February 29, 2012
Introduction: In today’s Podcast, the effects of alcohol on your physical performance. Do booze and alcohol mix? Also, quick and healthy celiac foods, preparing for a “pump and run”, is MCT oil better than coconut oil, HIIT vs. Cardio, tips on Patellofemoral Syndrome, Seitan protein, lowering high blood pressure, exercise induced asthma, nocturnal penile tumescence from increased testosterone, and is Curves better than a traditional gym?
Brock: Hello! all you podcast people. This is Brock here with another episode of the BenGreenfieldFitness podcast. And once again, we apologize for last week’s hiatus. But hey Ben, why were we absent last week?
Ben: It’s because I can’t podcast from airplanes.
Brock: What’s wrong? What?
Ben: Basically. No, I was just very busy. I went over to the Team Timex Triathlon Camp and then over to a conference called Triathlon America. So, I was preoccupied. But I promised that that is an extremely rare occurrence. I think that happened just twice in the three years that this podcast has been going. So, don’t worry folks, we are not bailing on the podcast anytime soon.
Brock: No, definitely not. So, there were some pretty cool things you were doing with the Team Timex. Do you want to get into any of those things or direct people to some resources?
Ben: Well, I actually want to talk about that a little bit in today’s news flash in terms of hydration and electrolyte intake and what you really need. So, I’ll mention that later on. So, yes, I will give a few snippets here and there. So, in the mean time, I’m actually really full right now. And I haven’t eaten since right after dinner last night. And you know what I did was I took coconut manna. Have you ever heard of that?
Ben: It’s incredible.
Brock: Coconut manna?
Ben: It’s made by a company called Nutiva. And I mixed it with protein powder. Coconut manna is just basically coconut oil mixed with coconut meat. And man oh man, it was good. But I woke up this morning still full. So, if you need something to satiate your appetite, grab yourself some coconut manna. You can spread it on stuff. For me, I just broke some chunks off and mixed it with some protein powder. And man, I’d actually recommend it. It would definitely fall into the Super Human Food Pyramid that we have over at the website. So, check it out. What do you think? Shall we launch into the special announcements?
Brock: Here we go.
Brock: Alright, special announcements. So, since it has been a couple of weeks, there’s a lot of stuff going on at BenGreenfieldFitness.com.
Ben: Yeah. I’ve been keeping up with putting up some articles, some things I’ve wanted to write about and actually had some time to sit on an airplane or sit on an airport and write. One of the things that I get asked quite a bit about by women who are going to have a baby or by their husbands is how they can keep their course strong because a lot of times you hear that you’re not supposed to do crunches which is true. So, I published a cheap cheat for getting your abs back after you have a baby. It’s essentially all the core exercises that you can do that you never read about anywhere else but that are acceptable. I tell you which trimester or pregnancies their acceptable for. But I recommend checking out that article for sure once you head over to BenGreenfieldFitness.com. I also wrote about the deodorant that I used and why I used it. I use a brand called Everyman Jack. And I wrote about what you need to consider when using deodorant because in a lot of folks out there, men and women, use deodorant. And there are some things to think about when you use it. So, read the article about whether or not you’re creating a chemical cocktail in your armpits.
Brock: That just sounds awful.
Ben: It does. The last one that I recommend folks to check out is four reasons to do cardio while you’re at the gym, weight training. There are some pretty good reasons to do it from hormonal to metabolic reasons. So, check out that article as well. So, a few things that I would recommend you read over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com. And you can just go to the website and check those out anytime.
Brock: Do it.
Ben: What else is going on? The official dates have been set for a double triathlon adventure which myself and a fellow coach Gram Turner are leading over to Thailand. That’s not until this winter folks. So, you got lots of time to prepare. Think about it this way, you only live once and this is the adventure of a lifetime. It is a fun time. And we’ll put in the trip together. I’ll put a link in the show notes. We’re probably only going to be taking 12 people total on that trip. So, if you want to go, get signed up. This is one of those things you got to start planning for early in terms of work, plane flights, everything else. So, check it out. Start to set aside a few bucks and it is well-worth the trip. So, I’ll put a link in the show notes.
Brock: I’m trying to use your justification of you only live once to spend the money on it because it sounds so cool.
Ben: It would be cool to have Brock along in Thailand. Then the last thing is, if you are a coach of any sport or you’re a personal trainer or you work with people to enhance their performance then send me your e-mail address. I’ll put my e-mail address in the show notes to this podcast. But it is [email protected]. I have something I want to mail to you. I am going to be, over the course of this year, teaching others to do what I do, teaching some of the modules that will make you an expert when it comes to enhancing human performance. And I’ll be taking on a small group of folks to teach that to. And the first people to write me in, I’ve essentially got 50 post cards sitting on my desk. So, the first 50 mailing addresses I get or the first 50 people that are going to get into this thing. So, that’s it. Those are all the special announcements.
Brock: That is more than enough. What are you drinking?
Brock: Me, too.
Brock: Okay. So, Twitter.com/BenGreenfield is as usual very active and exciting. What do you want to highlight?
Ben: Well, I actually have three tweets that I actually want to bring up that I tweeted this week that I think folks would find valuable. The first is that, it turns out that even though hydration experts will tell you that you’re pretty much screwed during something like a run or a marathon or an endurance event if you lose three percent or more of your body weight. I came across an article that verifies that you can indeed lose up to about ten percent of your body weight and still do something like win a marathon. This was actually a study that the marathon runner who won Haile Gebrselassie. He lost ten percent of his body mass due to dehydration during his World Record Marathon run. And this is about three times more or more than three times more what people say that you should be able to lose in terms of your body mass due to dehydration. And he still did just fine. And if you looked at Ironman champions, Marathon champions, people around the globe who are doing well in endurance events, they’re finishing dehydrated. Now, I personally did this, this sweat sodium test in which they measured the amount of salt that I lost. And they measured the amount of fluid that I lost. And I lose about two liters of fluid per hour and about two grams of sodium per hour. And I was advised by the researcher to drink two liters of water an hour to replace what I was losing. So, I didn’t lose body mass. And my jaw out-dropped that this would be recommended to me. But what it comes out to folks and I’ll be writing an article, a more comprehensive article about this over at my get fit guy website. What this comes out to is that no matter what you find out when it comes out to how much you’re losing in terms of water, how much you’re losing in terms of salt, you really don’t need to worry about replacing all of that during exercise. And even during something like a marathon, you can finish in what might be considered to be a very dehydrated state and you’re still alright. And one of the mechanisms that have been proposed for that being the case is that basically you’re body can compensate for the reduction in blood volume that happens when you lose water. And essentially what happens is your veins can constrict or contract. And that shortens the actual loop that blood has to travel through when it is going from the heart to your muscles. You can get by on less blood as your blood volume drops. Your body has this compensatory mechanism. And so, in just the same way that when you are sweating a lot of sodium, your kidneys will release hormones that cause you to retain more sodium, lose less in your urine, and conserve sodium stores. Your body also has a mechanism to keep you relatively safe when you’re getting into a dehydrated state during exercise. So, it’s just something I wanted to alert people to. When you see me out there doing sweat sodium tests and fluid loss tests and sodium loss tests, it doesn’t mean that I’m trying to find that out so that I can replace everything I’m losing. For me, it was just an interesting scientific experiment.
Brock: That is really interesting. When Geb finished huge marathon win, he didn’t look worse or wear either. It wasn’t like he crossed the finish line and immediately started guzzling tons and tons of water or anything. He actually celebrated for quite a while and looked absolutely fine.
