virgin oil has got a high amount of oleic acid in it. And that’s where you get some of that aroma. It can cause nausea based off of its intense flavor. So, I’ve certainly experienced that before in olive oil stores just taste testing their extra virgin olive oil. You can get a little bit of a gag reflex from this stuff that has that super intense aroma. So, it’s usually not some type of extra virgin olive oil allergy as much as it is just a reaction to the intense flavor of this stuff. The difference between extra virgin olive oil and light olive oil is that light olive oil is less pure. So, it’s refined past the extraction process using mechanical or thermal or chemical method. And what you get is oil that has less color. It has less taste. But also, it does have a higher smoke point. It is a little bit better to cook with. It’s going to have a little bit lower levels of some of the healthier properties that an extra virgin less refined olive oil is going to have. But I always have two types of olive oil around. And I’ve talked about this on the show before. I have a regular olive oil for cooking and an extra virgin olive oil which again has a little bit higher levels of that healthy oleic acid in it for salad dressing. Or just putting on some tomato and throwing in some crackers and some sea salt. So ultimately, I think it’s best to have two types of olive oil around. If extra virgin olive oil gives you that a little bit of nausea, try something else for your cold oil. Try flak seed oil. That’s fairly decent oil with a good omega three fatty acid profile. That would be the main one I’d consider. Grape seed oil potentially could be another.
Brock: Yes. I like the grape seed oil. It’s pretty tasty. And it doesn’t have that flavor punch that the extra virgin olive oil does. But it still has that nice texture.
Ben: Jim must not have Mediterranean genes.
Brock: Perhaps not. Or maybe he left his extra virgin olive oil in a warm cupboard for too long. And it’s gone a little rancid.
Ben: Yes. That’s a good point. This stuff could go rancid pretty easily. So, keep it out of the sun and heat for sure.
Brock: Alright. Let’s move on to the next question. The person who asked this question is anonymous. I just want to say don’t be embarrassed about this. Obviously, we’ll keep it in anonymous because you asked. But it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Anonymous: I’m an ultra runner trying to get rid of a nasty case of jock itch. I tried the toxic over-the counter products, but it won’t go away. Before I make a doctor’s appointment, I want to see if you have any alternative ideas to deal with this. Because of my ultra running, I spend several hours in sweaty under armor and on race day I may be in the same compression shorts for 24+ hours. I purchased Oil of Oregano from your site. I slathered it on last night and it burned like hell. It was like fire. Can you talk about J.I, how to use Oil of Oregano to treat it, and any other recommendations to get rid of it? Is it contagious to my girlfriend?
Ben: Yes. You talk about something not to be embarrassed about. I’m currently fighting off a little of bit of a saddle sore issue myself. And not to gross people out, but I mean saddle sore issue can basically get filled with inflammation and white blood cells. And it could have some fluid seeping from them. And they can essentially in many cases get infected and spread. And for the past few weeks, I’ve been fighting against that based off of riding in heat and humidity. It’s just the nature of the beast when you’re doing these activities that combine sweat, humidity, heat, and clothing friction. Something like Jock Itch is a fungal infection. You get it in the warm moist areas of your bodies like your inner thighs and butt and your genitals. And it causes this red itchy type of rash. And in a case like that, natural topical anti-fungal’s can come in quite handy. Some of the best ones that you do want to be careful with because any of these types of oils can burn a little bit if they aren’t diluted properly. Oregano oil certainly can be like that. And if you find that you put Oregano oil on your skin and it burns, just mix it up. Get some olive oil, or any other type of oil will work. And basically, dilute your olive oil. You can also dilute Tea Tree oil the same way. I’ve been using magnesium chloride with some drops of Oregano oil and Tea Tree oil mixed into it. And that has a good topical anti-bacterial and anti-viral effect that you can rub into a muscle. But Oregano oil and Tea Tree oil work really well as topical anti-fungal. I’m a huge fan of those. I’m also a big fan for something like Jock Itch just using hydrogen peroxide. It responds really well to hydrogen peroxide. Another topical anti-fungal that you can use is coconut oil. That actually works really well. You can just basically get an extra virgin coconut oil. And that rubs into any of those areas really well. I would also be looking at this from a gut standpoint. And I would be ingesting foods that are going to have a natural anti-fungal effect. And it can affect skin conditions as well. Two things I would take that I personally been taking a ton of in the past few weeks is garlic. Just basically take some garlic cloves and fry them up in some grass fed butter or some coconut oil or some olive oil. The other thing is turmeric. And you can either take turmeric. You can take a couple of teaspoons of it and dissolve it in hot water and drink it like tea. I personally don’t enjoy the flavor of that. So, what I do is I’ve been seasoning at least one meal per day with a high amount of turmeric and then taking turmeric capsules. That would typically be about five or six turmeric capsules per day. And those have Curcumin in them which are going to be a natural anti-fungal as well. So, from an oral standpoint, I do the garlic and the turmeric. And topically, I’d consider Oregano oil. But I’d dilute it if it burns your skin a little bit. I am a huge fan of Oregano oil for both oral and topical use as an anti-fungal. And for when you’re traveling, it’s a way to stop airborne pathogens from giving you colds and attacking your immune system. You can definitely dilute it even further if you don’t like the way it feels on your skin. The one that I have that I use that is the private BenGreenfieldFitness labeled Oregano oil is mixed into a seven to one ratio with almond oil. That is usually just fine on the skin until you get it in an open area like close to a wound or an aggravated area. And I found that it can burn in that situation and cause an unpleasant sensation. So, in that case you can dilute it even further by mixing it into some olive oil. Or doing what I do, put some drops of it into magnesium chloride like the spray on magnesium chloride. And then mix that with Tea Tree oil. And that works really well. And then of course, cotton ball hydrogen peroxide works pretty also. So, that’s what I would do. And by using that type of treatment typically you can see something like that go away within one or two weeks.