Ben: Granted that he is a very small person.
Brock: He is, yeah.
Ben: Life hacker had a great article this weekend. How to hack your brain to use cravings to your advantage because I know that people struggle like carbohydrate cravings, food cravings, and the like because I’ve had many questions come into this show about that. I thought this was a good article. And the article starts off by explaining where cravings originate from and how they are tied to their reward processing center in your brain. And then it goes into some very good, in my opinion, recommendations for controlling those cravings. Basically, what happens is when you’re craving something your reward system in your brain identifies the target that you’re craving and causes the brain to release dopamine. And when that happens and you don’t give yourself the thing that’s causing the dopamine release, your body releases stress hormones. And those make you feel discomfort or pain. And that basically tricks your body into thinking that the only way to stay safe is to succumb to the craving. And so, the solution for that kind of laid out in the article which I do recommend that you read in detail is that you re-hardwire your brain to convince your brain that the thing you’re craving is actually dangerous or is going to be more of a hassle for you to access. And what that can do is not only reduce the amount of dopamine that your brain is going to release but it’s also going to reduce the stress response that your body has when it can’t get that thing that you’re craving. The article goes into much more detail about changing your environment or altering your environment to remove some of the craving triggers to replace some of the craving triggers with things that may train your body to have a dopamine release instead of the thing that you’re craving. It’s something simpler as replacing pop-tarts in your pantry with fruit. But essentially, it teaches you how to alter your reward system. So, I will link to that article in the show notes. I’ll link to it in the tweet that I put out earlier this week. But I recommend that you read it. And it’s actually related to the other article that I wanted to talk about which is that sugar or basically, sugar from fruit doesn’t make you fat. And this was an article which was on WholeHealthSource.blogspot.com. And it went into how the issue with foods that have sugar in them is not necessarily the calories in the sugar or some magical biochemical thing that the sugar does in your body. But rather, it’s the issue of the sugar being highly palatable, having the propensity to cause that dopamine release. And that’s kind of the biggest issue when it comes to consuming sugar based foods. And if you are able to control your access to or control your reward response to sugar, it’s really not going to be as much of an issue whether it’s from food based sources or sugar based sources when it comes to your actual weight. The other little gym that I found in that article was that even though fructose intake which is a form of sugar form things like soda in the food wasn’t really associated with total body fatness or your body weight. There are other things going on above and beyond weight like a re-distribution of body fat to your visceral belly fat which is the stuff that makes you most prone to chronic disease, insulin resistance, increased inflammation, and higher blood pressure, all of the things that would be normally associated with metabolic syndrome. So, while it may be that sugar doesn’t make you fat per say, there are certainly a lot of other issues to consider that go above and beyond fatness.
Brock: And so, it was the study differentiating, I missed the connection between the fruit and the sodas and stuff. Was it saying that the fruit was okay? It didn’t actually contribute to that overall?
Ben: Yeah. There’s a big difference between fruit and soda even though both have fructose. Soda is the only item that’s actually been directly linked to creating to a lot of these metabolic syndrome issues.
Brock: Yeah, I got you.
Ben: So, an interesting read. Obviously going it quickly in a news flash doesn’t quite do the article much justice. So, I’ll link to it at BenGreenfieldFitness.com. But those are the things that you should check out this week. And that’s it. So, what do you think Q and A?
Listener Q and A:
Brock: Okay. So, we’ve got almost an entire show of audio questions. People are really getting on the bandwagon and calling. And remember, if you do want to leave an audio question, you can call toll free to 18772099439 or you can Skype to Pacificfit just like all these people have.
Ben: We’d love to hear your voices.
Brock: Look at you. It’s because we get tired of hearing our own voices. But the first voice we are going to hear is Joe.
Joe says: Ben and Brock, welcome to the show guys. This is Joe again. I have a question for you. A.) concerns the fact that recently there was no us fully men out there that whether or not red wine glass every night is good for your or bad for you. My girlfriend Sally is injured from heart issues. So, we’ve been trying to do that over the past month. Now, we’ve been also trying to vary throwing in different drinks in there whether or not it’s red wine or white wine, cortisol, beer. I was curious. What are your thoughts on alcohol during the training/racing season? How much, how often, what should I stay away from, kind of questions like that. Thanks Ben. Have a great day guys.
Brock: This question actually goes really hand in hand with the question from Brendan who wanted to know specifically more about beer. He says he only drinks on weekends and he only drinks for a safe number per day. So, I think we can probably mix these questions all into one big answer.
Ben: Yeah. Apparently, we have a lot of boozers that listen in.
Brock: And I put them first because I’m curious too.
Ben: Let me start by saying that I personally do drink. I typically average about two drinks per week. For me, it is usually wine. I do not really like beer. I am not a big fan of the fact most beers are derived from wheat either because it is something I’ve been trying to reduce in my life. But when it comes to alcohol in general, there are a couple of things you need to understand. First of all, from a body weight stand point, alcohol reduces your lipid oxidation, your fat oxidation by about 70 percent. And the way that it does this is when you consume alcohol, it passes through your stomach and into your intestines and into your blood stream. And it goes into your liver. And in the liver, there’s an enzyme. And it’s called alcohol dehydrogenate. And that converts alcohol into a molecule called acetaldehyde. And acetaldehyde is converted to another compound called acetate. Now, what happens is that that acetate is preferentially burnt as a fuel over and above fats, carbohydrates, etc. So essentially, you shut down any fat oxidation that’s going on as your body preferentially begins to burn acetate instead. Now, in conjunction with that, you need to realize that alcohol is very dense calorically. So, at the same time that you’re shutting down fat oxidation, you are bumping up the amount of calories that you consume. Alcohol is about seven calories per gram. In contrast to that, protein is about four calories per gram. Carbohydrate is about four calories per gram. And fat is higher. Fat is nine calories per gram. But you generally don’t drink fat at least not if you are a normal person. So, the issue is that alcohol is very easy to consume high amounts of because it is something that you drink. And you need to understand that it is nearly twice as many calories per volume than protein or carbohydrate. And it shuts down your oxidation of fats. From a weight loss stand point which is directly tied to performance if you are looking at power to weight ratio and the amount of fat that you’re carrying around in your body. That’s one issue with alcohol. In addition to that, alcohol would be considered fairly empty calories. We could certainly say that something like red wine has nutrients in it. It has some anti-oxidants in it. And even those as we know for the recent scandal that happened last year. It turns out that red wine isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be in terms of its therapeutic effects. There are lower calorie ways to get that nutrient density than by drinking alcohol. So if you are drinking alcohol for the pure anti-oxidant effect, there are much better ways to get anti-oxidants into your system. Alcohol actually can lower your protein synthesis by about 20 percent. So if you are consuming alcohol, one of the reasons for that is it can dehydrate your muscle cells. And the hydration of a muscle cell is directly tied to its anabolic potential. It’s potential to actually grow or help to make you stronger. So, because your cells aren’t holding as much water, it can harder for you to build muscle. It can also get harder for you to properly absorb many of the nutrients that are keys to muscle contraction like calcium and phosphorus and magnesium, iron and potassium, and all these things that are crucial to ideal performance. So, alcohol is going to come at you that way as well. Alcohol can lower testosterone. And it can increase estrogen. So, the way that it does that is we’ve talked about on the show before about how testosterone can get converted into estrogen through a process called aromatization. And alcohol can increase the rate at which that occurs. There have been studies that have shown that when blood alcohol levels are at their highest, testosterone levels are at their lowest. And where a lot of that testosterone is going is its getting aromatized into estrogens. That’s why a lot of times you’ll see that, especially males who do a lot of drinking, they get gynecomastia. They get man-boobs over a period of time. And that’s directly linked to alcohol consumption. And there are other things that we talked about in the previous episode that can cause that. But alcohol is a big issue. So, the other thing about alcohol is it can reduce insulin like growth factor which is another anabolic muscle building recovery type of hormone. So, you reduce your insulin like growth factor. And you inhibit your ability to recover properly, to synthesize protein and to repair muscles. So, there are of course positive benefits of alcohol.
Brock: Oh, I was just going to say dude you’re killing me. There’s got to be something good about this.
Ben: Sure. There are positive social benefits. There’s the relaxation benefit. Both of those are tied to longevity and happiness. And so, those are certainly important parts of life if you’re always towards the point to the end of the competition a marathon, or a five-k or triathlon. But you really aren’t enjoying your life because you’re never getting out and hanging out with friends and that type of thing. Then yeah, that’s something to consider. And the other thing is that when I’m saying these things about alcohol, I’m generally talking about something that goes above and beyond moderate consumption. So for example, a glass of beer or a glass of wine or even a shot if you’re having a shot of your favorite whiskey on the rocks, that’s really not going to be an issue if you’re doing that once or twice a week. I wouldn’t do it the night before a very important workout just because it does have effects. We’re looking for every advantage possible. But ultimately, the issue of alcohol becomes when you’re engaging in something like a bender every couple of weeks where you’re out partying late into the night drinking copious amounts of alcohol. Or even doing what I know a lot of people do when I am going through people’s food logs or during nutritional analysis. And that’s even something like, in many cases, two or three glasses of wine four to five times a week. More people do that than you would think. And in my opinion, that is consumption of alcohol. That’s a level that could cause some of these issues that I talked about. So in terms of total amounts of alcohol that I would recommend that you consume when you’re in training or in racing season, somewhere in the range of about two maximum around four drinks a week would be reasonable and really not cause a lot of the issues that I talked about especially if you’re spreading those out. So, four drinks all at once, no but a glass of wine on maybe a Wednesday night and again on Saturday and Sunday, not a issue.
Brock: You know, I know a lot of the runners that I coached in the last few years use sort of a big training day like their long slow distance run on Saturday or Sunday as an excuse to actually have a bit of a celebration and have a few drinks. Is there a reason why you shouldn’t do that? Is it going to take away from the big workout that you just did?
Ben: From a purely physical point, it will inhibit your performance. But we need to be realistic here and understand that life goes above and beyond the physical standpoint. And the social enjoyment, the dopamine release, the mental satisfaction that you may get from sitting back and enjoying a couple of beers after a nice hard run may outweigh any positive physical benefits when it comes to your total happiness and longevity. So, that’s what it comes down to. But yes, if you want to get every performance advantage as possible, then yeah you do kind of live like a monk and completely avoid alcohol. And that’s just the completely honest question. I’m not saying that you should do that. I personally don’t. But if you really wanted every advantage possible, you would.
Brock: Fair enough. Okay. Our next question is another audio question. And it comes from an anonymous listener.
Anonymous: Hi Ben. I’ve got a message for the podcast. I’m calling in to enquire about quick and healthy options for refueling post-running race. I’m almost calm in distance that I run in five-k. And I’ve been developing the propensity of getting very nauseas and faint-post via running races. And I can typically alleviate these ailments by eating potato chips and some banana and some sports drink. But I’m looking for a healthier option because I typically follow a more whole-foods diet and don’t eat such processed foods. Now, pertinent to this question may also that I’m chopping off my glycogen stores the night before the sweet potatoes and stuff. And the day of the race, I’m typically eating a piece of whole grain toast with peanut butter and banana and some water before. Other details maybe that I’m about a 16-minute five-k runner. I’m 29 years old. I’m a male. I’m 40 pounds. I’m about 5’6. I’m about five percent body fat. And one thing that maybe pertinent is I do have chromosome disease. Alright, thank you very much and have a good one guys. Bye.
Ben: I think this is an interesting question especially because of the mention of the celiac issue and then going on to describe how there’s peanut butter and banana and toast being consumed prior to the actual workout or prior to the actual race. And I’m assuming that if celiac disease despises that this would still be like gluten free toast or something of that nature. But there are better things that you could fuel with prior to an event if you have celiac disease. And for example, something like a potato-based starch would burn a lot cleaner and have lower amounts of fats and proteins just because that peanut butter that you’re getting. So, it’s going to digest more quickly with less blood in the gut, probably less propensity if you’re feeling nauseas and faint. But I would look at this on a deeper level especially if celiac disease is present. And look at whether or not the gut is actually in a state where it’s properly absorbing the foods that you’re eating. Or whether or not the gut is in a state where it is not digesting properly and causing some undigested food particles to cross through the intestinal wall and through the blood stream, cause some inflammation and some of the things that would actually cause you to feel nauseas or faint after a hard event. So, you may want to go on a dietary protocol that could help to heal your gut. Probably the most popular for a protocol like this is something called the GAPS diet. GAPS stand for Gut and Psychology Syndrome. And this was a diet created by a physician named Natasha Campbell-McBride. And it’s a style of eating that enhances your digestive healing especially if you’ve been eating the wrong type of foods, maybe you have celiac disease but you’ve not been eating super clean. So, there is some digestive damage that has occurred that needs to be healed. Basically, the GAPS diet starts off with eliminating a lot of the things that are going to be an issue, gluten wheat, and things of that nature. But more specifically, there are certain supplements that you take on that diet as well. For example, you take a very effective therapeutic strength probiotic. It’s a really high quality probiotic that has as many different bacterial strains in it as possible. For example, the folks on this show or the listeners of this show may have heard me before recommend the probiotic made by Mt. Capra. That’s one example of one that would fall into this category. They are Caprobiotics plus. That’s a mixture of strains from a bunch of different forms or a bunch of different groups of probiotic bacteria. So, that’s the first thing that you’d want to do in addition to making sure that you’re eliminating gluten and wheat and adhering to the list of recommended foods in something like the GAPS diet is taking a really effective therapeutic strength probiotic. Another thing that is recommended on the GAPS diet is an essential fatty acid. This can also help to heal the gut. Generally, you’ll want to use really good fish oil technically with a really high rate of EPA and DHA. So, this is going to be a triglyceride based fish oil. Brands I like are Pharmax. Another brand is Super Essentials. And this is advice that anyone can use who is having gut issues, digestive issues, ulcer issues, irritable bowel syndrome, that type of thing. But getting essential fatty acids in your diet, really focusing a lot of the roasted seeds and nuts, vegetable oils, things with high amounts of omega six, and choosing more along the lines of the omega three fish based oil, fish capsules, fish oil capsule, things of that nature. And then also, a good high quality cod liver oil. I’m a fan of the Nordic Naturals cod liver oil to give you not only your EPA and DHA which are those essential fatty acids that can help to heal your gut. But also, vitamin A and vitamin D because vitamin A deficiency can cause digestive problems and cod liver oil can help out with that. So, typically leaky gut and being able to absorb foods very well are the result of the vitamin A deficiency. And so, just taking about three to four tablespoons or so of the cod liver oil on a daily basis can help out quite a bit with that. Pancreatic enzymes or what are called digestive enzyme, you’d want to start in with those. You can do literally two before every meal of the day. Similar to the probiotics that I recommend, I like the digestive enzymes made by Mt. Capra. They’re called Caprazymes. It has a really good spectrum of digestive enzymes so you can take those. In a healthy digestive track, the pancreas is going to naturally produce those. But a lot of people including myself, I was recently tested, tend to be deficient in digestive enzymes as I belch.