Brock: So, I know guys in general end up with Jock Itches just because of the nature of the way our bodies are built. But women have a similar problem when they wear their shorts for too long or doing these ultra events where they get the yeast infections.
Brock: Would you treat that the same way then?
Ben: Yes. It’s a fungus. And again, we got to be careful using words like treat because this isn’t a medical show. It seems like we’re spending a great deal of this podcast on medical issues. But that is certainly something that you can try. And remember; only your health care provider or your personal physician or your pharmacist can provide you with advice on what’s safe and effective and in your case, for your unique needs. And only they can diagnose you with your particular medical history. But these are just some ideas that I’m going throw out there that you could try.
Brock: Excellent. Let’s move on to the next question from Jenny.
Jenny says: Is there any research that shows whether or not visualizing exercises will help physically strengthen an area of the body? I was thinking that since I cannot exercise with my left leg, it still may be helpful to picture myself doing exercises, running and racing. What do you think?
Ben: Yes. I did something similar. There’s a really good book out there. It’s written by Maxwell Malts. I think he’s the author. It’s called Psychocybernetics. And it teaches you how to channel your subconscious to achieve whether it may be achieving goals that you desire or even achieving physical goals. The whole concept of the books the Inner Game of Golf or The Inner Game of Tennis, their all based off of this Psychocybernetics book. And I’ll put a link to it in the show notes. But I had a tennis tournament a couple of weeks ago. And I was gone doing triathlons. And I was over speaking in Dubai and spent a lot of period of time on a plane. And I was playing mental tennis about three or four times over that period of time. I did about five to ten minutes of just mental tennis matches hitting back and forth, visualizing the serve, visualizing some forehands and visualizing backhands. And I’m convinced that that’s why when I did grab my racquet after not hitting for about two and a half weeks. It felt like I haven’t put it down. And so, it can certainly help in that case. When it comes to actual strength and actual physiological response when it comes to muscle producing force, there’s very little research about it. But there’s some. There’s a research study done over at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio that looked at the strength benefits of imagining exercising a muscle. And so what they did was they took a bunch of people and they split them into three groups. And so, each group for 15 minutes a day, five days a week, for 12 weeks in a row, would do a certain exercise. One group would imagine exercising their little finger muscle. Another group imagined exercising their bicep muscle. And then a final group was the control group that didn’t do any exercise at all, no imaginary exercise. And then what they did was they pre-tested and they post-tested these folks. And they found that the group that was thinking about exercising their little finger muscle increased the strength of their finger muscle by about 50 percent. Those who were just thinking about training their biceps increased the strength of their biceps by 13 percent which is actually fairly significant. So, they weren’t actually contracting the muscle. They were just thinking it strongly as they could without moving the muscle, without actually contracting it or moving it. And so the suggestion by the research was that you basically get an improvement in the brain’s ability to signal muscle activity. So, you’re essentially increasing muscle power by improving your mental power or your ability to recruit a certain muscle group. I don’t really think this is going to put any gyms out of business any time soon. But it certainly when you’re driving your car and you’ve got an affected limb that you can’t really workout, you can certainly think about contracting it. You could also try other things though. The first thing that would come to my for me would be using electrical muscle stimulation which is going to cause a muscle contraction without requiring you to move the joint. I’ve got a unit called a Compact Sport. And it just allows me to attach electrodes to a muscle. And when I can actually use a muscle, I can still or when I can’t usually joint around muscle like you got a knees injured and you can’t train your quad. You can still put these things in your quad and keep the quads somewhat strong. I personally don’t use that much. I use it more for just recovery as blood flow to a muscle. But it’s certainly something you can think about using would be electro stimulation in addition to simply imagining the muscle contracting.
Brock: I would’ve hated to be part of that study. Especially if I was part of the group that wasn’t supposed to imagine exercising because I’m sure that I would several times a day be like I’m imagining it.
Brock: And you can’t do that.