Brock: That’s you belching up some kombucha.
Ben: Yeah, exactly. Excuse me. But basically, taking a digestive enzyme can really help. And hand in hand with that, you may have a little bit of an issue with normal stomach acidity. So, a lot of times combining a digestive enzyme with something like a hydrochloric acid supplement can give a really good one- two punch in terms of your ability to digest foods more efficiently which can indirectly assist with gut healing. And then the last thing you’d want to look into is that your gut contains the greatest surface area of your body that is exposed to things like toxins. And I would really recommend that you be careful eating processed foods, packaged foods that have been exposed to plastics, trying to keep your house as chemical free as possible. So, avoiding lots of new carpets, paint, stuff like that. Getting some good plants in your house, those are really good at reducing toxic air. It consumes a lot of toxic gases and basically just put out oxygen. So, I would look at some lifestyle changes that detoxify what’s around you as well. And all of those things put together could help to heal your gut. I know it’s a lot different from what you expected me to say just like eat an extra gel before the race. But the fact that you mentioned celiac, that definitely suggest me that there maybe some deeper issues going on than just like low blood sugar.
Brock: Yeah. Feeling nauseas and faint after a hard effort is not an unusual thing. But some of the things that he mentioned, I’ll put together due point something a little bit different than just that was a really hard effort.
Ben: Right, exactly.
Brock: Okay, cool. Our next audio question comes from Andrea.
Andrea says: Hey Ben and Brock, this is Andrea from Denver. I’m calling in for some advice on an event I have coming up in a couple of weeks. So, hopefully you can get to this in time. It’s a five-k pump and run where you have to bench press a percentage of your weight and then run a five-k race. For every rep up to 30 reps, you get 30-seconds off your five-k time. So, it’s actually possible to take off 15 minutes. On the day of the event, they have an athlete weigh in and the bench press between seven and nine a.m. And then the race is at 10:30. So, my question is about nutrition. I feel like I want to be as light as I could for the weigh in without compromising strength. I know that leading up to a competition, body builders will often go low carb. But I wasn’t sure how much of that was for the look more so than for the actual weight. And then of course, I want to make sure that I have the right fuel for a fast five-k time. So, I’m curious what you would suggest. Thanks guys.
Ben: I thought this event sounded pretty cool because I mean if you can get 30 seconds taken off your five-k time for every rep of bench press that you do.
Ben: I mean, really prioritizing the bench press is way more important in my opinion in this test. And I assume that the amount of bench press that you do is based off of your body weight obviously if you are weighing in. So first of all, to answer Andrea’s question about body builders, yes, body builders do have to weigh in. And then they have a short period of time to be looking really good posing on stage. So, one of the things that body builders do or people who are going to pose on the cover of a magazine or even just want to look good with their shirt off at the beach would be that you can go on basically a very low carbohydrate diet. And what it does is it flushes a lot of your muscle’s storage glycogen out. And since glycogen or storage carbohydrate carries up to four times its weight in water, you lose a lot of water weight as well. And you enhance more the amount of water weight that you lose by doing something like taking a diuretic like Dandelion Root Extract. Or this is another strategy that can be used by drinking a whole bunch of water for about three to four days up to 48-hours prior to your event and then lowering water intake. And what happens is when you’re drinking a whole bunch of water your kidneys learn to excrete a whole bunch of water. And when you stop drinking as much water your kidneys continue to excrete much water. So, essentially what you’re doing is you’re draining your body of carbohydrate. You’re draining your body of water. And arriving at the weigh in with as little carbohydrate and as little water as possible. And then the trick is that you have to replace all that because it does give your muscles an empty look. So, then you have to eat a whole bunch of carbohydrate so your muscles fill out. And then drink a bunch of water so your weight goes back up. And in a body building competition, you typically have and it depends on the competition, but sometimes you’ve got a couple of hours, sometimes you’ve got the entire day to do that. So, a lot of the times body builders would have a weight in the morning and then go eat pizza and bread all day to get as much glycogen in the muscles as possible. Come back, drink a little wine, and eat some chocolate so you get that vasodilation effect. Those are two things you’ll see a lot of times in the back stage of a body building show are people drinking wine and eating dark chocolate. And then you go out on stage, you’ve got the carbohydrates and the water filling up your muscle. You’ve got the vasodilation from the chocolate and wine. And it makes you look pretty good. The issue with using the strategy of dehydration in low carbohydrate intake before a bench press is that there may not be enough time for you to actually restore your muscle glycogen to a high enough level to where you’d have a really good performance in the bench press. You could probably do it by the time you get to the race later on. But since the bench press is so important here, I wouldn’t really focus too much on dehydrating yourself and going on the low carbohydrate diet for the bench press. I think that that is going to hurt you more than it helps you to be focusing on the weight aspect of this just because the two things that you can do to reduce your weight and lowering the carbohydrate and lowering the water intake also reduces the muscle contractile potential. So instead, I would just eat normally. I would take care of your body. I would have a couple of sweet potatoes or yams two hours before. Make sure you’re not over eating in the days leading up but that you’re also making sure that you eat adequately, that you take care of your body. And then focus on doing things that are going to help you to bench press a ton of weight or not a ton of weight but really a decent amount of weight as many times as possible. So fist of all, you’ll want to warm up well before that bench press. So, about ten minutes before, do some push ups. If you have access to a bench, do some light bench pressing. You’ll want to finish all this up about four to five minutes prior to your actual bench press event so that your muscles have a period of time to be able to restore creatine and restore some of the glycogen. But you do want to warm up. Do go in a bench press event cold. Don’t do static stretching because that will reduce the potential of the muscle to produce a force. But you can do some arm swings, some arm circles, do some push ups, do some light bench pressing and get some blood flow into that chest. When you get down on the bench to do your bench press, plant your feet firmly against the ground because being able to push your feet against the ground is going to help you be able to bench more. Don’t put your feet up on the bench. Don’t let your feet rest lightly on the ground. You really plant them into the ground. When you grip the bar, grip the bar hard. Then Brock you may have heard this before, I don’t know if you have, when you shake somebody’s hand. When you make a fist with your other hand, it helps you have a more firm hand shake.
Brock: No. I haven’t heard that.
Ben: It’s a trick you can use for a lot of stuff. The tighter you grip your hands, the more force you’re able to produce with other parts of your body. So, grip the bar really hard. Like white knuckle it. And in terms of where to grab that bar, here’s a simple rule for you. When you’re grabbing the bar to bench press, line your thumbs up above your shoulders, extend your thumbs. So, make sure that your thumbs aren’t tucked in like fists. But extend your thumbs. And the end of your thumb should line up with the outside of your shoulders. So essentially what you’re doing is you’re putting each hand about a thumb’s length to the outside of each shoulder. That’s going to put you in about the whip of holding the bar. That’s going to allow you to produce the most force. Now, here’s another trick. This is stuff when I interned at University of Idaho in the strength and conditioning program and also did an internship with the NFL. One of the things for the combine is to bench press 225 pounds as many times as possible. So, this is a trick that a lot of players would use. You breathe in and out deeply several times really fast right before lift off. So, that saturates your lungs with oxygen and allows you to hold your breath for a longer period of time because even though you’re not supposed to hold your breath or make it a habit of holding your breath during exercise, it helps out quite a bit with the bench press. So, you’re going to breathe in and out several times really fast. And then you’re going to hold your breath and you’re going to take the biggest breath possible, unrack the weight and then start doing your reps as fast and explosively as possible. So, that bar is bouncing off your chest and you have your breath held the whole time. And you’re just lifting and lifting and lifting and lifting as many reps as you can possibly do until you’re blue in the face. It sounds kind of dangerous. It is slightly dangerous. It’s something you don’t want to do everyday at the gym. But you should be able to take so many 30 seconds off of your five-k time that you just rock the thing. Okay? So, don’t focus on the weight. Focus on your bench press form and taking care of your body so your muscles aren’t all weak and noodle-y from dehydration and low carbohydrate when you go to the bench press. And then just max out the bench press. So, as soon as you finish, have some more carbohydrates, have some gel or sports drink. And that’ll top off your glycogen stores. You can have another gel before you start with that five-k run. But that’s what I would do if I was doing this pump and run.