Ben: Yes. It’d be super tough to control something like that too. But it’s interesting stuff. So, I’m certainly am not going to be writing out to imagine yourself into a triathlon work book anytime soon.
Brock: Okay. Let’s jump into the next question from Christian.
Christian says: I recently saw an infomercial on Youtube for powercranks touting an improvement in running efficiency by using powercranks 30 minutes three times per week. What are your thoughts about this?
Brock: Powercranks is a bicycle piece, isn’t it?
Ben: It is. It is a bicycle piece. And a lot of folks train with them and as a matter of fact, one of my friends Angela Nathe who’s a really good cyclist. She’s winning a bunch of half Ironman races this year. She uses them. Bevan Docherty who’s an Olympic triathlete and who’s moving into Ironman distance. And he’s having great success. He uses them. Leanda Cave another really good triathlete uses them. Conrad Stoltz, Melanie Mcquaid, there’s a lot of folks who uses these powercranks.
Brock: These are the ones that they basically move independently. It’s not a fixed position like a six to nine o’clock basically.
Ben: Yes. So, one leg can help the other leg in making the pedals go around because the cranks are independent. And so, it helps you develop more balanced leg muscles on the bike. And it helps you train your coordination. It significantly improves your efficiency. Honestly, the only reason I have powercranks is just I haven’t gone on my way yet to buy them or to approach powercranks about a sponsorship. Every time I talked about powercranks, I always think that I do need to get some of those things. My business partner at the Rockstar Triathlete Academy carries one. And he uses them. And he swears by them. And I’m not really affiliated with powercranks in any way. But I certainly would love to get into them at some point in the future because they are used by a lot of really good cyclists. That being said in terms of running, they have mentioned before that powercranks may improve running economy. But it’s the smoking gun type of deal. Basically, they’re taking powercranks and giving them to cyclist and showing that there are certain factors that are effective when you use them on the bike such as better coordination between your hamstrings and your quadriceps muscles or between your hip flexors and your hip extensors. Better utilization of oxygen riding the bicycle. And overall, better coordination. And then they’re going on. And they are saying that all of those factors are also factors that are associated with improved running economy in runners. Therefore, powercranks could make you a better runner. I think that that is a huge leap. And I certainly would not put much credence into using powercranks to become a better runner. However, I definitely would use them. And I would recommend that you use them if you want to become a better cyclist. I think that they’re great. I personally don’t really recommend them to my athletes and stuff like that. Or I wouldn’t endorse them just because I personally haven’t used them. And when I haven’t used a certain tool, sometimes it’s tough for me to coach my athletes on how to use them. But at some point, I’m going to start using powercranks and start recommending them a little bit more. But it has to do with powercranks. I don’t think you could go wrong using them for riding a bike. But there’s no actual research that shows that they’re going to help you be a better runner. All of that is just some smoking gun stuff that powercranks says.
Brock: I’d like to give those a try.
Ben: But as far as me going pro as a triathlete and keeping folks updated, I simply have not started training to that level yet. It’s just kids, life, work that has been keeping me really busy. But the goal is at some point this summer to start to amp up my training as soon as life settles down. But at this point, I’m still in the eight to ten hour week training scenario.
Brock: But you do keep a blog of all your races and stuff. So, if you do want to keep up to date on what Ben’s doing like race report-wise, like when you went to that training camp in New York. You kept some information on your blog about that. You can always go there. Will you put a link to your blog in the show notes here?
Ben: Yes. And my plan is to whip myself into relatively good shape and the ability to be a little bit faster by this winter by around December. Originally, I was going to start more intensive training in May. But here we are in June already and I haven’t yet. So, hopefully sometime soon, I will start training more.
Brock: I have faith. Alright, the next question comes from Rob.
Rob says: I’ve been following your post for some time now. And I am impressed. From one professional to another, I really value your professionalism and your competence. Thanks for all you do. I am a mental health counselor and if I were ten years younger, I would pursue a PhD in mental health nutrition. With this said, I was wondering if you would be willing to comment on your thoughts on our poor food choices and mental health. It is my hypothesis that of all the environmental stressors that we are exposed too, food leads the decline in mental health over the last 30 years. What are your thoughts on this? Also, I work with the very poor and I am wondering what you would have to offer as advice to me to offer my clients who cannot make the greatest food choices due to limited income. It is my thought that there needs to be a paradigm shift on the individual client and family level. How would you initiate this shift?
Brock: He’s asking for any advice you have to help out with good nutrition for mental health.