Brock: And make sure you let us know how it goes. I’m totally just enthralled of this.
Ben: I would love to have her comment and find out.
Brock: So, please leave us a note when the event is over.
Ben: By the way, what podcast episode is this Brock?
Brock: This is number 184.
Ben: Okay, cool. So, anything we talk about folks, we’ll put a link to in podcast number 184.
Brock: Okay. So, onto the next audio question that comes from Chuck.
Chuck says: Hey Ben, this is Chuck. Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot about MCT Oil. And I know that’s what’s found in coconut oil. And I know you’re a big fan of it. As am I for all the health benefits that it has. But I wanted to find out a little bit more about strictly MCT Oil like I guess would be a derivative of coconut oil. What I’ve heard is that it’s only some of the medium change triglyceride strands that are found in coconut oil. And it uses energy for the body quicker and get more readily absorbed than coming from just a coconut oil itself. I’ve wanted you to talk about this a little bit and explain if using MCT Oil would be worth it or coconut oil is fine. And if you do recommend MCT Oil, is it something that you could cook with like a coconut oil? Or is it something you’d want to take as a supplement and not cook with? So, I just want to get your opinion on that. And I really appreciate any feedback. And also the podcast is awesome. I recommend it to all my family and friends. So, I hope you keep it up man. And I hope you’re going well. Thanks.
Ben: MCT Oil. It’s interesting stuff and Chuck wants to know if it’s different from coconut oil. And it is a little bit different from coconut oil. So basically, coconut oil is a mix of different chains of fats. So, you’ve got everything from Lauric acid which is one of the prime components of coconut oil. That’s the one that has the really great anti-viral effect. Capryc acid, Caprylic acid, and each of these different acids are fatty acids. And they have different lengths. They’re made up of different chains. And the longer the chain of fatty acid, the harder it is for the body to absorb that actual fatty acid. So, the longer period of time it’s going to take for your body to actually take it and convert it into usable energy. Now, what you can do is you can fractionate coconut oil which means that you take the long chain fraction which would be the Lauric acid. And you remove that. Basically fractionate the coconut oil. And you leave just the medium chain acids which are the Caprylic and Capryc acids. And those make up the bulk of the oil. And that’s what medium chain triglyceride oil is. It’s fractionated coconut oil. And what happens when you remove the Lauric acid is you do remove some of the health effects of the coconut oil because you don’t have much of the anti-viral benefit that a coconut oil actually has. That’s one of the benefits of the Lauric acid. But you do increase the metabolic availability of the fats that are in the coconut oil. And so, studies have technically shown that when you replace vegetable oils with a medium chain triglyceride type of oil, it does satiate appetite and allow people to lose weight more quickly. It also increases levels of what are called adiponectin which is a hormone that is released by your fat cells. That is associated with increased ability to lose weight. So, we’ve got these Medium Chain Triglycerides since they’re separated from the long chain fatty acids or the longer chained fatty acids in coconut oil going directly into the cell wall. And being available is a fast and easy energy source, something you can use before a workout, that type of thing. So, you do lose some of the health benefits of coconut oil. But you increase some of the energy benefits. And this would be for example if you were, before a long bike ride, going to choose between a coconut oil and Medium Chain Triglyceride oil, technically the medium chain triglyceride oil is going to sit in your stomach a little less long. It’s going to get absorbed and going to be available more quickly as energy. The benefits though not only haven’t been studied in terms of performance benefits of Medium Chained Triglyceride oil versus coconut oil. But you’re also paying way more for Medium Chain Triglyceride oil. And in my opinion, so much more that it’s not even worth any slightly extra advantage you might get. So Medium Chain Triglyceride oil is going to be, it depends where you get it, but it can be about four to five times more expensive than coconut oil. It has, because the chains in it are slightly shorter, it has a slightly lower smoke point. And you could cook with it and it’d still be fairly stable oil. But the stuff costs so much that I really wouldn’t recommend that you use it for cooking. So ultimately, I think that the benefits of it are blown out of proportion. Unless you’re somebody who uses coconut oil to fuel your workouts in which case you’d get a little bit better digestive tolerance with using Medium Chain Triglyceride oil. But I think its move point. I think that this stuff is blown out of proportion in terms of its benefit especially with its expense.
Ben: But Coconut Manna. Oh man! Did I mention Coconut Manna?
Brock: I believe you did. I think I’m going to go and find some of that stuff. So, are you still satiated? Are you still really hungry?
Ben: No. I’m fine. I feel great.
Brock: Alright. We’ll see how you are doing by the end of the show.
Ben: If you hear packages start to open on this end and me stirring things and you hear the microwave turn on or something like that, that’s a sign that I’m giving in.
Brock: Alright. Okay, onto the next question of Jean Luc.
Jean Luc: Hi Ben, there’s a question for your podcast by Jean Luc from Montreal. I’ve read the transcript regarding the run hard versus run long. I was wondering if there was any easy formula to translate a long run to a hard run in training. Is it advisable to convert many long runs into a hard and shorter run? Thank you and goodbye.
Ben: So, an easy formula to translate short and fast intervals to long and slow. I know Jean Luc was a little hard to understand there. But basically what he is asking is we know that interval training is really beneficial. You fit really fast. But how much faster does it make you fit? How much shorter of a period of time can you workout if you’re doing high intensity interval training versus if you’re doing a long slow distance session. And this has been studied. And for example, there was a study. It was in the Journal of Physiology. And what it found was that two and a half hours of sprint interval training on a weekly basis produce similar biochemical changes in the muscle to ten and a half hours of endurance training along with similar performance benefits as you would have gotten from ten and a half hours of endurance training. Now, that figure puts us at about 25 percent. What that would mean when you flush it out is that for example, a 30-minute session of high intensity interval training like 60-second sprints on the treadmill separated by four recovery periods for 30 minutes is going to just as good as going out and doing a two hour long slow run. There are other studies. One study that was done by Tabata who came up with the Tabata protocol if you may know of that, it’s like the four minutes of 20 seconds hard, 10 seconds easy and another study by a guy named Tremblé. Both of those found comparable advantages in terms of you needing a significantly less and about four times less effort or volume spent with interval training versus aerobic training to get similar benefits. So, the answer is about 25 percent. But one thing that you do need to bear in mind is that we’re just talking about muscle changes and endurance changes. We’re not talking about bone. And that’s something, in my opinion, is somewhat neglected when you talk about training for a marathon or training for an Ironman or something like that using just high intensity interval training because pounding the pavement for two and a half or three hours is much different on your bone than doing 30 minutes of interval on the treadmill. And I think that during the event, you could be at a significantly increased risk of something like a stress fracture or a bony joint injury if you’ve never actually gone anything close to the distance that you’re going to be doing during the event. So, my recommendation is to use high intensity interval training during in the lead up to something like say a marathon. But you’re still going to want to do one of those long slow efforts once every seven to 14 days. I would be doing something where you’re getting anywhere from 50 to 100 percent of the total distance that you plan on traveling during the actual event.