Ben: Yes. First of all from a mental health standpoint, I’ve talked about this on the show before. But I believe that the most important factor when it comes to that is getting access to adequate fats and adequate fatty acids. And trying to educate folks that fat free and low fat foods may actually, in many cases, be more harmful for the body. It may be more deleterious to blood sugar levels and general health and risk for chronic disease. And it may be less helpful to the brain. And I certainly think that that is aggravated a little bit more by the amount of preservatives and potential neurotoxins like aspartame for example that you find in processed or packaged foods. Unfortunately, a lot of folks who are of lower income are choosing whether it’d be due to coupon clipping or the perception that those types of foods are cheaper which are not actually. Or even just a lack of education on how to properly prepare real foods and real ingredients. First of all, I want to link to an article that was written by a guy who runs a website called Primal Wisdom. That added up what it would look like if you were to go out and get a fairly healthy, low risk of chronic disease type of food list. And you could still be able to feed a family of four on a budget that someone would actually have based off of the maximum allotment of food assistance through the U.S government. An example of that would be their supplementary nutrition assistance program or their food stamp program. Essentially the food stamp program comes out to you having access to about in a range of five to six dollars a day to spend on food. The question is with five to six dollars a day, could you actually create a menu that’s healthy that’s going to keep a family well fed without increasing the risk of chronic disease. And can it potentially give them the type of fats that are going to support their mental health. Now, in this article that I’ll link to, foods that were used specifically to achieve this menu like a food shopping list. It was beef, butter, pork chop, eggs, walnuts, turnip greens. And you can also do spinach or bokchoi or kale or anything like that. There was also broccoli, carrots, and red peppers. And as far as actual vitamins and supplements go, vitamin d supplement, and a vitamin k supplement. Two supplements which are notoriously deficient in folks. And this menu for feeding a family on a daily basis using those types of foods came out to about five dollars and 40 cents a day with just that list of foods. And in terms of giving folks what they needed, you could also add in a well-made bone broth to that. Literally, cook down a chicken and use the bone broth which is also very inexpensive to do. And you’re adding a ton more gut supporting and a digestive health supporting nutrients and vitamins and minerals. So, that’s one example of how you could do it and what a typical trip to the grocery store would look like in terms of being to eat healthy on a shoe string budget. And of course, there’s still an educational component there. You can’t just dump a bunch of beef and pork chop and turnip greens and broccoli on the counter and expect someone to actually know what to do with it if the educational process is not there. And that’s why I really like the concept of like if you go to Hulu or there’s a number for websites. Netflix I think has it as well. Like the Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution show where he goes into these schools. And he tries to teach the kids how to cook. And he tries to get the school system to implement some type of education for kids that actually shows them how to prepare foods with raw ingredients. It’s because that’s one of the reasons that folks are turning to the more health damaging but also the more expensive packaged and processed foods. It’s because they don’t know how to properly prepare and cook these foods. So, there is certainly an educational component as well. So, I am a big fan of introducing some type of food education into the school system. Or parents taking over that process and teaching their children how to actually prepare foods. In which case, the parents can do some type of community outreach program that shows how to properly prepare and cook these type of real foods. I’m also a big fan down along those lines of an urban community garden. We have these in Spokane. There are big large garden plots that you basically can grow stuff in. And you can feed a lot of people with a community garden. And you can also teach people how to grow their own food and make people feel like their more of a process. Or their part of a process of getting their healthy food when they’re able to get two or three families together and have a 20 by 20 plot that they can grow carrot and beans, squash and spinach and all sorts of stuff in. And every time that you harvest a crop of fresh vegetables, you’ve got a ton of extra food. And that can be used in a soup kitchen or a local pantry for poor people. It can also be something that they have ad libitum access to just go and grab when they like. Same as me when I have lunch today, I’ll walk out my backyard. And I will just rip out a few handfuls of spinach from the garden. And that is less expensive than me going out and buying a four dollar and 99 cent bag of spinach at the grocery store. So, urban community gardens, I’m a huge fan of those in terms of trying to introduce those into more poverty stricken areas. It’s a way for folks to have access to fresh real food. And then as far as going to the grocery store, like I mentioned packaged food, sodas, sports drinks, juices, all of those are expensive. They’re more expensive than the natural fruit and vegetable alternatives. And we’ve talked about this in the show I believe in the last podcast about the actual big study that came out that actually compared this stuff. And it found that in general, eating healthier is less expensive. Getting frozen foods is fine. Frozen vegetables, a lot of times you can find those on sale. They’re cheaper. You can easily stir fry them up with some meats. And that’s a good way to go as well. I did a ton of frozen vegetables in college just because they keep for a long time. They’re easy to get your hands on. A lot of times they’re less expensive. I would definitely look into dry foods as well like dry beans and legumes. If you soak those properly, and you can pretty take any bean on the planet like black beans, pinto beans, white beans, lentils, etc. And you can just Google soak and then the name of the bean that you’re looking at. And it’ll give you your soaking time and your temperature and all that. But those are fine as well. And those are super satiating and have a really good bang for the buck when it comes to calories and nutrients. So, that’s something else to look into. And just avoid the middle isle of the grocery store. Watch the packaged and processed foods. And from a grocery store standpoint, that’s a really good way to make sure that you’re not throwing a bunch of stuff into your cart that you’re overpaying for. So, obviously we could fill up an entire podcast with the healthy eating on a budget and some more thoughts on getting poor people access to healthy food. But those are some of my initial thoughts rattling around in my brain on this stuff.