Ben: And by the way, did I tell you I signed up for the New York Marathon?
Brock: You didn’t mention it. But I did see that on twitter or something like that.
Brock: I did the New York Marathon a couple of years ago. It was quite a thing.
Ben: For me, it’s a few weeks after Ironman Hawaii. So, I’m not planning on doing anything except shuffling through. But I think it’ll be fun.
Brock: It will be fun. Alright, our next question comes from John.
John says: Hi Ben, John here. I hope you’re doing well. I been diagnosed with Patellofemoral syndrome and have some pain at the left side of up my knee. So, it’s the lateral side. I haven’t been able to swim or bike or even doing the weights and stuff like that and even actually climbing stairs seems to hurt it. So, I’ve essentially stopped everything until I find out how to fix it without injuring myself further. I’ve had a physiotherapist actually tape in. It feels as though there’s nothing wrong with it at all which has been really great. And I’ve also ordered a more permanent brace of the core flex knee tracker to deal with the basic stuff. But I have two questions for you. Do you have any suggestions on trying to heal this faster? The physio has had me doing some exercises. But I’m not really too confident with him as during the initial assessment he wanted me to do some pretty deep squats. But if you have any ideas on how to heal this up, that would be great. And just I guess if you’re going to suggest some exercises when I actually wear the brace while I’m doing the exercise or should I give it a little bit of a workout. I’m really not sure what I should be doing here.
Brock: Oh, good old runners knee.
Ben: Yeah. And I’m glad that John was able to get it taped with Kinesio tape because that stuff can do a really good job at keeping the knee tracking properly. It sounds like in John’s case and this is often the case in Patellofemoral syndrome is that the knee doesn’t track properly in the femoral groove. And it’ll either go too far to the outside of the knee which is more common or sometimes too far to the inside of the knee. But that results in the rubbing of the patella against cartilage or a bone on bone type of effect. And that results in the pain. So, the taping is certainly a temporary way to alleviate the issue and keep the knee tracking properly. The brace is like taping on steroids. It just covers the entire knee and really keeps the knee tracking properly. But these are really temporary fixes. Now, John did mention the different type of tape. And he mentioned rock tape. I’ll put a link to that in the show notes. But that is the type of tape that he would be able to put on swim with. As long as when you put the tape on you rub it which puts on the glue that connects the tape to the skin. It’ll stay on. And you’ll see a lot of folks, for example, doing an ironman triathlon and doing the swim portion of it and having Kinesio tape on certain sections of their body to kind of keep injured joints in place. And a lot of the times they’re using for example the rock tape. So, I’ll link to an interview that I did with a guy who invented rock tape. But again, it’s kind of a temporary solution. And what I would do to speed up healing and decrease some of the inflammation is in addition to what you’re already doing like light levels of physical activity and some physical therapy. I would certainly use an oral like a bone healing anti-inflammatory supplement. I personally would use something like CapraFlex. That’s one I’ve talked about before in the show before. It would be something you’d do like three in the morning, three in the afternoon, and three in the evening. CapraFlex has a bunch of really good anti-inflammatory and bone building compounds in it. I would also, when you sleep, get something that’s going to increase blood flow as you’re sleeping which can enhance healing a little bit. I would recommend either a magnetic wrap around your knee or an infrared wrap. Either of those can increase your circulation so, infrared or magnet. It’s easy to get hands on one of those. And you can just wrap it around your knee and sleep with it around your knee. The most important thing here though is going to strengthening the muscles around your knee to improve tracking. And you’re going to want to do those types of exercises, and you asked about this John with or without the brace, without the brace. You want your muscles to be learning how to work properly to stabilize the knee without the help of the brace. So, some of my favorite VMO style exercises or Vastus Medialis exercises which are going to strengthen the muscles around the knee would be a straight leg cable kick where you’re standing on one leg and just kicking straight forward with one ankle attached to the cable or an elastic band for resistance. Another one would be just sitting on the ground and with your leg stretched out in front of you, lifting one leg keeping it completely straight with toes pointed towards the ceiling as many times as possible. It may 50 to 100 reps. Walking uphill with relatively straight legs can actually really help strengthen the quads as well. That’s another exercise that I like. You can also do some things that are going to keep your legs strong or your cardiovascular fitness up without actually bending and extending the knee. And one of my favorite things for that would be to do straight leg Frankenstein style walking in the pool so, basically aqua jogging with straight legs. It’s called cross country skiing or Frankenstein walking. That works really well. And it typically won’t aggravate like the Patellofemoral syndrome. And then when you swim, if the bending of knee when you’re swimming hurts, just use the pull buoy. And again, it’s a great way to keep your cardiovascular fitness elevated when you’re swimming and keep the knee from bending. So, those are the things that I would do. I’ll link in the show notes for you to rock tape and also to CapraFlex.
Brock: Does the CapraFlex cause any GI problems? Could it?
Ben: CapraFlex could potentially cause a little bit of irritation when you first take it. It has high fiber. It can cause a little bit of bloating if you’re not used to the amount of fiber in it. That’s probably the biggest thing to be careful of when you start taking it. But ultimately, that will go away after about a week or two.
Brock: Okay. It just sounded like you were recommending taking what sounded like a lot of it sort of concerned me for anybody who is doing any sort of events. That could be upsetting.
Ben: I have seen a ton of good results with two and nine a day. You wouldn’t want to do that like that day that you’re going to go run a marathon or something just like you wouldn’t want to take any supplement that has a lot of fiber in it. But just for healing, I assume John is not going to be running a marathon right away.
Brock: Yeah. I suppose.
Ben: I do highly recommend it.
Brock: Good point. Okay, our next audio question comes from Tim.
Tim says: Hey Ben, how’re you doing? My name is Tim from Brooklyn, New York. And I just have a question for the podcast. I was wondering what you think of Seitan as a protein source with all the studies about wheat coming out and how it’s not the best thing for us. So, I’m a vegan athlete. And I try to limit the amount of soy that I consume other than tempei. So, obviously my choices for protein are limited other than supplements. So, I’d just like to hear what your take is on that. Thanks for all the good work Ben.
Brock: A protein named Seitan?
Ben: Let’s just call it Seitan. This is something that you’ll find a lot in vegetarian based foods as a protein substitute and something that you may find instead of a textured vegetable protein that would be made from soy. The way that the Seitan is named and you are going to find it by a number of other names as well like wheat gluten, gluten meat, or even wheat meat. It’s made from wheat gluten. And you start with the wheat flour and you mix that with the water until you get dough. And then when you need the dough, you put the dough underwater in the running water. And this washes away the starch in the dough. And basically just leaves you with plain old wheat gluten which is a protein. And it’s a meat free protein that’s why a lot of the times you’ll see it added to vegetarian based foods as a meat substitute or even around thanksgiving as an option or an alternative to the tofurky. The issue of course is that we’ve talked about gluten on the show before. And even if you don’t have something like a gluten allergy or like celiac disease, there are a number of auto-immune and neurological issues that arise when you consume gluten. And there are multiple studies that have shown that these types of neurological and auto-immune issues, the ability of gluten not only to irritate the digestive track but also to affect your gut brain connection are all over the place. You can find a ton of studies that look at gluten consumption and people with non-celiac disease doing things like causing an elevated immune response or causing gut distress or irritable bowel syndrome or causing an effect on the neurological level. So, I personally would steer very clear of this stuff and put it right up there with just taking spoonfuls of pure gluten which is basically what you’re doing when you consume it.