Brock: It just sounds like just to bring it back to the initial question which is really very much around the mental health decline in the last 30 years being tied to the decline in the amount of good food that people are getting access to. And it sounds like he really believed that with this increased in being able to have the access. And have the knowledge and understanding of how to create or how to cook properly or put together the foods that this will have a profound effect on the mental health as well.
Ben: Well certainly. When you’re looking at mental health, you’re looking primarily at some type of a neurotransmitter imbalance. And neurotransmitter imbalances are either due to nutritional deficiencies. Typically in many cases, it’s a deficiency of some type of protein. But because amino acids are used as building blocks for neurotransmitters or else you’re looking at an issue with the gut-brain access. It means an inflammation of the gut affecting mental performance and the brain. It is via the intimate connection between the central nervous system and enteric nervous system or the nervous system in the gut via the vagus nerve. And your gut not only produces about 20 percent of your body’s neurotransmitters which are crucial to your mental health. But any type of inflammation in the gut or leaky gut syndrome, anything of that nature can distinctly affect mental performance, well-being, mood, etc. It’s the same reason that kids with high amount of gluten intake and process food intake a lot of times tend to have bigger issues with things like ADHD or inability to learn properly. So, all of this stuff is very closely related. And there are certainly some other things that can affect neurotransmitter levels exposure to pollutants, toxins and things of that nature. But food is especially important. And access to adequate proteins and fats is very important.
Brock: Obviously, there are a lot of psychological disorders and stuff out there that are well beyond a dietary issue that wouldn’t suffer from having a better diet. But it certainly wouldn’t be cured. I don’t think you’re trying to say that in any way.
Brock: Like Schizophrenia is not going to be cured by having a good diet. But it could be helped.
Brock: It couldn’t be hurt?
Ben: Yes. I don’t know if we want to open that kind of worms. It maybe helped by diet. There can be an argument made for that. But it’s probably beyond the scope of this show at this point.
Brock: I only wanted to address it because I don’t want anybody to be writing in angrily afterwards saying that you’re suggesting you could cure these vast mental disorders with a little bit of bokchoy.
Brock: We’re certainly not saying that.
Ben: Exactly. It takes a little more than a little bit of kale to fix depression. There’s definitely a link.
Brock: Let’s move on then. We’ve got another Rob that wrote in.
Rob says: In reference to carbohydrates after exercise, about how many carbohydrates should a 150 pound person consume after one hour weight training session or a one hour long run? After weight training, I currently drink a protein shake and eat a turkey wrap and an apple. I also take one gram of L-Glutamine. After listening to the recent podcast, I am assuming it would be better to consume the shake at a different time of day and eat more carbohydrates after weight training. Is this correct? Also, am I wasting the L-glutamine by taking it on weight training days and not running days? Can you give some examples of carbohydrates that would be easy to take with me to consume after weight training?
Brock: I think that’s a separate issue there at the end. But he’s looking at the timing of what he’s eating here.
Ben: Yes. First of all, as far as the question about L-glutamine goes, I’m personally a bigger fan of using a whole amino acid supplement rather than taking just one amino acid like L-glutamine. You’re typically going to see a better recovery and better protein synthesis response when you use a whole amino acid powder or a whole amino acid capsule. Master amino pattern is the one that I recommend. However, glutamine is going to still help. There’s research that show that it can assist with recovery. And you could do it after a run or after a weight training session. Either way, you’re going to get benefits. Both cause muscle tearing. Both can be used to help from an amino acid like L-glutamine. In response to the bigger question as far as like the post workout carbohydrate, we’ve all been led to believe that there’s this mystical magical fueling window after a workout. It’s where you’ve got anywhere from 20 minutes to 60 minutes depending on the article that you read. Or the book that you read to replace the energy that you’ve lost during a workout by consuming this mix of carbohydrates and proteins. The issue and I’ve hit on this before a little bit. But the issue is that in every study or every experiment that has investigated the benefit of immediate post workout carbohydrate replacement or protein replacement. Subjects in those studies were fed after they completed an exercise they’ve done in a fasted or semi-starved state. It’s means that they are shown up at that lab in the morning