Brock: Yeah. It doesn’t sound like a good idea at all.
Ben: Yeah. And it’s, I think it was developed in Japan. And so, it originated as an Asian food which maybe why it’s named what it’s named. I think maybe Seitan is an Asian name. I’m not sure.
Brock: That’s something for another show. But right now, we’re going to move on to the question from Tom.
Tom says: Hey Ben, this is Tom. I’m a pretty active 55 year old endurance athlete. I train most everyday, do ten mile runs. I go to the gym. I do mountain cycling up here in the mountains of North Carolina. But I have an almost vegan diet. My foods are really non-processed and clean but my problem is high blood pressure. I take my blood pressure every morning and evening. My last averaged over 15 days was 145/84 which is still quite high. I’m taking garlic, CoQ10, omega three-six-nine, Hawthorn berry, I kind of mix things together that I’ve read about and my blood pressure doesn’t seem to be coming down. I do consume caffeine. But even when I’ve gone off caffeine, it doesn’t seem to have much of an effect on my blood pressure. FYI I do not have any family history to learn about. So, do you have any suggestions other than having to take BT meds the rest of my life? Thanks a lot Ben. Goodbye.
Ben: So, it’s good that Tom is doing some of the things that he’s already doing for high blood pressure. But you can go above and beyond a lot of these natural supplements. Like Tom is taking, I think he said garlic and Hawthorn berry and fish oil and a lot of the things that you will see recommended for high blood pressure as natural treatments. But there are other things that can cause high blood pressure. So first of all, the biggies that you would think of right away would be first of all being overweight. I don’t know if Tom is in a healthy weight. But one thing that you can look at is just your overall weight and could that be an issue with increasing your blood pressure because a lot of the times even if you’re doing everything right but you weigh more than would be your ideal weight. Then that can increase blood pressure. And you can find your ideal weight. You can go to Google and just Google ideal weight calculator and find a calculator that’s based off of your body frame and your ideal weight. The best ideal weight calculators do figure out first what your body frame is by having you do things like measure your elbow width or your hand size. You put in your age and your height and everything like that. And you get the approximation of what you may want to shoot for in terms of weight. So, it’s obvious but weight can certainly affect blood pressure. We talked about alcohol before. But alcohol can increase blood pressure, frequent alcohol intake that can be associated with increased blood pressure so you may want to be careful with that. If you have something like a magnesium deficiency or potassium deficiency, you would think that eating salts which is technically what those kind of would increase your blood pressure. But as a matter of fact, a deficiency of those can increase your blood pressure just because they are co-factors for sodium and for calcium. So, I would look into including some magnesium. And you can get a test to find out if you’re deficient in magnesium or potassium. But most people frankly are especially active individuals. So, you could just start taking something like natural calm magnesium before you go to bed at night like about 250 to 500 grams of something like that. A lot of times your overall dietary intake especially in terms of starches and sugars can affect your blood sugar because insulin resistance or becoming resistant to constantly high level of circulating insulin that can be caused by sugar or starch consumption. That can cause your kidneys to retain sodium. And so many times even if you’re eating a low sodium diet and taking supplements and medications that lower blood pressure. If you haven’t adjusted your diet from a carbohydrate standpoint, that could increase your blood pressure. So, do something like go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com and grab my Superhuman Food Pyramid which is one example of a diet that is going to limit the amount that is forced to be released by your pancreas and limit your carbohydrate intake. Stress is a biggie as well. And removing stresses from your life and also learning how to consciously distress is incredibly important. Now of course, meditation and yoga and breathing exercises are all ways that you can distress. But one thing that I’ve been using on a daily basis now is bio feedback. I’ve been using a heart rate variability testing unit. It’s called the EM Wave. And I’ll put a link to it in the show notes. But basically, you hook one little end of it up to your ear and the other end to a computer and it tracks your heart rate and specifically the period of time between your heart beats. And it actually has trainings on it. It’ll train you how to not only lower your heart rate but also lower your heart rate variability. And both of those can be directly correlated with lowering your actual blood pressure. And so, you can literally do five to ten minutes of self-bio feedback a day using a unit like this. I think it’s about 150 bucks or so. And that would be something that could really help with the blood pressure. So, I would certainly try out the heart rate variability as well. So yeah, heart rate variability, make sure you’re lowering and moderating your alcohol intake, looking at your overall body weight, taking some magnesium preferably lowering some of the carbohydrate in your diet. And those are some of the things in addition to just popping supplements that can help with blood pressure.
Brock: I’m going to jump in once again with the sort of non-technical approach. But you did mention that you’re getting your blood pressure checked by a machine at a drugstore. And those are notoriously out of whack. They don’t get checked out a lot or recalibrated. So, make sure that you’re getting your blood pressure checked by somebody who really knows what they are doing and is able to really measure it correctly because you don’t want to be basing it off of something that maybe uncalibrated.
Ben: That’s true. Gosh, I remember playing with those blood pressure cups all of the time when I was a kid at the grocery store because they were so cool.
Brock: Exactly. So, you got these kids just wailing on it like all the time. And it’s not going to stay calibrated correctly very long.
Ben: Good point Brock.
Brock: Alright, so onto the next question from Clay.
Clay says: Hi Ben, my name is Clay. And I’ve got a question for you in reference to sports induced or athletic exercise induced asthmas. A couple years ago when I was training for marathons, I ended up completing three in seven months and couldn’t determine why outside my plan of satiated issues that I was suffering. And I kept going slower and slower. And I finally come to realize after a bunch of testing and my own self diagnosis, I have a sports induced asthma. I’m just wondering once I can stretch out my legs enough to not worry about another ball up plan of officiatus, I’m wondering if there are any things that you would do to help enhance my performance in relation to the normal inhaler that I take. If there’s anything that I can take orally or should I consistently try to push for longer runs. I run marathons and things like that. I was wondering if there’s anything that you would prescribe for somebody that doesn’t seem to be able to push through the normal inhaler performance wise and part of it is, I’m sure, in my head. But that I aside, I was wondering if you could touch on somebody, things that I can intake or that I can attempt to try to decrease my times and increase my fitness level. Thank you so much.