for this test on post workout fuel without having eaten anything. Typically, they’re at least eight to 12 hours into a fast. And so, it goes without saying that of course you’re going to benefit. If you eat a meal after a workout in which you’re completely depleted of energy during that workout. But when it comes to this issue, how many people are actually rolling out of bed in the morning. And as they do in these laboratory studies, hoping on a bike and riding to complete exhaustion and complete glycogen depletion for 90 minutes to two hours with absolutely no fuel. It’s unpleasant. It’s difficult. It’s stressful in the body. And it’s not a standard workout protocol in most cases. When it comes to trying to figure out exactly how much carbohydrate I eat after a meal or how much protein do I eat after a meal? I don’t think you can really look at the research too hard. And say that it’s exactly this much simply because the research doesn’t really match up to real world situations. If you’ve had a pre-workout meal or you’ve had any other recent meal prior to the workout or even if you’ve eaten during the workout. There’s no crucial need to eat right after a workout. And that’s even true if you don’t have any other workouts planned for the day because just by eating when you’re hungry over the course of the day. Within eight hours, you will have totally replenished your amino acids and your carbohydrates and everything. So, compared to any special laboratory protocol, simply eating when you’re hungry or having lunch or snack or dinner or whatever. After you’ve had a mid-morning post breakfast workout or pre-breakfast workout, that’s going to adequately replace everything you need. Now, post workout nutrition replacement becomes more important if you’re going to be working out again within four or six or even eight hours after your first workout. If you’re doing a two a day workout, let’s say a swim in the morning and a weight training session in the afternoon, then yes. It may inhibit your performance during the weight training session in the afternoon if you wait two hours after that swim to eat anything. But in most cases, I don’t find that that’s a huge issue with folks. So, jumping down into the science, as far as you are going to optimize post workout nutrition, let’s say you have gotten up. You’ve completely exhausted your carbohydrate stores during an early morning hard exercise session. Or you’ve done an average exercise session but you’ve got another exercise session coming up in four to six hours. Based on research, you should be looking for three to one ratio of carbohydrates to protein like a banana smoothie with a handful of nuts and a scoop of protein powder. Or if you have to even if I’m not a big fan of them, any of these pre-engineered recovery drinks like GU Recovery brew or hammer gel recoverite. And you would basically take in over the course of about four hours after you’ve finished the exercise session the number of carbohydrates that you’ve burned during that session. So, let’s say you do a run and you burn 800 calories during that one hour run. Then you would have some type of a meal replacement that’s got 400 calories of carbohydrate in it right after the run. And then an hour later, you’d have another 400 calories or so of carbohydrate. However, in most cases, it’s just not the scenario that you’re completely depleting your carbohydrate levels so that you have to do something like that. And then the other thing and then I’ll shut up that I wanted throw in here. It is that sometimes okay to be in a carbohydrate depleted state, to be forcing your body to burn fatty acid as a fuel because even if that inhibits your performance and you may not be able to workout quite so hard. There are a lot of health benefits from not constantly keeping your carbohydrate levels up. And not constantly causing your body to be in this anabolic insulin producing mode. So, it’s a long answer. I know. But those are my thoughts on that.
Brock: Alright our final question comes from James. And it’s the dreaded cramping question as he titled it.
James says: I’m a competitive age group triathlete and I’ve been having cramping issues in races. I know the usual answer is your not training the same intensities as I race at or you’re not taking in enough nutrition or electrolytes. In my case, neither are the issues I think. I train 15 to 18 hours per week which includes a lot of intensity and I am spot on with my diet, training nutrition and race day nutrition. I take all of it very seriously, so when it comes to cramps I am stumped. The cramps can come on as early as the swim. Often I get them near the end of the bike though and almost guaranteed in the run. I never get them in 10k’s or 5k’s, just the longer stuff half marathons, Olympic triathlons and especially half Ironman. Do I need to just load up on the salt tabs? Tweak in the diet? Race week, I eat clean, take Hammer’s Race pre-load, stay hydrated, avoid coffee race day morning, help!
Brock: I was trying to do justice to the question.
Ben: I thought it was good. Although I was thinking it would be more like help in a higher tone.
Brock: I don’t think I can do that.
Ben: Yes with your deep booming bass voice. Okay. So, we’ve talked about cramping before on the show and the multiple reasons that people cramp. And you could go back and listen to the episode that I did specifically with Tim Noakes. It was where we talked about low electrolyte levels and low sodium levels are typically not the reason that someone cramps. It’s simply because the body isn’t very good in regulating the electrochemical gradient that is necessary for sustaining a muscle contraction and reducing the risk of cramping. And contrary to what the Gatorade Sport Science Institute would have us to believe, the body does not have very limited amounts of electrolytes to draw on during exercise. And in most cases, from bone and other stores we can mobilize anywhere from 50 to 70 grams of electrolytes to use which is enough to get you through a 4 day death march in the heat without cramping. And what it comes down to is that it’s very unlikely that it’s a low sodium or low electrolyte issue. Unless you’ve been on a low sodium diet, not replenishing electrolytes at all and you’ve been doing lots of sweating and mineral loss. So, all of that especially is even more relevant when you say that you get cramps that come on as early as the swim in something like a triathlon which means that you’re getting them before the point where you could possibly electrolyte or sodium depleted. So, then we got to look at some other reasons that cramping could set in. And there are many reasons that people can cramp. From a medical standpoint, a lot of times cramping can be associated with thyroid issues simply because the thyroid is intimately related to calcium regulation. And someone who is hypothyroid, a lot of times can have an issue with calcium. The reason for this is that what happens is that when you have these particles outside of your muscle cells. That can basically affect the osmotic gradient between the outside of your muscle and the inside of your muscle. You’ve got this calcium pump that is between the lumen of your muscle and the sacroplasmic reticulum which is the area of your muscle where this osmotic gradient actually lies. And when calcium ions are not getting pumped out in the muscle properly then they remain bound to the muscle fiber. And that causes this constant muscle contraction that simply doesn’t go away. So, calcium deregulation or somehow that calcium pump being broken can definitely cause cramping. But in most cases, you’ve got a lot of other issues going on with thyroid. And like low metabolism getting cold, experiencing a lot of fatigue, and you’d have so other complaints that go way above and beyond cramping. This was a thyroid-calcium regulation type of issue. The other type of things that can cause cramping would be extreme change in temperature like hot to cold or cold to hot. And it’s possible that that could happen if you’ve got these cramps always when you’re swimming in extremely cold water something like that. But it doesn’t sound from your description like that’s the case. The other thing thought that can cause cramps is simply contracting a muscle over and above what it has been exposed to repeatedly in training. And I truly believe that in most cases when folks are cramping during workouts or cramping during races, that this is the issue. You’re calling a muscle to go above and beyond what it has been trained to do in previous training sessions or in training leading up to a competition. And so, what the muscle does in that case is it cramps. Basically, the muscle becomes unable to relax because the myosin fibers on the muscle don’t detach from the actin filaments. And that can be usually due to inability for you to be resynthesizing ATP or muscle energy fast enough to cause that dissociation to occur. And it’s honestly a training issue in many cases. The gun goes off in a race and you go out way harder than you do in your training sessions. And you get smoked right away and you start cramping. It’s happened to me in water polo. When I played water polo, I would tread and swim in the water way harder than I would during our practices. And I would cramp. Part of that was due to the temperature of the water which aggravates the issue even more. But a big part of it was due to just working out harder than I had exposed my body to previously. So, I would consider at whether or not you’re actually reaching your race pace intensity. And if that is not an issue, you could look at whether or not you’re on a low sodium diet, whether you’re accurately hydrated. And then finally, the other that I would look at would be from a nutritional standpoint. The only supplement that I could think of that maybe a little help would be CoEnzyme Q10. That’s something that you could technically be deficient in. I don’t know if you’re on drugs like statins for example or something that could strip CoEnzyme Q10 from the body. But CoEnzyme Q10 deficiency could cause cramping as well. And that’s where you mentioned you used Hammer’s race pre-load to stay hydrated. I think that might be there off the top of my added. I don’t remember but I think it might be there glistering hyper hydration type of compound. But I would consider taking a supplement like the Hammer’s Race caps as well which is their CoEnzyme Q10. And that’s the one that I take. So, those are some of my thoughts. I’ll put a link in my show notes too to a podcast that I listened to on cramping that really lays some of the reasons for cramping out fairly well. It’s by one of my friends David Warden. And he recorded it on a podcast called Tri-talk. So, I’d listen to that. I’ll put a link to that in the show notes. I also in my book Top Fueling Myths Exposed, go into the whole electrolyte issue a little bit. And I’ll put a link to that book in the show notes as well. It’s a seven dollar e-book that I wrote. And I actually give it to all my athletes to read as a primer just so that they know more than most sports nutritionist knows about most common fueling myths when it comes to sports, exercise, eating and drinking. So, I’ll put link to that Fueling Myths Exposed book in the show notes as well. But those are some of my thoughts on cramping. And hopefully that helps point you in the right direction James.
Brock: Excellent. And that wraps up today’s episode.
Brock: Yes. That went really quickly. And I guess we will be back next week.
Ben: Yes. I hope so.
Brock: We weren’t here last week unfortunately because you were off in Hawaiiworking your butt off. But we will be here next week. And if you want to get any questions on the show, just go over to the BenGreenfieldFitness.com. And there is a little form, an ask Ben form you can fill out. If you want to do an audio question, you can call 18772099439 or Skype to Pacificfit. And all of that is on the website as well if you go over there.
Ben: I’m glad that after our podcasting hiatus, we didn’t lose our touch.
Brock: I don’t know. We’ll see what the response is.
Ben: I think that went great. So, I know you probably got to attend to your clown makeup, Brock. So, I’ll let you go.
Brock: Yes. My hair is going limp.
Ben: By the way, this Friday there’s a great podcast coming up on how to sleep better. And I interview a guy who develops this piece of technology I’ve been putting underneath my mattress every night. So, I got him on the phone to talk about it. So, it should be interesting. So, tune in this Friday or Saturday depending on when I get hankering to release it to you more about that. Until next time, this is Ben and Brock signing out from BenGreenfieldFitness.com.