Ben: So, the first thing that I thought about when I hear Clay’s question was the fact was my wife used to think that she had exercise induced asthma and would weez and cough and have difficulty when we go on bike rides and stuff. And it turned out that she had something that often confused with asthma and something that can cause airflow obstruction and simulate a lot of the symptoms of exercise induced asthma. And that is vocal chord dysfunction. And that’s a condition that affects your vocal chords. It’s typically caused by a partial vocal fold closure that obviously because your vocal chords are right there in your breathing tubes can decrease the amount of air that you’re able to breathe in or breathe out. So, I don’t know if you’ve already looked at this Clay. But I would certainly just check into the vocal chord dysfunction thing. And there’s a test you can get. It’s called a nasal endoscope test and a clinician can actually see whether or not your vocal folds are moving properly and determine or not there’s an actual abnormality present. If there is, that can be typically treated through speech therapy. Sometimes, believe it or not, you can get like a botox injection into your vocal folds and it can help with this as well. But I just wanted to throw that out there because I know that there are in many cases conditions that are thought to be exercise induced asthma that are instead this vocal chord dysfunction issue. But if this is indeed exercise induced asthma, yeah, there are things that you can do as an alternative to or in addition to a throat inhaler. One thing that folks have found some success with is using a steam room. And basically a steam room or a steam bath can help to open up the airways a little bit. Sometimes if you combine that with a eucalyptus base that you can pour over the steam rocks and something like a steam or a sauna that can help as well. But that’s, it kind of goes back and forth. It might help a little bit with nasal stuffiness. It may help to vaso dilate or broncho dilate a little bit. But it’s not the best substitute. Garlic would be one thing. Garlic has a lot of really good anti-inflammatory properties. And you can use garlic frequently keep fresh garlic loaves in your counter. We get the big thing of crushed garlic from Cosco. And you can even take garlic pills. And that may help to relieve asthma symptoms and as can another popular anti-inflammatory which is ginger and cooking olive ginger using ginger root to make tea or drinking ginger tea, even eating ginger like the candy ginger. You can actually wash the sugar off of that to lower the calories to make it a little less unhealthy. And you can eat ginger. I actually like to use ginger before a workout. It really helps to open up the arteries and the airways. Echinacea would be another one that can help out a little bit. And you can just use an echinacea tea or echinacea herb. A liquorish root would be another potential anti-inflammatory. It’s interesting that a lot of the things that are considered popular anti-inflammatory can also help with asthma. Turmeric or a curry or acumen extract can be the same way. It’s a popular anti-inflammatory. It can also have some anti-allergy properties. So, it can directly act by lowering some of the histamines that can cause the constriction of the airways. Now, honey and specifically raw honey from a local source, if you’re asthma is related to allergies or pollens, honey can help out quite a bit. Literally like drinking some tea that has some raw honey that you’ve gotten from a local source like some local raw pollinated honey can help out with asthma symptoms. And then the last thing which is good for a lot of health conditions actually would be to use a good high quality fish oil. Fish oil is great in treating or helping to prevent heart disease. But it can also decrease airway inflammation and boost lung function. So, I would certainly be taking some fish oil as well. So, those are some of the things that I would be doing.
Brock: And if you’re running in cold weather too, make sure you cover up your nose and your mouth with a scarf or something or I have a neoprene neck warmer that I just pull up over my nose and mouth. And that sort of cuts down on the amount of cold air that’s getting directly into your throat. And I find that that really helps as well.
Ben: Yeah, exactly. Man, hearing Spokane, I’ve been swearing by a scarf during my workouts just because it’s been so cold.
Brock: Okay. So, we’ve got a real, not an audio question, one that I actually have to do some effort on from Kyle.
Kyle says: This is a totally serious question, I saw this mentioned in a discussion about over training. Is there any basis behind the theory of nocturnal penile tumescence being an indicator or not of testosterone level, and possible being over trained?
Ben: In short, yes. And nocturnal penile tumescence as you can probably guess by the name if you can break that down, that’s basically just an erection during sleep or when you’re waking up. And most people don’t have erectile dysfunction, most men who don’t have erectile dysfunction experience such a thing about a handful of times during the night. But if you have a testosterone deficiency or an androgen imbalance, for example, your testosterone like we talked about earlier for excessive alcohol consumption, testosterone getting converted into estrogens. Then what can happen is that this doesn’t happen. And so, you can assess the effectiveness of the efforts of for example you’re making to increase your testosterone levels or assess whether or not maybe you are over trained and have a drop in testosterone or a really low testosterone to cortisol ratio by the presence of or lack of this phenomenon. Now, the other thing that I would throw in there is that there are other things that can cause this in addition to having your testosterone levels elevated and specifically that would be a full bladder. And that’s referred to as a reflex erection. And if you just have to go to the bathroom, it can cause that. So, know that there are other things that are associated with this. But yes, studies have shown that there is a direct link between testosterone levels and nocturnal penile tumescence. So yeah, I would say that if you are trying to increase your testosterone and you are noticing that that is happening, your efforts are probably successful.
Brock: Alright. Well, our last question comes from Ian.
Ian says: How effective are Curves Women’s gyms from both a weight loss and fitness point of view? My wife’s main goal is weight loss at the moment so she wants to know if she’d be better off hitting a gym with a pool, treadmill, bike, classes, etc. and losing her Curves membership.
Brock: So, I’m guessing Curves doesn’t have all of that. Maybe it’s more of a limited gym.
Ben: Yeah. Curve’s is a really specific gym. It’s a bunch of machines that are typically set up in a circle to encourage both ease of moving through the circuit as well as some social interaction among the women who are using the machines. And they’re hydraulic based exercise machines so, hydraulic resistance and basically a full body workout. And hydraulic resistance means that there’s a really low impact with the workout. So, the hydraulic weight machines use an oil filled cylinder to provide resistance. So, the harder you push against the hydraulic machine, the weight doesn’t move faster. So, it just moves in an even pace throughout. And the flip side to that is that there’s no negative part of the lift. There’s no what’s called the eccentric part of the lift. So, as the weight comes back, it moves very slowly as well. So, the benefits of that really lower risk of injury and provide a very safe low impact workout. The problem is that a muscle actually responds best in terms of producing valose hormones and you’re getting torn up a little bit and bouncing back by growing stronger through that eccentric contraction or through that strain that happens as you are lowering the weight. So, you aren’t getting that with Curves. But on the flip side it is safer. You’re guaranteed that you’re going to get a full body workout because each of the machines is set up to work your upper body or lower body and your core muscles. And you typically go through a circuit of about 30 minutes. Studies have shown, granted studies that have been funded by Curves but nonetheless studies, have shown that Curve’s is effective as a weight loss program. The only issue is that similar to caution that I throw out there for folks who are say following a diet that restricts you to eating only certain foods like cabbage soup diet. I would put that into that same category. You’re only doing one form of exercise because you’re only working out on machines using hydraulic resistance. You’re not doing cardiovascular intervals. You’re not doing impact based training which by the way can increase bone density faster. You’re not using free weights. You’re not working on balance or flexibility or functional fitness. You’re hitting only one aspect of the fitness spectrum when you’re working out at Curves. So, there’s absolutely no problem with using machine based circuit training using hydraulic resistance equipment to achieve results. But I would include something like doing some running and maybe some yoga or some balance work on the side in addition to Curves. Or maybe throwing in a day where you go to the gym and do some heavier strength training like barbells or dumbbells. So, fill in the holes when you’re using something like Curves. And yeah, it can work just fine. But I wouldn’t rely on Curves on its own to provide you with functional lifelong fitness.
Brock: Alright. Well, there you go. That’s it for this week. We got through all the questions. I guess it’s not just for this week but also last week too. So, keep your questions coming. Be aware, we do have a lot of question in the Q. I’m not trying to say don’t send your questions in. Do send them in. But don’t be surprised if it takes a few weeks for us to get to them. And remember that you can always hire Ben for a private consultation if you do have a question that’s really pressing and you just wanted to get answered right away.
Ben: Or you can do a search at BenGreenfieldFitness.com and a lot of times you’ll find that if you search for the key word, we’ve got a really good search engine over there. You’ll find that we’ve addressed some aspect of your questions that can help you out a little bit as you sit back and wait the several weeks it may take to get your question answered. So, episode 184, that’s in the books Brock. So, we’ll put links to everything in the show notes and thanks for listening folks. Thanks for your support. Go to iTunes, leave a ranking. Your donations, donating a dollar by going on the show notes and clicking on the donate button. That helps out tremendously as well. So, this podcast enabled by you the listener. And this Friday, stay tuned for a really great discussion about Chinese herbs and what they can do for you.
Ben: So, that’ll be coming out this Friday.
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