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June 6, 2012 – free audio podcast: How To Eat Healthy On A Shoestring Budget Also: what to eat after a gastrectomy, dealing with iron overload, fasted workouts and glycogen storage, different types of olive oil, treating jock itch naturally, visualizing exercise while injured, improving running efficiency using powercranks, how diet can effect mental health, refueling timing, and more discussion about cramping.
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As compiled and read by Brock, the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast “sidekick”.
Audio Question from anonymous:
His mother, in her late 60s, had an unfortunate surgery and ended up with a pacemaker and her stomach removed (gastrectomy). She eats very little and gets nauseous easily. Do you have any ideas of what she could try eating that would not make her nauseous and would be easy to digest.
Audio Question from Nancy:
She is taking Living Fuel SuperGreens, Soleil, Himalayan Crystal Salt and has Iron Overload in her body but she doesn't have Hemochromatosis. She is supposed to stay away from Iron (which is included in SuperGreens) but she wants the detoxification properties. Is she doing something right or wrong?
Just catching up on some old episodes and listened to Episode 175 and the interview with the Hammer Nutrition ultra cyclist, Steve Born. Q1 – I'm hearing a seeming contradiction where you have talked regularly about fasting overnight and doing a morning session to promote fat burning based on a low glycogen state. In the interview he said that waking up you still have your muscle glycogen full and you are almost ready to race. (and, if racing, you only need 100-300 cals, which sounds very different to my belief that we are in a low glycogen state). Do I understand correctly? Q2 – he says on a long event you can get 2/3 of energy from fat. My understanding was that 20-40% is as high as you can expect, is this simply because the intensity is super low for ultra endurance?
Just wanted to know if you have any info on light olive oil vs extra virgin olive oil. I used to use the extra virgin but start to get nauseous so I been using light olive oil on my salads but did not know if this stuff was healthy.
I'm an ultrarunner trying to get rid of a nasty case of jock itch. I tried the toxic over-the-counter products, but it won't go away. Before I make a doctor's appointment, I want to see if you have any alternative ideas to deal with this. Because of my ultra running, I spend several hours in sweaty under armour – on a race day I may be in the same compression shorts for 24+ hours. I purchased Oil of Oregano from your site. I slathered it on last night and it burned like hell! It was like fire. Can you talk about J.I., how to use Oil of Oregano to treat it, and any other recommendations to get rid of it? Is it contagious to my girlfriend?
Is there any research that shows whether or not visualizing exercises will help physically strengthen an area of the body? I was thinking that since I cannot exercise my left leg, it still may be helpful to picture myself doing exercises, running and racing. What do you think?
~ In my response to Jenny, I recommend the book Psychocybernetics.
I recently saw an infomercial on YouTube for powercranks touting an improvement in running efficiency by using powercranks 30 min 3x per week. What are your thoughts about this?
~ You can find out more about my racing and training at Ben Greenfield's Triathlon Adventures
I am a mental health counselor and if I were 10 years younger, I would pursue a PhD in mental health nutrition. With this said, I was wondering if you would be willing to comment on your thoughts on our poor food choices and mental health. It is my hypothesis that of all the environmental stressors that we are exposed too, food leads the decline in mental health over the last 30 years. What are your thoughts on this? Also I work with the very poor and I am wondering what you would have to offer as advice to me to offer my clients who cannot make the greatest food choices due to limited income. It is my thought that there needs to be a paradigm shift on the individual client and family level. How would you initiate this shift?
~ In my response to Rob, I mention Primal Diet On A Shoestring.
In reference to carbs after exercise, about how many carbs should a 150 lb person consumer after a 1 hr weight training session or a 1 hr long run? After weight training I currently drink a protein shake, eat a turkey wrap and an apple. I also take 1 gram of L-Glutamine. After listening to the recent podcast, I am assuming it would be better to consume the shake at a different time of day and eat more carbs after weight training. Is this correct? Also, am I “wasting” the L-glutamine by taking it on weight training days and not running days. Can you give some examples of carbs that would be easy to take with me to consume after weight training?
~ In my response, I reference this article: Putting the Pre and Post-Workout Nutrition Debate Into the Grave!
The dreaded cramping question! I'm a competitive age group triathlete and I've been having cramping issues in races. I know the usual answer is your not training at the same intensities as I race at and/or you're not taking in enough nutrition/electrolytes. In my case, neither are the issue (I think). I train 15-18 hrs/week which includes a lot of intensity and I am spot on with my diet, training nutrition and race day nutrition. I take all of it very seriously, so when it comes to cramps I am stumped. The cramps can come on as early as the swim. Often I get them near the end of the bike though and almost guaranteed in the run. I never get them in 10k's or 5k's, just the longer stuff half marathons, olympic triathlons and especially half ironmans. Do I need to just load up on the salt tabs? Tweak in the diet? Race week I eat clean, take Hammer's “Race pre-load” stay hydrated, avoid coffee race day morning… HELP!!!